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Truth will bear repetition, and often requires it to be heard and understood.
The causes and acts which tend to destroy the peace and safety of society ought to be repeated often enough, and in language sufficiently loud and severe, to be heard and attended to, and understood by all those concerned.
Repetition is also in lieu of emphasis, or in the nature of a stress laid upon any event or any danger.
If, then, by repeating existing evils, and tracing out their secret and hidden causes, the attention of the credulous and the unwary shall be called to them, so as to enable them to avoid danger, infinite good will follow.
It must also be remembered that the mental faculties, secret propensities, and animal passions of man are so blended and interwoven together, that it is sometimes difficult from his actions to detect the impulses, or nominate the emotions, by which he is incited or induced to act; and that he often acts under a combination of influences so hidden and mysterious as to baffle the most acute observation and profound experience.
An abstract or theoretical dissertation, however profound and logical, will not expose his dark and lurking propensities. It can only be done by a careful scrutiny upon his sinister and unguarded developments. His craft and subtilty are so deep and refined that this precaution is necessary to detect him. He must be watched in the first impulse of reason and passion, puberty and maturity, through all the exigencies of life.
It cannot be done by hypothesis, generalization, or abstract reasoning.
It must be done by the exposure of facts as tangible as physiological demonstrations made upon the vital sensations of the heart and the nerves.
The mode adopted for the treatment of this subject is therefore by chapters, under appropriate titles intended to define and indicate with graphic accuracy the moral and mental phases of his motives, impulses, and actions.
The cases and examples employed by way of illustration are faithful representations of events and circumstances which have really occurred, unaided by embellishment or fiction. They furnish an imperfect glimpse at the revolving kaleidoscope of man's cunning devices and mysterious ways.
While, for ages past, the popular arts and sciences, those which minister to the passions and cupidity of mankind, have been elaborately investigated and successfully explored, the illimitable and infinite occult mysteries of human nature, a thorough knowledge of which is so intimately essential to man's social safety and moral elevation, have nowhere been made the subject of a distinct philosophical disquisition.
This undeniable omission of scientific research has left open and almost wholly unexplored a chasm in the dark mysteries of human nature, the neglect to examine into and penetrate which has come from a cowardly fear of self-exposure, or the egotism of self-sufficiency, self-knowledge, and self-complacency.
No pretensions are here affected of a systematic analysis or scientific exposition of “ The Philosophy of Human Nature.”
Its magnitude and importance require the research and learning of ages; all that is here attempted is to put down faithfully a few suggestions, observations, and developments, the result of the close experience of one man's life of sixty years, which may serve perhaps as a beacon-light for the young, and an incentive to the aged for their contributions to a work which shall successfully solve the dark and wonderful problems of the human heart.
FRANCIS E. BREWSTER.