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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch I. 1800-1807

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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A.D. 1800—1807.
Dr. Parr’s deep interest in political events—Elevation of Buonaparte—Pacific overture from France—Union of Great Britain and Ireland—Mr. Pitt’s resignation—Peace of Amiens—War renewed—Mr. Pitt’s death—Mr. Fox secretary of state—Notice of his short administration—His death—His funeral attended by Dr. Parr.

The detail of public events, with which so many pages of these volumes are filled, may seem to be out of place in the memoirs of a private life. But it should be considered that Dr. Parr was in reality a public man: and from his intimate connexion with all the great leading men of his own party, and his habit of freely conversing with those of other parties, it is scarcely to be doubted that his opinions must have produced, on some occasions, at least, an influence, though secret, yet not inconsiderable, on the state and progress of national affairs. It is certain, however, that a large portion of his retired hours was occupied in reflecting
upon past and present occurrences, both at home and abroad, following them into their probable consequences, whether near or remote, and communicating the result of his deep and anxious meditations to others, in the course of an extensive correspondence, which included persons of all ranks, professions and parties.

Among the events of these times, one of the most astonishing in itself, and the most important in its consequences, was the appearance, on the great scene of political contention in France, of an extraordinary person; who was destined to pursue a long and brilliant course; terminated, however, miserably, by defeat, degradation, captivity, and a lingering death, in a distant and desert isle. This person, the reader is aware, was Napoleon Buonaparte—in whom, it is hardly necessary to say, Dr. Parr always acknowledged and admired a genius of the highest order: though it was impossible to contemplate the great and commanding qualities, which he possessed, without fearful apprehensions, when, combined with them, there appeared a restless and boundless ambition, setting at defiance, in the pursuit of its object, all regard to the rights of other nations, and to the true interests of his own. Speaking of the ex-emperor, when his character was fully developed, Dr. Parr said that the words of Tacitus aptly described him, as one who thought “summa scelera incipi cum periculo, peragi cum præmio:” and he often compared him to the Macedonian Philip, who was said “μεθύειν τω μεγέθει των πεπραγμένων.”

It was always believed, however, by Dr. Parr,
that the military chieftain of France would have been checked, or, perhaps, finally arrested, in his career of mad ambition, if the offer of a negotiation for peace, which followed his first elevation, had been courteously received and dispassionately considered, instead of being instantly and indignantly rejected by the English government. It was, therefore, a subject of deep regret to him, as well as to many of the wisest and best men of the nation, that so favourable an opportunity was lost of terminating honourably the contest, in which the nation had been so long engaged. Dr. Parr, in lamenting the failure of
Mr. Fox’s efforts to stop the ravages of war, and to restore the blessings of peace, thus delivers his opinion:—“By carrying into effect his favourite measure, Mr. Fox might have restrained that military power; which, generated by the enthusiasm of revolution, has transferred the desperate courage of self-preservation to the hazardous enterprises of ambition; which has gathered increase of strength from increase of resistance; which has formed fresh projects after every instance of fresh success; and which, at one time, threatened speedy and total subjugation to the convulsed, dismayed, and infatuated continent of Europe.”1

Another important event of these times was, the union of Great Britain and Ireland; an act of legislation which met with general concurrence in England; but, in Ireland, after much opposition, a kind of sullen acquiescence was purchased from the Catholics, who form the largest part of the

1 Characters of Fox, p. 297.

population, by a promise, communicated from authority, of admission to all the privileges of British subjects. That promise
Mr. Pitt found himself unable to fulfil; and in consequence resigned his official dignity, after the possession of it for seventeen years. If that resignation had proceeded from a regard to consistency of public character, or to the obligation of a solemn pledge, it would have been honourable. But, perhaps, Dr. Parr was not far from the truth when, writing to his friend, Mr. Parkes, he said, “I have weighty reasons for assuring you that Pitt’s resignation is one of the most cunning and most mischievous acts of his life.” That it was totally unconnected with principle, was sufficiently proved by his return to office, without the smallest stipulation in favour of that measure, to which the sacrifice of place had been ostensibly offered.

After the retirement of Mr. Pitt and his friends from office, under the administration, at the head of which, to the surprise of the nation, was placed Mr. Addington, late speaker of the House of Commons, the peace of Amiens was signed. Even this pacification, though it seemed to rest on no very firm basis, was joyfully welcomed through the whole country; and it was celebrated by festivities at Hatton parsonage where the very name of peace was regarded as the sacred symbol of all that is good and happy for men and nations.1

1 Dr. Parr often repeated with much animation and delight a beautiful Greek passage on peace, as the greatest of all blessings, in which, amongst others, are the following lines:—

Alas! it proved only a hollow truce. Fresh disputes arose; preparations for hostilities, on both sides, recommenced; and national animosities burst forth with a fury, which seemed to portend nothing less than a war of extermination.

Dr. Parr often spoke of Mr. Addington as a well-intentioned man; but possessing no high powers of intellect; not capable of comprehensive views; and devoid of the political sagacity and intrepidity necessary to the conduct of public affairs, especially in difficult times. The new minister soon felt himself, indeed, unequal to the task which he had assumed, and prudently resigned it. The many attempts now made to form an administration, which should include the most distinguished men of all parties, Dr. Parr watched in their progress, with intense anxiety. But they all failed: and Mr. Pitt, supported by some of his former colleagues, ventured to resume his station at the head of government.

His second administration was short; and, for the most part, unprosperous. Abroad, he saw his warlike projects ending, with the splendid exception of the victory of Trafalgar, in disappointment and disaster. At home, he found arrayed against him a more formidable opposition than he had ever before encountered; and he no longer possessed in the same degree the favour of the sovereign, or

Τί εστιν άγαθόν;
Νυν ευρον—ειρήνη ΄στιν
Γάμους, εόρτας, συγγενεις, παιδας, ϕιλους,
Πλουτον, υγιείαν, σιτον, οινον,ήεόνην,
Αυτή διδωσι, κ. τ. λ.

the confidence of the people. From these sources of anxiety, added to the cares and fatigues inseparable from high station, the health of the premier, which had been for some time precarious, suffered serious injury; and, within eighteen months from the time of his return to office, he sunk, by a gradual decline, into the grave. He died January 23d, 1806. In life, he was more admired than approved; and, after death, was more honourably than gratefully remembered, by the nation over whom he had long borne sway, little short of absolute. Such, as
Dr. Parr conceived, is the fair and sober estimate which public opinion has now formed of the celebrated statesman, so often unreasonably extolled by some, and as often unjustly depreciated by others.

To the general surprise, a Whig administration succeeded; and, chiefly by the intervention of Lord Grenville,1 Mr. Fox was once more, after his long exclusion, admitted into the royal presence and councils, as secretary of state for the foreign department. High, it may easily be supposed, was the exultation, and many were the joyful festivities, on the happy occasion, at Hatton. By a remarkable contrast with Mr. Fox’s former coalition, the present was generally approved; and the nation, gratified by his official appointment, would have been still more so, if the station of prime minister had been assigned to him. “It was a decisive proof of his moderation,” says Dr. Parr, “that when he was employed as a servant of the crown, he was content to bear the chief responsibility for measures,

1 See his celebrated letter, May, 1805.

without vaulting into the chief official situation. He humbled, but did not debase himself: and for the loss of exaltation to the highest ministerial power, he was abundantly repaid by the esteem of his colleagues, and the confidence of his party.”1 But what was commendable in Mr. Fox might be unfortunate for his country.

It should, indeed, be remembered, injustice to Mr. Fox, as Dr. Parr often observed, that he was made responsible for certain measures, which excited general surprise and indignation; but which had, probably, never received the sanction of his approbation. If, however, it cannot be denied that some great errors were committed by the administration, of which he was a part; yet it must be acknowledged, on the other hand, that these errors were well atoned for by several important measures, which they proposed and accomplished; especially, by introducing limited service into the military code; by establishing useful regulations in various public offices; by imposing restrictions on the slave-trade; and, above all, by carrying through parliament a resolution for its total abolition. Dr. Parr might, therefore, appeal to the truth of facts, in support of the following observations:—“΄Αρχα δείξει ανδρα, said Bias. I have often heard it remarked, while Mr. Fox was out of power, that he was better qualified to lead a party in opposition, than to hold any high office in the British nation; that it is much easier to object to measures than to plan them; and that Mr. Fox’s parliamentary eloquence

1 Characters of Fox, p. 291.

was a very equivocal proof of political wisdom. Luckily for the wellwishers of Mr. Fox, they were at last supplied with an opportunity of bringing his character to the test, implied in the maxim of old Bias; and they may, with confidence, appeal to the judgment of impartial men, upon the measures, pursued, or proposed, by Mr. Fox, during the few months he was capable of acting for his country in 1806.”1

Most auspiciously, indeed, did Mr. Fox commence his ministerial career, by an explicit declaration of the three great objects to which his efforts should be immediately and strenuously directed. The first was, the abolition of the slave-trade, as already mentioned; the second, the reestablishment of a general peace; the third, the restoration to their just rights of the long-oppressed English and Irish Catholics. But scarcely had he adopted decisive measures for the accomplishment of the first great object, when his bodily health sunk under the too vigorous exertions of his mind; and, after a short illness, he expired, September 13, 1806, in the 59th year of his age.

Mr. Fox’s death was mourned by a whole admiring and grateful nation; and few, it may be believed, were more deeply affected than Dr. Parr. He had long been honoured by his friendship; and it was a distinction of which he was highly and justly proud. He revered his genius: he admired and loved his character: he approved and adopted enthusiastically all those grand political principles,

1 Characters of Fox, p. 581.

for which Mr. Fox was distinguished, and by which he will be immortalised.1

“After having enjoyed,” says Dr. Parr, “health of body and serenity of mind to an advanced period—after tasting the purest pleasures of friendship and literature—after deserving the confidence of his countrymen—after obtaining the respect of surrounding nations—after devoting a long and laborious life to the freedom of England, the tranquillity of Europe, the abolition of the African slave-trade, the correction of Asiatic enormities, and the general happiness of all his fellow-creatures—Mr. Fox was doomed to pay the last debt of nature. Uncorrupted by the fascination of praise, undis-

1 The partialities of the personal and political friend are pleasantly exposed in the following story, related by one of Dr. Parr’s pupils:—“To Grove-park he occasionally sent me on an embassy to obtain the Courier newspaper; and, upon my return, made me read to him the parliamentary debates, which were at that time, full of interest. In the delivery of Mr. Pitt’s speeches, I sometimes took a malicious pleasure in giving the utmost possible effect to the brilliant passages; upon which the Doctor would exclaim, ‘Why, you noodle, do you dwell with such energy upon Pitt’s empty declamation? Don’t you see it is all sophistry?’ At other moments he would say, ‘That is powerful!—but Fox will answer it!’—When I pronounced the words ‘Mr. Fox rose,’ Parr would roar out ‘stop!’ and, after shaking the ashes out of his pipe and filling it afresh, he would add—‘Now, you dog, do your best.’—In the course of the speech, he would often interrupt me, in a tone of triumphant exultation, with exclamations such as the following—‘Capital!’—‘Answer that, if you can, Master Pitt!’ And at the conclusion—‘That is the speech of the orator and the statesman:—Pitt is a mere rhetorician:’ adding after a pause—‘a very able one, I admit.’”—New Monthly Mag. Aug. 1826.

mayed by the clamours of slander, sighing for peace to an exhausted world, and bequeathing to posterity an example, fitted to impress the purity, simplicity and grandeur of his own character upon that of his countrymen, he expired, amidst the tears of his friends, and the affectionate embraces of his nearest and most beloved relations. ‘O fallacem hominum spem, fragilemque fortunam!’”1

The opinions formed of great public characters, especially in times of political contention, are not always such as will stand the test of cool and dispassionate examination at a future and more tranquil period. The observation forcibly applies to the case of the two rival senators and statesmen, of whom England was deprived within the short space of eighteen months; and, perhaps, the estimation in which they were held, by all impartial men, only a few years after their death, is correctly stated by Dr. Parr in the following passage:2

Mr. Pitt seems to be less censured by his former adversaries, and less idolised by his former panegyrists. The gratitude of some for favours received; the predilection of others for the system of politics, which is now thought to prevail; the pleasing remembrance of personal friendship; and the sincere participation of that respect which all his countrymen felt for his magnanimous contempt of pelf; preserve some degree of veneration, and, I add, of affection, for his name. No man was ever more applauded, in the zenith of his power; and conspicuous, most assuredly will his talents

1 Characters of Fox, p. 307. 2 Ibid. p. 302.

be, in the records of history. Yet the brilliancy of many of his speeches has faded with the freshness of the occasion which produced them; and the sentiment of popular admiration which, during his lifetime, was most lively, has undergone a partial decay. But
Mr. Fox, who had little to give, beyond good wishes, and little to receive from other men, besides the same wishes, as the recompense of his good meaning, even now keeps a hold, which, from the regret which mingles with it, is stronger, perhaps, than that which he had, when he was living, upon our attention, our esteem, and love. He will long continue to keep it, because his actions were not at variance with his professions; because his political virtues were not disproportioned to his political abilities; and because his errors and infirmities were not accompanied by cowardice, fickleness, dissimulation, or venality.”1

It was, on one of the earliest acts of Mr. Fox’s short administration, that Dr. Parr passes his encomiums in these fervid strains:—

“Might we not rest the credit of our friend’s sagacity, moderation, steadiness and honour, upon his manifesto to the court of Berlin, about the seizure of Hanover?2 I read it six times atten-

1 Speaking of Mr. Fox, soon after his death, Dr. Parr said, “that he had in his nature neither gall nor guile: he never gave his mind to a fraud, nor his tongue to a lie.”—“His,” said he, on another occasion, “was the soul of pure benevolence: never did it heave with the sigh of envy; never throb with the pang of malevolence.”

2 New Annual Register.

tively, and with fresh satisfaction from every fresh perusal. I have heard of the serious impression which it made, in the best-informed circles at home, and in every court upon the continent. But how shall I describe it? Shall I say it was conceived and expressed more majorum? It was so. Shall I add, as
Dr. Young said of Johnson’s Rasselas, that it is a mass of sense? It was that and more. Let me characterise it, then, in the emphatical words of an ancient critic, Ηολλης ην πείρας τελευταιον επιγέννημα.”1

It is delightful to contemplate, at the beautiful close of a patriot’s life, such endeavours as those which Mr. Fox exerted to put an end to the miseries of war, and restore, to the contending nations of Europe, the blessings of peace, in the spirit of peace. To these last efforts of the expiring patriot Dr. Parr thus alludes:—“The prospect of approaching dissolution served only to enliven his zeal, and to accelerate his exertions. In his correspondence with the wily and eloquent minister of France, written under the pressure of disease, and even on the verge of the grave, we still see the same noble qualities of the heart, cooperating with the wonderful powers of his judgment. We see in it no deviation from those sacred rules of sincerity and truth, which extend the authority of their obligation over the whole agency of moral being; and diffuse their happy influence alike over the pursuits of individuals, and the negotiations of statesmen.”2

Mr. Fox’s funeral,” as described by Dr. Parr

1 Characters of Fox, p. 305. 2 Ibid.

in his letter to
Mr. Coke, “was attended by persons of the highest distinction for science, learning, political ability, and hereditary rank. The procession was marked by a deep and solemn silence, which evinced the unfeigned sorrow of the spectators; and his remains were interred in Westminster Abbey—the hallowed depository of departed sages, heroes, patriots, and kings. Away with those politics and that philosophy, which would steel our hearts against the honest feelings of nature! Why, dear sir, should we dissemble? or how can we forget what we experienced when the lifeless body of our friend was committed to the ground, near the grave of a rival, who, but a few months before, had fallen from the heights of fame and power, into the valley of the shadow of death? Was it not melancholy and awe, mingled with a sort of wonder, and with solemn reflections upon the appointed end of genius, ambition, and all sublunary glories? Reviewing and cherishing what we then felt, during the hallowed rites of burial, why should we hesitate to apply to these extraordinary men the striking words of the poet?
Hi motus animorum atque hæc certamina tanta,
Pulveris exigui jactu compressa quiescunt.”1

The admirers of Mr. Fox will remember with satisfaction that the funeral was attended by the following ecclesiastics—Dr. Parr, Dr. Knox, Dr. Symmons, Dr. Raine, Dr. Hughes, principal of Jesus College, Oxford, and Dr. Davy, master of Caius College, Cambridge.

1 Characters of Fox, p. 309.