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Lives and Manners of the Nations of Europe. Kotzebue's
Portraits are given with this Volume.
RICHARD Watson, the present venerable Bishop of Landaff, was born in the year 1737. The village of Evesham, situated about five miles from Kendal, in the county of Westmoreland, has the honour of being his birth-place.
Paternal instruction, where the father is competent to such a task, must ever prove of the greatest utility, in developing the early movements of the infant mind. The “ young idea" is thus carefully taught to “ shoot” in the most proper direction; the tender buddings of genius are facilitated in their ex. pansion; and the surest foundation is laid for future excellence. Of the advantages of paternal instruction, the subject of this memoir fully ayailed himself; for, his father being a clergyman, possessed of superior abilities, and master of the Free Grammar School of Kendal, he received the whole of his school education under his immediate care. Having terminated his boyish studies, he looked forward to the University for higher attainments. He accordingly became a member of, we
uber of, we a believe, King's College, in the University of Cambridge; a college somewhat notorious for its reforming tenets, of the pose session of which Dr. Watson has been more than once sus. : pected. However, he entered the college with a respectable
stock of classical learning, acquired and supported by a spirit of persevering industry. He was distinguished for an intense application to study, and was no less noticed for the uniform simplicity, or, as some termed it, singularity of his dress, which consisted of a coarse, mottled, Westmoreland coat, and blue yarn stockings.
Previously to the taking of his degrees, he had distinguished himself in the field of theological controversey; and the tenor of his manners, the strict singularity of his conduct, and the superiority of his talents, procured him, in addition to a fellowship, a college tutorship *.
In an English University, the latter office is at once respect. able and useful; and those who are acquainted with Dr. Watson will readily conceive with what unwearied zeal and unbending perseverance he fulfilled the important avocation. The late Mr. Luther, of Ongar, in Essex, was one of his pupils; and, as a splendid tribute of gratitude and friendship, for his attention in directing his youthful studies, at his de. cease, in the year 1786, he bequeathed him the sum of 20,00ol.
Enlightened and honourable minds become attached by modes peculiar to themselves; an instance of which appears in the commencement of Dr. Watson's acquaintance with the Duke of Grafton, which took place about this time. His Grace re. commended a candidate, who was warmly opposed by the Doctor; but the opposition was conducted in so honourable and candid a manner, that, instead of producing acrimony on either side, it laid the foundation of a friendship which has been matured and consolidated by the hand of time.
About the year 1766, Dr. Watson was elected Public Pro. fessor of Chemistry, in the University of Cambridge. At that time he was but little conversant even in the first principles
* On the former occasion, he was opposed by Mr. Postletwhate, who was deeply versed in mathematics, but knew nothing of the world. Poor Postletwhaite, with all his skill, could demonstrate himself fit only for a small country living; while Watson made his way to a professorship and a mitre,
of the science; but, by diligence and study, he resolved to supply the want of previous acquirements. Feeling his duty to the public, and the necessity which there was that he should not appear incompetent to the task which had devolved upon him, he passed whole days, and sometimes nights, in the la. boratory. His assistant on these occasions was a gentleman of some practical knowledge in the art, of the name of Hoffinan. In their earlier experiments, however, it appears that their suc cess bore but a faint proportion to their disappointments; for they destroyed several retorts, impaired their health, endangered their lives, and at length blew themselves and their work. shop up.
But perseverance and industry are capable of surmounting almost every obstacle; and, as Dr. Watson possessed these viro tues in an eminent degrec, he succeeded in establishing his character as a chemist; his public lectures were attended by crowd. ed audiences; and his reputation advanced to an exalted height.
Fortunately for the interests of science, his talents were not confined to his lecture-room, or to the note-books of his pupils; for he committed the results of his studies to paper in a re. gular form, and presented thein to the world.
The subjects of Dr. Watson's Essays on Chemistry are multi. farious, interesting, and useful; but, as most of our scientific readers must be acquainted with their contents, it is not requisite to describe them in detail. They are dedicated to the Duke of Rutland, with whose education Dr. Watson had been intrusted; and it may be remarked, their chief excellence consists in their popular and perspicuous explication, a merit that their author displays on every occasion.
On the decease of the learned Dr. Rutherforth, in 1771, Dr. Watson was advanced to the Regius Professorship of Divinity; and, about the same period, he entered into the marriage state.
His politico theological principles early became known, by his standing forward as the advocate of the Dissenters. He first distinguished himself in this respect, by a scrmon which he preached (in the year 1776) before the University, on the anniversary of the Restoration, and which he printed, under the title of The Principles of the Revolution vinilicuted. This attracted considerable attention; and, in the course of the same year, he published another discourse, which had been preached before the University, on the anniversary of the King's Accession. In these sermons, Dr. Watson pleaded the cause of the Dissenters, and recommended a relief from subscription, and a repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. This brought on a controversy, in which the fallacy of the doctrines of our author were exposed, in a very able and satisfactory manner, by a lay writer, who justly considered them as repugnant to reason, and as opposed to scripture authority. Overpowered by the weight of arguments and authorities brought against him by his opponent, Dr. Watson retired from the contest defeated, but not convinced. Another tract, of some merit, which appeared during this controversy, was An Heroic Epistle to Dr. Watson, by the facetious author of An Epistie to Sir William Chumbers, under the signature of Alucgregor.
The discussion of the above-mentioned subject had scarcely subsided, when our author stood forth in a more exalted point of view, by the publication of a work, entitled, An Apology for Christianity, in a Series of Letters, addressed to Edward Gibbon, esq. This justly increased his fame, both as a controversialist and as a polite writer. Indeed it claimed the thanks of the Christian world in general ; for it pointed out the superiority of our sacred religion, and abashed its foes. Gibbon declined entering into a controversy with Dr. Watson; but a short correspondence took place between them on the subject, which has since been published by Lord Sheffield, in his Life and Correspondcnce of the historian. The letters alluded to may be consi. dered as displaying the characters of two celebrated men, and, at the same time, exhibiting a specimen of the good effects resulting from that urbanity which should unitormly characterise controversial writings.
In the year 1780, Dr. Watson printed another political ser. mon, which had been preached before the University of Cam. bridge, on the 7th of February, the day appointed for a General Fast. This discourse is of the same complexion as those which we have already noticed.
In 1982, on the translation of Bishop Barrington from the