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MEMOIRS

OF

RICHARD CUMBERLAND.

At the close of the year 1804, whilst I am still in possession of my faculties, though full of years,

I sit down to give a history of my life and writings. I do not undertake the task lightly and without deliberation, for I have weighed the difficulties and am prepared to meet them. I have lived so long in this world, mixed so generally with mankind, and written so voluminously and so variously, that I trust my motives cannot be greatly misunderstood, if, with strict attention to truth, and in simplicity of style, I pursue my narrative, saying nothing more of the immediate object of these memoirs, than in honour and in conscience I am warranted to say.

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I shall use so little embellishment in this narrative, that if the reader is naturally candid he will not be disgusted; if he is easily amused he will not be disappointed.

As I have been, through life, a negligent recorder of dates and events relating to myself, it is very possible I may fall into errors of memory as to the order and arrangement of certain facts and occurrences, but whilst I adhere to veracity in the relation of them, the trespass, I presume, will be readily overlooked. Of

many persons, with whom I have had intercourse and connexion, I shall speak freely and impartially. I know myself incapable of wanonly aspersing the characters of the living or the dead; but, though I will not indulge myself in conjectures, I will not turn aside from facts, and neither from affectation of candour, nor dread of recrimination, waive the privilege, which I claim for myself in every page of this history, of speaking the truth from my heart : I may not always say all that I could, but I will never knowingly say of any man what I should not.

As I am descended from ancestors illustrious for their piety, benevolence and erudition, I

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will not say I am not vain of that distinction; but I will confess it would be a vanity, serving only to expose my degeneracy, were it accompanied with the inspiration of no worthier passion.

Doctor Richard Cumberland, who was consecrated bishop of Peterborough in the year 1691, was my great grandfather. He was author of that excellent work entitled De legibus Natura, in which he effectually refutes the impious tenets of Hobbes, and whilst he was unambitiously fulfilling the simple functions of a parish priest in the town of Stamford, the revolution having taken place, search was made after the ablest protestant divines to fill up vacancies in the hierarchy, and rally round their late endangered church. -Without interest, and without a wish to emerge from his obscurity and retirement, this excellent man, the vindicator of the insulted laws of nature, received the first intelligence of his promotion from a paragraph in the public papers, and, being then sixty years old, was with difficulty persuaded to accept the offer, when it came to him from authority. The persuasion of his friends, particularly Sir Orlando Bridgeman, at length overcame his repugnance, and to that See, though very moderately endowed, he for ever after devoted himself, and resisted every offer of translation, though repeatedly made and earnestly recommended. To such of his friends as pressed an exchange upon him he was accustomed to reply, that Peterborough

his first espoused, and should be his only one; and, in fact, according to his principles, no church revenue could enrich him; for I have heard my father say, that, at the end of every year, whatever overplus he found upon a minute inspection of his accounts was by him distributed to the poor, reserving only one small deposit of twenty-five pounds in cash, found at his death in his bureau, with directions to employ it for the discharge of his funeral expences; a sum, in his modest calculation, fully sufficient to commit his body to the earth.

Such was the humility of this truly christian prelate, and such his disinterested sentiments as to the appropriation of his episcopal revenue. The wealthiest See could not have tempted him · to accumulate, the poorest sufficed for his expences, and of those he had to spare for the

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