Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

though it may convince him, will not always influence his conduct, nor impel him to attempt the conviction of others. Truth makes few proselytes compared to error. Imagination has a wide dominion, that of reason is very limited. Ten thousand believe in the inventions of the one, for ten that rely on the deductions of the other. Hence it is that I have very small hopes of living to see morality get rid of religion; though I am convinced that religion reconciles some men to the evils of this world by the hopes of a better, and thus becomes the foe of morality.

It is not many years since I first attempted to add my mite towards abating the force of party strifes and religious prepossessions, by the diffusion of more liberal sentiments; and I have seen a great change for the better on both these subjects.-How far I have contributed to this happy amendment I will not venture to determine.

Welbeck Street, June 7, 1817.

PREFACE

TO THE FIFTH EDITION.

IT

may be thought requisite that I should account for the circumstance of this Edition being called the Fifth, when the last was only the Third. The matter stands thus :- the first volume was published by itself in numbers, and of that there were two editions. It was then published with the second, and afterwards a second edition of the two. The present is therefore the fifth edition of the first volume, and the third of the second. This explanation will account for the whole being called the fifth edition.

[ocr errors]

MEMOIR

OF

WILLIAM BURDON.

WILLIAM BURDON's father was a country gentleman, who possessed a small landed property in Yorkshire. About his middle age he speculated in different branches of business, and became a coal-owner. At this period he resided mostly at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in which town Mr. Burdon was born, the eleventh of September 1764. His mother's name was Wharton. Through her he inherited considerable landed estates in Durham and Northumberland. Mr. Burdon received the rudiments of education at the free grammar-school of his native town, whence he passed to Emmanuel college, Cambridge, in 1781. In 1786 he became Bachelor of Arts, and a Fellow in 1788. Indisposed to take orders, he resigned his fellowship in 1799. He then married, and for some years resided at Morpeth, pursuing his studies in almost uninterrupted retirement. His wife dying, he married a second time. By his first marriage he had five, and by the second, two children. In 1805 he removed to Hartford. From 1807 until his death in 1818 he continued to spend his summers at Hartford, his maternal estate, passing his winters in London, and occasionally visiting Brighton for a short time during the spring.

Such an abstract of life and death is more than the generality of mankind deserve to have published of them--so insipid, so passive, so uninteresting are their existence. Not so was Mr. Burdon, who deserves a much larger notice than the writer of this memoir is enabled to give from his short personal acquaintance with the author of the “ Materials for Thinking.”

It is true Mr. Burdon's life is not connected with any great political event, civil or military;-he was no party leader; he neither discovered new worlds nor enlarged the boundaries of science;-his life exhibits no particulars which excite the gross passions or the extravagant admiration of the world; yet some peculiarities formed his character and studies, not less novel than exemplary.

Mr. Burdon was reared in Tory principles. They were sown, but they could not take root in his under. standing. When he emancipated himself from their imposition does not appear, if indeed they had ever influenced his mind or actions; for at College he chose the following thesis for his act-In summo reipublicæ discrimine, iniquo principi resistere licet. I may add, that when Mr. Pitt offered himself as a candidate for the University of Cambridge, Mr. Burdon, singly of all the brother-fellows, refused to vote for the Mini

I may also

« AnteriorContinuar »