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I can claim but little of this book as my own work. I have rather entered into other men's labours, and gathered with a glad and thankful heart a few of the various fruits and flowers I have met with in their many fields of learning.
“I find,” says Virgil, “in some neglected authors particular things not elsewhere to be found.” This experience has been mine.
No statement in this book should be accepted as true, simply because it was written by some great man; but every sentence should be weighed and considered on its own merits. I have, therefore, frequently omitted the author's name.
This volume is intended chiefly for those who have neither time nor opportunity to study or consult many writers.
Its design is to inform the head, affect the heart, refresh the memory, delight the mind; to comfort the distressed, and confirm the faith of the wavering; to arouse the idler, and encourage the worker.