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The Reader will observe an error in the paging of the Notes, arising from the circumstance of the book having been divided in order to expedite its progress through the Press. From the same cause the pages are renewed in the body of the work.
THAT science whose inquiries are directed to the discovery of the sources of human happiness, and to those impediments which ignorance, prejudice, and political arrangements present to its progress, is doubtless worthy of all the study and patient attention which a subject so important demands. And though at present it is only in the infancy of its being, it has bestowed many invaluable blessings on the world.
To discriminate accurately those circumstances and events which may have influenced the national character of any people ; to trace and unfold the causes united in its formation ; and to develope those obstacles which have opposed or retarded these causes in their
operation, forms one of those departments of philosophical investigation that can never become useless or uninteresting. The subject, considered in this extended light, is, however, attended with many difficulties. The early history of all nations is necessarily involved in obscurity and fable; political institutions as well as national habits and peculiarities have had their origin for the most part from circumstances which are now unknown: to form theoretical conjectures, therefore, is all to which any claim can be laid; which conjectures, however happy, will always be attended with some degree of that doubt and obscurity which they are intended to remove. . .
Besides, even within the period of authentic history, some of the circumstances which have a powerful influence on the character and destiny of nations are far from being universally obvious. In this respect the history of a people is not unlike that of an individual: a circum-. stance so trivial as to escape his own attention, may produce a series of events, all of which contribute to form his character and fix the part appointed him to perform in human life. In many cases, however, it must be allowed, that in tracing the origin of national peculiarity and improvement the same difficulties do not exist. That one government will produce one