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complexion, and bushy eyebrows. O'Keefe, the famous CHAP, farce writer, has left us a little portrait of him shortly before C1X1
he was removed from office, at a moment when he must have been suffering from bodily pain: "I saw Lord Thurlow in court: he was thin and seemed not well in health; he leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, which were spread wide, and his hands clutched in each other. He had on a large three-cocked hat, his voice was good, and he spoke in the usual judge style, easy and familiar." But, generally speaking, although pretending to despise the opinion of others, he was acting a part, and his aspect was more solemn and imposing than almost any other person's in public life — so much that Mr. Fox used to say, "it proved him dishonest, since no man could be so wise as Thurlow looked"
His manner made an awful impression on all who beheld The late him, and I have seen this successfully mimicked by the late und'ata*." Lord Holland, so as not only to create a belief of profound TMory of wisdom, but to inspire some apprehension into the company present of being committed to the Fleet, or of being taken into custody by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. Yet, in private life, he could, on rare occasions, lay aside his terrors, — affecting mildness and politeness. Once when at His goodBath, he went to the pump-room and sat there, booted pri^e'iife. and spurred. Being informed by the master of the ceremonies, that it was against rule to appear there with spurs, he said, "the rules of Bath must not be disputed," and not only ordered his spurs immediately to be taken off, but that an apology should be made in his name to the company.*
"Many stories of Thurlow's rudeness," says his friend His ocea
, • • i • i , J ,t. I sional vul
Craddock, "have been in circulation; but it should be f amy garity.
* Cr. L 78.
Scarborough, he made visits to some of those splendid mansions with which the county of York so greatly abounds, and a friend of mine had the honour to meet him at one of them, then full of very high company. Whilst walking in the garden, and they were all admiring the elegancies which surrounded them, the noble proprietor being near the hothouse, turned to the Lord Chancellor, and politely asked him whether he would not walk in and partake of some grapes. 'Grapes!' said Thurlow, 'did I not tell you just now I had got the gripes?' The strangers in the company were all petrified with astonishment."
A body of Presbyterians made an application to him to assist in repealing certain statutes which disqualified them from holding civil offices. He received the deputation with great civility, but in his own blunt manner replied, "Why, gentlemen, if your, old sour religion had been the Establishment, I might have complied; but as it is not, you cannot expect me to accede to your request." They retired, smiling, and probably less dissatisfied than if he had tried to reason them into a conviction of the justice of the Test and Corporation Acts.*
Although he by no means despised the smiles of royalty, and "principibus placuisse viris" was not a low object of ambition with him, he was a courtier in his own peculiar fashion, and sometimes he used a freedom of speech which from any other man would have been offensive. Lord Eldon used to relate the following aneedote: "Once, when the mind of George III. was not supposed to be very strong, I took down to Kew some acts for his assent, and I placed on a paper the titles and the effect of them. The King, perhaps suspicious that my coming down might be to judge of his competence for public business, as I was reading over the titles of the different acts, interrupted me, and said, ' You are not acting correctly, you should do one of two things, either bring me down the acts for my perusal, or say, as Thurlow once said to me on a like occasion: having read several, he stopped and said, 'It was all damned nonsense trying to make
me understand them, and that I had better consent to them Chap. at once.'" CLXI
On the occasion of a public procession, the Prince, who Jj;s Speccii had taken offence at something Thurlow had said or done, wl,en lhe rudely stept in before the Chancellor. Thurlow observed, wales took "Sir, you have done quite right: I represent your royal "^P"* Father: Majesty walks last. Proceed, Sir."
At Brighthelmstone the Prince of Wales, living with a gay His answer set of frivolous young men who displeased the Ex-chancellor priTM.^. much, asked him frequently to dinner, but always met with vited him an excuse. At last, walking in front of the Pavilion in to innercompany with them, he met Lord Thurlow, and pressed him much to dine with him, saying, "You must positively name a day." Lord Thurlow, looking at the party who were with the Prince, said, "If I must name a day or time, it shall be when your Royal Highness keeps better company."
At another time Lord Thurlow had voluntarily given the Difference Prince some advice, which was far from being palatable, p^eee His Royal Highness was so angry that he sent to him to about givsay, that in future Carlton House Gates would be shut adviceTM against him. Lord Thurlow answered, — "I am not surprised; proffered favours always stink." The Prince, conscious of the ungenerous return he had made, acknowledged his error, and they again became friends.
The Prince once sent Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt to the Exchancellor, to ask his opinion respecting some difference in the royal family. "You may tell your master," said Thurlow, " I shall not give him my opinion." "My Lord," said Sir Thomas, "I cannot take that message to his Royal Highness." "Well then," said Lord Thurlow, "you may tell him from me, that if he can point out one single instance in which he has followed my advice, I will give him my opinion on this matter."
Traditionary anecdotes, to show the violence of his temper, particularly on the marriage of his favourite daughter without his consent, I pass over as not sufficiently authenticated *;
* His family accounted for his whimsicalities in his later years by the shock he sustained from the flight of this daughter — to whom he had been so much attached, that he made himself master of the principles of thorough-bass that he might superintend her musical practice.
CHAP, but it is certain that, by reason of a quarrel be had with CLXI. He-lland^ the architect, who had contracted to build a grand new house for him at Dulwich, he would never enter it, and he continued to live in a small inconvenient lodge close by.* Habit of In Thurlow's time, the habit of profane swearing was uns^earing nappuy 80 common that Bishop Horsley, and other right reverend prelates, are said not to have been entirely exempt from it; but Thurlow indulged in it to a degree that admits of no excuse. I have been told by an old gentleman, who was standing behind the woolsack at the time that Sir Hay Campbell, then Lord Advocate, arguing a Scotch appeal at the bar in a very tedious manner, said, "I will noo, my
Lords, proceed to my seevent pownt." "I'll be d d if
you do," cried Thurlow, so as to be heard by all present; "this House is adjourned till Monday next," and off he scampered. — Sir James Mansfield, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, used to relate that while he and several other legal characters were dining with Lord Chancellor Thurlow, his Lordship happening to swear at his Swiss valet when retiring from the room, the man returned, just
put his head in, and exclaimed "I von't be d d for you,
Milor," which caused the noble host and all his guests to burst out into a roar of laughter. f—From another valet he received a still more cutting retort. Having scolded this meek man for some time without receiving any answer, he concluded by saying, "I wish you were in hell." The terrified valet at last exclaimed, "I wish I was, my Lord! I wish I was I"
Sir Thomas Davenport, a great nisi prius leader, had been intimate with Thurlow, and long flattered himself with the hopes of succeeding to some valuable appointment in the law, but several good things passing by, he lost his patience and temper along with them. At last he addressed this laconic application to his patron: — "the Chief Justice
His quarrel • An action brought against him by Holland came on for trial before Lord with Hoi- Kenyon, who, for the dignity of the Chancellor, got it referred to arbitration, land, the f I am afraid that profane swearing was then much practised by men of all architect. degrees in Westminster Hall. I remember when Sir James Mansfield was Chief Justice of the Common Picas, and the unruly members of the coif who practised before him led him a most wretched life, it was said that one evening, having fallen asleep on a sofa in a lady's drawing-room, he was heard to call out several times in his dream, " G— d the Serjeants!"
Ship Of Chester Is Vacant; Am I To Have It?" and Chap. received the following laconic answer: — " No! By God! Kenton Shall Have It!"
Having once got into a dispute with a Bishop respecting a living of which the Great Seal had the alternate presentation, the Bishop's secretary called upon him, and said, "My
Lord of sends his compliments to your Lordship, and
believes that the next turn to present to belongs to his
Lordship."— Chancellor. "Give my compliments to his Lordship, and tell him that I will see him d d first before he
shall present."—Secretary. "This, my Lord, is a very unpleasant message to deliver to a Bishop."— Chancellor. "You are right, it is so; therefore tell the Bishop that I will be d——d first before he shall present."
With all his faults, it must ever be remembered to his ThurWs honour that, by his own abilities alone, without flattery of great ment" the great, or mean compliances with the humours of others, he raised himself from obscurity to the highest dignity in the State; — that no one can ascribe his rise to reputed mediocrity, which is sometimes more acceptable than genius, and that for a period of forty years he not only preserved an ascendency among distinguished lawyers, statesmen, and orators, but that he was regarded with respect and esteem by eminent poets, moralists, and divines.
I shall conclude this memoir with sketches of him by some Contempoof his contemporaries, which may better enable the reader J^ter of iustly to estimate his merits than any observations of mine. nim while
... he was
The first is from a volume published in 1777, when he was Attorney Attorney General, entitled, "Public Characters," in which Gencralit is remarkable that his name is spelt " Thurloe," like that of Cromwell's Secretary: — " His voice is harsh, his manner uncouth, his assertions made generally without any great regard to the unities of time, place, or probability. His arguments frequently wild, desultory and incoherent. His deductions, when closely pressed, illogical, and his attacks on his adversaries, and their friends, coarse, vulgar, and illiberal, though generally humorous, shrewd, and pointedly severe."
"The Chancellor Thurlow," says Bishop Watson, "was an able and upright Judge; but as the Speaker of the