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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. IX. 1776-1777

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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Dissolution of Stanmore School—Causes of it—Dr. Parr’s appointment to the mastership of Colchester School—His removal to that town—His failure of success—His acquaintance with Mr. Twining—and Dr. Forster—His opinion of the American war—of Lord North—of the clerical petition—His appointment to the cures of the Hythe and Trinity Churches—His mode of preaching.

Stanmore School, if honourable in its course, was short in its duration. Though it was at first attended with much encouraging success, yet its profits were greatly diminished by the interest of heavy debts, contracted in the purchase of a suitable house and the necessary furniture; and though its credit stood deservedly high, yet, in the progress of a few years, it was found unable to bear up in competition with the old and extensive interests, which supported the neighbouring school of Harrow.

Superior to the meanness of literary jealousy, and ever anxious to do justice to the claims even of those of opposing views and sentiments,1 Dr. Parr always acknowledged in his fortunate

1 “Æqualitas et pares honorum gradus, et studiorum quasi finitima vicinitas, tantùm absunt ab invidiæ obtrectatione, ut non modo non exulcerare eorum gratiam, sed conciliare videantur.”—Præf. ad Bellendenum, p. 15.

rival, a man of learning, of talents, and of worth; and it may well be supposed that no exertion in the discharge of his official duties would be wanting on the part of
Dr. Heath to justify, as far as such exertion could, the preference which, contrary to the general opinion of the merits of the respective candidates, he had obtained. At Eton, as second master, he had gained much honourable reputation; and it would have created no feelings but those of pleasure in him, to whose memory these pages are consecrated, could he have foreseen, recorded in the same pages, the following testimony, gratefully and affectionately borne to the merits of an excellent tutor, by one of his own pupils. It occurs in a letter from John Pollard, Esq., then a scholar of Queen’s College, Oxford, addressed to his brother Walter, who had just removed with the seceding throng from Harrow to Stanmore. “I know not your precise motives,” says the writer, “for quitting your former school; but since you are pleased with your new situation, I shall say no more. Impartiality, however, obliges me to say, that you could not have had a more excellent master than Dr. Heath; a man eminently distinguished for the good qualities of the head and the heart. At Eton, I had in him a steady friend, and a faithful adviser. He is exceedingly affable in his manners, and is profoundly learned, without any mixture of pedantry. I wish, therefore, his success at Harrow may be equal to his high deserts.”1

1 Maurice’s Mem. part 1. p. 82, note.


The wishes of his pupil, it may with truth be added, were amply realised. The reputation, acquired at Eton, was well sustained by Dr. Heath, as head of Harrow School; which, under his auspices, gradually recovered from the shock of the late disturbance, followed by the secession of so large a number of its best scholars; and, in no long time, rose to all the height of its former renown. Thus the chances of success were continually diminishing in a rival institution, at the distance of only two or three miles—indebted for its existence, at first, to strongly excited feeling, not likely to continue; and dependent for its duration chiefly on the influence of one great name, not yet invested with all the celebrity which it afterwards attained.

Such, at the end of about five years, were the discouraging circumstances of the great undertaking, in which Dr. Parr had embarked his little fortunes, at Stanmore. Oppressed by the weight of an expensive establishment, and disappointed in his hopes of public support, he was drawn at length to the painful resolution of relinquishing his plans, and of looking out for other means of adequate and honourable subsistence. He possessed a sincere friend and patron in the Earl of Dartmouth, three of whose sons were educated by him. But that nobleman, though appointed Secretary of State in 1772, and advanced in 1775 to the post of Lord Privy-Seal, found no opportunity of procuring for him any of the honours or emoluments of the church; and Dr. Parr was still obliged, as his sole resource, to rely “upon his own patient toil and
resolute self-denial.”1 Towards the end of the year 1776, an event occurred which seemed favourable to his views and wishes. About that time, the mastership of the grammar-school at Colchester became vacant, by the death of the
Rev. Mr. Smithies: and the offer of it, handsomely made on the part of the governors, was, after due deliberation, accepted.

From Stanmore—ever endeared to his recollection as the scene of his useful labours, and the centre which drew towards it many valuable acquaintances and friends—Dr. Parr removed with his family, consisting of his wife and a daughter, early in the spring of 1777, to Colchester; and entered with all his usual ardour on the duties of his new station. He had succeeded, much to his own satisfaction, in engaging the services of the Rev. Wm. Julius, whom he mentions as his “ingenious pupil at Stanmore, and his most meritorious assistant at Colchester.”2 The buildings of the public school, which had fallen into some decay, he repaired; and he took a house near it, for the reception of private boarders. These consisted principally of some pupils, who had accompanied him from Stanmore; and the number afterwards added was inconsiderable. Thus in a little time his prospects were again clouded over; and some further change in his plans, some new efforts for his support, became desirable, or even necessary.

But though his residence at Colchester was of short duration, and not cheered by the pleasurable

1 Spital Sermon, notes. 2 Bibl. Parr. p. 651.

feelings of hopes realised or endeavours successful, yet he always reflected upon it with much satisfaction, because it afforded him the opportunity of cultivating the friendship of two learned and excellent men, whom he ever afterwards held in the highest estimation.

Of these, one was the Rev. Thomas Twining, who was the son of an eminent tea-merchant in London, and who was intended by his father for his successor in the lucrative business which he had for many years carried on. But, in consequence of his own decided preference, he was permitted to engage in literary pursuits, and to devote himself to the clerical profession. He was rector of White Notley, in Essex; and, on the death of the Rev. Philip Morant, the celebrated antiquary, was presented to the rectory of St. Mary’s, Colchester. He was greatly distinguished for his classical knowledge and critical skill: and is well known to the public as the translator of “Aristotle’s Poetics.”1 This translation Dr. Parr always considered as admirable, equally for its correctness and for its perspicuity; and he always spoke with praise of the sound discriminating judgment, united with the vast and profound learning, displayed in the notes appended. If by the charms of elegant

1 To Dr. Parr’s copy of this book the following note is subjoined:—“The gift of the editor, whom I am proud and happy to call my friend, because he is one of the best scholars now living, and one of the best men that ever lived.”—“The notes of Twining are very learned; and, considered as a translation of a Greek original, his work, I believe, is not surpassed by any translation in the English language. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr, p. 223.

literature Mr. Twining could not fail to attract the admiration, he was no less sure to engage the respect and the love of Dr. Parr, by the amiable frankness of his temper, by the pleasing simplicity of his manners, and by the wit and the vivacity of his conversation. He was so conscientiously strict in the discharge of his professional duties, that he never allowed himself to be absent from his parish for more than a fortnight, in any one year, through the last forty years of his life. He died in 1804.

The Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Forster, the other of Dr. Parr’s most intimate friends at Colchester, was a man of powerful intellect, diligently cultivated, and vigorously exercised by profound researches into all the most important subjects of metaphysics, ethics, and theology. His conversation was highly interesting, and in no small degree instructive, to Dr. Parr,1 as he often declared; though they thought and felt very differently on the great public questions so eagerly debated in those times, chiefly relative to the disputes with America, and the measures of Lord North’s administration.2 But in these learned and enlightened men, differences of opinion had no power to destroy, nor even to

1 He calls him “the profound and sagacious Dr. Forster.”—Sequel to a printed paper, p. 108. And again, “Dr. Parr’s very philosophical, very learned, and very benevolent friend, the late Dr. Forster.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 562.

2 Forster on the Middlesex Election, in answer to Sir W. Meredith, 1762.—His answer to Junius—his answer to Mr. Dunning on the same subject, 1770. “Dr. Forster’s pamphlets are very able indeed. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 400.

diminish, the esteem, which their talents and virtues reciprocally inspired.

At this period, the American war, most unhappily for England, was raging in all its fury. “It was a war,” says Dr. Parr,1 “which commenced, and was afterwards conducted, under evil auspices;” and yet, as he observes, it was in its origin, “the war of the king and the nation.” The powerful remains of the Tory party, all those who were called, by a distinction at once novel and unconstitutional, “the King’s friends,”2 far the greater number of the clergy, and a large majority of the people, were undoubtedly the authors and abettors of that disgraceful and direful contest. With these, it must be reluctantly acknowledged, were united too many of the Whigs, actuated by a strange and absurd notion of “the omnipotence of Parliament;” as if its power extended alike to those who are really, and to those who are not even virtually represented. Opposed to this mighty combination of almost all the strength and population of the country, firmly and nobly stood the great body of the Whigs; led on by Lords Rockingham, Chatham, and Camden,

1 Præf. ad Bellen. pp. 8. 32.

2 “During Lord North’s administration, I was in company with the secretary of state and some other great officers, and I fiercely attacked the fashionable and mischievous distinction of the king’s friends. To you I am indebted for the fact, that the distinction originated in Lord Bath’s counsels. There was no distinct vestige of it before the public eye while George II. was upon the throne.”—Dr. Parr’s Letter to Charles Butler, Esq.; Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 223.

in the upper house, and by
Burke, Barré and Fox, in the lower; and these were well supported by many of the great merchants and traders of the metropolis, by most of the various denominations of dissenters, and even by a considerable number of candid and intelligent clergymen, the avowed advocates of civil and religious liberty—among whom conspicuously appeared the names of Shipley, Watson, Tucker,1 Jebb, and Wyvill; and, though less prominently, those of Henry Taylor, Blackburne, Paley, and Parr. By all these, the war of Great Britain with her colonies was uniformly reprobated, as no less iniquitous in its origin, than disastrous in its progress, and likely to be, as it afterwards proved, inglorious in its issue.

But whilst he held in utter abhorrence the avowed principle and the proposed object of the American war, Dr. Parr was led afterwards, at least, to conceive a favourable opinion of the minister under whose administration all its fatal measures were pertinaciously defended and obstinately conducted. In the following passages some of the more estimable qualities which marked his character are depicted with a powerful, and many will think with a partial hand; and if the exculpatory statement of his conduct in the great affair of Ame-

1 Dean of Gloucester. His name is here inserted, chiefly on account of his bold and powerful appeal to the British nation, published so early as 1774, recommending an immediate acknowledgment of American independence. He published also important works on the subject of free trade, church-reform, and religious toleration. In his later years he seems to have deviated from the principles which he avowed in early life.

rica be admitted at all, it can only be as an apology for what, surely, on no principles of justice or policy it is possible to defend.

Lord North possesses great natural acuteness, which he has improved by art and experience. With considerable dignity, he unites those powers of wit, which are both agreeable in adorning a narration, and irresistible in exciting ridicule. His memory is rich in the knowledge of antiquity, and happy in applying it to his purpose. His speeches distinguish him as an individual most amiably resolved to bear with the infirmities and follies of mankind, and often has his polished urbanity restrained the ill humour and asperity of others. His style, though not much ornamented, is certainly not mean. He comprehends a subject readily, and explains it with success. It is not his smallest praise that he not only says all that is necessary to his purpose, but that he never says more. To these accomplishments of the orator, possessed from nature, or acquired by diligence, is added the genuine and the greatest love of his country, whose ancient forms and customs he not only understands to admiration, but defends, whenever they become subjects of dispute, with vigour and with firmness. If we investigate more minutely the character of his mind, we shall have occasion to observe that, when in possession of the highest dignity, and opposed by a powerful competitor, he conducted himself with the greatest moderation. We shall find him steady in his attachments; peaceable when offended; successful in inspiring confidence which he never disappointed; never using his power
for the depression of the weak; exempt from the very appearance of criminality, unless it be imputed to him that, in the prosecution of the American war, he did not keep pace with the ardour of public expectation. That war, originating in measures in which he had no concern, was undertaken by him with hesitation and reluctance. All resistance to the popular views and wishes being ineffectual, he was impelled to arms—to arms already stained with unexpiated blood, by the combined efforts of the sovereign, the senate and the people.”1

In 1772 a motion was brought forward in the House of Commons, very important to the cause of religious liberty, and to the honour and interests of the national church. This was in consequence of an application from certain clergymen, who had for some time associated together for the purpose of obtaining relief in the matter of subscription to the thirty-nine articles, by which they felt themselves seriously aggrieved. They consisted of about 250 of the most learned and enlightened of the clergy, and were usually called “clerical petitioners;” among whom were particularly distinguished Bishop Law, Archdeacon Blackburne, Dr. Jebb, Dr. Watson, and Mr. Wyvill.

On presenting their petition, it was powerfully urged by Sir W. Meredith, Mr. T. Pitt, afterwards Lord Camelford, and others, that the thirty-nine articles were drawn up at a period, when the nation had scarcely emerged from the darkness of

1 Præf. Bellendeni, p. 6. Beloe’s Trans, p. 16.

popery; that of these, some are obscure, others absurd, and others, in the opinion of almost all the reflecting part of the Christian world, false or dubious; and that of the clergy themselves, who sign them from compulsion, there are few who really believe them. Thus, it was contended, a habit of prevarication, dangerous to morals, is encouraged even in the teachers of religion; the church is dishonoured, and in the same proportion weakened; many of its conscientious members are distressed, or driven from its communion; and the entrance is barred against the admission into it of many upright and excellent men, who would otherwise seek it. Such were the cogent reasonings, by which the petition was supported; but it was, nevertheless, thrown out by a large majority; and when in the following session it was a second time presented, it was by the same powerful majority a second time rejected. “Not always the truth and justice of the question carries the verdict with it.”1

“When my beloved and respected friend, Dr. John Jebb,” says Dr. Parr,2 “was conducting a petition for relief from subscription, I was no stranger to the splendid talents and exemplary virtues which distinguished many of his associates. I was no enemy to that active and impartial spirit of inquiry, which had led other men into opinions far bolder than my own. But I refused to act with Dr. Jebb, because his plan grasped too much at once; and, because I was informed of a more temperate scheme, which was to have been laid before

1 Shakspeare. 2 Sequel to a printed paper, p. 52.

Archbishop Cornwallis, by two ecclesiastical dignitaries, who have since been deservedly raised to the episcopal bench.”1

Such was the conduct of Dr. Parr, and such his own account of the motives by which he was actuated, on this memorable occasion; when a great effort was made to remove one of the foulest blots, by which the English church is disfigured and defiled. There is no doubt that he approved in general of the principles on which the clerical petitioners proceeded; and that he acknowledged, to its full extent, the grievance of which they complained. But, like Dr. Paley, who, with the same view of the case, and the same doubtfulness of present success, acted the same cautious part, he reserved himself for some future occasion; when, encouraged by the accession of greater numbers, and by the sanction of higher authority, he would probably have united his own active efforts with theirs; and, perhaps, if the question had been pressed upon him, he would, with the same ingenuousness, have confessed with Dr. Paley—“I have been a coward in this business; but I will come in with the next wave, and that will be larger.”2

1Mr. Wollaston, Vicar of Chislehurst, Porteus, then Rector of Lambeth, afterwards Bishop of London, and York, then Dean of Lincoln, afterwards Bishop of Ely, waited upon Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury, to obtain his support for a review of the thirty-nine articles, and a reform of the church service on Dr. Clarke’s plan. They failed. But Porteus, many years afterwards, attacked the Socinians, in a pamphlet without his name. I smiled at the conversion of Porteus, when he wore a mitre. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 611.

2 Meadley’s Mem. of Paley, p. 90.


All, who were acquainted with Dr. Parr, well know that the habit of his mind was extreme caution and excessive timidity; that, through the whole course of his life, some of his later years excepted, whilst he was bold in thinking and even in talking, he was often fearful of acting; and that, not unfrequently, he advised and approved, and even secretly promoted measures, which he had not always the courage to avow publicly, or to support openly. In the present instance, however, it must be allowed, that Dr. Jebb and his friends weakened their cause “by grasping at too much, in too short a time;” or by pointing their objection against all subscription whatever, except only to the Scriptures, and not against that subscription of which, in the general opinion, they had good reason to complain. Thus, besides the high church and tory party, the determined foes of all human improvements, they raised up against themselves opponents in those who, though ready to tolerate diversity in religious opinions, yet conceived that some criterion, to secure the common faith of the clergy in a few great points, is necessary to an established church. But the petitioners were still right in their general principle, even if they too hastily pushed it to its extreme limits; and so just and spirited an attempt to remove a serious and oppressive evil ought not to have been deserted by any true friend to the cause of religious liberty, or of ecclesiastical reform.

It is painful to relate, that these first were also the last attempts ever made during the reign of George III. to correct glaring abuses, to redress
crying grievances, and to introduce into the state of the church those alterations and amendments, which the change of circumstances and the improved condition of society demand; and which would at once redound to its honour, and contribute to its security and prosperity. But since “reform or ruin” is the inevitable doom of all human institutions, he that dreads the one should be cautious how he too pertinaciously opposes the other. “Beware! and lick not the sweet which is your poison.”1

During his short residence at Colchester, which scarcely exceeded twelve or fourteen months, Dr. Parr was ordained priest by Bishop Lowth; and, at the request of his friend, Dr. Forster, he entered upon the cures of the Hythe and the Trinity Church in that town. It may deserve to be noticed, that both here and at his curacies in Middlesex, he was accustomed to deliver his public discourses, without the aid of written notes; which, indeed, was his general practice through life. When speaking of it to his friends, he always ascribed the ease and the pleasure with which he adopted that practice to the habit of extemporary speaking, first acquired in his contests with his two powerful rivals at Harrow School, and afterwards called into constant exercise in the course of giving instruction to his pupils.2

It must, however, be remembered, that nature had supplied him in rich abundance with most of the qualities, contributing to form the impressive

1 Shakspeare. 2 Europ. Mag. Sept. 1809.

and accomplished speaker, in his figure, his voice, the force of his understanding, the ardour of his feelings, and the vigour of his imagination—in his quick and clear comprehension of every subject to which his attention was directed, and in the wonderful strength of memory which enabled him to bring out, promptly and copiously, on all occasions, the vast stores of knowledge collected from so many sources, and arranged with so much order in his mind. It will long be remembered by those who were statedly or occasionally his hearers, at a subsequent period, when he resided at Hatton, that in his extemporaneous addresses he often broke forth into a strain of fervid and forcible, and sometimes even sublime eloquence, by which his whole audience were astonished and enraptured.1 Under favourable circumstances
Dr. Parr would have been an orator of a high order.

1 One being asked respecting a passage by which some of his hearers were particularly struck, whether he had read it from his book?—“Oh no!” said he, “it was the light of nature suddenly flashing upon me.”