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WI L L B U R FISK, D.D.,
FIRST PRESIDENT OF
JOSEPH HOLDIC H.
“ Here and there is found one who admits the religion of Heaven in its own
-whose faith follow."—Heb., xiii., 7.
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS,
NO. 82 CLIFF-STREET.
THE NEW YORK
ASTOR, LENOX AND 7ILDENS CATIONS.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1842, by
Mrs. R. Fisk, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Connecticut.
The biographer of Dr. Fisk submits the result of his labour to the judgment of the Christian public with unfeigned diffi. dence. This feeling is occasioned partly by a natural distrust of his own abilities, and partly by his experience of the difficulties of the undertaking.
Those who are at all skilled in authorship well know that historical and biographical composition is peculiarly perplexing and laborious; and it will be obvious to all, on very slight reflection, that the labour of writing a biography de. pends very much on the diversity in the character and relations of the subject, for in proportion to these will be the demand on the author's resources, judgment, and skill. Had Dr. Fisk's life been devoted entirely, or even chiefly, to one pursuit, had his character possessed interest in only a single aspect, or were his biography to have been adapted to any selected class of readers, the writer's task would have been comparatively easy. But the life of any man should be in accordance with his entire character and pursuits. In this lay the difficulty of our present undertaking. To depict correctly the diversified character of our subject; to trace his connexion with the many important enterprises in which he was concerned; to give to each of these its relative prominence and just proportion; to adapt the work to the various classes in the community who may be supposed to take an interest in our subject; to present a just account of his share in the controversies in which he was engaged, without giving needless offence to those who differed from him, were some
of the duties which rendered the author's task one of more than ordinary delicacy, and required no little thought and labour.
One topic suggested above deserves, perhaps, to be made a little more prominent. Dr. Fisk was a man of erudition and literature, and, as such, was connected with the republic of letters. On the other hand, he was not less the man of the people. To have written his book exclusively for the former would not have been satisfactory to the latter, and to have written it entirely for the latter would have displeased the former, while in neither case would he have been true to his subject's memory. Whether the writer have succeeded in harmonizing these conflicting claims must be left for the reader to determine ; but he wishes that this view of the subject may be kept in mind in deciding on the nature and merits of the work.
A word or two may be proper on another topic. It was impossible to do justice to the character of Dr. Fisk without entering somewhat upon the history of the controversies which occupied much of his attention. In doing this, his biographer has endeavoured to maintain a suitable liberality towards the parties concerned. Although it has been his aim to exhibit his subject's views rather than his own, yet in some cases he has given his own in presenting those of his subject; but in doing this, it has been his aim to write of opinions and systems rather than of persons. Like his subject, the biographer has many valuable friends on both sides of the various questions treated on in his work, none of whom he would willingly offend. He trusts that he will not have done so. Nevertheless, if he should have been so unfortunate, the only apology he can make is, truth first, and friendship afterward. The author is aware, however, that he has been led to present a few names to the reader in a rather unfavourable light. The principle he has gone on in this was,