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THE LIFE OF THE REV. ADAM CLARKE: PREFACE
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It has been long felt that the communion of which the eminent person to whose memory these pages are dedicated was a devoted minister, should have its own record of his exemplary life; and the Committee charged with the literary affairs of the Methodist Connection have the happiness of stating that, by an arrangement with his surviving representatives, by which the copyright of many inedited papers has come into their possession, they are enabled to meet such a demand. Several years have passed since the publication of any biography of Dr. Clarke; and we believe that the time is now come when a new volume on the subject, written on a plan altogether different from any already pursued, may be offered without disparagement to the interests of preceding authors.
The ample materials placed at our disposal are sufficient for the creation of a work as voluminous as some of our largest English biographies; those, for example, of Chalmers or of Wilberforce: but the object of the Committee, to offer a memoir which shall be accessible to readers in general, would thereby have been defeated. A book of such dimensions, like the Leviathan ship, is not always easily launched. As it is, we have the satisfaction of believing that the present work will be found to present the memorabilia of Dr. Adam Clarke’s life and character in such a clear and true light as shall render it an acceptable gift to those who knew an him, and a means of pleasure and profit to many others, who, now becoming acquainted with his excellencies, will begin to love him too.
It will not be deemed at all disrespectful to the Doctor’s name, that we have recounted the annals of his life without overloading our recital with a cumbrous mass of particulars, which, important as they may have been in their own hour, do not extend a sufficient influence on after-time to demand a record on the page of history. This principle has been adopted as the right one in all the ages of literature; and, therefore, some of the choicest and most classic biographies, both ancient and modern, are distinguished by their comparative brevity.
We have to express our respectful sense of obligation to Mrs. Richard Smith, the daughter and first biographer of Dr. Clarke, for the kindness with which she has afforded every facility for the completion of this new Life of her honored father; and, also, our best thanks to Messrs. W. Tegg and Co., the proprietors of the Doctor’s voluminous works, for their permission to re-publish the excellent portrait which gives an embellishment to the present volume.