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Extravagantly high opinion of himself created hy Thurlow among his contemporaries.
converted; and Ex-chancellor Lord Rosslyn confessed that the consideration which had escaped hitn, — of the impossibility of a reconciliation, — now induced him to vote for the bill. Having passed both Houses, it received the royal assent, and has since been followed as a precedent in two or three other cases of similar atrocity.*
Vidi Virgilium tantiim. I never again had an opportunity of making any personal observation of Thurlow, but this glimpse of him renders his appearance familiar to me, and I can always imagine that I see before me, and that I listen to the voice of this great imitator of Garagantua.
I was struck with awe and admiration at witnessing the scene I have feebly attempted to describe; and I found that any of Thurlow's surviving contemporaries, with whom I afterwards chanced to converse, entertained the highest opinion of what they denominated his '' gigantic powers of mind." I must confess, however, that my recent study of his career and his character, has considerably lowered him in my estimation; and I have come to the conclusion that, although he certainly had a very vigorous understanding, and no inconsiderable acquirements, — the fruit of irregular application,— he imposed by his assuming manner upon the age in which he lived,—and that he affords a striking illustration of the French maxim—" on vaut ce qu'on veut valoir."
This personage—celebrated as a prodigy by historians and poets, in the reign of George III., but whom posterity may regard as a very ordinary mortal — was born in the year 1732, at Bracon-Ash, in the county of Norfolk. His father, Thomas Thurlow, was a clergyman, and held successively the livings of Little Ashfield in Suffolk, and of Stratton St. Mary's, in Norfolk. The Chancellor himself never attempted to trace his line distinctly farther back than his grandfather, who was likewise a country parson, — although there was an eminent "conveyancer" whom he sometimes
* 35 Pari. Hist. 1429.; Macqueen's Practice of the House of Lords, 594. At the first public masquerade which I attended in London, which was soon after this, there was a character which professed to be Lord Chancellor Thurlow — dressed in the Chancellor's robes, band, and full bottom wig. I am sorry to say that, to the amusement of the audience, he not only made loud speeches, but swore many profane oaths.
claimed as the founder of the family. He had a just con- Chap. tempt for the vanity of new men pretending that they are of CI-Vancient blood, and some one attempting to flatter him by trying to make out that he was descended from Thurloe, Cromwell's secretary, who was a Suffolk man: —" Sir," said he, "there were two Thurlows in that part of the country, who flourished about the same time. Thurloe the secretary, and Thurlow the carrier. I am descended from the last." * Nor could he boast of hereditary wealth, for his father's livings were very small, and there were several other children to be reared from the scanty profits of them. Yet, perhaps, his situation by birth was as favourable as any other for future eminence. Being the son of a clergyman, he escaped the discredit of being "sprung from the dregs of the people," and he had as good an education as if he had been heir to a dukedom. For his position in society, and for his daily bread, he was to depend entirely on his own exertions. f His father used to tell his sons betimes, that he could do His father's nothing for them after he had launched them in a profession. progmwtiThe old gentleman would then say (aside) to a friend, "I his success have no fear about Ned; he will fight his way in the world." m life
Of Ned's early years, a few aneedotes have been handed Early prodown to us. It being known that on account of his lively Phecy 'If
° 'he would
parts he was destined to be a lawyer, the Reverend W. be Lord Leach, whom he was in the habit of visiting while a very chanceIloryoung boy, said to him one day, "I shall live to see you Lord Chancellor,"—and forty years after obtained from him a stall at Norwich, and a living in Suffolk.
He received his earliest instructions under the paternal roof, At Scamand was four years at a school at Seaming under a Mr. Brett. J Ing Kho°
* In the " Peerages" there is a long pedigree given, tracing him up to a family of Thurlow, of considerable antiquity in the northern part of the county of Norfolk, in which, although I doubt not it is very authentic, the " Carrier" does not appear, and with which therefore I do not trouble the reader.
f I belong to a club of " Sons of the Clergy of the Church of Scotland," of which the late Dr. Baillie, Serjeant Spankie, and Wilkie the painter, were members. The last was our great ornament. I well remember a speech of his from the chair, in which he said, —" born in the manse, wc have all a patent of nobility."
\ That very eminent Judge and elegant scholar, Mr. Baron Alderson, was educated at the same school, and remembers their great pride when he entered, that they had produced a Chancellor.
CHAP. Here, according to the fashion of the age, the boys wore CIA' wigs, and Ned Thurlow (whether as an emblem of his future A.d. 1745. greatness I know not) having a full bottom one, used to put
it into his pocket when he went to play, on "Clock ^ne of the amusements tnen encouraged at this and most throwing." other schools in England — now abolished for its cruelty— was "cock-throwing." By the kindness of the son of a schoolfellow of Thurlow*, I am enabled to lay before the reader a copy of verses written by him on one of these "gallicides." Notwithstanding the inaccuracies with which he is chargeable, he must be allowed to display in this performance the vigour of mind which afterwards distinguished him, and it is impossible not to admire his patriotic fling at the French, with whom we were then at war, and his well-deserved compliment to the hero of Culloden.
"Nvmi-mham dura pulchram coraitabar forte Belindam,
— Gratia quam sequitur, quamque Cupido colit;
Propitioque agros numine Diva beat,
Ignibus atque piia mollia thura jacent —
Quo flores teneri et gramina laeta virent.
Ignotum vulgus cerno, virosque duces.
Et vox audita est plurima rauca sonans.
(Subversis sylvis saltibus atque vagis)
Horrisonoque mari littora curva ferit.
Nympha mihi effugiens hacc sua jussa dedit:
Cur spatium hoc campi tanta caterva premit.'
Jam pede constrictus frustra volitare laborat
Gall us frustra alis eethera summa petit.
Cuique artem ludi suppeditavit amor. •
Galloruinve dedit corpora plura neci.
Atque manu versans, talia voce refert:
Hunc gallum mitte ad littora dira Stygis.'
* Charles Frederick Barnwell, Esq., of Wobuni Place.
Nec plura effatus telum contorsit, in auras CHAP.
It clamor feriens sidera summa poll. CLV.
(Solis enim flammas sensit uterque polus,
Neptunusque suis torridus tequoribus),
Excussitque rotis atque anima pariter;
Nec crura eversum dilacerata ferunt.
Prostrato repetat lanior hoste domain!
Quo virtus jubet, et gloria celsa vocat,
Et la;tus repetat victor ovansque domum !" *
At Scorning Thurlow seems to have been a great pickle, At Canteras well as to have shown some talent, for he was next sent j^"^ to the grammar school at Canterbury; and Southey, in his A-D 1746
* The following is a translation of these verses by a very eminent alumnus of Searning school: —
"COCK-THROWING AT SHROVE TIDE.
"With fair Belinda as I walk'd one day,
Round whom young Love and all the Graces stray,
But ere she vanish'd, thus to me she said:
'Go, sir, at once, and, if you can, find out
What all this crowd and tumult is about.'
She spake—and 1 obey'd, — I sought the throng.
And reach'd the open central space. —Ere long
Tied by the leg a captive cock I spied,
Who oft to use (in vain) his pinions tried;
Whilst near him stood, in Nature's strength, a clown
Taught, by long use, the art of knocking down j
None e'er like him incarnadin'd with stains
So many clubs, or spoil'd so many mains.
He seiz'd a stick with wondrous skill prepar'd,
And thus address'd it as his hand he bar'd: —
• My trusty club which never fail'd me yet,
Fly swift, and let that cock his wages get.'
CHAP. Life of Cowpcr, on the authority of Sir Egerton Brydges, ac- '_ counts for this movement by narrating that Dr. Downe, his
father's friend, having a great spite against Mr. Talbot, head master of that school, with whom he had had a violent quarrel, recommended strongly that young Edward Thurlow should be sent to it, — his secret motive being that the hated pedagogue might have under his care "a daring refractory clever boy, who would be sure to torment him."* At Canterbury Thurlow remained some years. We are not told what pranks he played there, and I rather suspect that this was his period of steady application, — when he acquired the greatest share of that classical learning for which he was afterwards distinguished. f At^Caius He Was next sent to Cains College, Cambridge. J Here Cambridge. ne affected the character of idleness. He was suspected of
He spake and threw,—' 'Tis done/ exclaim'd the clown;
Shouted the crowd amaz'd,— * He's down, he's down.'
As when old Jove his thunderbolts uprear'd,
('Twas time) when Sol's ungovern'd son appear'd
Through heaven and panting earth his car to wheel
Till Neptune's self, half-boil'd, began to squeal,
Right on the lad's doom'd head the lightnings beat,
And he at ouce lost both his Y\k and seat.
So fell the cock beneath the heavy blow,
His legs and spurs far scattcr'd to and fro.
Thus may thy cocks, false recreant Gallia, fall,
And thou, Old England, then be cock of all.
Whilst Cumbria's hero still to conquest leads,
And British soldiers emulate his deeds.
Oh, may he soon rccross the subject main.
And seek, — in triumph seek, — his home again!"
* Southey's Life of Cowper, 23.
"f Thurlow always spoke kindly of Talbot, but considered himself so barbarously used by Brett, that he fostered an inextinguishable hatred of him. While Attorney General, going into a bookseller's shop at Norwich, Brett followed him, and most obsequiously accosted him. Thurlow taking no notice of him, Brett said, —" Mr. Thurlow, do you not recollect me?"—Mr. sittorney Gtneral. "I am not bound to recollect every scoundrel who chooses to recollect inc."
| By the kindness of the Rev. Dr. Chapman, the present Master of the College, I have been favoured with the following copy of his matriculation.
Extract from the Matriculation Book of Gonville and C'aius College, Cambridge, 5th October, 1748. —" Edwardus, filius Reverendi Thoma ; Thurlow, Vicarii de Tharston. in Com. Norf. natus apud Braken in eodem Com. educatus per biennium in .Edibus paternis apud Taccleston, sub Magro Browne, dein per quadrien. in Schola publica apud Seaming, sub MagTM Brett, postrcmo in Schola publica Cantuariensi sub Magr" Talbot, annos natus I 7, admissus est Oct. 5. l'ens. Minor sub tutela Magri Smith, et solvit pro ingress. 3«. 4<f."