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It is remarked, by a writer in a valuable Irish periodical, in an article entitled BUTLERIANA *, as “passing strange, that no biographer was ever found to preserve to us any memoir of the profoundest thinker, the man of the greatest intellect in his day; and not only pre-eminent in his own day, but in the foremost rank of the immortalized sages of the world; a man, moreover, beloved by a circle of highly-gifted friends, who appreciated his worth, delighted in his society, and honoured his memory. The short account of him in the Biographia Britannica is nevertheless the fullest, indeed, I may say, the only memoir that now exists. It has struck me, that in the dearth of materials which now, after the lapse of more than eighty years, could be collected for compiling his life, it might be interesting to bring together the scattered notices of Bishop Butler, which are
* The Christian Eraminer, and Church of Ireland Magazine, Oct. 1837.
to be found incidentally occurring in various authors.”
That which is here suggested, as a desideratum in biographical literature, I have now endeavoured to accomplish ; and, although the above passage did not meet my eye until the greater part of the following Memoir was written, yet, if an apology be needed for the attempt, I may perhaps, in bar of censure, be allowed to put in that passage as my plea.
In addition, however, to the materials in the short memoir by Dr. Kippis, in the Biographia Britannica, as far as I have found them accurate by a comparison of dates with those in the bishop's own private memoranda ; and in addition to various literary notices, collected from the writings of eminent Authors, both in Great Britain and America, I have been enabled to introduce, from private and family sources, many facts and anecdotes which have not before been submitted to the public.
The design has been long entertained of extending the acquaintance of the reading classes, with the life and character of a man, who is not
to be regarded as the exclusive property of any section or party in the Church of Christ, but as the common property of Christendom. And I readily confess, that my desire to accomplish this design has not been the less strong, on account of the gratification which it would naturally afford to his surviving relatives (amongst whom are my wife and children), who cannot but consider it a distinguished honour to venerate Bishop Butler as their ancestor. That more matter, however, has not been gleaned, and that disappointment should bave followed research, in quarters where it was hoped that original manuscripts would have been recovered, no one can more deeply regret than myself. If, on the other hand, it shall be thought, that the materials now, for the first time, brought together, are calculated to gratify those who are cager to know more about the illustrious Author of the Analogy, I shall consider my humble labours abundantly repaid.
There may be those, however, who will be of opinion, that one portion of the following volume, the COMPENDIUM OF THE ANALOGY, should not have been attempted; and that it would have been better not to have presumed to exhibit Butler otherwise than as his own immortal work, in its natural shape and dimensions, has exhibited
him. I am far from denying the weight of this objection ; and they who urge it will find a high authority on their side, in the remarks of the talented writer cited in the Memoir, (page 49,) who says,—“We have heard persons talk of the obscurity of Bishop Butler's style, and lament that his book was not re-written by some more luminous master of language. We have always suspected that such critics knew very little about the Analogy. We would have no sacrilegious hand touch it. It would be like officious meddling with a well-considered move at chess. We should change a word in it with the caution of men expounding hieroglyphics,—it has a meaning, but we have not hit upon it, others may, or we ourselves may at another time.” So impressed am I, by the general correctness of these remarks, that I have carefully avoided the presumption of changing the terms, or altering the expressions of Bishop Butler ; and have confined myself to the task of making selections of such portions and passages, as appear to stand prominently forth, in each Chapter of the Analogy, and of giving them in the Author's own language. The punctuation has been no further varied than was occasionally necessary, in connecting the detached portions together; and it has but rarely occurred, that the change of a single particle has been made in the process.