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PREFACE.

months ago

VARIOUS circumstances have delayed the appearance of this volume, far beyond the time originally contemplated. The Author is sensible that this delay must in a considerable degree have impaired the interest, which it might perhaps have excited had it appeared twelve

He was, by no means, aware of the extent of his task, when he first undertook to give to the Public a Memoir of the life and writings of Doctor Beddoes. He felt however that an Author has no claim upon their indulgence, if either from haste to appear before them, or from the affectation of such powers as render laborious preparation unnecessary, he be induced to omit any exertion which may tend to render his work less unworthy of their notice. Of haste or of want of diligence he cannot accuse himself. He has laboured it to the best of his ability; although upon a review of it since it has been completed, greater experience, and a clearer view of his subject, have shewn him parts which he could wish to improve. But other unavoidable causes have operated to the disadvantage and delay of this publication. With some of these it would be impertinent to trouble the reader, but others he may be allowed to state.

In every biographical work there must occur many particulars in which accuracy scarcely entitles a writer to praise, although the want of it may expose him to censure. Notwithstanding the friendly communications of many of the Doctor's friends, it was often extremely difficult to fix a date, or to trace an incident in its exact order and connexion. Doctor Beddoes was so little accustomed to speak of himself, that even those who were in habits of the greatest personal intimacy with him at different periods of his life, were often utterly unacquainted with any incidents subsequent or prior to those periods ; and the progress of the Author was frequently stopped by a search for channels of information, which in many cases, in spite of every exertion, he failed to meet with.

In addition to the few incidents of his life, it was any words

particularly the wish of the Author to give a history of Doctor Beddoes's opinions. These were to be collected from his printed works, and from unpublished manuscripts. In his analysis of both, he has frequently made use of the Doctor's own expressive language.

In

many instances, indeed, his style was so simple and concise that it scarcely admitted of compression ; while in others it was so eloquent and impressive, that it would have been an injustice to his reputation to state his sentiments in but his own. In reviewing his published works, it was the Author's wish to give a general idea of their value, without being too minute ; to excite the curiosity of the reader, not to allay it. To preserve this medium has been a difficult task. He has felt it so. He has been unable, in many instances, to satisfy himself, and dares not therefore flatter himself that he shall content all his readers.

To procure a complete collection of these works, has been by no means, easy. Many of them were out of print; and so regardless was Doctor Beddoes of his own publications, that, at the time of his death, not one sixth part of them could be found among the many thousand volumes of which his library was composed. The arrangement and analysis of his Manuscripts presented a task still more difficult. The

upon detached

mind of Doctor Beddoes was incessantly active. It is presumed that few days elapsed without his committing to writing, either the observation of a fact, or the elementary germ of some future speculation. These remarks were often written with the most careless haste, and were scattered about

scraps of paper, of which fragments were frequently wanting. Many hints and speculations were preserved in two small common-place books ; but the Author soon discovered that a great proportion of these had been interwoven in works already submitted to the public eye. He was unwilling that any speculations of so original a mind should be lost, yet there scarcely existed, in a single instance, any mark by which he could distinguish such as had been already employed, from such as were only the elements of future labours.. Although a careful perusal of the Doctor's numerous publications, has enabled him to separate the greater part of these, it is possible that some which are presented to the public in the ensuing volume as now first brought to light, may have escaped his vigilance. For any error

of this kind he solicits the indulgence of the reader.

Doctor Beddoes has somewhere remarked, that in the writings of Montaigne, “the freshness of good sense springs up perpetually under the eye of the

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