of that year; and again, in May 1770, he communicated to the Royal Society some observations on the proper method of calculating the values of contingent reversions. The publication of these papers is said to have exercised a most beneficial influence in drawing attention to the inadequate calculations on which many insurance and benefit societies had recently been formed. In 1767 Price received the degree of D.D. from Marischal College, Aberdeen, and not as stated by his biographer Morgan from Glasgow in 1769. In 1771 he published his ‘Appeal to the Public on the subject of the National Debt,’ of which subsequent editions appeared in 1772 and 1774. This pamphlet excited considerable controversy at the time of its publication, and is supposed to have influenced Pitt in 1786 in re-establishing the sinking fund for the extinction of the national debt, which had been created by Walpole in 1716, and abolished in 1733 (Stanhope, Life of Pitt, i. 230). That Price's main object, the extinction of the national debt, was a laudable and desirable one would now probably be universally acknowledged. The particular means, however, which he proposed for the purpose are described by Lord Overstone (who, in 1857, reprinted for private circulation Price's and other rare tracts on the national debt and the sinking fund), as ‘a sort of hocuspocus machinery,’ supposed to work ‘without loss to any one,’ and consequently purely delusive. There is no doubt, however, that Price rendered service by calling attention to the growth of the debt, no less than by attacking the practice, begun by North, of funding by increase of capital (cf. Fitzmaurice, Life of Shelburne, iii. 92–4).
A subject of a much more popular kind was next to employ Dr. Price's pen. Being an ardent lover of civil and religious liberty, he had from the first been strongly opposed to the war with the American colonies, and in 1776 he published a pamphlet, ‘Observations on Civil Liberty and the Justice and Policy of the War with America.’ Several thousand copies of this work were sold within a few days. A cheap edition was soon issued; the pamphlet was extolled by one set of politicians, and abused by another. Among its critics were Dr. Markham, archbishop of York, John Wesley, and Edmund Burke, and its author rapidly became one of the best known men in England. In recognition of his services in the cause of liberty, Dr. Price was presented with the freedom of the city of London, and it is said that the encouragement derived from this book had no inconsiderable share in determining the Americans to declare their independence. A second pamphlet on the war with America, the debts of Great Britain, and kindred topics, followed in the spring of 1777, and, whenever the government thought proper to proclaim a fast day, Dr. Price took the opportunity of declaring his sentiments on the folly and mischief of the war. His name thus became identified, for good repute and for evil repute, with the cause of American independence. He was the intimate friend of Franklin; he corresponded with Turgot; and in the winter of 1778 he was actually invited by congress to transfer himself to America, and assist in the financial administration of the insurgent states. This offer he refused, from unwillingness to quit his own country and his family connections, concluding his letter, however, with the prophetic words that he looked ‘to the United States as now the hope, and likely soon to become the refuge, of mankind.’ In 1783 he was created LL.D. by Yale College, at the same time with Washington (Monthly Repository, 1808, p. 244).
One of Price's most intimate friends was Dr. Priestley, but this circumstance did not prevent them from taking the most opposite views on the great questions of morals and metaphysics. In 1778 appeared a published correspondence between these two liberal theologians on the subjects of materialism and necessity, wherein Price maintains, in opposition to Priestley, the free agency of man and the unity and immateriality of the human soul. Both Price and Priestley were in theological opinion what would now vaguely be called ‘unitarians;’ in 1791 Price became an original member of the Unitarian Society. But Price's opinions would seem to have been rather Arian than Socinian. To his ministry at Newington Green, during the last twenty years of his life, he added that of Hackney.
After the publication of his pamphlet on the American war Dr. Price became an important personage. He now preached to crowded congregations, and, when Lord Shelburne acceded to power in 1782, not only was he offered the post of private secretary to the premier, but it is said that one of the paragraphs in the king's speech was suggested by him, and inserted in his very words.
In 1786 Mrs. Price died, and as there were no children by the marriage, and his own health was failing, the remainder of Price's life appears to have been somewhat clouded by solitude and dejection. It was illuminated, however, by the eager satisfaction with which he witnessed the passing events of the French Revolution. In the famous sermon ‘On the Love of Our Country’ (preached at the Meeting-house in the Old