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Memoir of the late Rer. Joseph Joseph was in his youth adopted by
Priestley, LL. D. F. R. S. sc. an auni, a woman of exemplary piety [With the Portrait, we think it and benevolence, who sent him for may be useful and agreeable to many education to several schools in the of our readers to give a Memoir, of neighbourhood, where he acquired a Dr. Priestley.
We have taken the respectable degree of knowledge of liberty, to copy the life published in the learned languages, including Hethe Eighth Volume of the General brew.3 He was originally destined Biography, 4to., and drawn up, as for the ministry ; but weak health appears
from the signature, by the causing his views to be turned towards able and elegant pen of Dr. Aikin, trade, he learned some of the modern and to adapt it more particularly to this work by the addition of notes, for which we are indebted to a friend, piety, careful to teach” him religion acto whom the commencement and the cording to her own convictions, and taking continuance of the Monthly ReposiPrinciple by impressing his mind " with a
a particular occasion to inculcate moral tory are chicfly owing, whose communications form a rich portion of the and the importance of attending to it."
clear idea of the distinction of property, past volumes, and to whom the read- Priestley's Mem. pp. 2, 3, 5. crs may still, it is hoped, look for
? She was bis father's sister, “ married eutertainment and instruction. The to a Mr. Keighley, a man who had diswhole of the notes are original and tinguished himself for his zeal for religion, by the same friendly hand.
and for his public spirit.” She died in
Editor.) 1764, having survived her husband many (OSEPH PRIESTLEY, LL.D. years. Her nephew, from whom she delosopher and divine, was born in
brance of a son, characterizes this “truly March, 1773, at field-head, near
pious and excellent woman” as one Leeds. His father was engaged in of any kind, than to do govd, and wha
knew no other use of wealth, or of talents the clothing manufacture, and was a never spared herself for this purpose;dissenter of the Calvinistic persuasion.' truly Calvinistic in principle, but far from
confining salvation to those who thought 1 “ Jonas Priestley, the youngest son as she did on religious subjects.” He adds, of Joseph Priestley, a maker and dresser that“ being left in good circumstances, of woollen cloth." His son describes him her home was the resort of all the dissent as discovering " a strong sense of religion, ing ministers in the neighbourhood without praying with his family morning and even- distinction, and those who were the most ing, and carefully teaching his children obnoxious on account of their heresy were and servants the Assembly's Catechism, almost as welcome to her, if she thought which was all the system of which he had thein honest and good men (which she was any knowledge,” never “ giving much at- not miwilling to do) as any other.” Id. tention to matters of speculation, and entertaining no bigoted aversion to those 3 In this language lie made himself “ a who differed from him." Dr. Priestley's considerable proficient,” during “ ibe inmother, who died in 1740, when her son terval between leaving the grau par-school, was in his seventh year, " was the only and going to the academy,” by instructing child of Joseph Swift, a farmer of Shafton, a minister in his neighbourhood " wbu had a village about six miles south-east of had no learned education." He also Wakefield.” She was gratefully recollected “ learned Chaldee and Syriac, and just by her son as "a woman of exemplary began to read Arabic.” Id. p. 16,
Pp. 3 and 6.
languages * with that intention. At opinions from the orthodox system in length, however, his constitution which he had been brought up, tostrengthened ; and resuming his first wards the doctrine usually termed purpose, he went in 1752 to the dis- heretical, which had already comsenting academy at Daventry, kept menced, here made a further proby Dr. Ashworth. He had already gress, though it still rested within the imbibed such an attachment to study, limits of Arianism.s Here he was and had employed his researches upon so many important topics, that he was regarded on admission as considerably the orthodox side of every qnestion, and advanced in the academical course. Mr. Clark, the sub-tutor, that of heresy, He had also, from his family connex. though always with the greatest modesty. ions among the strictest sect of dis- We were permitted to ask whatever quessenters, acquired those religious ha- tions, and to make whatever remarks we bits, and that vital spirit of piety, pleased; and we did it with the greatest, which ever in some degree assimila
but without any offensive, freedom..We ted him to that class of Christians, every question, and were even required to
were referred to authors on both sides of when in doctrine no one more widely give an account of them.” Id. p. 17. deviated from them. At Daventry for an account of Mr. Clark see M. Repos. he spent three years, during which Vol. i. p. 617. ii. 68, and for an account his acute and vigorous mind was ex- of Dr. Ashworth, Vol. viii. 562 (note) panding in free inquiry and diversi- and 693. and is. 10, 78 and 242. fied pursuit. The change of his 7 In the family of his excellent aunt he
became confirmed “ in the principles of * Those which he acquired, and with- Calvinism, all the books he met with“ har. out a master, were “ French, Italian, and ing that tendency.”. Yet two ministers, High Dutch.” He “ translated and wrote
6 the most heretical in the neighbourhood, letters in the first and last for an uncle, a
were frequently his aunt's guests." With merchant, who intended” him for 6 a one of these, “Mr. Graham, of Halifax," counting-house in Lisbon.” Id. p. 5.
to whom he afterwards dedicated his Dis. He was first destined by bis relations quisitions on Matter and Spirit, he now to the Calvinistic-Independent “ Academy became intimate. In paying an early and at Mile-end, then under the care of Dr. serious attention to religion, as he then Conder. But being at that time an Ar- understood it, he had waited with painful minian, he resolutely opposed it,” espe- anxiety for the experience “ of a new-birth cially declining to subscribe an assent produced by the immediate agency of the to ten printed articles of Calvinistic faith, spirit of God," and had been a much disand repeat it every six months.” A neigh- tressed” because he “ could not feel a bouring minister, Mr. Kirkby, who had proper repentance for the sin of Adam." been one of his instructors in the classics Yet he had so far altered his views when
interposed and strongly recommended he offered himself “to be adınitted a com, the academy of Dr. Doddridge.” The municant," where he and his aunt attended, " Aunt, not being a bigoted Calvinist, that the examining “ elders of the church” entered into his views, and Dr. Doddridgé rejected him as not quite orthodox on being dead he was sent to Daventry and the subject of the sin of Adam,” because was the first pupil that entered there." Id. le could not believe “ that all the human p. 16, 17.
race (supposing them not to have any sin 6 " Three years, viz. from Sept. 1752 of their own) were liable to the wrath of to 1755, I spent at Daventry with that pe- God and the pains of hell for ever on acculiar satisfaction with which young per- count of that sin only.” About this time sons of generous minds usually go through he came into the society of two preachers a course of liberal study, in the society of who qualified Calvinism and were called others engaged in the same pursuits, and Baxterian. “ Thinking farther on these free from the cares and anxieties which subjects," he had become, when he enseldom fail to lay hold on them when they tered the academy“ an Arminian, but come out into the world. In my time, the bad by no means rejected the doctrine of the academy was in a state peculiarly favour- Trinity or that of tionement." Id. p. 7--12. able to the serious pursuit of truth, as the
S “Notwithstanding the great freedom students were about equally divided upon of our speculations and debates, the exevery question of much importauce, such treme of heresy among us was Arianism ; as Liberty and Necessity, the Sleep of the and all of us, I believe, left the academy Soul, and all the articles of theological with a belief, more or less qualified of the orthodoxy and heresy; in consequence of doctrine of Atonement." Id. p. 20. The felwhich all these topics were the subject of low-student with whom Priestley had the continual discussion. Our tutors also were most frequent communications and formed of different opinions ; Dr. Ashworth taking the most intimate friendship was “Mr. Alex
also introduced to an acquaintance jection of the doctrine of atonement.10 with the writings of Dr. Hartley, After a residence of three years at which exerted a powerful and lasting Needham, he undertook the charge influence over his whole train of of a congregation at Namptwich, in thinking On quitting the academy, Cheshire, to which he joined a school. he accepted an invitation to officiate In the business of education he was as minister to a small congregation at indefatigable; and he added to the Needham-market in Suffolk. Not common objects of instruction, expehaving the talents of a popular preach- riments in natural philosophy, which er, and becoming suspected of here- were the means of fostering in himtical opinions, he passed his time self a taste for pursuits of that kind.11 at this place in discountenance and His first publication was an English obscurity; but he was assiduously Grammar on a new plan, for the use employed in theological and scriptu- of his scholars, printed in 1791. His ral studies, of which the result was a reputation as a man of various knowfarther departure from the received ledge and active inquiry now began systems, and particularly a total re- to extend itself, and in 1761 he was
invited by the trustees of the dissent
ing academy at Warrington to occupy ander, of Birmingham," about three years
the post of tutor in the languages." younger than himself, who died suddenly Not long after his acceptance of this in 1765, before he had completed his 30th office, he married the daughter of year. He is mentioned in the Memoir with Mr. Wilkinson, an iron-master, near great regard. Of Mr. Alexander there is Wrexham, a lady of an excellent unan interesting account, by Dr. Kippis, in derstanding, and great strength of a note to the life of his uncle, Dr. Benson mind, who proved his faithful partner (B. Biog. ii. 206). He is also known by a
in all the vicissitudes of life. posthumous publication, entitled, “A
At Warrington Dr. Priestley began Paraphrase upon the 15th Chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians ; with Cri
to distinguish himself as a writer in tical Notes, &c. &c. to which is added a
various branches of science and liteSermon on Eccles. ix. 10, coinposed by
rature. Several of these had a relathe author the day preceding his death. tion to his department in the academy, By John Alexander." 4to. 1766.
which, besides philology, included 9 Priestley (Mem, p. 15) ascribes his first acquaintance with Hartley's Obser- 10 In M. Repos. Vol. ii. p. 638, &c. vations on Man," to a reference made by see an interesting communication respectthe lecturer to that work, “which,” he ing Dr. Priestley's explicit conduct at this adds," immediately engaged my closest period, occasioned by some misrepresentaattention, and produced the greatest and, tious in a sermon preached by his brother in my opinion, the most favourable effect on the occasion of his death. on my general turn of thinking through 11 Here he assiduously pursued his theolife.-Indeed I do not know whether the logical inquiries and adopted some of those consideration of Dr. Hartley's Theory con- opinions respecting the apostle Paul's reatributes more to enlighten the mind, or sonings, which he afterwards published, improve the heart; it effects both in so to the alarm of not a few serious Christians, super-eminent a degree.” The name of who had hastily supposid that divine truth Hartley is in Priestley's Chart of Biography, could be impaired by any logical inaccufirst published in 1765, and there can be racy of those who were appointed to deno doubt that he is designed in the follow- clare it. Dr. Priestley (Nem. p. 34) reing passage of the Description :
lates how at this time he had committed to " I recollect only one instance (in the the press a book which contained his free class of divines, moralists and metaphysi. thoughts on this subject. The work when cians) in which I have departed from my partly printed be suppressed, at the ingeneral rule of giving place to present fame stance of his friend, Dr. Kippis, till he in favour of extraordinary merit, and what “ should be more known, and his characI presame will be great future reputation. ter better established.” 'The writer of these If I be mistaken in my presumption I hope notes had the same account many years ago, I shall be indulged a little partiality for one from Dr. Kippis, who mentioned the readifavourite name.” Description, 1785, p. 17. ness with which Priestley attended to his
The subjects, on which reference is made suggestion and that of Dr. Furneaux, from to Hartley in the Lectures of Doddridge, which they justly argued his futme emiare the intermediate state, the final restoration, and the renovation of the earth. See 19 See M. Repos. Vol. viii. pp. 226– Loct. 4to. 1763. pp. 561, 2, 574, 5, 581, 231.
lectures on history and general policy. troduced him to the acquaintance of His ideas of government were founded Dr. Franklin,' Dr. Watson, Dr. on those principles of the fundamental Price, and Mr. Canton, he was enrights of men which are the only ba- couraged by them to pursue a plan sis of political freedom, and these he he had formed of writing a “ History supported in an “ Essay on Govern- of Electricity," which work appeared ment.” He also published an“ Essay in 1767. Besides a very clear and on a Course of liberal Education," to well arranged account of the rise and which he added some remarks on a progress of that branch of science, it treatise on education, by Dr. Brown, related many new and ingeniously of Newcastle, the sentiments of which devised experiments of his own, which he regarded as hostile to liberty:13 His were first-fruits of that inventive and “ Chart of Biography,” first published sagacious spirit by which he afterat Warrington, was formed upon an wards rendered himself so celebrated ingenious idea, and was well receiv- in the walk of natural philosophy. ed." A visit to London having in- This publication made his name ex
tensively known among those who 13 The last mentioned Essay first ap- might have remained strangers to it peared in 1765, and except the Grammar as connected with his other pursuits. was his earliest publication. Many of the It was several times reprinted, was hints in that small volume were afterwards translated into foreign languages, and enlarged into the “ Lectures on History procured for him an admission into and General Policy,” published in 1789. the Royal Society. He had previously Dr. Brown is now chiefly known by his obtained the title of Doctor of Laws “ Essay on the Characteristics,” his “ Es- from the University of Edinburgh. timate," of which the Muse of Cowper His connexion with the academy at bas preserved the remembrance, his devotion to Warburton, his disappointments
, Warrington, which, from the advanand their whappy result in a premature tages it gave him of cultivating a death, in 1766, in his 5 1st year. (See Biog. much more extensive acquaintance Brit. ii
. 653--674). In 1765, Dr. B. pub. with books and men, may be consi. lished a pamphlet, entitled, “ Thoughts dered as an important era in his life, on Civil Liberty, Licentiousness and Faction," at the close of which he recommended 6 a prescribed Code of Education.” be made use of in an academical lecture This opinion Priestley controverts in four upon the study of History as one of the, sections of remarks, The “ Essay on mechanical methods of facilitating the Government” appeared in 1768, and a study of that science." Description, p. 5. second enlarged edition in 1772. In this Note. The “ Chart of History,” inscribed were included the remarks on Dr. Brown, to Dr. Franklin, came out a few years and on Dr. Balguy’s “ Positions on Church after at Leeds, and was an improvement Authority,” with a section on “the ne- on a French Chart, which bad been recessity or utility of Ecclesiastical Esta- published in London. Priestley's Chart blishments.” In the section on “ Political of History, with improvements and a contiLiberty," the author considers the case of nuation has, webelieve, very lately appeared. Charles I., whose execution, unlike the
15 Of this eminent man and highly va- 1 Presbyterians of a former age, he justifies, luable member of society Dr. Priestley reregretting, however, “ that the sentence gretted the infidelity, which he endeavourcould not be passed by the whole nation, ed to remove by recommending to him the or their representatives solemnly assem- evidences of Christianity to which he acbled for that purpose--a transaction which knowledged he bad not given so much atwould have been an iminortal honour to tention as he ought to have done." See this country, whenever that superstitious Mem. p. 90, or M. Repos. Vol.i. p. 486. notion of the sacredness of kingly power Dr. F. satisfied himself to the last with the shall be abolished.” These sentiments, as expectation of a future life grounded on a may be supposed, did not pass without pleasing but unauthorized analogy. “I censure, and to the author has been at- look upon death to be as vecessary to our tributed, unjustly, the proud day for Eng- constitutions as sleep. We shall rise re- , land, used, we think, by the late Lord freshed in the morning.” Thus he writes Keppel, to describe the thirtieth of Ja- at eighty years of age to an old friend and nuary. The late Duke of Richmond (See correspondent. See a letter of his to Mr. M. Repos. Vol.ii. p. 42.) sanctions Priest- Whatley, which first appeared, M. Repos. ley's opinion, as does indeed the late Lord Vol. i: rp. 137, 138, and which, witha Orford' in bis Royal and Noble Authors, two other original letters of his, was coArt. Falkland.
pied from this work iuto the last edition of 14 “ This Chart was first drawn out to his works.