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III. A Statement of Reasons for not believing the Doctrines
of Trinitarians concerning the Nature of God and the
IV. Remarks on Clerical Education. By the Rev. H. Raikes,
V. Belgium and Western Germany in 1833; including Visits
to Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, Cassel, Hanover, the
VI. Sermons, Fragments, &c., attributed to Isaac Barrow,
D.D. Collected and Edited by the Rev. J. P. Lee,
VII. The Poetical Works of S. T. Coleridge. 3 vols.
VIII. The Darker Superstitions of Scotland, illustrated from
History and Practice. By John Graham Dalyell,
BRITISH CRITIC, Quarterly Theological Revicw,
Art. I.--Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Richard
Watson, late Secretary to the Wesleyan Missionary Society. By
Thomas Jackson. London. 1834. The subject of these Memoirs certainly appears to have been a very extraordinary man. We can scarcely wonder that the Wesleyans should be proud of him. With a very feeble frame of body, and a very irregular intellectual training, he undoubtedly achieved wonders within a very short span of life; for he died at the
age of fifty-two, worn down by the combined operation of constitutional malady and of incessant toil. The following is a brief sketch of his biography, collected from the volume now before us: of which volume we have only to say, that it is written in a perspicuous and tolerably unambitious style; but that, withal, it is most tremendously diffuse, and stuffed out with enormous extracts from the Missionary Reports, drawn up by the deceased in the course of his labours as Secretary to the Wesleyan Missionary Society. This, however, is a peculiarity which will, probably, do nothing to impede the circulation of the work among the members of Mr. Watson's own communion. While his memory is yet fresh, they will hardly be weary of perusing the words of their distinguished and venerated minister, The time may, possibly, come, when a somewhat briefer narrative may satisfy the curiosity of the religious public.
Richard Watson was born on the 22d of February, 1781, at Barton-upon-Humber, in Lincolnshire. His father was a saddler, and, moreover, a Dissenter. He was, also, a freeman of the city of Lincoln; and, (as Mr. Jackson informs us, with some naiveté), " thinking that the Parish Register might be of some adyantage to his son, in future life, the child was baptized at St. Peter's Church at Barton." His infancy was estremely delicate. He was subject to fits of alarming drowsiness; in one of which
No. XXXI.-- JULY, 1834.
he was found fast asleep in the street, upon the threshold of a neighbouring house. He had, nevertheless, energy sufficient to repeat the letters of the alphabet in so emphatic a manner, as to rouse the spirit of prophecy in the dame who taught him, and to extort from her the exclamation, “ Bless thee! thou wilt be a great man !” And he was a great man accordingly; on no less authority than that of the celebrated Robert Hall, who, when he heard Watson preach, at Leicester, on the Atonement, was so deeply impressed with his sermon, that, for some time after, he could think of nothing else. He even delivered the substance of it to his own congregation; and urged his people to seize the first opportunity of hearing that “ great man” from whose lips it originally fell.
His progress towards greatness, which was very eccentric, is carefully marked out by his biographer. It appears that, during childhood, he put forth other inanifest indications of his future eminence. The quickness of his parts was such, that his parents were induced to consent that he should learn Latin. Moreover, when he was about six years old, he had devoured some seventeen or eighteen volumes of the Universal History. Some years afterwards, he was distinguished by the superior propriety of his reading ; so that it became a common remark among his schoolfellows——" Dick Watson will make a capital parson, he is so good a reader!" While he was at school, he had a narrow escape from being tempted into the profession of arms. But he was destined, says Mr. Jackson, to the acquisition of a fame which “sword and musket never can confer.' His passion for literature once betrayed him into a very odd, and not very commendable expedient, for its gratification. He concealed the iron bar which fastened the shutters of his father's shop. When night came, Richard was vehement in his sympathy with the rest of the family, for the loss of this necessary safeguard. He further represented to them, that it would be madness to leave the property exposed to depredation; and insisted on remaining in the shop all night, while the family retired to rest. And by this contrivance he secured an opportunity of perusing some favourite work, which had irresistibly fixed his attention. At fourteen years of age, he was apprenticed to a joiner, but continued to reside in his father's house. His appearance, at this period, was very remarkable. He was no less than six feet two inches high! His hair was lank, and of a deep black. His demeanour was uncouth : and though he had the stature of a giant, his countenance was still that of a mere boy. His manners and his habits, too, were those of a very mischievous boy: for, he indulged himself in constant and merciless ridicule against a poor,