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ADDRESS TO THE READER.
The life and studies of the learned author, whom a liberal education-uninterrupted leisure and acknowledged abilities, have raised to the chair of science, and invested with a degree of authority to impart instruction, are subjects well deserving the attention of the biographer. But curiosity. frequently wishes to know something also concerning those, who, in humble life, have been brought up in no school but that of nature ; and who, in opposition to difficulties and discouragements, come forward and offer to the world, the fruits of their labour in the field of literature. It is a region in which they seem to be intruders, and where they professedly undertake investigations, which their confined means of knowledge, and unpromising powers, appear inadequate to
Metaphysical researches are so far removed from manual labour and humble life, that many have expressed their surprize that they should ever have been united. Hence, as it respects myself, the question has repeatedly been asked, -- "What circumstances led to so unlikely an association ?” The replies which this question naturally produced, induced several of my friends, in whose judgments I feel a strong confidence, and to whose good offices I stand indebted, to communicate their opinions, that it would afford some gratification to a great number of those, whose namış are affixed to
this work, if I would trace those incidents of my life, which gradually led to such an unlooked for event.
When their wishes were first expressed, I shrunk back from the suggestion, not only through an apprehension that I should incur the charge of vanity ; but, especially, as on a review of my life, I saw nothing remarkable which was worthy of record. On this ground, I declined to comply with their de. sires. The renewed solicitations of these friends, soon, however, assumed the shape and tone of a re. quest. And, consistently with that debt of gratitude which I owed them, I found it impossible to withhold a compliance without subjecting myself to the charge of being influenced by a passion nearly allied to that vanity, the imputation of which I dreaded to incur. This circumstance inclined me to alter my prior resolution,
In thus submitting to their importunities, I am furnished with an opportunity of apologizing for those imperfections, which, without doubt are included in my work; and of placing the disinterest. edness and generosity of my Subscribers in a conspicuous light, by briefly declaring to the world on whom it has been bestowed. The little narrative may probably afford some encouragement to others; who, poor and unknown, may at this moment be struggling with adversity, and attempting to emerge from obscurity. It will add another example to many, which may be adduced, and thereby assure them, that in this comparatively happy coun. try, poverty and the want of education, are no ob. stacles to patronage and support. On one account I gladly embrace the occasion which is now afford
It is that of recording the obligations which I owe to a man of eminent character and abilities, who is now no more, but whose memory I hope, I shall never cease to respect and revere.
By this plain statement, I feel a hope that I shall secure myself from the censures of the candid and liberal minded; they will enter into my views, and place a proper estimate on my motives. With the envious and the malevolent, I cannot expect the same success. For I no more flatter myself with the thought that I can escape their detraction, than with the expectation that I can cure them of those passions, which must give greater pain to such as cherish them, than it is in their power to inflict on others. My narrative which follows, is little more than the simple monotony of humble life. But on these accounts,
« Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
I was born in the parish of St. Austell, in the county of Cornwall, on the third day of March, 1765. My father, who was a labouring man, supported his family, which consisted of a wife and four children, in creditable poverty, by dint of application, industry, and frugality. But though neither of my parents was ignorant of the importance of education, such were their circumstances that it was not in their power to afford me any, except that acquired at a little reading school, in which I merely learned the knowledge of my letters. Here my education ended, for to a writing school I never was promoted.
At the age of seven, I was obliged to go to work, and for my labour, my parents received two pence per day. The next year I had the misfortune to lose my mother, and many a time since
This throbbing breast has heav'd the heartfelt sigh,
Soon after this, my father removed into another neighbourhood ; and at the age of ten years and a half, I was bound an apprentice to a shoemaker, in the parish of St. Blazey.
Prior to this time I acquired some knowiedge of writing, but it amounted to little more than merely to know how to make the letters of the alphabet, and to write my name.
And this knowledge, scanty as it was, I nearly lost during my apprentice
ADDRESS TO THE READER.
ship; but towards the latter years of the term, I made some progress in my reading. This I attribute chiefly to the opportunity which I then had of perusing the Weekly Entertainer, published by Messrs. Goadby and Co. of Sherborne. In these miscellanies, such narratives as were affecting, and such anecdotes as were pointed, were the principal objects which attracted my notice. And among these, nothing excited my attention, so much as the adventures, vicissitudes, and disasters, to which the American war gave rise.
On quitting my master, I procured employment in the vicinity of Plymouth. Here, the necessity of earning my own livelihood engrossed all my attention: so that the same cause which removed me from perusing the Weekly Miscellany, nearly quenched all my desires after further knowledge. After labouring in this neighbourhood about four years, I returned to St. Austell, to which place I was attracted by the advance of wages. In this town it was my lot to conduct the shoemaking business for a man who is now in America: he was an eccentric character, but by no means destitute of understanding. His original occupation was that of a saddler, and through his own application he had obtained some knowledge of bookbinding. To these employments he superadded the manufacture of shoes, and in one shop carried on these three trades together.