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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch XII. 1816-1820

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. 1816-1820.
Public events—Effects of the victory of Waterloo on the temper of the English government—Large military establishments maintained—Continuance of the war-tax threatened—County-meetings at Warwick on the subject—Letter from Dr. Parr to the Lord Mayor of London—Continued suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act—County-meeting on the subject at Warwick—Ministerial attempts against the liberty of the press—Manchester massacre—Prosecution of Mr. Hone—Dr. Parr’s intercourse with him—Dr. Parr’s high opinion of Major Cartwright—Sir Francis Burdett’s visit with Dr. Parr at Leam.

Though the splendid and decisive victory of Waterloo raised, to the highest pitch of elevation, the military glory of Great Britain and her allies; and though its immediate result, in putting an end for ever to the mad career of the mightiest warrior, and the most daring oppressor, of modern times, was the subject of unfeigned joy to all the friends of social order and happiness; yet too soon was that joy changed, by the events that followed, into deep and mournful disappointment. It was by no means from the mere impulse of splenetic humour or mortified ambition that Bonaparte spoke—nor was his assertion unsupported by the truth of facts—when he declared that “the battle of Waterloo was as fatal to the liberties of Europe, as that of Philippi was to Rome; and, like that, too, pre-
cipitated the European states into the hands of a triumvirate, associated for the purposes of suppressing knowledge, destroying freedom, and reestablishing despotism through the whole eastern continent.”1 Even in England, the government caught something of the arbitrary spirit of the holy alliance; with which, by similarity of views and reciprocity of feeling, though not by express treaty, they seemed to be, at that time, too closely united.

Of this increased tendency to arbitrary rule, the first effect soon appeared, in the successful attempt of the ministry to keep up a large standing army, to the extreme distress of an impoverished nation, as well as in direct contradiction to the principles of the English constitution, and in utter defiance of all those ancient and well-founded jealousies, which, in better times, it was thought wise to respect and to cherish. This attempt was followed by another, happily not so successful; which was, to convert into a permanent source of revenue the tax on property, or rather on income; an odious and oppressive tax, originally introduced with a solemn pledge that, as by the necessities of war it was demanded, so with the return of peace it should cease.

This last attempt, so grossly outraging the public feelings, roused every where a spirit of determined resistance: public meetings were convened

1 Las Casas, vol. iii. part iii. p. 67. Dr. Parr thought the “conversations” of Bonaparte, lately published by this and other writers, valuable lessons of most wise and sagacious policy.

in all parts of the kingdom; and among other places at Warwick. In calling this meeting, and in promoting all the objects of it,
Dr. Parr took a leading part; as may appear from the following extract of a letter to Mr. Parkes, dated Feb. 2, 1815:—

“I wrote about the requisition for calling a county-meeting to Mr. Taylor of Birmingham; and, in a very polite letter, he tells me he shall not be in Warwickshire, at the time of the meeting. I am glad to hear that Sir C. Mordaunt1 is disposed to favour our petition. I depend upon early information of the day, fixed by the sheriff. I am confident that Mr. Canning2 will do all that is right, in arranging the topics of the petition, and in selecting the speakers in the county-hall, &c.—S. P.”

The meeting referred to was held at Warwick, Feb. 18, 1815, when the petition for the repeal of the obnoxious tax proposed by Francis Canning, Esq. and supported by Sir C. Mordaunt, Sir R. Lawley, and others, was unanimously approved. The petitioners were not then successful; but, in the following year, their petitions were renewed, and the voice of the nation finally prevailed. On these occasions, it was remarkable, that the aristocracy, generally the friends, were found amongst the opponents, of the ministry; who did not scruple openly and reproachfully to ascribe their opposition to views of private, more than public interest; and Dr. Parr, too, thought that there were other objects, which might, with at least equal reason, have called forth their patriotic zeal.

1 Then member for the county. 2 Of Foxcote.

For thus he writes to his friend,
Mr. Parkes:—

“Dear Sir—I send you the papers, which came to me yesterday from Mr. Horner. If I were concerned in preparing the county resolutions, I should avail myself of the important suggestions, which he has communicated; and I should certainly insist, far more copiously and more energetically, on the dangers of our large military establishments, than on the mischiefs of the property-tax. I am your sincere well-wisher,—S. P.”

“Hatton, Feb. 28, 1816.”

It is pleasing to relate that even in the metropolis, where it might be supposed that court-favour and ministerial patronage would necessarily obtain a powerful influence, a large portion of patriotic spirit, faithfully cherished and nobly exerted, has always appeared; diffused more or less amongst its various classes of bankers, merchants, traders, and never wholly excluded from its body corporate. Many who have attained to civic honours, have aspired also to the more resplendent honours, which irradiate the patriot’s name: Sawbridge, Townsend, Combe, in days that are past, have been worthily succeeded, in our time, by Wood, Waithman, Goodbehere, and Favell. So deservedly high stood the first of these in the estimation of his fellow-citizens, that, at the close of his mayoralty in 1815, he was raised a second time to the dignity of chief magistrate; and thus the name of Wood becomes proudly associated with those of Barnard and Beckford, on whom the same high distinction was conferred, the one in the reign of George II. and the other in the early part of that
George III. It was on the important occasion of his re-election to the civic chair, that Dr. Parr received an invitation to the grand festivities of the Mansion-house—to which the following answer was returned:—

“Hatton, November 1, 1816.

“My Lord,—Suffer me to thank your Lordship for inviting me to your dinner on the 9th of this month; and to assure you that, with pleasure and with pride, I should obey your polite and friendly summons, if I were not detained in Warwickshire by numerous and important avocations. I have not been an inattentive observer of the events, which occurred during your mayoralty; and most heartily do I rejoice that your peculiar merit has procured for you peculiar honours among your fellow-citizens, and is not only applauded by your zealous supporters, but acknowledged by your most determined opponents. Amidst the general and well-deserved praise of the public, you, perhaps, will allow me, as a man of letters, as an Englishman, and as a teacher of Christianity, to bear my testimony to such firmness, mingled with moderation, as you have manifested in your political principles, to such activity guided by good sense, in your official measures, to indignation so just against the profligate and obdurate, and to compassion so unfeigned towards the desolate and oppressed.—To vigilance, integrity, and benevolence in all the arduous duties of your station, you add other ornamental and other useful qualities; such, I believe, as are not very often found collectively in the chief magistrate of our metropolis.
Yes, my Lord, in
Mr. Wood, I discern the generosity of a Barnard without his coarseness, the hospitality of a Beckford without his ostentation, the intrepidity of a Sawbridge without his turbulence, and the sagacity of a Townsend without his asperity.—I see that persons of the most exalted rank and the most unblemished characters attend your private parties; and, therefore, if the members of administration stand aloof from your public entertainments, you, my Lord, will smile at their illiberality; and every honourable man in the country will despise their perverseness and their rudeness. I trust, my Lord, your example will have its full influence upon the spirit and conduct of your successors; and I am sure that history will faithfully record the virtues, of which your contemporaries now experience the extensive and most beneficial effects. I shall not fail to drink a bumper to your health on the 9th of November; and I know that some of my enlightened neighbours are disposed to pay the same tribute of respect to your Lordship, as a wise magistrate and a steady patriot. When employed to christen a child of your worthy precursor, Mr. Combe, I once spent a very happy day with the late Mr. Fox at the Mansion-house; and in the expectation of equal happiness, I shall give you an opportunity of asking me to your table, if I visit the capital, in the course of the ensuing year. I beg of you to present my best compliments to the Lady Mayoress, and to Mr. and Miss P—; and glad shall I be, my Lord, to welcome you at my parsonage, whensoever you find your way into War-
wickshire. I have the honour to be, &c.—

S. Parr.”

Among other arbitrary measures, adopted by the ruling powers in England, about this time, the nation was roused to a sense of its wrongs and its dangers, by the repeated suspension, on the slightest pretences, of the Habeas Corpus Act; always proudly and justly regarded as the grand security for the personal liberty of the subject. Public meetings were, in consequence, convened, and conducted with a spirit worthy of Englishmen, in almost every part of the kingdom; and of these, one, very numerously attended, was held in the Shire-hall of Warwick, June 21, 1817, at which the Hon. Henry Verney, now Lord Willoughby-de-Broke, presided. The business of the day was opened, in a long and admirable speech, by Francis Canning, Esq.—who then proposed the form of a petition to both Houses of Parliament, praying them “to adopt such measures as might prevent the liberties of Englishmen from being sacrificed to the real, or pretended, but groundless, fears of his Majesty’s ministers; and especially to resist every attempt that might be made to continue any longer the suspension of the act of Habeas Corpus.” He was followed by Dr. Parr; who observed that, “after the able and eloquent address, distinguished equally by its luminous method, its powerful argument, and patriotic spirit, just delivered by his excellent friend, little remained to be added by him.” He wished it to be understood, he said, that though his signature, in consequence of absence from home, had not been affixed to the re-
quisition; yet that “the object of it he should ever approve, and support, with all the powers of his head and all the feelings of his heart.” He condemned, in strong terms, the suspension of the act in question, “as a shameless and most flagrant violation of the most sacred and important rights of Englishmen;” and censured with indignant severity, “all the flimsy pretences which had been urged in its support, as an insult to the common sense of mankind.” Concurring, as he did, in the words and the spirit of the petition, now proposed, he concluded with recommending it to the meeting, as worthy of their adoption; and, amidst the loud acclamations of a large majority, it was accordingly adopted.

But the nation had still other causes of serious complaint against the Liverpool-administration, especially in the new and alarming doctrine set forth by Lord Sidmouth, in a well-known circular, “that justices of the peace are empowered to arrest, and hold to bail, persons charged with libels, even though not previously declared such, by the verdict of a jury.” It was a bold attempt to crush, or at least to check, the liberty of the press; and the credit which Lord Sidmouth had acquired for mildness of spirit and goodness of intention was greatly diminished by this and other obnoxious measures; and, most of all, by the unadvised act of writing an official letter of thanks to the perpetrators of the horrible massacre, which took place at Manchester, on the dreadful 16th of August, 1819. Certainly, an instance is hardly to be found in the annals of a civilised nation, of a
more cruel and cowardly assault made upon an unarmed multitude, by a military body, acting under the orders of the magistracy. Between three and four hundred were killed or wounded; and painful to reflect!—the barbarous massacre, if not previously projected, was afterwards openly approved, by the high authorities of the state!

The low and misguided policy of the same administration appeared in another affair of a different kind, which happened some time before, and which drew upon them no small degree of public contempt and reprobation. This was the prosecution of Mr. Hone, a bookseller in London; who was put upon his trial for three successive days, on three several indictments, charging him with libellous publications, consisting of political parodies on the Church catechism, and other parts of the Common Prayer Book. The practice itself, to say the least, is highly indecorous; and yet it was proved, on the trial, to be by no means unprecedented or uncommon; and instances were adduced, as in the case of the late Mr. Canning’s poetry in the “Anti-jacobin,” in which it was impossible to impute any profane intention to the writer or publisher. Mr. Hone conducted his own defence, with a presence of mind, with a research of literature, with a force of reasoning, and a fervour of eloquence, which called forth universal astonishment and admiration. On the first day, the charge was fairly left to the consideration of the jury, by Mr. Justice Abbott; but, on the second and third days, it was vehemently pressed against the defendant by Lord Chief-justice Ellenborough;
who, however, had the mortification to find all his efforts unavailing. The charge against the defendant was that of blasphemy; but the juries plainly saw that it was the satire upon themselves which the ministerial instigators of the prosecution disliked, and that their horror at profaneness was the mere stalking-horse, under which they thought to take a fatal aim at a political adversary. Three times a verdict of acquittal was pronounced; and three times the hall of justice and the adjacent streets resounded with the shouts of triumph from an immense multitude, anxiously waiting the issue of the trial. The public testified their sense of the hypocrisy of the prosecution, and of the extraordinary ability and firmness which Mr. Hone displayed, in his defence against it, by a liberal subscription in his favour.

In the spring of 1820, Mr. Hone was summoned to give evidence, on a trial at Warwick, in which the late venerable Major Cartwright was one of the defendants. On that occasion, Mr. Hone received many kind and flattering attentions from Dr. Parr; who always loved to contemplate talent, wherever it is to be found; and who conversed much with him, and invited him to partake of the hospitalities of Hatton-parsonage. In a note to a friend, he writes thus:—“Dear Sir,—Hone is a prodigy of genius and heroism. He dines with me next Sunday. Pray, come and meet him. You will be pleased with him. Yours, &c. S. Parr.—Hatton, April 2, 1820.”

At the trial just referred to, it will probably be within the reader’s recollection, that Major Cart-
Mr. Wooler, and four others, were accused of a conspiracy to bring the government into contempt, by electing a legislatorial attorney for the town of Birmingham. They were all found guilty; though it is difficult to discover what crime they had committed, or against what law they had offended. The worst that can well be charged against the whole affair is extreme indiscretion or folly: and it may be questioned whether the folly or indiscretion, on the part of the accusers, was not almost equal, in making that the subject of a state prosecution, as treasonable, which was really fit only to be treated with silent contempt, as unmeaning and ridiculous.

Dr. Parr entertained great esteem and veneration for “the good old major,” as he was often styled; and though as far as Mr. Fox himself from approving all his theoretical principles of government, yet he concurred entirely in the encomium which that eminent statesman pronounced in his place in parliament. “Major Cartwright,” said Mr. Fox, “is a man whose enlightened mind, whose profound constitutional knowledge, whose purity of principle and consistency of conduct through life, place him in the highest rank of public characters.”

During the short period of his attendance at Warwick assizes, Major Cartwright paid a visit to Dr. Parr at Hatton, where he was received with all that respect for his character, and that sympathy with his sufferings, to which he was so fully entitled. The strong feelings of his mind on the subject of the prosecution, Dr. Parr afterwards
expressed in a letter to the major himself, dated Hatton, September 15, 1820, from which the following is an extract:—“I really and avowedly think you a most injured man; and I lament the servility, the corruption, the intolerance, and the cruelty, of which so many vestiges are to be found among the dignitaries of my own order; and, I am sorry to add, among the ministers of public justice. Our infatuated rulers are blindly rushing into every outrage that has a tendency to accelerate revolution,” &c.

Among the numerous witnesses summoned to appear on the trial of Major Cartwright, were Sir Francis Burdett, and Samuel Favell, Esq., one of the common-council of London; and the writer cannot deny himself the pleasure of recollecting a delightful day, passed in the company of these gentlemen, who did him the honour of accepting an invitation to dinner at Leam, where they were met by Dr. Parr, and a party of common friends. The number being small and select, the conversation freed from all restraint, soon became highly interesting and animated, especially on the part of the learned divine, and the illustrious senator. As might have been expected, at that turbulent season, politics were, with them, a leading topic of discussion; and the rashness and violence of the Liverpool-administration drew from both of them expressions of high indignation and abhorrence. Even the dreadful slaughter of unarmed and unresisting men and women at Manchester, they thought not so revolting to the feelings of justice and humanity, as the cool and deliberate
approbation of it, expressed in the sovereign’s name, by
Lord Sidmouth and his colleagues. Considered as the sudden and furious excess of zeal for loyalty, or alarm for public safety, it might have been apologised for, it was said, and pardoned. But to hold it forth as a legal and laudable act!—to adopt it as the measure of a regular government!—that, indeed, did appear to them horrible! What worse, it was asked, could be found in the summary justice, or the bloody executions, of barbarous states?

The memorable letter of Sir Francis Burdett to one of his constituents, on the subject just referred to, was not the less admired and applauded by Dr. Parr and all present, because it was so vehemently censured by the lovers of brute force and martial law; nor did the author of it express the least sense of shame or sorrow for having written it, though it had just been pronounced by a learned judge and a Leicestershire jury—grossly libellous.

Connected with the outrages at Manchester, was the trial of Mr. Hunt and others at York, which at that moment was drawing to its close: and on which the two illustrious guests of Leam thought they hazarded nothing in delivering the following opinion—that, from a view of the whole evidence, which had been published, it would be hardly possible to find a verdict of guilty; that, in case such a verdict should be found, the defendants could never, with any show of decency, be called up for judgment; but if so called up, that none but the mildest sentence could be passed, without offering a ruder shock to all the feelings of fairness
and equity, than the public mind could bear. Alas! for the honour of British justice! history must record that every one of these most reasonable expectations was falsified by the event!

Amidst the gloomy prospects, which at that time gathered round the country, as a source of relief and hope, Sir Francis Burdett expatiated, with the noble enthusiasm of a benevolent mind, on the vast and wonderful diffusion of knowledge, of late years, penetrating through the mass of society down to its lowest orders; and he threw out the following observation, which obtained, in a particular manner, the notice and assent of Dr. Parr and of all present—that, if hitherto the course of human improvement has been in a direction from the higher to the lower ranks, now the process seems to be exactly reversed; that men in the inferior classes, by means of good education and cheap publications, are rapidly rising in the scale of intellect; and that from them intelligence is “working its way upward,” and forcing upon those of higher station the necessity of reading, inquiring, and reflecting. For, under such circumstances, it was contended, that, by the mere sense of shame, or the sheer love of superiority, in the absence of better motives, even the lazy and the stationary beings, with whom the privileged orders abound, will be impelled to mental exertion in discarding the ignorance, the errors, and the prejudices which degrade and disgrace them; and will find it impossible to keep their eyes closed against that increased and increasing light of knowledge, which shines and blazes all around
them. Thus, as Sir Francis explained his ideas in a better manner than the writer with his best recollection can do, the vast movement of the human mind advances, through the whole collective body, rapidly and eagerly in the lower and the middle classes; and, by an impulse chiefly derived from them, somewhat slowly, indeed, and reluctantly, but yet surely, in the higher.

Among other topics, the invaluable writings of that extraordinary man, Jeremy Bentham, being mentioned, Sir Francis Burdett declared himself his profound admirer and attentive reader; and when the strange singularity, the puzzling perplexity, and sometimes the almost impenetrable obscurity of his style were objected, Sir Francis avowed that he liked it the better for that very reason; because it imposed a severe exercise upon his understanding, and obliged him to pause and reflect. At all events, he insisted, that if, in exploring the sense of the author, the labour was great, it was always amply rewarded by the value of the discovery. To this latter reason, at least, if not to the former, all who have studied the important writings in question will cordially assent. Dr. Parr did not lose the opportunity of declaring the high veneration which he had always felt for one, whom he considered as the “wisest man” of his time; whose powerful and penetrating mind has anticipated, he said, the improvement of coming ages; and who, on the all-important subject of jurisprudence, has discovered and collected knowledge which will scarcely find its way to the great mass of human intellect, perhaps,
through the course of another century. On every occasion, he spoke with exulting pleasure of his friendly intercourse with Mr. Bentham; and in describing the warmth of their debates, he would say—“Ay, when we meet we often fight together like dragons.” On his part, the greatest political writer was no less gratified by this occasional intercourse with the greatest scholar of his age. He once good-humouredly called him a “housebreaker,” because when he had ordered himself to be denied to all visitants, Dr. Parr had several times effected a kind of forcible entrance; followed the servant, against his consent; pushed on his way into his master’s presence; and had then held him in close conversation, for some hours in succession. It does not appear that even these violent intrusions were disliked; or that stricter orders were given to prevent them.