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Printed for W. CREECH, Edinburgh; and for
W. STRAHAN, and T. CA DEL L, London.






HE following work is the fubftance of various

Tfpeculations, that occafionally amufed the au

thor, and enlivened his leifure-hours. It is not in-
tended for the learned; they are above it:
nor for
the vulgar; they are below it. It is intended for
men, who, equally removed from the corruption of
opulence, and from the depreffion of bodily labour,
are bent on useful knowledge; who, even in the de-
lirium of youth, feel the dawn of patriotism, and
who in riper years enjoy its meridian warmth. To
fuch men this work is dedicated, and that they may
profit by it, is the author's ardent with, and probably
will be while any spirit remains in him to form a wish.


May not he hope, that this work, child of his gray hairs, will furvive, and bear teftimony for him to good men, that even a laborious calling, which left him not many leifure-hours, never banished from his mind, that he would little deferve to be of the human fpecies, were he indifferent about his fellow


Homo fum: humani nihil a me alienum puto.




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Most of the fubjects handled in the following sheets, admit but of probable reasoning; which is not a little flippery, as with respect to many reasonings of that kind, it is difficult to pronounce, what degree of conviction they ought to produce. It is easy to form plaufible arguments; but to form fuch as will stand the test of time, is not always easy. I could amufe the reader with numerous examples of conjectural arguments, which, fair at a diftant view, vanish like a cloud on a near approach. In the first sketch of this book, not to go farther, he will find recorded more than one example. The dread of being misled by such arguments, filled the author with anxiety; and after his utmost attention, he can but faintly hope, that he has. not often wandered far from truth.

Above thirty years ago, he began to collect materials for a natural history of man; and in the vigour of youth, did not think the undertaking too bold, even for a fingle hand. He has difcovered of late, that his utmoft abilities are scarce fufficient for executing a few imperfect sketches.

Edinburgh, Feb. 23. 1774-.

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To the READER.

As one great object of the Editor is to make this a popular work, he has, chiefly with a view to the female fex, fubjoined an English translation of all the quotations from other languages.

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