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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch VIII. 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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Produced by CATH
A.D. 1816—1820.
Dr. Parr’s second marriage—His happy old age—Reconciliation with his grand-daughters—His ample income—His domestic habits—His studious mornings—His epistolary correspondence—His handwriting—His amusements—His social parties.

Dr. Parr had nearly completed his 70th year when he announced to his friends an intention of entering, a second time, into the married state. The communication was unexpected: and the first surprise soon gave way to serious apprehension for the consequences of such a change, at so late a period of life. This apprehension was, however, soon removed, when it was found that he had fixed his choice on Miss Eyre, sister of his late much-respected friend, the Rev. James Eyre of Solihull; a lady of suitable age, whom he had long known and esteemed; and who was excellently qualified by good sense, and by gentle and amiable dispositions and manners, for the task—certainly no easy task!—of watching over his health and happiness in his declining age.

To this lady he was married at Coventry, December 17, 1816: and the union proved to him even more than was anticipated—the source of satisfaction through remaining life, and of solace in approaching death. Never, indeed, was Hatton
parsonage a scene of so much domestic order and felicity, as in the seven years, during which it was under the superintending care of the second
Mrs. Parr. Again and again, has the writer heard his illustrious friend declare that these last years were those, in which he had, above all others, the most perfect enjoyment of life. Surrounded abundantly with the conveniences and comforts, which wealth can procure; cheered by the soothing and unceasing attentions, which conjugal kindness only can supply; exempt, in good measure, from bodily disorders and from decays of the understanding; consoled amidst many painful, by many pleasing, remembrances of the past, especially by the consciousness of his own integrity, and animated by religious hope, in the prospect of the future;—his was that happy old age, which, under favourable circumstances, is, perhaps, the most desirable period of human existence. Writing, in his 77th year, to his friend the celebrated Mr. Brougham, he thus describes his own state and feelings:—“animo quem nulla senectus,—say I, triumphantly, in the words of an ancient poet.”

Among the events which contributed to throw cheering rays over the evening of Dr. Parr’s life, was the restoration of his grand-daughters to the place they were entitled to hold in his affectionate regards. Their father had married a second time; and it became, therefore, still more desirable to secure for them the protection of their grandfather. Many attempts for the purpose had been made without success; and they were indebted at length for a second reconciliation, more auspicious
than the first, to the persevering efforts of the same true and unfailing friend, to whom they owed so much on the former occasion.

Lost for some time from her sight, but never absent from her thoughts, Mrs. Edwards was reduced to the expedient of seeking information concerning them through the medium of a stranger, to whom she ventured to write—a clergyman, who had just been presented to a living near their father’s residence in Wales; and whose name had accidentally caught her eye, in looking over a list of “preferments,” in a magazine. Guided by the knowledge thus obtained, she wrote to the young ladies themselves; and so well explained her views and urged her wishes, that, with her father’s consent, the elder sister, who bore a striking resemblance to her mother, made a journey to Warwick. After a day or two of painful suspense, she proceeded thence on a Sunday morning to Hatton. About an hour before the commencement of divine service, at which time her grandfather was generally known to be in his most composed and happy state of mind, she called at the parsonage, and was admitted to his presence. “Let him but see you,” said her kind adviser and encourager, “and nature will do the rest.” So it proved. The feelings of natural affection, powerfully excited by this sudden interview with the child of his daughter, and her very image, were triumphant; and the parent received back the long-estranged grand-daughter to his embraces and his heart.

But what must have been the delight of the
friend, by whom the whole plan had been concerted, and who was eagerly and anxiously watching its progress, when she gained a first and a full assurance of its success, on entering the church-field at Hatton, by seeing the grandfather and the grand-daughter moving arm in arm, as she followed them, at a distance, to the church!—“The high-throbbing joy of that exquisite moment,” says the writer’s informant, the affectionate friend herself, “no words can describe!”

This happy restoration of the elder sister to those paternal regards, from which she had been too long divided, was soon followed by that of the younger. From that time they were received by their grandfather into his guardian care; and their opening characters were gradually unfolding qualities, which could not fail to conciliate his esteem, mingled with his fondest affections.

A will, which Dr. Parr had made, and by which they had been almost disinherited, was replaced by another, more just to them; and they are now inheritrixes, in main part, of the large property of which he died possessed. Miss Wynne was married in Sept. 1822, to the Rev. John Lines, rector of Elmley-Lovett in Worcestershire. Miss Augusta Wynne, whose countenance greatly resembles her grandfather, is still unmarried.

It is pleasing to dwell on the closing period of Dr. Parr’s life, when, after “having endured very irksome toil, and suffered very galling need,” for many years, he found himself placed in a state of ease and affluence. He had now the ample means of exercising that generous hospitality, in which
he delighted, and of indulging freely in the benevolent luxury of relieving the wants of others. Withdrawn entirely from the business of tuition since the year 1800, he determined to devote the remainder of his days to the calm pursuits of literature, intermingled with the pleasures of learned and friendly society. The circle of his acquaintance was large, and included many of the persons most distinguished for rank, for knowledge, for worth of character, for ardour of patriotism and activity of benevolence. Their company and their correspondence constituted one of the greatest sources of his happiness; and the frequent interchange with them of letters and of visits agreeably diversified and relieved the solitude of the secluded village, in which he lived.

He rose early even in his old age; and throwing carelessly round him his clothes, which were not uncommonly of uncouth shape and coarse texture, and not unfrequently well worn, and well patched, with his head enveloped in a night-cap, he sat down in his library, and employed himself in reading, writing, or dictating to others. Here, in the midst of his learned labours, he was often found by his morning visitors, to whom he seldom refused admittance; and whom he scrupled not to receive, attired as he was, totally unconcerned about his own grotesque appearance, and in truth hardly conscious of it. It was his habit, almost immediately on rising, to call for his pipe, with which he welcomed the morn, and cheered the studious hours of the day, as well as animated the social or the solitary evening.


The same habits of industry, which he had acquired in youth, and cultivated in manhood, remained unchanged in advanced age. His thirst for knowledge was as ardent, and his application to study as persevering in the later, as in the earlier periods of life:1 and, as was said of Solon and Cato, he grew old learning something every day. Such was his impatience of doubt or error, where any thing like certainty may be obtained, that the least hesitation as to matters of fact, or the least perplexity as to the construction of a sentence, or the import of a phrase or word, would send him upon his researches; and he would persist in turning over volume after volume, till his uncertainty was removed. Though his reading was devoted chiefly to the great writers of ancient and modern times, whose works demand the severest exercise of the understanding; yet he would not disdain to peruse the publications of the passing day, if recommended to his notice; and he would discuss their merits with fairness and candour, always generously bestowing the praise to which they might seem entitled.

His morning hours were often devoted to his correspondents, who were very numerous; including not only his intimate friends, but many also of the most eminent writers and scholars in

1Æschyli Supplices et Eumenides Gr. recensuit G. Burges, &c.—Samueli Parrio, cui ne unum quidem, οιοι νυν βροτοί εισιν, parem e primis annis usque ad extremam senectutem astiduum cultorem fautoremque strenuum Græcæ literæ invenerunt, hunc libellum ipse ϕιλλη millit commendatque G. Burges.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 134.

this country, and some also of those on the continent. His letters, which, if collected, would form several folio volumes, were written in the true epistolary style of unaffected ease and simple elegance, frequently enlivened by sallies of sportive wit and pleasantry. They were usually on subjects connected with public affairs, and the important events of the day, concerning which he was accustomed to inquire anxiously and to reflect deeply. They often comprised critical remarks on the works of modern writers, and still oftener on those of the ancient Greeks and Romans. His literary communications to authors, who applied to him for assistance, were large and liberal; and his aid was sometimes gratuitously offered to those who had not presumed to solicit it. If, on perusing any recent publication, he was much pleased or interested by it, he would sometimes write a critique upon it, more or less minute, and forward it, inclosed in a letter to the surprised and delighted author.

Occasionally Dr. Parr took upon himself to address letters of remonstrance or reproof to the zealous theologian, or to the controversial writer, who had offended, as it appeared to him, against the laws of literary courtesy, or the precepts of Christian charity. Of this an instance lately occurred in the case of no less a person than that of the Lord Archbishop of Dublin. To that high dignitary he twice presented a protest against the unfairness of reasoning, the rashness of assertion, and the bitterness of invective, which have too much dishonoured his Lordship’s polemical writings; and have injured
rather than aided the cause of which he is the advocate. Writing to a friend, he says,

“I gave a wholesome pastoral lesson to the new bishop; and, by letters, I have dropped serious though not very pleasing counsel into the minds of two of the right reverend dignitaries. I did not spare the Tory parsons. They crammed me with their heresies; and I dosed them with intellectual physic, prescribed by reason and Scripture, prepared in my shop, and administered by my hands, &c.—S. P. Holkham, August 21, 1816.”

It was a great misfortune, which Dr. Parr had often occasion to lament, that his handwriting was such as to be utterly illegible to those who were not accustomed to it, and almost so to those who were. He was always glad, therefore, to employ an amanuensis when writing for others, or even for himself, as he could not without difficulty decipher his own misshapen characters. The present writer, on receiving from him a note of only a few lines, was always obliged, in reading it, to seek the help of others; and sometimes to despatch a messenger for explanation to Dr. Parr himself. Among the mass of letters and papers now lying before him, the writer finds few, indeed, in which there are not many words, often clauses, and sometimes whole sentences, which have never yet been made out, even by persons considered as most skilful in giving form and order to these “chaotic scrawls,” as they were frequently termed by Dr. Parr himself. Thus humorously he describes his own manuscript of “Characters of Mr. Fox,” in a letter to his printer. Mr. Belcher of Birmingham, to whom, and to his
son, the
present Mr. Belcher, he was warmly attached, and of whom he always spoke in the same high terms of respect, in which they have ever been spoken of by all to whom they are known.

“Sir,—I hope that your son will pardon the new tax I am going to lay upon his patience, when I request him, if possible, to put together the scattered limbs of the book, just in the same form in which he received them; so that I may hereafter show to my friends a many-headed, many-handed, many-footed monster, which certainly belongs to no known species; and for which all printers, booksellers, and devils of the press will put up their prayers that it may never propagate its own shapeless race; but remain a solitary individual, for blockheads to stare at, and men of sense to laugh at. I am sure that my learned friend, who writes for me, and all my scholarly acquaintance, will give your son the highest praise for industry and good sense, in making out the confused and deformed contents of a MS. quite unexampled since the invention of letters: for, I verily believe that the negroes of Africa, and the Cherokees of America, and I had almost said the long-tailed animals, from which Lord Monboddo supposes the human race to have been descended, might be taught in two months to write more legibly.—I am your sincere wellwisher,

“S. Parr.”

On the same subject, Dr. Parr speaks in a more serious strain towards the close of the preface to the two volumes just referred to:—“The editor
has felt frequent and serious inconvenience from his early and perverse inattention to an attainment, the usefulness of which was justly appreciated by an ancient critic: “Non est aliena res, quæ fere ab honestis negligi solet, cura bene et velociter scribendi,” &c. He unfortunately accustomed himself “velociter scribere, non bene.” But he hopes to put some check upon the boyish heedlessness and petty vanity of others, by reminding them that, in the art of writing,
Mr. Fox was eminently distinguished by the clearness and the firmness, Mr. Professor Porson, by the correctness and elegance, and Sir Wm. Jones, by the ease, beauty, and variety, of the characters, which they respectively employed.”

After a studious morning,1 Dr. Parr usually took his only exercise, which was gentle riding on horseback, enlivened by a few friendly calls on more distant neighbours. He had no inclination for any of the sports of hunting, shooting, or fishing;2 nor had he the least taste for gardening or

1 “It is very well known both to my pupils and my visitors, that few men are less idle than myself; and by many of my friends it will not be denied that a pretty considerable share of my time has been allotted to their writings. From my daily avocations, as an instructor, from my numerous, and I hope useful exertions, as a parish-priest, from the variety and extent of my correspondence, from the different affairs, about which I am either consulted or employed by different persons in different parts of the kingdom, I am often bereaved of the leisure, which would otherwise be dedicated to the prosecution of my studies, the relief of my spirits, and the preservation of my health.”—Reply to Combe, p. 54.

2Daniel’s Rural Sports, 4to. plates.—The gift of Jockey “Dr. Maltby to Jockey Dr. Parr.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 478.

agriculture. His corporeal frame was robust and vigorous; but he had not sufficient agility to enjoy much the pleasures of walking. Though, during his later years, he kept his coach, and sometimes went in it, with a kind of state, of which he was sufficiently vain, drawn by four horses; yet, almost to the last, he generally preferred riding on horseback. He was often to be seen, on the road from Hatton to Warwick, or from that town to Leamington, moving slowly along, the most grotesque figure imaginable, wrapped in an old blue cloak, with coarse worsted stockings, and one rusty spur; his head covered with a huge cauliflower wig, and a small cocked-hat overtopping all; his servant preceding him about a dozen yards, either on foot or horseback.1

His constitution was so hardy, that he went out in all states of the weather, except in snow, of which he had the greatest dread; as he pleasantly describes in the following note to his friend Mr. Parkes, written in the hard winter of 1807:—“I begin to fear that it scarcely will be in my power to wait upon you to-morrow. My chief apprehension is lest I should catch cold, in encountering my inveterate and invincible enemy—snow. I bid defiance to frost, to rain, to wind and heat; but I am always worsted in my conflicts with snow. However, if possible, I will be with you, &c.—S. P.”

Dr. Parr’s nature was highly social; and he almost always spent his evenings in the company of his family and his domestic visitors, or in that

1 New Monthly Mag. May, 1825.

of some neighbouring friends. He was fond of the pleasures of the table; and probably, in the course of the whole year, few days passed, in which he did not meet some social party, round the festive board, either at home or abroad. At such times, his dress was in complete contrast with the costume of the morning; for he appeared in a well-powdered wig, and always wore his band and cassock. On extraordinary occasions, he was arrayed in a full-dress suit of black velvet, of the cut of the old times, when his appearance was imposing and dignified.

After dinner, but not often till the ladies were about to retire, he claimed, in all companies, his privilege of smoking, as a right not to be disputed; since, he said, it was a condition, “no pipe, no Parr,” previously known, and peremptorily imposed on all who desired his acquaintance. Speaking of the honour once conferred upon him, of being invited to dinner at Carlton House, he always mentioned, with evident satisfaction, the kind condescension of his present majesty, then Prince of Wales, who was pleased to insist upon his taking his pipe as usual. Of the Duke of Sussex, in whose mansion he was not unfrequently a visitor, he used to tell, with exulting pleasure, that his Royal Highness not only allowed him to smoke, but smoked with him. He often represented it as an instance of the homage which rank and beauty delight to pay to talents and learning, that ladies of the highest stations condescended to the office of lighting his pipe. He appeared to no advantage, however, in his custom of demanding
the service of holding the lighted paper to his pipe from the youngest female, who happened to be present; and who was, often, by the freedom of his remarks, or by the gaze of the company, painfully disconcerted. This troublesome ceremony, in his later years, he wisely discarded.

The reader will probably recollect, in the well-known story, his reply to the lady by whom he had been hospitably entertained, but who refused to allow him the indulgence of his pipe. In vain he pleaded that such indulgence had always been kindly granted, even in the mansions of the highest nobility, and even in the presence and in the palace of his sovereign. “Madam,” said Dr. Parr to the lady, who still remained inexorable, “you must give me leave to tell you, you are the greatest—“ whilst she, fearful of what might follow, earnestly interposed, and begged that he would express no rudeness.—“Madam,” resumed Dr. Parr, speaking loud, and looking stern, “I must take leave to tell you—you are the greatest—tobacco-stopper in England.” This sally produced a loud laugh; and having enjoyed the effects of his wit, he found himself obliged to retire, in order to enjoy the pleasures of his pipe.

Dr. Parr was accustomed to amuse himself in the evening with cards, of which the old English game of whist was his favourite. But no entreaties could induce him to depart from a resolution, which he adopted early in life, of never playing, in any company whatever, for more than a nominal stake. Upon one occasion only, he had been persuaded, contrary to his rule, to play with the late Bishop
Watson for a shilling, which he won. Pushing it carefully to the bottom of his pocket, and placing his hand upon it, with a kind of mock-solemnity, “There, my Lord Bishop,” said he, “this is a trick of the devil; but I’ll match him: so now, if you please, we will play for a penny;” and this was ever after the amount of his stake.1 He was not, on that account, at all the less ardent in the prosecution, or the less joyous in the success, of the rubber. He had a high opinion of his own skill in this game, and could not very patiently tolerate the want of it in his partner. Being engaged with a party, in which he was unequally matched, he was asked by a lady, how the fortune of the game turned? when he replied—“Pretty well, madam, considering that I have three adversaries!”

1 Those two very learned men, Mr. Markland and Dr. Clarke, fond, like Dr. Parr, of whist, were not equally scrupulous as to the amount of their stakes. The former, in a letter to Mr. Bowyer, thus writes: “The person you mention was formerly my acquaintance and great benefactor. I won a hundred pounds of him once at whist; and got it every farthing.”