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"These Elementary Lectures, on Moral (or Mental) Philosophy, were delivered at the Royal Institution in the years 1804-5-6, before a mixed audience of ladies and gentlemen, upon a subject very little considered then in this country. They are scarcely more than an enumeration of those great men that have originated and treated on this important science, with a short account of their various opinions, and frequent compilations from their works. Though Mr. Sydney Smith had had the advantage of a close attendance, for five years, upon the beautiful lectures delivered by Mr. Dugald Stewart in the University of Edinburgh, and an almost daily communication with him, and with that remarkable man Dr. Thomas Brown, who succeeded Mr. Stewart in the professor's chair of Moral Philosophy, yet these Lectures, from the circumstances under which they were delivered, were necessarily very superficial; it being impossible to fix the attention of persons wholly unaccustomed to such abstruse and difficult subjects, with any beneficial effect, for the prescribed time of the Lecture. Some portions of the first course of Lectures were, a few years after, amplified and embodied in the "Edinburgh Review," under the titles of Professional Education, Female Education, and Public Schools; and as he considered what remained could be of no further use, he destroyed several, and was proceeding to destroy the whole. An earnest entreaty was made that those not yet torn up might be spared, and it was granted. These Lectures then (the first course being rendered very imperfect, though from the ninth they are perfect and consecutive) profess to be nothing more than a popular colloquial sketch of a very curious and interesting subject, written to be spoken. They are given in clear language, often illustrated by happy allusions, by eloquence, and by a playfulness of fancy that was eminently his own. Though very far from a learned book, it may prove perhaps an interesting one; conveying great truths, and much useful knowledge, in a less dry and repulsive shape than in a discussion on Moral Philosophy they are commonly to be found"--Book. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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