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In the following Lectures, the reader will hardly fail to observe a certain want of harmony between the different parts; and I know not how I can better apologise for it, than by briefly stating the manner and occasion of their composition. They were first drawn up for private instruction, and read by me in the English College at Rome, over which I had the happiness of presiding ; being intended for an introductory course to the study of theology. At the request of several friends, I was induced to deliver them to a public audience ; and during the Lent of 1835, they were read to a large and select attendance in the apartments of His Eminence Cardinal Weld.
It will easily be understood, how many modifications were requisite for the second delivery; particularly as I pledged myself in my prospectus to simplify my subjects, so far as to make them intelligible to persons who had no previous acquaintance with them. Accordingly many topics were but lightly touched, which, in the original draught, had been more fully developed, while others were extended to a length unnecessary for an academical audience possessed of preliminary scientific knowledge. In fact, the greater part of the Lectures were written over again for the occasion.
Among my audience I counted men, whose reputation, in their respective departments of literature and science, might have made me shrink from my complicated task; yet I found them assiduous in their attendance, and encouraging in their judgment. They joined in a wish repeatedly expressed by most of my hearers, that these Lectures should be communicated to the public : and I came over to England, chiefly to carry this desire into execution. But then a further change appeared necessary, to prepare them for the press.
In the first place, many of the parts which had been suppressed in the second delivery, have been restored ; while several elementary details, which were then introduced, have not been withdrawn.