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ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THIS CHANCEL LIETH THE BODY
OF MRS. JANE PARR,
APRIL 9th, IN THE YEAR 1810,
AGED 63 ;
AND NEXT ARE DEPOSITED THE REMAINS OF HER HUSBAND
THE REV. SAMUEL PARR, LL. D.
AND WHO DIED ON THE 6th OF MARCH, IN THE YEAR 1825,
CHRISTIAN READERS !
WHAT DOTH THE LORD REQUIRE OF YOU,
BUT TO DO JUSTICE, TO LOVE MERCY,
TO REVERENCE YOUR HOLY REDEEMER,
To which are added the names of places where they were set up,
as correctly noted as could be obtained,-still, it is feared, imperfectly.
The inscription for Dr. Thackeray was solicited by his learned descendant the present Dr. Thackeray of Chester. It was never, we believe, inscribed on his tomb.
Written on the fly-leaf of the Aristarchus of Vossius. It is probably the earliest specimen of Dr. Parr's composition in this style of writing now to be found ; having been written while he was an under-graduate at Emanuel college. A learned friend of the Editor suggests, that the word TANTUM, in line 5, must be an error of the transcriber.
Page 561. In the chancel of Hatton Church, to the memory of Dr. Parr's immediate predecessor in that Cure.
On a mural tablet in the Church of Harrow on the Hill.
Dr. Johnson's MONUMENT, IN St. Paul's.
Maddor Street, January 15th, 1790. Should you like to undertake an Edition of Dr. Johnson's Works, with his Life, and a Critique on his Writings? The first Edition of them is nearly sold, and Mr. Cadell would be glad to have them edited by a scholar, and an admirer of poor Johnson.
Let me know as soon as possible what you think of my proposal.
I wish, too, you would turn your thoughts upon an Epitaph for Johnson's intended Monument.
Yours, W. SEWARD.
May 25, 1791. You say nothing about Johnson's Epitaph. Sir Joshua Rernolds desires nie to iterate his request to you to write it. Boswell and myself add our solicitations. Why will you not do it? Compliments to Mrs. Parr. Yours very truly,
Dr. Parr, to Sir Joshua Reynolds.
This is a strictly confidential letter, and I entreat you to communicate the contents of it to no man living, except Mr.
Windham; in the soundness of whose judgment, and the delicacy of whose honour I can implicitly and entirely confide. Seward, enforcing his own request by the names of yourself and Mr. Boswell, has urged me to write Johnson's Epitaph. Fairly and fully I have stated to him the difficulty of the ask; and because it is difficult I have prudently, and I hope politely, declined it.
Believe me, however, when I tell you that I am not without a most awful and most painful sense of the situation in which I stand.
To the memory of Johnson I, as a scholar and as a man, owe every thing ; and to the wishes of Sir Joshua Reynolds there is scarcely anything which I can with propriety refuse. Permit me, then, to lay before you the reasons which dissuade, and even deter me from undertaking to do at all, what I despair of doing well.
Johnson was a great writer, an accurate scholar, and a good man. Upon his correct and profound knowledge of the Latin language, I have always spoken with unusual zeal and unusual confidence, in opposition to the cavils of Monboddo, and to the insinuations of Joseph Warton. Whatever may have been the success of his efforts in Latin epitaphs, he had most just notions of the art itself; and my opinion is, that beyond all other men in the world, he has a right to such an inscription as perfectly corresponds with his ideas of the art, and his skill in Latinity.
Now the question is, from whom such an inscription is to be obtained ? In regard to myself, I distrust my own abilities to perform what is excellent, in proportion as I understand in what excellence consists.
Already have I told Seward of my objections to the lapidary style ; and yet this, unfortunately, is the style in which almost all modern epitaphs are composed. Novelty itself, therefore, will wear the appearance of singularity, and singularity will be imputed to pedantry, or to ignorance. What is simple, may be generally unintelligible and unpleasing; and what is not simple, will in my judgment be grossly improper. Besides, the peculiarity and the amplitude of Johnson's character cannot, I fear, be luminously described in that diction which I should think myself authorised to employ. Even the most marked and splendid phraseology which usually appears upon epitaphs, would be offensive to my taste, and, among real scholars, would be degrading to my reputation. Terence, Cæsar, Livy, Tacitus, and even Cicero, whose writings are the common storehouse of modern Latinity, are according to my apprehensions, merely a plebs superám upon such an occasion. Simple must be the form of the whole epitaph, simple must be every phrase. But that which is simple will appear neither striking nor proper to the numerous class of readers, especially where every reader will think himself a critic.
The inscription itself may be written according to the best Latin models; but the man upon whom it is written is an EngJish writer, and every enlightened English reader will therefore expect to find something which he has found before, in the trite and popular language of modern epitaphs. Yet they cannot find it, if the sentiments, or if the words, or if the construction be suited to that charming simplicity, which alone I see in the epitaphs of antiquity, and which alone I can persuade myself to adopt upon a modern subject. If Latin is to be the language, the whole spirit and the whole phraseology ought to be such as a Latin writer would use.
To a man of your niost elegant taste and most deep judgment, this statement of my opinions will, I am sure, not appear unimportant; and such too is your candour, that you will readily acquit me of all affectation in explaining what ought to be attempted, and of all hypocrisy in confessing my inability to attempt it successfully. However, if your general sentiments upon the business coincide with my own, I will hazard the attempt. At the same time, I beseech you not to say one word of my conditional compliance.
At present I am busy in a different way ; but in the course of next month I will think upon the subject, and throw myself into a right train of reading. If I should, in any moderate degree, satisfy myself, I will send you what occurs to me; and if other-wise, I shall confess to you the plain truth. In the mean time, I desire you to inform me of the very day upon which Johnson was born, and how old he was when he died. You will also be so good as to inform me, in a general way, by whom the money