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Preliminary remarks—Birth of Legh Richmond--His ancestry ; education ; and inci
dents of early years—Promise of talent—Completion of his education at school. To record the excellences of departed worth, and to endeavour to perpetuate their remembrance, is a tribute no less due to the present than to succeeding generations. Biography, indeed, has usually selected, as the subject of its memoirs, the lives of heroes and statesmen, in preference to the milder though more useful virtues of the pious and the good ; because the passions and interests of men never fail to be excited by the achievements of war, and the disclosures of the cabinet. But in pleading the cause of religious biography, may we not urge the superior importance of its subject, and the hallowed tendency of its aim ? Is the skill and discernment, employed in increasing the resources and glory of earthly kingdoms, to be compared with the divine science of saving immortal souls ? Are the triumphs of the cause of God less real, because they are eternal ? Are its victories less interesting, because their object is to contract the limits of death and sin, and to extend the empire of the Son of God ? It is no small praise to the age in which we live, that religion begins at length to assume the pre-eminence which its high claims and heaven-born character demand. The drama of human life has long been characterized by portentous events; and reflecting minds seem disposed to recognise in the past convulsions of empires, as well as in the elements of discord that are silently preparing the way for new conflicts, that an Almighty hand intends to make these events subservient to the accomplishment of his purposes, and to the establishment of his kingdom.
Among those who have contributed to the revival of religion in the present day, the subject of the following memoir stands highly distinguished. His name has been too long associated with every exertion to promote the growth of piety, both at home and abroad, not to have excited a very general solicitude for whatever may illustrate the history and character of a man, who has so often delighted the public by his eloquence, stimulated it by his zeal, and edified it by his example. It is to comply with this desire, as well as to fulfil the claims of a long and most confidental intercourse, that the present memoir is now presented.
The Rev. Legh Richmond was descended from an ancestry highly respectable on the side of both his parents, each of whom was related to some of the principal families in the counties of Lancaster and Chester. His father, Dr. Henry Richmond, practised as a physician, first at Liverpool, and afterwards at Bath, where he resided for several years. His death occurred at Stockport, in Cheshire, in the year 1806; of which place the Rev. Legh Richmond, grandfather to the subject of this memoir, was formerly rector.
Dr. Henry Richmond was the fifth in lineal male descent from Oliver Richmond, Esq. of Ashton Keynes, in the county of Wilts, on which estate his ancestors had resided from the time of the Conquest.
The mother of Mr. Richmond was the daughter of Johni Atherton, Esq. of Walton Hall, near Liverpool, and by the maternal side first cousin to Dr. Henry Richmond.
As some additional account of the family appears in the progress of this work, recorded by his own pen, any farther statement in this place would be superfluous.
Legh Richmond was born at Liverpool, on January 29th, 1772. It was his privilege to have a most estimable mother, endued with a superior understanding, which had been cultivated and improved by an excellent education and subsequent study. In addition to her natural talents and acquirements, she uniformly manifested a deep sense of the importance of religion.
This affectionate and conscientious parent anxiously instructed him, from his infancy, in the Holy Scriptures, and in the principles of religion, as far as her own knowledge and experience enabled her; a duty which was subsequently well repaid by her son, who became the happy and honoured instrument of imparting to his beloved mother clearer and more enlarged views of divine truth than were generally prevalent during the last generation. It seems highly probable that the seeds of piéty were then sown, which in a future period, and under circumstances of a providential nature, were destined to produce a rich and abundant harvest.
Ye that are mothers, and whose office it more peculiarly is to instil into the minds of your offspring an habitual reverence for God, and a knowledge of the truths of the Gospel; be earnest in your endeavours to fulfil the duties whích Providence has assigned to you, and which your tenderness, your affection, and the constant recurrence of favourable opportunities, so admirably fit you to discharge. Consecrate them to God in early youth; and re
member that the child of many prayers is in possession of a řícher treasure than the heir of the amplest honours and the highest dignities : for the child of many prayers can never perish, so long as prayer is availing. To faith all things are possible, and the promise stands firm, “I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. Pray then for them, and with them. There is an efficacy in the bended knee, in the outstretched hand, in the uplifted heart, in the accents of prayer issuing from the lips of a mother, supplicating God to bless her child, which faith may interpret for its encouragement, and the future shall one day realise. There is also a solemnity in the act itself, peculiarly calculated to elicit all the best feelings of the heart, and to quicken it in the diligent use of the means most adapted, through divine mercy, to insure the blessing.
Discouragements may arise ;-impressions that once excited hope may vanish ;—the fruit may not be apparent; yet, in after-times, under circumstances of the most unpromising nature-amid scenes, perhaps, of folly, vice, and dissipation--or in the more sober moments of sickness and sorrow, the remembrance of a praying mother may present itself with overwhelming emotions to the heart. The events of early days may rise up in quick succession before the mind, until the long-lost wanderer, recovered from his slumber of death and sin, may live to be a monument of the pardoning mercy of God, and his last accents be those of gratitude and praise for a pious mother.
It was in the period of Legh Richmond's childhood, that the accident occurred which occasioned the lameness to which he was subject during the remainder of his life. In leaping from a wall, he fell with violence to the ground, and injured the left leg, so as to contract its growth, and impair its strength. It is a remarkable coincidence, that somewhat of a similar occurrence befel one of his own sons, and was attended with precisely the same effects. It was in consequence of this accident that Mr. Richmond received the rudiments of his early education under the sole tuition of his father, who was an excellent classical scholar, and well acquainted with literature in general.
In addition to his proficiency in classical and other elementary studies, he made considerable progress, during this period, in the science of music; a predilection for which, he retained to the end of his life.
The activity of his mind soon began to develope itself. Some specimens of the productions of his early years have been preserved by the partiality of his friends; and as youthful talent generally