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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. VI. 1771

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. 1771.
Degree of M. A. conferred on Dr. Parr—His nomination as a candidate for the mastership of Harrow School—His rejection—Reasons for it assigned—Commotion in the school in consequence—Project of a new establishment—Dr. Parr’s marriage—Opening of Stanmore School—Secession of forty boys from Harrow—and of the second assistant.

To the mastership of Harrow School, as an ultimate object of his ambition, it seems that Dr. Parr had for some time directed his views; encouraged, it is said, by the approbation and the good wishes of the late principal. Dr. Sumner was then, indeed, himself in the prime of life; but whether he meditated, at no distant period, a resignation in favour of his friend, is to the writer unknown. On his death, however, Dr. Parr immediately declared himself a candidate to succeed him.

By the statutes of the founder, it is required, as a previous qualification, that every candidate should be a Master of Arts; and for that purpose application was made to the Duke of Grafton, then Chancellor of Cambridge, by whom Dr. Parr was instantly and handsomely recommended to the heads of the colleges. The proper papers were signed, the necessary orders were issued, and towards the end of September 1771, he was made, per literas regias, A. M. Of the kind and prompt attention which he received from all parties concerned on this occasion, he thus gratefully speaks:


“I was assisted in the most gracious manner by the chancellor, and by the several heads of houses, when the degree of Master became necessary to me in the pursuit of a most precious object.”1

Dr. Parr was now formally announced as a candidate for the vacant office, and the most sanguine hopes were entertained of his success. His claims, from great qualifications and from past services, were strong; and these were strengthened by the good opinion of the late master, and by the very statutes of the founder, which direct that preference should be given to those educated in the school; and which further direct that the higher offices should be filled, unless weighty reasons interfered, by those who have faithfully discharged the duties of the lower. But all these claims, powerful as they were, proved on the day of election unavailing; and some secret preponderating influence decided the choice of the governors in favour of the Rev. Benj. Heath, late assistant in Eton School. Of him, however, it is but just to say, that he was in himself an honourable opponent; and, for his qualifications, not unworthy to stand in competition even with Dr. Parr: though few could deny that, upon the whole, his pretensions were outweighed by those of his rival.

This decision, by which the claims of acknowledged merit and of tried fidelity were rejected, and a strong appeal to all the common principles of gratitude as well as justice resisted, appeared to the general apprehension so strange and per-

1 Spital Serm. p. 125. Europ. Mag. Sept. 1809.

verse, that curiosity was soon busied in searching into its motives. Youth was the avowed, but all agreed it was only the pretended, and not the real objection. Some secret causes, however, it was soon discovered, there were; so ill-disguised, as not to be long concealed. The following account of the true state of the case, as it was well understood at the time, is given on the authority of the late
William Warburton Lytton, Esq.,1 who was himself then a scholar of Harrow.2

It seems that, by their statutes, the governors have a right not merely to solicit but to command holydays at their own discretion; and that, of late years, they had exercised that right so perpetually and so improperly, as to produce a dangerous relaxation in the discipline, and a serious interruption to the business of the school. Determined to check or stop this great and growing mischief, Dr. Sumner sometimes strongly remonstrated, and sometimes firmly resisted. The governors took high offence at what they thought an invasion of their privileges; and at length entirely withdrew their favour not only from him, but from all who supported him. Amongst these last stood conspicuously forward, Dr. Parr; and though they could not well attempt to displace one master for such an opposition to their will, they determined, at least, to defeat the election of another, from whom the same opposition was to be expected. Nor were they ashamed to urge,

1 Formerly of Knebworth Park, near Welwyn, Herts.

2 Maurice’s Memoirs, part 2. p. 150.

as the sole reason for his rejection, that he was then only in his twenty-fifth year; though they might have found more than enough to counterbalance that circumstance in his commanding person, in his looks much older than his years,1 in the degree of experience which he had already acquired, and in the high qualifications which he indisputably possessed.

Perhaps it may be amusing to some readers to be told that on this occasion, for the first time, Dr. Parr covered his head with that large obumbrating wig, which has so often been held up to public notice, and sometimes to public ridicule. On the same occasion, he put on also the dress, and assumed the manners of an elderly ecclesiastic; so that, with the aid of features marked with age even in youth, he had all the look, to those who did not know him, of a person ten or fifteen years older than he was.2 Nor is this to be condemned as an improper artifice, since such

1 This brings to the writer’s recollection an instance of Sir Wm. Jones’s pleasantry, which Dr. Parr often related in his hearing. They were walking, or riding together, in the neighbourhood of Harrow, in the days of their early intimacy, when Sir Wm. Jones, suddenly stopping and staring full in his countenance, exclaimed, “Upon my word, Parr, you are a fine fellow; if you should have the good luck to live forty years, you may stand a chance of overtaking your face.”

2 The following humourous story was often told by Mr. Lytton. The three masters, Dr. Parr, Mr. Wadeson, and Mr. Roderick, who participated largely in Dr. Sumner’s admiration of Tom Jones, determined to pay a visit one holyday to the house, the Hercules Pillars in Piccadilly, in which the author of that amusing work used to spend his convivial evenings. Thither,

personal appearance really contained a sufficient answer to all that was of any value in the objection, which had been opposed to his fair and reasonable claims.

The surprise and the concern of the disappointed candidate, and the grief and astonishment of his friends, were great. As, however, nothing was alleged against him but the single circumstance of his youth, he retired from the contest, defeated, but not dishonoured. His office of head assistant, with a feeling of what was due to himself, he immediately resigned. The keen regret of the younger members of the school for the loss of a favourite tutor, may be applauded; though the manner in which it was expressed, by acts of tumult and insubordination, must be condemned. These disturbances, at one time, assumed a serious aspect; and, with a total disregard to truth or probability, Dr. Parr was accused of exciting or fomenting them. But though the charge was vehemently urged in the public papers of the day, it soon appeared that it was entirely groundless.

accordingly they went; and there they partook of a jovial supper, and drank many a bumper to the great classical novelist. At length, the hour growing late, the bell was rung for the chambermaid, who soon appeared, and, as it was winter, with a pan of coals. Mr. Wadeson, as being the oldest person, naturally arose to follow her. “No! Sir,” said she, curtseying respectfully, and casting a side glance towards the gentleman in the large wig—“I hope I know my manners better than that, too; being taught to respect age, I must attend that gentleman first.” A loud laugh followed; and the gentleman in the great wig availing himself of the precedence thus granted, retired first to his dormitory.

Dr. Parr defended himself with indignant spirit, and with complete success; and instead of being the author or abettor, he was considered by all impartial persons as the great sufferer of wrong: no less in the issue of the election itself, than in the false and injurious representations of the consequences which followed at Harrow School. His pupil,
Mr. Maurice, beyond all doubt, spoke the general sentiment of the times, when he called the rejection of claims so substantial, and the disappointment of hopes so reasonable, “an act of glaring injustice.”1

“It is difficult to describe,” says another of his pupils, “the anguish of his honest and ingenuous mind, when he was thus forcibly driven from the place in which he had drawn his first breath—in which he had received his earliest education—in which he had formed the most endearing connexions, and in which he had faithfully discharged the most important duties.”2 But if severely disappointed, he was not greatly discouraged; and from momentary depression of spirits, he was soon aroused and animated to greater exertions. Some plan for his future subsistence became necessary; and, after no long deliberation, the following was adopted.

His connexion with Harrow School being dissolved, he determined, by the advice of his friends, to embark in the serious and somewhat hazardous project of forming a similar establishment at the neighbouring village of Stanmore. A

1 Maurice’s Mem. part I. p. 60. 2 Europ. Mag. Aug. 1809.

suitable house was speedily procured, the necessary furniture was bought, and all the previous arrangements were completed, when he found himself opposed by an obstacle which he had little expected. In consequence of the reports so industriously circulated respecting the late disturbances at Harrow, his application to the bishop for a license was somewhat rudely and reproachfully rejected. Within a little time, however, the clouds which had obscured his reputation passed away: full justice was done to the rectitude of his conduct; the license was granted; and on the 14th of Oct. 1771, Stanmore School was opened.

At the head of the new establishment it was desirable that a female superintendent should be placed; and whether that circumstance prompted the resolution of marrying, as some have said, or merely hastened it, as others with more probability have thought, it is certain that early in the succeeding month of November, Dr. Parr was united in marriage to Jane, only child of Zachariah Marsingale of Carleton in Yorkshire, and niece of Thomas Mauleverer of Ancliffe, in the same county, Esq., descended from a very ancient and respectable family. It was, indeed, a match of convenience, rather than of love; and though there was mutual esteem, which may sometimes, in a good degree, supply the place of mutual affection; yet, in the present case, from great unsuitableness of temper, the union was never the source of much connubial felicity.

From Harrow, Dr. Parr was followed to Stanmore by so large a number as forty of his former scholars;
“and these,” says
Mr. Maurice, “were in general the flower of the school in the zenith of its glory.” Thus he had the satisfaction to receive, in the attachment of so many of his most distinguished pupils, and still more in the approbation and support of their friends, a testimony to his merits, which might well console him under the disappointment which he had sustained, and amidst the calumnies by which his character had been assailed and his peace annoyed.

Nor was this all. Another gratifying proof was on this occasion exhibited, of the sympathy which unmerited suffering is almost sure to excite; and of the esteem and admiration which high desert seldom fails to draw forth, and to attach with ardent devotion to itself. The second assistant, under the late Dr. Sumner, was the Rev. David Roderick, who, on the resignation of Dr. Parr, was earnestly solicited by the governors to remain at Harrow, and to fill up the vacant place of head assistant under the new master. But from concern or indignation at the wrong which had been done in defeating claims so just as those of the rejected candidate, he resisted all their entreaties; and announced his determination to follow the fortunes of his friend, and to support by his name and his services the intended establishment at Stanmore. The credit of an honourable name, tendered in a manner so encouraging to Dr. Parr, was joyfully accepted by him; and the services of an instructor of tried fidelity and known ability were received with respectful and grateful regard, by all those for whose benefit they were unceas-
ingly exerted. Mr. Roderick is a man of very considerable powers of mind, of much acquired knowledge, and of great moral worth; and it has always been a subject of regret to his numerous friends and pupils,1 that none of the preferments of the church have ever been bestowed upon him, who contributed to rear so many of its firmest supporters, and some of its brightest ornaments. But it is a fact too notorious not to be confessed, and too injurious to the best interests of the country not to be deplored, that far other considerations than those of desert bear sway in the distribution of ecclesiastical honours and rewards.

The venerable scholar and divine just named is still living; and if these pages should reach him in his rural retirement, it is hoped that he will accept the tribute of the few lines here traced, which the writer is well assured express, though feebly, the sense entertained of his merits by the late illustrious associate of his labours as a preceptor, and by all those to whom in that character he was known. Of these, alas! the greater part are no longer among the living: but some still survive to remember him, as they ever must, with esteem and gratitude.

Since the above sentences were penned, it is pleasing to the writer to be enabled to subjoin the testimony of Dr. Parr, in his own words, to the excellencies of “his old and his trusty friend,” as left on record, amongst his most deliberate and matured thoughts on men and things, introduced

1 Maurice’s Memoirs, part 1. p. 82.

with so much solemn and striking effect into his “Last Will.” After having bequeathed a small legacy and a mourning-ring to the
Rev. David Roderick, he adds, “whose sound understanding, whose various and deep learning, whose fidelity as a friend, and whose uprightness and piety as a Christian, have for the space of fifty years endeared his very name to my soul.”—It is only to the retiring and unassuming worth on which these generous praises are bestowed, touched though they are with the warm glow of partial friendship, that they can appear—as from all his information the present writer is confident—more than truth would dictate, and justice approve.1

Stanmore School opened under favourable auspices. The whole number of pupils, almost immediately obtained, fell little short of sixty: and a general sentiment of concern for the disappointment which Dr. Parr had suffered at Harrow, concurred, with a high opinion of his qualifications, to produce through a large circle many ardent

1 In a letter addressed to the writer of these pages, Mr. Roderick considers the terms in which Dr. Parr speaks of him as far above all his just claims. But must we admit diffidence in receiving, to disprove merit in deserving, praise? Or might we not allow him, who has thus solemnly recorded his grateful and affectionate esteem amongst so many other similar records, to say, with his own admired Isocrates—Δίκαιον ειναι νομίδων πάντας μέν περι πολλούς ποιεισθαι τούς έμαντώ πεπλεσιακύτας καί γεγενημένους άξίους ήμων΄ ούχ ηκιστα δέ τουτον, καί δια τήν ευνοιαν τήν είς ήμας, καί δια τήν άλλήν έπιείκειαν. μαλίστα μέν ουν έβουλόμην αν αύτόν συσταθηναι δί ήμων. Isocr. Epis. ad Philippum.

Men should not so far fear their own deservings,
As to the low dishonouring of themselves. Shaks.

wishes for his success, and many strenuous endeavours to promote it.1 Stimulated not only by the love of learning and the sense of duty, but also by the spirit of honourable rivalship with the school he had just left, the exertions of the tutor were great and meritorious; and the progress of the pupils was, in some due proportion, great and conspicuous. Many of these were young men of considerable talents, skilfully and vigorously cultivated, as may well be supposed, by those studies over which a
Sumner presided, and in which a Parr assisted; and now resuming the same studies partly under the same direction, they were carried forward in a course of instruction, admirably adapted to complete the education of the school, preparatory to the higher pursuits of the college. Their ardour for literary improvement, placed as they were in circumstances of peculiar excitement, would naturally borrow some of its activity and its energy from fond attachment to the tutor, and zeal for the honour of his name.

1 Among his most zealous supporters at this time, were the Earl of Dartmouth, Mr. Sumner, father of the late member for Surry, and the celebrated Dr. Askew.