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The following narrative will not, I hope, be deemed unworthy of notice in an age so attentive to productions of a similar nature. The person who is the subject of it has published, it is well known, many octavo volumes, which, though not among the most perfect of their kind, on the whole possess such merit as proves him a man of genius. Besides, to write so much in defence of religion and virtue demands, should think, some gratitude from those who are influenced by a regard for the most important interests of mankind. -The learned works of that most worthy man, bis eminent abilities as a preacher, his other uncommon exertions in his ministerial capacity, the singularity of his character, the strict purity of his conduct, and bis surprising charities, taken all together, made him perhaps one of the most extraordinary persons that Ireland has produced, in which country he was universally known, and also the frequent subject of conversation. I shall therefore make no farther apology for publishing bis life.
In collecting the materials for it I carefully endeavoured to arrive at truth, which is acknowledged to be the first excellence of every historic composition. But lest the reader may not be satisfied of my care in this point, I shall briefly mention my authorities.
Having been recommended to Mr.Skelton, by means of two sisters of his at Dromore, in the year 1780, when I was a scholar of Trinity College, Dublin, I was soon after admitted into his friendship and confidence, in which I continued until he died. During the three last years of my re
sidence at that university, I passed at least three evenings with him in the week, and in my absence was favoured with his correspondence. In my numerous conversations with him I frequently inquired into the several incidents of his lite, and usually preserved the information he afforded me. From his sisters above-mentioned, and some others of his relations, and from the people in the parish where he was born, I learned more particulars both of him and his family. With the materials thus obtained I was not content, but, in the year 1788, went to the several parishes where he had lived either as curate or rector, and conversed with those who were well acquainted with him during the different periods of his life, to acquire more anecdotes, and render my information as accurate as possible. I also, among other places which it is too tedious to mention, extended my journey to the metropolis, and received there such intelligence as made sufficient amends for my trouble. In preparing the materials for the press I have probably taken more pains than it would be prudent to own, being resolved not to offer a work of this kind to the public without serious and mature deliberation.
Down, January 10, 1792.