The earlier part of this book contains an account of certain Mathematical Recreations: this is followed by some Essays on subjects most of which are directly concerned with historical mathematical problems. I hasten to add that the conclusions are of no practical use, and that most of the results are not new. If therefore the reader proceeds further he is at least forewarned. At the same time I think I may say that many of the questions discussed are interesting, not a few are associated with the names of distinguished mathematicians, while hitherto several of the memoirs quoted have not been easily accessible to English readers. A great deal of new matter has been added since the work was first issued in 1892, but insertions made since 1911, when the book was stereotyped, have had to be placed where room for them could best be found.
The book is divided into two parts, but in both parts I have excluded questions which involve advanced mathematics.
The First Part now consists of ten chapters, in which are described various problems and amusements of the kind usually termed Mathematical Recreations. Several of the questions mentioned in the first five chapters are of a somewhat trivial character, and had they been treated in any standard English work to which I could have referred the reader, I should have left them out: in the absence of such a work, I thought it better to insert them and trust to the judicious reader to omit them altogether or to skim them as he feels inclined.