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TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The writer of the following Memoir has too much confidence in the kindness of the public, to deem it necessary for him to deprecate the severity of its criticism, or to entreat its favourable verdict on his labours. He is not unaware, that the partiality of a father for an only child-lately the last earthly solace to which he could look, on the loss of all the other members of his fainily—may have led him to dwell on scenes, which, however dear to his own heart, from those numerous and powerful associations, of which he alone is conscious, may present but little to interest the feelings of others.
If he has over-rated the talents and attainments of his beloved child, he has erred in common with some whose names stand high in more than one department of literature and science. * tainly felt no inconsiderable diffidence in offering to the notice of the public a life of his son, till he found that many, who had no parental partialities, and who were, in every other respect, more competent judges than himself, had formed as high an estimate of those talents as he entertained; and some of whom had expressed a wish that a work of this kind should be undertaken.
* See the various testimonies of Dr. Wardlaw, and Professors Walker, Jardine, Mylne, and Meiklebam, in different parts of the following Memoir.
The writer may be suspected of partiality, especially in describing the moral and religious character of his son. It will, however, be admitted, that no other had such means of knowing that character; and he solemnly declares, that he is utterly unconscious of presenting one feature more strongly than truth permitted, or even demanded. When he asserts -as he does most conscientiously, that he never, for the last fourteen years, endured one anxious feeling of apprehension respecting his child's future interests in time or eternity-that, from a perfect conviction of the purity and strength of his religious principles, his parents could ever repose on him the most unlimited confidence the public will admit that, in whatever he has said, he is, at least, sincere. On this subject he dares to apeal, without hesitation, fronı his own testimony, to the united opinions of many-and especially of those numerous youths, both at home and at College, with whom his son was most intimately acquainted ; and to whom he necessarily appeared, in his hours of relaxation, without even the possible suspicion of disguise. If TRUTH be PANEGYRIC, the eulogium must stand : and the writer can never sufficiently praise God that, in this case, a eulologium can be fairly pronounced; and that, amidst necollections which awaken all the tenderest and most painful emotions of his heart, he has not to look back on ONE act of disobedience, or ONE moral delinquency of his son. That son was, unquestionably, conscious of his own imperfections, before God; and sought, through the mediation of a Saviour, the pardon of his sins; but, in all that was visible to man, there was the evident operation of
that sacred principle, which taught him "to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world."*
The writer has found it difficult to satisfy himself in making a selection from Essays and Poems, which would, altogether, fill several volumes, and which afford striking evidences of industry, if not of taste and judgment. Three Prize Essays--each of which, it is believed, would nearly equal in size the present volume-are wholly or partially excluded, tbecause too large for insertion,-generally too consecutive to admit of partial extracts, -and too compressed to be capable of a good abridgment. In making the selection, he has done his best. That he has not chosen the worst portion of his son's writings, will be readily believed: but, as he could only make a selection, he can confidently assert, that there are among the unpublished pieces several quite equal to those contained in these volumes, and one I superior to any among them.
The author has to make for himself an apology which, under any other circumstances than those in which he has been placed, would be totally inadmissible. And it will require all the kindness of the public admit it even here. His apology is,
that he has written hastity, and amidst numerous other engagements, many of which have been painful ones-rendered unavoidable, however, either by the daties of his station, or by the claims of friendship. attention to those other employments from which he could not, in conscience, wholly shrink-and he felt that till he had - accomplished this painfully pleasing task, he could not give to those official labours, in which his hearı delighted, that undivided attention which he believes to be due to them. Besides this, he knew that, however imperfectly qualified, either by latural or acquired endowments, for the task of a biographer, he was the only person living who could give a history of his son's mind :he thought that the history, together with specimens of his productions, might he serviceable to some parents and to many young persons :-and, from the experience of the last eighteen months, which had swept off, in rapid succession, seven of his relations and many of his best friends, he felt that it was dangerous to calculate on protracted life; and that what his “ hand found to do, it should do with all its might.” This last consideration-amidst the awful solitude of his once cheerful abode-has given to the others a force perfectly irresistible.
* But why write in so hurried a manner?'-The truth is, that having once determined on the memoir, he could not, without a violent effort, direct his
* Titus ii. 12. + The first and last chapters of an “ ESSAY ON TRIBUNITIAL POWER,” are given.
* An - ESSAY ON THE STANDARD OF TASTE."
Whether this statement may, or may not be admitted as an apology, for the imperfections of the following work, it is confide: tly hoped, that criticism will spare the feelings of a disconsolate father, who has nothing left of a fainily he ardently loved, but the fond remembrance of warm attachments and christian virtues, which, amidst many sighs and tears, he has honestly, however inadequately, attempted to display.
Poole, March, 1822.