Project Canterbury

The Life and Work of William Augustus Muhlenberg
Doctor in Divinity

By Anne Ayres

New York: T. Whittaker, 1889.


In the present edition of this work emendations have been made, and, here and there, new matter inserted.

The preface to the first edition, reprinted on a subsequent page, shows how I came to attempt the portraiture of so eminent a life and with what material I was endowed for the purpose.

It will be obligatory upon the future owners of the work always to publish it as left by the writer; that is, without abridgment or any other alteration.

This arrangement is made in view of the great trust reposed in me by Dr. Muhlenberg, and, correspondingly, the great care and labor I expended over his many-paged journals and other papers, in order that nothing which would be helpful to a just transcript of his holy life and character might be overlooked, and, on the other hand, nothing used that would improperly unveil his sacred privacy.

I am further moved to provide for the continuance of the book intact by the "loving-kindness" with which, notwithstanding its inevitable imperfections, it has been everywhere received.

SISTER ANNE. New York, April, 1889.


A personal acquaintance with Dr. Muhlenberg, extending over more than thirty years, eighteen of which were spent under the same roof with him, and in an intercourse as close as that of a daughter with a revered father, will best account to the reader for the seeming presumption of the hand whereby the following memorials of his life and work have been gathered together.

The value and acceptability of the volume is to be found in the eminence of him whom it portrays, and in that fidelity and minuteness of touch in the portraiture naturally resulting, where the living subject has been intimately seen and studied for half a lifetime. This last was chiefly relied, on in venturing upon so high a task; with the added assurance of his own words: "You know more of my heart and mind on all points, than any other person living."

The several sources from which the greater part of the work is drawn, become sufficiently apparent in the reading, but a little further explanation, in this regard, remains to be made. During a brief holiday in Europe, with Dr. Muhlenberg, in the summer of 1872, the opportunity was seized, as he reclined in the intervals of travelling, to take down many interesting particulars of those parts of his life with which I was not personally familiar, and more especially to obtain, in his own words, certain statements of principles, and opinions on points of importance, essential to the authenticity and completeness of what I had taken in hand to do. Such auto-biographical information, it should be named, was only given at my earnest solicitation.

For valuable data concerning his educational labors, I am greatly indebted to the Rev. Dr. Libertus Van Bokkelen, a former pupil and associate, who generously placed at my disposal, a large quantity of material, including personal letters and manuscripts.

But beyond all other assistance afforded me has bees that derived from Dr. Muhlenberg's own private papers, journals, and letters. These were given to my sole and unreserved perusal, accompanied by directions that, within a certain period, all were to be destroyed. A modification of this command was afterwards secured as to sermons and other addresses. There was no permission to publish either journals or letters, but the contrary. In the few and guarded instances wherein this understood restriction has been encroached upon, I shall be pardoned, for the sake of the motive prompting it.

The book has been written amid the care and pressure of much other responsible work. More leisure and freedom for the purpose might have enriched its pages, and possibly have excluded some defects. It is believed, however, that nothing of moment has been omitted, and the faults of an unpractised authorship, it is trusted, will be overlooked in the conscientiousness of the history and the intrinsic interest of its subject

A. A. St. Johnland, L. I.

Project Canterbury