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John Smith, M. D. Professor of
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P R E F A C E.
HE practical part of the following work was gradually
collected when the writer was very young; and what was begun to be written in detached sheets, afterwards became the materials of an interesting treatise. This part, indeed, may justly be deemed the most valuable of the whole, as it tends to inform the publick of matters very little understood or confidered beyond the confines of a Mineral district.
Minerals that are plenty and precious being generally confined to small tracts of country and a barren soil, are therefore remote from that publick observation which commerce and agriculture so deservedly attract : yet it is a matter of astonishment, that an object of the first national consequence, in point of time, should so long remain, even to the present hour, a secret limited to a few illiterate people. It is well known, that Tin and Lead were the first and grandest staples of Great-Britain, particularly the former, which introduced a trade and navigation before unknown to the discoverers of our western coasts. This trade founded on Mining still subfifts, with many practical improvements and discoveries ; and though corn and wool have contributed the largest share of riches and population to these flourishing kingdoms, yet that consideration does not by any means lessen the importance of the Mining interest. When we reflect upon the vast profusion of Silver, Tin, Copper, Lead, Iron, and Coal, yearly produced from the bowels of our Mines, which exceedingly furpasses our internal consumption, and therefore must afford a very considerable branch of commerce ; we shall find it difficult to account for that supineness, which has hitherto declined the investigation of a subject of so much national importance.
The want of such assistance, in the direction of the useful art of Mining, as it is hoped this treatise may afford, has been long complained of. It cannot, however, be denied that
our Mines are mostly well conducted; yet no small advantages may be derived from reducing the vague practice of common Miners to a regular science, and bringing the experience of many into a single point of view. Nor will those advantages be confined solely to practical Miners : every corner of this island, Ireland, and many of the colonies, abounds with a variety of Minerals, wholly unknown to the possessors; and was the knowledge of the indications of Metals, and the mode of working Mines more diffused, new discoveries would daily be made to the great profit of landed proprietors, and the advantage of the publick, by increasing its revenue, and employing considerable numbers of the laborious
poor. As a striking proof of the want of such a treatise, before the latter end of the last century, vast quantities of rich Copper Ore in Cornwall were thrown away as useless ! Indeed, it may be safely said, that eleventwelfths of his Majesty's subjects are totally unacquainted with any part or branch of our enquiry, that by itself, and its great consumption of various materials, brings in so great a revenue to the crown, and so much wealth to the community.
To acquire a competent knowledge in Mines, &c. a long residence in their vicinity is certainly necessary; and this advantage, at least, I can with truth lay claim to: yet as this is the writer's first attempt in literary composition, it will, for that reason, have many faults; and he must rely on the candour of the publick for the favourable reception of an undertaking that ought long ago to have employed the ableft hand. However, I have not omitted to take the opinions of many persons well versed in the various departments of this work, which, from the number of natural and practical discoveries it contains, and the vast importance of the general subject, I may venture to pronounce, with all its faults, a valuable ,acquisition to the library of every nobleman and gentleman in these kingdoms.
The great parts of this work are arranged in the following order. The first book treats of the origin, formation, and substance of Minerals and Metals ; the first and second chapters of which inculcate the doctrine of water, as the solvent, vehicle, and cement of Metals and Minerals, or their principles, in proportion to the faturation of the one, and the magnetism of the respective niduses of the other. The theory here given, is, in . some instances, established in the process of precipitation. The third chapter, which treats of the substances of Minerals, Metals,