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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. XIV. 1786-1789

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
A.D. 1786—1789.
Dr. Parr’s settlement at Hatton—His parsonage-house—His library—Catalogue of his books—His plan of private tuition—His attention to his pastoral duties—His appointment to a prebend in St. Paul’s—Exchange of Hatton curacy for Waddenhoe rectory.

After remaining nearly seven years at Norwich, Dr. Parr was induced to think of once more changing the place of his abode; and having maturely weighed all circumstances, he finally determined, towards the close of 1785, to remove from that city, and to fix his residence at Hatton, of which parish he had been appointed the perpetual curate some time before. He was led to adopt this resolution principally with the view of relinquishing his laborious occupation, as the head of a public school, from which he had derived no adequate pecuniary recompense; and of adopting, instead of it, the plan of private tuition, from which it was his hope to obtain equal or greater remuneration, at a less expense of time and exertion.

With what satisfaction he had passed so many years of his life at Norwich, and with what reluctance he now withdrew from it, may be inferred from the following passage, which occurs towards the close of his second “Discourse on Education.” “From my arduous employment among you as an instructor of youth, I thought it incumbent upon me not to treat the great subject of instruction itself, in a light or shallow manner; and from my
unshaken attachment to the best interests of a city, in which I have lived, let me hope, without dishonour, and which I shall not leave without regret, I am sincerely happy in this opportunity of bearing a most open and most decided testimony to the wisdom of your regulations and the rectitude of your motives.”1

It was always, indeed, a source of pleasure to Dr. Parr to look back to this period of his life; during which, he said, it was his lot to enjoy, more than at any other period, the delights, which social intercourse, in its higher refinement, affords. Frequently has the writer heard him exultingly talk of the cultivation of mind, and the liberality of sentiment, which marked the general character of society at Norwich and in Norfolk;2 and as frequently has he deplored the great inferiority, in these respects, which struck his view, on coming into Warwickshire; and which placed this county far lower, he thought, in the scale of intellectual and moral improvement. But a happy change has of late years taken place; the increasing knowledge of the times, with all its beneficial effects, has extended itself into Warwickshire, and has done much to relieve it from the reproach often cast upon it by Dr. Parr, of being the “Bœotia of England.”3

1 Discourse on Education, p. 70.

2 “Tell Mrs. P. that I am more and more convinced of the superior intellectual powers of the men of Norfolk.”—Letter from Dr. Parr to a friend in Warwickshire.

3 “O Johnny!” says Dr. Parr, writing from Norfolk to a friend in Warwickshire, “here are fine doings—wholly, wholly, wholly unlike those of your senseless and almost worthless county. Pray tell Mr. K. all my movements, and make him


He used, indeed, frequently to protest to the writer and to many others, that, had he known but of one half the number of “the boobies” and “the bigots,”1 swarming, as he found, through the county, never would he have stepped within its boundaries. He often vehemently complained of the reception which he met, on his first coming among those—whom, presumptuous as they were—almost as soon as they opened their lips, he declared,—“Bœotûm in crasso jurares aëre natos.” “Sometimes they boldly bounced upon him,” he said, “demanding, as if from authority, the articles of his political or religious creed. Sometimes they stole in slyly, and with all the arts of a busy and bitter inquisitor, endeavoured to pry into his opinions, and to draw out confessions, capable of being turned to their own purposes.”—“I was obliged,” said he, “to resist firmly—to declaim loudly—and to talk and talk, till, at last, I talked them down.”

Having, in January 1786, resigned the mastership of Norwich School, and bidden adieu to the friendly circle, with which he had been so long and so agreeably connected; Dr. Parr removed, in the following month of April, to Hatton; where, from this time, through the course of almost forty years, he constantly resided; and where, in the enjoyment of a healthful and happy old age, he closed his days.

understand them clearly, in your foggy atmosphere for the intellect.”

1 These are excellently well associated together in the memorable preface to Jortin’sRemarks on Ecclesiastical History,” p. 22.


Hatton, or, according to Dugdale, “Heath-town,” so called from an extensive heathy tract near it, is a small retired village, situated upon a considerable eminence, at the distance of four miles from Warwick, on the high road leading from that town to Birmingham. It is a village of few resources for the convenience of the inhabitant, and of little attraction for the eye of the traveller. The country, however, in almost every direction, is pleasant and fertile; shaded with a profusion of trees, many of large size and luxuriant growth; and presenting from the brow of its hill, on the south, an extensive prospect over a rich and beautiful tract, well cultivated and well wooded; in the midst of which, Warwick rears its proud towers and battlements; and round which, a circuit of hills, at some distance, gently rise, shutting in the view on every side, except to the north-east corner, where it extends into Northamptonshire; and to the north-west, where it stretches over a vast expanse, terminated by the Worcestershire and Gloucestershire hills.

Formerly, on the summit of Hatton Hill stood a windmill; and as Dr. Parr was sitting on one of its lower steps, on a fine day early in the summer of 1790, enjoying this fine prospect, clad in a flowered-damask morning gown, with a pipe in his hand, the present writer had the pleasure of seeing, for the first time, that extraordinary man, whose good opinion and friendly regards he must ever consider as among the proudest and happiest distinctions of his life. Though not then introduced in form, he well remembers that the reception he met with was kind and gratifying.


At a short distance from the road, separated from it by a small garden and a slight fence, stands the parsonage-house, built of brick, presenting a plain, unassuming appearance, rising only to the height of two stories. It offers, however, more accommodation within, than its modest exterior might seem to promise; as it was much enlarged and improved by its late illustrious tenant.

On the ground-floor are the three principal apartments; the first, to the right, a small breakfast-room; the second, to the left, a drawing-room of scanty dimensions. The former was filled with books, the overflowings of the library; the latter, suitably furnished, was hung round with numerous prints, chiefly the portraits of literary men. Among these were, Thomas Twining, Thomas and Joseph Warton, Fox, Sheridan, General Washington, General Green, Paine, Buonaparte, Gibbon, Paley, Gilbert Wakefield, George Walker, the celebrated Porson, the highly-distinguished Sir Samuel Romilly, and the deeply-lamented Francis Horner.

Formerly, in this illustrious assemblage, conspicuously appeared Mr. Burke. But when, during the alarms of the French Revolution, he not only renounced, but opposed and even vilified the great principles of constitutional freedom, of which he had once been the powerful advocate, his picture was suspended in an inverted position; and, after some time, it was entirely removed. A similar indignity was once offered to the picture of Dr. Paley; who, during the same period of absurd and exaggerated alarm, had exposed himself by his conduct, especially in publishing his “Reasons for Contentment,” to the suspicion of inconsistency or insincerity. But this
was afterwards restored to its right position, and suffered to retain its allotted place. Whilst, however, he always did ample justice to Paley’s extraordinary merits as a writer,
Dr. Parr never could be persuaded to think favourably of the man.1

1 “I never thought Paley an honest man. He could not afford, forsooth, to keep a conscience; and he had none. He had great sagacity, wit, and science, some good-humour; but he was vain, inconsistent, * * * and selfish. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 672.—It is deeply to be regretted that a condemnatory sentence, expressed in terms so severe and so unqualified, should have been left recorded by the pen of Dr. Parr; especially unsupported as it is by any sufficient or satisfactory evidence, yet made known to the public. It is equally to be regretted, on the other hand, that by talking in an improper and unguarded manner, even on the most important subjects, and by speaking jocularly when he ought only to have spoken seriously, Dr. Paley has exposed himself so much to the suspicion of insincerity. Some disclosures, unfavourable to his credit, have lately been put forth to the public view in a periodical work of high repute, (New Monthly Mag. Jan. 1827.) which are said to rest on the testimony of one of his friends, a gentleman of unquestionable veracity and candour. That gentleman was known to Dr. Parr, by whom, in a recent publication, (Bibl. Parr. p. 567.) he is thus mentioned: “He is a very good scholar. He became conscientiously a member of the Church of Rome; and honourably resigned his fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford.” But must the blow be suffered to strike home, so fatal to the honour of a name, dear, as that of Paley, to the English public? Are there no means of shielding from it the reputation of a man and a writer, whose reputation is closely connected with the interests of that religion which he has powerfully defended, and of that morality which he has in general, though not in every instance, wisely and ably explained and enforced? May we not reasonably and charitably hope, that the many expressions which fell from the lips of Dr. Paley—and which, if interpreted strictly, might seem to justify all that has been charged against him—are to be considered as sudden


In the drawing-room was one remarkable piece of furniture. It was an old and costly cabriole-chair, covered with Gobelin tapestry; to which the following history is attached. It was for many years used in the House of Commons; till, in consequence of some alterations, it was displaced, and presented to Mr. Burke. On his death, it was sold amongst his other effects, and was purchased by Peregrine Dealtry, Esq. of Brandenham House; and, on his decease, in 1814, it was presented by his sisters to Dr. Parr, who preserved, and highly prized it, as one of the great ornaments of Hatton-parsonage.1

The third and the principal apartment of Hatton-parsonage, the library, a spacious and handsome room, was built by Dr. Parr himself; and was stored with a vast collection of books, consisting, among others, of a fine assemblage of all the great works in the several departments of verbal criticism, classical literature, metaphysics, and theology. But, besides this large room and the breakfast-parlour, several closets, and other apartments, above stairs, were furnished with bookshelves, bending under their weight. One of these was called the upper library.

sallies of wit, rather than serious declarations of serious opinions? In particular, for the well-known expression referred to in the above note by Dr. Parr, may we not fairly admit the apology of his biographer in the following passage? “It was spoken jocularly; and, like many other expressions which he uttered, should by no means be rigidly interpreted, as implying a resolution to make self-interest the rule of his conduct.”—Meadley’s Life of Paley, p. 89.

1 Prior’s Life of Burke, vol. ii. p. 406.


Of this large collection of books, the whole may be characterised as useful, rather than curious or splendid; composed not so much of the rarest as of the best editions, in which the importance of the contents, not the beauty of the types, or the elegance of the binding,1 was principally regarded. As a scholar’s library, comprehending the wide range of ancient and modern literature, selected with taste and judgment, it is probably one of the most valuable collections ever brought together by a single individual. When Dr. Parr first settled at Hatton, it consisted of about 4000 volumes; and this number gradually increased to that of more than 10,000. “These books,” says he, in one of his publications, “I have long been collecting, with indefatigable industry: upon these I have expended more than half the produce of more than twenty years’ unwearied labour: these I consider as the pride of my youth, as the employment of my riper years, and perhaps the best solace of my declining life.”2

It is well known to his friends that, for several of his later years, Dr. Parr was employed in arranging his library, and preparing a Catalogue Raisonné, ultimately with a view to publication. This catalogue has recently been offered to the public, under the direction of his executors, ac-

1Dr. Combe has seen me sometimes laugh, and sometimes frown, amidst solemn harangues upon shining paper, large margins, pica print, morocco bindings, and other curious matters—far less familiar to my mind, and in my estimation somewhat less important, than just ideas and proper words.”—Reply to Combe, p. 47.

2 Sequel to printed Paper, p. 103.

companied with a short preface, signed by one of their number.1 Thus they have fulfilled what was certainly “a favourite wish” of their deceased friend; and have given to the learned world a fair opportunity “of seeing,” as
Dr. Parr expressed it, “what sort of a collection of books had been made by a country parson.” The catalogue forms an octavo volume of 700 pages; and it will, no doubt, excite general surprise, that, with such limited means, he should have become possessed of so large a number of volumes: of which, though many appear to have been the gifts of authors and of friends, yet the far greater part were purchased by himself. To the titles of some of the books are

1 Bibliotheca Parriana; a Catalogue of the Library, &c. It is mentioned in the preface, that one very rare volume, “Micyllus de Re Metrica,” is missing; and that there is reason to apprehend “it has been purloined.”—“This book is of so great rarity,” it is added, “that Dr. Askew, to whom it once belonged, would not suffer Dr. Parr even to touch it, but showed it to him through the glass-case of one of the cabinets in his library.”—“The profane vulgar” will be astonished to hear, that book-stealing is a crime not unknown, and even not uncommon in the republic of letters! Other instances may occur to the reader’s recollection, even connected with some great names in the literary world, and still others may be found in this same catalogue.—“Hutchinson’s Use of Reason, &c. Part 2. I read, and once possessed Part the first: it was stolen. S. P.”—“Virgilii Opera illustrata, cura et studio Henrici Justice, Rufforthii Toparchæ. This book was printed in Italy, to which country the editor retired, when he had been prosecuted by the University of Cambridge for stealing books; and his sentence had been changed from transportation to exile for life. He was a member of Trinity College; he had a good fortune; he had been a magistrate in Suffolk; and with little chance of detection in a foreign land, he described himself as a toparch and a squire.”—Pp. 440. 695.

annexed short accounts of their authors, or remarks upon their works, written by Dr. Parr; in which his learning and judgment, the depth of his researches, and the extent of his information, the amiable candour of his opinions, and the generous fervour of his praises, advantageously appear. A few observations, insufficiently considered, or incautiously expressed, now and then occur; and for these the executors properly apologise. It is, however, greatly to be lamented that they have exposed themselves, not merely to the suspicion, but to the direct charge,1 of unfairly suppressing some declarations of Dr. Parr’s opinions, which he wished to be known to the public; and which, therefore, the public had a right to know. In the hopes which they have expressed—that so large and useful a collection of books may be kept together, and placed in a situation to serve as a guide to scholars of the present and future generations—the writer of these pages cordially joins; and in the same hopes all his readers will, he is assured, unite.

Richly furnished with all that a man of letters could want or wish, the library, as may easily be supposed, was the favourite apartment; in which Dr. Parr not only wrote and studied, at least during his later years, but almost lived. Though consecrated to the muses, it was thought no profanation to celebrate in this room, as being the most spacious, the rites of hospitality—for which Hatton-parsonage was long famed; and which so often filled the house with numerous guests, and

1 Gent. Mag. Oct. 1827.

the little neighbouring inn with trains of horses and carriages.1 It will be interesting to the reader to add, that, at the beginning of his last illness, which continued for many weeks, Dr. Parr was removed from his chamber into this apartment, where a bed had been put up for him, by his own express desire. Here, surrounded by the learned labours of the wise and the good of every age and every country, which had ever formed his chief occupation and delight during life, he passed, as he wished, the lingering hours of its closing scene; and here he breathed his last.

Few, who were intimate with Dr. Parr, can easily lose the recollection of another favourite apartment, a summer-house, built in the garden, at a short distance from the house; shut out from the view of it by the shade of trees, and looking rurally and pleasantly into a neighbouring field. Here, withdrawn, in some degree, from the intrusions, unavoidable in a large family, he was accustomed, for many years of his life, to pass the earlier hours of the morning, and sometimes the greater part of the day; absorbed in his own profound meditations, or holding converse with some chosen friend, or with “the mighty dead.” Dr. Parr called it “a retreat sacred to literature and friendship.”2 It

1 “So much has his loss been felt in the neighbourhood, that the turnpike-tolls, it is said, have fallen off, in consequence of the decrease of visitants.”—New Monthly Mag. May, 1826.

2 In the neighbourhood, it was humorously called the “Lion’s Den.” Alas! this little edifice—almost sacred as it was in the view of those who, like the writer, can remember hours and days of interesting and instructive conversation passed within—is now, by order of Dr. Parr’s successor, razed to the ground!

was a favour to be admitted into it—a favour which the writer had frequently the happiness of obtaining; and the easy unreserved communications of these morning interviews were usually more gratifying to him, than even the brilliant conversations, or the eloquent harangues, by which social parties were so often animated and delighted, round his dinner-table in the evening.

On settling at Hatton, Dr. Parr announced his intention of receiving into his house a few private pupils. The number was limited to seven; and these he soon obtained. It was at one time difficult to gain admission into that number, and the intercession of intimate friends has not seldom been employed for this purpose. But during the stormy period of the French Revolution, when the public odium, which almost overwhelmed his political associates, fell, with its full weight, on Dr. Parr, applications for the admission of pupils became much less frequent; and about the year 1798, he determined to offer no longer those services which, from the virulence of party spirit, were no longer held in due estimation. A considerable increase in his income, which occurred nearly at the same time, contributed to confirm his resolution. Alluding to this event, in a letter to his friend, the celebrated Mr. Roscoe, whom, however, he then knew only as a correspondent and an author, he thus expresses himself:—“I have lately seen much of Mr. P.; I value him highly; and often does our conversation turn upon you, and upon your writings. I know not whether I am more pleased with myself for sagacity, or for bene-
volence, when I find from Mr. P. and others, that I have traced the man through his works. Some day or other we must meet. After the most intense drudgery of thirty-two years, I am now mei juris; and I intend, in one or other of my rambles, to visit Liverpool and Manchester again. I was there more than ten years ago; and they are the only towns of any size, in England, in which I was doomed to live a day or two without a companion, &c. Jan. 25, 1799.”

Dr. Parr’s treatment of his pupils, at Hatton, the writer can speak from his own observation, was always kind, if it was not always judicious. It must, indeed, be confessed, that he threw himself too open to the charge, of not properly checking that love of mischief in youth, which is often so vexatiously annoying to others; and—still worse!—of not sufficiently watching and resisting those evil propensities in the young, which are always so seriously injurious to themselves.

But, with the exception of these great errors, it may be truly stated that Dr. Parr was anxiously attentive to the important object of inculcating the principles of moral and noble conduct in those committed to his charge, and of inspiring them with generous ardour for literary improvement. His endeavours were, especially, directed to the important point of instilling into their minds the same high sense of honour, and the same strict regard to truth, by which his own was ever actuated. “I have a right to be believed,” are his words, “when I say, as the result of long and vigilant observation, that, if the habit of falsehood be once
contracted, the whole moral system is immediately endangered. Truth is, undoubtedly, congenial to the mind of man; for who is there, not yet advanced to the verge of infatuation and frenzy, that does not wish the representation of things to correspond with the realities? Our selfishness gives us an interest in such a representation; our reason approves of its fitness; and when our feelings have been wrought up to the most exquisite sense of honour, we value the love of truth in preference to almost every other social quality.”1

The plan of literary instruction, which Dr. Parr adopted at Hatton, was the same as that, which he had hitherto pursued, as far as the difference between public and private education will admit. Even in his new situation he was still an advocate for most of the ancient rules of scholastic discipline; and especially for those corporal inflictions which, it is probable, no authority can long uphold against the growing conviction in the public mind, that such inflictions are as unnecessary and inefficacious, as they are barbarous and degrading.2

In his habits, as a tutor, even at the earlier, and still more at the later periods of his life, he was

1 Discourse on Education, p. 17.

2 “‘Lumbos dolare virgis,’ Dr. Parr considered so essential a process in the business of education, that, when asked respecting any one educated by him, ‘Whether he had been his pupil?’ his usual reply was, ‘Yes! I flogged him!’—Introducing one of his pupils to a lady as her guest, he addressed her in the following words: ‘Allow me, Madam, to introduce to you an old pupil of mine, whom I have often flogged, and who, I assure you, is all the better for it.’”—New Monthly Mag. Sept. 1826.

somewhat wayward and capricious—at one time punctual, at another time irregular, in his attendance upon his pupils; to-day severe, and remiss to-morrow, in enforcing the tasks, which he had enjoined, or the rules which he had prescribed. But his chief defects, as they struck the writer, were, those which are common to all men of great talents and learning, and which may be said to arise out of their very excellencies. The high powers, the quick comprehension, the rapid movements of their own minds, render it difficult for them to command, and to apply that degree of patient and indulgent attention, which the office of teaching so often requires. To sink down from the dignity of science—to descend from the loftier eminence of literature—to retrace, again and again, the first elements of knowledge, and to accommodate instruction to the dull or the feeble capacities of youth—all this is one of the hardest tasks, which humility has to teach, or which genius can be made to learn.

In addition to his engagements as a tutor, Dr. Parr devoted himself with ardour and diligence to the care of the parish, of which he now took upon himself the whole charge. It is pleasing to record that, with intellectual powers and attainments, which would have reflected honour on the highest station in the church, he bent down his mind to the duties of the humble sphere, in which it was his lot to move; and that, during his long residence at Hatton, he presented in himself an almost perfect model of that truly estimable character—a faithful village pastor.


Early in the year 1788, he obtained his most valuable preferment, as it proved in the end, the prebend of Wenlock Barnes, in St. Paul’s Cathedral, vacant by the death of the Rev. Dr. Wickens. For this he was indebted to the good opinion of Bishop Lowth, supported by the strong recommendations of the grandfather of the present Earl of Dartmouth. The reserved rents of the prebendal estates, for nearly twenty-one years, amounted only to about 20l. But as no new lease was granted, at the expiration of that time, Dr. Parr was entitled to the entire produce of the estates; which, after several expensive surveys, were re-let at an improved rent. A considerable quantity of land was, at a subsequent period, required for the purposes of the Regent’s Canal Company, for which he received a high price; and the whole became the source of a large revenue, scarcely less than 1600l.; thus rendering the closing years of his life not only easy but affluent.

In 1789 Dr. Parr was induced, with no view of advantage to himself, but for the accommodation of his successor, the Rev. Dr. Bridges, to exchange the perpetual curacy of Hatton, for the rectory of Waddenhoe, in Northamptonshire. Attached, however, to the place of his residence, he took care, in making this exchange, to stipulate for the undisturbed possession of the parsonage-house, and for the uninterrupted exercise of his ministerial functions, as deputy-curate of Hatton.