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A NEW EDITION,
IN FIVE VOLUMES.
ROBINSON; LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN; CADELL
LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
OF Dr. William Harris, the writer of these Lives, few memoirs have been
preserved, and what is now laid before the reader, rests on no better authority, than that of a fugitive publication, except a few incidental notices from the Memoirs of Hollis.
Dr. Harris was the son of a tradesman at Salisbury, who probably was a dissenter. He was born in that city in 1720, and received his education at an academy kept at Taunton by Messrs. Grove and Amory, men of learning and note, as dissenting teachers. An early love of books and a thirst for knowledge, rendered application easy and
profitable, and he was thought qualified to preach before he was nineteen years of age.
He first officiated to a congregation at St. Loo, in Cornwall, and was afterwards invited to another in the city of Wells, where he was ordained in 1741. Within a few
years, his marriage to a Miss Bovet of Honiton, occasioned his removal to that town, and his ministerial labours, for the rest of his life, were confined to a very small congregation at Luppit in the neighbourhood. To what denomination of dissenters he belonged we are not told. The strain of his discourses is said to have been plain and practical, but none of them have been published, and he appears to have soon courted fame in a different pursuit.
His political, if not his religious creed, led him to study the history of the seventeenth century, which in his time had received few of the lights that have since been thrown it; and what he read, he read with the eager eye of a nonconformist, de
sirous to rescue his brethren from obloquy, and afford them a larger share in the merit of perpetuating the liberties of this kingdom. With this view, he resolved to become the biographer of the English branch of the Stuart family, and of Cromwell, and to assign to each their agency in the production of those great events in the seventeenth century, the REBELLION, the RESTORATION and the REVOLUTION.
His preliminary attempt was on a singular subject, the Life of Hugh PETERS, which as he published it without his name, has escaped the notice of the collectors of his works, but is now prefixed, as the first in the order of time, and essentially connected with one of the subjects of his future inquiries. In this life he professed to follow “ the manner of Bayle," and it might have been thought that its appearance in print would have shown Dr. Harris that his choice was injudicious ; but, for whatever reason, he followed the same in his subsequent