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JAMES DAVIDSON, M.D.
PROFESSOR OF CIVIL AND NATURAL HISTORY
MARISCHAL COLLEGE, ABERDEEN,
WHOSE FAVOURABLE OPINION OF
BOOK OF NATURE LAID OPEN,
UPON ITS FIRST APPEARANCE
IX A PERIODICAL PUBLICATION OF HUMBLE IMPORT,
HAS BEEN CHIEFLY INSTRUMENTAL IN DETERMINING THE AUTHOR, TO BRING OUT HIS WORK IN
THE PRESENT FORM,
THE BOOK OF NATURE LAID OPEN, &c. was first printed in a small periodical publication, which the author published, and conducted as editor, in 1814.
In the humble form in which it there made its appearance, it attracted the notice of that respected individual to whom the present work is dedicated; and to this circumstance, more than any other, viz.' its having been spoken of in terms of commendation, by one so competent to decide on its merits, as a learned professor in that particular department of science, of which, it had more directly presumed to treat, the present improved, and much enlarged edition, under the new and additional title of POPULAR PHILOSOPHY, &c. may be said to owe its existence.
The following extracts from the letters, with which, the worthy professor above alluded to, favoured the author, upon learning his intention of republishing the work, in an enlarged and improved form, will sufficiently evidence the opinion he entertained of it. Extract of a letter from Dr. DAVIDSON, Professor of Civil and Natural
History, in the Marischal College, Aberdeen. * The Book of Nature Laid Open, in a cursory and popular sur. vey of several striking facts in Natural History, and in the pheno. mena and constitution of the Universe ; in which the wisdom of God, and his goodness in their subserviency to man, are distinctly traced and pointed out," of which you have put a copy into my hands for my opinion, and of which you acknowledge yourself the author I consider now, as I did on a former occasion when I had an op. portunity of perusing it, as a very excellent and instructive treatise; and from the popular and easy manner in which you have treated your various subjects, I cannot help thinking that it is well calcu. lated to become extensively useful, and I hope it will obtain a wide circulation.-Science required to be stripped of some of its techni. calities to render it attainable by all classes, and this, in my view, you have effected with great credit to yourself, and with great probable advantage to the public.
“ The advantages arising from the study of the works of natureare numerous and various; an attempt to render so interesting a study popular, deserves every encouragement, and I shall be most happy to learn that your exertions have been amply rewarded by an extensi ve sale of your improved and extended work."-And, in another letter, the Doctor is pleased thus to express himself; “ and, I trust, with the additions which you are so capable of giving, and which the improving state of science will enable you to render more extensive and correct, that you may produce a work of the highest utility to mankind in general.”
How far the author has been enabled to profit by the hints here thrown out, it does not become him to say, but he has done his best, su far as his contracted limits would allow, to “ render so interesting a study popular," and make it subservient to the best of pur. poses, the elevation of the human mind from the things that are seen, and the visible wonders of creation, to a consideration of the incomprehensible nature of His Essence, who is the Lord and MAKER OF ALL —FROM NATURE UP TO Naturx's Gov! and, as, he has reason to hope, from the very gratifying testimonies he has already been enabled to subjoin, (and for which the reader is referred to the end of the second -volume,) that his labour has not been altogether in vain, he would 'humbly look forward to an increasing and still more extended degree
of approbation, as the utility and tendency of his little work, (how. ever imperfect it may be in the execution,) have time to develope themselves and become more apparent. · In its present enlarged and improved form, the work is respectfully recommended to the attention of those PARENTS, GUARDIANS, and HEADS of FAMILIES, who feel anxious to have the minds of the little ones committed to their charge, early imbued with sentiments of rational piety and pure devotion, arising from the consideration of objects that every where surround them in the great temple of the universe, and to some of which, they may every moment have access :-objects, which have attracted the attention of, and given lessons of wisdom to, the wisest · and best of men in all ages ;--and to which, the Saviour of the world, did not think it derogatory to bis mission, to refer his immediate followers, (in the words that I have selected for one of my first mottos,) and, through them, his disciples in all time coming, to learn a lesson of the greatest importance, amidst the cares, the anxieties, and vicissitudes of life.
It is humbly, and with all due deference, submitted to the consideration of all those CONDUCTORS OF SEMINARIESOF EDUCATION, AND INSTRUCTORS OF YOUTH OF ALL DENOMINATIONS, who are solicitous for the moral as well as the intellectual improvement of their pupils; and being sensible, that there has long existed a chasm in that particular department of our Scholastic literature, which should have for its object the making the more advanced classes, in particular, better acquainted with, (what it becomes every one to know,) some of the most striking facts in natural history, and in the phenomena and constitution of the universe, would willingly embrace any favourable opportunity, of recommend. ing to their notice, or putting into their hands, a work calculated to supply the place of such a desideratun-in the form of a POPULAR and