« PreviousContinue »
him too literally in what I observed in my Fifth Section. As to all the rest, I think it would be trifling with my own time, and that of my readers, to make any remarks upon it.
To shew that I do not say this merely to get rid of the business, I declare, that if any person, giving his name, shall request my attention to any particular part of it, and procure me a place in the Monthly Review, I will speak to it as fully and as explicitly as I can; and I do not think that I should require much room to give a very satisfatory answer to any article in it. I only wish for a public and impartial hearing. In the name of truth I only say, dog we .*
In the mean time, as this writer has already produced his "greatest objection" against me,t" something very serious indeed," and his "strong reason,"§ I hope he will not stop here, but proceed to his stronger and his strongest reason, or any other new mode of alarming the public, and of prejudicing their minds against my work, though it should require two or three more additional sheets of letter-press for the Reviews which shall contain them. It will answer my wishes in drawing more attention to the subject, and procure me a better hearing in the end; and that is all that I wish for in this argument.
As this writer affects to be restrained from saying all that he could do by his respect for me, I wish he would lay aside all ceremony of this kind; and, in order to invite him to perfect freedom, I will add, that the idea I first formed of his learning and ability is much lessened since the perusal of his last article, and of his reply to my learned and judicious friend; and what is of more consequence, I perceive a still greater deficiency in that candour and freedom from prejudice, without which, learning and ability only serve to mislead a man, and enable him to mislead others.
I do not complain of the conduct of the Review, or the writers in it, for their late change of manner, and their leaning to the side of orthodoxy. All men are at liberty to change their opinions and their conduct, as they see reason. They have thought proper, however, to make an apology
* For this, among other purposes, such a publication as the Theological Repository would be of excellent use. It was with great reluctance that I gave up that favourite scheme; but at that time the demand was not sufficient to indemnify the publisher. In such a periodical publication as this, questions might be proposed and answered, without putting the proposer, or the answerer, to any expense; and all serious inquirers after truth would have an opportunity of having any important subject fairly discussed, without any person improperly making himself both judge and party. (P.) The Theol. Repos. was revived in 1784. Ibid. p. 232. (P.)
+ Mon. Rev. LXIX. p. 221. (P.)
§ Ibid. p. 216. (P.)
for their conduct with respect to myself, pretending that they only act on the defensive; when the first part of the review of my work was written in the spirit and manner of the most professed polemic, without the appearance of a fair review. If it could be called a review, nothing in any form could be more evidently calculated to discredit any work.
I will add, that Mr. Bewly, a considerable writer in the Monthly Review, lately dead, was exceedingly offended at the first article of the review of my work. Such conduct, he said, was highly improper in a Review, and, independent of any regard to me or to the subject, (in which he did not at all interest himself,) he said, that from the first sight of it, he was determined to remonstrate with the Editor on account of it. What would he have said to the Review for September, in which, even with an additional sheet of letter-press, the answer to my small pamphlet takes up more than onethird of the whole; and especially if he had seen it puffed off in an advertisement, drawn up for the purpose, in which no other article is specified besides this answer; and in which it is said, "the Reviewer maintains his former charges against the Doctor's work, and supports them with additional arguments, and more copious authorities"?*
"Dr. Horsley," says a contemporary critic, " is not the only antagonist with whom Dr. Priestley has had to contend. The person who gave an account, in the Monthly Review, of the History of the Corruptions of Christianity, entered into the subject with so much zeal, and was so greatly dissatisfied with the doctor's representations of the sentiments of the early Christians, with regard to the pre-existence of our Lord, that, in remarking upon these representations, he seemed rather to sustain the character of a direct adversary than that of a reviewer. The article was written with spirit and learning; but, at the same time, there was a kind of a triumphant petulance in it, which is no necessary part of the duty of a literary journalist.
"Both Dr. Priestley's Animadversions [in his Reply] and his friend's 'Remarks [in Vindication,' supra, pp. 17, 45, Notes *] received such large and specific answers in the Monthly Review, as were judged to be contrary to the nature of that journal; · and, on this account, they gave dissatisfaction to many judicious and impartial men, who agreed in sentiment with the Periodical Critic, and admired his abilities aud literature. It was, in fact, taking the undue advantage of a particular situation, to publish what ought to have appeared in separate pamphlets." New An. Reg. 1783, IV. pp. , .
THE MONTHLY REVIEW,
Letters to Dr. Horsley;
THE REV. MR. SAMUEL BADCOCK,
The Writer of that Review,
IS CALLED UPON TO DEFEND WHAT HE HAS ADVANCED IN IT.
In answer to some who, I well know, will be ready to blame me for replying to charges proceeding from such gross ignorance and evident malignity, as those contained in the Monthly Review, I would observe, that many persons (as I sincerely rejoice to find) are extremely anxious about the progress of this controversy, relating to the general opinion of the primitive Christians, concerning the person of Christ, as, with them, it will be nearly decisive with respect to their believing him to be a man, or something more than a man; and I think I owe them every assistance that I am able to give them.
Many of these persons, not having the proper authorities at hand, have it not in their power to judge between my opponents and me, except by comparing what one writer shall produce in answer to another; and being themselves earnest searchers after truth, and men of upright minds, they cannot easily bring themselves to suspect any writer of gross unfairness till it is distinctly pointed out. They are, therefore, staggered when they hear things so confidently asserted,
and so speciously represented, as they are by my present antagonists. Now the small trouble of writing such a pamphlet as this, is a trifle, compared to the satisfaction that I know I shall give to many persons of the description above
Besides, preparatory to the large Historical View of Opinions concerning the Person of Christ, which I propose to write, and for which I am collecting materials, I wish, by every means in my power, to bring every thing of conse quence relating to it to a thorough discussion, and to draw out, if possible, every latent objection; that I may have the whole subject, with its proper evidence, fairly before me; and controversy, when a person has a proper command of his temper, is an excellent means to that end.
I acknowledge, however, that I should not have noticed any thing that has yet been advanced by Mr. Badcock on this subject, if it had not been out of regard to the credit which it derives from its publication in the Monthly Review, and the advantage of circulation which he has by that means secured. Besides, I am not now answering an anonymous antagonist; but a man engaged, by a regard to his reputation, to bring his charges to an issue, by which means some advantage will be gained. Indeed, as an anonymous Reviewer, the following declaration binds him to an explicit answer to what I here allege in my own just defence, in reply to his virulent accusations:
"When attacked by so formidable a disputant as Dr. Priestley, we could not avoid defending ourselves, as the reputation of our work was at stake. If we have obtained any advantage over our learned opponent, we exult not in our success, but honestly declare, that we wish not to be again called to battle in the field of controversy, which generally produces more briars than laurels. It behoves us, however, to be always prepared to answer every unjust charge, and to clear ourselves from every aspersion.
That I may not, however, multiply these small publications unnecessarily, and more than the object of them requires, I assure those who have confidence in my integrity, (for it can signify nothing to address those who consider me in the light that Mr. Badcock does,) that I shall not write in this manner again, unless I receive something from Mr. Badcock more deserving of a reply than any thing that I have yet seen come from him on this subject; though I shall certainly
* Mon. Rev, for October, 1783, LXIX. pp. 359, 360. (P.)
take some early opportunity of acknowledging any mistake, of the least consequence, that I shall be convinced I have fallen into. I shall, at least, do it when I next reply to Dr. Horsley, which I hope will not be at a distant period. In the mean time I will, in return, have that confidence in my readers, that they will not be much moved by any future representations of Mr. Badcock, unless they be more specious, and more imposing, than those which I have already shewn to be merely so.
THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
I HAD not intended to have taken any notice of the Monthly Review of my Letters to Dr. Horsley,* seeing nothing in it that, in the smallest degree, affected my argu ment, or that was, on any other account, worthy of notice; but finding some persons (though sufficiently sensible of the malevolence with which the charges against me are urged) rather staggered with the extreme boldness of the assertions, and those more than implying a charge of the grossest unfairness and insincerity in my conduct, I have, at length, thought proper to make a few observations upon it. In doing this, I think myself authorized by the nature, and the almost unexampled insolence of the attack, in mentioning (what indeed is no secret) the name of the Reviewer, viz. Mr. Samuel Badcock, a dissenting minister at South Molton, in Devonshire; as (without having directly or indirectly sought for it) I have been informed since the publication of my Letters to Dr. Horsley. It was, indeed, mentioned to me before; but when I considered our former friendship, I did not give any credit to the account. own vanity, I presume, on his imagined victory over me, has led him to betray himself. As a writer, no man, I will venture to say, has been more observant of punctilio than I
January, 1784, LXX. pp. 56-69.