Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I was before ignorant. At Worcester I was just time enough for the coach, and fortunately, there was one place vacant. I took it, and, travelling all night, I got to London on Monday morning, July 18. Here I was in a place of safety, and had leisure for rest and reflection. I can truly say, however, that in all the hurry of my flight, and while the injuries I had received were fresh upon my mind, I had not one desponding or unbenevolent thought. - I really pitied the delusion of the poor incendiaries, and the infatuation of those who had deluded them, and never doubted but that, though I could not tell how or when, good would arise from this, as well as from every other evil. The magnanimity of my wife was never shaken; and, as at other times, she then felt more for others than she did for herself. It was a distressing circumstance, that our daughter was expecting to be brought to bed in about a month, so that she was full of alarm, and her mother could not leave her to accompany me. We were, however, as happy as we could be in this state of forced separation ; I with my old friends in London, and she either with our daughter, or with one of the most friendly, generous, and worthy families in the world, the neighbourhood of Birmingham.” “In this situation, what I regretted most was the loss, as I then supposed, of all my manuscript papers,” for which no reparation could be made. — Let any man of letters, ar

* They consisted of the following particulars: I. My “Diaries” from the year 1752, containing the particulars of almost every day; and at the beginning of each of them I had given the state of my mind, of my affairs in general, and of my prospects, for that year; which it was often amusing, and also instructive to me, to look back upon. II. Several large “Common-place Books,” containing the fruits of my reading almost ever since I could read with any degree of judgment. III. The “Register of my Philosophical Experiments, and Hints for new ones.” IV All my Sermons, Prayers, and Forms for administering the rived, as I am, to near the age of sixty, consider what must have been my accumulation of curious papers of various kinds, from the variety and extent of my pursuits, (greater, unquestionably, than those of most men now living,) and think what I could not but have felt for their loss, and their dispersion into such hands as they fell into, and who make,

Lord's Supper, &c., many of which I had, with great expense, got transcribed into a fair long hand. W. “Notes and a Paraphrase on the whole of the New Testament, excepting the Book of Revelation.” The whole of it had been delivered from the pulpit, and in a preface to another work, I had promised to publish it. I was within five days (employing my amanuensis three hours a-day) of having the whole fairly transcribed for the press. I had also “Notes on all the Psalms,” which I had delivered from the pulpit. VI. “A New Translation of the Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes; ” having undertaken, in conjunction with several other Unitarians, to make a new translation of both the Old and New Testament. VII. “A Series of Letters to the Members of the New Jerusalem Church,” which was lately opened in Birmingham. These were fairly transcribed, and were to have gone to the press the Monday following; and being on the most friendly terms with the minister and principal members of that church, I had made an appointment to meet them on the preceding Friday, to read the work to them from the manuscript, in order to be satisfied that I had not misstated any of their doctrines, and that I might hear their objections to what I had written. A rough draft of a great part of these “Letters ” happened to be preserved, in consequence of taking a copy of them by Messrs. Boulton and Watt's machine, and from this I have lately published them. VIII. “Memoirs of my own Life, to be published after my death.” IX. A great number of Letters from my friends and learned foreigners, with other papers. X. A short account of all the persons whose names are introduced into my “Chart of Biography,” which I intended to publish, though not very soon. XI. “Illustrations of Hartley's Doctrine of Association of Ideas, and farther Observations on the Human Mind,” the publication of which I had promised in the Preface to my “Essay on Education.” This would, perhaps, have been the most original, and nearly the last of

as I hear, the most indecent and improper use of them. This makes the case much worse than that of mere plunder, and the destruction of books and papers by Goths and Vandals, who could not read any of them. It was, however, no small satisfaction to me, to think that my enemies, having the freest access to every paper I had, might be convinced that I had carried on no treasonable correspondence, and that I had nothing to be concerned about besides the effects of their impertinent curiosity. The destruction of my library did not affect me so much on account of the money I had expended upon it, as the choice of the books; having had particular objects of study, and having collected them with great care, as opportunity served, in the course of many years. It had also been my custom to read almost every book with a pencil in my hand, marking the passages that I wished to look back to, and of which I proposed to make any particular use; and I frequently made an index to such passages on a blank leaf at the end of the book. In consequence of this, other sets of the same work would not, by any means, be of the same value to me; for I have not only lost the books, but the chief fruit of my labor and judgment in reading them. Also my laboratory not only contained a set of the most valuable and useful instruments of every kind, and original substances for experiments, but other substances, the results

my publications. The hints and loose materials for it were written in several volumes, not one scrap of which is yet recovered. XII. Besides these, I had what had cost me much labor, though, as I did not mean to make any public use of them, I do not much regret their loss, viz. a large course of “Lectures on the Constitution and Laws of England,” and another on “The History of England,” which I had read when I was tutor at Warrington, and of which a syllabus may be seen in the former editions of my “Essay on Education.” [1765.] In the same class of manuscripts, not much to be regretted, I place a great variety of miscellaneous juvenile compositions and collections, of which I occasionally made some, though not much, use. XIII. My “Last Will, Receipts, and Accounts.”

of numerous processes, reserved for farther experiments, as every experienced chemist will suppose; and these cannot be replaced without repeating the process of many years. No money can repair damages of this kind. Also several of my instruments were either wholly or in part of my own construction, and such as cannot be purchased any where.” “One of the most mortifying circumstances in this calamity, was the dispersion of a great number of letters from my private friends, from the earliest period of my correspondence, into the hands of persons wholly destitute of generosity or honor. These letters I had carefully arranged, so that I could immediately turn to any of them, when I wished to look back to them, as a memorial of former friendships, or for any other purpose. But they were kept in a box which was ordered by my last will to be burned without inspection. Now, however, letters which I did not wish even my executors to see, were exposed, without mercy or shame, to all the world. No person of honor will even look into a letter not directed to himself. But mine have not only been exposed to every curious, impertinent eye, but, as I am informed, are eagerly perused, commented upon, and their sense perverted, in order to find out something against me. Some of my private papers are said to have been sent to the secretary of state. But secretaries of state, I presume, are gentlemen, and consider themselves as bound by the same rules of justice and honor that are acknowledged to bind other men, and therefore, if this be the case, these papers will certainly be returned to me. Of this kind of ill usage, I do not accuse the illiterate mob who made the devastation; for few of them, I suppose, could read; but those persons of better education into whose hands the papers afterwards came. Had persons of this class interposed and exerted themselves, they might, no doubt, have saved the greatest part of this, to me most valuable property, for the loss of which (but more especially for the un

generous use that was made of it) no compensation can be made me.” “That the true source of the late riots in Birmingham was religious bigotry, and the animosity of the high-church party against the Dissenters, and especially against the Presbyterians and Unitarians, and not the commemoration of the French Revolution, is evident from all that has passed before, at, and after the day. In the public-houses where the people were inflaming themselves with liquor all that day and some time before, there were heard execrations of the most horrid kind against the Presbyterians. One person was heard not only to wish damnation to them, but that “God Almighty would make a week’s holiday for the purpose of damning them.” The mob did not arrive at the hotel till more than two hours after the company had left it, and there they demanded only myself, who had not been there. No part of their vengeance fell upon any churchman, whether at the dinner or not. After demolishing the two meeting-houses, and every thing belonging to me, their next objects were the houses of Mr. Taylor and Mr. John Ryland, who were well known to have been much averse to the scheme of the dinner; and during the whole course of the outrages, the constant cry was CHURCH AND KING, and Down witH THE PRESBYTERIANs. That the celebration of the French Revolution was not the true cause of the riots, has indeed sufficiently appeared from the narrative part of this work. That the plan was laid some time before, and that proper persons were provided to conduct it, is probable from this circumstance, that those in the mob who directed the rest (who were evidently not of the lowest class, and who were sometimes called their leaders), were not known to hundreds of all descriptions of the inhabitants of the town, who observed them attentively; so that persons who were no Dissenters, concluded that they came from a distance, and probably from London. The proper Birmingham mob were often persuaded to desist from their C

« AnteriorContinuar »