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To A NEW
HISTORY OF THE world;
1NT ENDED TO HAVE BEEN Purolish EID
rN TWELVE VOLUMES 8vo.
sy J. NEwBERY, 1764,
TO THE PUBLIC.
Experi ENCE every day convinces us, that no part of learning affords so much wisdom upon such easy terms as History. Our advances in most other studies are slow and disgusting, acquired with effort, and retained with difficulty; but in a well written history, every step we proceed only serves to increase our ardor: we profit by the experience of others, without sharing their toils or misfortunes; and in this part of knowledge, in a more particular manner, study is but relaxation.
Of all histories, however, that which, not confined to any particular reign or country, but which extends to the transactions of all mankind, is the most useful and entertaining. As in geography we can have no just idea of the situation of one country without knowing that of others, so in history it is in some measure necessary to be acquainted with the whole, thoroughly to comprehend a part. A knowledge of universal history is therefore highly useful, nor is it less entertaining. Tacitus complains, that the transactions of a few reigns could not afford him a sufficient stock of materials to please or interest the reader; but here that objection is entirely removed; an History of the World presents the most striking events, with the greatest variety.
These are apart of the many advantages which universal history has over all others, and which have encouraged so many writers to attempt compiling works of this kind, among the ancients as well as the moderns. Each invited by the manifest utility of the design; yet many of them failing through the great and unforeseen Vol. IV. T
difficulties of the undertaking. The barrenness of events in the early periods of history, and their fertility in modern times, equally serving to increase their embarrassments. In recounting the transactions of remote antiquity, there is such a defect of materials, that the willingness of mankind to supply the chasm, has given birth to falsehood and invited conjecture. The farther we look back into those distant periods, all the objects seem to become more obscure, or are totally lost, by a sort of perspective dimunition. In this case, therefore, when the eye of truth could no longer discern clearly, fancy undertook to form the picture; and fables were invented where truths were wanting. For this reason we have declined enlarging on such disquisitions, not for want of materials, which offered themselves at every step of our progress, but because we thought them not worth discussing. Neither have we encumbered the beginning of our work with the various opinions of the heathen philosophers concerning the creation, which may be found in most of our systems of theology, and belong more properly to the divine than the historian. Sensible how liable we are to redundancy in the first part of our design, it has been our endeavor to unfold ancient history with all possible conciseness; and solicitous to improve the reader’s stock of knowledge, we have been indifferent as to the display of our own. We have not stopt to discuss or confute all the absurd conjectures men of speculation have thrown in our way. We at first had even determined not to deform the page of truth with the names of those, whose labors had only been calculated to encumber it with fiction and vain speculation. However, we have thought proper, upon second thoughts, slightly to mention them and their opinions, quoting the author at the bottom of the page, so that the reader who is curious about such particularities: