Графични страници
PDF файл


It may be deemed, if not the duty, yet often the interest, of an editor or a biographer to keep himself out of sight; but I may seem so obviously chargeable with an affectation of delicacy and scrupulosity if I pretend to only a silent concern in this edition, that it can scarcely be expected I should not avail myself of a few words to explain the design with which it is sent out of my bands.

In the space of nearly twenty years, it may be presumed all has been stated, which has any chance of coming before the public from any other source, respecting the Life and Writings of Dr. Paley; and that his works have undergone all the criticism of his contemporaries, as well as change of form and arrangement, which may have been thought requisite. Yet there is (necessarily perhaps from the way in which many of these editions have been compiled) enough of irrelevancy in the matter, and defect in the arrangement of these works, to dissatisfy any one who takes an interest in the name and memory of the author. How far indeed a son may suppose that his father cannot be recognized in what has already been made public in so many shapes, merely because he finds it at variance with his own feelings, will not be left to my decision ; but if it be not a sort of filial presumption to feel a pride, as well as a property in a father's name, I would fain think myself called upon to set his name and memory right with the public, or at least give a correct, and if possible, an improved edition of his works. As they at present stand, they are but poorly trimmed for posterity.

My duty indeed as a biographer and editor will be more pleasantly discharged, if I disclaim any great pretension to either of these titles, and only acknowledge that I am greatly indebted to the advice of those, without whose suggestion I might not have attempted, and without whose assistance I could scarcely have ventured, to bring forward this present edition.

As to the sketch of the life prefixed to this edition, except a few home-touches of character, it may more properly deserve the name of a critique, or correction of what has already been before the public under many names. The lives which have already appeared are, 1. An article in the Public Characters, for 1802. 2. Biographical Dictionary, by Aikin, 1808. 3. Meadley, first edition, 1809; second edition enlarged, 1810. 4. Biographical Dictionary, by Chalmers, 1814. 5. An edition of Paley's Works, with a Life by Chalmers. 6. A small 18mo edition, with a short sketch of the author's Life. 7. The Works of W. Paley, D.D., with an extract from his correspondence, and a Life of the author, by the Rev. Robert Lynam, A.M., Assistant Chaplain to the Magdalen Hospital, 1823. This edition, it may be observed, is accompanied by the following advertisement: “All possible care has been taken to render this edition superior in every respect to preceding editions." It is only necessary for me to say, that hitherto none of Dr. Paley's family have had any connexion with any of the foregoing Lives or Works; nor have they, except in one instance, thought it their concern to interfere in any way with those booksellers who have had the right of managing them. Besides these, there have been many occasional notices scattered through different periodical publications, some of which may have originated with his friends. To the Memoirs of Dr. Paley, by G. Wilson Meadley, I am induced to give a decided preference, both on account of their general accuracy, and the diligent research made by that writer in collecting materials for a “ Life” with which he was almost entirely unacquainted. I can scarcely indeed claim attention to any thing of my own, except it be to the correcting of some, and confirming, or at most adding to other parts of what he has written. To a late edition of Paley's works there is a life prefixed by Alexander Chalmers, probably enlarged from one in a Biographical Dictionary by the same author in 1814; but both evidently, though not avowedly, gleaned from Meadley's Memoirs. I must, however, acknowledge, that I have gleaned, as from many other quarters, so from this ; but only so far as I could draw myself away from a little acrimony, which, however it may suit his purpose, will interest his readers less, since it is particularly directed to that very writer from whom he has bor

rowed so largely. However, from Meadley's Dedication “to the friends of civil and religious liberty," and also from that reserve of high rank in one, or breaking down of another," which has been hinted at in the Quarterly Review of Meadley's Memoirs, I would withdraw with the same kind of feeling that would lead me to keep out of a scrape : as I cannot be ignorant of what is meant by such insinuations, so I am desirous of considering them groundless and idle. My object will be found to be of a higher kind. What is presented new may not be more free from irrelevancies, for into such the subject is not unlikely to run under my hand. It is derived from family recollections and the domestic life of an affectionate father; and though it may be no other than the private history of any family may afford, it forms, at least to his friends, not only the most gratifying, but the most interesting part of his character. As far as I have been able, from some hints discovered in his own hand-writing, I have preferred that he should speak for himself. I feel conscious, however, that little of this sort worthy of distinction is within my reach; because from the period of life at which most of his family were left at his death, and from his own habits in private, which were formed rather to contemplation than communication, but least of all to any display of himself-none knew less of the general incidents of his public life than his own family. It may, therefore, be worth while to pay a particular attention to his mind, so far, that is, as it may consist with a biographical sketch. At the same time that no man's life less abounded in important incident, or rather in public interest, no man's mind seems better worth following from the rise to the maturity of many of his opinions and principles. This also may account for so much of his private life and habits being brought forward in the following pages; as exclusive of the consideration that every man has his own concern in the public as well as private events of his life, so far as these may make an impression on his character-it seemed almost the bent of his inclination to try his most private and insignificant actions by the test of his public principles.

As to that part of his works now first edited, it is brought forward rather as a substitute for some matter which was in no sense original, than as making any fresh claim upon public attention, or perhaps materially affecting the credit of the author. As it has been no part of my design, so it may almost be conceived that it is no part of my desire, to indulge either less or

« ПредишнаНапред »