15th of January

St Paul, the First Hermit, 342. St Isidore, priest and hermit, c. 390. St Isidore, priest and hospitaller of Alexandria, 403. St John Calybite, recluse, 450. St Maurus, abbot, 584. St Main, abbot. St Ita, or Mida, virgin abbess, 569. St Bonitus, bishop of Auvergne, 710.

 

Born. – Dr Samuel Parr, 1747, Harrow; Dr John Aikin, 1747, Knibsworth; Talma, French tragedian, 1763, Paris; Thomas Crofton Croker, 1798. 
Died. – Father Paul Sarpi, 1623.

 

DR PARR.

In 1787 Dr Parr published, in conjunction with his friend the Rev Henry Homer, a new edition of Bellendenus De Statu. William Bellenden was a learned Scotchman, who was a Professor in the University of Paris, and wrote in Latin a work in three books, entitled De Statu Principis, De Statu Reipublicæ, and De Statu Prisci Orbis. The three books of this republication were dedicated respectively to Mr Burke, Lord North, and Mr Fox; and Dr Parr prefixed a Latin Preface, exhibiting in high eulogistic relief the characters of those three statesmen, the ‘Tria Lumina Anglorum.’ The book was published anonymously, and excited the curiosity of the literary world. Parr anticipated the fame which his preface would confer upon him. His vanity was excessive, and so obvious as frequently to expose him to ridicule. If the different passages of his letters, in which he has praised himself, were collected together, they would make a book; but the one which he wrote to Mr Homer, when he had completed the Preface to Bellendenus, contains an outburst of self-conceit and self-laudation, which is probably without parallel. As such it is worth transcribing:

‘Dear Sir, – What will you say, or rather, what shall I say myself, of myself? It is now ten o’clock at night, and I am smoking a quiet pipe, after a most vehement, and, I think, a most splendid effort of composition – an effort it was indeed, a mighty and a glorious effort; for the object of it is, to lift up Burke to the pinnacle where he ought to have been placed before, and to drag down Lord Chatham from that eminence to which the cowardice of his hearers, and the credulity of the public, had most weakly and most undeservedly exalted the impostor and father of impostors. Read it, dear Harry; read it, I say, aloud; read it again and again; and when your tongue has turned its edge from me to the father of Mr Pitt, when your ears tingle and ring with my sonorous periods, when your heart glows and beats with the fond and triumphant remembrance of Edmund Burke – then, dear Homer, you will forgive me, you will love me, you will congratulate me, and readily will you take upon yourself the trouble of printing what in writing has cost me much greater though not longer trouble. Old boy, I tell you that no part of the Preface is better conceived, or better written; none will be read more eagerly, or felt by those whom you wish to feel it, more severely. Old boy, old boy, it is a stinger; and now to other business,’ &c. – Correspondence, vol. ii., p. 196. 

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His style, as a writer of English, is exceedingly artificial. Sydney Smith, in reviewing his Spital Sermon, preached in 1800, gives a description of it which is generally applicable to all his compositions. ‘The Doctor is never simple and natural for a single moment. Everything smells of the rhetorician. He never appears to forget himself, or to be hurried by his subject into obvious language… Dr Parr seems to think that eloquence consists not in simple and sublime conceptions, not in the feelings of the passions, but in a studious arrangement of sonorous, exotic, and sesquipedal words.’ He had a very high opinion of himself as a writer of Latin epitaphs, of which he composed about thirty. At a dinner, when Lord Erskine had delighted the company with his conversation, Dr Parr, in an ecstasy, called out to him, ‘My Lord, I mean to write your epitaph.’ Erskine, who was a younger man, replied, ‘Dr Parr, it is a temptation to commit suicide.’ The epitaph on Dr Johnson, inscribed on his monument in St Paul’s Cathedral, was written by Dr Parr. At the end of the fourth volume of his works, is a long correspondence respecting this epitaph, between Parr, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Malone, and other friends of the deceased Doctor. The reader ‘will be amused at the burlesque importance which Parr attaches to epitaph-writing.’ – Croker.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

EARL OF ARGYLL PROMOTED BY JAMES III.

Among the records of this ancient family, there is a charter under the great seal by James III. to Colin, earl of Argyll, master of His Majesty’s household, and his heirs, giving and committing to him the charge of the king’s Castle of Dunoon, with power to make constables, porters, jailors, watermen, and other officers necessary for keeping the said castle, and to remove them at his pleasure; also giving and granting to the said earl the lands of Borland, with the pertinents, &c., dated 15th January 1472.1

Select Views, pp.121-126.

1  Illustrations of Brown’s Palaces, p. 22.

 

JAMES V’S BROTHER DIES.

Alexander [Stewart], Duke of Rothesay, the King’s brother, dies at Stirling castle, the 15th day of January, the same year [1516].

Historical Works, pp.238-275.

 

JAMES VI. TAXES WINE.

The King’s majesty, by the advice of his counsel, by proclamation of the 15th of January this year, 1600, ordained 12 [pence] Scots to be paid to the King on every pint of wine sold in taverns.

Historical Works, pp.340-416.

 

LORD STRICHEN DIES.

Lord Strichen did not die in the house in the close wherein he had dwelt so long, but at Strichen in Aberdeenshire, on the 15th January, 1775, in his seventy-sixth year, leaving behind him the reputation of an upright judge. “Lord Strichen was a man not only honest, but highly generous; for, after his succession to the family estates, he paid a large sum of debts contracted by his predecessor, which he was not under any obligation to pay.”

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.253-258.

 

SLAVERY ABOLISHED IN SCOTLAND.

Lawyers know that it was decided by the Scotch Court earlier than the English, that a negro slave brought from the plantations where the law enforced slavery, became free by coming to this country (Case of Knight, Jan. 15th, 1778.)”

Sketches, Appendix IV.

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