In reading historical surveying works, the Practical Surveyor stands out as an useful guide and not a theoretical textbook. Although there is a slight amount of geometry in the beginning of the book, the bulk of the work relies
on basic math, without even the use of sines and cosines. Likewise, although a variety of surveying instruments are detailed, there are complete instructions for surveying with a chain only (which would work equally well with a measuring tape).
Modern electronic instruments have largely replaced old tools, and modern computers allow vastly more measurements to be used for improved precision and accuracy. While The Practical Surveyor won't supercede hiring a professional land surveyor, it is sufficient to teach a novice to confidently survey any plot of land.
The techniques for measuring with plane table, theodolite, or cirumferentor (staff compass) are as valid today as they were in 1725. Once measurements have been made, there are clear directions for drawing a map and calculating areas and other properties. An example is provided of a survey of a small farm, complete with field notes, a field book with all of the measurements, and a finished map.
Additional sections detail determining the difference in altitude between two locations, finding true north using either the sun or Polaris, coloring maps using watercolors with details on the specific pigment materials, surveying rivers and large towns, dividing land, and drawing perspective pictures with the aid of a theodolite. Mr. Wyld prefaces the work with a lively introduction.
The text is identical to the 1725 first edition. It has been re-typeset for clarity using the original font, spelling, and punctuation. The long s (which looks like an 'f' to modern readers) is used as per the original. The book includes reproductions of the original figures from six copperplates, all of the original advertisements, and all of the original woodcut illustrations.
I have written brief notes to accompany the text. These are all at the back of the volume so as not to interfere with the original work. The notes include a few corrections to some errors in the book, a list of all of the tools and instruments used, and a glossary of words. I hope that these are of use.