صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


R 1910


District Clerk's Office. Be it remembered, that on the sixteenth day of April, A. D. 1830, in the fifty-fourth year of the Independence of the United States of America, John Baker of the said district, has deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit :

“Discourses, Reviews, and Miscellanies, by William Ellery Channing." In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned':' and also to an acı, entitled, * An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints."

Clerk of the District of Massachusetts




The present volume, is, with the exception of one discourse, a republication of various tracts, which were called forth by particular occasions, and which were never intended to appear in their present form.—The reader cannot be more aware than I am, that they need inany and great changes; but they would probably have never been republished, had I waited for leisure to conform them to my ideas of what they should be, or to make them more worthy of the unexpected favor which they have received. The articles, in general, were intended to meet the wants of the times when they were written, and to place what I deem great truths, within reach of the multitude of men. If the reader will bear in mind this design, some defects will more readily be excused. The second review, in particular, should be referred to the date of its original publication.

Certain tracts, which drew a degree of attention on their first appearance, have been excluded from this volume. My reasons for so doing are various. Some have been omitted, because they seem to me of little or no worth; some, because they do not express sufficiently my present views; and some, because they owed their interest to events, which have faded more or less from the public mind. In their present form, I wish none of them to be found in a collection of my writings.

I esteem it a privilege, that my writings have called forth many strictures, and been subjected to an unsparing criticism. I know that in some things I must have erred. I cannot hope, that even in my most successful efforts, I have done full justice to any great truth. Deeply conscious of my fallibleness, I wish none of my opin

ions to be taken on trust, nor would I screen any from the most rigorous examination. If my opponents have exposed my errors, I owe them a great debt; and should I fail, through the force of prejudice, to see and acknowledge my obligation to them in this life, I hope to do so in the future world.

I have declined answering the attacks made on my writings, not from contempt of my opponents, among whom are men of distinguished ability and acknowledged virtue, but because I believed that I should do myself and others more good, by seeking higher and wider views, than by defending what I had already offered. I feared that my mind might become stationary by lingering round my own writings. I never doubted, that if anything in these were worthy to live, it would survive all assaults, and I was not anxious to uphold for a moment, what was doomed, by its want of vital energy, to pass away.

There is one charge, to which, it may be thought, that I ought to have replied, the charge of misrepresenting the opinions of my opponents. When I considered, however, that in so doing, I should involve myself in personal controversy, the worst of all controversies, I thought myself bound to refrain. Had I entered on this discussion, I must have spoken with great freedom, and should have caused great exasperation. I must have set down as a grave moral offence, the disingenuousness so common at the present day, which, under pretence of maintaining old opinions, so disguises and discolors them, that they can with difficulty be recognised. I must have thrown back the charge of misrepresentation, and shown how unfairly I was reproached with ascribing to my adversaries opinions, which I supposed them to .reject, and which I only affirmed to be necessarily involved in their acknowledged doctrines. I must have met the quotations from their standard authors, which were arrayed against me, by showing, that these were examples of the self-contradiction, or inconsistency, which is inseparable from error. What kind of a controversy would have grown out of such a reply, can easily be conjectured. I certainly did not think, that, by provoking it, I should aid the cause of good morals or good manners, of piety or peace. That I have never been unjust to those who differ from me, I dare not say; for in this particular, better men than myself often err. Perhaps, too, I ought to apprehend, that I have sometimes wanted due deference to the feelings of those, whose opinions I have called in question; for I have been loudly

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