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MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.

When Dr. Watts was urged by his friends to leave behind him some memoirs from which a history of his life might be composed, “he absolutely declined it, and desired that his character might stand in the world merely as it would appear in his works.” It is indeed fully pourtrayed there, without varnish and without disguise. But it is pleasing to contemplate in one view, the even tenour of a long life, innocently and industriously passed in uniform tranquillity and perfect contentment.

ISAAC WATTS, the eldest of nine children, was born at Southampton, July 17, 1674, and named after his father, who kept a boarding school in that town. The persecution which the Church of England had undergone during the Great Rebellion, was then too recent to be forgotten by the nation, or forgiven by the clergy themselves; for toleration is a principle which is seldom learnt by the persecuted. Mr. Watts was a decided nonconformist; and is described as a man of “lively devotion :" he was imprisoned on the score of his religion, and during his confinement, his wife often sat on a stone at the prison-door with this their child, then an infant at her breast.

A book is said to have been the boy's greatest pleasure before he had well learnt to speak ; but this can only mean that, like all other children, he was amused by looking at prints, before he could read. His intellect however must

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have been dangerously precocious; for we are told that “he entered upon the study of the learned languages in his fourth year, at the free grammar-school of his native town, under the Rev.John Pinhorne, of whose ability and gentleness, as a schoolmaster, he always retained a grateful and affectionate remembrance." It is related of him that his chief pleasure was in books; that the little money which he received in presents was applied to the gratification of this propensity ; that although remarkable for vivacity, he employed his leisure hours in reading instead of joining other boys at play ; and that when only seven or eight years old, he composed some devotional verses to please his mother.

Here he made good progress in Latin and Greek, and commenced the study of Hebrew. His promising talents and his amiable disposition induced some generous persons in that vicinity to propose that he should be entered at one of the English Universities, where they would support him ; but having been bred up a dissenter, he determined to remain one ; a de:ermination to which, what he had heard his mother relate of her sorrows during his own infancy, must no doubt greatly have contributed. In his sixteenth year, therefore, he was sent to an academy in London, kept by Mr. Thomas Rowe, at that time minister of the Independent meeting at Haberdashers' Hall; and three years afterwards he joined in communion with that congregation. Among his fellow-students at this academy were Hort, afterwards Archbishop of Tuam; Say, whose poems and essays were published after his death ; and Hughes, the author of the Siege of Damascus. Mr. Rowe said of him, that he never had occasion to reprove him, and that he often held him up as a pattern to his other pupils.

He used to mark all the books he read, to abridge some of them, and annotate others, which were interleaved for that purpose. But he pursued his studies during three years with intemperate ardour, allowing himself no time for needful exercise, and contracting his needful sleep; and his con

stitution thus received irreparable injury. In 1694 he left the academy, and for the two following years prosecuted his studies at his father's house, during which time the greater part of his hymns were composed, and probably most of his juvenile compositions.

It seems to have been thought remarkable that he did not enter upon the ministry immediately after completing his academical course. One of his biographers says: “The long silence of this excellent and accomplished youth, as to the primary object of all his studies, the preaching of the gospel, affords considerable scope for conjecture. It is true he was still but a youth, diffident of himself, and deeply affected with the importance of the ministry, under a sense of his insufficiency, and trembling lest he should go to the altar of God uncalled. But after sixteen years spent in classical studies,--after uncommon proficiency in other parts of learning connected with the work of the ministry, -with every qualification for the sacred office,-- living at a time when his public services were peculiarly needed, and when he was known and spoken of as promising celebrity in whatever profession he might choose,-that with all these advantages he should continue in retirement, is a fact difficult to account for, and for which only his extreme diffidence can afford any apology.” When it is remembered that Mr. Watts left the academy in his twentieth year, or soon after its completion, the diffidence which withheld him from hurrying into the pulpit should rather be held forth as an example, than represented as a weakness or a fault. Nor can there be any difficulty in accounting for it, even to those to whom such diffidence might appear extraordinary. He preached his first sermon on the very day whereon he completed his twenty-fourth year ; “probably considering that as the day of a second nativity, by which he entered into a new period of existence;" and in the meantime it is recorded of him, that “he applied himself to the study of the Scriptures, and to the reading of the best commentators,

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