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of the Ancient Liturgies used by the Christian Church in the celebration of that holy ordinance, and a Dissertation upon their usefulness and authority. The learning of this excellent and ortho.. dox divine was very extensive and recondite ; and those qualities which are of more value than much learning, mildness of temper, candour, and self-command, showed themselves to great advantage in his replies to several calumnious attacks which were made upon him. His son was, like him, · well versed in literature and theology, and added thereto an intimate acquaintance with almost every branch of useful knowledge, which made his instruction highly valuable, for a person who was to take an active part in the busy and varied scenes of life.* His knowledge of history led him pro
* In Mr. Bowdler's diary, under the date of August 20th 1776, is as follows:-“ I lost my worthy friend Mr. Brett, a man of universal knowledge and benevolence; he was very well skilled in French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, divinity, history, accounts, justice law, parish business, the laws relating to the poor, and the roads, measuring and valuing of land and timber, pedigrees and genealogies, and, in short, in almost every branch of useful knowledge; and, being always ready to assist and advise his friends and neighbours, his death was an irreparable loss, not only to his wife and children, but to all that part of the country in which he lived. How much he was lamented may be guessed by this, that when his funeral passed through Wye, there was scarce a house in the town without one or more persons looking out at the windows in tears ; the clergyman could with great difficulty read the service, and the whole congregation wept incessantly.” By his will, Mr. Brett left to Mr. Bowdler all his pamphlets and papers; an honourable mark of
bably to direct his pupil's attention more particu. larly to that subject; and the peculiar turn of Mr. Bowdler's mind here showed itself in his habitual “ love of truth;" which, says Mr. Brett, s is such, that he cannot read even an old historian with any pleasure, because of the mixture of falsehood he finds in it: and he made such complaints of Diodorus Siculus, that when he had got through two or three books, I advised him to throw it aside.” Here Mr. Bowdler read several of the ancient historians, the historical parts of Scripture, and ecclesiastical history, and from thence proceeded to the history of our own country, acquiring thereby a knowledge of our constitution, preparatory to his study of the law
About this time Mr. Bowdler's health was delicate in a degree, which may, perhaps, excite surprise in those who know the strong muscular frame which he afterwards possessed ; and during his visits to his father, who resided a few miles from Bath, he consulted Dr. Randolph of Bristol, a sensible physician, a pious and well-read theologian, *
the regard and good opinion which he entertained towards his pupil.
* Dr. Randolph was a Hutchinsonian, and, like the disciples of that school, much given to the study of the Scripture in the original Hebrew, and very averse to the favourite style of that day, which exalted reason and natural religion to nearly an equal rank with revelation; he was also equally averse to the doctrine of a spiritual motion in the heart of individuals, which, as taught by some enthusiasts, would render the revealed word of little and a warm friend. The doctor, it appears, was apprehensive lest his young patient should suffer by tenderness of the lungs, and prescribed accordingly; and youth and exercise gradually carried him forward to a state of health and strength. As he improved in bodily vigour, he grew likewise in grace and virtue; and his tutor represented him to be “perfectly true to the principles of his religion, and as free as possible from all vice; and that,” said he,“ not because I think him void of the passions incident to youth of his age, I rather think the contrary, but purely for conscience sake, as knowing it is his duty to keep them under." And he himself expressed very feelingly his thankfulness for the good advice which he had received from his father, and his dread of falling into temptation, and being the first bad man in the family; entertaining in those early years that wholesome and holy fear, which (as it is expressed by his favourite writer, the son of Sirach,) is the beginning and the root of wisdom, and the first step to be accepted of God.
In the month of November 1765, Mr. Bowdler left Spring Grove, where he had read many books, and acquired much valuable information which
effect. “ Written revelation,” said he, “ is crucified between two thieves, Reason and the private Spirit ; but the penitent one does not appear either on the one side or the other.”
books cannot furnish; and in the following month went to reside in the Temple, and began to study the law under Mr. Barsham, a special pleader. At this time he formed an intimate friendship with several persons of no common worth and talent. One of these, Nathaniel Conant, the son of a very worthy clergyman in East Kent, and great nephew of Archbishop Wake, became afterwards a distinguished public character, being placed at the head of the police in London, some parts of which were established in compliance with a plan suggested by himself. At the time when Mr. Bowdler contracted a friendship with him, which continued for nearly forty years, he was beginning life with great fondness for literature, an extensive knowledge of books, and a remarkable facility of rapidly perusing them. His affections were as warm as his talents were bright, and the kindness of his heart and gentleness of his manners were even more remarkable than the brilliancy of his wit or the extent of his knowledge. Through him, Mr. Bowdler became acquainted with a person of extraordinary wit and talent, Robert Cobb, and a mutual regard speedily grew up between them. Mr. Cobb resided at Lydd, in the county of Kent, and his strong sense and quick discernment soon raised him above his neighbours, as they would have, perhaps, carried him to a distinguished eminence in any line in which he had engaged. His company was solicited, and his conversation admired
in every part of the county; and it might sometimes, perhaps, excite surprise to see a person of no great pretensions, and living in a place which nature seemed to have shut out from the bustle of active life and the attractions of elegant society, courted equally by the gay and the serious, the life of every party, affording instruction upon every topic, as playful as the youngest, as full of experience as the oldest, better read in their respective studies than many a lawyer and a theologian, equally distinguished for the variety and accuracy of his information, and for the sound sense and engaging kindness with which he communicated it. In the retired situation where he lived, his well selected library formed a source of continual amusement and instruction, and at one time of his life he never was in his room for even five minutes without taking a book in his hand. With such a person to whom the writer of these pages would willingly pay a tribute of fond remembrance) the reader may, perhaps, be willing to become better acquainted by perusing some extracts from his letters to his friend; for there the heart is open, and shows itself undisguised by art, and unfettered by the restraints which society sometimes imposes.
“ July 30th, 1769. “ I detest apologies as much as you can, therefore will make no other for my long silence, than that I have been so accablé with business that I have never been able to get