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thought) little calculated for rhetorical panegyric, says of them—
* If the writer of whom I am speaking had perused, as I have, your indentures and your rules, he would have found in them seriousness without austerity, earnestness without extravagance, good sense without the trickeries of art, good language without the trappings of rhetoric, and the firmness of conscious worth, rather than the prancings of giddy ostentation.’
The latter member of this eloge would not be wholly unintelligible, if applied to a spirited coach horse; but we have never yet witnessed the phenomenon of a prancing findenture.
It is not our intention to follow Dr. Parr through the copious and varied learning of his notes; in the perusal of which we have been as much delighted with the richness of his acquisitions, the vigour of his understanding, and the genuine goodness of his heart, as we have been amused with the ludicrous self-importance, and the miraculous simplicity of his character. We would rather recommend it to the Doctor to publish an annual list of worthies, as a kind of stimulus to literary men; to be included in which, will unquestionably be considered as great an honour, as for a commoner to be elevated to the peerage. A line of Greek, a line of Latin, or no line at all, subsequent to each name, will distinguish, with sufficient accuracy, the shades of merit, and the degree of immortality conferred.
Why should Dr. Parr confine this eulogomania to the literary characters of this island alone? In the university of Benares, in the lettered kingdom of Ava, among the Mandarins at Pekin, there must, doubtless, be many men who have the eloquence of *Boppovog, the feeling of Taixapog, and the judgment of Qxpos, of whom Dr. Parr might be happy to say, that they have profundity without obscurity—perspicuity without prolixity—ornament without glare—terseness without barrenness—penetra
tion without subtlety—comprehensiveness without digression—and a great number of other things without a great number of other things. In spite of 32 pages of very close printing, in defence of the University of Oxford, is it, or is it not true, that very many of its professors enjoy ample salaries, without reading any lectures at all? The character of particular colleges will certainly vary with the character of their governors; but the ū. of Oxford so far differs from Dr. Parr in the commendation he has bestowed upon its state of public education, that they have, since the publication of his book, we believe, and forty years after Mr. Gibbon's residence, completely abolished their very ludicrous and disgraceful exercises for degrees, and have substituted in their place a system of exertion, and a scale of academical honours, calculated (we are willing to hope) to produce the happiest effects. We were very sorry, in reading Dr. Parr's note on the Universities, to meet with the following passage:–
“Ill would it become me tamely and silently to acquiesce in the strictures of this formidable accuser upon a seminary to which I owe many obligations, though I left it, as must not be dissembled, before the usual time, and, in truth, had been almost compelled to leave it, not by the want of a proper education, for I had arrived at the first place in the first form of Harrow School, when I was not quite fourteen—not by the want of useful tutors, for mine were eminently able, and to me had been uniformly kind—not by the want of ambition, for I had begun to look up ardently and anxiously to academical distinctions—not by the want of attachment to the place, for I regarded it then, as I continue to regard it now, with the fondest and most unfeigned affection—but by another want, which it were necessary to name, and for the supply of which, after some hesitation, I determined to provide by patient toil and resolute self-denial, when I had not completed my twentieth year. I ceased, therefore, to reside, with an aching heart: I looked back with mingled feelings of regret and humiliation to advantages of which I could no longer partake, and honours to which I could no longer aspire.'
To those who know the truly honourable and respectable character of Dr. Parr, the vast extent of his learning, and the unadulterated benevolence of his nature, such an account cannot but be very affecting, in spite of the bad taste in which it is communicated. How painful to reflect, that a truly devout and attentive minister, a strenuous defender of the church establishment, and b
far the most learned man of his day, should be permitted to languish on a little paltry curacy in Warwickshire!
Dii meliora, &c. &c.”
* The courtly phrase was, that, Dr. Parr was not a producible man. The same phrase was used for the neglect of Paley.
DR. RENNEL. (E. Review, 1802.)
Discourses on Warious Subjects. By Thomas Rennel, D.D., Master of the Temple. Rivington, London.
WE have no modern sermons in the English language that can be considered as very eloquent. The merits of Blair (by far the most popular writer of sermons within the last century) are plain good sense, a happy application of scriptural quotation, and a clear harmonious style, richly tinged with scriptural language. He generally leaves his readers pleased with his judgment, and his just observations on human conduct, without ever rising so high as to touch the great passions, or kindle any enthusiasm in favour of virtue. For eloquence we must ascend as high as the days of Barrow and Jeremy Taylor; and even there, while we are delighted with their energy, their copiousness, and their fancy, we are in danger of being suffocated by a redundance which abhors all discrimination; which compares till it perplexes, and illustrates till it confounds. To the Oases of Tillotson, Sherlock, and Atterbury, we must wade through many a barren page, in which the weary Christian can descry nothing all around him but a dreary expanse of trite sentiments and languid words. The great object of modern sermons is to hazard nothing: their characteristic is, decent debility; which alike guards their authors from ludicrous errors, and precludes them from striking beauties. Every man of sense, in taking up an English sermon, expects to find it a tedious essay, full of common-place morality; and if the fulfilment of such expectations be meritorious, the clergy have certainly the merit of not disappointing their readers. Yet it is curious to consider, how a body of men so well educated, and so magnificently endowed as
the English clergy, should distinguish themselves so little in a species of composition to which it is their o duty, as well as their ordinary habit, to attend. o solve this difficulty, it should be remembered, that the eloquence of the Bar and of the Senate force themselves into notice, power, and wealth—that the penalty which an individual client pays for choosing a bad advocate, is the loss of his cause—that a prime minister must infallibly suffer in the estimation of the public, who neglects to conciliate eloquent men, and trusts the defence of his measures to those who have not adequate talents for that purpose: whereas, the only evil which accrues from the promotion of a clergyman to the pulpit, [. which he has no ability to fill as he ought, is the fatigue of the audience, and the discredit of that species of public instruction; an evil so general, that no individual patron would dream of sacrificing to it his particular interest. The clergy are generally appointed to their situations by those who have no interest that they should please the audience before whom they speak; while the very reverse is the case in the eloquence of the Bar, and of Parliament. We by no means would be understood to say, that the clergy should owe their promotion principally to their eloquence, or that eloquence ever could, consistently with the constitution of the English Church, be made a common cause of preferment. \ In pointing out the total want of connexion between the privilege of preaching, and the power of preaching well, we are giving no opinion as to whether it might, or might not, be remedied; but merely stating a fact] Pulpit discourses have insensibly dwindled from speaking to reading; a practice, of itself, sufficient to stifle every germ of eloquence. It is only by the fresh feelings of the heart, that mankind can be very powerfully affected. What can be more ludicrous, than an orator delivering stale indignation, and fervour of a week old; turning over whole pages of violent passions, written out in German text; reading the tropes and apostrophes into which he is hurried by the ardour of his mind; and so