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The most beautiful Lake in North Wales is that of Llanberis, in the county of Carnarvon. Mountains rise around it, on every side; and as the clouds roll round the girdle and summit of Snowdon, they are reflected on the bosom of the lake;—and, purpled with the last tints of the descending sun, enchant the traveller into a state of sensation, “ more partaking of heaven than of earth.”
On this spot the Author of the following
pages conceived the plan of his Philosophy of NATURE:—and retiring into one of the most A 2
beautiful valleys, in South Wales, experienced more real satisfaction in the unmolested tranquillity, with which he was permitted to indulge his love of Natural Philosophy, than it is the lot of many men to enjoy.
Upon returning to the neighbourhood of London, the Philosophy of Nature was printed. But none of the necessary arts of publishing having been exercised in its behalf, it would have rested, “as a dead weight,” upon the fame of the author, had not one reader affectionally recommended it to another. In this manner, with all its imperfections, it gradually acquired some share of celebrity.
Two years after this, the author spent some
few months at a cottage, not far distant from
the ruins of a castle, which, with the surrounding scenery, often seemed to realize the pictures of Ariosto and Tasso, Spenser, and the “Genius of Udolpho.” With an imagination, enriched by scenes like these, he resumed his pen: and, with a view of noting the enjoyments with which science, literature, and the elegant arts, impregnate the privacy of life, he composed his AMUSEMENTs in RETIREMENT. The two succeeding winters were passed in the environs of London: where, being occasionally at the theatres, the manner of representing Hamlet, Macbeth, Cymbeline, and Othello, inspired him with a wish, if possible, to write atra
gedy.—Hence originated the ITALIANs.
For some time previous to this, no small share of attention had been devoted to the preparation of materials, for a series of Essays on the Pleasures and Advantages of a cultivated Imagination:—and to render those meditations and reflections more permanently valuable, the author resolved upon engrafting them on the best portions of the Philosophy of Nature.
Thus resolved, the plan became so extensive, that he found himself under the necessity of adopting that comprehensive brevity of style, which could alone enable him to compress the abundance of his materials into classical limits.
These materials, upon examination, will be found to be results, arising from a frequent
observance of some of the finest specimens of
ancient and modern art; from a constant perusal of those writers, whom time and experience have consecrated ; and from an ardent and unwearied study of that magnificent and stupendous volume, a contemplation of the varied phenomena of which never fails to expand the imagination, ameliorate the heart, and purify the soul. O qui perpetua mundum ratione gubernas, Terrarum coelique sator – Disjice terrenae nebulas et pondera molis, Atque tuo splendore mica!—tu mamque serenum,
Tu requies tranquilla piis. Te cernere, finis,
Principium, vector, dux, semita, terminus idem :