Page images
PDF
EPUB

The following Memoir is not intended for publication, and has been drawn up solely in the hope that it may prove acceptable, and, perhaps, useful to those many friends of the deceased to whom the writer was anxious to offer some mark of respect or regard. Having been delayed much beyond his wishes by his being obliged to pass the greater part of the last twelvemonth in a foreign country, where he was out of the reach of books and papers, and in a state of health and spirits very unfavourable to such an employment, it is now completed rather hastily, lest more time should be lost. He trusts that those who do him the honor to accept the volume will kindly excuse its defects, if it be found less interesting than he had hoped to make it.

lead others to do the like; but God only knows the heart, and how imperfect are our best deeds, and how little use we make of the advantages we possess; therefore, do not give any character of me, nor let any person do it, if you can help it." This injunction puts a strong restraint on the ex

B

MEMOIR.

He who seeks to approve himself in the sight of God, will often decline the praise of men; and he who, with unaffected lowliness of mind, is sensible of his failings and imperfections, will fear, lest, through the kind partiality of friends, his faults be overlooked, and an undue importance and an undeserved merit be attributed to his good deeds. Such were the feelings of the excellent person who is the subject of the following Memoir, when in contemplation of his latter end he expressed strongly his desire, that no character might be given of him after his death. "There is no harm,” said he," in telling any thing that a man has done in the service of his Maker, for it may lead others to do the like; but God only knows the heart, and how imperfect are our best deeds, and how little use we make of the advantages we possess; therefore, do not give any character of me, nor let any person do it, if you can help it." This injunction puts a strong restraint on the ex

B

pression of friendly regard, and even of filial affection; but it sanctions, instead of forbidding, a plain unadorned narrative, and statement of those good deeds which live in the remembrance of such as witnessed them, and when related may excite others to active imitation. Thus, the object pursued through the life of him who is deceased may be carried forward after his death, and he may still continue to "do good." Such a statement is attempted in the following pages; and it is thrown into the form of a Biographical Memoir, as that which may be most interesting to his surviving friends, and most attractive to general readers.

The family from which Mr. Bowdler was sprung was formerly settled in Shropshire, in which county are two parishes of the name, Hope Bowdler and Ashford Bowdler. At the former of these places the family mansion formerly stood; and the word

66

Hope," taken in its modern signification, has been adopted for the family motto; being, no doubt, originally applied to describe the situation of the place, which is a dingle or small valley surrounded by hills. The meaning of the word "Bowdler," cannot, perhaps, be ascertained: the difficulty is increased by its being found in old signatures used indiscriminately with the French article and preposition, le and de; from the former of which it should seem to be a term descriptive of the person; from the latter, the name of a

place. In this family, as in others, are some traditionary tales of virtue and prowess exhibited in days long since past. A more laudable satisfaction may be derived from the reflection, that as far as well authenticated accounts can reach, those who have borne the name have been strictly upright, pious, and benevolent, maintaining sound principles both in church and state. It is a pleas. ing testimony to the various members of this family, that he who filled the principal place in each generation, always spoke with affection and reverence of those who had gone before, and lamented his own unworthiness to tread in his father's steps.

Mr. Bowdler's great grandfather went to Ireland while young, and acted as deputy to the auditor general of the exchequer, auditor at warres, and auditor of imprests or foreign accompts. The employments that he was in, (to use his own expression,) though managed but indifferently, brought him into great esteem amongst some, and those not of the basest sort; and divers who wished his welfare, prompted him to marriage with a person whom he describes as far above him in birth, being the daughter of Dr. Henry Jones, formerly bishop of Clogher, and afterwards of Meath*; and he writes in terms of great affection to his brother, who was

* Eldest son of the Bishop of Killaloe, who married at the age of 63, and died at 103. He had five sons and three daughters, and lived to see the first son Bishop of Meath, the

« PreviousContinue »