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For not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle, but to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom.


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WHEN I quitted home, on a little excursion in the spring of this present year 1808, a thought struck me, which I began to put into immediate execution. I determined to commit to paper any little circumstances that might arise, and any conversations in which I might be engaged, when the subject was at all important, though there might be nothing particularly new or interesting in the discussion itself.

I fulfilled my intention as occasions arose to furnish me with materials, and on my return to the North, in the autumn of this same year, it was my amusement on my journey to look over and arrange these papers.

As soon as I arrived at my native place, I lent my manuscript to a confidential friend, as the shortest way of imparting to him whatever had occurred to me during our separation, together with my reflections on those occurrences. I took care to keep his expectations low, by apprizing him, that in a tour from my own house in Westmoreland to the house of a friend in Hampshire, he must not look for adventures, but content himself with the every day details of common life, diversified only by the different habits and tempers of the persons with whom I had conversed.

He brought back my manuscript in a few days, with án earnest wish that I would consent to its publication, assuring me that he was of opinion it might not be altogether useless, not only to young men engaged in

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