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vii

that I owed my first introduction to your Lordship, and the beginning of that friendship with which you have ever since been pleased to honour me.

I am,

MY LORD,

Your Lordship's most obedient,

And faithful humble Servant,

WILLIAM FORBES.

EDINBURGH, 24th March, 1806.

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INTRODUCTION.

Mx Mason prefaces his excellent and entertaining Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Gray, * with an observation, more remarkable for its truth than novelty, that “the lives of men of letters seldom abound 66 with incidents. A reader of sense and taste, therefore,” continues he,“ never expects to find, in the memoirs of a philosopher or poet, the same species of enter

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“ tainment or information which he would “ receive from those of a statesman or ge“ neral. He expects, however, to be either “ informed or entertained. Nor will he be

disappointed, did the writer take care to “ dwell principally on such topics as cha“racterize the man, and distinguish that “peculiar part which he acted in the va“ ried drama of society."

Keeping in view this rule of Mr Mason's, it is my purpose to give to the world some account of the late DR BEATTIE, a man, whose life, if it does not afford many

striking incidents, yet furnishes no unuseful lesson, and no mean incentive, to men of genius, how obscure soever their origin may be, or unpromising their early prospects; as it shews the degree of celebrity and independence at which they may reasonably hope to arrive, by the exertion of those talents which they inherit from Nature, and a virtuous conduct in the society in which Providence has placed them.

Before I enter, however, on this undertaking, I deem it necessary to offer some apology for my attempting it at all. I wish, indeed, that it had fallen to the lot of some other person better qualified to do justice to the subject; yet perhaps I may be thought to possess some advantages in that respect, which are essential to the execution of a work of this nature. For as he, who attempts to write biography,'ought to have had a near acquaintance with the person whose life and character he means to delineate; it is my pride to say, that, during the long period of almost forty years, I was honoured with Dr Beattie's unreserved

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