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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. XXII. 1794-1795

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. 1794—1795.
Case of Joseph Gerrald, the pupil and friend of Dr. Parr—His trial for sedition at Edinburgh—Sentence of fourteen years’ transportation passed upon him—His removal to London—His long confinement in prison—His expressions of high regard for Dr. Parr in a letter from on board the Hulks—Dr. Parr’s letter to him—His voyage to Botany Bay—His arrival—His death.

In the course of the year 1794, the mind of Dr. Parr was painfully agitated, by the cruel fate of one of his earlier pupils, the richly-gifted, the greatly imprudent, but dreadfully injured, Joseph Gerrald; to whom he was attached with a fondness truly paternal; and by whom he was beloved, with all the sincerity and warmth of filial affection.

He was a native of the West Indies, where he possessed an estate of 3000l. a year; but a large portion of it was consumed in the course of a long litigation, in the expensive courts of that country. He was sent to England for his education; and had the good fortune to be placed under the care of the master of Stanmore School. He was a young man of high talents, and high attainments; of the nicest feelings of rectitude, and the keenest sense of honour; of firmness never to be shaken, of courage never to be daunted, in what he conceived to be a great or a good cause. Unhappily, he suffered himself to be hurried into irregularities,
which it is neither necessary to palliate, nor possible to excuse.

In a course of dissipation, he soon wasted his fortune, and deeply injured his health; and yet, in the midst of all, he never renounced his virtuous principles, and never wholly neglected his intellectual improvement. He pursued, indeed, his pleasures and his studies, with nearly equal ardour; and though too eagerly bent on the gratification of low desires; yet he ever showed that noble passions still throbbed within him; and he never destroyed in those around him the hopes of seeing him rise, at length, to all that excellence, of which he was capable.

Leaving England early in life, he went to America; and practised, for some time, as an advocate in the courts of Pennsylvania. Fired with the love of liberty, first kindled by his study of Grecian and Roman history and literature, and afterwards reanimated by his residence in the land of republican freedom, he returned to England; and enrolled himself among the bold and ardent patriots, who, about the time of the French Revolution, stood forward in the great cause of political renovation, with more zeal, it must be owned, than discretion; with the greatest purity of intention, no doubt, but with too much theoretical extravagance, and too little practical wisdom. Several of these, of whom Mr. Gerrald was one, having met in what they called the “Convention of Delegates,” at Edinburgh, were suddenly apprehended on a charge of sedition; and were successively brought to trial, before the High Court of Justiciary.


Being himself in London, at large on bail, when he first heard of the trial and conviction of his associates, he was seriously advised and earnestly entreated, by his revered tutor and by other friends, to save himself from a relentless persecution, by flight; and they generously offered to indemnify his bail against all pecuniary forfeiture. But every such proposal, though repeatedly urged upon him, he resolutely and even indignantly rejected, conceiving it to be a dereliction of duty, and a violation of honour. Though he knew himself prejudged and foredoomed, he hastened to his trial, with all the high and heroic spirit of the Athenian sage, placed in similar circumstances, and pressed by similar entreaties; who, rather than seem to elude the sentence of the law, or to shrink from the support of a good cause, nobly refused to escape, and greatly resolved to die.

“He heard my proposal attentively,” says Dr. Parr, in a written memorandum of this extraordinary occurrence, “but with no emotion of joy. At first he paused; then, after calmly discussing with me the propriety of the proposal, he peremptorily refused to accede to it; and finally, after hearing my earnest entreaties, and affectionate remonstrances, closed our conversation in words to the following effect:—‘In any ordinary case,’ said he, ‘I should, without the smallest hesitation, and with the warmest gratitude, avail myself of your offer. I readily admit that my associates will not suffer more, because I suffer less. I am inclined to believe with you, that the sense of their own sufferings will be alleviated by their know-
ledge of my escape. But my honour is pledged; and no opportunity for flight, however favourable, no expectation of danger, however alarming, no excuse for consulting my own safety, however plausible, shall induce me to violate that pledge. I gave it to men, whom I esteem, and respect, and pity; to men, who, by avowing similar principles, have been brought into similar peril; to men, who were confirmed in those principles, and led into that peril, by the influence of my own arguments, my own persuasions, and my own example. Under these circumstances, they became partakers of my responsibility to the law; and therefore, under no circumstances, will I shrink from the participation with them in the rigours of any punishment, which that law, as likely to be administered in Scotland, may ordain for us.’ He uttered the foregoing words emphatically, but not turbulently; and finding him fixedly determined upon returning that night to Scotland, I did not harass his mind by any farther remonstrance. He was very calm, before we parted; and I left him, under the very strongest impressions of compassion for his sufferings, admiration of his courage, and moral approbation of his delicacy and his fidelity.”

The trial came on March 3, 1794. The defence of the accused, by himself, though an astonishing display of powerful reasoning and glowing eloquence, proved unavailing. A most unrighteous and barbarous sentence of transportation for the term of fourteen years was pronounced upon him; though it was strongly urged that such a sentence, to one in his state of declining health, would be
equivalent to a sentence of death. In April following,
Mr. Gerrald was removed to London, and committed to Newgate; whence, in October, he was transferred to Giltspur-street prison. During the long period of his confinement, his sufferings were soothed, and his mind was cheered, by his frequent and numerous visitors, of whom some were of high rank. Various offers of money made to him by private persons, it is said, he pertinaciously declined. It is even related that the counsel for the prosecution, at the close of his trial, went to him; apologised for the part which a painful duty had imposed; and, at the same time, placing in his hands a purse of money, pressed it upon his acceptance; which, however, though destitute, Gerrald, gratefully, indeed, yet somewhat proudly, refused. But, what may seem still more incredible, it is further related, that, when a pardon was offered by the secretary of state, on conditions which appeared to him incompatible with the dictates of his conscience, he rejected it with firmness, and not wholly without some strong feelings of indignation.1

After remaining more than twelve months, immured in the prisons of London, on May 2, 1795, about three in the afternoon, just as he was lying down to take some repose, which his ill-health rendered necessary, he was suddenly called out of his apartment; and without being permitted to return, or to take leave of his infant daughter, the com-

1 Maurice’s Memoirs, part 2. p. 166. Beloe’s Sexagenarian, vol. i. p. 262.

panion of his imprisonment, he was instantly put into a post-chaise, conveyed to Gosport, sent on board the “Sovereign” transport, which was then already freighted with its living cargo, and soon afterwards set sail for Botany Bay.

In this manner, as Dr. Parr often related the story, the ill-fated Gerrald was needlessly and barbarously hurried away, from the shores of England; and not only was personal intercourse with his friends prohibited, but even communication by letter was interdicted. “Struck with amaze and horror at this flagitious conduct, useless in every way to justice, I sat up all night,” said Dr. Parr to a friend, “and wrote a letter of six sides to Wyndham. I never wrote any thing before or since so severe. I sent off the letter, to which I never got a reply; but an order was given to allow the communication. Wyndham must have felt that remonstrance, if ever he felt any thing in his life.”1

In a letter, dated “Portsmouth, May 16, 1795, on board the Hulks”—addressed to one of his warmly sympathising and kindly attentive friends, the much-injured Gerrald thus expresses the virtuous and grateful sentiments, which glowed in his breast, so honourable at once to himself and his preceptor.

“My dear Mr. Philips—I know not how to express the rising sentiments of my heart, for your unbounded kindness to me. The best return, the only return I can make, is, to convince you, by the virtue and energy of my conduct, that I am not

1 New Monthly Mag. May, 1826.

altogether unworthy of your friendship. A parade of professions neither suits you, nor me, nor the occasion. You know my feelings, and will, therefore, do justice to them: and with this simple observation, I close the subject. I have repeatedly attempted to write to my ever honoured and loved friend and father,
Dr. Parr; but it is impossible. The tender and filial affection which I bear to him, the recollection of the many endearing scenes which we have passed together, the sacred relation which subsists between Joseph Gerrald and that Samuel Parr, who poured into my untutored mind the elements of all, either of learning or morals, which is valuable about me; whose great instructions planted in my bosom the seeds of magnanimity, which I trust I now display, and at which persecution herself must stand abashed; all these, my friend, rush at once upon my mind, and form a conflict of feeling, an awful confusion, which I cannot describe; but which he, who is the cause, I know can feel, and feel in the most full and virtuous extent. To the greater part of my friends, I have written—to Dr. Parr I have not written; but to his heart my silence speaks. The painter who could not express the excessive grief, covered with a veil the face of Agamemnon. Tell him, then, my dear Mr. Philips, that if ever I have spoken peevishly of his supposed neglect of me, he must, nay, I know he will, attribute it to its real cause—a love, vehement and jealous, and which, in a temper like Gerrald’s, lights its torches at the fire of the furies. And when my tongue uttered any harshness of expression, even at that very period my
heart would have bled for him; and the compunction of the next moment inflicted a punishment far more than adequate to the guilt of the preceding one. Tell him to estimate my situation not by the tenderness of his own feelings, but by the firmness of mine. Tell him that if my destiny is apparently rigorous, the unconquerable firmness of my mind breaks the blow, which it cannot avert; and that, enlisted as I am in the cause of truth and virtue, I bear about me a patient integrity, which no blandishments can corrupt, and a heart which no dangers can daunt. Tell him, in a word, that as I have hitherto lived, let the hour of dissolution come when it may, I shall die the pupil of Samuel Parr.” &c. &c.

On his part, the kind and considerate preceptor was not unmindful of his injured and suffering pupil. As Gerrald was removed, without the allowance of one moment of time for preparation, and almost without the common necessaries of life, Dr. Parr immediately raised for him a small sum, by subscription among his friends, and accompanied that seasonable supply with a letter, most worthy, indeed, of himself; which, for the soft and gentle tone of its reproof—for the wise and holy strain of its admonition—and, for the soft and soothing tenderness of its consolation, it is impossible to read, without admiring and revering the kind friend and comforter, or without deeply commiserating, and yet in some degree congratulating, the sufferer:—Cujus fato illacrymans soleo, hanc epistolam legens. The pecuniary contribution found its way, at length, to the unfortunate person for whom it was intended;
but alas! there is reason to fear that the letter, by some deplorable fatality, never reached him; and that he lived the short remainder of his days, and passed the lingering hours of dissolution, without the support and the relief, which that letter could not have failed to afford him. But though lost to him, it will not be lost to others. In these pages it shall be faithfully recorded, for the gratification of all, to whom it is delightful to contemplate the spectacle of wisdom and kindness weeping over the misfortunes, lightening the sorrow, and animating the courage, of youthful patriotism, when drooping and dying under the arm of cruel and relentless oppression.

“Dear Joseph,—I hear with indignation and horror that the severe sentence, passed upon you in Scotland, will shortly be carried into execution; and remembering that I was once your master, that I have long been your friend, and that I am your fellow-creature, made so by the hand of God; and that by every law of that religion, in which I hope to live and die, I ought to be your comforter; now, dear Joseph, I am for the last time writing to you. Oh! my dear friend, at this moment my heart sinks within me; and, with a wish to say a thousand things, I am hardly able to say one. But you shall not leave this land without one sincere—one affectionate—one solemn farewell. Joseph, before we meet again, that bosom which now throbs for you, and the tongue which now dictates, will be laid in the cold grave. Be it so. Yet, my dear friend, I must cherish the hope, that death is not the end of such a being as man. No! Joseph,
no! there is a moral government going on, and in the course of it our afflictions will cease, and compensation will be made us, I trust, for all our unmerited sufferings. There is another world, and a better; and in that world I pray to God, that I may meet your face again. Bear up, I beseech you, against the hard and cruel oppression, which the evil spirit of these times, and your own want of discretion, have brought upon you.
Mackintosh has informed me of that which is about to happen, and I have done all that I can in your favour. Let me conjure you to conduct yourself, not only with firmness, but also with calmness. Do not, by turbulence in conversation or action, give your enemies occasion to make the cup of misery more bitter. Reflect seriously upon your past life, and review many of those opinions which you have unfortunately taken up; and which you know, from experience, have little tended to make you a happier or a better man. I do not mean, Joseph, to reproach you. No!—such an intention, at such a crisis, ought to be far from my heart. But I do mean to advise you, and to excite you to such a use of your talents as may console you under the sorrows of this life, and prepare you effectually for all that is to follow. I will send you a few books, in addition to other matters. They will cheer you, in the dreary hours, you will have to pass upon that forlorn spot, to which the inhuman governors of this country are about to send you. Some time ago, I saw your dear boy, and depend upon it, that for his sake and yours, I will show him all the kindness in my power. I shall often think of you.
Yes, Joseph! and there are moments, too, when I shall pray for you. Farewell, dear Joseph Gerrald, and believe me your most unfeigned and afflicted friend,

Samuel Parr.
Hatton, May, 1795.

“Pray write to me—God Almighty bless you, Joseph—farewell.”

The promise which he here gave, and which he had before given, to take charge of one of his two children, a son, thus cruelly bereaved of their only surviving parent, Dr. Parr most faithfully and anxiously performed. Amongst other important services, he had the good fortune to obtain for him the favourable notice of Dr. Howley, the present highly venerated and truly excellent Bishop of London; and, in his last will, Dr. Parr warmly expresses his sense of obligation to that prelate, “for his humane and generous behaviour to Joseph Gerrald, whom an unfortunate, rash, but most ingenious and most eloquent father, in the anguish of his spirit, committed to his friendly protection.”

Setting sail, towards the end of May, 1795, Mr. Gerrald left the shores of that country, to which he returned no more. During his voyage, he suffered much from bodily disorder, and still more, if possible, from the degrading and painful circumstances of his situation. It is related, by his former school-fellow, Mr. Maurice, that a mutiny of the convicts, on board the same vessel, was suppressed, and a massacre of the officers prevented, by his influence and his exertions. Mr. Maurice also mentions, with much approbation, that of the
books which he selected as a source of consolation, amid the weariness of solitude, and the languor of disease, one, which he most highly prized, was “
Cudworth’s Intellectual System.”1

Early in November, Mr. Gerrald reached the place of his final destination. He arrived in a very feeble and declining state of health; and, gradually growing worse, at the end of about five months, he found a refuge from all his sufferings in the grave. A few hours before he expired, calling some friends to his bed-side, he said, “I die in the best of causes; and, as you witness, without repining.” He was buried in a garden forming part of a little plot of ground, which he had purchased at Farm Cove in Port Jackson. The inscription on his tomb records that “he died a martyr to the liberties of his country, March 16, 1796, in the thirty-fifth year of his age.”2

1 Maurice’s Memoirs, part 2. p. 166.

2 “On the 5th of Nov. 1795, arrived Mr. Joseph Gerrald, a prisoner, in a very weak and impaired state of health. In this gentleman we saw, that not even elegant manners, great abilities, the gifts of nature matured by education (because he misapplied them), could save him from landing an exile on a barbarous shore; where the few who were civilised must pity while they admired him.”—“At three in the morning, 10th March, 1796, Mr. Gerrald breathed his last; glorying in being a martyr to the cause which he termed that of freedom, and considering as an honour that exile, which brought him to an untimely grave.”—Collins’ Hist, of New South Wales, p. 433. 469.