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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 sinall 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 1788. 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,” bis “Es- from the University of Edinburgh, timate," of which the Muse of Cowper His connexion with the academy at bas preserved the remembrance, his devo Warrington, which, from the advantion to Warburton, his disappointments, and their wuhappy result in a premature tages it gave him of cultivating a death, in 1766, in his 51st year. (See Biog. much more extensive acquaintance Brit. ii. 653-674). In 1765, Dr. B. pub- with books and men, may be consilished a pamphlet, entitled, “ Thonghts dered as an important era in his life, on Civil Liberty, Licentiousness and Faction," at the close of which he recommend. ed a preseribed 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 year 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, wbich had 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 inan and highly vaPresbyterians of a former age, he justifies, luable member of society Dr. Priestley reregretting, however, “ that the sentence gretted the infidelity, which he endeavour. could 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 achled for that purpose a transaction which knowledged he had not given so much atwould have been an immortal 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 necessary to our tributed, unjustly, the proud day for Eng- constitutions as sleep. We shall rise reland, 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 puary. The late Duke of Richmond (See correspoudent. 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, with Drford in his Royal and Noble Authors, two other original letters of his, was coArt. Falkland.
pied frożn this work iuto the last edition of 14 “ This Chart was first drawn out to his works.
ceased in 1767, when he settled at periments which produced the subLeeds, 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 History 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 History and renewed inquiries was his conversion present State of Discoveries relating to the system called Socinian, which he to Vision, Light, and Colours.” The has attributed to a perusalof 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 topics 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 bis labours merit, its reception was not such as to to the closet; on the contrary, he was encourage him to proceed in his deextremely 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 do. of 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 fufic 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 contrive a simple apparatus for at Calne, in Wiltshire, near his lordimpregnating water with it, which ship's seat; and during seven years he afterwards made public. At this attended upon the Earl in his wintime, 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."7 This situation had doubt.
16 On this occasion he published, in 17 After visiting “ Flanders, Holland, 1772, his “ Institutes of Natural and Re- and Germany as far as Strasburg,” he vealed 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 tó they bad outgrown a belief in the Assem- whom I was introduced at Paris uubelievbly's Catechism, had been almost entirelyers in Christianity, and even professed confined to pulpit-instruction. The pnpils 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 sponks the words of truth and so any opinion, who professed to believe beruess.
Christiamity. But on interrogating then
less its use, by affording Dr. Prieste 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 philocould not have enjoyed as minister to sopher of another class. In 1775, a dissenting congregation. The man while still resident with Lord Shelners and soviety of a nobleman's house burne, he published his Examination were not, however, perfectly conge- of the Doctrine of Common-seuse 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 buman 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.'' He had already declared respect to his pursuits, and this was bimself 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 1778 there had appeared in the Phi- the immateriality of the sentient priolosophical 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 infidelity, or even of This, with many additions, was re, atheism, he was not deterred from printed in 1974, 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 fluids er juquiry, 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 ho- a history of the doctrines concerning nours.
the soul, and openly supported the It was his constant practice to eni- 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 siugle 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 pleased 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 peps and injured their cause, by affecting
to slight Locke and to treat Hartley as beprevent him from exerting all the force 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
ner 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 fol- sure. lowed. 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 at. cised 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 Birming. these works brought upon him was ham, a situation which he preferred the cause of a cooluess in the beha- on account of the advantage it affordviour of his noble patron, which ed of able workinen in every branch about this time he began to remark, requisite in his experimental inquiand which terminated in a separation 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 auy 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 burthen1301.21
some for him to support, jo ped in
raising an annual subscription for dewas dedicated to his before-mentioned early willingly
accepted, as more truly
frayiug 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, illus- obtained for him, if he had desired it, tratiog “ 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, and 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 enways, 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 higher degree of perfection and and instructing the younger members happiness ; and that they must themselves, of the society. Theology again ocfor the same benevolent purpose, undergo cupied a principal share of his attena 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 most The pnblication of these Disqnisitions elaborate works in this department, occasioned a “ free,” get 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 dissenting minister, who bad been the intimate give his friend an establishment in Ireland, friend of Dr. Priestley's fellow-student, where he 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 Birming21 Lord Shelburne was at this time à ham Lord S-, removed from the adminiscandidate for ministerial power, a situation tration, by the rising fortunes of Pitt, sent in wbich opulence can do little to secure a common friend to engage Dr. Priestley a manly independence, such as directed again in his service"-a proposal which the conduct of Dr. Priestley. It is no was immediately declined. wonder that an aspiring statesman de 92 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 corlordship first proposed to close the con. sideration of “ unbelievers, and especially sexion does no credit to his memory. He of Mr. Gibbon," from whose Miscellaneous intimated to Dr, Price, that he wished to Works, and an appendix to a volume of
tile source of controversy, in which not only as the chief heresiarch in he cngaged 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 clernewed applications of the dissenters gy of Birmingham having warmly 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 consequence 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 tremble---a broad bint 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 UniPery 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 little gunpowder grain by grain. Mr. Courtedisposed. Dr. Priestley should have re- nay, whose pleasantry had often relieved collected the maxim of his predecessor the tedium 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 Charch, 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 acthrough several succeeding years.
cusations brought against Dissenters, and 23 In Reflections to his Sermon on Free especially Unitarians, by two clergymen, Inquiry, preached Nov. 5, 1785, Dr. Messrs. Madan and Burn. The ground Priestley thus expressed himself : “ The less calumny there stated respecting Dr. present silent propagation of truth may Priestley's interview with Şilas Deane, on even be compared to those causes of na- his death-bed, as circulated by the clergy, ture which lie dormant for a time, but but fully exposed by a Baptist minister which in proper circumstances act with 66 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.