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I Wish I could have compressed my answer to
Mr. Whitaker in less room, but bis pamphlet
contains so many minute objections that I found
it to be impossible. It will frequently happen,
that an objection, which may be made in half a
dozen lines, will require at least as many pages
to answer it.
This must be my apology for the
Length of my reply.
A full reply to the objections and misrepresentations of
the Rev. E. W. Whitaker,
Some remarks on certain parts of the author's own
A view of the present posture of affairs as connected with
A full reply to the objections and misrepresentations
of the Rev. E. W. Whitaker.
WHEN first I saw Mr. Whitaker's pamphlet advertised, as containing certain strictures on my Dissertation on the 1260 years, I felt the highest degree of satisfaction; because I am persuaded, that nothing is more favourable to the cause of truth than fair and liberal controversy. I accordingly prepared myself either to defend my positions, if I had reason still to think them tenable; or openly to give them up, if I found, in consequence of perusing the pamphlet, that they were untenable. Provided only the truth can be attained, it is a matter of the very least.consequence whether the person who is the instrument of attaining it be Mr. Whitaker, myself, or any other person. I have never yet thought it a disgrace either to be mistaken, or to acknowledge myself mistaken. An obstinate perseverance in error alone deserves reprehension: a candid confession of it will always be accounted praise-worthy by the thinking part of mankind. With a hearty desire to discover the truth wherever it might be found, and to embrace it when found; wedded to no system, and anxious rather to be led by prophecy than to lead it; I ventured to publish a Dissertation on a much celebrated period, differing in many essential points from the schemes advanced by my predecessors. From a wish that the subject might be thoroughly sifted, I occasionally noticed the writings of my contemporaries; and I grieve to find, that, most undesignedly on my part, I appear to have given no small offence, if not to others, yet to Mr. Whitaker. He has answered me perhaps not quite in that "pure spirit of brotherly love” which he professes,* yet I nevertheless rejoice that he has answered me. No one has courted discussion more than myself, and no one deprecates it less.
The result of Mr. Whitaker's strictures he supposes to be this: that, like the instantaneous operation of a magician's wand, they cause the whole of my extensive structure to fall to the ground in undistinguished ruin; and that my Work must henceforth be numbered amongst those ephemeral theories, which, unlike his own sober however little novel interpretation, flash numerously like ignes fatui in our present loaded hemisphere, and serve only to envelope the whole subject in confusion.t
* Mr. Whitaker says, that he is obliged to me for the very favourable manner in which I have, in several places, expressed myself on his Commentary, and he acknowledges, that, where I have differed from him, he has not the least reason to complain of the terms in which my opinion is given. I wish that it was in my power to return this compliment with any degree of truth.
+ Whitaker's Letter to Dr. Ogilvie, p. 59, 67, 81.