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moft in the order they happen to come before him. This want of method feems to be a fault, but he can loofe little by a criticifm, which every dull man can make, or by an error in arrangement, from which the dulleft are the most ufually free.

In other refpects, as far as this able philofopher has gone, I have taken him for my guide. The warmth of his ftyle and the brilliancy of his imagination are inimitable. Leaving him, therefore, without a rival in thefe, and only availing myself of his information, I have been content to defcribe things in my own way; and though many of the materials are taken from him, yet I have added, retrenched, and altered as I thought proper. my intention at one time, whenever I differed from him, to have mentioned it at the bottom of the page; but this occurred fo often, that I foon found it would look like envy, and might, perhaps, conviet me of thofe very errors which I was wanting to lay upon him.

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I have therefore, as being every way his debtor, concealed my diffent, where my opinion was different; but wherever I borrow from him, I take care at the bottom of the page to exprefs my obligations. But though my obligations to this writer are many, they extend but to the fmalleft part of the work, as he has hitherto completed only the Hiftory of Quadrupedes. I was therefore left to my reading alone, to make out the Hiftory of Birds, Fishes, and Infects, of which the arrangement was fo difficult, and the neceffary information fo widely diffused, and fo obfcurely related when found, that it proved by much the most laborious part of the undertaking. Thus having made ufe of Mr. Buffon's lights in the firft part of this work, I may, with fome fhare of confidence, recommend it to the public. But what fhall I fay of that part,

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where I have been entirely left without his affiftance? As I would affect neither modefty nor confidence, it will be fufficient to say, that my reading upon this part of the fubject has been very extenfive; and that I have taxed my fcanty circumftançes in procuring books which are on this fubject of all others the most expenfive. In confequence of this industry, I here offer a work to the public, of a kind, which has never been attempted in ours, or any other modern language, that I know of. The antients, indeed, and Pliny in particular, have anticipated me, in the prefent manner of treating Natural Hiftory. Like thofe hiftorians who defcribed the events of a campaign, they have not condefcended to give the private particulars of every individual that formed the army; they were content with characterising the generals, and defcribing their operations, while they left it to meaner hands to carry the mufter roll. I have followed their manner, rejecting the numerous fables which they adopted, and adding the improvements of the moderns, which are fo numerous that they actually make up the bulk of Natural Hiftory.

The delight which I found in reading Pliny, first inspired me with the idea of a work of this nature. Having a tafte rather claffical than fcientific, and having but little employed myfelf in turning over the dry labours of modern fyftem-makers, my earlieft intention was to tranflate this agreeable writer, and by the help of a commentary to make my work as amufing as I could. Let us dignify Natural Hiftory never fo much with the grave appellation of a useful science, yet ftill we must confess that it is the occupation of the idle and the fpeculative, more than of the ambitious part of mankind. My intention was to treat what I then conceived to be an idle fubject, in an idle manner; and not to hedge round plain

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plain and fimple narratives with hard words, accumulated diftinctions, oftentatious learning, and difquifitions that produced no conviction. Upon the appearance, however, of Mr. Buffon's work, I dropped my former plan and adopted the prefent, being convinced by his manner, that the best imitation of the antients was to write from our own feelings, and to imitate Nature.

It will be my chief pride, therefore, if this work may be found an innocent amufement for those who have nothing elfe to employ them, or who require a relaxation from labour. Profeffed Naturalifts will, no doubt, find it fuperficial; and yet I should hope that even these will discover hints, and remarks, gleaned from various reading, not wholly trite or elementary; I would with for their approbation. But my chief ambition is to drag up the obfcure and gloomy learning of the cell to open infpection; to ftrip it from its garb of aufterity, and to fhew the beauties of that form, which only the induftrious and the inquifitive have been hitherto permitted to approach.

PRE

PREFACE

TO THE

BEAUTIES OF ENGLISH POETRY.

FIRST PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1767.

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