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INTRODUCTION,

It is no part of my present intention to enlarge upon the origin and history of book-keeping by double-entry, as to which the curious or inquisitive reader may consult many writers who have treated the subject generally. Suffice it to say that various conjectures have been put forward which ascribe to this common-place practical science a descent dating as far back as the commencement of the christian era.

Like most other useful arts it has developed gradually, advancing step by step with commerce and civilisation. Lucas di Borgo, a friar and mathematician, was the author of what is supposed to be the first treatise on the subject. His work was published in the Italian language at Venice in 1494-5. Since that date numerous publications have appeared, putting forward different ideas of more or less interest, but the general theory of the so-called Italian system has never yet been successfully assailed. Its fundamental principles remain, although the changes of time, the progress and extension of trade and its manifold ramifications, have necessitated a variety of modifications in practice.

The writers of a few modern treatises have with much skill and lucidity explained the science or general laws of book-keeping, and have in fact left very little to be desired in that direction. The method of exposition usually adopted has been to state, and strongly emphasize the general propositions of the science, and to apply them to particular cases by means of a few brief examples. Furthermore, the writers have, almost invariably, proceeded on the assumption that every difficulty can be surmounted by those who have committed to memory the formulas and rules. It would be accounted unreasonable to expect an apprentice to be competent to design and weave, because he had learned that to construct a piece of cloth he must pass the threads of the west transversely through those of the warp. Nevertheless, to know that "every debit must have a corresponding credit ” is the equivalent in book-keeping to such a knowledge of cloth construction. In the one case it is required to place an infinite variety of transactions in their proper accounts, and in the other to

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