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- ONE OF THE MOST USEFUL OF ALL THE PRODUCTIONS OF THE
WHITTAKER AND CO., AVE MARIA LANE;
In presenting this Work to the public, the Author has to bespeak the indulgence of certain classes of individuals, whose anticipated gratification he can only hope to have partially succeeded in realizing : he alludes to those who may happen to be professionally engaged in any of the branches of science or business touched upon in the following pages. Should it, therefore, be discovered that the writer of this treatise is neither a Geologist, a Collier, nor a Coal Merchant, the harshness of criticism may surely be deprecated, until some one avowedly possessing such threefold qualification shall compile a volume better adapted than the present for popular instruction, and more accurately conformable to the present state of knowledge in reference to the various matters discussed.
That the subject is an interesting one, few persons, it may be presumed, will deny : indeed, this fact is abundantly illustrated by the importance attached to disquisitions on one branch of it, by geological writers—to another of its bearings, by the legislature—and to the third, by the whole community: for the origin and position of our stores of fossil fuel have abundantly exercised the learning of the first class ; the regulation of its vend at home and abroad, the attention of the second ; and the economical application of it, is confessedly of transcendent importance to the third class—comprising, as it also does, both the others.
On these grounds, the writer— whose literary avocations have brought him into contact with cognate inquiries, and wbo, on other accounts, may perhaps be allowed to presume he is not quite unqualified for the task — thought that a comprehensive but somewhat compendious notice of the whole subject, as announced in the title-page, and arranged as a sort of monograph, while it would be convenient and useful for the library in general, could hardly fail to be acceptable to many persons who, without wishing to push their inquiries into those voluminous publications through which the matter lies scattered, much less who think of embarking capital in the coal trade on the credit of any literary recommendation, might nevertheless be glad to meet with a succinct description of what has been done in the various departments, and the bearing of which is actually so important.