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Now for the writing of this werke,
Gower, Pro. to the Confess. Amantis.
The present edition of The Friend comprises all the corrections, and most of the notes, found in the author's handwriting in an interleaved copy of the work, bequeathed by him to his daughter-in-law. The Editor has revised the text with as much care as circumstances would permit, and has added a preliminary sketch of the plan and details of the whole, with an appendix, containing several passages, parts of the scattered essays originally published in 1809, and omitted in the recast of the work in 1818, but which seem worthy of separate preservation. It is earnestly hoped that what has thus been done may further the more general acceptance of a work, which, with all its imperfections, is, perhaps, the most vigorous of Mr. Coleridge's compositions; and which, if it had contained nothing but the essays, in the first volume, on the duty and conditions of communicating truth, and those in the third, on the principles of scientific method, with the reconcilement of the Platonic and Baconian processes of investigation, would still, as the Editor conceives, have constituted one of the most signal benefits conferred in this age on the cause of morals and sound philosophy.
Lincoln's Inn, ) 11th Sept. 1837.)
OBJECT AND PLAN OF THE WORK.
The Friend consists of a methodical series of essays, the principal purpose of which is to assist the mind in the formation for itself of sound, and therefore permanent and universal, principles in regard to the investigation, perception, and retention of truth, in what direction soever it may be pursued; but pre-eminently with reference to the three great relations in which we are placed in this world,—as citizens to the state, as men to our neighbors, and as creatures to our Creator,—in other words, to politics, to morals, and to religion. The author does not exhibit any perfect scheme of action or system of belief in any one of these relations; and that he has not done so, nor meant to do so, are points which must be borne in mind by every reader who would understand and fairly appreciate the work. For its scope is to prepare and discipline the student's moral and intellectual being,—not to propound dogmas or theories for his adoption. The book is not the plan of a palace, but a manual of the rules of architecture. It is a TtgoTtaldsvpa,—something to set the mind in a state of pure recipiency for the specific truths of philosophy, and to arm its faculties with power to recognize and endure their presence.
In pursuing, however, this main design, the author has examined with more or less minuteness many particular systems and codes of opinion lying in his way; and in stating the grounds of his rejection of some, and entire or partial admission of others of them, he has in effect expressed his own convictions upon several of the most important questions, yet disputed in moral and political philosophy. But it is not so much to any given conclusion so expressed that the reader's attention seems to be invited, as to viii OBJECT AND PLAN OF THE WORK,
the reasoning founded on principles of universal application, by which such conclusion has been evolved;—the primary and prevailing aim throughout the work being, as well under the forms of criticism, biography, local description, or personal anecdote, as of direct moral, political, or metaphysical disquisition, to lay down and illustrate certain fundamental distinctions and rules of intellectual action, which, if well grounded and thoroughly taken up and appropriated, will give to every one the ^ower of working out, under any circumstances, the conclusions of truth for himself. The game from time to time started and run down may be rich and curious; but still at the end of the day it is the chase itself, the quickened eye, the lengthened breath, the firmer nerve, that must ever be the huntsman's best reward.
The Friend is divided into two main sections; the first comprising a discussion of the principles of political knowledge; the second treating of the grounds of morals and religion, and reveal ing the systematic discipline of mind requisite for a true understanding of the same. To these is prefixed a general introduction, for the greater part devoted to a statement of the duty of communicating the truth, and of the conditions under which it may be communicated safely; and three several collections of essays, in some degree miscellaneous and called Landing-Places— interposed in different places for amusement, retrospect, and preparation—complete the work.