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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. XXVIII. 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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
A.D. 1800—1807.
Dr. Parr’s friendly intercourse with Mr. Roscoe—His opinion of “The Life of Lorenzo”—and of “The Nurse,” a poem, in letters to the author—Dr. Parr’s high regard for Mr. Wakefield—His opinion of him as a scholar and a writer—Letter to one of his friends on occasion of his decease—Death of Dr. Parr’s younger daughter—His sketch of her character—Death of Mr. Wm. Parkes—Dr. Parr’s tribute to his memory—Death of Professor Porson—Biographical notice of him.

The year 1795 was distinguished in the annals of English literature, by the publication of a work of extraordinary merit; which was attended with the singular fortune of being received, on its very first appearance, not only by professed scholars, but by almost every class of readers, and by all the various, and at that time fiercely contending, parties in the nation, with one instantaneous and universal burst of admiration and applause. This was “The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,” by William Roscoe, Esq. of Liverpool. In this important work, the author has opened to his countrymen new and delightful sources of information on some of the most interesting subjects of history and literature; and he has enhanced, in a high degree, the value of that information, by the mild spirit of philosophy and humanity which uniformly guides his pen, by the pure sentiments of moral and politi-
cal rectitude which breathe through every page, and by the correctness, the perspicuity, the elegance, and the energy of a style, which is in all respects worthy of the subject. Within two years, this admirable work passed through three quarto editions, when it was published in an octavo form; and these have since been followed by many other editions.

The attention of Dr. Parr was soon drawn to this work; and, after carefully perusing it, he addressed the following letter to the author, by whose kind permission it is here subjoined:

“Sir,—For the liberty I am going to take with a gentleman, whom I have not the honour personally to know, I have no other, and probably I could find no better apology, than the frankness, which ought to subsist between literary men upon subjects of literature.”—“Your life of Lorenzo de’ Medici had been often mentioned to me by critics, whose approbation every writer would be proud to obtain; and as the course of reading, which I pursued about thirty years ago, had made me familiar with the works of Poggius, Pico of Mirandula, Politian, and other illustrious contemporaries of Lorenzo, I eagerly seized the opportunity of borrowing your celebrated publication from a learned friend at Oxford.”—“You will pardon my zeal, Sir, and you may confide in my sincerity, when I declare to you, that the contents of your book far surpassed my expectation, and amply rewarded the attention with which I perused them.—You have thrown the clearest and fullest light upon a period most interesting to every scholar.—You
have produced much that was unknown; and to that which was known, you have given perspicuity, order, and grace.—You have shown the greatest diligence in your researches, and the purest taste in your selection; and upon the characters and events which passed in review before your inquisitive and discriminating mind, you have united sagacity of observation, with correctness, elegance, and vigour of style.”—“For the credit of our national curiosity and national learning, I trust that the work will soon reach a second edition; and if this should be the case, I will, with your permission, send you a list of mistakes, which I have found in some Latin passages, and which, upon seeing them, you will certainly think worthy of consideration. Perhaps I shall proceed a little farther, in pointing out two or three expressions, which seem to me capable of improvement; and in stating my reasons for dissenting from you upon a very few facts of very little importance.”—“At all events, I shall give you proofs of the care with which I have read your admirable work; and as to the petty strictures which I may have occasion here and there to throw out, you will find an honest, and let me hope a satisfactory explanation of my meaning, in the words of Politian to Pico—‘Neque ego judicis, sed Momi personam indui, quem ferunt sandalium Veneris tandem culpasse, cum Venerem non posset.’”—“It is proper for me to add, that I do not understand Italian; but am told by a very intelligent neighbour, who is said to read it critically, and to write it elegantly, that the matter contained in that language is apposite,
curious, and instructive.—I have the honour to be, &c.

S. Parr.”
Hatton, Oct. 4, 1797.

“I well recollect,” says one of his own pupils, “the manner in which Dr. Parr devoured every page of Roscoe’sLife of Lorenzo de’ Medici.’ After his first perusal of the book, he went through it again with me, to whom he dictated numerous critical observations and suggestions, which he enclosed in a complimentary letter to Mr. Roscoe; and which, I believe, led to a friendly intercourse between the Doctor and that gentleman.”1

These friendly criticisms were indeed received, as is here intimated, with a due sense of obligation by the candid and ingenious writer for whose use they were intended; and the intimation is also correct, that they proved the means of introducing an epistolary correspondence, followed by several personal interviews; of which Dr. Parr always spoke with high and rapturous delight. From a second letter, which passed on this occasion, the following are some extracts:

“I am determined to lose no time in acknowledging my good fortune upon the acquisition of a correspondent, whose candour is worthy of his talents, and whose letters are fraught with all the elegance and all the vigour which decorate his publication.”—“I rejoice, Sir, not so much upon your account, as upon that of your readers, to whom you have opened so large and so delightful a field of entertainment and instruction, when you tell me

1 New Monthly Mag. July, 1826.

that the
life of Lorenzo has already gone through three editions, and that it will soon appear in an octavo form. The edition open before me is that of 1796. I borrowed it from the learned librarian of New College, Oxford; and I shall return it next week, because it belongs to a society, where you will have many readers very capable of appreciating your merit, and well disposed to acknowledge and to proclaim it.”—“By what the ancients would have called the afflatus divinus, I anticipated your willingness to let me speak with freedom; and your letter justifies me in ascribing to you that candour, which is the sure criterion and happy effect of conscious and eminent worth. Indeed, Sir, I saw in your work vestiges of excellence, which, in my estimation, is of a much higher order than taste and learning. I found deep reflection; and, therefore, I expected to find a dignified and virtuous moderation in the science of politics. I met with sentiments of morality, too pure to be suspected of hypocrisy, too just and elevated to be charged with ostentation; and give me leave to add, that they acted most powerfully on the best sympathies of my soul. If, in this season of old corruptions and new refinements, a Fenelon were to rise up among us; and, if by a conversion in the understandings and hearts of sovereigns, not less miraculous than that recorded of Paul, he were appointed to train up the heir of a throne to solid wisdom and sublime virtue, sure I am that he would eagerly put your book into the hands of his pupil, and bid him—
Noctuma versare manu, versare diurna.—
I am no stranger to the sweets of literary and social intercourse between kindred spirits; and, therefore, I wonder not that you call
Dr. Currie your friend. Present my best compliments to him; and believe me, with just and sincere respect, dear Sir, your very faithful and obedient servant,

S. Parr.”
Hatton, Dec. 17, 1797.

In the year 1798 appeared another work by the same author, entitled “The Nurse; a poem, translated from the Italian of Luigi Tansillo.” According to the short account prefixed to the poem, Tansillo was a native of Nola, in the kingdom of Naples; and “was one of the brightest wits in that constellation of genius, which appeared in Italy in the 16th century; and which yet diffuses a permanent light over the horizon of literature.” The object of his poem is to inculcate on mothers the discharge of their natural duty towards their infant offspring; and to reprobate the custom of transferring that duty to others. As the subject is thus highly interesting in itself, “so is it treated in a manner peculiarly pointed and direct; yet without violating the decorum which is due to the public at large, and in particular to the sex to whom it is addressed.” A copy of this work, presented by the author, was read by Dr. Parr with eager delight; and the kindness of the giver, and the pleasure which his work afforded, were gratefully acknowledged in a letter, from which the following is an extract:

“Dear Sir,—You and I have read and rejected many a grave definition of man; and if the failure
of others were not sufficient to deter us from attempts to define, we should hardly, on such a question, observe the three laws which logicians produce, as indispensably necessary to a just definition. But we can describe what is prominent, or even peculiar, in species and in individuals; and can you, after all your variety of research, and with all your fertility of conception, point out a more proper term for man than a procrastinating animal? Such is man—and such have I been. Mr. C—— left
your book at Birmingham, while I was rambling about Wales. In the beginning of October I received it, at Birmingham. I brought it to Hatton. I read it twice—I liked it exceedingly—I determined, again and again, to write to you—I have been busy—I have been vexed—I have been idle—I have remembered, and remembered my resolution again and again; and again and again I have neglected to execute it. Your kind letter, and even the sight of your hand-writing, have roused me from my delirium. Tansillo interested me even by his subject. The short but pithy life you have prefixed, sent me to the book with yet stronger emotions. I read, and was delighted with his tenderness, his just indignation, his deep observation upon character, his earnest and most expressive expostulations. A mother I am not; and yet if I were, and had sinned against his laws, such a monitor would have awakened me to repentance. I am a man and a father, and a diligent and anxious observer of what passes in the earlier stages of what you and I consider education, &c. &c.

S. Parr.”
Jan. 25, 1799.

But, whilst cultivating the new and the valuable acquaintance, which afterwards proved to him the source of so much high satisfaction, nearly about the same time, Dr. Parr’s attention was painfully drawn to the cruel wrongs, followed by the premature death of a friend, whose learning he respected—whose talents he honoured—whose virtues he admired—and whose misfortunes he deeply deplored.1 This was the Rev. Gilbert Wakefield, eminently distinguished as a scholar and a writer; and as a man, yet more eminently distinguished for moral rectitude, which no earthly hope or fear could move from its even course—for benevolent ardour, which no perverse opposition, or ungrateful returns to himself, could check in its pursuit of good to others—and for generous love of country, which seemed to regard all personal considerations as nothing, and even “the threats of pain and ruin to despise,” in supporting the sacred cause of its rights and liberties.

Mr. Wakefield was one of those persons who fell a victim to the barbarous persecution, which ministerial vengeance brought down upon so many innocent, but obnoxious individuals, during the period of the French Revolution; and which will for ever fix a deep and indelible stain on the Pitt-administration, even if it had been far more glorious, than its zealous partisans have represented it. For a few unguarded expressions, in one of his political publications, he was consigned to the common jail

1Wakefield. Silva Critica. The gift of the learned, pious, and injured author. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 330.

of Dorchester, and there he was detained for the space of two years, in rigorous confinement. Set free, at the end of that period, he had scarcely escaped the “harpy claws” of power, when he was seized with a fever, the consequence of overexertion after long restraint; and within two weeks from the first day of his illness, and fourteen from the time of his liberation, he died, Sept. 9, 1801, in the forty-sixth year of his age.

Of all his friends and admirers, and he had many, there were few who loved and admired him more than Dr. Parr; and the present writer, in the habit of visiting both, was often employed to convey messages of kind inquiry, and invitations of friendly hospitality, from one to the other. But though Mr. Wakefield greatly respected Dr. Parr, yet from the impulse of his own stern and unyielding integrity, which led him to judge severely of others, he could not help sometimes expressing, in strong terms, his disapprobation of Dr. Parr’s insincerity and inconsistency, as he did not scruple to term them, in disguising so much his sentiments on important subjects, and in refusing to act publicly in support of principles, which, in private, he was known to approve. These censures, however, were pointed against him more as a theologian and an ecclesiastic, than as a politician; and if in any degree deserved in the earlier periods, they were far less so in the later years of his life; when, it is certain, he threw around his opinions much less disguise, and when few opportunities of openly avowing and maintaining them occurred, which he did not embrace.


If, on his part, Dr. Parr occasionally adverted to those defects in Mr. Wakefield, which cast a shade over the splendour of a good and a great name, it was always with tenderness and delicacy. Sometimes he lamented, and sometimes blamed, but much oftener candidly excused, that irritability of temper, which appeared so offensively in the publications of Mr. Wakefield, though not at all in his conversation or manners. It is neither necessary nor possible to justify the severe censures, the acrimonious invectives, the rude personalities, which may be found in his controversial writings, and even in those on subjects of philology and classical literature. But the example of other critics of great fame—the warmth of his own temper—the unmerited provocations which he received—the haste with which he wrote and published, and which precluded the possibility of corrections or obliterations, such as more sober reflection might have dictated; all these considerations were often forcibly urged by Dr. Parr in extenuation of faults, which certainly detract something from the excellence of Mr. Wakefield’s writings, important and valuable as they are.

Of his style in Latin composition, Dr. Parr formed no very favourable judgment; and of his conjectural emendations, he did not in general approve. He thought that Mr. Wakefield wanted the time and the patience necessary to that discrimination, which would have made his conjectures fewer, indeed, but more probable; and his principles, in forming and elucidating them more exact. He fully acknowledged, however, the success, and
highly commended the judgment, with which he applied his philological learning to the elucidation of the Scriptures; and in speaking of the imperfections which appeared in Mr. Wakefield’s writings, he never attempted to depreciate their real merits. “Many,” said he,1 writing to a friend, “who, like myself, discern his imperfections, are far below Mr. Wakefield, not only in industry, but in acuteness; not only in extent, but, perhaps, in accuracy of knowledge; not only in the contributions which they have made, or endeavoured to make, to our general stock of knowledge, but in their capacity to make them so largely or so successfully.”2

On receiving intelligence of Mr. Wakefield’s death, communicated by a common friend,3 Dr. Parr addressed to that friend a letter in reply; from which the following are extracts:

“Sir,—I was yesterday evening honoured with your letter; I read the contents of it with inexpressible anguish; I passed a comfortless night, and this morning I am scarcely able to thank you as I ought to do, for your delicacy in averting the shock, which I must have suffered, if intelligence so unexpected and so distressing had rushed upon me from the newspapers.”—“In the happiness of the late Mr. Wakefield, I always took a lively interest: many are the inquiries I made about the

1 Life of Wakefield, vol. ii. p. 449.

2Lucretii Opera à Wakefield. 3 vols. 4to. The gift of the very learned editor. S. P.”—“Wakefield’s Remarks on Horsley’s Ordination Sermon. Pungent. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 185. 689.

3 Life of Wakefield, vol. ii. p. 221.

state of his health, and the course of his studies, while he was at Dorchester: great was my anxiety to see him after his sufferings were at an end; and when his name was announced to me at my lodgings in Carey Street, I seized his hand eagerly; I gazed steadfastly upon his countenance; I was charmed with the freshness of his spirits, and the apparent stoutness of his constitution; I anticipated for him a succession of years after years, during which he might have smiled at the malice of his enemies, and enjoyed the sympathies of his friends; and, at parting, I received from him a book, which the circumstance of captivity under which it was written endeared to me, and which his death has now consecrated.”1—“To the learning of that excellent person, my understanding is indebted for much valuable information;2 but my heart acknowledges yet higher obligations to his virtuous example. I loved him unfeignedly; and though our opinions on various subjects, both in criticism and theology, were different, that difference never disturbed our quiet, nor relaxed our mutual good-will.”—“In diligence, doubtless, he far surpassed any scholar, with whom it is my lot to have been personally acquainted; and though his writings now

1Noctes Carcerariæ. The last gift of the beloved and much respected author. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 634.

2 When the name of Wakefield occurs to us, who does not heave a momentary sigh, and, catching the spirit with which Jortin once alluded to the productions of learned and ingenious dissenters, repeat the emphatical quotation of that most accomplished and amiable scholar—“Qui tales sunt, utinam essent nostri?”— Review of the Variorum Horace, British Critic, vol. iii. p. 123.

and then carry with them some marks of extreme irritability, he was adorned, or, I should rather say, he was distinguished, by one excellence, which every wise man will admire, and every good man will wish at least to emulate. That excellence was, in truth, a very rare one; for it existed in the complete exemption of his soul from all the secret throbs, all the perfidious machinations, and all the mischievous meanness of envy.”—“For my part, sir, I shall ever think and ever speak of Mr. Wakefield, as a very profound scholar, as a most honest man, and as a Christian, who united knowledge with zeal, piety with benevolence, and the simplicity of a child with the fortitude of a martyr.”—“Under the deep and solemn impressions which his recent death has made upon my mind, I cannot but derive consolation from that lesson, which has been taught me by one of the wisest among the sons of men. ‘The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise, they seem to die, and their departure is taken for misery—but they are in peace.’ I am, &c.

S. P.”

In no long time after the death of “the beloved and much respected friend,” whose loss he deplored so feelingly in the above letter, Dr. Parr had to lament that of several other of his friends; among which number were, in his own neighbourhood, Lord Dormer, and the Rev. Mr. Gaches; and, at a distance, the Rev. Thomas Twining,1

1Mr. Twining of Colchester του Άττικωτατον.” Spital Serm. p. 109.

whose friendship he had fondly cherished from an early period of life; and more distantly still, the celebrated
Dr. Priestley, whose friendly regards, though of later date, he cultivated with almost equal reverence and affection. The former died at Colchester, in the summer of 1804; and the latter, somewhat earlier in the same year, at Philadelphia, after an exile from his native shores of about ten years.

But the hand of death, which was thus striking down his friends around, was soon destined to reach nearer to himself; and towards the end of 1805, Dr. Parr was deprived, by that dreadful distemper, a lingering consumption, of the younger of his two daughters, Catherine Jane Parr, who was then in her 24th year. She had been, for some time, removed from Warwickshire, to try the benefit of milder air, at Teignmouth on the Devonshire coast. But the change came too late; and, as her father expressed himself in a letter to a friend, “Many, aye, many a time have I reproached myself, for not acting vigorously, according to my own conviction, in sending my daughter sooner to a more favourable climate, though in opposition to the judgment of a most sagacious and truly affectionate mother.”

The death of this excellent young lady was calm and peaceful. What seldom happens, in such cases, she was fully aware of her own situation; and gave several particular directions about her own funeral. The lingering hours of closing life were much soothed by reading “Rogers’ Pleasures of the Memory;” over which she hung with delighted attention. She retained her faculties to
the last; and marked the gradual approach of death with evident complacency. On the morning of her decease, after having washed, and composed her dress, with more than ordinary care, as if preparing for some great event, she desired her pillow to be moved, so as to admit of her taking a view of the sea, when, having looked on its vast expanse for a moment or two, she expired.

Inferior in powers of intellect to her elder sister, Catherine possessed, in a higher degree, the attractive graces of kind and amiable disposition, and of bland and obliging manners. She had much of the gay sprightliness of wit, but none of its satirical poignancy. She was her father’s favourite, and in losing her, he was for a time inconsolable. Thus, in a letter dated Teignmouth, Nov. 23, 1805, addressed to his excellent friend Mrs. Bellamy, now Mrs. Edwards, he communicates the sad intelligence:—

“Dear Madam,—I reached Teignmouth on Wednesday afternoon, and found my beloved child so ill, as to be incapable of being removed, as she and I wished, so as to breathe her last amidst the soothing and affectionate attentions of her friends at Hatton. Poor Sarah arrived this morning about two; but too late to see her dear sister alive; for yesterday, at a quarter before two, my Catherine expired in the presence of her mother and myself. I believe that a more virtuous soul never appeared in the presence of God. I hope to meet her, where this painful separation will no more be felt. Oh! Mrs. Bellamy, this is the sharpest affliction I ever experienced. But of this no more.—Her parents
and sister will follow the lifeless corpse by short stages, from this place to Hatton, where it will rest in the library, according to my dear child’s desire, till the time of interment. The funeral will be on Monday fortnight; and as my beloved Catherine was so often indebted to your kindness at Hazely-House, I desire that you and Mr. Bellamy will attend as mourners.—I am, your much afflicted, but sincere wellwisher,

S. Parr.”

According to the intention, expressed in the above letter, the remains were conveyed from Teignmouth to Hatton; and deposited, with a kind of state, in the library, where they were kept till it was no longer safe. There they were visited by the afflicted mother, at stated hours every day; who always went alone, and remaining long, especially before retiring to rest at night. The disconsolate father, too, often resorted to the same mournful scene, and at every visit spent some time in prayer, kneeling down near the coffin: nor could he, without difficulty, be torn away from the sad spectacle, when at length necessity required it.1 After the last rites of hu-

1 Much as it may surprise the reader, especially if little informed of the singularities which marked, in many instances, the mind and conduct of Dr. Parr—it was, no doubt, the warmth of parental affection which dictated the wish, and its constancy which, after the lapse of so many years, gave to that wish the form of the following extraordinary directions—found with many others of a similar kind, amongst his own written orders for his own funeral! “I lay particular stress upon the following directions: My hands must be bound by the crape hatband which I wore at the burial of my daughter Catherine. Upon my breast must be placed a piece of flannel, which

manity and religion had been, with due solemnity, performed, he thus gave expression, in the
Obituary of the Gentleman’s Magazine,1 to the feelings of parental love and grief:—

“At East Teignmouth, Devon, in her 24th year, died, after a long and painful illness, which she bore with exemplary patience and resignation, and the last hours of which she hallowed by an act of duty to her father, Catherine Jane, second and youngest daughter of the Rev. Dr. Parr. She was distinguished by playfulness of wit, and sweetness of disposition, by purity of mind and goodness of heart, by affection to her parents and reverence of her God. Her venerable father, whose attainments are exceeded only by the strength of his understanding, and the warmth of his heart, will long and deeply feel and lament her loss. It leaves a void in his enjoyments, which no other being can fully supply. Her afflicted mother, of whom she was the constant and beloved companion, and round the fibres of whose heart she was closely entwined, weeps, like Rachel, for her child, and ‘refuses to be comforted because she is not.’ Her sorrowing sister clings to the remembrance of her with the fondest affection; and her surviving friends, to whom she was deservedly endeared, can never call to mind her various virtues without the mournful tribute of a sigh.”

Catherine wore at her dying moments at Teignmouth; and there must be a lock of Catherine’s hair, in silk and paper, with her name, laid on my bosom, as carefully as possible, and covered and fastened with a piece of black silk.”

1 Gent. Mag. Dec. 1805.


This affecting memorial, consecrated to a beloved daughter, was, within a short time, followed by another tribute, which Dr. Parr was called upon “in the discharge of a last and a pious duty,” as he himself expresses it, to pay to the memory of a much esteemed friend. This was the late Mr. W. Parkes, of the Marble Yard, Warwick; one of the most intelligent, upright, agreeable, and benevolent of men, who died amidst the sorrowful regrets, not of his afflicted friends only, but of the whole surrounding neighbourhood, July 13th, 1806. Though not a member of the same church with himself—yet utterly and nobly regardless of every other except the great and essential distinction of mental and moral worth, as Dr. Parr ever was—thus he portrays the pleasing picture of departed excellence, as it appeared in private life:—

“This excellent man discharged all the various and sacred duties of domestic life, with the most irreproachable exactness and amiable tenderness. He was intelligent, punctual, and diligent, in conducting the numerous and important concerns of a very extensive business; and unwearied in his endeavours to relieve the indigent, and to protect the oppressed. The activity of his benevolence was unrestrained by any narrow and invidious distinctions of sect or party. His equanimity was alike undisturbed by adverse and prosperous fortune. His patriotism was firm and temperate, and his piety was rational and sincere. By constancy in his friendships, by placability in his resentments, by the ingenuous openness of his temper, by the manly independence of his spirit, and
by the general conformity of his moral habits to his religious principles, he obtained, and deserved to obtain, the esteem of his neighbours, the confidence of his employers, and the unalterable regard of an enlightened and respectable acquaintance. The memory of such a person will ever be dear, and his example instructive, to the poor who shared his bounty, and to every class of men that had opportunities for contemplating his virtues. For the space of twelve months he laboured under a lingering and complicated malady, of which neither the causes could be ascertained, nor the effects resisted, by the most skilful physicians, both in the capital and in the neighbourhood. But he supported, with unshaken fortitude, the pains of disease and the languor of decay; and with the unfeigned resignation of a Christian, he looked forward to death, as the passage appointed by Heaven, to a glorious immortality.”

In the course of the year 1807, the wide circle of his friends, among whom pre-eminently stood Dr. Parr, and the whole world of letters, were alarmed by reports of the declining health of the celebrated Greek Professor of Cambridge, Richard Porson. He was one of the most extraordinary men of his time; in talents, surpassed by few; in learning, and especially in Greek learning, certainly not excelled, and scarcely even equalled by any, not only of his own age, but of all former ages. He had been long subject to spasmodic asthma; and this painful disorder, increasing in the frequency of its recurrence, and the virulence of its attack, reduced him, towards the end of the year
just mentioned, to a state of so much debility, as to threaten fatal consequences. He afterwards, however, recovered in some degree, though unfavourable appearances soon returned; and, in the autumn of the following year, after suffering much, under the effects of an intermittent fever, he was seized with apoplexy. He languished for some days; and gradually sinking, on Sept. 28, 1808, in his forty-ninth year, he expired.

He was undoubtedly one of those intellectual prodigies, which now and then appear to astonish, to delight, and to instruct mankind. With powers of memory1 almost miraculous, he united acute penetration, clear discernment, and correct judgment. His learning was enlivened by brilliancy of wit and humour; and his mental excellences were adorned by the noblest moral qualities. His piety was sincere; his integrity was inflexible; and more ardour of benevolence glowed in his heart than was generally apparent to others. So sacred with him were the rights of conscience, so extended his views of religious liberty,2 that he not only tolerated, but honoured and applauded differing Christians, and even opposing unbelievers, if they were sincere and virtuous. He resigned his fellowship, and closed against himself the prospect

1 He once told a friend of Dr. Parr, Mrs. Edwards, whose name has so often occurred in these pages, “that his memory was a source of misery to him, as he could never forget any thing, even what he wished not to remember.”

2Pillars of Priestcraft and Orthodoxy shaken, by Richard Baron, 4 vols. A favourite work of Professor Porson. S. P. “Gordon’s Cordial for Low Spirits, 3 vols. A favourite work of Porson’s. S. P.” Bibl. Parr. pp. 86. 520.

of rising in the church, rather than conform to the prevailing but most immoral practice of signing articles of faith, which are not believed. Alas! on the phasis of this brilliant sun, some spots were visible! There was so much coldness in his manner, as might seem to import the absence of all kindly feelings; and such occasionally were the caprices of his temper, that none could, with any sagacity, explain, and few could, with any patience, endure them. His worst fault, which it is well known was inebriety, has however been usually, and no doubt justly ascribed to his inability to sleep; a misfortune under which he laboured even from his childhood. But whatever may have been his errors or infirmities, they are lost in the blaze of intellectual and moral splendour which surrounded his character, and which will for ever claim for him the reverence, the admiration, and the gratitude of mankind.

Though the opportunities of personal intercourse did not very frequent occur, yet Dr. Parr always delighted in the society of Mr. Porson, and always spoke of him, as the first of scholars, and one of the greatest of men. In the list of learned academics, he is mentioned as του πάνυ θαυμαστου; and his qualifications and his services as Greek Professor of Cambridge, are thus described: “Mr. Porson, the Greek Professor, has not read more than one lecture, but that one was πίοαχος εξ ιερης ολίγη λιβάς. He has written, however, books of utility, far more extensive than lectures could be; and I speak from my own actual observation, when I state, that the Greek plays, edited by this won-
derful man, have turned the attention of several academics towards philological learning; which, it must be confessed, has few and feeble attractions to the eagerness of curiosity, or the sprightliness of youth.”

As a scholar, a critic, a man of high talent, the character of Mr. Porson is sketched with a strong and a bold hand, in the following passage:

Mr. Porson is a giant in literature, a prodigy in intellect, a critic, whose mighty achievements leave imitation panting at a distance behind him, and whose stupendous powers strike down all the restless and aspiring suggestions of rivalry into silent admiration and passive awe. He that excels in great things, so as not to be himself excelled, shall readily have pardon from me, if he errs in little matters adapted to little minds. But I should expect to see the indignant shades of Bentley, Hemsterhuis, and Valckenaer, rise from the grave, and rescue their illustrious successor from the grasp of his persecutors, if any attempt were made to immolate him on the altars of dulness and avarice, for his sins of omission, or his sins of commission as a corrector of the press. Enough, and more than enough, have I heard of his little oversights in the hum of those busy inspectors who peep and pry after one class of defects only, in the prattle of finical collectors, and the cavils of unlearned, and half-learned gossips. But I know that spots of this kind are lost in the blaze of this great man’s excellencies. I know that his character towers far above the reach of such puny objectors. I think that his claims to
public veneration are too vast to be measured by their short and crooked rules, too massy to be lifted by their feeble efforts, and even too sacred to be touched by their unhallowed hands.”1

One of Mr. Porson’s most remarkable publications, “Letters to Archdeacon Travis,” is thus praised by Mr. Gibbon: “I consider it as the most acute and accurate piece of criticism, which has appeared since the days of Bentley. Mr. Porson’s strictures are founded in argument, enriched with learning, and enlivened with wit; and his adversary neither deserves nor finds any quarter at his hand.” The same work Dr. Parr thus characterises: “Inimitable and invincible;”2 and speaking of the publication to which it was an answer, he adds: “Travis was a superficial and arrogant declaimer; and his letters to Gibbon brought down upon him the just and heavy displeasure of an assailant equally irresistible for his wit, his reasoning, and his erudition—I mean the immortal Richard Porson.”3

1 Reply to Combe. 2 Bibl. Parr. p. 689. 3 Ibid. p. 601.