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1779 there appeared two octavo volumes, entitled "The Posthumous Works of the late reverend and learned Isaac Watts, D. D.: compiled from
papers in possession of his immediate successors, and adjusted and published by a gentleman of the University of Cambridge.' This work, Dr. Gibbons says, is principally made up of pieces written by the doctor's father, and here attributed to his more gifted son, merely to answer the purposes of trade; and may be, therefore, regarded as 'a shameful attempt to impose upon the public.' The Protestant Dissenters' Magazine, for February, 1795, contains a brief sketch of the doctor's life, which does not, however, supply much additional information to that previously known.”
An interesting relic of Dr. Watts was recently discovered, which throws some light upon the early part of his useful career. This is a MS. in his own hand-writing, entitled “ Memorable Affairs in my Life.” It consists of ten small pages, containing Memoranda concerning himself on the right page, and Coincidents relating to contemporaneous events on the opposite page.
This register is frequently
cited in this work, and it is a subject of deep regret that it is only brought down to the year 1710. I now come to notice the present perform
Of the success which has attended my endeavours to do justice to the character and labours of one so universally esteemed, it becomes not me to speak : freely and frankly do I acknowledge that the best on my part has been done ; and, with reference to the result, sincerely do I say, “would that it were worthier.” The works of my predecessors have of course materially assisted me; private sources have also supplied me with information; and several literary friends have contributed important hints. To Joshua Wilson, Esq., of Highbury Place, and the Rev. John BLACKBURN, of Pentonville, London, I am particularly indebted for the loan of books: to PROFESSOR PARTINGTON my obligations are due for admission to the library of the London Institution : to the late SIR EDMUND CRADOCK HARTOPP, of Four-oaks Hall, Warwickshire, to EDWARD SMITH, Esq., of Finsbury Square, and to the TRUSTEES of the Red-cross-street Library, my thanks
tendered. At the commencement of this work the writer laboured under an impression, sanctioned by all his friends, that but few materials could be found for it: this apprehension proved to be unfounded : but it led him to dwell, perhaps, too largely upon Dr. Watts's early career, which rendered it necessary that some valuable letters and papers should be omitted at the close, lest the size of the volume should be increased. Should a second edition be called for this error will be corrected. It
also be necessary to add, that the appearance of this Memoir has been delayed by the frequent recurrence of sickness, which at one period rendered it probable that the present publication would be posthumous: this statement may be a sufficient apology for some trivial errors that have escaped correction : the confinement of a sick chamber is not favourable to literary exactness.
The portrait of Dr. Watts, prefixed to this work, is engraved from an original painting in the possession of Edward Smith, Esq., of Finsbury Square, London. It was formerly in the possession of Sir Thomas Abney, and
has been pronounced by competent judges a production of Sir Peter Lely's. Dr. Gibbons, in the preface to his Life of Watts, refers to
original painting of him lately become the possession of Mrs. Elizabeth Abney” – " this painting," he remarks, “gave me the best likeness of him I had ever before seen.' From Mrs. E. Abney it passed into the possession of the family of Dr. Gibbons, who bequeathed it to the Rev. Josiah Lewis. He left it by will to his wife during her life, and at her death to Mr. B. Button, from whom it was purchased by Mr. Smith, the present proprietor. To this gentleman I am obliged for this information, as well as for the use of the picture.
The writer may be allowed to express a hope, that the example of sanctified talent he has endeavoured to depict will be of some little use — to himself he trusts his labour has no been in vain nor will it to the reader, if he is led to imitate the subject of these pages in faith, in patience, and in devotion,
“Who bravely suffer'd, and who nobly dy’d.”
Wigston Magna, near Leicester, July 12, 1834.