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ceremony in the absence of the Lord Great Chamberlain of CHAP. England) preceding. His Lordship (after three obeisances) CLvnlaid down his letters patent upon the chair of state, and from thence took and delivered them to the clerk, who read the same at the table," &c. The entry goes on to state the writ of summons, the taking of the oaths, &c, and that his Lordship "was afterwards placed on the lower end of the Baron's bench, and from thence went to the upper end of the Earl's bench, and sat there as Lord Chancellor, and then his Lordship returned to the woolsack. Clarencieux King at Arms delivered in at the table his Lordship's pedigree pursuant to the standing order."
The prorogation then took place. At the opening of the Dec. 7. Session of parliament, on the 26th of November following, 1778the Lord Chancellor on his knee delivered to George III. the royal speech, announcing that France had gone to war, and was assisting the revolted colonies in America.* He His furious abstained from taking part in the debate which followed ma,ie"
upon the address; but on Lord Rockingham's motion a few
* 19 Pari. Hist. 1277.
r CHAP, not aware before that 'desolation' might be 'fruitful.' To negative what is not to be found in nature, and what the imagination cannot conceive, is a species of oratory — not only incongruous, but so nonsensical, that it admits of no answer."— He next addressed himself to an observation of the Duke of Grafton, who had said that ministers carried their measures by corruption: "this," he said, "was well calculated for the temporary purpose of debate, as it required no proof, and admitted of no refutation; and this was all that was intended by it; but he hoped that it would have a contrary effect, and that an impartial nation would honour and respect those against whom nothing could be brought, except such indiscriminate and ill-founded charges." He then attacked the Duke of Richmond and Lord Shelburne with equal acrimony, and concluded by declaring that "having in vain appealed to the reason and good sense of America, the only course was to endeavour to influence by their fears those who could not be wrought upon by the nobler principles of affection, generosity, or gratitude." The Bishop of Peterborough explaining, said, the expression he had used was "fruitless evils," not "fruitless desolation," although he contended that a desolation from which no good consequences was ever promised or expected, might well be termed a "fruitless desolation."—The Lord Chancellor. "I beg pardon of the Right Reverend Prelate, if I have mistaken his words. But, my Lords, I am equally at a loss to know what sort of 'evils' are 'fruitful'—except of evil. Are some evils productive of good? Let the Right Reverend Prelate more distinctly classify his evils; for at present I am at a loss to distinguish between evils that are fruitless and evils that are fruitful." He had an explanation almost equally uncourteous with Lord Shelburne; but he received a calm and dignified rebuke from Lord Camden, who asserted the import of the proclamation in question to be "We have tried our strength; we find ourselves incapable of conquest, and as we can't subdue we are determined to destroy." As yet the opposition in the Lords could only muster 37 to 71."
Thurlow spoke several times on the bill for allowing CHAP/ Keppel to be tried by a naval court-martial on shore, — CLVI/ allowing it to pass pretty quietly after a few sarcasms on the jjis d7 admiral and his supporters.* He then caused considerable meaner on dissatisfaction in the House, by at first refusing to put a ^J; °°" motion which had been regularly made for the erection of a bar between the woolsack and the steps of the throne,—on the ground that the object of it was to accommodate members of the House of Commons,—which was contrary to the standing order for the exclusion of strangers; — but he was forced to put it, and to negative it by the ministerial majority.f On other occasions, about this time, his manner gave offence to several Peers, and by way of apology he declared "that he never presumed to rise and control the sense of the House, but in instances in which the form of their proceedings was about to be departed from." X
He was becoming highly unpopular, and as his demeanour Thurlow on the woolsack was very much like that of Lord Chancellor J^"'^0 Jeffreys,— if a proper course had been pursued to check him, authority in he might have been put down as effectually;—but, luckily for wnen he is him, instead of being reprimanded for his arrogant manners, J^^j^g y he was taunted with his mean birth,—an opportunity was of- of Richfered to him, which he daringly and dexterously improved, of mond" exalting himself,—and the suppressed rebellion ended in his establishing a permanent tyranny over the whole body of the Peerage.
We have a very lively account of this scene from an eye- Butler's witness. "At times," says Mr. Butler in his Reminiscences, a"ount of
- ' . this scene.
"Lord Thurlow was superlatively great. It was the good June, 1779. fortune of the Reminiscent to hear his celebrated reply to the Duke of Grafton during the inquiry into Lord Sandwich's administration of Greenwich Hospital. His Grace's action and delivery, when he addressed the House, were singularly dignified and graceful; but his matter was not equal to his manner. He reproached Lord Thurlow with his plebeian extraction and his recent admission into the Peerage: particular circumstances caused Lord Thurlow's reply to make a
speech against the Duke of Richmond.
Thurlow becomes the tyrant of the House of Peers.
deep impression on the Reminiscent. His Lordship had
* I conjecture that he had given umbrage by his dictatorial tone much more than by the frequency of'his speeches.
f The top of the Duke's bunch. \ Rcminisc. i. 142.
of the cowardice of brave men, who forget that before an CHAP,
"That rugged Thurlow, who, with silent scowl,
The Parliamentary History says, that on the next mea- xhurlow's sure which was brought forward, "the Lord Chancellor ^ronica,fd6spoke with peculiar feeling, force, and argument;" but I cannot bill to help suspecting that his speech was an example of grave irony, P^",'^ and that in his heart he was laughing, and wished the discerning to know that he was laughing, at the suspicious claims to high blood of some of those who despised the descendant of the " Carrier." This was Bishop Barrington's bill "for the more effectual discouragement of the crime of Adultery." A Howard, — the Earl of Carlisle, — having ably opposed it on the ground that adultery, though a deadly sin, was not a subject for criminal legislation,—he was answered with great seeming warmth by Lord Thurlow, who had not only been noted for youthful profligacy, but, now the first magistrate under the Crown, and Keeper (as he boasted) of the King's conscience, was openly living with a mistress, by whom he had a family of children. He said, "the matter immediately before the House was, whether or no they would take into consideration a method for more effectually preventing the crime of adultery? If they rejected the bill, they pronounced in form that they were not disposed to put any restraint at all upon this abominable practice. The plain question was, 'Do you, or do you not, think it worth your while to interpose by some method for the prevention of a crime that not only subverts domestic tranquillity, but has a tendency, by contaminating the blood of illustrious families, to affect the welfare of the nation in its dearest interests?' The bill was for the 'protection" of every husband and father in the kingdom; but it concerned their Lordships more than any