« PreviousContinue »
appears also to have kept up a connection with the house at Newington Green. Samuel Rogers's advice to him to call on Dr. Parr was the origin of one of the familiar stories told by him and not very correctly reported by Mr. Hayward in the Edinburgh Review article in which Mr. Dyce's inaccuracies are severely rebuked. The story is told by the Rev. D. Jones himself in the following letter:
AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. PARR
An Interview with Dr. Parr.
'Bm.: 13th Novr., 1793.
'Dear Sir,-Do not be surprised by the trouble I now give you. Perhaps you recollect a part of our conversation which turned upon Dr. Parr, and your advising me to introduce myself to him. This advice I took the first opportunity of putting in practice. The next Saturday after seeing you I set out for Warwick. Hatton, the Doctor's residence, lies in the way. I arrived at the place, fastened my horse to the gate, knocked at the door, enquired for the Doctor, and learned that he was at dinner. I told the servant I would wait while he dined, when I should be glad to speak to him. I was turned into a parlour where was the Doctor's picture; it set him off to the best advantage. Here I waited half an hour, contemplating the oddness of the adventure. The door opens, I prepare to make my bow and my speech-behold, it is a servant girl come to ask my name! Presently again the handle of the door moves, I make the same preparationsbehold, it is a young lady whom I took to be Miss Parr, and who proved to be her! She requests me to walk into the parlour. This I decline, stating that I had not
the honour of being known to the Doctor, but that when he was perfectly at leisure I should be glad to speak a few words with him. I judged it better to introduce myself to him alone than before company. The young lady soon left me, and she had hardly been gone any time before the great man ushered himself in. I was cool and composed. I approached him and thus accosted him: "I hope, sir, I have not interrupted your dinner; I begged that I might wait till you were perfectly at leisure?" "Not at all, sir." "My name is Jones; I am a Dissenting minister at Birmingham. Being on my road to Warwick I could not resist the inclination I felt to pay my respects to Dr. Parr." I had hardly uttered these words but the Doctor's eyes glistened. He took me by the hand, squeezing it heartily, leading me round the room, and asking me several times how I did. He begged I would stay the evening with him, and offered to send to Warwick to apprise my friends of it. I closed with the offer, as I was not expected at Warwick. He then introduced me to Mrs. and Miss Parr as a man of piety, sense, &c.; to another lady and gentleman as "a thorough Whig, no Tory, but one who had successfully opposed them in his writings." This was about four o'clock, and the Doctor entertained me till one in the morning. I was highly pleased with him. He possesses first-rate conversational powers. He speaks of Dr. Priestley in the highest terms. "Ma'am," said he to a lady there," he has done more to promote human knowledge than any man in Europe." I have since written to him, and received a very friendly reply, and have a general invitation to his house, of which I mean to avail myself.
A VISIT TO DR. PARR
'I think not very highly of Brissot and his party, but there was no necessity for putting so many people to death. The account shocked me greatly. I do not mean to try to draw you into a correspondence, but if you could let me know, in a few words, how I am to conceive of that event it would oblige me much. I do not urge this, as it will not be long ere I see you. I thought that the relation of this adventure, suggested by yourself, may amuse you. Excuse the freedom, and believe me with unfeigned esteem to be sincerely yours,
'Samuel Rogers, Esq.,
The Pleasures of Memory '-Letter of Criticism from Dr. Parr; NotesLetter of Gilpin-Hayward's Criticism—Estimate of the Poem.
MRS. BARBAULD's rebuke to Rogers for being away in Wales, 'far from Freedom's Jubilee,' on the second anniversary of the capture of the Bastille need not be held to indicate any want of sympathy on his part with the great Liberal movements of the time. His nephew Samuel Sharpe reminds us that poetry was the uppermost thought in his mind; and he was at that time just bringing his chief poem to completion. He had been occupied with it for more than six years. It was begun in 1785, as soon as the 'Ode to Superstition' was complete, and in the summer of 1791 he was just sending it to the press. It had been written in the same manner as his earlier poems. It was literally the recreation of a man of business, his leisure's best resource,' as he calls it in the lines prefixed to the fifth edition. With the exception of his holidays, which the state of his health made somewhat more frequent than they might otherwise have been, his whole life during these years was that of a junior partner in the bank. He went into the City in the morning, spent the day there, dined early with the other partners at the banking-house, and rode or walked
home when business was over. He had, of late years, been more away from home in the evening, going with Dr. Kippis to literary parties or to some literary club, or to the Hampstead Assemblies, or following up his acquaintance with Mrs. Barbauld or the Baillies, the Piozzis, the Williamses, or Dr. Moore. But as a rule his evenings. were spent in diligent reading or in equally diligent composition. The only verses which he published during these years seem to have been the little poem On a Tear' which in his works bears the date of 1791. It was apparently printed in Este's journal, The World, and reissued in 1791 in a 12mo volume entitled The Poetry of The World,' and published by Ridgeway. In a review of two of these volumes in the Monthly Review for September, 1791, the managers of the paper are thanked for the exertions which they have made to rescue newspaper poetry from disgrace by inviting some acknowledged favourites of the Muses to decorate their pages.' The favourites whose names are mentioned are Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Merry, Mrs. Cowley, Mr. Andrews, Mr. Jerningham, Mr. Colman, Mrs. Robinson, Captain Broome, and Captain Topham. Most of these belonged to the Della Cruscan school, and all but Sheridan are forgotten. But the critic quotes none of them. He deprecates criticism as 'breaking butterflies on the wheel,' and adds, instead of assisting our readers to detect little faults we will tempt them to admire by transcribing the following beautiful stanzas.' He then quotes the six verses On a Tear,' which have almost ever since kept their place in collections of popular poetry.
The Pleasures of Memory' was published by Mr.