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no very high opinion of Parr's intellectual powers; but he might have continued, we may suppose, on fair terms with him, as he continued with others of far less ability, had he not been alienated, apparently, by Parr's overbearingness in conversation, pretension to supremacy in literature, and overwhelming torrents of verbosity. As early as the time when Porson looked to the sheets of Heyne's Virgil, and when Parr, in his "Remarks on Combe's Statement," called him "a giant in literature," Porson drew back, in stately attitude, and said: "How should he be able to take measure of a giant?" Or, according to other accounts: "A man must be a giant himself to tell whether another is a giant."

"*

Let us contemplate, for a moment, Parr's literary character. He certainly was a man of learning and talent, but was as far from being a man of genius as any man of learning and talent ever was. He has not left on paper a single thought that can be called original. He has produced abundance of declamation, but declamation composed of material from other writers. An author he can scarcely be called. If we compare a page of Addison, or Locke, or Bacon, with a page of Parr, we see the difference between the productions of a writer who thinks for himself, and those of a writer who draws his supplies from the fountains of others. No man can say that he has gathered nutriment for his mind, or added to his intellectual stores, from the writings of Parr. Nor was his language more original than his matter; if he praised Burke, or abused Pitt, he delivered his praises or abuse in the

* Rogers's Table Talk, "Porsoniana,” p. 318.

CH. XXIV.]

phrase of Cicero or Johnson. His Preface to Bellendenus is but a cento, and his English efforts are of a similar nature. His sentences are full of sound, and sometimes of fury, but the effect is altogether disproportionate to the rage and noise.

It has been regretted that he gave up his time to sermons and pamphlets, instead of devoting it to larger works. But if he had taken longer performances in hand, it appears far from certain that he would have carried any one of them to a successful conclusion. His ardour was excited only by fits, sufficing for the composition of a pamphlet, and for additions and improvements to it, but not burning long enough for the production of a work of magnitude. He wanted the power of what Garrick called concoction. He collected a shelf full of books for a life of Johnson, but either never commenced it or commenced it to no purpose.

LITERARY CHARACTER OF PARR.

301

Even in classical reading, to which he was devoted apparently more than to anything else, he has gained himself no permanent reputation. Of all the books through which he roamed, he fixed on no one to edit, nor is an original illustration of a single passage attached to the name of Parr.

Let it be carefully remembered, however, that, when we speak in depreciation of Parr, we refer only to his literary character. As a man, considered apart from his writings and his talk, he was noble-minded and generous, and always ready, with perhaps some few whimsical exceptions, to do a service to any of his fellow-creatures to the utmost of his power. He gave his contribution to the fund for Porson's annuity at a time of his life when he could very ill afford it. Porson

himself remarked to Kidd that Parr was an excellenthearted creature.

For Parr's literary character, then, it cannot be surprising that Porson, who could see very acutely into mankind, should feel no very great reverence, but should regard him very much as sounding brass. One thing in Parr's conversation which particularly offended Porson was his proneness to disquisition and declamation on the origin of evil. Once, in a large company, Parr said to Porson: "Pray what do you think, Mr. Porson, about the introduction of moral and physical evil into the world?" Porson, after a moment's pause, answered, with great dryness and solemnity of manner: "Why, Doctor, I think we should have done very well without them."*

This reminds us of Dr. Johnson's retort to Boswell, "What have you to do with liberty and necessity? Or what more than to hold your tongue about them?”

On another occasion, Parr said to Porson: "Mr. Porson, with all your learning, I do not think that you know much of metaphysics. "Not of your metaphysics, Doctor," was the reply. Mr. Maltby, who knew Parr, as well as Porson, intimately, says that Parr was evidently afraid of Porson's intellectual powers.†

When Parr was uttering his effusions against the Rev. Charles Curtis and others, and the public prints were filled with paragraphs about them, Porson wrote the following lines, in allusion to the preface to Bellendenus:

* Barker's Parriana, vol. i. p. 543. Warner's Literary Recollections, vol. ii. p. 6.

Rogers's Table Talk, "Porsoniana," p. 318.

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"Perturbed spirits, spare your ink,

And beat your stupid brains no longer,
Then to oblivion soon will sink

Your persecuted preface-monger."

Which somebody has thus turned into Latin:

"Turbata corda, jam papyro parcite,
Nigroque latici; ne cerebrum tundite :
Præfationis scriptor iste sic statim
Oblivionis in nigros cadet sinus."

303

The reader who objects to corda tundentia cerebrum may also object to "spirits beating their brains."

Nothwithstanding the efforts which Parr made to secure Porson's pension, says Johnstone, "Porson privately sneered and jeered, and once lampooned him under the name of Dr. Bellenden."

Dr. Parr was not the only scholar of that day on whom Porson looked with aversion, or something like contempt. One whom he particularly disliked was Jacob Bryant. In the earlier part of his life, when he was meditating an edition of schylus, he had been introduced to Bryant by Coxe, and Bryant had exerted himself to procure subscriptions for the work. His efforts, however, were but little seconded by Porson, who was not much disposed to solicit assistance of an kind from any man. In this respect, as well as in some others, it was truly said of him by his fellow-collegian Walter Whiter, that "he would never do the thing that he was wanted to do." "I have tried a great deal to serve him," wrote Bryant to a friend, in a fit of vexation, "on account of his uncommon learning, but cannot obtain the least encouragement. He cannot carry on the scheme he has formed without assiduity and solici

tation, and a proper respect to those from whom there is any expectation. But he visits nobody, and omits every necessary regard. A handsome gratuity from me shall certainly be ready when demanded, but I find a total disinclination in others."*

6

Bryant afterwards "used to abuse Porson," says Mr. Maltbyt, "behind his back," as "they thought very differently, not only on the subject of Troy, but on most other subjects. One day, when he was violently attacking his character, the Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Douglas, said to him: Mr. Bryant, you are speaking of a great man; and you should remember, Sir, that even the greatest men are not without their failings.' Cleaver Banks, who was present on that occasion, remarked to me: I shall always think well of the Bishop for his generous defence of our friend.''

Cleaver Banks tells the story himself, in a letter to Parr, thus: "I was exceedingly pleased with an instance of candour and liberality, which, as times go, are articles of rare occurrence in Bishops. Jacob Bryant takes every opportunity of showing his resentment against Porson, and was one day proceeding in his usual invectives, when the present Bishop of Salisbury checked him with a severe rebuke for his want of charity. Such things are not to be expected from Bishops now-adays." +

The scholarship of Bishop Burgess he regarded with much contempt, which he took little care to conceal. During a visit to Oxford he gave strong offence to a

* Life and Posth. Works of Coxe; Quart. Rev. vol. 1. p. 110. † Rogers's Table Talk, "Porsoniana," p. 309.

Parr's Works, vol. i. p. 381.

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