« AnteriorContinuar »
terrupted attachment of many years: but neither the subsidence of the first warmth of those feelings, nor the deliberate scrutiny of many successive revisions, has induced me to apprehend, that, in any one point, my representation has exceeded the truth.
“I am sensible, that, in having aspired not only to delineate such a character, but to solicit the inspection of a most accurate judge both of the subject and the execution, I may have laid myself open to the charge of presumption. But I shall not waste your time in apologies. If the portrait be at last defective, the failure on my part is without excuse. If it be faithful, I am well assured, that no man living will contemplate it with more pleasure, than Sir William Scott.
“ The Right Reverend John Parsons, D. D. late Bishop of Peterborough, and Master of Baliol College in the University of Oxford, was one of those rare and remarkable men, who appear to have been born, not so much to extend the limits of any particular species of knowledge, as to promote the cultivation of good sense and right feeling in every department of life. Of many not undistinguished persons, it is but too justly suspected, that the hope of distinction alone rendered them what they were: of Dr. Parsons it may be truly affirmed, that he rose to distinction, because he would not, in any circumstances, have been other than he was. His qualities were not of a nature to be assumed; nor his system of conduct such, as the views of latent ambition could have prompted. To be useful, was the great aim of his life: and the general persuasion, how eminently nature and experience had empowered him to be useful, was now fully established, when the hopes which it had raised were extinguished by his death.
“ Deeply and sincerely, by those who stood near to him, will his decease be lamented; but far wider is the sphere, in which it will be most permanently felt. The sorrows of private friendship will die with the passing generation; but that the public career of the Bishop of Peterborough should have been prematurely terminated, will be regretted by every true friend to our ecclesiastical and civil establishments, for generations to
In him, his college has lost a second founder; the university, a reformer of its abuses, a strict enforcer of its discipline, an able champion of its privileges, and a main pillar of its reputation; the public charities, a liberal contributor, and a powerful advocate; the Church of England, a conscientious professor of its doctrines, and a temperate but firm defender of its rights; the House of Peers, a discerning, upright, and active senator; and the nation at large, a true, loyal, and sober patriot.
“ It was his peculiar felicity to leave, in every station which he successively filled, indelible traces both of his talents and his worth. The entire line of his progress was marked by a series of improvements; of institutions reformed ; of revenues augmented; of residences restored and embellished: and all this was effected by means not less creditable to his integrity and benevolence, than to his judgment, perseverance, and energy. In his benefices, his college, his deanery, and his diocese, the thought of those, who might come after him, was ever present to his mind; and to their interest he often made large sacrifices of his own.
The elevation of Dr. Parsons to the prelacy was equally honourable to the discernment which pointed out his merit, and to the choice which acknowledged it. Conferred without solicitation, it was accepted without the forfeiture of independence; nor can any other motive be assigned for the appointment, than a just sense of his peculiar fitness both to fulfil the duties of the episcopal office, and to sustain its dignity.
By those, whose opportunities of observing him were confined to his public functions and duties, the more soft and amiable features of his character were little understood. : The commanding vigour of his colloquial powers was felt by all who conversed with him ; but the lively narrative, the unstudied wit, the playful and inoffensive gaiety which adorned and animated his private conversation, were known only to few; for in the
r mixed and varied circle of general society, his habits were generally serious, and sometimes reserved.
“ With a strength of intellect, of which he could not be unconscious, and a frame of nerves naturally firm, it is the less
surprising, that he should have possessed also that admirable presence of mind, which enabled him, on many trying and delicate emergencies, to act with equal promptitude, spirit, and propriety.
66 As a coadjutor in public business, he was neither forward to dictate, nor, when consulted, slow to suggest: but, when an entire question was fairly before him, his decision was formed without hesitation, and pronounced without fear. On the other hand, in collecting, weighing, and comparing evidence, he was patient and indefatigable. Never would he consent to sanction grave measures on questionable grounds; to assign public rewards where no public service was proved; or, (least of all,) to affix the stigma of delinquency, unless where a strong case was clearly made out.
“ He entertained a due respect for the opinions and information of others; but where facts, testimony, and argument had failed to convince him, it was vain to urge him with mere names and authorities, excepting on subjects, remote from his own province or track of enquiry. His co-operation, therefore, was only to be obtained by satisfying his judgment: and such was his penetration, that any attempt to ensnare him by sophistry, or to work upon his feelings by imposture, was exposed to certain detection.
Though resolute and tenacious where conscience was concerned, no man could be more unwilling to contend for trifles. but he anxiously deprecated that false liberality, which, under the name of trifles, is ready to abandon the most important outworks of the Church and State. To peace he was ready to make any sacrifice, but that of principle and the public good : and, wherever his situation gave him influence, it was for this object that he most delighted to exert it. Hence, it was his earnest endeavour to heal divisions, and to extinguish the spirit of party, in every society with which he became connected : and he made his own example eminently conducive to this end, by the strict impartiality of his regulations and decisions.
6 When placed where sectaries were numerous and powerful, he neither courted them by concessions, nor disgusted them
by useless hostility; and his conduct, however adverse to their views, conciliated their esteem.
“ Though he had not been long known to his clergy as their diocesan, they already appreciated his character, and felt the value of his paternal counsels and care. A few years had taught them to regard his residence amongst them as a blessing, and the prospect of his removal as that of an impending misfortune.
“ As a preacher, his grave, dignified, and emphatic delivery was well suited to compositions, of which the purpose was to convince, not to attract applause: and it is highly reputable to the University of Oxford, that its pulpit was never more numerously attended, than when he was expected to fill it.
“ In the House of Peers, he was rather a hearer, than a speaker. There, the due dispatch of business was his sole object; and, to his industry and perseverance in committees, his readiness in catching the true bearing of a question, and his acuteness in the detection of errors, they, who were accustomed to act with him, will bear ample testimony.
66 Where such is the intrinsic weight of character, the lustre, which it may derive from the friendship of other great and good men, is reflected upon themselves. Honourable, therefore, as it was to the Bishop of Peterborough, it was not to him alone honourable, that for many years he possessed equally the confidence of some persons, who filled the highest offices with dignity and credit, and of others, who, with no less dignity, had declined them.
“ Of such a man it is almost superfluous to record, that his faith as a Christian was sound, rational, and effective: - that what he taught, he believed ; and what he believed, he prac
“ When the religious opinions of other men, however opposite to his own, appeared to him to be sincere, his dissent from them was consistent with respect, and his disapprobation, with charity. But to the Establishment, in which he was bred, he was no lukewarm friend. Whether he regarded, with the greater share of dread, an intolerant superstition, or equally
intolerant fanaticism, may reasonably be doubted: but certain it is, that he could not contemplate the prevalence of either without serious alarm.
“ So earnest, indeed, was his solicitude to guard and maintain what he considered as the best and purest form of Christianity, and so well adapted was the turn of his mind, either to withstand the force, or to expose the artifices, of its assailants, that his decease cannot but be regarded as having left a void in the ranks of orthodoxy, not easily to be supplied.
“ Such, Sir, are my views of the conduct and character of the late Bishop of Peterborough. - What you thought of him generally, I have reason to know: and I therefore confidently hope, that you will not regard the particulars, here stated, as either fictitious or overcharged.
I am, with the highest respect,
Rt. Hox. THOMAS DE GREY, F. R. S.
SECOND LORD WALSINGHAM.
This nobleman, born in 1748, was the only son of Sir William de Grey, for many years Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. On his resignation in 1780, that cele brated lawyer obtained the title of Baron Walsingham, of Walsingham, in the county of Norfolk.
The late Thomas Lord Walsingham was bred to the bar, and acquired a habit of business in early life, that contributed not a little, both to his utility and advancement. The first office held by him, while Mr. De Grey, was that of Under Secretary of State to Lord George Germaine, when that nobleman was nominated American Secretary. After being thus occupied for a few years, we afterwards find him actively em