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FOR THE USE OF SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES;
COMPRISING THE FIRST SIX BOOKS AND PORTIONS OF THE ELEVENTH
1869, July 8. Gift of Macmillan & Co. of London.
PRINTED BY C. J. CLAY, M.A.
In offering to students and teachers a new edition of the Elements of Euclid, it will be proper to give some account of the plan on which it has been arranged, and of the advantages which it hopes to present.
Geometry may be considered to form the real foundation of mathematical instruction. It is true that some acquaintance with Arithmetic and Algebra usually precedes the study of Geometry; but in the former subjects a beginner spends much of his time in gaining a practical facility in the application of rules to examples, while in the latter subject he is wholly occupied in exercising his reasoning faculties.
In England the text-book of Geometry consists of the Elements of Euclid; for nearly every official programme of instruction or examination explicitly includes some portion of this work. Numerous attempts have been made to find an appropriate substitute for the Elements of Euclid; but such attempts, fortunately, have hitherto been made in vain. The advantages attending a common standard of reference in such an important subject, can hardly be overestimated; and it is extremely improbable, if Euclid were once abandoned, that any agreement would exist as to the author who should replace him. It cannot be denied that
defects and difficulties occur in the Elements of Euclid, and that these become more obvious as we examine the work more closely; but probably during such examination the conviction will grow deeper that these defects and difficulties are due in a great measure to the nature of the subject itself, and to the place which it occupies in a course of education; and it may be readily believed that an equally minute criticism of any other work on Geometry would reveal more and graver blemishes.
Of all the editions of Euclid that of Robert Simson has been the most extensively used in England, and the present edition substantially reproduces Simson's; but his translation has been carefully compared with the original, and some alterations have been made, which it is hoped will be found to be improvements. These alterations, however, are of no great importance; most of them have been introduced with the view of rendering the language more uniform, by constantly using the same words when the same meaning is to be expressed.
As the Elements of Euclid are usually placed in the hands of young students, it is important to exhibit the work in such a form as will assist them in overcoming the difficulties which they experience on their first introduction to processes of continuous argument. No method appears to be so useful as that of breaking up the demonstrations into their constituent parts; this was strongly recommended by Professor De Morgan more than thirty years ago as a suitable exercise for students, and the plan has been adopted more or less closely in some modern editions. An excellent example of this method of exhibiting the Elements of Euclid will be found in an edition in quarto, published at the Hague, in the French language, in 1762. Two persons are named in the title-page as concerned in the work,