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Math 2998747

Transferred from

Tbo Lawrence Scientific School,

DRURY, PRINTER,
17, Bridgewater Square, Barbican, London.

TO

THE PRESIDENT, VICE-PRESIDENTS,

COUNCIL, AND STUDENTS,

OF THE

COLLEGE FOR CIVIL ENGINEERS,

THIS WORK IS DEDICATED,

BY

THEIR MOST OBEDIENT SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR.

P R E FACE.

PREFACES are seldom read, because they are oftener written to magnify the merits of the books they introduce, or the doctrines which they advocate; to point out the defects, or run down the merits of others; to gratify the pride of an author, in showing the public how much he knows of the subject upon which he writes; to forward the views of publishers, in creating a sale for their publications, rather than to prepare the mind for the reception of the subject about to be introduced, by giving a general view of the matter treated of, and the manner in which it is treated, or to set the reader on his guard, that he may steer clear of the difficulties and obstructions which may retard him in his

progress, as all proemial matter ought to do. For these latter purposes alone this preface is written. Therefore all who intend to study these pages would do well to read attentively the following directions and observations; for the subject upon which they are written is considered one really difficult.

Why it should be considered so, will readily be conceived when such men as Legendre, Leslie, Keith, Bonnycastle, Austin, Brewster, Young, and in fact every one who has attempted to treat the doctrine of Geometrical Proportion on any plan differing from Euclid's, have committed errors, overlooked mistakes, retrenched the generality of Euclid's reasonings, fallen into logical absurdities, or confined the general application of a subject which pervades a whole course of mathematics ; while there is not one mistake, oversight, or logical objection in the whole of Euclid's Fifth Book. “In fact, Euclid's Fifth Book is a master-piece of human reasoning.”

Censure on the works of others should be avoided as much as possible, because it shows the want of knowledge; those who know least, censure most: to correct a copy is easier than to produce an original ; for men acquire criticism before ability, and it is mostly from those who possess no judgment that the most sweeping judgment comes.

But we wish to impress on the reader not to consider for a moment that, while we thus point out the defects of others, any wish is entertained to detract from the well-earned reputation of such men as are here mentioned; for we should rather praise them for their worth, and admire and adopt their beauties, than condemn them for a few faults: any attempt on our part to detract from the merits of such men would be presumptuous, arrogant, and unjust. We point out

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