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With more than usual self-distrust, I give this book to the world, and under circumstances of a new and trying nature. The voice of affectionate encouragement, which used to animate me to my task, I can hear no more; and when, from the force of habit, I have sometimes turned round, while writing, to ask as in former times for counsel and advice, I have been painfully reminded, that the judicious critic, as well as tender parent, was removed from me forever. But I have the consolation of knowing, that should this work excite severe animadversion, he will not share in this expected pain;-I say “.expected,” because detraction is as common as the air we breathe, and to some, from long indulgence in it, it is now almost as necessary; and an endeavour to substitute profitable discourse for talking-over and laughing at one's friends and neighbours,


will be thought nearly as cruel as to exclude the air necessary for respiration.

Nor have I been encouraged to my labours by any sanguine expectation of doing good: for so rare is self-knowledge, that though I am often told that Detraction abounds, that my work is necessary, and will, no doubt, benefit others, scarcely any one says, “ I hope it will be of benefit to me;" yet, general improvement can only be the result of individual reformation. Besides, even those persons, who complain that the sin is universal, speak in a careless, indifferent tone, as if they thought it had acquired a prescriptive right to remain so, and that the endeavour to make it less common must be Utopian Reverie.

I have, however, been cheered in my labours by one conviction,-namely, that though what I have written may offend many of my readers, and benefit but few, it will at least, as I humbly trust, warn and amend MYSELF.




It is a generally admitted trụth, that OBSERVATION is one of the most effectual methods of improving the mind-observation, therefore, may be justly reckoned amongst the most valuable faculties which we possess. But, like all other gifts, it is liable to be abused, especially when it is exercised on the character of others; for then, if not under the directing and restraining power of religious principles, it leads to that pernicious vice in society, known by the name of DETRACTION.

To observe (that is to discover) the faults and vices of those with whom we associate, is often a measure necessary for self-defence. But if the observers of the frailties of their friends and acquaintances make those frailties the theme of backbiting conversation, they pervert the useful faculty of observation to the pernicious purposes of DETRACTION.

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