To The Reader:
WHOEVER you may be who happen to take up this book, if you belong to that numerous and respectable class who cannot afford to employ a great part of their time in reading, and have not the means of buying but very cheap works it is for you that I have written the one which you now hold in
your hands. Who I am, I will tell you presently ; for I mean, by your favour, to hold a pretty long conversation ^vith you ; but let me speak first about this little book. I wrote, a few months ago, a work on the Roman Catholic Religion, which, as I hear from the- booksellers, has hud a good sale among
the rich. I might, indeed, rest satisfied with this success, if, even at the time when I was working hard with my pen, a whisper within had not said to me " Are you sure that the prospect of gain or praise is not the real cause of all this labour ?"--" I am well aware (said I) that the heart is deceitful above all things*, and that, sure as I feel of the purity of my motives, yet something may be wrong in them. I will, however, with God's blessing, if this book should be well received, write another for the poor. I will give it away to be printed for them at the cheapest rate, and will make no profit at all by it. I will take care, besides, that it contain, in a small
compass, more than my work for the higher classes; and it shall be written in a manner that will require no learning to be well understood." My book, as I have told you already, was published, and the great people were pleased to say that I had pn my point. Then letters came to me from some very worthy gentlemen, urging me to print a cheaper edition of my work, that it be within the power of the poor to buy it. I was thankful indeed for this piece of advice : but my mind had been previously made up to go beyond it. It cheered me up, however, and I immediately set about composing this little work on purpose for you. But when I took up the pen I was very undecided as to the manner which would best afford you both instruction and entertainment. After casting many schemes in my mind, it appeared to me, that by imagining myself sitting by your side, and entering into a conversation upon the subject which I propose to treat, I should make the reading of this book less tiresome, than if I wrote in the usual way, and had all the talk to myself, in set chapters. I mean, therefore, to give you a share in the composition of the work itself: and though it is impossible for me to guess exactly what you would say if we were conversing together, I hope that the questions and remarks which I shall put in your mouth, will be such as you would not be sorry to have used, and not very unlike those which your own mind would suggest. Let us, then, if you please, begin our first
conversation, or Dialogue ; in which you will bear the name of Reader, and myself that of
Author: and may God bless the result to both of us.