« AnteriorContinuar »
G R E A T-BRIT A I N,
I R E L A N D;
And to the LEARNED and INQUISITIVE MEMBERS of the
Royal Society, these LECTURES are most humbly dedicated
convey one circumstance of Delight. It is several Cen
turies since Mankind spoke of the subjects of them with admiration; it is half a century since the Learned inquired diligently concerning them; and it is but six years, since the Phänomena were fairly discovered, to the general conviction of Observers: The Author claims no merit in any respect, but that of a diligent Inquirer, and faithful Relator. His own reasoning he offers with all humility, not to prevent, but to excite better reasoning from you.
I am, Gentlemen,
AUTHOR His friendly ADDRESS
COUNTRY ME N. T is with pleasure this writer observes, a most excellent spirit
, arising in this Kingdom, along with increasing opulence, to improve human nature.
The magnificence of some habitations, the furniture of others, and the tables of them all, if they should rather prove the luxury and wealth of the nation, yet are they also proofs of the former. Luxury grows up along with arts and sciences. The Augustin age produced very great Geniuses in the latter respect, as well as very corrupt Examples in the former : And every other age, wherein wealth abounds, whether in a Christian or a Pagan state, will produce the same seeming contradictory effects, till a more general spirit of reformation prevails. For the moral dispositions of Mankind are extremely different, from those which go under the title of INGENIOUS; and the improvement of the latter does by no means include the former. The Ingenious immoral man only differs from the basely vitious, by becoming more exquisite in his pleasures ; And Lucretius, almost the finest of poets, differs only from a grofs blafphemer in the delicacy of his language and fancy. If Apicius taught a Roman to make a better sauce, he did not thereby teach him to be more temperate.. If Horace, whose writings are become the Bible of the age, paints his own cowardice (relietā non bene parmila) with Wit that makes the reader forget Gensure, he has not thereby inculcated the virtue of Courage; or if his fine address to CÆSAR and MEČÆNAS inchants the ear, the heart is not thereby taught that resolute VIRTUE, which should make a man steady to an honest cause, in which he has once engaged,
and ever ashamed to relinquish it, upon the poor motive of dietating to School-Boys, that vitious Theme of Aattery;
Principibus placuisse viris &c. The improvement therefore of human nature in ingenuity is a very different consideration, from the more excellent improvement of it in (a) MORAL CONDUCT. This writer, not knowing, when the last excellent disposition to improve Mankind in pure morals will arise, yet always wishing for it, and hoping this is a good preparatory season, is willing to congratulate with his COUNTRYMEN even upon the former : And having lately laid before them part of his labours in the last respect, is willing also to compliment them with some of his labours in the first; In as much as delicate pleasures are as much preferable to choquing VICE, as refined fatyr is to fcurrility.
In this way of considering things he is contented to act as a philosopher : And hoping to procure the esteem of his countrymen in this, he may perhaps afterwards come forth again in the other more HONOURABLE Character of a DivINE, to which his Itudies are principally devoted by Vow and INCLINATION. With this view he is willing to help them for some time as far as lies within his skill, to BUILD, and PLANT, and Taste their Winėss or to dig with them, in the bowels of the earth, for the hidden treasures of nature.
As a small specimen of this disposition he offers this book, being the effect of Sıx YEARS INQUIRY, much bodily and mental labour, as well as pecuniary expence.
Mechanic arts are every day improving in Ireland, and the liberal arts, it is hoped, will keep pace with them (b). The true way to give encouragement to the latter,
(a) The more people there are in a nation who stand in need of address amongst themfelves, and caution not to displease, there will be the more politeness: but it is more a politeness of morals, than manners, which ought to distinguish us from a barbarous people.
De l'espirit des Loix. (6) This book is printed upon paper made in Ireland; with types and gravings also of the artificers of the country.
A late writer has complimented Ireland in a genteel manner, and it is hoped, the spirit of improvement continuing may give others occasion to speak praise-worthy things of it ; and if its inhabitants should not think as honourably of themselves, as that gentleman has exprest himself of them, their modesty will not deduct any thing at all from their merit, if they have it in the degree mentioned.