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LIFE AND LETTERS
WILLIAM BEATTIE, M.D..
ONE OF HIS EXECUTORS.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
N E w Y 0 Ꭱ Ꮶ :
82 CLIFF STREET.
TO SAMUEL ROGERS, ESQ.
My Dear Sir, . It has long been your privilege to exercise the functions of
a great intellectual trust; to extend the boundaries of knowledge-to cultivate that province, which your own writings adorn—to foster those liberal arts, without which no people can be illustrious, no country prosperous and secure. It has been your happiness to live in cordial intimacy with the master spirits of the age; to inculcate, by the graces of refined taste, the lessons of sublime philosophy; to vindicate the lofty mission of the poet in language worthy of the name; to make inspiration the advocate of public virtue—the handmaid of religion—the test and vehicle of immutable Truth.
When the tomb had closed upon Goldsmith-when, for a season, the oracles of poetry were almost dumb, it was your happy destiny to break the silence, to revive the spirit, and introduce a new era of polished song. Your “Pleasures of Memory” found Thomas Campbell a youthful but ardent votary in the “ lonely Hebrides ;" it struck his heart with inspiring impulse, and quickened all his noblest aspirations. It was the magic key that unlocked the fountain of his genius; its sparkling waters gushed forth in the “Pleasures of Hope ;" and from that hour—a priest and brother of the sacred choira child of precocious but permanent fame, he found an hon, ored station beside his classic prototype.
In your friendship, of more than forty years' standing, he found the “decus at tutamen," which only kindred minds know how to express and how to appreciate. In your experience of the world, in the maturity of your fame, he found a faithful and enlightened monitor; in your approbation, strong motives for exertion ; in your sympathy, a “brotherly kindness” that soothed him in affliction, supported him in difficulties, and sweetened the intercourse of private life.
These are not words of adulation; they are the written testimony of that gifted spirit whom it is here my office to represent; and if to commemorate the friendships of great and good men be an important duty of biography—an example and a boon to posterity—to whom can I address myself with such manifest propriety as to him who is at once an accomplished master and a munificent patron of the British lyre ?
By connecting the names of ROGERS and CAMPBELL in these posthumous records, I only comply with what duty prescribes, what private taste commends, what public suffrage approves and confirms. To you, therefore, who prized his worth, admired his genius, and now cherish his memory, I dedicate THE LIFE AND LETTERS of our departed friend. I have the honor to be, my dear sir,
Very faithfully yours,
WILLIAM BEATTIE. LONDON, December, 1848.
COMING before the public as the biographer of Thomas Campbell, I feel myself in a position of great weight and responsibility. With many of his old friends around me, much better qualified for that honorable trust, it may seem that I have usurped a province that should have fallen to an abler pen. This, however, is not the case. It is many years since his desire on this point was first expressed ; it was repeated, until a conditional promise was given and accepted ; and among the last acts of his life, I was gently reminded of our friendly compact. From this I could not recede, even in deference to better men. By yielding to the partiality of friendship, he may have committed an error of judgment; but if so, its consequences were somewhat obviated by his placing in my hands every document necessary for that portion of his history which belongs to the public. And it is my grateful duty to add, that, whatever was deficient in the original papers, has been most liberally supplied by his surviving friends. For myself, I enjoyed, during many years, the enviable privilege of his friendship and confidence—unreserved, unbroken; and though too soon called upon to redeem my pledge-to impart information where I would rather have received it, to write for those to whom I would rather have listened-I enter on my task with no claims or recommendation but those of an honest intention. This explanation is due to the public, to the private friends of the poet, and to myself.
In this labor of love, as I may justly consider it, I have been studious to combine the truthfulness of history with the tenderness of friendship; to exercise the duties of my office