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PE 1625 PS vil

PRELIMINARY ESSAY.

SECTION I.

Professors of the sciences, more especially Geometricians and Algebraists, commence their respective courses of instruction with definitions, postulates, and axioms, so perspicuous and comprehensible, as not infrequently to allure the sanguine disciple into a hope that the difficulties with which “ the indiligence of an idle tongue"* may have threatened him, will prove less real than imaginary. There is one great and manifest advantage in the pursuit of the Mathematics, that the simple principles thus proposed at the outset have an obvious relation to their subject. In various other branches of knowledge this is far from being the case, and it is sometimes necessary to lay down, with the imposing appearance of formal dialecticks, truths so evidently true, and yet at first glance so far removed from the thesis of discourse, that not their importance only but even their relevancy may be very fairly suspected.

very fairly suspected. These observations do not seem impertinent or imprudent from a writer who may feel it advisable to use some precaution, lest he should startle his readers by roundly asserting, as an axiom upon which he means to ground his grammatical speculations, that man, as well as other animals, is born with five senses ;

And though things sensible be numberless,
But only five the sense's organs

be;
And in those five all things their forms express,
Which we can touch, taste, feel, or hear, or see.

Davies, Immortality of the Soul.

At the banquets, it will be remembered, in which the Athenians indulged during the festivals observed in honour of the Muses, it was the custom for men of learning to propose questions

* B. Jonson, Discoveries.

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