ePub 版


No. VI.


Tue profound erudition, inflexible integrity, and unaffected benevolence of the late Dr. Parr, were so universally acknowledged, and so eminently venerated, that, whatever difference of opinion may exist, with respect to the soundness of some of his opinions, he will ever rank highly among the many excellent and admirable persons who have in the present age conferred honour upon their country, and reflected lustre upon letters. Of his scholastic attainments it becomes few to speak, for few can be found capable of appreciating their value, or of estimating their extent. Equalled, perhaps, by some of his contemporaries in the art of verbal criticism, in rare and elegant classical knowledge he was unquestionably pre-eminent in the learned world. His vast and varied literary resources were acquired, too, not in the ease and leisure of affluence, but under the pressure of haste and poverty ; in a situation subject to many mortifications, and wholly unsupported and uncheered by any adventitious advantage or encouragement.

Dr. Samuel Parr was born at Harrow, January 15. 1746-70 His great grandfather was rector of Kirkby Malory, in Leicestershire, and his grandfather was vicar of Hinckley, in the same county. His father, to use Dr. Parr's own words, in a letter to Dr. Percival, was “an apothecary and surgeon at Harrow, a man of a very robust and vigorous intellect.” The family (of which a pedigree is printed in Nichols's Leicestershire, iv. 725.), was of the highest respectability, and had produced many divines ; but was greatly reduced through persevering Jacobitism, and Mr. Parr himself advanced nearly his whole property (8001.) in aid of the Pretender. The son, there


fore, was brought up a Tory; but Dr. Parr has said, that his father, by giving him Rapin to read when very young, first loosened his early political sentiments. He was considered a boy of very precocious talents, and had attained extraordinary grammatical knowledge of Latin at four years of age. Of his critical acumen he gave the first specimen at that early period of his life; on an occasion when, being called from his boyish play to the surgery, to compound medicines, he revengefully pointed out to his father a mistake he had made in a genitive case in a Latin prescription, which drew from the latter the animated correction of, "Sam, dn the prescription, make the mixture." -There is another characteristic anecdote of Dr. Parr at that period of his life, which he was himself in the habit of telling with great glee. The use of laudanum, then, we believe, called "Thebaic tincture," was at that time rare among country practitioners. Dr. Parr's father, like many other men of strong intellect, was somewhat of an experimentalist; and he began cautiously to introduce this medicine into his prescriptions. One old lady among his patients was suffering from some painful complaint which he was at a loss how to palliate or relieve. Returning from visiting her one morning, he sat down to enter a prescription in his day-book; in doing which he paused, and after some hesitation wrote, erased, and wrote again. The prescription was made up by his son, and the next morning Mr. Parr, after having seen his patient, came back in high spirits. "Sam," said he, "you will live to see this new medicine work wonders."-" Indeed, Sir." "Yes, my boy $ I ventured yesterday to increase the dose from ten drops to fifteen; and Mrs. — has passed a more comfortable night than she has known for the last two months; and I think I shall venture fifteen drops again."-"You may do that, Sir, safely."-"Don't be rash, boy. Beginners are always too bold. How should you know what is safe?"-" Because, Sir, when I made up the prescription, I doubled the dose you ordered.""Doubled the dose! you dog, how dared you do that?"-"Because, Sir, I saw you hesitate."





When between nine and ten years old, he lost a tender mother, for whom he ever felt and avowed a strong affection; and on his father marrying again before the expiration of twelve months, the son refused to exchange his mourning weeds for the new coat with lappets, ordered for him on occasion of the new wedding.

At Easter, 1756, young Parr was admitted on the foundation of Harrow School, where he became head boy in January, 1761, at the early age of fourteen; at that time particularly attracting the notice of the head-master, Dr. Sumner. Here he was contemporary with Mr. Halhed, Sir William Jones, and Dr. Bennett, late Bishop of Cloyne; with the two latter of whom he devised a political play. With those personages his friendship was ardent and constant through life. The elite of the school were accustomed to perform voluntary exercises; and an interesting detail is given in Lord Teignmouth's Memoirs of Sir William Jones, of their manly games and principles. The first literary attempt of Dr. Parr was reported by himself to have been a drama founded on the Book of Ruth; and possibly, had he been born in Milton's age, he would have been a poet. It is to be regretted that all the youthful exercises of this singular republic of boys were subsequently stolen and taken to Holland. Sermons are in existence, written by Dr. Parr, at the early age of fourteen.

Soon after the above-mentioned date, Dr. Parr left school, his father wishing to educate him in his own profession, and “ for two or three years,” says he, “ I attended to his business.” He had a most yearning desire to obtain the advantages of academic education and honours, but his step-mother was opposed to the expence, and influenced his father to make the condition of his going to the University, his entry as a sizar. This was what his independent spirit could not brook after quitting his school-fellows as an equal. His father gave him a month to determine whether he would accept the prof fered terms, or relinquish college altogether; he chose the latter alternative; but parental pride subsequently advanced a small sum, which, on his entry at Emanuel College, Cambridge, in 1765, young Parr confided to the treasurership of his old friend and school-fellow, the late Bishop Bennett. His pecuniary necessities, however, soon became pressing, and he determined to leave the University rather than to borrow. On balancing his accounts, he found, to his extreme surprise, that he had 31. 178. over and above the full payment of his debts; and such had been the economy of his expence,

; that, he said, had he previously known of any

such sum, he should have remained longer ! In one of his printed sermons he pathetically laments his inability to continue where his talents and acquirements seemed to promise him the highest distinction and worldly success.

Dr. Sumner soon recalled him to Harrow, where he was appointed first assistant in January, 1767; and, during Dr. Sumner's life, he met with the most flattering personal attachment from that distinguished scholar, who, after the school bedtime, was accustomed to send for Parr into his private study, where their literary and theological discussions, in a great degree, formed and confirmed those principles which afterwards governed his whole life. These conversations would occasionally take place in the earlier part of the day; and it would frequently happen, that after Dr. Sumner and Dr. Parr had been carrying on some fierce altercation on critical subjects, or perhaps unbending their minds with lighter topics, they would go from the head-master's house up to the school, and bow to each other, on taking their seats, with all the formality and ceremoniousness, which at that period was observed between the head of Harrow and his assistants.

At Christmas, 1769, Dr. Parr was ordained on the curacies of Wilsdon and Kingsbury, Middlesex, which he resigned at Easter, 1770. In 1771, he was created M.A. per literas Regias, and in the same year, on the death of Dr. Sumner, he became a candidate for the head-mastership of Harrow, with the late master's strong recommendation. Although sanguine hopes were entertained by his friends of his success, his youth and other influence prevailed against his nomination,

to the great disappointment of the scholars, by whom he was sincerely beloved. The election fell

The election fell upon Dr. Heath. It is well known, that the dissatisfaction of the school was manifested in Dr. Parr's favour in some overt acts of insubordination, which he was unjustly accused of having fomented. The most violent clamours were raised against him, and circulated in the public papers. Ultimately he resigned the place of assistant, and established a private academy at Stanmore, with forty-five boys, of whom, all but one followed him from Harrow. It then became desirable, and even necessary, that he should be married: he, therefore, allied himself to Jane, daughter of Zachariah Marsengale, Esq., of Carleton, Yorkshire, and niece to Thomas Mauleverer, Esq., of Arncliffe, in that county; of an antient and respectable family. Dr. Parr married Miss Marsengale, because he wanted a housekeeper; Miss Marsengale married Dr. Parr, because she wanted a house. She was an only child, bred up by three maiden aunts, as she said of herself, “in rigidity and frigidity,” and she always described Dr. Parr as “ born in a whirlwind, and bred a tyrant.” Such discordant elements were not likely to produce harmony. The lady lost few opportunities of annoying her spouse; an object, which a strong understanding and caustic powers of language afforded her more than ordinary facilities of accomplishing; and she always preferred exposing his foibles and ridiculing his peculiarities in the presence of others. These domestic matters are here referred to only as explaining some of the subsequent enigmas of the life and conduct of Dr. Parr. His mind and temper were kept in continual irritation; and he was driven to the resources of visiting, and to the excitement of that table talk which unfortunately superseded efforts of 'more lasting character. Porson used to say, — “ Parr would have been a great man but for three things, —his trade, his wife, and his politics !" By this his first wife, who died at Teignmouth, April 16.1810, (and was buried at Hatton,) Dr. Parr had several children, who died in their infancy; and two daughters who grew up. Of these, the younger, Catharine,

« 上一頁繼續 »