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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. XXIII. 1794

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. 1794.
Death of Sir Wm. Jones—His character—His literary attainments—His friendship with Dr. Parr—Lord Teignmouth’s Memoirs of his Life—Disingenuousness of that biographer in the opinion of Dr. Paley, and of Dr. Parr—Death of Mr. Gibbon—Dr. Parr’s high opinion of him and of his works—His epitaph written by Dr. Parr—His observations on the state of the Universities—Dr. Parr’s remarks in reply.

In the year 1704, the whole civilised community of Europe and Asia, and even of America, was struck with one common sentiment of deep-felt sorrow, by the mournful intelligence of the death, after a short illness, of the excellent and incomparable Sir Wm. Jones, so justly the pride of his country, and so truly the wonder and the glory of his age. Rarely, indeed, in any age or any country, has ever been exhibited, more largely or more happily blended, all that is great with all that is good in human character; and few have commanded, in a higher degree, the esteem and the admiration, united with the love and the gratitude of mankind. In him extraordinary powers of intellect, early and diligently cultivated, were assiduously and successfully devoted to literary pursuits, very diversified in their nature; but all important, more or less, in themselves, and all consecrated, with anxious care, to the noblest purposes of human improvement and happiness. In him, also,—and this is his highest
praise—the richest endowments of mind were accompanied with the best dispositions of the heart; and his talents and his virtues reflected mutual splendour on each other. His piety was at once rational and fervent; his moral taste was pure and uncorrupted; his moral and political integrity was not to be shaken by the most seductive offers of honour or profit; and the warm benevolence of spirit, which glowed so intensely in the amiable charities of private life, expanded itself into all the sentiments of the truest patriotism, and the most generous philanthropy.

As a linguist, for the extent of his attainments, he was unrivalled. His knowledge included all the ancient and most of the modern languages, amounting, in number, to no fewer than twenty-eight; many of which he studied critically, and well understood all. As a scholar, the wide range of his researches embraced the literature of the earlier, the middle, and the later ages, and of the eastern united with that of the western hemisphere. He was a man of science, as well as a man of letters; and, among other branches, directed particular attention to those of chymistry and anatomy. For the vigorous exercise of his faculties, he often dived deep into the abstruser mathematics; and, for a pleasing relaxation, amused himself with the study of botany, and the theory of music. As a lawyer, his chosen profession, he was profoundly versed in all the legal principles and forms, both of the country in which he was born, and of the distant country in which he was appointed to discharge—and most ably and faithfully did he discharge!—
the highest judicial functions. India, as well as England, had cause to mourn his loss; and all the more deplored the event, as it so unexpectedly and so prematurely deprived the world of one, whom the unanimous suffrages of the wise and good of mankind have placed among the most perfect and the most exalted of human beings. He closed his short, but brilliant and important career, April 27, 1794, in the forty-seventh year of his age.

It is no slight honour, reflected on the name even of Dr. Parr, to say, that he was the early, the constant, the esteemed, and beloved friend of Sir William Jones. Their friendship began, as already related, in school-boy days, from similarity of tastes, and the union of studies and amusements. It was cemented by congeniality of sentiment on all the more important subjects of literature, politics, and religion; and was continued and increased, through advancing life, by increasing admiration of each others virtues and talents: nor was it terminated but by that last solemn event, which puts an end to all the amiable and delightful connexions of men with their fellow-men in this world, for ever.

In a pamphlet, which appeared soon after the melancholy intelligence of his death arrived in England, Dr. Parr mentions, with mournful regret, his illustrious friend, as one of the four persons who had possessed a larger share of his confidence, than any other human being; adding, “for the sake of learning and virtue, I will apply to him, with a few alterations, what Plato said of Socrates—“΄Ηδε ή τελευτη του εταιρου ήμιν εγένετο, άνδρος, ώς ήμεις φαιμεν
αν πάντων ων επειράθημεν, πολυμαθέστατον, χαι μάλιστα χαλου χαι αγαθον.”1 In a later publication, Dr. Parr speaks of him “as a man raised far above his contemporaries, et natura admirabili, et exquisita doctrina, et singulari industria;”2 and, in another still more recent, calls him the illustrious and unparalleled
Sir William Jones, his pre-eminently learned school-fellow and friend.”3

It has been said that Dr. Parr once designed to write the life of Sir William Jones; and, if it be so, this, and the intended lives of Johnson, Sumner, and Fox, were the four literary projects, of which the execution, no doubt, would have done equal honour to himself, and to those whose merits would have been so strikingly delineated, and so splendidly emblazoned. But of all these fair projects, alas! it is to be feared, the true and the whole account is pretty nearly as follows: that the first never proceeded beyond the mere intention of writing; that the second advanced no farther than preparatory researches, of much labour, indeed, and of no small extent; that the third ended in collecting and arranging all the materials, and yet leaving the work in a state not fit for publication; and that the last shrunk away from a “Life,” into a mere sketch of character; which, however excellent in itself, was but a small compensation to the public, for the disappointment of expectations, too inconsiderately excited on the one side, and too hastily admitted on the other.

1 Reply to Combe, p. 80. 2 Spital Sermon, p. 109.

3Bibl. Parr. p. 225. 696.


Within a few years after the death of Sir Wm Jones, it is well known, that “Memoirs of his Life and Writings” were given to the public by his friend and his intimate associate in India, Lord Teignmouth. Though, in this work, ample justice, upon the whole, is done to the great and the elevated character which it professes to describe; yet, by many persons, to whom that character was intimately known, the work was not read without some strong feelings of disapprobation; because it fails in giving a full and fair representation of Sir William Jones’ opinions on the two most important subjects, religion and politics; or rather, because, on those subjects, it contains much misrepresentation.

Dr. Paley, according to the report of his biographer, Mr. Meadley, often animadverted, with some severity, on the very “unsatisfactory accounts” which Lord Teignmouth has given of Sir William Jones’ political principles and conduct. “He was a great republican,”1 said Dr. Paley, “when I

1Sir Wm. Jones’ Dialogue between a Farmer and a Country Gentleman, on the Principles of Government. A most able dialogue, published without his name, by Sir William Jones. He told me he wrote it after a conversation, in which he maintained, and Vergennes denied, that the first principles of government could be made intelligible to plain, illiterate readers. Dr. **** who was present, doubted. Jones wrote the dialogue in French. They met. Vergennes yielded—. **** decided. Jones, on his return, translated the book, and it was published, without animadversion, by the Constitutional Society. His brother-in-law, the Dean of St. Asaph, procured a Welsh translation; then came the prosecution from Fitzmaurice, the righteous and rival magistrate of the Dean. All this I heard

knew him;” alluding to a period when the accomplished barrister was distinguishing himself by his writings, and by his exertions to obtain some important reforms in the British constitution. “The sentiments which he then avowed so decidedly,” continued Dr. Paley, “he certainly never afterwards disclaimed; and his sentiments on questions of great public importance ought to have been neither extenuated nor withheld.”1 But nothing of all this appears in Lord Teignmouth’s

It is hardly necessary to remind the reader, that the approbation of republican principles is not in the least inconsistent with a full acknowledgment of all the excellencies which really belong to the English constitution, as fitted to secure and promote, in a high degree, the peace, the order, the freedom, and the happiness of this country. To be a true and loyal member of the British community, we are not surely required to believe that its government has touched the very point of perfection; nor are we obliged to assert that other forms or modifications of government may not hereafter be devised, more excellent than all that have preceded, more accommodated to the feelings, and better adapted to the views and wants of people, in a more advanced state of social refinement and moral improvement.

In the censure, severe as it is, pronounced by

when talking, at his chambers in the Temple, with Jones, on the Monday after he had been knighted, and the prosecution against the Dean commenced. The preface, Sir William Jones told me, was written by Bishop Shipley. S. P.”

1 Memoirs of Paley, p. 220.

Dr. Paley, on the disingenuous concealment, so discreditable to the character of Lord Teignmouth, as a biographer, Dr. Parr entirely concurred; and the same censure he extended from the account of the political, to that which is also given of the religious opinions of Sir William Jones. In describing the long and anxious inquiry which preceded conviction, as might be expected, in the case of one of the most upright, as well as enlightened of men; and in tracing the progress of his mind from a state of doubt and difficulty, to that of firm belief in the Jewish and Christian revelations, the narrative is, no doubt, substantially correct, as it is deeply interesting. But when Lord Teignmouth, whose creed is highly orthodox, laboured to make it appear that Sir William Jones adopted the same creed, he must have strangely misconceived, or wilfully misrepresented, the truth.

Dr. Parr often asserted in the hearing of the present writer, as from his own knowledge, that so far from admitting the popular views of Christianity, Sir William Jones held those which are commonly distinguished by the name of Unitarianism. That assertion is, indeed, proved, as far as negative proof can go, by the passages from his writings, produced by Lord Teignmouth in the “Memoirs.” In all these, it is impossible not to remark, the total absence of every expression, which might imply the admission of such a theological system, as that attributed to him by his biographer. Every one of his devotional pieces, and all his observations of a religious kind, proceed upon the principles of what the learned Dr. Lardner calls the ancient Nazarean
doctrine, or that of the early Jewish Christians. In some degree, on the authority of these very passages, and still more, on the decisive authority of Dr. Parr,1 the writer thinks himself warranted

1 Proofs of the disingenuousness or strange misconception of Lord Teignmouth.—“The following,” says his Lordship, “is a direct and public avowal of Sir Wm. Jones’ belief in the divinity of our Saviour;”—no doubt, in the orthodox sense of the word is meant:—“The title, Son of God, was often applied, by a bold figure, agreeably to the Hebrew idiom, to angels, to holy men, and even to all mankind, who are commanded to call God their Father; and, in this large sense, the Apostle to the Romans calls the elect the children of God, and the Messiah, the first-born among many brethren. But the words only-begotten are applied transcendently and incomparably to him alone. His being born of a virgin, alone might fully justify that phrase.”—“This quotation affords,” as his Lordship adds, “a decisive proof of the belief of Sir Wm. Jones in the sublime (i. e. the orthodox) doctrines of the Christian religion!!” Again—the following expressions, Lord Teignmouth calls a decisive testimony of his reliance on the merits of a Redeemer, i. e. in the orthodox sense of the words!!—“Admit me not weighing my unworthiness, but through thy mercy declared in Christ, into thy heavenly mansions,” &c. Again—the following expressions are represented by his Lordship as an avowal of Sir Wm. Jones’ faith in the godhead of Christ!!—“I cannot help believing the divinity (not deity) of the Messiah, from the undisputed authority, and manifest completion of many prophecies, especially those of Isaiah, in the only person recorded in history to whom they are applicable.” Yet a few pages afterwards, in the same work, Sir Wm. Jones styles Moses “the divine legate.” If the above are instances of disingenuousness, is not the following something worse?—Passage as given by Lord Teignmouth, to show that Sir Wm. Jones believed the common Trinitarian doctrine. “Nothing can be more evident, than that (to use the words of Sir Wm. Jones) the Indian Triad and that of Plato are infinitely removed from the holiness and the solemnity of the Christian doctrine of the

in placing Sir William Jones amongst the members of the anti-trinitarian and anti-calvinistic schools of Christian philosophers; and of adding his illustrious name to those of
Newton, Locke, and Milton, of Clarke, Tucker,1 Hartley, and Law.2

In the same year, 1794, the literary world suffered another eclipse of its splendour in the death of the author of the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Mr. Gibbon was exposed to much and deserved reproach, not for his rejection of Christianity—since honest, though mistaken, opinion, who has a right to condemn?—but for his artful and insidious mode of attacking it: yet it would be a violation of all justice, not to acknowledge in him, a learned and accomplished scholar, an elegant and powerful writer, a pleasing and instructive companion, and an amiable and virtuous man. But if his personal character obtained for him, less than it deserved, the general esteem; he had the gratification to receive, in its full measure, that grateful applause, to which he has entitled himself, as a writer, by directing the powers of his

Trinity, and that the Trinity of our Church cannot without profaneness be compared with that of the Hindus.”—The same passage as written by Sir William himself. “The Indian Triad and that of Plato are infinitely removed from the holiness and the solemnity of that doctrine, which pious Christians have deduced from texts in the Gospel; though other Christians, as pious, openly profess their dissent from it. Each sect must be justified by its own faith and good intentions. This only I mean to inculcate, that the Trinity of our Church cannot without profaneness be compared with that of the Hindus.”—Jones’ Works, vol. ii. p. 9. 41. 235, 236, 237.

1 Author of “The Light of Nature Pursued.”

2 Bishop of Carlisle.

mind so successfully, and by applying the stores of his learning so happily, to the elucidation of one of the most eventful and important periods in the history of the world.

Those who were in the habit of conversing with Dr. Parr, well know that he was ever accustomed to speak of Mr. Gibbon with all the respect due to the virtues of his private life, and with all the admiration due to his talents and his acquirements, as displayed in his writings, especially in his great historical work; which, in conjunction with those of Hume, of Robertson, and we now exultingly add of Roscoe, has completely redeemed the British nation from the reproach of having produced no history of high reputation and dignity. Dr. Parr could not, indeed, but deplore Mr. Gibbon’s disbelief of Christianity; and he has publicly censured him, because he cast away the evidence of all miracles whatever, and because he derided, as well as rejected divine revelation. At the same time, however, he turned with horror from the thought of deprecating his worth, as a man, or his merit as a scholar and an author. He felt and acknowledged all the force of the objections, which have been urged against some parts of his celebrated history; and yet he shrunk, with disdain, from the too common injustice of decrying, on account of these faults, the solid and the shining excellencies of a work, which will for ever remain as a monument to the fame of the author, and to the honour of the country which gave him birth.1

1 But see a very different opinion of this work pronounced by a great Warburtonian, with all the proud presumption of the


Dr. Parr could not, then, but exceedingly dislike and condemn that censorious bigotry in relation to Mr. Gibbon, which vented its rage in unmeasured abuse and indiscriminate censure; and it was with unfeigned pleasure that he bore his testimony of approbation to the strain of calm reasoning, and to the spirit of amiable candour, with which the “Apology for Christianity” is written, by a liberal and enlightened prelate, the late Bp. Watson, who, in exposing the erroneous views of Mr. Gibbon, did ample justice to the good qualities of the man, and to the great qualities of the historian. On that occasion, it excited, in Dr. Parr, the utmost indignation to hear of the perverse and petulant remark of Bp. Hurd; who, offended by the display of a spirit so opposite to that of his own Warburtonian school, converted the mildness and the candour of the reasoner into an argument against the sincerity of the writer—spitefully observing,—“The Apology was well enough, if the author were in earnest.”1

With this fair disposition to render to all their due, and to weigh impartially the merits and the defects of others, it will not surprise the reader to be told that, on receiving from Lord Sheffield, the

school to which he belonged; closing with the following words—“Mr. Gibbon survived but a short time his favourite work. Yet he lived long enough to know, that the most and best of his readers were much unsatisfied with him. And a few years more may, not improbably, leave him without one admirer. Such is the fate of those who will write themselves into fame, in defiance of all the principles of true taste and true wisdom!”—Hurd’s Works, vol. v. p. 401.

1Anecdotes of the Life of Bishop Watson,” vol. i. p. 99.

friend and the biographer of the deceased historian, a request to take upon himself the task of writing the monumental inscription,
Dr. Parr, without hesitation, signified his compliance. Though he might see something in the character of Mr. Gibbon, of which he did not approve, yet he saw much which a Christian divine, without the reproach of inconsistency, might applaud. Aware, indeed, of the delicacy of the task, undertaken by one who was an ecclesiastic, he thought it prudent to consult the opinions of his illustrious friend, Mr. Fox, and of his much-honoured friend, Dr. Routh, of Magdalen College, Oxford; and by his own good judgment, aided by their excellent advice, he was happily guided in the choice of his topics, and the selection of his phraseology. Nothing could be more just and appropriate to the great subject of the epitaph, than the praises bestowed on the high powers of his mind, and the vast compass of his knowledge, on his pre-eminence as an historian, exhibited in the luminous pages which trace the declining and the fallen fortunes of Rome; on the richness, the harmony, the elegance, the vigour, and the splendour of his style, as a writer; on the sagacity of his observations and the moderation of his temper, as a philosopher and a politician, and on the blended kindness, affability, and dignity which marked his character as a man and a gentleman. The inscription to the memory of Gibbon is regarded, by competent judges, as one of the best of the many which proceeded from the pen of Dr. Parr.1

1 See App. No. III.


But whilst he rendered all due respect to the estimable qualities of Mr. Gibbon, Dr. Parr was not the less firm in opposing whatever might appear to him unjust or erroneous in his opinion. It is well known that Mr. Gibbon has inserted in the very interesting “Memoirs of his own Life” strictures on the moral and literary state of the two Universities; written, it may be allowed, with too much contemptuousness of spirit, and yet it cannot be denied that his remarks are founded, to a considerable degree, in truth and justice. It is certain, that the same representations in substance, though, perhaps, less offensive in form, have been held forth by other persons, whose motives few will dare to impugn, and whose authority all would be disposed to respect. For, this surely may be said of such men as Mr. Gray, Dr. Jebb and Dr. Watson, of Cambridge, and Dr. A. Smith, Dr. Napleton, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Knox, all men of Oxford.

Amidst the vast body of notes and disquisitions subjoined to the Spital Sermon, of which some account will be given hereafter, Dr. Parr has entered on a long and elaborate vindication of the two Universities; in which he appears, the writer laments to say, too much the advocate of things as they are, and too much the opposer of such reforms as all human institutions, either from original defects, or from growing abuses, or from the altered circumstances of the times, require. In replying to Mr. Gibbon, Dr. Parr writes with a warmth of indignation, and expresses himself with a severity of censure, greater than the occasion
seems to justify or even to excuse. No good reason appears for imputing to Mr. Gibbon any unworthy motive in recording the unfavourable opinion which, not himself only, but many others, have formed of the state of Oxford, and, though in a less degree, of its sister University: and it seems no more than common candour to believe, that he might be actuated by the love of learning and the generous wish of human improvement, at least as much as by resentful remembrance of the treatment which he received, in early life, from his own college, or by disdainful anger towards the three learned academics who ventured to write against him. Because he has exposed, in strong colours, some of their great and glaring defects, is it just to represent him as hostile to those ancient and venerable institutions? He might admit the advantages, which, amidst all their imperfections, they still possess; and yet, without inconsistency, condemn their abuses. He might acknowledge their utility and importance, to a certain extent; and yet desire, without reproach, to render them, by well-considered reforms, more important and more extensively useful. It is certain, that he has conferred the meed of his liberal praise upon some able and active professors, who appeared at Oxford, after his dismission; and has noticed, with ardent pleasure, the improved systems of discipline which have been, in later years, introduced into some colleges.

It is no answer to Mr. Gibbon to say, that, among the thousands, who have gone forth from Oxford and Cambridge, into the great circle of
society, there have been many ingenious and learned men; men illustriously great, or eminently good. Long, indeed, and splendid is the catalogue which
Dr. Parr has produced of academics, within his own time, who have been celebrated, more or less, by classical, oriental, theological, and natural knowledge, by literary talents, by professional skill, or by parliamentary abilities; and among these some, undoubtedly, there are, whose names will be inscribed with honourable distinctions in the scrolls of immortal fame. But of all these, the question is, how much did they owe to the advantages of the place, and how much to themselves, in spite of all its disadvantages? Such men, it has been well observed, are like noble and vigorous plants, which would grow and flourish, not only in the cultivated fields or gardens, but on a mountain or in a desert. Dr. Parr himself once declared, speaking of the two great Grecians, Porson and Burney, “that Cambridge, of which they were members, had nothing to do with their learning: they would have been great any where.”1 Even if it could be shown that the Universities before their late reforms were excellently adapted to the cultivation of high talent: this would not be enough; unless it could be shown also, that such a system was brought into vigorous action, as is fitted to call forth inferior ability, to animate ordinary diligence, and to stimulate by honours and rewards, to the higher degrees of common proficiency.

It is pleasing, however, to add that, as Mr. Gibbon’s complaints were not uttered without just

1 Blackwood’s Mag. Nov. 1825.

cause, so neither have they been urged without good effect. In consequence of his remonstrances, the severity of which constitutes, perhaps, their value and their efficacy, supported by the remonstrances of others, especially of
Dr. Knox, which were scarcely less severe, the public attention has been drawn to this important subject, so intimately connected with all the great interests of the nation; and compelled by the stern voice of public opinion, the two Universities have admitted, though “with slow and sullen reluctance,” some great and beneficial changes; particularly, in the institution of a more useful and liberal plan of education, in the establishment of public examinations, and in the institution of college-prizes. But though much has been done, much still remains to be done; especially in rendering the new regulations more generally efficacious, by extending their salutary influence from the gifted few, to the great body of their fellow-collegians. At present the two Universities are rather to be considered as confined nunneries for genius, than as spacious and open grounds, in which ordinary minds are to be cultivated, and from which the fruits of valuable knowledge may be dispersed in rich abundance, through the whole community, including the middle, if not the lower, as well as the higher classes.

“From the sincere, the ardent, the anxious regards which I bear to both Universities,” says Dr. Parr, “I have sometimes wished to see a few alterations admitted into our academical studies; and, perhaps, in both of them might be pointed out academical men, who are capable of planning such
alterations with wisdom, and of conducting them with full and visible effect.”1

Some further improvement in the system of university-education, Dr. Parr was, therefore, disposed to admit; and though his concession is warily expressed, and seems to be restricted within scantylimits, yet it is known to all his more intimate friends, that, since this passage was written, more than twenty years ago, he has considerably enlarged his views of the reforms, which are not only desirable, but urgently necessary, both in church and state, both in schools and universities. It was his decided opinion, through the later years of his life, that all our public institutions require not only to be cleared from their abuses, but to be modified and renovated, so as to be better adapted to the altered circumstances, and the improved state of the times.

Amongst the most necessary reforms in the regulation of the two great public seminaries of England, what upright and ingenuous mind can forbear to wish most ardently, that the strange, absurd, nugatory, and immoral practice may be speedily abolished, of requiring oaths to be taken for the observance of statutes, which it is impossible to enforce; and of demanding subscription to numerous and perplexing articles of faith, which have not been examined; or, if examined, it is well known, are not generally believed by those who subscribe, or even by those who demand the subscription? From this most objectionable test, in particular, and from all tests of exclusion whatever, Dr. Parr was strongly averse; and he ever stre-

1 Spital Sermon, notes, p. 111.

nuously contended, upon the principle of wise policy, as well as of strict right, for the admissibility of every member of the state, whether a member of the church or not, into the full participation of all the advantages, and all the honours, which the Universities have to bestow.