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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. X. 1779-1786

Ch. I. 1747-1752
Ch. II. 1752-1761
Ch. III. 1761-1765
Ch. IV. 1765-1766
Ch. V. 1767-1771
Ch. VI. 1771
Ch. VII. 1771-1776
Ch. VIII. 1771-1776
Ch. IX. 1776-1777
‣ Ch. X. 1779-1786
Ch. XI. 1779-1786
Ch. XII. 1779-1786
Ch. XIII. 1780-1782
Ch. XIV. 1786-1789
Ch. XV. 1786-1790
Ch. XVI. 1776-1790
Ch. XVII. 1787
Ch. XVIII. 1789
Ch. XIX. 1790-1792
Ch. XX. 1791-1792
Ch. XXI. 1791-1796
Ch. XXII. 1794-1795
Ch. XXIII. 1794
Ch. XXIV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXVI. 1800-1803
Ch. XXVII. 1801-1803
Ch. XXVIII. 1800-1807
Vol. II Contents
Ch I. 1800-1807
Ch II. 1807-1810
Ch III. 1809
Ch IV. 1809-1812
Ch V. 1810-1813
Ch VI. 1811-1815
Ch VII. 1812-1815
Ch VIII. 1816-1820
Ch IX. 1816-1820
Ch X. 1816-1820
Ch XI. 1816-1820
Ch XII. 1816-1820
Ch XIII. 1816-1820
Ch XIV. 1819
Ch XV. 1820-1821
Ch XVI. 1816-1820
Ch XVII. 1820-1824
Ch XVIII. 1820-1824
Ch XIX. 1820-1824
Ch XX. 1820-1825
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Produced by CATH
A. D. 1779—1786.
Dr. Parr’s appointment to the mastership of Norwich School—His removal to that city—His discouragements—His engagements as curate of St. George’s and St. Saviour’s—His four first published sermons—Degree of LL.D. conferred upon him at Cambridge—His two theses on that occasion—His first preferment—his second.

In the spring of 1778 the mastership of Norwich School became vacant, by the resignation of the Rev. George William Lemon,1 known to the literary world as the author of an “Etymological Dictionary,” and of other works; when Dr. Parr was induced to offer himself as a candidate for that office.

He had formed several agreeable connexions in the county of Norfolk; and at that time one of his cousins, to whom he was much attached, resided at Norwich. This was the Rev. Robert Parr, son of the Rev. Robert Parr, rector of Horsted and Cottishall—a name before respectfully mentioned in

1 He was the editor of a tract “On the Greek Accents,” by the celebrated Spelman, and author of “The Voyage of Æneas from Troy.”—“Mr. Lemon was Dr. Parr’s immediate predecessor in the mastership of Norwich School. He was not a very skilful teacher, and knew little of the world; but he was a worthy man, had great industry, and much learning. He was the intimate friend of Spelman, and was assisted by Spelman’s papers. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 698.

these pages. He was himself rector of Heigham, a small village, about a mile distant from the city. He had a brother,
Francis, the survivor of twins,1 fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, who died early in life, at Harrow; of whom Dr. Parr thus speaks in a letter to a friend—“I loved him sincerely, and had many opportunities of serving him.” From his cousin, Robert, Dr. Parr possessed the reversion of a considerable estate, devised by will, contingent on the death of the widow; which event did not happen till the winter of 1823.

“August 1, 1778, at a full court of mayoralty, the Rev. Samuel Parr, A. M., was elected master of the grammar-school of Norwich, on the foundation of Edward VI.;”2 and early in the following year he fixed his residence in that city. Though so often disappointed in his views, he was still unbroken in his spirit; and though not encouraged in his labours as a teacher by public patronage; yet he once more resumed them, with undiminished ardour and with renovated hope. He introduced into the school some considerable improvements in the plan of instruction, and in the rules of discipline; and he had the happiness to receive under his charge several young persons, who afterwards appeared with distinction in the literary or political world. Of these some notice will be taken hereafter. In consequence of the strong recommendations of Dr. Parr, his late pupil, the Rev. William Beloe, whose name has already appeared,

1 See Pedigree, in the Appendix, No. I.

2 Hist. of Norfolk, vol. x. p. 216.

though not very honourably, in these pages, was chosen second master.

Many circumstances there were, especially those of pleasant, and, in no common degree, enlightened society, which rendered his situation at Norwich very agreeable to Dr. Parr; but among these it must now be told, the means of acquiring affluence, or even an easy independence, cannot be enumerated. The great expenses of frequent removals, and perhaps inattention to the due management of his pecuniary concerns, contributed, with the want of public support, to impoverish him; and the writer has often heard him feelingly describe the difficulties to which in this part of his life he was sometimes reduced. He well remembers that, once in particular, looking round upon a small library which the writer possesses, Dr. Parr’s attention was caught by the title “Stephani Thesaurus Linguæ Græcæ;” when, suddenly turning about, and striking vehemently the arm of the person, whom he addressed, in a manner very usual with him, he exclaimed, “Ah! my friend, my friend, may you never be forced, as I was at Norwich, to sell that work—to me so precious—from absolute and urgent necessity!”1

But though not loaded with the gifts of fortune, nor encouraged by the smiles of patronage—at least not till the later years of his life—yet in the full

1 “At one time in my life,” said he to his friend, Dr. Wade, “I had but fourteen pounds in the world. But then I had good spirits, and owed no man sixpence.”—New Monthly Mag. May, 1826.

consciousness of his own qualifications, as an instructor of youth; in the pleasing recollection of faithful and diligent endeavours, exerted for the improvement of his pupils; in the sincere and affectionate friendship, which he contracted with many of them, and in the expressions of esteem and gratitude, which he constantly received from all; he found sources of delight greater than he could have derived from the pecuniary success of his various undertakings, or from the honours and emoluments of his profession—though even these he was far from affecting to despise. It was a declaration which he often repeated to his friends, sometimes with eyes raised ardently to Heaven— sometimes with hands pressed fervently to his breast—that, on the whole course of his scholastic labours, ill-requited as in some respects they were, he ever looked back with the purest and the highest satisfaction.

Soon after his settlement at Norwich, with the duties of the school, Dr. Parr united those of the sacred office; and, as curate to the Rev. William Tapps, he served the churches of St. George’s Colgate and St. Saviour. He now occasionally delivered discourses, carefully composed; and in these, it is said, he sometimes soared above the level of the common apprehension. But more frequently he adopted his former and happier method of addressing his audience, without the preparation of writing; and he usually selected for his subject some difficult passage of Scripture, which it was his wish to explain; or some interesting event, or striking declaration, or important admonition, in the
lesson, or gospel, or epistle, from which it was his aim to draw whatever moral or religious instruction it might be intended or fitted to afford. But these useful services in the church, his other pressing engagements did not allow him to continue much longer than a year.

Three sermons delivered on three public occasions, at the request of his hearers, were afterwards sent to the press; and these, as his first published works, will be noticed more fully in a succeeding page. The first was preached on Christmas-day, 1779; and the second and the third, on the all-important subject of education, were delivered before the governors of the charity-schools in Norwich; one in 1780, the other in 1782. Of the two last the author himself has given the following account.

“The second discourse was preached before a very respectable audience; and it is now submitted to the candour of the public, at the request of some persons—the sincerity of whose approbation I cannot distrust, and with the authority of whose judgment I ought not to trifle. I intend it as a sequel to the sermon which I published in 1780. In that sermon, I entered into a full and elaborate vindication of the general principles on which charity-schools are supported. But upon the present occasion, I have studiously preserved a plainer style: I have chiefly attended to the practical part of the subject: I have enlarged more copiously upon the best methods of religious education for all young persons; and, with few exceptions, I profess only to deliver such common
and useful observations, as are adapted to the apprehension of the common and well-disposed readers.”

Of this second discourse, a gentleman still living in Norwich, Mr. John Taylor,1 a much-valued friend of Dr. Parr, in a letter to the writer of these volumes, thus speaks: “It occupied in the delivery, as I well remember, the full space of an hour and a half, having heard it myself at my parish church. It was preached before the corpo-

1 Alas! this excellent man is now no more. Almost at the moment of his lamented death, the writer, in consequence of some intimation conveyed to him, was indulging the hope of receiving a visit from his intelligent and obliging correspondent; and thus of adding to the pleasure of an interchange of letters, on the subject of these Memoirs, the still greater satisfaction of obtaining further and fuller information, orally, on the same interesting subject. Mr. Taylor was grandson of the celebrated Dr. Taylor; and though his education was somewhat restricted, and he was placed under the necessity of engaging early in trade, yet he inherited from his great progenitor his veneration for learning, and his ardour in the pursuit of knowledge, his enlightened views of Christian truth, and his devoted attachment to the great cause of the rights and liberties of men and of nations. In him the dignity, which serious religious principle and undeviating moral rectitude bestow, was accompanied and graced by all the loveliness which kind affectionate temper, and pleasing courteous manners confer. Whilst he was carefully attentive to the duties of private life, and was the pride and the joy of an extended family circle, his active mind and public spirit prompted him to engage, almost incessantly, in useful services, for the benefit of the city in which he resided, and especially of the religious community to which he more immediately belonged. His death was occasioned by an accident in travelling, near the residence of one of his sons, in the neighbourhood of Birmingham, June 23, 1826.

ration of the city; and as the service was to be succeeded by a public dinner, no small degree of impatience was visible in the looks of some of the Doctor’s auditors. But he still went on in his own course, utterly regardless of the frequent appeal to watches and other significant hints.”—As it appears in print, it extends through seventy quarto pages; and the preacher had some reason to say, as he does in his preface, “For the length of this sermon, I am unable to make any satisfactory apology.”

A fourth sermon, entitled “A Discourse on the late Fast by Phileleutheros Norfolciensis,” was published, though not preached, in 1781. The author in his preface declares himself to be “a serious, and, as he hopes, an unprejudiced clergyman of the Church of England.”—“He conceals his name,” he adds, “because he is not compelled by any motive of vanity to venture on publication; and he has published, because the sentiments he maintains seem to coincide with the most useful purposes which the late fast could be intended to promote. These sentiments, indeed, are not likely to obtain popularity by selfish adulation or seditious invective: they flatter the prejudices of no party; and are honestly intended to reform such immoralities as may be justly imputed to all.”

This sermon, though one of his first publications, Dr. Parr often told the writer, he considered as his best composition; and it is somewhat remarkable, that, by the constant study and frequent practice of writing, during the long course of more than forty years, he should not, in his own opinion,
have surpassed his earliest literary efforts. It may remind the reader of the similar case of
Mr. Gibbon and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Having related the history and discussed the merits of his first published work, entitled, “Essai sur l’Etude de la Litterature,” Mr. Gibbon thus concludes: “Upon the whole I may apply to the first production of my pen, the speech of a far superior artist, when he surveyed the first production of his pencil. After viewing some portraits which he had painted in his youth, my friend, Sir Joshua Reynolds, acknowledged to me that he was rather humbled than flattered by the comparison with his present works; and that, after so much time and study, he conceived his improvement to be much greater than he found it to have been.”1

As the course of his academical studies had been abruptly terminated by the hard necessity of leaving Cambridge, Dr. Parr could not regularly proceed to the degree of A. B. On an important occasion, as before related, he had been made A. M. by royal mandate; and now, aspiring to the honour of a doctor’s degree, he diverted, in opposition to the advice of his former tutor, Mr. Hubbard, from the line of divinity to that of law—as admitting of more expeditious proceedings—and at the commencement of 1781, he obtained the degree of LL.D.

On this occasion he delivered, in the law-schools, before crowded audiences, two theses; of which the subject of the first was, Hæres ex de-

1 Gibbon’s Memoirs, p. 92.

licto defuncti non tenetur; and of the second, Jus interpretandi leges privatis, perinde ac principi, constat. In the former of these, after having offered a tribute of due respect to the memory of the late
Hon. Charles Yorke, he strenuously opposed the doctrine of that celebrated lawyer, laid down in his book upon “the law of forfeiture;” and denied the authority of those passages which were quoted from the correspondence of Cicero and Brutus; because, as he affirmed, after that learned and sagacious critic Markland,1 the correspondence itself is not genuine. The same liberal and enlightened views of the natural and social rights of man pervaded the latter, as well as the former thesis; and in both were displayed such strength of reasoning and power of language, such accurate knowledge of historical facts, and such clear comprehension of legal principles bearing on the questions, that the whole audience listened with fixed and delighted attention. The professor of law himself, Dr. Halifax, afterwards Bishop of St. Asaph, was so struck with the uncommon excellence of these compositions, as to make it his particular request that they should be given to the

1 Markland published, in 1745, “Remarks on the Epistles of Cicero to Brutus, and of Brutus to Cicero:” to which was added, a “Dissertation on Four Orations ascribed to Cicero,—‘Ad Quirites post reditum’—‘Post reditum in Senatu’—‘Pro Domo sua ad Pontifices’—‘De Haruspicum responsis.’” All these, it is contended, were not the productions of the great orator, but of some sophist of later times.—Besides subscribing to the opinion of Markland, Dr. Parr conceived, from the difference of style, that some other works usually ascribed to Cicero are not genuine.

public: but with that request,
Dr. Parr could not be persuaded to comply. In the course of the disputations, also, usual upon such occasions, it excited general surprise to observe in him, who had been so short a time resident in the university, that acuteness of discrimination, and that promptness of reply, which would have done honour to one well practised in the logical forms of academical exercises.

Speaking, in a recent publication, of these exercises, and of the learned professor, in whose presence they were performed, Dr. Parr thus expresses himself: “When Dr. Halifax sat in the professional chair at Cambridge, the members of that university were much delighted, with the fluency and clearness of his Latinity, and with his readiness and skill in conducting the disputes of the law-schools. It was my own lot to keep under him two acts for my doctor’s degree; and surely, from the preparatory labours which I employed in correcting the language of two Latin theses, and in accumulating materials for a close logical dispute, likely to pass before a numerous, intelligent, and attentive audience, the obvious inference is that I did not set a small value on the abilities and acquirements of the professor.”1

In the year 1780 Dr. Parr obtained his first preferment, for which, it is scarcely necessary to say, he was indebted, not to public patronage, but to private friendship. This was the rectory of Asterby, in Lincolnshire, to which he was pre-

1 Parr’s Letter to Milner.

sented by
Jane Lady Trafford, in return for his care and fidelity in the discharge of his trust, as the preceptor of her only son, Sigismund Trafford Southwell, Esq. of Norfolk; to whom he was sincerely and devotedly attached through life, and of whom, in the solemn contemplation of death, bequeathing to him a small memorial of himself, he speaks in terms of affection and gratitude, “as his much esteemed pupil, friend, and patron.”1

This first preferment—from which, after the stipend to his curate and other necessary expenses were paid, he never derived more than 36l. per annum—was followed, in 1783, by another and a better, for which he was again indebted to the same kind patroness, in the perpetual curacy of Hatton, worth about 100l. a year. He was advised and entreated by his diocesan, Bishop Thurlow, still to retain the living of Asterby; but he chose to resign it in favour of his curate, the Rev. Mr. Fowler, of Horncastle, who had no other preferment; upon whom, at his particular request, Lady Trafford was pleased to confer it; and who, by an allotment of land under an enclosure act, in lieu of tithes, found it much more valuable to himself than it had ever been to his predecessor.

1 Last Will.