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in these times for authors to give their own likenesses as an introduction to their works, yet as they often outlive them, I wish to build my hopes on a surer foundation, by presuming to present this little collection with diffidence to the public, relying on their kindness and candour for its favourable reception.
The Introduction and Miscellaneous Parts to this little collection may be deemed rather as sketches or observations on events that have risen out of the temper and spirit of the times we live in, than as a history or memoir of a private individual; and if they should prove interesting and useful to others, my great objects will be accomplished.
The Introduction and Miscellaneous Part of these little Tracts having been printed off, it is too late to do otherwise than insert the following excellent sentiments of Mr. Justice Park, extracted from the “ National Gazette,” published at Philadelphia, 220 February, 1839, which has just been received, and is as follows :—“The late eminent Judge, “ Sir Allan Park, once said at a public meeting in “ the City of London --- We live in the midst of
blessings till we are utterly insensible of their
greatness and of the source from which they 'flow. We speak of our civilization, our arts, “our freedom, our laws, and forget how large a so share of all is due to Christianity. Blot Chris
tianity out of the page of man's history, and "what would his laws have been, what his civili« • zation? Christianity is mixed up with our very " being and our daily life ; there is not a familiar
object around us which does not wear a different
aspect because the light of Christian hope is on 66. it. Not a law which does not owe its truth and
gentleness to Christianity ; not a custom which cannot be traced in all its holy and healthful parts to the Gospel.'” If it had been seen in time, this interesting paragraph would have naturally appeared at page 126 of the Miscellaneous Part, where the introduction of Christianity is stated to have contributed so largely to the religious and moral improvement and happiness of society.
These admirable sentiments of the late Sir Allan Park require no comment, as they speak for themselves.
London, 4th April, 1839.
When a man has entered the eighty-seventh year of his age,
it is time for him to revert to events that have passed ; and to put his house in order, preparatory to his going hence to be no more in this state of probation.
Under the warning admonitions of age, the following suggestions present themselves ;—That men ought to value life more from its importance and utility, when conducted upon correct principles, than from its longevity. If men in the enjoyment of health, strength, and the use of their faculties, were, during the summer and autumn of life, zealously to improve the talents committed to their care to the best advantage, they would secure much comfort and happiness for themselves, as well as for the rising generation, and would receive great consolation during the infirmities which generally accompany old age.
It may be observed in general, that men spend a third, a fourth, or a fifth part of their lives in infancy and education, and that there are but few characteristic events in either of these stages ; but when both these periods are combined, they may be considered as the two stepping
ladders to the stage of life, where men often form their own characters and stations in every class of society, and where they frequently rise by their talents, industry, and perseverance, to wealth, honour, rank, and power.
It will be found that talents and industry so happily adapt themselves to the common concerns of life, as frequently to raise men from the lower stations to the higher; that knowledge is a power of the first magnitude, and discovers the great laws of nature, from astronomy, the parent of knowledge, down to chemistry and mineralogy.
The laws of nature, though simple, are grand and sublime; and the more they are discovered, the nearer they will approach each other; but when cemented by combinations, there is no knowing to what extent they may promote the comforts and happiness of man.
Accidents have also given birth to important discoveries, which, when matured by experiments and calculations, are often productive of great and important advantages to scientific and practical objects, that contribute to the convenience, comforts, and happiness of society; and these discoveries, when united with others, increase their utility.
There are few men whose names are more familiar to our ears in this country, as the promoters of knowledge and science, than Bacon, Boyle, Newton, Halley, Herschell, Franklin, Priestley, Watt, Davy, Arkwright, and Peel.
The observations and discoveries of some of these distinguished men led to the change of the Old to the New Style in 1752 ; an act that has created a greater revolution in the civil concerns of this country, without bloodshed, than many
of its wars.
Early in the era of the New Style, the march of intellect had been making rapid strides, almost as quick as thought; owing perhaps much of the rapidity of its progress to the combination of the various branches of knowledge and science, and the application of machinery to the different arts. After the effervescence of the moment has subsided, it is hoped some will shoot out into new discoveries and ramifications, producing endless varieties conducive to usefulness and happiness. About the period alluded to, England began to increase in population, agriculture, civilization, arts, manufactures, and commerce.
After these digressions, it may be time to resume the consideration of the great importance and utility of human life ; and perhaps one of the best means of obtaining that knowledge is for a man to ask himself whether he would wish to live his life over again; and at my age I may be allowed to take the liberty of stating, that on the whole, having enjoyed health, strength, and the use of
faculties, with many friendships and attachments, though not without many trials, I think I should have little hesitation in making my choice in the affirmative, wishing some things, however, undone, and others improved.