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In inscribing these pages to Your Lordship, were it my object simply to express my respect and grateful affection towards the friend of my youth, and the guide of my maturer years and studies, a sense of delicacy would have obliged me to convey these sentiments in the shortest and simplest form of dedication.
But Your Lordship will not take the confession amiss, that I have another object in view ; that I trespass on your indulgence a little further, as it may seem of some preliminary advantage, to notice briefly the circumstances, which led, first, to the conception, and, gradually, to the design and execution, of this inquiry into the rise of Mahometanism, and the real causes of its
These circumstances I can communicate to no living friend with so much propriety as to Your Lordship; since it was under your roof, and early in the period of that domestic intercourse, which, through a course of years, it has been the privilege and happiness of my life to enjoy, that the subject of the present work engaged my serious attention.
For a considerable time, I had read and thought on the Mahometan apostasy, purely for my own satisfaction. But, while my judgment readily acquiesced in parts of the explanation offered by approved authorities, to account for the case of Mahometanism, there remained still the painful conviction, that some of its most important features were left wholly unexplained. The most popular English work on the subject, the eloquent Bampton Lectures of the late Dr. White of Oxford, impressed me as labouring fatally under this defect; notwithstanding the frequent acuteness of the reasoning, and the general force and beauty of the style. Nor was it possible to rest satisfied with the view of a subject so momentous, presented by volume which was always supposed, and, by the appearance of a late publication, has been completely proved, the product of different pens: the materials of which, contributed by minds the most unlike, in power, in principles of reasoning, and in their views even of the Christian scheme, necessarily lay under the disadvantages of a dubious and divided parentage; in some parts, the chief arguments being inconsis
tent with each other ; in more, appearing inconsequential in themselves.
Disappointed, after a careful and patient survey, by what had been done to clear away
the difficulties of a movement so important, — the greatest revolution of the world, connected with the history of the church, my persuasion was unshaken, that, whether the case were explicable or inexplicable by human judgment, the true elucidation would hereafter be vouchsafed, and would triumphantly justify the revealed wisdom and goodness of God.
It was early in the year 1820, that a train of thought, suggested by these last reflections, arose in my mind, which soon expanded into the outline of a work on Mahometanism. In the winter of that year, the subject was incidentally mentioned at Abington Glebe, where you then resided, in the course of an evening conversation with Your Lordship and a common friend.*
* The Rev. William Phelan, D.D. then Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin.