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heart is earnestly engaged, the first thoughts, in the first words, are usually the best; for it is thoughts, not words, that are to be communicated; yet are they so delicate and evanescent, that, unless caught in their first forms, they soon lose their character and distinctness; they will not stay to be questioned, they must be taken at their word, or instantly dismissed; they are like odours from a bank of violets, a breath and away."
."1 And it is probable, that, to the practice related of Pope, in having always the means, even at his bedside, for penning down his passing thoughts, we are indebted for the preservation of some of the sweetest sentiments in British poetry.
In transcribing a portion--and it is only a portion of the manuscript remains of the lamented youth, whose brief history is sketched out in the following short memoir, the candid reader will not be disappointed, in the Diary of a child, to meet with some childish things ;
1 J. Montgomery.
neither will he expect to find, in a portraiture, designed to represent the natural flow of thought and action, all the lovely tints and traits exhibited, without perceiving some of the shades which go to complete the faithful likeness. It is not intended to imply that these youthful memoranda possess much originality of conception, or perfection of style; or that every abstract sentiment will be found, by the experienced reader, altogether free from exception; they are what they profess to be, and no - the sentiments and feelings of a child, written for his own improvement and private enjoyment.
It is, however, hoped, that his juvenile friends and contemporaries will find in these unpretending pages, not only much to interest, but also somewhat to instruct them. Had his life been spared to riper age, the manuscripts, no doubt, would have progressed with his years, and also have undergone the scrupulous revision and correction of the writer, as his judgment and experience advanced to maturity. Such as they are, spontaneous and unvarnished as they flowed from his pen, they are now offered to his inquiring and interested friends, to gratify their wishes herein, and to shew them the transcript and progression of his mind; the mind of a mere youth, ardent in the pursuit after knowledge, and diligent in the cultivation of a natural understanding of no ordinary standard, yet withal, and above all, breathing throughout a spirit of piety, and a desire for the attainment of heavenly wisdom, with a fixedness of purpose, not usually found or expected in one of his limited years.
Many causes have contributed to delay the publication thus long. At first we questioned the propriety of extending the miscellany beyond a few written extracts. These having been submitted to several of our friends, who expressed an anxious wish to possess a copy, we were encouraged to hope there might perhaps be a service, in enlarging the view which we at first entertained. Besides, being unaccustomed to such an avocation -- which, out of a tender regard to some injunctions previously laid upon us, we could not delegate to another - we found not sufficient leisure from our daily duties, to give closer attention than we have done, to the mass of matter which required selecting and arranging, before it could, with propriety, be sent to press.
Add to this painful, yet attractive, as the employment has been -our progress was often arrested, and we lingered over recitals which were associated with our tenderest recollections; and full often did we stay to weep, that one so lovely should have a life so brief; but
“ It matters little at what hour of the day
The righteous fall asleep - Death cannot come
The writer of the following Memoir is aware that he is open to the charge of partiality for the object of his affection -- this he will not attempt to refute; but the reader may be assured that he has only narrated Facts as they have arisen, without any deviation from the simple truth; he therefore craves a large share of forbearance for the language in which he has conveyed those facts to the reader.
Forgive a father's partial praise,
And with him drop a tender tear,
For, Oh! his child was passing dear!”
The bereaved parents would here gratefully acknowledge the many kind messages of sympathy, as well as letters of condolence in their loss, from a wide circle of their friends and acquaintance. One letter, 2 from a dear and valued friend, since gathered to his rest, is here preserved ; also a few stanzas of poetry3 from another sympathizing friend.
The Diary, or commonplace-book, of our beloved boy, being the little history of his thoughts and deeds, is contained in several manuscript books, of many closely written pages, from which, and a few other papers, the selections, in the volume here presented to the reader, have been made. Wherever he has
3 Appendix (B).