صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

to almost as many pages as the whole of the Doctor's own performance. This is accomplished by the help of large quotations from the papers and some of the printed works of Dr. P., and of rather tedious reflections and observations by the writer. But filial affection will be accepted as an honourable apology.

We shall now introduce a few miscellaneous quotations from that part of the volume which Dr. Priestley himself contributed. Some will be entertaining, and all may be useful to our readers.

The advantages of enuring the memory of young persons to vigorous exercise on important topics, are well represented in the instance of Dr. P.


It was my custom at that time to recollect as much as I could of the sermons I heard, and to commit it to writing. This practice I began very early, and continued it until I was able from the heads of a discourse to supply the rest myself. For not troubling myself to commit to memory much of the amplification, and writing at home almost as much as heard, I insensibly acquired a habit of composing with great readiness; and from this practice I believe I have derived great advantage through life; composition seldom employing so much time as would be necessary to write in long hand any thing I have published.' p. 14.

The following account of a person, whose character is by no means uncommon, may be a serviceable admonition to many.

With Lord Shelburne I saw a great variety of characters, but, of our neighbours in Wiltshire, the person I had the most frequent opportunity of seeing was Dr. Frampton, a clergyman, whose history may serve as a lesson to many. No man perhaps was ever better qualified to please in a convivial hour, or had greater talents for conversation and repartee; in consequence of which, though there were several things very disgusting about him, his society was much courted, and many promises of preferment were made to him. To these, notwithstanding his knowledge of the world, and of high life, he gave too much credit; so that he spared no expence to gratify his taste and appetite, until he was universally involved in debt; and though his friends made some efforts to relieve him, he was confined a year in the county prison, at a time when his bodily infirmities required the greatest indulgences; and he obtained his release but a short time before his death, on condition of his living on a scanty allowance; the income of his livings (amounting to more than 4001. per annum) being in the hands of his creditors, Such was the end of a man who kept the table

in a roar.

Dr. Frampton being a high churchman, he could not at first conceal his aversion to me, and endeavoured to do me some ill offices. But being a man of letters, and despising the clergy in his neighbourhood, he became at last much attached to me; and in his distresses was satisfied, I believe, that I was one of his most sincere friends. With some great defects he

kad some considerable virtues *, and uncommon abilities, which appeared more particularly in extempore speaking. He always preached without notes, and when, on some occasions, he composed his sermons, he could, if he chose to do it, repeat the whole verbatim. He frequently extem porized in verse, in a great variety of measures.' p. 75, 77.

The subsequent passage furnishes some particulars relative to the famous American patriot and philosopher, which deserve to be more generally known:

My winter's residence in London was the means of improving my acquantance with Dr. Franklin. I was seldom many days without seeing him, and being members of the same club, we constantly returned together. The difference with America breaking out at this time, our conversation was chiefly of a political nature; and I can bear witness, that he was so far from promoting, as was generally supposed, that he took every method in his power to prevent a rupture between the two countries. He urged so much the doctrine of forbearance, that for some time he was unpopular with the Americans on that account, as too much a friend to Great Britain. His advice to them was to bear every thing for the present, as they were sure in time to out grow all their grievances; as it could not be in the power of the mother country to oppress them long.

• He dreaded the war, and often said that, if the difference should come to an open rupture, it would be a war of ten years, and he should not live to see the end of it. In reality the war lasted near eight years, but he did live to see the happy termination of it. That the issue would be favorable to America, he never doubted. The English, he used to say, may take all our great towns, but that will not give them possession of the country. The last day that he spent in England, having given out that he should leave London the day before, we passed together without any other company; and much of the time was employed in reading American newspapers, especially accounts of the reception which the Boston port bill met with in America; and as he read the addresses to the inhabitants of boston from the places in the neighbourhood, the tears trickled down his cheeks.

It is much to be lamented, that a man of Dr. Franklin's general good character, and great influence, should have been an unbeliever in christianity, and also have done so much as he did to make others unbelievers. To me, however, he acknowledged that he had not given so much attention as he ought to have done to the evidences of christianity, and desired me to recommend to him a few treatises on the subject, such as I thought most deserving of his notice, but not of great length, promising to read them, and give ne his sentiments on them. Accordingly, I recommended to him Hartley's Evidences of Christianity in his Observations on Man, and what I had then written on the subject in my Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion. But the American war breaking out soon after, I do not believe that he ever found himself sufficiently at leisurefor the discussion.' pp. 88,90.

* Virtues, in the estimation of modern Socinians, are cheap and common things. We are not, therefore, to be surprized, if considerable ones are possessed by profane and profligate characters, palpably destitute of one spark of real love to God or man.-Rev.

[ocr errors]

From the Meditations on himself, with which, not unlike An toninus, Dr. P. concludes the first part of his Memoirs, we shall select two instructive passages :

As I have not failed to attend to the phenomena of my own mind, as well as to those of other parts of nature, I have not been insensible of some great defects, as well as some advantages, attending its constitution; having from an early period been subject to a most humbling failure of recollection, so that I have sometimes lost all ideas of both persons and things, that I have been conversant with. I have so completely forgotten what I have myself published, that in reading my own writings, what I find in them often appears perfectly new to me, and I have more than once made experiments the results of which had been published by me.

[ocr errors]

I shall particularly mention one fact of this kind, as it alarmed me much at the time, as a symptom of all my mental powers totally failing me, until I was relieved by the recollection of things of a similar nature having happened to me before. When I was composing the Dissertations which are prefixed to my Harmony of the Gospels, I had to ascertain something which had been the subject of much discussion relating to the Jewish passover (I have now forgotten what it was) and for that purpose had to consult, and compare several writers. This l'accordingly did, and digested the result in the compass of a few paragraphs which I wrote in short hand. But having mislaid the paper, and my attention having been drawn off to other things, in the space of a fortnight I did the same thing over again; and should never have discovered that I had done it twice, if, after the second paper was transcribed for the press, I had not accidentally_found the former, which I viewed with a degree of terror.' pp. 105, 107.

It has been a great advantage to me that I have never been under the necessity of retiring from company in order to compose any thing. Being fond of domestic life, 1 got.a habit of writing on any subject by the parlour fire, with my wife and children about me, and occasionally talking to them, without experiencing any inconvenience from such interruptions. Nothing but reading, or speaking without interruption, has been any obstruction to me. For I could not help attending (as some can) when others spoke in my hearing. These are useful habits, which studious persons in general might acquire, if they would; and many persons greatly distress themselves, and others, by the idea that they can do nothing except in perfect solitude or silence.' pp. 109, 110.

The Appendix, by Mr. Cooper, formerly of Manchester, occupies more than half of the present volume. It is a detailed account, exhibiting, to the greatest advantage in the writer's power, the labours and the eulogium of Dr. P. in philosophical, metaphysical, political, miscellaneous, and theological studies. Extensive information, and a considerable degree of talent, are manifested in this highly wrought panegyric. In the first article we remark a statement of a very important and authentic fact in the history of scientific discovery, and which we here bring forwards with peculiar pleasure, not only from attachment to our countryman, but because it is the due of common justice. It has been repeatedly affirmed, and is

[ocr errors]

generally believed, that the discovery of dephlogisticated air was made nearly at the same time, and in a manner totally independent of each other, by Priestley in England, Scheele in Sweden, and Lavoisier in France. The honours of the Swedish chemist are incontestable; but Lavoisier's claims are completely exploded by the fact, that Dr. P. had made the full discovery of oxygenous gas in June or July, 1774; and that, in the following October, he publicly narrated that discovery at the table of M. Lavoisier, and about the same time exhibited the experiments before several chemists at Paris. The scandalous want of common honesty in the false claims perpetually advanced by men of science in France, and their contemptible affectation of ignorance or inattention to the discoveries of British philosophers, merit every exposure.

Mr. C. with a great air of flourish and triumph, brings forward twenty-one difficulties as inseparable from the pneumatic theory, but sufficiently explicable on the phlogistic. Perhaps he is willingly ignorant that some of these questions have been solved, that at least a respectable approximation to the solu tion of others has been made, and that their whole force is far more than counterbalanced by the enormous weight of per plexities which loads the old theory.

All this, however, is tolerable, in comparison of many other pássages of this Appendix. Egotism and pedantry, insolence, and unblushing impiety, seem to be the most favourite expressions of this writer's soul. If we believe him, there is no alternative between being a knave or fool, on the one hand, or a soi-disant unitarian on the other. Need we say that ertremes commonly meet! For who but the blindest, or the most deceitful and arrogant of men, could affirm, that Philosophical Necessity, Materialism, and Socinianism, are now established beyond the possibility of a question? So flippant is his blasphemy, that he impudently avows his preparedness, on the ground of an obscure and mysterious problem in physiology, to renounce, without hesitation, the EXISTENCE of a DEITY!! "But if it do lead to Atheism, what then?" he asks. The only answer he deserves, in addition to the contempt of the wise, and the pity of the good, will readily arise in every sensible mind, "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." It must be a great satisfaction to America, to have acquired, as a judge, a man whom England would scruple as a witness. Our readers will decide how far this sceptical Appendix should be introduced to their families. The Theological Appendix by Mr. Christie, is not included in the present volume, but is announced as in the press.

From the wretched paper andtypography of this book, we suppose a large part of it was executed in America,

Art. V. Apxai; or the Evenings of Southill. Book I. By Nicholas Salmon, Author of Stemmata Latinitatis, and other Philological Works. 8vo. pp. 190 Price 5s. Mawman. 1806.

THE HE author of this volume is a native of France, who has made a laudable use of his residence in England for the study of our language. He dedicates this volume to Lady Elizabeth Whitbread, as "the result of researches (which) be has made, in consequence of her Ladyship's anxious wish that her children should be well grounded in the principles of languages." It gives us pleasure to learn that so respectable a character as the Lady of Mr. Whitbread cherishes such a wish; and we should be happy if we could recommend the present work as perfectly adapted to its accomplishment; but we have seldom met with a book less suited to the purposes of education, or indeed less competent to gratify inquirers into the genuine principles of the English language. We give credit to Mr. S. for the best intentions, and we do not question bis capacity for exciting the minds of children to philological research: but we regret that he has adopted an improper model for his imitation; partly as he has been betrayed by it into frivolity and prolixity, and partly as his powers are evidently incompetent to the transfusion of its merits into his work. The title alone indicates a servile conformity to Mr. Horne Tooke's Diversions of Purley, and the form and process confirm the apprehension of this error. We have, nevertheJess, the satisfaction to announce that, in whatever degree Mr. S. has failed of equalling the ingenuity and acumen of his prototype, or has copied his literary faults, he has entirely avoided bis licentiousness. Should the perseverance of youth, therefore, be equal to the task of toiling through the "Evenings of Southill," though we cannot promise them a suitable compensation, we can insure them from moral or political contamination by the pursuit.

Book the first of Mr. S.'s Apxa, consists of a dialogue on the little word By. This monosyllable is made one of the Interlocutors: and if it has not much to say for itself, it has, at least, a great deal to say on other subjects. Our author conceives, that even Mr. Horne Tooke, "the God of his idolatry," has not done justice to his little favourite, whom he has certainly taken no small pains to raise into general estimation. His own ideas of the significance of the word BY, may be gathered from an address which he makes to this grammatical personage in pp. 63, 64, of his book. We quote this passage, therefore, as a summary of his argument, and as a specimen of his discussion; that our readers may judge of the advan

« السابقةمتابعة »