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ceased in 1767, when he settled at periments which produced the sub. Leeds, as minister to a large and re- sequent discoveries, that have renspectable congregation of dissenters. dered him so celebrated, since otherThe liberality of the persons compos- wise he might probably have followed ing it, and his own predilection for some beaten track. The success of his the ministerial office, rendered this a Ilistory of Electricity induced him to very agreeable situation to him; and adopt the design of treating on other in conformity with the duties of his sciences, in the same historical manfunction, he resumed, with his cha- ner; and at Leeds he diligently occuracteristic ardour, his theological stu- pied himself in preparing his second dies. One of the first results of these work on this plan, “ The Iristory and renewed inquiries was bis conversion present State of Discoveries relating to the system called Socinian, which he to Vision, Light, and Colours.” The has attributed to a perusal of Dr. Lard- expences necessary in composing such ner's Letter on the Logos. A number of a work obliged him to issue proposals publications on different topies con- for publishing it by subscription, and nected with religion announced the it appeared in 1772, in one volume zeal by which he was inspired. Nor 4to. Though a performance of much was he one who confined his labours merit, its reception was not such as to to the closet; on the contrary, he was encourage him to proceed in his de. extremely assiduous in his pastoral sigu; and, fortunately for science, he instructions to the younger part of his afterwards confined himself to original flock.16 Some of his writings dis- researches of the experimental kind. played an attachment to church-dis- After a happy residence of six years cipline, which he had probably im- in this situation, Dr. Priestley quitted bibed from his early connexions with it for one as different as could easily Calvinistic dissenters, since they had be imagined. The Earl of Shelburne become obsolete among those with (afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne) whom he was now associated. He was one of the few English noblemen likewise began to enter into contro- to whom it was an object of gratificaversy respecting the right and ground tion to enjoy at leisure hours the doof dissenting in general, and to take mestic society of a man of science and his station as one of the most decided literature ; and he made a proposal to opposers of the authority of the ex. Dr. Priestley to reside with him in tablishment. It was at Leeds that the nominal capacity of his librarian, his attention was first excited, in but rather as his literary companion, consequence of his vicinity to a pub- upon terms which regard to the fulic brewery, to the properties of that ture provision of an increasing family gaseous fluid then termed fixed air, would not permit him to decline. He and his experiments led him so far therefore fixed his family in a house as to coutrive a simple apparatus for at Calue, in Wiltshire, near his lordinpregnating water with it, wbich ship's seat; and during seven years he afterwards made public. At this attended upon the Earl in his win. time, he says, he had very little ter's residences at London, and ocknowledge of chemistry; and to this casionally in his excursions, one of circumstance he attributes in some which, in 1774, was a tour to the measure the originality of those ex. continent."? This situation had doubt
16 Ou this occasion he published, in 17 After visiting " Flanders, Holland, 1772, his " Institutes of Natural and Re- and Germany as far as Strasburg," he Fealed Religion.” His instructions to the spent“ a month at Paris.” Of the state young he resumed with ardour on every of religion among the French literati, he change of situation, and had the merit of gives the following account :
-As I was giving a new direction, among the dis- sufficiently apprized of the fact, I did not senting ministers, called Presbyterian, to wonder as I should otherwise have done, their theological labours, which, since to find all the philosophical persons to they had outgrown a belief in the Assem- whom I was introduced at Paris unbelievbly's Catechism, had been almost entirelyers in Christianity, and even professed confined to pulpit-instruction. The pupils Atheists.-I was told by some of them that of Priestley revere his memory, and through I was the only person they had ever met not a few of them, though himself dead, with, of whose understanding they had he yet speaks the words of truth and soá any opinion, who professed to believe berness.
Christianity. But on interrogating them less its use, by affording Dr. Priest- servation, that he was also employley advantages in improving his know- ing his reasoning powers in those deep ledge of the world, and in pursuing metaphysical inquiries by which lie his scientific researches, which he acquired high distinction as a philo. could not have enjoyed as minister to sopher of another class. In 1775, a dissenting congregation. The man- while still resident with Lord Shelners and society of a nobleman's house burne, he published his Examination were not, however, perfectly conger of the Doctrine of Common-sense as nial to one whose tastes were simple, held by the three Scotch writers, Drs. and whose address, though by no Reid, Beattie, and Oswald.' This means coarse or offensive, was plain work was preparatory to his purpose and unceremonious. The treatment of introducing to public notice the he met with was polite and respect. Hartleian theory of the human mind, ful, both from his noble patron, and which he soon after published in a the distinguished characters who often more popular and intelligible form composed part of the company. He than that given to it by the author was entirely free from restraint with himself.'9 He had already declared respect to his pursuits, and this was himself a believer in the doctrine of the period of some of those exertions philosophical necessity ; and in a diswhich raised his reputation as a phi- sertation prefixed to his edition of losopher to the highest point. In Hartley, he expressed some doubts of 1773 there had appeared in the Phi- the immateriality of the sentient prinlosophical Transactions a paper of his ciple in man. Notwithstanding the on different kinds of air, which ob- obloquy thus brought upon him as a tained the prize of Copley's medal. favourer of intidelity, or even of This, with many additions, was re- atheism, he was not deterred from printed in 1774, dedicated to Lord pursuing the subject--for it was ever Shelburne, and was followed by three his principle to follow what he was more volumes. The abundance of convinced to be truth whithersoever new and important matter in these it would lead him, regardless of conpublications, which form an era in sequences—and becoming, upon closThat knowledge of aëri-form Auids er inquiry, an intire convert to the which is the basis of modern chemical material hypothesis, or that of the science, made the name of Priestley homogeneity of man's nature, he pubfamiliar in all the enlightened coun- lished, in 1777, “ Disquisitions on tries of Europe, and produced for Matter and Spirit," in which he gave him an accumulation of literary bo- a history of the doctrines concerning nours.
the soul, and openly supported the It was his constant practice to em- system he had adopted. It was folploy himself in various pursuits at the lowed by a defence of Socinianism, same time, whereby he avoided the and of the doctrine of necessity.20 It is langour consequent upon protracted attention to a single object, and came 18 These writers, as was remarked in to each in turn as fresh as if he had M. Rep. Vol. ii. p. 61, are arraigned in the spent an interval of entire relaxation. Examination for their metaphysical deThis effect he pleaded as his apology linquency with a solemnity almost ludito those who apprehended that the crous. They had indeed disgraced their great diversity of his studies would pens and injured their cause, by affecting prevent him from exerting all the to slight Locke and to treat Hartley as beforce of his mind upon any one of describes this work as a written in a man
low criticism. Dr. Priestley (Mem. 78.) them; and in fact, he proceeded to
her he did not entirely approve.” A mansuch a length in every pursuit that ner so unusual with Dr. Priestley and so interested him, as fully to justify in unworthy of him deserved his severer cenhis own case the rule which he followed. It was during a course of ori- 19 Dr. Hartley's work“ On Man" was ginal experiments which fully exer- first published in 1749, in 2 vols. To atcised his faculties of invention and ob- tract attention to his “ Theory of Associ
ation,” Dr. Priestley separated it from the
Evidences of Christianity, and the pracon the subject I soon found that they had tical part which formed the second volume, given no proper attention to it, and did and from the theory of vibrations internot really know what Christianity was." spersed through the first. Mem. p. 74, and M. Repos. Vol.i. p. 485. 20 The first volume of the Disquisitions
not improbable that the odium which His next removal was to Birmingthese works brought upon him was ham, a situation which he preferred the cause of a coolness in the beha- on account of the avantage it afford. viour of his noble patron, which ed of able workmen in every branch about this time he began to remark, requisite in Lis experimental inquiand which terminated in a scparation ries, and of some men distinguished after a connexion of seven years, but for their chemical and mechanical upon amicable terms, and without knowledge. Several generous friends any alleged cause of complaint. By to science, sensible that the defalcathe articles of agreement Dr. Priest- tion of his income would render the ley retained an annuity for life of expences of his pursuits too burthen1501,21
some for him to support, joined in
raising an annual subscription for de. was dedicated to his before-mentioned early willingly accepted, as more truly ho
fraying them. This assistance he associate, Mr. Graham, whom he describes as having long been“ a distinguished cham-nourable to him than a pension from pion for freedom of thinking in very trying the crown, which might have been situations.” The second volume, iilus- obtained for him, if he had desired it, trating “ the Doctrine of Philosophical in the administration of the Marquis, Necessity," was dedicated to his friend, of Rockingham, and the early part of Dr. John Jebh. Considering the wrongs that of Mr. Pitt. He had not been which Priestley afterwards experienced but long settled in this place, before a vacould then little expect, the following cancy happening in the principal dispassage is striking : “ You and I, Sir, rejoice in the belief that the whole human of the resignation of one of the pastors,
senting congregation in consequence race are under the same wholesome disci. pline, uurd that they will all certainly de he was unanimously chosen to supply rive the most valuable advantages from it, it. Without interrupting his philothough in different degrees, in different sophical and literary pursuits, he enwars, and at different periods ; that even tered with great zeal into the duties the persecutors are only giving the prece- of his office, especially that important dence to the persecuted, and advancing part of it which consists in catechising them to a bigher degree of perfection and and instructing the younger members happiness; and that they must themselves, of the society. Thcology again ocfor the same benevolent purpose, undergo cupied a principal share of his atten-' a more severe discipline than that which tion (indeed, it was always his fathey are the means of administering to others."
vourite study,) and some of his must The pnblication of these Disquisitions elaborate works in this department, occasioned a “ free,” yet a truly amicable as his “ History of the Corruptions of * discussion” between the author and his Christianity,” and “ History of Early friend, Dr. Price, which was published in Opinions concerning Jesus Christ," 1778, dedicated to their common friend, made their appearance from the BirMr. John Lee, and appears to have left mingham press. 22 They were a ferboth the parties in opinion just where it found them. Mr. John Palmer, a dissentiag minister, who had been the intimate give his friend an establishment in Ireland, friend of Dr. Priestley's fellow-student, where be had large property.” To this Mr. Alexander, also appeared in favour banishment Dr. Priestley preferred the of philosophical liberty, of which he was stipulated annuity which was regularly considered an able advocate. On the same paid, but though Lord S. had wished“ the side the learned Jacob Bryant addressed separation to be amicable," he declined Dr. Priestley, to whom and to Mr. Palmer the visits of Dr. Priestley when he should he published a reply, and to the latter a be occasionally in London. Yet when he rejoinder.
“ had been some years settled at Birming*1 Lord Shelburne was at this time a ham Lord S-, removed from the adminiscandidate for ministerial power, a situation tration, by the rising fortunes of Pitt, sent in which opulence can do little to secure a common friend to engage Dr. Priestley a manly independence, such as directed again in bis service”-a proposal which the conduct of Dr. Priestley. It is no was immediately declined. wonder that an aspiring statesman de- 2. The first part of the general concluclined the further patronage of a fearless sion to the “ History of the Corruptions of reformer. Yet the manner in which his Christianity,” was addressed to the conlordship first proposed to close the con- sideration of " unbelievers, and especially Dexion does no credit to his memory. le of Mr. Gibbon," from whose Miscellaneous intimated to Dr. Price, that he wished to Works, and an appeudix to a volume of, tile source of controversy, in which not only as the chief heresiarch in he engaged without reluctance, and matters of doctrine, but as the most also without those uneasy feelings of dangerous and inveterate enemy of irritation which so commonly accom- the established church in its connecpany warfare of this kind. The re- tion with the state. Some of the cler. newed applications of the dissenters gy of Birmingham having warmiy opfor relief from the penalties and dis- posed the dissenters' claims, Dr. abilities of the corporation and test Priestley published a series of “ Faacts afforded another topic of discus- miliar Letters to the Inhabitants of sion, in which Dr. Priestley, with Birmingham," on this and other tohis sentiments on civil and religious pics connected with religion, which liberty, could not fail to take a part; were probably not less provoking to and convinced as he was that all ec- the adverse party from the style of clesiastical establishments were hos- ironical pleasantry in which they were tile to the rights of private judgment, written. In this state of irritation, and the propagation of truth, he did not hesitate to represent them as all anti-Christian, and predict their down. the old building of error and superstition, fall.23 Thus he came to be regarded which a single spark may hereafter in
flame, so as to produce an instantaneous Discourses by Dr. Priestley, it appears explosion, in eonsequence of which that that this address occasioned a correspond- edifice, the erection of which has been the ence somewhat uncourteous, between them, work of ages, may be overturned in a moand perhaps not quite unobtrusive on the ment, and so effectually, as that the same part of Dr. Priestley. Nor has the Histo- foundation can never be built upon again.” rian failed to vent his rancour in his chap- The latter of these sentences was very pubter where, referring to some position by licly quoted on a memorable occasion, Dr. Priestley, he invites the priest and the March 2nd, 1790. Mr. Fox moved in the - magistrate to treinble---a broad hint for House of Commons for the repeal of the persecution---differing only in style from Corporation and Test Acts. Among other the vulgar watch-word the Church is in opponents, appeared the respectable Sir danger. Mr. Gibbon was indeed not W. Dolben, then member for "Oxford Univery suitably addressed on the evidences of versity, who read from some controversial Christianity, to the practical influence of pamphlet the latter alarming sentence, which a man so impure in heart as some and appalled the house by dealing out the of his notes discover him, could be litt gunpowd grain by grain. Mr. Courtedisposed. Dr. Priestley should have re- nay, whose pleasantry had often relieved collected the maxim of his predecessor the tediuin of parliamentary debate, atBiddle, to discuss serious subjects only with tempted to calm the perturbed spirits of the serious persons. The occasional impuri- worthy baronet by reminding him that his ties of Gibbon's History are well exposed true Church, the best constituted Church by a distinguished scholar who was him in the world, could be in no danger, as self no precisian. See Porson's Preface to the gunpowder was designed only to dehis Letters to Travis.
stroy an old building of error and superThe second part of the “ History of the stition. Corruptions” was addressed to the consi- The present writer witnessed this scene deration of Bishop Hurd, who seems not from the gallery of the House, where among to have forgotten the circumstance, in his the crowd collected on the occasion was Life of Warburton. See our 3d Vol. p.530. Dr. Priestley himself He has mentioned
The opposition, from various quarters, the fears of Sir W. Dolben, which he atto this “ History” produced, in 1786, the tributes to some of the bishops, in his Pre“ History of early Opinions concerning face to Fam. Letters, p. 9. ` The circumJesus Christ," in four volumes, dedicated to stance was also ludicrously introduced in his munificent friend, Mrs. Rayner, a work Epistola Macaronica, attributed to Dr. still more fruitful of controversy, and Geddes. which engaged the author in its defence 24 These letters chiefly respect the ac. through several succeeding years.
cusations brought against Dissenters, and 43 In Reflections to his Sermon on Free especially Unitarians, by two clergymen, Inquiry, preached Nov. 5, 1785, Dr. Messrs. Madan and Burn. The groundPriestley thus expressed himself : 6 The less calumny there stated respecting Dr. present silent propagation of truth may Priestley's interview with Silas Deane, on even be compared to those causes of na- his death-bed, as circulated by the clergy, tufre which lie dormant for a time, but but fully exposed by a Baptist minister which in proper circumstances act with
“ who was with Mr. Deane when he died," the greatest violence. We are, as it were, shews what a height the odium theologicum laying gunpowder, grain by grain, under against Dr. Priestley had attained.
another cause of animosity was added was not long after chosen to succeed by the different feelings concerning his deceased friend, Dr. Price, as mithat great event, the French Revo- nister to a congregation at llackney; lution. It is scarcely necessary here and he joined to it a conexion with to observe, that in its early periods, the new dissenting college established whilst it was hailed by the warm in that place. Resuming his usual friends of liberty and reform in Eng- occupations of every kind, he passed land, as a noble assertion of the na- some time in comfort and tranquillity, tural rights of man, it was viewed for no man was ever blessed with a with apprehension and dislike by mind more disposed to view every those attached to the existing order event in life on the favourable sile, of things. In every considerable or less clouded by care and anxiety. town divisions took place on this sub. But party dissension still retaining all ject, which became the more ranco- its malignity, be found himself and rous, as the events attending the re- his family su much molested by its volution were more awful and inte- assaults, that he resolved finally to resting. The anniversary of the cap- quit a country so hostile to his person ture of the Bastille, July 14, had been and principles. kept as a festival by the friends of the He chose for his retreat the United cause, and its celebration was pre- States of America, induced partly by pared at Birmingham in 1791. Dr. family reasons, and partly by the civil Priestley declined being present; but and religious liberty which so emiin the popular tumult which ensued, nently prevails under their constituhe was particularly the mark of party tion. Tle embarked for that country fury. His house, with his library, in 1794,26 and took up his residence manuscripts, and apparatus, made a prey to the flames; he was
26 The friends of Dr. Priestley were by obliged to Ay for his life, and with
no means equally convinced of the necessity some difficulty made his escape to a of his emigration, and he might, perhaps, place of safety, while he was hunted have abandoned ihe design had he remained like a proclaimed criminal. That this in England a few months louger, till the scene of outrage, attended with the administration of Pitt, foiled in their atconflagration of many other houses tempt to destroy Mr. Hardy and his assoand places of worship, was rather fa- ciates, by the forms of law, had lost much voured than controuled by
of its imposing influence on popular opiwhose duty ought to have led them nion. That Dr. Priestley for some time to active interference for the preser hensive as to himself, we can state from
after be resided at Clapton was unapprevation of the public peace, is undoubt. the most intimate knowledge of the fact. ed ; at the same time it is not sur
He was prevented only by the very natural prising that the rage of party was es. fears of Mrs. Priestley, and the opinion of pecially directed against one who had some of his more timid friends froin atteud. so much distinguished himself as a ing the Anniversary of the Revolution So. champion on the adverse side, and ciety, in 1792, and moving the address who had made his attacks without then voted to the National Convention of any regard to caution or policy. The France. During the next year, Mr. Burke legal compensation which he obtained appeared foremost in the attempt to excite for this cruel injury was far short of a popular odium against his quondam acthe amount of his losses. There were, that purpose Dr. Priestley's election to the
quaintance, employing most illiberally for however, many admirers of his virtues National Convention from several departand talents, who, regarding him as a ments, while the same compliment was paid sufferer for his principles, and a man to Mr. Wilberforce. Family reasons, at deeply injured, exerted themselves to length, such as Dr. Priestley has explained support him under this calamity.25 He in the Preface to his Fast Sermon for 1794,
and his Memoirs, p. 125, determined his 25 In his Appeals, published soon after resolution. It happened that at the same the Riots, Dr. Priestley has described the period his friend Mr. Palmer, with Mr. alarms and injuries which he suffered,andac. Muir, &c. were exiled to New Sonth Wales. knowledged the respectful attentions which The present writer, who has never ceased he received from societies of various de- to regret the late commencement of his scriptions. His letter on receiving an ad- personal acquaintance with Dr. Priestley, dress from a society which was not formed was taking leave of him at the house of his till the following year will be found in M. friend, Mr. W. Vaughan, the day before Repos. ii. 6, 7.
his departure from London, when the Doc