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THE LIFE

OF

ISAAC MILNER, D.D., F.R.S.,

DEAN OF CARLISLE, PRESIDENT OF QUEEN'S COLLEGE,

AND

PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE:

COMPRISING A PORTION OF

HIS CORRESPONDENCE

AND

OTHER WRITINGS HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED.

BY

HIS NIECE,

MARY MILNER,

AUTHOR OF THE CHRISTIAN MOTHER."

LONDON:

JOHN W. PARKER, WEST STRAND.

CAMBRIDGE:
J. AND J. J. DEIGHTON.

M.DCCC.XLII.

PRE FACE.

MORE than twenty years having elapsed since the death of the subject of this biography, some explanation is, perhaps, due, from the Author, respecting the publication of a work which has been so long delayed.

On this point it might be sufficient to observe, in general, that those lives, the histories of which best deserve the attention of mankind, are, at the same time, those which are least dependent for their interest, upon the circumstances of time or place. With more particular reference, however, to the present work, it may be fairly asserted, that the value which may be reasonably supposed to belong to a faithful Memoir of the Life and Character of the late ISAAC MILNER, is, by no means, of an ephemeral nature. The history of a man whose mental endowments raised him from poverty and obscurity to wealth and fame, must always command attention, and possess an enduring worth; and if it were the sole object of the following pages to exhibit an eminent instance of the success which, almost invariably, in a greater or less degree, rewards the vigorous and persevering exercise of superior talents, such an object would amply justify their publication. That life must surely be worthy of being recorded, of which the whole course affords a striking illustration of the animating truth, that, in this free country, ability and industry are the passports to honourable distinction. In the case of Dean Milner, however, another and a more powerful source of interest is superadded. If he were distinguished by his intellectual superiority, he was yet more distinguished by bis Christian piety. Confessedly in the first rank of the mathematicians and philosophers of his day, he was "content to receive the kingdom of God as a little child *." Gifted with extraordinary mental powers, and beyond the generality of his fellow-men, a master of reason in its own province, he learned to submit his gigantic understanding to the humbling doctrines of Revelation.

A faithful record of the history and character of such a man has a peculiar value. There are persons who secretly, if not avowedly, associate the ideas of piety and imbecility; and who, however illogical such a conclusion may be, do not hesitate to decide, that he who professes to be governed by Christian principles, must be deficient in natural understanding.

Upon Dean Milner no suspicion of mental weakness can rest. Born in a cottage-labouring with his hands in early youth-indebted for the advantages of education chiefly to the elder brother to whom he afterwards owned his obligations “with tears of gratitude and affectiont,” his supereminent abilities gained for him the highest academical honours, and subsequently placed him in the Mathematical Chair at Cambridge.

The opinions of such a man, on any subject to which he had applied the powers of his mind, must necessarily carry along with them as much authority as can belong to any human opinions whatever. The “natural man,” indeed, whatever may be his mental endowments, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,

• Luke xviii. 17.
+ See Dean Milner's Life of his Brother.

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