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PRINCIPLES once discovered and established, says Bacon, form by their combination the primary philosophy, which is in fact nothing more than a receptacle and collection of the principles common to all the arts and sciences.
Guided by this fertile idea, I have been enabled, as I conceive, to distinguish and to determine a certain number of fundamental truths, or general laws, some of which had been previously discovered and pointed out, though none had yet received that extension of which all of them seem susceptible, and which moreover had never been represented as forming, by their combination, a magnificent whole, a sort of universal code, metaphysical, philosophical, and moral.
These general laws, which are applicable to every thing in nature, form by their union, as it were, a vast reservoir whence flow numberless luminous facts, important consequences, new and valuable observations, productive experiments, and useful applications of every kind.
A modern writer has asserted, that it is not abstract and universal ideas which constitute the power of the mind; that they are supports of weakness, not evidences of power. To this objection I reply, that these general ideas, being the essence of a great number of facts, and forming a sort of chain which connects them, are the necessary result of the operations and progress of the human mind; that they are at the same time supports of weakness and evidences and means of power. They are, moreover, imperatively demanded by the very nature of our intellectual faculties. They permit us either to rise to considerations of a higher order, and to soar in thought over the universe; or to descend to the minutest details; and by the light of certain established and acknowledged principles, to traverse with confidence the labyrinth of infinitely diversified facts, which it is advantageous to us to observe, for the purpose of comparing the new with the old, by seizing the analogies which con
nect them, of illustrating the one by the other, and of knowing and improving ourselves.
I readily admit that these general truths, presented separately, and in an unconnected form, are susceptible of being reduced to a smaller number, of being blended together, and perhaps of being concentrated into one universal principle, if we were to take a more general and comprehensive point of view, and to ascend to their common source. But this point of view belongs to those geniuses who have been more highly favoured by nature, who are more deeply imbued with the substance of the sciences, and placed in a more lofty sphere. It was, besides, my intention in adapting my plan to my ability, and treating specifically of Time, as an instrument to be taken into account in all human combinations, to write more particularly for youth, to whom it would be dangerous to offer too abstract considerations, and who will, like me, more readily comprehend truths of a simpler kind, exhibited in succession, and applied before their faces.
A system of employing time, which this work is designed to explain, pursued with perseverance and benefit for more than seven years, and the salutary habit of collecting daily during that