Imatges de pÓgina
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GENTLEMEN,

HIS book is not addressed to you, in order to ask your protection for

its faults ; or in hopes, that such valuable names at the head of it, may preserve it. Things in print must stand by their own worth. But it is offered to you, to let the world see I had that confidence in the goodness of my design in writing it, as to submit it to such 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 interests of truth, liberty, and religion, and to advance useful learning, to the best of my abilities : --- that I have the happiness of mankind at heart, and attempt, in a historical manner, to encrease their know, ledge in general ; and in particular, to lead them to a pious contemplation and acknowledgment of God's unspeakable wisdom and goodness manifested in the works of the crea- Thew them the truth of the testi

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mony 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 sure prognostick 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 character from misrepresentation and idle stories, and to illustrate my memoirs of several ladies of Great-Britain, I sat down to write a true history of my life and notions.

life and notions. You will fee at once, gentlemen, that this is the labored, part of my 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 eft mortale quod 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 observed, and that tradition might not hand me down, when I am gone, in that variety of bad and foolifli characters, which a malice, that knows nothing of me, whispers while I am living; it was necessary I fould 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 say 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, tho' you should not be able to say one word of any excellencies in my writings. This is all I ask. As I wish well to your cause, 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 greatness 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 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 assure 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 figutes, (neceffary in all works), strictly 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 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 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 imperfections particularly mine: 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 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 distresses; 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

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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 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 necessity 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,

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 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 mention 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, gentlemen, that what may at first light seem strange, and next to incredible, will, on considering these particulars, not

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