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These remarks are not introduced with a view to mitigate the force of any critical estimate that may be formed of the work, however unfavourable that estimate may be; for
one can be more sensible than the writer, that it might have been executed in a manner much more worthy of its distinguished and lamented subject. Indeed, had the sole object contemplated been to produce a popular book, or to gratify a particular class of readers, suitable talent and agency could doubtless have been employed with the best hopes of success; but, as the object was to pourtray more accurately a character, with the leading outlines of which the world was in some degree familiar; yet from whose principal scene of labour, lying remote from general observation, and connecting with it circumstances of so peculiar a nature, that a Biographer, though fully competent to the literary department, yet, destitute of the opportunity of daily observation, or intimate acquaintance, and consequently deficient in the personal knowledge essential to a correct estimate of character, could not be supposed qualified to do justice to the work, in other respects.
It therefore seemed highly desirable that Dr. Morrison's son and successor, Mr. J. R. Morrison, should furnish a detailed narrative of his father's life; however, it was with regret that he felt compelled to decline the proposal, on account (with other reasons) of the pressure of his official duties. Application was then made to the oldest of Dr. Morrison's surviving friends, who at first willingly acceded to the request; but, finding that his professional engagements,
and his distant residence (to which documents must be transmitted) from the metropolis, opposed obstacles to the necessary personal conference between him and the present compiler—the plan was eventually abandoned. Dis. appointments of this nature, combined with an unwillingness to incur further delay, induced the writer to re-consider a proposal made at an early period by friends, and to undertake herself the preparation of the narrative, having then abundant materials in her possession; and, although the sacrifice of feeling required in the performiance of this duty has necessarily been great, yet it would be amply compensated, could she indulge a faint hope that this humble tribute of affection to the memory of one so deservedly revered, was at all worthy of his virtues, or might be the means of stimulating others to pursue a similar course, of usefulness and honour, to that which he trod.
In the compilation of the work, it has been the constant aim of the writer to elucidate social, moral, and intellectual traits of character, by a simple narrative of facts, which supplies in itself such evidence of sound wisdom, and true piety, as to render unnecessary the aid of editorial embellishment, or indeed any original composition, further than was requisite to unite the different portions of the narrative, and explain their mutual connexion and dependence. But while fidelity and simplicity chiefly characterize the narrative, it is hoped that its deficiencies will be satisfactorily supplied by the very comprehensive analysis of Dr. Morrison's literary labours, given in the Appendix, by one, whose extensive acquaintance with the lacca;
language and literature of China, qualified him to fill the office of Principal in the Anglo-Chinese College at Ma
and now fits him for the Professorship, in the same department, in the University College, London; and it may be supposed, would also render him competent to form a just estimate of those labours, which are, but by few, in Europe, fully appreciated. Therefore, without further explanatory remarks, the entire work is committed to the impartial judgment of the philosophical enquirer, as well as to the christian candour of the general reader.
It only remains to acknowledge the obligations the writer is under to those public societies and friends, who kindly supplied letters and documents, which materially aided her in compiling the work. Among the former, are the British and Foreign Bible Society ; the London Missionary Society ; and the Religious Tract Society : and among the latter, Sir George T. Staunton, Bart.; Sir J. B. Urmston; Rev. J, Clunie, L.L.D.; J. T. Elphinstone, Esq.; W. Alers Hankey, Esq., &c., &c.
July 25th, 1839.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
From Jan. 31, to Sept. 8, 1807.
Leaves London for Gravesend.-Last Sermon.–Letter to his Brother.
-Embarkation and general outline of the Voyage to New York.
-Extracts from Journals and Letters.–Storm in the Channel.-
Last sight of England.—Tremendous Gale in the Atlantic.—Rescue
of the crew of the Merchant.-Arrival at New York.- Journal of
occurrences in America.—Acquaintance with Mrs. Graham.-
Departure from New York.-Separation from his Missionary
companions.-Reminiscences by Sigma.-Letter to his brother
Thomas.-Voyage to Canton.-Chased by a French ship-of-war.
-Crossing the Line.- Providential deliverance.- Arrival at Canton.
-Letter to Joseph Hardcastle, Esq.-Ditto to Joseph Reyner,
Esq.—Ditto to his Father.