Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

heart, and a:tempt, in an historical manner, to encrease their knowledge in general; and in particular, to lead them to a picus contemplation and acknowledgment of God's unspeakable wisdom and goodness manifested in the works of the creation ; shew them the truth of the testimony of Jesus Christ concerning a divine providence, immortality, and a future state; and that as virtue advances and improves, human felicity augments, and becomes a fure prognostic of that fulness of bliss, which men of goodness and integrity are to enjoy, without interruption, frailty, and infirmity, in an unchangeable and everlasting life. This was my scheme. These things I had principally in view, when, to vindicate my charácter from misrepresentations and idle ftories, and to illustrate my Memoirs of several Ladies of Great Britain, I sat down to write a true history of my life and notions. You will fee at once, gentlernen, that this is the laboured part

of work. Were I able to write so as to persuade even a few to alter their way of living, and employ their time for the future, in forming and training up their moral powers to perfection, I should think myself more fortunate and glorious than the greatest genius in the temple of Fame. Indeed, gentlemen, fame or name, in this world, is not the thing I think of.

Non

my work.

Non est mortale qucd opto, I can say with Laftantius : and were it within my power to choose, sure I am, that I would be for ever unknown. But that was impossible. In justice to myself, as before oblerved, and that tradition might not hand me down, when I am gone, in that variety of bad and foolish characters, which a malice that knows nothing of me, whispers while I am living; it was necessary I should tell my own story. The relation was likewise requisite, to render the Memoirs before mentioned intelligible. The volumes of that work, which are to be published, would be quite dark, and not so grateful as intended, without a previous account of the author's life.

This, gentlemen, is the truth of the case, and as I lay as little of myself, in my relation, as I can; and as much for true religion and useful learning, as I was able, I hope, from your rectitude and judgment, that you will get me a fair hearing; and I call upon you as my patrons, and the friends to learning and truth, for your approbation of my good and pious intentions, though you should not be able to fay one word of any excellencies in my writings. This is all I aik. As I wish well to your cause, the cause of virtue and letters, and

A 2

have

have chiefly endeavoured, according to my abilities, to make my readers acquainted with the majesty of the Deity, and his kingdom, and the greatness of his excellency, before whom all the inhabitants of the earth,

powers and principalities, are as nothing ; I hope you will, in return, favour me with your best wishes.

As to some strange things you will find in the following journal; and a life, in various particulars, quite contrary to the common course of action, I can affure you, gentlemen, in respect of the strange things, that however wonderful they may appear to you, yet they are, exclusive of a few decorations and figures, (necessary in all works) ftrictly true ; and as to the difference of my life, from that of the generality of men, let it only be considered, that I was born in London, and carried an infant into Ireland, where I learned the Irish language, and .became intimately acquainted with its original inhabitants ;--that I was not only a lover of books from the time I could spell them to this hour ; but read with an extraordinary pleasure, before I was twenty, the works of several of the fathers, and all the old romances; which tinged my ideas with a certain piety and extravagance, that rendered my virtues as well as my imperfec

tions particularly mine :--that by hard measure, I was compelled to be an adventurer, when very young, and had not a friend in the universe but what I could make by good fortune, and my own 'address : that my wandering life, wrong conduct, and the iniquity of my kind, with a passion for extraordinary things and places, brought me into several great diftreffes; and that I had quicker and more wonderful deliverances from them than people in tribulation'generally receive :--that the dull, the formal, and the visionary, the hard-honest man, and the poor-liver, are the people I have had no connexion with ; but have always kept company with the polite, the generous, the lively, the rational, and the brightest freethinkers of this age : that beside all this, I was in the days of my youth, one of the most active men in the world, at every exercise; and to a degree of rashness, often venturous, when there was no neceslity for running any hazards : in diebus illis, I have descended head-foremost from a high cliff, into the ocean, to swim, when I could, and ought, to have gone off a rock not a yard from the surface of the deep.--I have swam near a mile and a half out in the sea, to a ship that lay off, went on board, got clothes from the mate of the vessel, and proceeded with them to the next port;

while
my companion

I left

A 3

I left on the beach concluded me drowned,
and related my fad fate in the town. I have
taken a cool thrust over a bottle, without the
least animosity on either side ; but both of
us depending on our skill in the small sword,
for preservation from mischief. -Such
things as these I now call wrong, and men-
tion them only as samples of a rashness I was
once subject to, as an opportunity happened
to come in the way. Let all these things be
taken into the account, and I imagine, gen-
tlemen, that what may at first sight seem
strange, and next to incredible, will, on
considering these particulars, not long re-
main so, in your opinion; though you
may think the relator an odd man.
that, I have nothing to say. And if odd-
ness consists in fpirit, freedom of thought,
and a zeal for the divine unity; in a taste
for what is natural, antique, romantic,
and wild; in honouring women, who were
admirable for goodness, letters, and arts ;
and in thinking, after all the scenes I have
gone thro', that every thing here is vanity ;
except that virtue and charity, which gives
us a right to expect beyond the grave; and
procures us, in this world, the direction of
infinite wisdom, the protection of infinite
power, and the friendship of infinite good-
ness ;--then, may it be written on my stone,
Here lies an odd man,

As to

1

« AnteriorContinua »