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PRE FATORY MEMOIRS.
RICHARD WATSON, D.D.
BISHOP OF LANDAFF.
WERR it asked, what Theologian of recent times was most own words, " was in itself perhaps trivial," but certainly influ likely to have taken a liberal and manly, yet decidedly sound and enced in no small degree his future life, inasmuch as it directed scriptural, view of a great Christian question, I know not that his mind to metaphysical disquisitions. It happened at one of any name would so readily occur, as that of Richard Watson. the public examinations, that he was asked “whether Clarke," Now, by a sound view of a great question in Christianity, (on the Attributes,) “had demonstrated the absurdity of an I mean one divested of all prejudices of profession, and all infinite succession of changeable and dependent beings ? " reculiarities of creed, and based on the sole glorious prin- Watson's reply in the negative, awakening the head lecturer's ciple, Christ Jesus the Saviour of sinners, through whom surprise, he was asked to explain, which he did, by objectalone life and immortality have been clearly brought to light. ing to the terms of the proposition, seeing there could be no Few men, also, both from the temper of his mind and the origin in a series which by the supposition was eternal, neither nature of his studies, could sooner have detected illi gical infer- could there be a first term, since it was assumed to be infinite. ences in an argument, or have included in their premises a Though far from unexceptionable in metaphysical soundness, wider range of practical intelligence, than Bishop Watson; / such a desence of an independent opinion, on a topic of this certainly, there never existed a man, the moral history of nature, indicated, in one so young, habits of intellectual exerwhose life gives higher assurance that he would fearlessly have cise, much more surprising than the acuteness of the objection. declared what he conscientiously believed.
Observing that, by a very unjust distinction, sizars were reThis distinguished divine, to whose labours such confidence garded as occupying a less honourable position than the students thus attaches, was born at Heversham in Westmoreland holding college presentations, he resolved to sit for a scholarAugust, 1737. His father, Thomas Watson, had for forty years ship. This he obtained, though sustaining the competition a filled with reputation the head mastership of the grammar year earlier than usual, and in so creditable a manner, as school there,- a situation which he resigned only a few months introduced him to the particular notice and friendship of Dr before our anthor's birth. The family, however, were originally Smith, then master of Trinity. He had now resided two years from Hardindale near Shrop in the same county, where they and seven months at college, without having spent a single possessed a small freehold estate. “When the Monastery of entire day beyond its walls. By way of relaxation, he Shrop," says the bishop himself, “was dissolved by Henry went to visit his elder brother, then one of the clergymen at VIII., of the thirteen monks who were in it, two had the Kendal. This excursion afforded him but a scanty pleasure. name of Watson; these ecclesiastics were probably dedicated His brother, of whom, from their disparity of years, he previto the Churct by soine of my progenitors, and I can give no ously knew little, be found a man of lively parts, but in a farther account of any f them, except I mention the tradition situation affording little room for the exercise of talent, and that the part of the family who settled near Shrop came from "much temptation to convivial festivity." Accordingly, after Bentland."
a few months' residence he returned to college, with a deterRichard being the youngest of three children, with a brother mination of making his alma mater the mother of his fortunes. and sister grown up when he was born, and his father stricken It deserves, however, to be mentioned here, that ten years afterin years, passed in some degree an isolated infancy. To his wards, this brother died of an impaired constitution, and ruined mother, whose maiden name was Newton, he has recorded, with in fortune. Dr Watson instantly, and with no claim upon him filial gratitude, his obligations for having imbued his mind with to do so, discharged the debts of his unfortunate relative, though those early impressions of piety and religion, whose comforts he at the sacrifice of almost all he himself possessed. enjoyed through life, and which in their fruits have bequeathed In January, 1759, he took his first or bachelor's degree. so valuable an inheritance to posterity. His education in other This, in order the first of college honours, is also the highest respects he received at the seminary over which his father had in estimation with candidates for academic distinction. It presided, but unfortunately under a successor very inferior, a fixes a man's character in the University; and all the objects disadvantage the effects of which, in his classical studies espe- of subsequent ambition, are in their main point affected by this cially, he long felt, and perhaps never completely surmounted. trial. Mr Watson was declared only second wrangler of his To this school were attached two exhibitions of £50 per annum
To one who looked upon his college as his “sole each, on one of which, at the age of seventeen, Watson was world," for exertion, and for recompense, this must at first have admitted a sizar of Trinity College, Cambridge, on the 3d proved a sore disappointment. The general sense of the November, 1754
examiners, however, was in favour of our author's claims to the Endowed with great ardour of mind, and knowing that a first honours, which by the Moderator were awarded to a pupil unall patriinony of £300 left by his father, with his own exer- of his own. Accusations of partiality can more easily be brought tirons, formed all his resources, the youth applied to study with against men in such situations, than proved, but here the untiring diligence. Within six months we find him already injustice appears to have been so marked, that "it was remeinremarked in his college. The cause of this distinction, in his bered as long as Mr Watson lived in the university, and the
talk about it at the time did him more service than if he had been made senior wrangler." When afterwards Moderator himself, he introduced the present system of classing and examining candidates, in presence of each other, which at Cambridge renders marked partiality in the distribution of bonours almost impossible.
While an under graduate, we are informed, on his own authority, that his application was never very uniform nor strictly continuous ; but in its results it was unquestionably very satisfactory, and must have occasionally been intense. He aspired to keep the best company, which at college does not always mean the most studious. The principle, however, is a good one, provided we ourselves make the discrimination maintained by the author of the Apologies: “I had," says he, “a strong ambition to be distinguished, and was sensible that, though wealth might plead some excuse for idleness, extravagance, and folly in others, the want of wealth could plead none for me." Accordingly, the gay manners of his fashionable associates never subdued his prudence, never seduced him from the high resolve of winning for himself that honourable distinction denied him by fortune. On returning from some gay party, at one or two in the morning, he would often notice lights in the apartinents of more recluse if not cleverer students than himself: “ This never failed to excite my jealousy, and the next day was always a day of hard study."_" Hundreds of times" would he thus continue in close application for the entire day, regardless of exercise or even of food.
It was at this period his custom to devote the mornings to mathemnatics, and the evenings to the classics, a distribution of time to which he continued to adhere, so far as other avocations would permit. His method of mathematical study had something of singularity. It was his constant practice to consider a difficult proposition while walking in the open air, without book or diagram, until every step in the demonstration had become perfectly farniliar from the "air-drawn” scheme in his own thoughts. In the higher departments of geometry and physics, this must often have proved no easy task, and he confesses having more than once thus laboured for three days at a single step in the induction. It was a principle with him “never to give up a difficult point, till he had made it his own proprio marte."
To the classics his application was almost equally assiduous, and it was his constant practice to commit to memory such portions of the Greek and Roman orators as particularly pleased his judgment or gratified his taste. The latter appears, however, to have been rather peculiar,-certainly not in giving preference to Demosthenes, who exhibits in style and argument one of the best models for real business, but in preferring to all others, Tacitus as an historian, and Persius as a poet.
But neitlier his favourite mathematics, nor classical learning, could withdraw Mr Watson's attention from practical education. His example in this respect is deserving of close imitation by every one who desires the culture of the judgment to keep race with the increase of knowledge. Every week he imposed upon himself the task of composing a dissertation on a given subject, either in English or Latin. The topic was usually histrical, suggested in the ordinary course of miscellaneous reading. The latter seems to have been pretty extensive ; and frum some of the works mentioned as his favourites, we may trace the origin of some peculiar notions on certain points. Clever young men, when left much to themselves in this respect, are more apt, in politics and literature, to be led away by what sounds well, than to prefer what is sound.
A few months after having taken his first degree, our author sat for a fellowship. This was a proceeding so unprecedented in the routine of the university, that no junior bachelor bad ever been elected. Next year, however, in October, 1760, he was elected fellow of Trinity, in preference to two seniors of the same year, with this flattering remark from the master, “ You have done your duty to the college, it remains for the college to do theirs to you." His next step made him one of the tutors, for he had already become remarked as a teacher; and five years afterwards, he took his degree of Master of Arts. In the interval he had two eligible situations offered to him, the curacy of Clermont, and the chaplaincy to the Factory of Bencoolen. This latter appointment he was inclined to have accepted, with a view to the facility afforded of studying the
oriental languages, and of rising in the Anglo-Indian Church. Bur his old friend, the master of Trinity, sent for him, and insisted on his resigning all thoughts of the situation, adding, “You are far too good to die of drinking punch in the torrid zone."
In 1764, our author was unanimously elected to the profes sorship of chemistry. Hitherto this had been little better than a nominal chair, both as regarded emoluments and academical study. But the practical importance of chemical science becoming daily more apparent, he resolved on rendering his new office equally advantageous to himself and to the university. At the timne of his election, as he candidly confesses, he was entirely ignorant of chemistry, — -" I had never read a syllable on the subject, nor seen a single experiment in it; but I was tired with mathematics and natural philosophy, and the * vehementissima gloriæ cupido' stimulated me to try my strength in a new pursuit, and the kindness of the university (it was always kind to me) animated me to extraordinary exertions." It must, however, be confessed, that these were no very favourable recomiendations, and that in almost any other case the university would have done wrong in appointing a candidate to a chair, because tired of doing what he had done well, and anxious to exchange a charge which he understood, for one of which he knew nothing. But that candidate was no ordinary man. He instantly set about his new duties with all his wonted energy. France had then far the lead of Europe in a science which British talent has since so decidedly rendered our own. Dr Watson, therefore, sent to Paris for an operator, buried himself as many hours in his laboratory as other duties permitted, and in fourteen months from his appointment read a course of chemical lectures that still form an era in the science of Cambridge. In this new career he shewed himself, as in all his undertakings, a profound investigator, intimately studying particular phenomena ; but, as a teacher, chiefly solicitous to bring forward only large practical views One of his applications of chemical science, on an apparently very simple process, that of burning charcoal for gunpowder in close cylinders, is said to have saved annually £100,000 to the country during the late war. Nor should the pative independence of his mind be here forgotten, in reference to his salary as professor of chemistry. To this chair, no permanent emolument being attached, the university furnishing only a class-room, he applied to the crown, through his friend Mr Luther, who had recently expended £ 20.000 in establishing the wbig interest in Essex. £100 per annum, in the shape of salary, was the whole amount asked ; and the Duke of Newcastle, ther.
; chancellor of the university, undertook to procure it from the Rockingham administration. Having provided the necessary credentials, he forwarded them in March ; but had heard no thing of the inatter till the July following, when waiting upon the Duke, his grace asked him whether the affair had been arranged. No," replied the uncompromising chemist,“ nor do I think it ever will be done." “ But why," inquired the duke, " has it not been done?” “Because," returned the professor, “Lord Rockingham says, your grace, as chancellor of the university, ouglit to speak to the king; and your grace says, that Lord Rockingham ought to speak to the king as minister.' The sequel is thus graphically detailed by the bishop himself :“ He stared at me with astonishment; and calling for paper, he instantly wrote a letter, and sealing it with his own seal, ordered me to go with it to Lord Rockingham, who had a levee that day. I did so; it was the only time in my life that I ever attended a minister's levee, and sent in my letter before the levee began ; and understood it was whispered, that Lord Rockingham and the wbigs were to go out of administration ; and it was so, for their dismission was setttled that day. Lord Rockinghain, however, undertook to ask the king, and apologizing for not having done it sooner, offered, in a very polite manner, to have the stipend (I asked only £ 100 a-year) settled upon me for life. This I refused, and desired to have it only so long as I continued professor of chemistry, and discharged the duties of the office." The fact of the minister wishing to bestow a new sinecure on the very day of his dismission, is not the least characteristic trait in this transaction.
for three years more Dr Watson continued to prelect from the chemical chair with the same distinguished success. His exertions at this period are certainly calculated to astonish weaker or less ardent spirits. For months and years together he began his public labours at eight in the morning, frequently reading three public lectures in Trinity College, spending four or five hours with private pupils, and, at least, five or six more in his laboratory every day. These were his stated duties, beside incidental engagements in presiding as moderator at public examinations in the schools. In 1768, he printed, but did not publish, his Instilutiones Metallurgica, a work which, considering the state of knowledge at that period, presents a very meritorious attempt to impart a seientific form to chemistry. About the same time he was elected a member of the Royal Society, and next year published his celebrated assize sermon, delivered at Cambridge, and printed at the request of the presiding judge. “At the time this sermon was preached, government was greatly relaxed; and mobs, which I ever detested – thinking senseless popularity beneath the notice of genuine whiggism-were very rife in favour of Mr Wilkes. But though I detested his mobs, I did not dislike his cause, judging that the constitution was violated in the treatment he received, both from the King's Ministry and the House of Commons." These sentiments were probably right as then held by the writer, though they are certainly not those of the party now. But what has the pulpit to do with politics? If therefore, as his friends complained, this sermon, and similar others, like stationary clouds, interposed between their author and the sunshine of royal patronage, the fact of appearing as a party preacher, rather than being a party man, occasioned the disappointment of those hopes which talents and integrity give to every citizen in this country a right and an encouragement to cherish.
In October, 1771, the divinity chair in the university became vacant by the death of Dr Rutherford. This, which has been called the first “professional chair in Europe," had long been the secret object of Dr Watson's ambition. But the vacancy now took place so prematurely and unexpectedly, as necessarily brought him forward under the most unpromising circumstances. His attention had been, for many years, more immediately directed to other pursuits; he had, at no time, discovered any marked predilection for theological science, nor bad he even taken the requisite honours in divinity. Such, however, was the estimation in which his talents were held, that ordinary forms being dispensed with, he was unanimously elected, at the age of thirty-four, to the most important office in the gift of the university.
To the duties of his distinguished situation Dr Watson applied so intensely, that his application at this period is believed to have permanently affected his health. The readiest, and perhaps the best proof of the success of his prelections, is to be found in the fact, that while the chair had produced to former incumbents barely 300 guineas yearly, he raised its value to fully £1900. Of his system of inquiry and instruction, he has himself left the following account :-“I reduced the study of divinity into as narrow a compass as I could, for I determined to study nothing but my Bible, being much unconcerned about the opinions of councils, fathers, churches, bishops, and other men, as little inspired as myself. This mode of proceeding being opposite to the general one, procured me the name of BUTIOIDA UTOS - the self-taught divine. The professor of divinity had been nick-named Malleus Hereticorum -- the hammer of heretics. It was thought to be his duty to demolish every opinion which militated against what is called the orthodoxy of the Church of England. Now, my mind was wholly unbiassed ; I had no prejudice against - no predilection for the Church of England ; but a sincere regard for the Church of Christ, and an Insuperable objection to every degree of dogmatical intolerance. I never troubled myself with answering any arguments which the opponents in the divinity schools brought against the articles of the Church, nor ever admitted their authority as decisive of a difficulty ; but I used, on such occasions, to say to them, – holding the New Testament in my hand, - En sacrum codicem! There is the fountain of truth, why do you follow the streams derived from it by the sophistry, or polluted by the passions of man? If you can bring proofs against any thing delivered in this book, I shall think it my duty to reply to you. Articles of churches are not of divine authority, - have done with them; for they may be true—they may be false ; appeal to the book itsell."
“ This method of disputing," our author rather tauntingly admits, “ gained hiin no credit with the hierarchy." But, with
submission, were the heads of the Church wrong in regarding, with qualified approbation, such a system of study, recommended by a professor of divinity in one of the first universities in the world ? In a teacher occupying so dignified and so responsible a situation, much more is expected and is necessary, than would be highly respectable in a simple Christian divine. Now, though Dr Watson unquestionably possessed the requisite knowledge of the literature, as well as of the doctrines of our faith, was his plan of decrying the fathers, and the originals of ecclesiastical history, the best adapted for improving the learning of the Church? The character of every establishment of religion depends upon two essentials, - the piety and the attainments of its clerical members. The former depends merely upon themselves; for the latter they must, in the first instance, be indebted to their teachers. Perhaps, indeed, the professor of divinity foregoes the most important privilege of his chair, when he fails to impress upon the minds of those committed to his charge, -- the future teachers and defenders of Christianity, - a complete view of the literature and science of systematic theology. The lectures of the most eloquent professor can do but comparatively little towards forming accomplished pulpit orators, But the opportunity of being accurately informed of the sources, arrangement, and objects of professional learning, which attendance on the schools of divinity does afford or ought to supply, once lost, is irrecoverable. Future avocations, the necessity of providing discourses for constantly returning occasions of public ministrations, leave, for many years, no time for less urgent acquisitions; and when at length leisure does come, the early groundwork for its improvement is wanting. But it may be safely predicted, that as a popular theology shall prevail in our universities to the neglect of the theological erudition and literary acoomplishments which should in a peculiar manner adorn the ministers of an establishment, the establishment itself will sink in respect, influence, and usefulness.
During several succeeding years, Dr Watson continued with unrelaxing assiduity and increasing success to discharge his various duties, both in the divinity chair and in the university. Nor was he inactive as a supporter of a certain line of principles in public life. But to his honour be it recorded, that neither now, nor at any time, was he a party man. His opinions were not rough-hewn, according to some general purpose, as materials for self-advancement, afterwards to be shaped and fitted, by each successive change in those to whom he might look as the architeots of his fortune. No! In his own manly declaration, “He had never any wish but to speak what appeared to him to be the truth, and upon no occasion ever thought of pleasing any person or party;" adding, “if in any opinion I am in error, it is thus, at least, both involuntary and disinterested,"
From such a man, and such a writer, we receive, with confidence and complacency, a demonstration of his own belief, that “the Holy Seriptures,” in the words of Locke, " especially the New Testament, have God for their author, salvation for their end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for their matter," To such a Christian, who does not willingly admit his own peculiar debt of gratitude for the “Apologies" for Christianity and its Documents ?
Our narrative has now condueted us to the publication of the first of these works, here presented to the reader. During the winter 1775-6, appeared the first volume of Gibbon's Roman History. The 15th and 16th chapters of that elaborate production (AS every reader knows) contain a covert attack on the Christian faith. The rapid progress of a religion, whose purity and gentleness, selfdenying principles, and sin-denouncing requirements, drew upon its professors the hatred and persecution of a proud world lying in wickedness, had always been held an evidence of its divine origin, God protecting that which was his own. Gibbon was the first in this country who ventured, in a systematic argument, to assail this truth. He does so insidiously. Pretending to adınit the supremacy of a heavenly power accompanying the first preaching of the Gospel, he so manages his statements, that the unwary reader finds himself insensibly conducted to the conclusion, that the necessary operation of five secondary causes, assumed by the historian, are sufficient to account for the speedy propagation, and final reception, of Christianity, as the established worship of the Roman Empire.
While joining heartily in the general admiration of the eloquence, learning, and industry, displayed in other portions of the work. the friends of religion and morality were preparing faithfully to do their duty, in detecting the sophistry, and exposing the tendency of these two chapters. But the method which most of the objectors had resolved to pursue, as appeared from their subsequent productions, turned chiefly npon discussions which required elaborate investigation. Meanwhile, time was passing, and an injurious impression had begun to fix itself upon the minds of many, that the historian's reasonings could not be impugned. At this crisis, Dr Watson's attention was directed to Mr Gibbon's chapters by the late Sir Robert Graham, as unanswered, and in the latter's opinion unanswerable.
On this hint the reverend champion buckled on his armour, and in one inonth, during the summer vacation of 1776, produced the “ Apology for Christianity," the first and the best refutation which has yet appeared of the most artful attack to which Christianity in these days has been exposed. My answer," modestly remarks its author, " had a great run, and is still sought after, though it was only a month's work in a long vacation. But if I had been longer about it, tlough I might have stuffed it with more learning, and made it more bulky, I am not certain that I should have made it better." The work was published in autumn, but before it actually appeared, a copy, by the author's directions, was sent to Mr Gibbon. The latter acknowledged this mark of courtesy in the following note :
" Mr Gibbon takes the earliest opportunity of presenting his compliments and thanks to Dr Watson, and of expressing his sense of the liberal treatment which he has received from so candid an adversary. Mr Gibbon entirely coincides in opinion with Dr Watson, that as their different sentiments on a very important point of history are now submitted to the public, they both may employ their time in a manner much more useful, as well as agreeable, than they can possibly do by exhibiting a single combat in the amphitheatre of controversy. Mr Gibbon is therefore determined to resist the temptation of justifying, in & professed reply, any passages of his listory which it inight perhaps be easy to clear from censure and misapprehension. But he still reserves to himself the privilege of inserting in a future edition, some occasional remarks and explanations of his meaning. If any calls of pleasure or business should call Dr Watson to town, Mr Gibbon would think himself fortunate in being permitted to solicit the honour of his acquaintance."
“ BENTINCK STREET, Nov. 2, 1776.
Lausanne! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes
Of names, which unto you lequeathed a naine :
A path to perpetuty of fulde.
Was, Titan-like, on daring doubts to pile
Of Heaven-again assaild,-if Heaven the while,
On man, and man's research, could deigu do more than smile. Of Gibbon individually, the coequal with Voltaire in this bad eminence," the same poet has, with admirable discrimination, thus delineated the intellectual character:
The other deep and slow, exhausting thought,
And hiving wisdom w th each studio's year,
And shaped his weapon with an edge severe, Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer,The lord of irony To such an assailant on the citadel of faith, Watson stood forward, just such an opponent as the good would have wished, and the bad must have feared. He, too, had drained the springs of thought -- had, with untiring industry, gathered in almost every field the treasures of a various learning, and could
* shape his weapons" of defence with an edge as trenchant as his adversaries. But while thus similar in preparation, he was different in temperament; for though “deep,” he is “ clear," and so far from “ show," that be rushes like an avalanche upon the unawed intruder on the sublimities of revelation, overwhelming hun aniid the brightness of those truths to which he is stubbornly blind. Froin the admission in the opening of the first letter, “Yes, sir, we are agreed, that the zeal of the Christians was inflexible," to the closing line in the last, he does not permit his antagonist once to escape him. We are throughout made to feel, that the cause is mighty, and the advocate able. Not for a moment are we suffered to be in apprehension as to the issue. When the argument is direct, it is demolishing, breaking down at once the premises and conclusions of the sceptic. Or, as is frequently the case, if the principles are admitted, it is only to reverse tlie inferences with a clearness which no sophistry may elude, and with a simplicity which scarcely any mind can fail to apprehend.
In the execution of this task, in the work now before the reader, Dr Watson adopted what has been termed the popular statement of the argument. But in speaking thus of the “Apology for Christianity," we must be careful to remember, that its plan is popular only as it exhibits the result, without the ostentation of profound learning. It is the production of a vigorous mind rapidly but clearly unfolding its habitual convictions on points of great research and intricacy, without perplexing the reader with the remoter steps, or more abstract demonstrations, by which these conclusions had been attained. It is a generous display of wealth, without any congratulatory accompaniment of the self-denials, cares, labours, and anxieties, undergone in realizing this opulence. His successors in the same controversy have generally adopted an opposite method, but not, we think, with a similar success, as regards at least the great body of Christians. They have generally addressed themselves to points of erudition, and, it must be acknowledged, have succeeded in establishing the charges brought against Mr Gibbon, of misquoting or misrepresenting his authorities, by loose commentaries, false glosses, and insidious notes. Still the force of these erudite performances, as Dr Chelsum's, Mr Burgh's, Mr Davis's, and other “ Examinations," is weakened, from deficiency of that masterly combination of details into condensed conclusions, for which Dr Watson's work is so remarkable. Most of them, too, indulge in a severity of personal observation, respecting the plagiarisms and shallow learning of their opponent, foreign to the question. The inquiry is not-Are the sentiments Gibbon's own ? but-Are they true ? not-Are his quotations at second hand ? but-Are they correct and to the purpose ? Among these learned answers to the historian, the work of Sir David Dalrymple Lord Hailes, is honourably distinguished for research and firm yet polished refutation. The reader who has attentively perused both Watson and Hailes, will be abundantly provided against the cavillings of infidelity, whether they come in the shape of popular declamation, or assume the form of learned objection.
The success attending the very first appearance of his defence of that Christianity, which he loved in princip and whose charities he exemplified in his treatment even of its opponents, must have afforded great satisfaction to our author. He had
To this letter Dr Watson replied in course of post, expressing the plensure he should have in cultivating Mr Gibbon's personal acquaintance, and concluding with the following wellexpressed compliment, which, nevertheless, elegantly implies the possibility of improving the work in the very points at issue: -" It would be very extraordinary if Mr Gibbon did not feel a parent's partiality for au offspring which has justly excited the admiration of all wbo have seen it; and Dr Watson would be the last person in the world to wish him to conceal any explanation which might tend to exalt its beauties."
The mutual courtesy which these two eminent men thus manifested towards each other personally, appears to have been 80 far misunderstood by “ some doughty polemics," as Dr Watson calls them, that they even affected to doubt the sincerity of the apologist, from the verbal suavity of the Apology, ** and were angry with him for not having bespattered Gibbon with a portion of that theological dirt, which the preceding age had so liberally thrown at antagonists." Invective never aided the cause of truth, more particularly religious truth. In this, therefore, Dr Watson does not indulge : he writes like a gentleman addressing his equal; but with a fervency of arguinentation, an earnestness of interrogatory, occasionally with a keenness of elegant sarcasm, which leave little room for complaint on the score of forbearance towards an adversary, himself a most dexterous master of the same weapons, and trained, too, in a school of fence, whose science wanted only a good cause to render its pupils invincible ; but, wanting this, with all their skill they are vulnerable.
answered a gain sayer, without making an enemy, and men of In the spring of 1782, having been left in a minority of nineall parties united in approving his performance. Of these ex- teen on the American question, Lord North's adıninistration pressions of approbation, we select the following from Dr Jebb, went out of office. A sort of Whig coalition ministry was then as at once just yet discriminating: -"I am delighted with formed, with the Marquis of Rockingham as one leader, and your Apology beyond measure; various parts suggested to me Lord Shelburne as the other, representing respectively the two new lights, which have guided my mind with respect to some extremes into which the party were then divided. To this difficulties, which I never expected to have seen so completely accession of his political friends to power, Dr Watson's elevation reinoved It will no doubt increase your already high re; uta- to the episcopal bench has been ascribed. It probably was the tion; but it will do more ; it will, I trust, remove the prejudices immediate cause ; though in thus mixing up the professional of many well disposed Deists, and be the happy means of con- advancement of a distinguished philosopher and divine with verting them to the truth. The liberal sentiinents which every the changing interests of mere partisanship, injustice, we liope, where prevail in it do you the hichest credit. The elegance, is done to all parties. Nor, indeed, can his extreine political simplicity, and accuracy of the style, give myself, and all I admirers claim the merit of his appointment. By the unex. converse with, great pleasure."
pected death of the Marquis of Rockingham, to whom our author We have said that Dr Watson refuted an antagonist without was personally known, the patronage of the crown devolved upon making an enemy. Mr Gibbon shewed this about three years Lord Shelburne, the see of Salisbury being then vacant, “ This afterwards, when he published his reply to those who had minister's constitutional principles and enlarged views of public assailed his History. The severity towards every other, and policy," it is admitted, “allied him as much to one party as to the marked courtesy of his notices of the work before us, were I another in the state." For his moderation, in fact, he was so conspicuous, that Dr Watson felt himself called upon to preferred, as the less of two evils, by the king; but for the saine acknowledge the politeness in the following note :
reason he was deserted by Fox, Cavendish, and Burke. Fruin
this nobleman, on the solicitation it seeins of the Dukes of Sir,- It will give me the greatest pleasure to have an oppor- Grafton and Rutland, Dr Watson received the initre, Dr Bartunity of becoming better acquainted with Mr Gibbon: I beg rington being translated from Landaff to Salisbury. In justice he wuld accept my sincere thanks for the too favourable man- to all, we quote the following from our author's diary : _"On ner in which he has spoken of a performance, which derives its Sunday, July 21st, I received an express from the Duke of chief merit from the elegance and importance of the work it Rutland, informing me that he had seen Lord Shelburne, who attempts to oppose.
had anticipated his wishes, by mentioning me for the vacant I have no hope of a future eristence, except that which is bishoprick before he had asked it. I kissed hands on the 20th groundel on the truth of Christianity; I wish not to be deprived of that month, and was received, as the phrase is, very graof this hope ; but I should be an apostate from the mild prin- ciously : this was the first time I had ever been at St James's." ciples of the religion I profess, if I could be actuated by the We have gone into this explanation, because one party has least animosity against those who do not think with me upon been praised when, as evidently appears, they little deserved thuis, of all others, the most important subject. I beg your par- commendation, and because another has been blamed for overdon for this declaration of my belief; but my temper is naturally looking one whom, unwillingly, they were thus compelled to oren, and it ought assuredly to be without disguise to a man regard as a partisan bishop, one of the most ungracious objects whom I wish no longer to look upon as an antagonist, but a that lend some diversity to the monotonous and dreary selfishfriend.-I am, &c.
R. Watson. ness of the political landscape. How inuch, also, his own EDWARD GIBBON, Esq.
feelings have been disregarded in this exhibition of his one
sided attachments, and how little reason the party who seized Seventeen years afterwards, this letter was published in the him can shew in support of their assumed right, appear miscellaneous works of Gibbon, which appeared in 1796. It is from his own reflections at the time. * In this manner did a proof of the acuteness of George III. that he alluded to the I acquire a bislopric. But I have no reason to be proud of passage marked in italics, when the author next appeared at the the promotion ; for I think I owed it not to any regard which levee, in such a way, but without offence, as naturally induced he who gave it me had to the zeal and industry with which I Dr Watson to offer this ex lanation :--"I have frequently," had, for many years, discharged the functions, and fulfilled the said the prelate, “met with respectable men, who cherished an duties, of an academic life ; but to the opinion which he had expectation of a future state, though they rejected Christianity erroneously entertained, that I was a warm, and might become as an imposture; and I thought iny publicly declaring that an useful partisan. Lord Shelburne, indeed, had expressed to I was of a contrary opinion might perhaps induce Mr Gibbon, the Duke of Grafton bis expectation, that I would occasionally and other such men, to make a deeper investigation into the write a pamphlet for their administration. The duke did me truth of the religion than they had hitiierto done." His Majesty | justice in assuring him, that he had perfectly mistaken my expressed hiinse is satistied both with the explanation ar the character; that though I might write on an abstract question Ritive The passage, however, can appear "odd," for such concerning government, or the principles of legislation, it was the King's remark, only on a hasty perusal, while the error would not be with a view of assisting any administration. which it combats is by no means singular The disbelief of I had written in support of the principles of the Revolution, Christianity, indeed, does not, nay, cannot, obliterate the because I thought those principles useful to the state, and I impress of inmortality wrought into the very being of the soul , saw them vilified and neglected, I had taken part with the by its Creator. But without the furls of Christianity - facts people in their petitions against the influence of the crown, which it alone can ascertain, - of what value is that ratural because I thought that influence would destroy the constituprinciple? An eye without light -- an ear amid everlasting tion, and I suu it to us increasing. I had opposed the supporters silence - a glorious instinct thrubling under the dark impulse of the American war, because I thought that war to be not of unascertained desire ; and, as respects the conscience, at only inexpedient but unjust. But all this was done from my best but an opinion fl ating between the extremes of bare own senso of things, and without the least view of pleasing a probability and absolute denial, as moody passion or intel- party. I did, however, happen to please a party, and they lectual pride impels. In ethics, the principle is a theory made me a bishop." unsupported by a single induction, and contradicted by sense ; With the buishi pric, the poorest see in the church, Dr Watson a contingency which, as in a position in physics unsupported obtained a dis; ensation to hold his professorship, the archby experiment, may unsettle and retard, but never advance or deaconry of Ely, and other preferinents. Thus his exertions gonerate, knowledge. In morals, it is a baseless vision, serv- were rather increased than diminished by this elevation, and a ing only to render the best men the most unhappy; for they practical proof was given, that his reforms, like those of many would feel most keenly, that with ut the assurances exhibited others, were only tireoretical propositions when the question actuin the Gospel promises of reconciliation and renewed nature, a ally comes home to their own circunstances. It inust be admitted, future life would be more an object of dread than of desire. however, that his duties were as faithfully performed as, under llence the force of Dr Watson's proposition -- if we reject the pressure of so inany engagements, they could be discharged. the revelations of Christianity, we must renounce also the The systein, not the man, was to blame. It ought to be rational hope of inmortality.
remembered also, that one great object of his life, an object of