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REV. JOSEPH EASTBURN.
His Parentage, Education, and first Religious Exercises.
The name and virtues of Joseph EASTBURN, have probably been already celebrated in the four quarters of the globe. The last ten years of his life were so disinterestedly, assiduously, and affectionately, devoted to all the best interests of seamen, that a large number of them regarded him with the veneration and attachment which dutiful children bear to a worthy parent; and with their characteristic warmth of feeling, there is little reason to doubt that they have proclaimed his praise, in every region to which their vocation has called them. Not only in many of the sea-ports of our own continent, but on the coasts of Asia and Africa, and in various parts of Europe, we may believe that they have extolled his piety, commended his benevolence, and exhibited him as an example. In Britain especially, the religious journals which are occupied with the concerns of mariners, give abundant evidence of the high estimation in which he was held in that country.
But the best evidence of a man's real character is derived from the public sentiment, in the place of his stated residence, and where of course he is most fully known. of this sentiment there was a striking expression, in reference to Mr. Eastburn, when his obsequies were solemnized, in the city where he was born, and where he had lived till he had entered his eightieth year. More than five thousand persons, it is believed, came to see, and many of them to weep over, his remains, before the coffin was closed upon them. And although his funeral was of the plainest kind, without gloves, scarfs, pall, or hearse; and although a copious fall of rain descended without intermission, while the procession was moving from his residence to the place of interment; yet a multitude of all characters, from the highest to the lowest, and of all ages, and both sexes, produced such a throng, through five squares of the city, that it was frequently necessary to stop, till an opening could be made through the crowd for the passage of the corpse. The feeling of respect for the deceased, manifested on that occasion, taken in all its circumstances, was certainly of a very singular and most extraordinary character.
And how, it may be asked, was this celebrity and affeetionate attachment obtained? Was it acquired by an illustrious parentage, by splendid genias, by great talents, by distinguished erudition, or by munificent donatives? Nothing, not an iota, of all this. The individual concerned was of humble birth, he had no pretensions to genius, no eminence of intellectual powers or attainments, little learning, and but a scanty property. The whole must be attributed to simple, genuine, consistent, fervent, active, eminent piety. Of the influence and esteem which such a piety may secure to its possessor, by manifesting itself in all the forms in which it will, without seeking or expecting such an effect, become conspicuous, Mr. Eastburn was one of the most striking instances that the world has ever seen.
To show what such a piety may effect, is a principal object of the present memoir; and what it has effected, has therefore been summarily stated at the entrance; that the whole of the subsequent narrative may illustrate and impress a fact, honourable to religion, and calculated to promote its influence and extension.
Autobiography, or a man's life written by himself, has become fashionable; and doubtless it has some advantages. An individual is not only able, but permitted, to say of himself; a number of things which no one else could, or ought, to say of him. Till the writer of this memoir had engaged to draw it up, he did not know or suspect that the subject of it had penned an account of the first part of his own life. It was however a very