Parr, Samuel

Parr, Samuel LL.D., a learned English divine noted as a profound scholar, was born in 1747, at Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex. He was educated at the grammar school of that place, and at Emannuel College, Cambridge. He accepted in 1767 the situation of usher at Harrow, under Dr. Sumner; at whose death in 1772 he offered himself as a candidate for the mastership, but without success. He first opened an academy at Stanmore, which began under very promising appearances; but which, ultimately failing, he gave up in 1776, and then became master of the grammar school at Colchester; whence, in 1778, he removed to that of Norwich. In 1780 he was presented to the rectory of Asterby, Lincolnshire. In 1783 he obtained the perpetual curacy of Hatton, in Warwickshire, and a prebend in St. Paul's Cathedral. In 1790 he exchanged Hatton for the rectory of Wadenhoe, in Northamptonshire, though he still continued to live at the former place, to which he was much attached, and the parish church of which he greatly ornamented. In 1802 Sir Francis Burdett gave him the rectory of Graffham. in the county of Huntingdon, and this completed the course of his Church preferment. He died in 1825. As an elegant classical scholar Dr. Parr stood pre-eminent among his contemporaries; his prodigious memory and extent of research rendered him astonishingly powerful in conversation; and it is to be regretted that the greater part of his labors as an author had reference to topics which were of a temporary nature, and therefore, though written with vigor, are fast sinking into oblivion. Dr. Parr has not left a single great work, nor will his name go down to posterity associated with any important principle or extensive literary undertaking. His fame rests upon a learning which, whatever may have been its accuracy and extent, has bequeathed to the world no memorable results. Parr was a man of great talents, of very extensive learning, and of pre-eminent conversational powers; but he was vain, arrogant, and overbearing. His friends uniformly represent him as possessing much benevolence and kindness of feeling; but he required the utmost submission, and exacted the most devoted attention from all who approached him. In his literary and political disputes he argued and declaimed with the fierceness of party feeling and the petulance of self-love, and forgot alike both the equities and the decencies of controversy. Though of unquestionable ability, he spoke and wrote with the fluency of ready knowledge, rather than with the profoundness of original thought or the compass of a philosophic spirit. He was determined and violent in his social views, as his opinions on the slave-trade and Test- Act questions fully testify. It must be stated, however, that on these subjects his mind underwent a change in the latter part of his life. Still his notions about civil and religious liberty were never the clearest or the most comprehensive; for while he could recommend conciliation to the Roman Catholics and the Unitarians, he did not hesitate to suggest persecution against the Methodists. Parr left a vast mass of papers behind him, consisting of his correspondence, and of historical, critical, and metaphysical disquisitions. His published writings, with a memoir by Dr. Johnstone (1828), fill eight thick octavo volumes. They relate to matters historical, critical, and metaphysical, and show a copious eruditions, a ready conception, and a vigorous and ample style. He republished Tracts by Warburton and a Warburtonian to annoy bishop Hurd, the editor of Warburton; and felt no compunction about. injuring the fame of Warburton, whom he pretended to admire and respect, if he could only annoy Hurd, who had given him no offense save what a morbid self-conceit might imagine. See Field, Memoir of Dr. Parr (1828); Parriana (1828); Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Blackwood's Magazine, Jan., May, June, 1831.

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