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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:05:58
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His friend Kippis advised him to publish this treatise under the character of an unbeliever, in order to draw the more attention to it.

It is obvious, from Priestley’s letters to his friends at about this period, that he was sensible that his relations with Pitt’s Secretary of State had become somewhat strained, and when he received an intimation through Dr Price that Lord Shelburne wished to give him an 88 establishment in Ireland, where he had large property, he interpreted this as signifying that the Minister desired that their connection should be severed. They parted amicably, Lord Shelburne continuing to pay him the promised annuity of £150 until the end of his days, paying it, too, contrary to the insinuation of his enemies, with perfect punctuality. That there was no unfriendly feeling on the part of Lord Shelburne at a separation which seemed to be dictated solely by considerations of political exigency would appear from the circumstance that a few years later he sent a common friend to Priestley, who was then settled in Birmingham, to invite him to resume his old position, accompanying his request with expressions which left no doubt of the value he set upon the companionship. Sensible as Priestley was of Lord Shelburne’s feelings towards him, he was in no mind to return to a situation which experience had shown might be incompatible with independence.

Priestley left Needham Market in 1758. He had been there three years, and he was in his twenty-fifth year when he entered upon his work at Nantwich. Of this place he had always the happiest recollections. The meeting-house, as we learn from Partridge’s Historical Account of Nantwich, 1774, was a good, decent building, to which appertains a convenient house for the minister.” Whether he actually occupied this house is uncertain. One account states that he boarded with Mr John Eddowes, a grocer, and sometimes showed his agility and sprightliness by leaping over the counter. Eddowes was described by Priestley as a very sociable and sensible man, and as he was fond of music his guest was—

I esteem it a singular happiness to have lived in an age and country in which I have been at full liberty both to investigate, and by preaching and writing to propagate, religious truth; that though the freedom I have used for this purpose was for some time disadvantageous to me, it was not long so, and that my present situation is such that I can, with the greatest openness, urge whatever appears to me the truth of the Gospel, not only without giving the least offence, but with the entire approbation of those with whom I am particularly connected.”

Another task that he imposed on himself at Needham, and in part executed, was an accurate comparison of the Hebrew text of the Hagiographa and the Prophets with the version of the Septuagint, noting all the variations.


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