The following sheets were, as the note on the opposite page expresses, printed so long ago as the year 1780. The design, in pursuance of which they were written, was not so extensive as that announced by the present title. They had at that time no other destination than that of serving as an introduction to a plan of a penal code in terminis, designed to follow them, in the same volume. The body of the work had received its completion according to the then present extent of the author's views, when, in the investigation of some ﬂaws he had discovered, he found himself unexpectedly entangled in an unsuspected corner of the meta physical maze. A suspension, at first not apprehended to be more than a temporary one, necessarily ensued: suspension brought on coolness, and coolness, aided by other concurrent causes, ripened into disgust. Imperfections pervading the whole mass had already been pointed out by the sincerity of severe and discerning friends; and conscience had certified the-justness of their censure. The inordinate length of some of the chapters, the apparent inutility of others, and the dry and metaphysical turn of the whole, suggested an apprehension, that, if published in its present form, the work would contend under great disadvantages for any chance, it might on other accounts possess, of being read, and consequently of being of use.