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THERE are branches of knowledge which we believe may be better acquired from a silent teacher in a pleasing book than in any more formal way. John Knox was of opinion that there ought to be a school in every parish, a grammar-school in every borough, a college in every city; so, we would add, there ought to be a "HOME TUTOR" in every family. A book can be listened to or not, at will. Its instructions are not forced; therefore, they are the more agreeable: it makes no one pedantic-for pedantry is a fungus of the school desk, where an exaggerated importance is apt to be given to small portions of attainment, while treatises such as this volume contains, both comprehensive and broad of view, convey no flattering impressions to self-importance, but suggest rather that humility which the wise Newton expressed in presence of the great ocean of truth.
It is not too much to say that the present times demand from every intelligent member of society an acquaintance with the leading facts, at least, of the subjects of study presented to the reader in this Volume. A great deal of social science, and therefore of social happiness, is connected with the truths of NATURAL PHILOSOPHY and the PHYSICAL HISTORY OF MANKIND. They know but little indeed of God's great Who can
works in animated nature who are ignorant of ZOOLOGY. rightly appreciate the past that cannot read in the great earth-tablets of GEOLOGY the growth and development of the world we live in? Who can form any enlarged notions of the existing frame of nature, whose eyes are not opened to the wonders of CELESTIAL and TERRESTRIAL PHENOMENA?
These important subjects are, in the following pages, treated with a view to the principle enunciated by Pope
"Men must be taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot."
We have striven to interest the affections, the sentiments, and the imagination with Nature's living facts, which are in themselves more full of entertainment than all the fictions that fancy ever devised. Indeed, we think it is something, at the present day, to offer a solid countercharm to that ephemeral literature over which so many young persons waste their brief leisure—a leisure that, rightly turned to account, with the help of our "HOME TUTOR," would render them more fit for the serious business of life.
Writers of the highest eminence in the different departments of knowledge treated in this Book have laboured to render each subject attractive, without sacrificing that solid character which sound Knowledge, to be of any value, must ever present to the thoughtful intellect. They have endeavoured to meet the wants of parents in the ordinary duties of Home Education-to excite a love of information in the uninformed-to supply the needs of partially educated students-and to provide a Volume which can be conscientiously recommended to all who aim at self-culture, and seek to attain it with the smallest possible expenditure of time and mental labour.