Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE - Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 3
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PREFACE - Henry Home, Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 3 
Sketches of the History of Man Considerably enlarged by the last additions and corrections of the author, edited and with an Introduction by James A. Harris (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). 3 Vols. Vol. 3.
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Morality, Theology, and the Art of Reasoning, are three great branches of a learned education; and justly held to be so, being our only sure guides in passing through the intricate paths of life. They are indeed not essential to those termed men of the world: the most profound philosopher makes but an insipid figure in fashionable company; would be somewhat ridiculous at a court-ball; and an absolute absurdity among the gamesters at Ar-thur’s, or jockeys at New-market. But, these cogent objections notwithstanding, I venture to pronounce such studies to be not altogether unsuitable to a gentleman. Man is a creature full of curiosity; and to gratify that appetite, many roam through the world, submitting to heat and cold, nay to hunger and thirst, without a sigh. Could indeed that troublesome guest be expelled, we might hug ourselves in ignorance; and, like true men of the world, undervalue knowledge that cannot procure money, nor a new sensual pleasure. But, alas! the expulsion is not in the power of every one; and those who must give vent to their curiosity, will naturally employ it upon studies that make them good members of society, and endear them to every person of virtue.
And were we even men of the world in such perfection, as to regard nothing but our own interest; yet does not ignorance lay us open to the crafty and designing? and does not the art of reasoning guard many an honest man from being misled by subtile sophisms? With respect to right and wrong, not even passion is more dangerous than error. And as to religion, better it were to settle in a conviction that there is no God, than to be in a state of wavering and fluctuation; sometimes indulging every loose desire, as if we were not accountable beings; and sometimes yielding to superstitious fears, as if there were no god but the devil. To a well-disposed mind, the existence of a supreme benevolent Deity, appears highly probable: and if by the study of theology that probability be improved into a certainty, the conviction of a supreme Deity who rules with equity and mildness, will be a source of constant enjoyment, which I boldly set above the titillating pleasures of external sense. Possibly there may be less present amusement in abstract studies, than in newspapers, in party-pamphlets, or in Hoyl upon Whist: but let us for a moment anticipate futurity, and imagine that we are reviewing past transactions,—how pleasant the retrospect of those who have maintained the dignity of their nature, and employ’d their talents to the best purposes!
Contradictory opinions that have influence on practice, will be regretted by every person of a sound heart; and as erroneous opinions are commonly the result of imperfect education, I would gladly hope, that a remedy is not altogether out of reach. At the revival of arts and sciences, the learned languageswere our sole study, because in them were locked up all the treasures of useful knowledge. This study has long ago ceased to be the chief object of education; and yet the original plan is handed down to us with very little variation. Wishing to contribute to a more perfect system of education, I present to the public the following Sketches. The books that have been published on morality, theology, and the art of reasoning, are not eminent either for simplicity, or for perspicuity. To introduce these into the subjects mentioned, is my aim; with what success, is with deference submitted to the judgement of others. The historical part, hitherto much neglected, is necessary as a branch of my general plan; and I am hopeful, that, beside instruction, it will contribute to recreation, which, in abstract studies, is no less necessary than pleasant.