BLTC Press Titles


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Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


A history of inventions, discoveries, and origins

by Johann Beckmann

Excerpt:

" Were I to pray for a taste which should stand me in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me during life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss

and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for reading Give a

man this taste, and the means of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of making him a happy man; unless, indeed, you put into his hands a most perverse selection of books. You place him in contact with the best society in every period of history,—with the wisest, the wittiest, the tenderest, the bravest, and the purest characters who have adorned humanity. You make him a denizen of all nations, a contemporary of all ages. The world has been created for him."—Sir John Herschel. Address on the opening of the Eton Library, 1833.

ADVERTISEMENT.

In revising Bcckmann's celebrated Work, we have endeavoured to improve it principally by altering suck names, characters, descriptions, and opinions as have become obsolete, or are now known to be erroneous ; and by such additions as seemed necessary to bring the accounts of the subjects treated of to the present state of knowledge. In some cases, these additions may appear to diverge from the declared object of the work; but in this we have only followed the example of Beckmann himself, who frequently deviates from a strict historical path, and we think advantageously, for the purpose of introducing curious, instructive, or amusing information. In most cases, where the subject under consideration is a process of manufacture, we have given a brief outline of its practice or theory, unless this had previously been done by the author. The translation, also, has been carefully compared with the German, but in only a very few cases could we detect errors which rendered the passages contradictory or unintelligible: on the whole, it is extremely well executed ; and too much praise cannot be given to Johnston, for the judicious manner in which he has embodied in onearticle,detached essays on the same subject, which Beck

Vlll

maun published at different periods, as he acquired fresh information. The only instances in which this had been omitted, are the articles on Turf, Cork, and Quarantine, which were still encumbered with addenda; in the presentedition, these have been incorporated. All such quotations from Latin and Greek authors, as might be deemed essential to the understanding of the text, have been given in English; those of a mere critical and philological character, it has been thought advisable to leave untranslated. The book may be classed as a compound of learned research and light reading, suitable both to the popular reader and the scholar; and that character has been preserved in the present edition. To the kindness of John Frodsham, Esq., the present proprietor of Arnold's Chronometer Establishment, we are indebted for much of the interesting information added to the article on ' Clocks and Watches ;* and we have also to return our thanks to the publisher, Mr. H. G. Bohn, for the assistance he has constantly afforded us, as well as for his Memoir of the author.

W. Francis.
J. W. Griffith.

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

That the arts had their rise in the East, and that they were conveyed thence to the Greeks, and from them to the Romans, is universally admitted. Respecting the inventions and discoveries however of the earliest ages, nothing certain is known. Many of those most useful in common life must have been the production of periods when men were little acquainted with letters, or any sure mode of transmitting an account of their improvements to succeeding generations. The taste which then prevailed of giving to every thing a divine origin, rendered traditional accounts fabulous; and the exaggeration of poets tended more and more to make such authorities less worthy of credit. A variety of works also, which might have supplied us with information on this subject, have been lost; and the relations of some of those preserved are so corrupted and obscure, that the best commentators have not been able to illustrate them. This in particular is the case with many passages in Pliny, an author who appears to have collected with the utmost diligence whatever he thought useful or curious, and whose desire of communicating knowledge seems to have been equal to his thirst for acquiring it.


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