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to a subject of former search, recurred to it with the freedom and freshness of originality. The differences between Mr. Knox's modes of expressing himself on any given topic, at one period of his life and at another, cannot be better stated than in his own words, as they occur Vol. I. p. 166. It is thus, that, from the fulness of unbosoming confidence, he is led to speak incidentally of himself, and of his mental habits, to a friend, to whom he is sending his thoughts on a subject of some intricacy and depth; of which he retained not the record of a rough draft, or copy.
"I should have “ been very sorry you had not consulted your own “ convenience in the matter of returning the letter. “ I have been only solicitous that it should not be “ lost, as my thoughts, when once registered, on
any subject of importance, become valuable to me, “ were it only that I may know what I did think “ on such a point, at that time. From some such “ records I am able to ascertain to myself, that
though I have been as busy a thinker as most “people—my mind has always adhered to the same “ radical principles ; and that changes in me have “ been circumstantial, or merely progressive; I “ should also say, perhaps, expansive.
expansive. But, certainly, on no essential point, do I seem to myself “ to have veered about, from the age of eighteen to “ the present hour. My conduct varied much from “ that time until I was thirty-nine; but not my prin
ciples : and, yet, I was ever, I believe, open to “ conviction, and ready to have embraced whatever “ could have been proved true.
Doubtless, many thoughts have presented, and are still presenting themselves to my mind, which “ once I had no idea of. But these, in, I believe,
every instance, are as much the growth of former “ rooted principles, as multiplied branches grow
from and the same main stem. Of such an inward vegetation I am always conscious; and I equally seem “ to myself to perceive the novelty of the fresh shoot, “ and its connexion with what had been produced 66 before.
I presume other minds would have the “same tendency, if full room were left for it.”
Mr. Knox’s mind was, providentially, placed amidst circumstances peculiarly favourable to this mental germination; and it was a mind of more than ordinarily vigorous tendency to ramify and expand. It
may be thought that some things are brought forward in a form too unfinished for the public eye. But it should be considered that a thought, as it first rises in a mind of powerful conception, has often more of the living energy of truth, than when it has been shaped into more exact proportions by the line and rule of severer judgment. It is, in all cases, more characteristic of the qualities of the soil in which it springs; the flavour of the grape is best exhibited in the first unforced distillation. Nothing that fell from Mr. Knox's mind was void of beauty or use : it was said of Bishop Pearson, that “his very dust was “gold;" it may be asserted of Mr. Knox, that his least digested thoughts are precious. And in the words of one who was well authorized to pronounce), “perhaps very often, what, to our imperfect judgment,
may seem erroneous, may, at a future day, appear (to use Mr. Knox’s favourite allusion to Tully)
among the judicia naturæ ;' or, yet more, among “ the ecclesiæ judicia.
Of the Author, personally, it has not been thought necessary to say much: but a word must be said. With every qualification for a distinguished career in public life,— the life of politics *, in which, for a time, he actively engaged,—at the
-at the very moment when the prospects which that life presented, opened on him in their fairest views, his choice was made for a more immediate service of God, in the cultivation of revealed truth; for the dissemination of which he was eminently fitted, not more by the powers of his pen, than by the unrivalled charm of his conversation. There are few who will read the following passage — Vol. I. p. 167.— without some emotion of sympathy: there are none with whom these works shall find acceptance, who will not cordially rejoice at the choice so made and maintained.
“ In me a series of providential circumstances, for “ which I have infinite cause to be thankful, has “ favoured the growth — (of that inward mental
vegetation, which he has, before, mentioned)— in a peculiar manner; it being my lot to have no rival object ; and it being the good pleasure of God to spare no pains in breaking up and bettering the
* Mr. Knox was private Secretary to Lord Castlereagh, for some years previous to the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, in the year 1800. then urged by that nobleman to embrace the offer of being brought into the Parliament of the United Kingdom, as the representative of his native city of Derry, and to continue still in Lord Castlereagh's confidence and counsels.
ground of my heart and mind.
heart and mind. In fact, no one can owe more to the great Husbandman than my“ self. And, most certainly, I would not exchange “ the mental garden with which he has been pleased “ to enrich me, for any, or all, the delights of the “ Eden of our first Parents. I am aware that an “ honest looker-on might think it right to warn me “ against being too much pleased with the branches “ and the foliage, so as not sufficiently to look for “ fruit: but, I humbly hope, such a censure would “ arise from the truth of the case not being sufficiently
apprehended; and that, in fact, if the fruit were “not there also, my satisfaction would be very small.
Besides, though the leaves of the Tree of Knowledge serve, too often, still, for a covering to the Serpent, the Tree of Life has its leaves too; and
even these leaves are for the healing of the na«« « tions. It is this tree, most assuredly, that I wish “ to cultivate ; for, -- as far as my own weakness has " allowed, — I have, already, found in it all that
united, which made the olive tree, the fig tree, and “ the vine, in Jotham's parable, refuse to go to be
promoted over the trees. I seem to myself to have “ made something of a like refusal, in turning away “ from political life, and choosing my present retired
And, as I have never yet, so, I believe assuredly, I never shall wish to recall that pre“ ference.”
The literary world is, already, in some measure, acquainted with the character of Mr. Knox's mind, from the recent publication of two volumes of the
Correspondence between him and the late amiable and eminent Bishop of Limerick. It is not the intention of the Editor of the present work, to characterise him in any other way than as he presents himself to the world in these his writings. To that world it matters not how much he was admired and revered by those (and they were many of the wise and good) whom he numbered among his friends. It matters not how cordially (and he valued it above all earthly possessions) he was beloved by the select few, who were the objects of his tenderest and most ardent, his deep and constant affections. Such topics might be fit matter for a personal memoir, or as accompaniments to a publication of his general correspondence, should it ever appear. They are out of place here: it is the truth of his sentiments, and the vigour and beauty of his expressions, that must recommend them to men's minds and tastes.
He speaks, now, as from the dead; with the weight which his words derive from their intrinsic value. That weight, on one side or other of the balance, cannot but be great: there is nothing indifferent in the character of the subjects of which he treats : they embrace practical points, of vital importance to the happiness of men, in this life, and in that which is to come. Our concern is to examine them, without any reference to individual prejudices or partialities.
It is not even of great importance to others to know (though it was inestimably precious to him to experience), that to the latest hours of his existence, the truths of that gospel, in whose field his intellect