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to household affairs, she entirely relieved me of all concern of that kind, which allowed me to give all my time to the prosecution of my studies, and the other duties of my station.
During his continuance at Warrington, the memorialist published, among other works, his History of Electricity, and his Chart of Biography; the last of which procured for him the title of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh, and the former introduced him into the Royal Society. Though we are not presented with any composition in verse, Dr. P. informs us that he occasionally indulged himself in making rhymes; and that, if he never attained to the rank of a poet, his verses had at least the good fortune of inducing Mrs. Barbauld (then Miss Aikin) to cultivate the Muses. From Warrington, he removed to Leeds; where he continued his theological and philosophical pursuits. It was at this period of his life that he became a Socinian, in consequence of his having read Dr. Lardner's Letter on the Logos; and that he wrote his first pam. phlet en Fixed Air, which was soon followed by his Experiments on Air, published in the Philosophical Transactions, for which he received the Copley Medal.
Having by his friend Dr. Price been recommended to the Earl of Shelburne, afterward Marquis of Lansdowne, Dr. Priestley left Leeds in order to form a part of the establishment of that nobleman, on a salary of 250k, per annum, and a residence. With Lord Shelburne he visited the continent; and his observations on the philosophers whom he encountered at Paris, in the year 1774, merit particolar notice:
* As I was suficiently apprized of the fact, I did not wonder, as I otherwise should have done, to find all the philosophical persons to whom I was introduced at Paris unbelievers in christianity, and even professed Atheista. As I chose on all occasions to appear as a christian, I was told by some of them, that I was the only person they had ever met with, of whose understanding they had any opinion, who professed to believe christianity. But on interrogating them on the subject, I soon found that they had given no proper attention to it, and did not really know what christianity was. This was also the case with a great part of the company that I saw at Lord Shelburne's. But I hope that my always avowing myself to be a christian, and holding myself ready on all occasions to defend the genuine principles of it, was not without its use. Having conversed so much with unbelievers at home and abroad, I thought I should be able to combat their prejudices with some advantages, and with this view I wrote, while I was with Lord Shelburne, the first part of my Letters to a philosophical unbeliever, in proof of the doctrines of a God and a providence.'
Various other works were pub'ished by Dr. P. while he remained in the family of this nobleman: but the connection
was not of long continuance; and it appears by the remarks made after its dissolution, that the philosopher derived as little satisfaction from it as the peer:
• Reflecting on the time that I spent with Lord Shelburne, being as a guest in the family, I can truly say that I was not at all fasci. nated with that mode of life. Instead of looking back upon it with Tegret, one of the greatest subjects of my present thankfulness is the change of that situation for the one in which I am now placed ; and yet I was far from being unhappy there, much less so than those who are born to such a state, and pass all their lives in it. These are gewerally unhappy from the want of necessary employment, on which account chiefly there appears to be much more happiness in the middle classes of life, who are above the fear of want, and yet have a sufficient motive for a constant exertion of their faculties ; and who have always some other object besides amusement.
• I used to make no scruple of maintaining, that there is not only most virtue, and most happiness, but even most true politeness in the middle classes of life. For in proportion as men pass more of their time in the society of their equals, they get a better established habit of governing their tempers; they attend more to the feelings of others, and are more disposed to accommodate themselves to them. On the other hand, the passions of persons in higher life, having 'been less controlled, are more apt to be inflamed; che idea of their tank and superiority to others seldom quits them; and though they are in the habit of concealing their feelings, and disguising their passions, it is not always so well done, but that persons of ordinary discernment may perceive what they inwardly suffer. On this account, they are really intitled to compassion, it being the almost une avoidable consequence of their education and mode of life.'
The next era in Dr. Priestley's history was his settlement at Birmingham; where, till the period of the riots, he spent his time much to his satisfaction : but where, in consequence of the great freedom of his theological writings, a scene of affliction was preparing for him, which must remain an indelible stain on the liberality of this country, at the conclusion of the eighteenth century. We wish that we could draw a veil over this part of the memoir ; for no controversial indiscretion, or even violence, on the part of Dr. P., could authorize the method which his enemies took to silence him. He may not be justified in asserting that the friends of the court, if not the prime ministers themselves, were the favourers of the riot :' but the ministers of the king did not consult the honour of the nation, by omitting to extend to this philosophic sufferer the most ample indemnification : especially as the sun awarded him at the Warwick Assizes was very inadequate to his loss.-So unpopular was he become, chiefly on the score of bis Unitarian publications, that London scarcely afforded him a refuge ; and after having meditated to settle at Hackney, where
he had been invited to succeed his late friend Dr. Price, he deemed it expedient to seek an asylum in the American States. He felt, however, some difficulty in renouncing his country; and he subjoins some reasons which, in addition to those previously given in the preface to his Fast sermon, ultimately induced him to take this step:
· The bigotry of the country in general made it impossible for me to place my sors in it to any advantage. William had been some time in France, and on the breaking out of the troubles in that country he had embarked for America, where his two brothers met him. My own situation, if not hazardous, was become unpleasant, so that I thought my removal would be of more service to the cause of truth than my longer stay in England. At length, therefore, with the approbation of all my friends without exception, but with great re. luctance on my owo part, I came to that resolution ; I being at a time of life in which I could not expect much satisfaction as to friends and society, comparable to that which I left, in which the resumption of my philosophical pursuits must be attended with great disadvantage, and in which success in my still more favourite pursuit, the propagation of Unitarianism, was still more uncertain.'
Even at sea, Dr. Priestley's pen was not idle; and under all the difficulties which he encountered in America, he contrived to write several valuable publications, particularly the conclusion of his History of the Christian Church. The memoirs, as composed by himself, are dated Northumberland, March 24, 1795, when he completed the 62d year of
This memoir, which is written in a plain and unaffected manner, enumerates the friends with whom Dr. P. was intimate, the pecuniary kindnesses which he received, and the works which he sent to thie press : but in our abstract it was impossible for us to descend to all these particulars. In the continuation, by his son, we are presented with a view of Dr. Priestley's life from the time of his leaving Eng. land, in April, 1794, to his death, Feb. 6, 1804. It is the ob. ject of the son to vindicate the memory of his father against the insinuations of enemies; and particularly to counteract the report industriously circulated in England, that Dr. P.'s abilities were undervalued in America. For this purpose, we are informed of the attentions which were paid to the Doctor on his first arrival in that country, and the marks of respect which he continued to receive from individuals and bodies of men: but it is certain that he did not meet with any success in the propagation of Unitarianism, since his congregation at Northumberland never exceeded.thirty persons; and he never solicited to be naturalized, resolving to die as he had been born,
an Englishman.-Whatever objections may be made to the articles of Dr. P.'s creed, no man ever displayed a firmer faith in the perfect providence of God, or met death with a more cheerful hope in a future resurrection.
Subjoined to the Memoirs are five Appendices, containing distinct dissertations on Dr. Priestley's discoveries in Chemistry; on his metaphysical, political, and miscellaneous writings; and a summary of his religious opinions. In these Essays, we are invited to consider the prominent features of his life, and to review his principles as a philosopher, metaphysician, politician, and theologian.
The account of Dr. P.'s experiments on factitious Airs is prefaced by a display of the previous discoveries of Mayow; who knew how to make artificial air from nitrous acid and iron, but all the extraordinary properties of this gas remained unobserved by him as well as by others, until collected and imprisoned by Dr. Priestley, and exposed to the question under his scrutinizing eye. Indeed, as an experimentalist, Dr. Priestley stands unrivalledi' - In the short period of two years, Dr. P. announced to the world more facts of real importance, and extensive application, and more enlarged and extensive views of the occonomy of nature, than all his predecessors in Pneumatic Chemistry had made known before.' The writer attempts, at the end of this appendix, to prop Dr. P.'s discarded theory of Phlogiston : but the advocate seems himself to despair of success.
The second appendix includes a long examination of Dr. Priestley's two Disquisitions on Matter and Spirit and on Philosophical Necessity; in the former of which the mechanism of the mind is asserted, and in the latter the doctrine of Necessity. Here the reporter warmly espouses the tenets of his author, and seems to treat those who hold the doctrine of a soul with no little contempt. We are told, towards the coniclusion, that the time seems to have arrived, when the separate existence of the human soul, the freedom of the will, and the eternal duration of future punishment, like the docrines of the Trinity, and Transubstantiation, may be regarded as no longer entitled to public discussion. What a short way of setting two of the most perplexing controversies!
This essayi:t subjoins his nction of the true way of studying M taphysics : Fir my own part, I am persuaded that no Theory of the mind can be satisfactory, which is not founded on the history of the Body. I know of no legitimate passport to Metaphysics but Physiology.' We agree with him that Phyo siology is certainly an excellent hand-m jid to Metaphysics.
The view of Dr. Priestley's political works and opinions, contained in the third appendix, shews that he was no revolutionist. While he remained in his own country, he uniformly wrote in support of the British Government by King, Lords, and Commons; and though we are told that he became a republican in the new world, yet it was evidently with some limitations. His wishes and his conversation always tended to impress the idea that improvements in each country should gradually progress, according to the respective situations of each, and in conformity to the previous ideas respectively prevalent on the subject of government, among the better informed classes, and the spirit of the times.'
In the observations on Dr. P.'s miscellaneous writings, a long analysis is given of his Lectures on the Theory of Language and Universal Grammar, printed (not published) for the use of the Stadents at Warrington *; and notice is taken of his letter to Dr. Wistar, in reply to Dr. Darwin's observations on Spontaneous Vitality, in order to introduce some very free re. marks in favour of Atheism. I cannot see, (says this annotator) how the belief of no God can be more dcerimental to so ciety, or render a man less fit as a citizen, than the belief of the thirty thousand Gods of the Pagans, or the equal absurdities of trinitarian orthodoxy.' The best answer to the writer, in this case, will be found in the words of Dr. Priestley, extracted from his paper signed A Quaker in Politics, which is the most valu able portion of the 4th Appendix : "Where there is no sense of religion, no fear of God, or respect to a future state, there will be no good morals that can be depended upon. Laws may restrain the excesses of vice, but they cannot impart the prins ciples of virtue.'
The remainder of this Appendix includes a letter by Dr.P. in vindication of the character of Dr. Franklin from the charge of being an incendiary, while he lived under the protection of the British Government.
As Dr.Priestley's religious opinions are well known, we shall excuse ourselves from quoting any part of the Summary at the conclusion of the volume, which furnishes an accurate delineation of his character and merits : but which would have been more generally acceptable in this country, if the features of republicanism and inūdelity, betrayed in the appendices, had been concealed.
The printer has made an error in filling up the blanks left in the copy for the Greek and Hebrew quotations, see p. 410, where, in speaking of y as answering to in Hebrew, he should have put a 77.