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PRE FACE.

We cannot duly appreciate our present facilities for acquiring knowledge and putting it to use, but by a faithful comparison with those of our predecessors in former generations. This is one principal purpose of history and biography. We need them, not exclusively to contribute to our entertainment, or to fill up our storehouse of information; but most of all, to help us estimate our own advantages, and employ them more efficiently for our own benefit, and that of coming generations. These remarks apply to every important subject, and to every class of community. The Christianand who in this country is not a christian, at least in speculative assent to divine truth?-a Christian can scarcely know the value of his faith, or the duties of his vocation, or the import of his profession, without looking froin the hill of meridian light where Providence has placed him, into the retiring darkness. He must survey the total night of Paganisin, the dim light of Judaism, and the gross mingling of darkness with light in a political and corrupt christianity. Else he can scarcely know that he dwells in the light and is bound to be indeed a child of light. Among us, every man is born to be a practical politician, one of the sovereigns of the realm. But no one can estimate bis birth-right as a free-man, or be an intelligent and useful republican, without some theoretic knowledge of the operations of despotism, and the miseries of degradation and servitude. The same is truc of the pursuits of literature. We must look back to the time when there were no classic authors, no schools, and no art of printing: when the records of history, the productions of the bard, and all that we now esteem as classical and refined, were secluded in cloisie 's from all profane eyes.

On the attainments of our age in the sciences, however, a knowledge of the past throws a peculiar radiance. Our facilities for acquiring this kind of knowledge are so abundant, and are placed so liberally within the reach of all classes, that we are entirely unconscious of the toils and struggles of

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