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• Few books have been perused by me with greater pleasure than his Improvement of the Mind; of which the radical principles may indeed be found in Locke's Conduct of the Understanding; but they are so expanded and ramified by Watts, as to confer on him the merit of a work in the highest degree useful and pleasing. Whoever has the care of instructing others may be charged with deficiency in his duty if this book is not recommended.'
Dr. Johnson's Life of Dr. Watts.
REV. DR. ISAAC WATTS.
DR. Isaac Watts was born at Southampton, July 17, 1674. His father was the master of a boardingschool in that town, of very considerable reputation. He was a sufferer for non-conformity, in the time of Charles II. and when at one time in prison, his wife, it is said, was seen sitting on a stone near the prison door, suckling her son Isaac.
This son was a remarkable instance of early attention to books; he began to learn Latin at the age of four, probably at home, and was afterwards taught Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, by the Rev. John Pinhorne, master of the free-school at Southampton, rector of All Saints in the same place, prebendary of Leckford, and vicar of Eling in the New Forest. The proficiency he made at this school induced some persons of property to raise a sum sufficient to maintain him at one of the universities; but his determination was soon fixed to remain among the dissenters, with whom his ancestors had long been connected. In 1690, he went to an academy superintended by the Rev. Thomas Rowe, where he had for his companions, Hughes the poet, and Horte, afterwards archbishop of Tuam; Mr. Samuel Say, afterwards an eminent preacher among the dissenters, and other persons of literary eminence. It is well known that Dr. Watts strove to wean Hughes from his attachment to the stage. In 1693, he joined the congregation which was under the care of Mr. Rowe, as a communicant.
His application at this academy was very intense, and perhaps few young men have laid in a larger stock of various knowledge. The late Dr. Gibbons was in possession of a large volume in his handwriting, containing twenty-two Latin dissertations upon curious and important subjects, which were evidently written when at this academy; and, says Dr. Johnson, shew a degree of knowledge, both philosophical and theological, such as very few attain by a much longer course of study.' His leisure hours seem to have been very early occupied in poetical efforts, and particularly when, after leaving the academy in his twentieth year, he went to reside with his father at Southampton, and spent two years in reading, meditation, and prayer, to fit himself for the work of the ministry.
At the end of this time, he was invited by Sir John Hartopp to reside in his family at Stoke Newington, near London, as tutor to his son. Here he remained about four or five years; and on his birth-day, 1698, preached his first sermon, and was chosen assistant to Dr. Chauncy, minister of the congregation at Mark-lane. About three years after, he was appointed to succeed Dr. Chauncy; but had scarce