Imatges de pÓgina
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GENTLEMEN,

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HIS book is not addreffed to you, in order to ask your protection for its faults; or in hopes, that fuch valuable names at the head of it, may preferve it. Things in print must stand by their own worth. But it is offered to you, to let the world fee I had that confidence in the goodness of my defign in writing it, as to fubmit it to fuch great and impartial judges; and that I believe you will report your opinion in such a manner, as to procure me the esteem of the virtuous; when you find that my principal intention in this piece, is to serve the interefts of truth, liberty, and religion, and to advance useful learning, to the best of my abilities: --- 1 that I have the happiness of mankind at heart, and attempt, in a hiftorical manner, to encrease their knowledge in general; and in particular, to lead them to a pious contemplation and acknowledgment of God's unfpeakable wisdom and goodness manifefted in the works of the creation; fhew them the truth of the tefti

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mony of Jefus Chrift concerning a divine providence, immortality, and a future state; and that as virtue advances and improves, human felicity augments, and becomes a sure prognoftick of that fulness of blifs, 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 character from mifrepresentation and idle ftories, and to illuftrate my memoirs of feveral ladies of Great-Britain, I fat down to write a true hiftory of my life and notions. You will fee at once, gentlemen, that this is the labored, part of my work. Were I able to write fo as to perfuade 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 fhould 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 eft mortale quod opto, I can say with Lactantius: and were it within my power to choose, fure I am, that I would be for ever unknown But that was impoffible. In justice to myself, as before obferved, and that tradition might not hand me down, when I

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am gone, in that variety of bad and foolifli characters, which a malice, that knows nothing of me, whifpers while I am living; it was neceffary I fhould tell my own ftory. The relation was likewife requifite, to render the memoirs before mentioned intelligible. The volumes of that work, which are to be published, would be quite dark, and not fo grateful as intended, without a previous account of the author's life.

This, gentlemen, is the truth of the cafe, and as I fay as little of myself, in my rélation, 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, tho' you should not be able to fay one word of any excellencies in my writings. This is all I afk. As I wish well to your caufe, the cause of virtue and letters, and have chiefly endeavoured, according to my abilities, to inake my readers acquainted with the majesty of the Deity, and his kingdom, and the greatnefs of his excellency, before whom all the inhabitants of the earth, all' powers and principalities, are as nothing; I hope you will, in return, favour me with your best wishes.

As to fome ftrange things you will find in the following journal; and a life, in various

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particulars, quite contrary to the common courfe of action, I can affure you, gentlemen, in respect of the ftrange things, that however wonderful they may appear to you, yet they are, exclufive of a few decorations and figures, (neceffary in all works), ftrictly true: and as to the difference of my life, from that of the generality of men, let it only be confidered, that I was born in London, and carried an infant to 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 fpell them to this hour; but read with an extraordinary pleasure, before I was twenty, the works of feveral 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 imperfections particularly mine: that by hard measure, I was compelled to be an adventurer, when very young, and had not a friend in the univerfe but what I could make by good fortune, and my own addrefs: --that my wandering life, wrong conduct, and the iniquity of my kind, with a paffion for extraordinary things and places, brought me into feveral 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-honeft man, and A 4

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the poor-liver, are a people I have had no connexion with; but have always kept company with the polite, the generous, the lively, the rational, and the brighteft freethinkers of this that befide 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 neceffity 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 furface of the deep. I have fwam 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 veffel, and proceeded with them to the next port; while my companion I left on the beach concluded me drowned, and related my fad fate in the town.—I have taken a cool thruft over a bottle, without the least animofity on either fide; but both of us depending on our skill in the small fword, for prefervation from mischief. Such things as thefe I now call wrong, and mention them only as famples of a rashness I was once fubject to, as an opportunity happened to come in the way. Let all thefe things be taken into the account, and I imagine, gentlemen, that what may at first fight feem ftrange, and next to incredible, will, on confidering thefe particulars, not

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