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CHAP. CXXVI.

HIS DESCENDANTS.

125

But in another generation the talent of the founder of the family again broke out with fresh lustre. The late Lord King, so eminent for wit, eloquence, and every great and amiable quality, was the grandson of the youngest of the four brothers. The Chancellor is now represented in the direct male line by the Earl of Lovelace, whom I rejoice to see deservedly raised in the peerage, but whom, from my regard for the memory of old Sir Peter, I should have been still better pleased to have

EARL KING."

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e Grandeur of the Law, p. 114.

CHAPTER CXXVII.

LIFE OF LORD CHANCELLOR TALBOT FROM HIS BIRTH TILL HE RECEIVED

THE GREAT SEAL.

We have now bid a final adieu to the stirring times of William III. and of Anne, in which the six last preceding Chancellors played a distinguished part. Those who are to follow did not enter public life till the House of Hanover was securely on the throne; and, without being engaged in revolutionary intrigues, they rose to high office merely by professional eminence. The Georgian period of English history, to which we are to be confined, was comparatively tranquil; but it presents us with great men at the head of the law, who would have been capable of guiding the destinies of the nation under any circumstances, however arduous. The first of these was praised in a more vehement and less qualified manner than almost any one who ever held the office of Lord Chancellor. Historians and poets were equally eager to celebrate his good qualities. But this arose in part from the sympathy excited by his fate, for he was only shown as a Judge to excite the admiration of mankind when he was snatched away to an early tomb.

CHARLES Talbot sprang from a very ancient and illustrious family, which has produced a great number of distinguished warriors and statesmen,-having for his ancestor the companion of Henry V., who, after the death of that monarch, so heroically sustained the interest and glory of the English name in France. He was of a younger branch of the Talbotssettled first at Grafton, and then at Salwarp, in Worcestershire.' His father, a younger brother, went into the Church, and, displaying learning and liberality of sentiment, was successively Dean of Worcester, and Bishop of Oxford, of Salisbury, and of Durham. The Earl of Shrewsbury, the early friend of Lord Somers,—head of the house at the close of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century,

f This branch was descended from Sir Gilbert Talbot, third son of John second Earl of Shrewsbury.

vile baw Mag 10715343

A.D. 1684_1707.

HIS BIRTH AND EDUCATION,

127

A.D. 1684.

who took a leading part in two revolutions,-in bringing in King William, and bringing in King George, -no doubt assisted the merits of his kinsman in procuring these promotions. _Bishop Talbot was, as might be supposed, a zealous Whig. From him was inherited the eloquence in debate which distinguished his son. He seems to have had considerable weight in the House of Lords. Burnet particularly celebrates his speech in favour of the Union with Scotland, and his speech against Dr. Sacheverell. On this last occasion he boldly denied that the Church condemned resistance in cases of extreme tyranny, and he relied upon the instance of the Jews who, under the brave family of the Maccabees, revolted against Antiochus, and formed themselves into a free and independent government. “Our homilies," he said, “only condemn wilful rebellion against our kings while they are governing by law.8

These sentiments he instilled into the minds of his descendants, who, steadily defending the just prerogatives of the Crown established for the good of the people, were zealous friends of civil and religious liberty.

The Bishop, by his wife Catherine, daughter of Alderman King, of London, had eight sons. Of these the eldest, the subject of this memoir, was born in the year 1684, while his father was only a country parson. I have not discovered anything respecting his school education, and there seems reason to think that he continued under private tuition till he was sent to the University. The diligent habits and taste for polite literature, which afterwards distinguished him, he must have contracted at an early age. In Michaelmas Term, 1701, he was entered a gentleman commoner at Oriel College, Oxford, where his father likewise had been educated. Learning had then fallen to a low ebb in this once famous university,-Jacobite politics being the chief business of the place, and hard drinking its chief recreation :

“Now Isis' elders reel, their pupils sport,

And Alma Mater lies dissolv'd in port." Luckily for young Talbot, he was generally regarded with a sort of horror as the son of a Whig bishop who had A.D. 1701– opposed the “Bill against Occasional Conformity,"

& Vol. iv. 176, 286. He seems even to have said that “Bishop Talbot was finely mounted been ready to draw his sword in a good in a long habit of purple, with jack boots, and cause, like Bishops of old. In the account of his hat cocked, and black wig ty'd behind him a royal review in Hyde Park to be found in like a militant officer." the “Flying Postof June 14th, 1722, it is

1707.

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Law,

and he was excluded from the coteries where measures were debated to put down Dissenters, along with Low Church divines if possible, more odious, and to atone for the national sin of the Revolution (in which the Church had for a short time been implicated), by re-establishing the doctrine of divine right, and by recalling the true heir to the throne. Our banished student consoled himself with the Orations of Cicero and Demosthenes, and he surreptitiously got possession of a copy of the works of John Locke, which, carefully concealing it from his tutor, he pored over late at night, in his bed-chamber, where he thought he was in no danger of a visit from the proctors. Now, likewise, he most usefully devoted much of his time to the study of the Roman Civil

which was probably the secret of his afterwards turning out so skilful a jurist, and such an admirable Judge. Being impatient to breathe in a freer atmosphere, he claimed, under the statutes of the University, an honorary degree as the son of a bishop, before the ordinary time for his graduating had arrived ; and it was found that, notwithstanding the loose opinions which he was supposed to have inherited from his father, this could not be refused to him, for he had been remarkably regular in his attendance at chapel and at lectures, and no breach of academical discipline could be imputed to him. He proceeded B.A. in Trinity Term, 1704. Forthwith he left the University with the highest reputation for his accomplishments; and his manners were so agreeable, that in the following year, although known to be a Whig, and, what might be equally alarming, known to be more than “mediocriter doctus,” he was elected a fellow of All Souls."

He spent two or three years very agreeably, having his college for his head quarters,—not yet determined on a profession, and with a strong inclination for the easy life he might expect to enjoy in the Church. But he grew more and

docti ;

h It is said that, by the statutes of this col. Founder, and that the following is the true lege, those to be elected Fellows are required reading of the statute referred to :to be “bene nati, bene vestiti, et mediocriter “Statuentes præterea quod nulli alii scho

but, in modern times, the Fellows lares in prædicto collegio eligantur, nisi qui have often been distinguished for their learn rudimentis grammaticæ sufficienter, et in ing, as well as their social qualities.-1st plano cantu competenter, prius fuerint eru. edit.

diti, et qui primam tonsuram clericalem haI have since been informed that the cur bentes ad sacerdotium sint habiles et dispositi, rent story of the Fellows of All Souls being liberæ conditionis, de legitimo matrimonio required to be only“moderately good scholars, nati, bonis conditionibus et moribus perorso that they are well-born and smartly nati, et in studio proficere cupientes, et se dressed,” is a calumny upon them and the ipsâ proficientes."-(1849.)

A.D. 1707-11.

CALLED TO THE BAR.

129

more sick of the monotony of Oxford, and falling into the company of Lord Chancellor Cowper, that discerning man soon discovered his extraordinary talents and fitness for public life, and advised him to study the law. Accordingly, on the “ 28th of June, 1707, Charles Talbott, Esq., son and heir apparent of William Lord Bishop of Oxford, was admitted of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple," i and he took up his residence in chambers.

I have not been able to obtain any authentic account of him while he remained in statu pupillari there. He must have been exposed to the disadvantage of a comfortable home at the west end of the town while his father was attending parliament, and to the danger of easy access to fashionable society-more formidable to a law student than penury and friendlessness. But, on the other hand, he had a powerful stimulus to exertion and perseverance in recollecting that his father had such a numerous family, and that a finished education was all the patrimony he had to expect.k

From extraordinary proficiency in his studies, or from family interest, the period of his studentship was abridged. According to the rules then subsisting in the Inns of Court, he could not be called to the bar till he was of seven years' standing, and had kept sixteen terms; but on the 11th of February, 1711, he had “a call of grace.

"m

i Admission Book, 1693–1707.

contributed generously to pay his father's k Instead of inheriting large possessions debts; who, in princely magnificence, spent from his father, he is said afterwards to have more than his princely revenue at Durham.

Parliamentu mu* Interius Templum

tentm undecimo Ricus Webb, Armiger.

die Februarij Thesaurarius ibm.

Anno Dom. 1710. “At this Parliament, MT Charles Talbott is called to the Bar, and to be utter Barrister of this Society.”

The following entries likewise appear in the books of the Inner Temple respecting Lord Chancellor Talbot :

“ Interius Templum Parliament. tentum

Nathanl Manlove, Ar. Sexto die Maij
Thesaurar. ibm.

Anno Dom. 1726. " At this Parliament, Charles Talbot, Esq", his Majesties Sols General, is called to the Bench.”

" Interius

* “Bench Table, 5 Feb. 1710-11.-Ordered that notice be given to the Masters of the Bench, that a call to the Barr will be proposed at the Table on Friday next. And it is also ordered that Mr. Charles Talbot, eldest son of the Bishop of Oxford, be put into the paper in order for such call." VOL. VI.

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