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LORD CAMPBELL'S LIVES OF THE ENGLISH CHANCELLORS.
THE immediate successor of Lord Hardwicke was Robert Henley, Lord Northington, descended of an ancient family of Somersetshire gentry. Henley was educated at Westminster school, studied at Oxford, and there acquired that taste for strong potations, which he retained through life. Gout is the natural attendant of port; and the venerable Chancellor Northington, when hobbling through the House of Lords in his latter years, might be heard to mutter, "If I had guessed that one day these legs were to carry a Chancellor, I would have taken better care of them when a lad." As a lad he was gay, gal lant, joyous. Bath was then the most fashionable place of resort of the smart young barristers in their holidays; and there the convivial, rattling, reckless, Councillor Henley, formed a romantic attachment, which, though unpromising at first, turned out much better than romantic attachments sometimes do :
"The newly-married couple started with but slender means. Their first residence was a small house in Great
George III. made a good story, which he used to tell for the rest of his reign, of what passed between him and his Chancellor on this occasion. I asked him,' said should be abolished?' Sir,' answered he, that I may his Majesty, his reason for wishing that these sittings be allowed comfortably to finish my bottle of port after dinner; and your Majesty, solicitous for the happiness1 of all your subjects, I hope will consider this to be reason sufficient,'
The successor of Lord Northington was Lord Chancellor Camden, one of "the brightest ornaments of the legal profession, and a consistent, pure Whig, when whiggery was more than a mere name. But the life of this eminent lawyer and statesman has been so recently and ably given to the world by Lord Brougham, that we take for granted it is familiar to most of our readers. not, we could have drawn from no more instruc tive biography in the entire series of the Lives of the English Chancellors. We have already noticed Lord Campbell's faith in the early disci-ī pline of hard circumstances; and in every young man being left to fight his own way. Charles James Street, Bedford Row, where they lived for three Pratt, Earl Camden, by the death of his father, years very quietly, but very contentedly, in a style congenial to the simplicity of their tastes. After he became Lord when he was only ten years of age, was left with Chancellor, and Lord-Lieutenant for Hampshire, both he a patrimony barely sufficient to educate him; and and his wife would often look back with pleasing recollec- his judicious mother early impressed upon the tion from the Grange and Grosvenor Square to the free-affectionate boy's mind, that he must owe all dom and frugality of their early establishment near Bedford his own exertions. His future success and emiRow, where a leg of mutton lasted them three days→→ the first day hot, the second day cold, and the third day nence are, therefore, not unjustly ascribed by Lord! hashed.' Campbell mainly to being cut off from all expec tation or chance of obtaining, through his father, the Lord Chief Justice, some sinecure appointment which might have doomed him for life to inglorious idleness and eventual obscurity.
We should have liked to quote this Chancellor's judgment in a case of religious imposture, where a weak-minded single lady was made the dupe of a hypocritical knave, who aspired to be the founder of some new and nameless sect, and who obtained from the infatuated woman, besides, large sums of money; a deed of gift, which, when come to her senses, the lady wished to have cancelled, and which was cancelled. In concluding his deliverance and judgment in this infamous case, the Chancellor, who had eulogised sincere dissenters, said
"He secured a part of her fortune, by lighting up in her breast the flame of enthusiasm; and, undoubtedly, he hoped in due time to secure the whole, by kindling another flame, of which the female breast is so susceptible; for the invariable style of his letters is, 'all is to be completed by love and union.' Let it not be told in the streets of London, that this preaching sectary is only defending his just rights. I repeat, let not such men be persecuted, but many of them deserve to be represented in puppet shows. I have considered this cause, not merely as a private matter, but of public concernment and utility. Bigotry and enthusiasm have spread their baneful influence amongst us far and wide, and the unhappy objects of the contagion almost daily increase."
Lord Northington was a favourite with George III., and the first request which he made to the young sovereign, the king himself used to tell with glee to the end of his reign. It was that the evening sittings of the Chancery Court might be discontinued on Wednesdays and Fridays; so that the Judge might have a little more leisure for social enjoyment.
"Sweet are the uses of adversity,"
in the estimation of our legal biographer; and yet they inay be pushed too far. In the course of this Life, Lord Campbell stumbles upon a letter of Camden's, which must have nearly touched our Irish ex-Chancellor. A question had then arisen, whether an Irish or an English lawyer should hold the Great Seal of Ireland-the very question discussed, or rather clamoured about, în relation to Lord Campbell himself. Lord Camden stood for the English lawyer being appointed, and assigns reasons, public and private, which are quite convincing, and such as ought to influence future administrations in filling these high appointments.
The unfortunate Charles Yorke, for a few hours Chancellor, is, probably from feelings of tenderness which arise from his melancholy fate, a very great favourite with his biographer. He was undoubtedly an accomplished scholar, and an amiable man, though without any of those rare elements which constitute the GREAT MAN. had obtained the office of Solicitor-General during the reign of George II., and, on the accession of George III., was continued in it; and as Attorney-General became the prosecutor of Wilkes. He subsequently, on the threatened disruption of parties, resigned his place; but on the formation
**Although Charles Yorke had been professedly in opposition since the last resignation of his office of Attorney-General in July, 1766, he was supposed at times to have coquetted with the ministry, but latterly he had allied himself more closely with the Rockingham Whigs. His elder brother, the second Earl of Hardwicke, was a most zealous member of that party. After Lord Chatham's resuscitation, which followed his resignation, the two sections of the Whig party were reconciled, and formed a formidable opposition to the Court, now bent on taxing America, and trampling on the liberties of the people by persisting in the perpetual disqualification of Mr. Wilkes to sit in parliament. If all the Whigs were true and steady to their engagements-the greatest hopes were entertained that the illiberal members of the cabinet might be compelled to resign-that America might he conciliated, and that tranquillity and the constitution might be restored at home.
With this prospect opened the session of 1770; when Lord Chatham, having again thundered against ministerial corruption and imbecility, Lord Camden made his startling disclosure, that for years he had absented himself from the council when the most important subjects of colonial and domestic policy were debated there, because he utterly condemned the course which his colleagues were obstinately pursuing. The total surrender of the government depended upon whether any lawyer, of decent character and abilities, could be found to succeed him. Lord Shelburne, knowing this, had declared in the House of Lords, that the Seals would go a-begging; but he hoped there would not be found in the kingdom a wretch so base and mean-spirited as to accept them on the conditions on which they must be offered. This was in the night of Tuesday, the 9th of January.
"Wednesday, 17th Jan., 1770. "Mr. Yorke's refusal is of moment; and I can readily believe it, from my opinion of his prudence and embark in a rotten vessel in the middle of a tempest, to discernment. No man with a grain of either would
go he knows not whither. I wish our noble and amiable Chancellor had not been so candid as to drag the Great Seal for one hour at the heels of a desperate minister, after he had hawked it about with every circumstance of indignity to the holder of it.'
But before these characters were traced, the prudence and virtue of Charles Yorke had been overpowered. The ministers had abandoned all hope of gaining him, and were thinking of pressing the Great Seal on Sir Eardley Wilmot or De Grey, the Attorney-General; but the King himself, without consulting them, with great dexterity and energy, made an attempt-which at first seemed crowned with brilliant success-though it terminated so fatally. "On Tuesday, the 16th of January, there was a levée at St. James's, and Charles Yorke thought it his duty to attend for the purpose of testifying his loyalty and personal respect for the Sovereign. To his great surprise he met with a very gracious reception, and the Lord in waiting informed him that his Majesty desired to see him in his closet when the levée was over. He hardly thought it possible that the offers to him should be repeated, but he resolutely determined at all events to be faithful to the engagements into which he had entered. Again led into temptation, he was undone. cooled as his loyalty was inflamed; unable longer to resist-without making any stipulations for himself, with respect to pension or tellership-he sank down on his knees in token of submission; and the King, giving him his hand to kiss, hailed him as Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.'"
The doomed man went to the Duke of Grafton's to communicate his own disgrace. A council was held on the following day, and Yorke was sworn in Chancellor. By a strange kind of infatuation, he went straight from the Council Board, carrying the Great Seal along with him, to Lord Rockingham's, where his brother, Lord Hardwicke, and the other Whig leaders, were assembled, to concert measures against that Government with which he was now connected. It would seem as if he had been already under delirium :
A meeting of the opposition leaders was held next morning, when they resolved that Lord Camden should be requested to hold the Great Seal till he should be dismissed; and that all their influence should be used to prevent any lawyer of character from agreeing to accept it. Simultaneously the King and his friends' determined that if Lord Camden did not voluntarily resign, he should be dismissed, and that a successor to him must be found at any price. Lord Mansfield would have been the "He was introduced to them, and unfolded his tale. first object of their choice, but in less ticklish times he We are told that it was received with a burst of indignahad expressed a firm purpose never to exchange histion, and that all present upbraided him for a breach of permanent office of Chief Justice of the King's Bench for He instantly left them, and went home, his the fleeting éclat of the Chancellorship. The great effort mind sorely harassed with the severity of their reproaches. to be made was to gain over Charles Yorke, whose It was announced that very evening that he was dangersecession would add much credit to their cause, and ously ill, and at five o'clock in the evening of Saturday, materially damage the Whigs. A letter was immedi- the 30th of January, three days after he had been sworn ately written to him making an overture in very general in Chancellor, he was no more. His patent of nobility terms, and in the evening of the following day a long had been made out, and was found in the room in which interview took place between him and the Duke of he died, but the Great Seal had not been affixed to it, so Grafton. The Great Seal was now distinctly offered to that the title did not descend to his heirs. He expired in him, and when he talked of his past political connexions, the forty-eighth year of his age. A suspicion of suicide a hope was held out to him of the admission of some of immediately arose, and a controversy has ever since been his friends into the Cabinet, and of the adoption of a more maintained on the question, whether that suspicion was liberal policy. He required time for consideration, but well founded. Fortunately, it is no part of my duty to seemed in a humour so complying that the Duke of give an opinion upon a subject so delicate and so painGrafton made a very favourable report to the King of the ful! Would to God that I could entirely avoid it! I state of the negotiation. Charles Yorke, however, hay-shall content myself with stating the authorities on both ing stated what had passed to a meeting of Whigs at Lord Rockingham's, they pronounced the whole proceeding treacherous and deceitful; they foretold that, as soon as he had been inveigled to leave his party, the Court would treat him with contumely, and they prevailed upon him to give them a pledge that he would be true to them. He returned to the Premier, and declared that he positively declined the Great Seal.
"This refusal caused great joy among the Whigs, and news of it being sent to Hayes, where Lord Chatham then was, he thus wrote:
sides, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusion. In our time, on a death so sudden occurring, a coroner's inquest would be held, as a matter of course; but no coroner's inquest was held, although it would appear that the body was exhibited by order of the family, to check the circulation of the rumours which were afloat.”
Lord Campbell cites numerous accounts of the melancholy circumstances attending the death of Charles Yorke; but the impression that he died by his own hand is ineradicable. In the
consternation produced by the event, it was given out in his household, or by the servants and physician, that he had been seized with violent cholic, and again that he had burst a blood-vessel. We should like to learn something of the remorse of the great personage by whose blandishments the unhappy man was betrayed; but here history is silent; and the king most probably considered himself the aggrieved person from the inopportune loss of his hard-won Chancellor.
The common-place Chancellor Bathurst is hardly worth the pages. thrown away upon the
duil and even tenor of his life. It is relief to
escape from its monotony to the dramatic opening of the career of Thurlow, a Chancellor who, whatever were his demerits, lacked not strong and distinctive personal lineaments, harsh and rugged as they might have been. Hitherto the Chancellors had either been discovered, by their biographer, obscurely, through broken rays of glimmering antique light, or examined through the spectacles of books and manuscripts; but a new era is reached, and Lord Campbell warmly exclaims
"With these eyes have I beheld the lineaments of Edward, Lord Thurlow; with these ears have I heard the deep tones of his voice.
'Largior hic campos æther et lumine vestit
"I was struck with awe and admiration at witnessing the scene I have feebly attempted to describe; and I with whom I afterwards chanced to converse, entertained found that any of Thurlow's surviving contemporaries, 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 con-1 siderably 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.'
We are tempted here, after Henry Cowper, to exclaim, "CAPITAL, CAPITAL!" O! would some power only give contemporaries the same quick, clear sight the same faculty of accurate discernment and measurement which posterity is sure to attain!
Thurlow was the son of a clergyman of the county of Norfolk, and his grandfather had also been a country parson. This Chancellor escaped the almost universal weakness of looking farther back for that noble or gentle ancestry, which every diligent inquirer is sure to find, or invent:
"He had a just contempt for the vanity of new men pretending that they are of ancient 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 Thurloe 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. His father used to tell his sons betimes, that he could do nothing for them after he had launched them in a profession. The old gentleman would then say (aside) to a friend, I have no fear about Ned; he will fight his way in the world.'
Purpureo; solemque suum, sua sidera norunt.' Thurlow had resigned the Great Seal while I was still a child, residing in my native land; but when I had been entered a few days a student at Lincoln's Inn, it was rumoured that, after a long absence from parliament, he was to attend in the House of Lords, to express his opinion upon the very important question, Whether a divorce bill should be passed on the petition of the wife, in a case where her husband had been guilty of incest with her sister?'-there never hitherto having been an instance of a divorce bill in England, except on the petition of the husband for the adultery of the wife. When I was admitted below the bar, Lord Chancellor Eldon was sitting on the woolsack; but he excited, comparatively, little interest, and all eyes were impatiently looking round for him who had occupied it under Lord North, under Lord Rockingham, under Lord Shelburne, and under Mr. Pitt. At last there walked in, supported by a staff, a figure bent with age, dressed in an old-fashioned grey coat, with breeches and gaiters of the same stuff-a brown scratch "Of Ned's early years a few anecdotes have been wig-tremendous white bushy eye-brows-eyes still spark-handed down to us. It being known that on account of ling with intelligence-dreadful crow's feet' round them-very deep lines in his countenance-and shrivelled complexion of a sallow hue-all indicating much greater senility than was to be expected from the date of his birth, as laid down in the " Peerage." The debate was begun by his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV., who moved the rejection of the bill, on the ground that marriage had never been dissolved in this country, and never ought to be dissolved, unless for the
adultery of the wife."
bell continues :—
his lively parts he was destined to be a lawyer, the Rev. W. Leach, whom he was in the habit of visiting while a very young boy, said to him one day, I shall five to see you Lord Chancellor,'--and forty years after obtained from him a stall at Norwich, and a living in Suffolk.”*
At school, Thurlow was distinguished" as a "daring, refractory, clever boy," sure to torment his teachers. At Cambridge he affected idleness, but was suspected of sitting up to study when he pretended to be amusing himself. However,
Lord Thurlow took the other side, opposed his Royal Highness, and triumphantly. Lord Camp-loved to be seen lounging at the gates of his college, or He eschewed the chapel and the lecture-room, and graduates-or figuring in a nocturnal symposium-or loitering in coffee-houses, then frequented by the underacting as leader of the university men in the wars between discipline made him familiar with impositions, confine'town' and 'gown.' His frequent breaches of academie ments within the college, privations of sizeings, and threats of rustication. He rather prided himself in such punishments; and, instead of producing reformation, they led to fresh offences. He was not more celebrated for his waywardness in getting into scrapes, than for the talent he displayed in getting out of them."
"I cannot now undertake to say whether there were any cheers, but I well remember that Henry Cowper, the time-honoured clerk of the House of Lords, who had sat there for half a century, came down to the bar in a fit of enthusiasm, and called out in a loud voice, Capital! capital! capital! Lord Chancellor Eldon declared that he had made up his mind to oppose the measure, but that he was converted. * Vidi Virgilium tantum. 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,
He at length insulted the Dean of his College so grossly, that "Mr. Dean" moved his expulsion;
Winchelsea, tried before Lord Mansfield, at Guildhall. The leader on the opposite side was Sir Fletcher Norton, then the tyrant of the bar, who began by treating the unknown junior with his usual arrogance. This Thurlow resented with great spirit. They got into an altercation, in which Thurlow had with him the sympathies of the bar and the bystanders; and, with a happy mixture of argument and sarcasm, he completely put down his anNorton's despotic rule, were exceedingly delighted, and tagonist. The attorneys, who had smarted much under resolved to patronise the man who had shown so much courage and capacity. Briefs, in cases of a peculiar character, did come in, and he was now known, and talked of in the profession, as one supposed to be possessed of great resources, and likely, one day, to make a figure;→→ but, still, he had few constant clients, and little regular business. He had not credit for possessing much technical knowledge of the law; and he did not always exhibit that subordination which the leader expects in a junior counsel, and which, indeed, the interest of the client demands. In short, he disdained to play second fiddle' to those whom he conceived inferior performers."
but by the intervention of friends, the sentence was commuted, and Thurlow was quietly permitted to take his name off the books, and left the University without a degree. While an under-graduate at Cambridge, he had been entered of the Inner Temple; and in the office of Mr. Chapman, an eminent solicitor of Lincoln's Inn, where he was placed as a pupil of law, he met another pupil, Cowper the poet, whom, we may say in passing, he had neither heart to love, nor sympathy nor congenial taste to appreciate :"Cowper, in a private letter written many years after, gives this account of their studies:-'I did actually live three years with Mr. Chapinan-that is to say, I slept three years in his house; but I lived-that is to say, I spent my days in Southampton Row, as you very well remember. There was I and the future Lord Chancellor constantly employed, from morning till night, in giggling, and making others giggle, instead of studying the law.' "Thurlow, while denominated a student of law,' affected the character of an idler. He was fond of society; The Douglas cause was at this period agitating without being addicted to habitual intemperance, he octhe three kingdoms much more strongly than casionally indulged in deep potations; and, although his the Montpensier marriage stirs our times; and manners were somewhat rough and bearish, as he had Thurlow, by a curious, if true incident, was regreat powers of entertainment, his company was much tained for the appellant. His appearance in this courted by the loungers of the Inns of Court. Thus a good deal of his time was stolen from study, and he could memorable cause greatly increased his reputation hot lay in such stores of learning as Seldon and Hale, in and business; and whether every particular of the the preceding century, who, for years together, read six-story be accurate or not, it at least illustrates the teen hours a-day. But he by no means neglected preparation for his profession to the extreme degree which he pretended. He had an admirable head for the law, with 4 quick perception and a retentive memory, so that he made greater progress than some plodders who were at work all day long and a great part of every night. Ile attended the remarkable trials and arguments which came on in Westminster Hall, and picked up a good deal of legal knowledge while he seemed only to be abusing the counsel, and laughing at the Judges. He would still shut himself up for whole mornings, barring his outer door; when he not only would seize upon a classic, and get up the literature of the day, but make a serious attack on Littleton and Plowden. He did go almost every evening to Nando's coffee-house, near Temple Bar, and swaggered and talked loud there about politics and scandal, new plays and favourite actresses; but if he had not taken too much of the punch which Mrs. Humphries, the landlady, was celebrated for compounding, and her fair daughter served, on returning to his chambers he would read diligently, before going to rest, till his candles turned dim in the morning light.'
"His father had expected that fees would immediately flow in upon him, and proposed to withdraw, instead of increasing, the very moderate allowance which was his sole support. It is even said that the future Chancellor, although he practised a laudable economy, was actually reduced to the following stratagem to procure a horse to carry him round the circuit:-He went to a horse-dealer, and said to him that he wished to purchase a good roadster-price being no object to him-but that he must have a fair trial of the animal's paces before he cencluded the bargain. The trial being conceded, he rode off to Winchester, and having been well carried all the way round, but still without any professional luck, he returned the horse to his owner, saying, that the animal, notwithstanding some good points, did not altogether suit him.' At last, fortune smiled upon him. By some chance, he had a brief in the case of Luke Robinson v. the Earl of
manners and habits of the lawyers of the period; not but that a young barrister may yet be found at his club, if not at his coffee-house. It is thus
According to legal tradition, soon after the decision of the Court of Session in Scotland, that the alleged son of Lady Jane Douglas was a suppositious child purchased at Paris, the question, which excited great interest all over Europe, was discussed one evening at Nando's coffeehouse- from its excellent punch, and the ministrations of a younger daughter of the landlady-still Thurlow's favourite haunt. At this time, and, indeed, when I myself first began the study of the law, the modern club system was unknown, and (as in the time of Swift and Addison) men went in the evenings for society to coffeehouses, in which they expected to encounter a particular set of acquaintance, but which were open to all who chose to enter and offer to join in the conversation, at the risk of meeting with cold looks and mortifying rebuffs. Thurlow, like his contemporary, Dr. Johnson, took great pains in gladiatorial discussion, knowing that he excelled in it, and he was pleased and excited when he found a large body of good listeners. On the evening in question, a friend of his at the English bar strongly applauded the judgment against the supposed heir of the house of Douglas. For this reason, probably, Thurlow took the contrary side. Like most other lawyers, he had read the evidence attentively; and in a succinct but masterly statement, he gave an abstract of it to prove that the claimant was indeed the genuine issue of Lady Jane and her husband-dexterously repelling the objections to the claim, and contending that there were admitted facts which were inconsistent with the theory of the child being the son of the French rope-dancer. Having finished his argument and his punch, he withdrew to his chambers, pleased with the victory which he had obtained over his antagonist, who was no match for him in dialectics, and who had ventured to express an opinion upon the question without having sufficiently studied it. Thurlow, after reading a little brief for a motion in the King's Bench, which his clerk had received in his absence, went to bed, thinking no more of the Douglas cause, and ready, according to the vicissitudes of talk, to support the spuriousness of the claimant with equal zeal. But it so happened that two Scotch law-agents, who had come up from Edinburgh to enter the appeal, having heard of the fame of Nando's, and having been told that some of the great leaders of the
but of the bold, audacious, brazen, or adamantine sort, Thurlow was doubly endowed. Let us see him. He lost no time in making the most of his silken gown,
English bar were to be seen there, had at a side-table been quiet listeners of the disputation, and were amazingly struck with the knowledge of the case and the acuteness which Thurlow had exhibited. The moment he was gone, they went to the landlady and inquired who he was? They had never heard his name before; but finding that "When Thurlow appeared in court with his silk robe ho was a barrister, they resolved to retain him as junior and full bottom wig-lowering frowns and contemptuous to prepare the appellant's case, and to prompt those who smiles successively passing across his visage as the arguwere to lead it at the bar of the House of Lords. A ments or the judgment proceeded the solicitors could difficulty had occurred about the preparation of the case, not behold him without some secret awe, and without be for there was a wise determination that, from the magni- lieving that he was possessed of some mysterious powers tude of the stake, the nature of the question, and the which he could bring into activity in their service. When consideration that it was to be decided by English Law he had an opportunity of opening his mouth, he spoke in Lords, the plaidoyer should be drawn by English counsel, a sort of oracular or judicial tone, as if he had an unand the heads of the bar who were retained from their doubted right to pronounce the verdict or judgment in numerous avocations-had refused to submit to this pre- favour of his client. He appeared to think that his oppo liminary drudgery." nent was guilty of great presumption in controverting any of his positions, and unless his cause was desperately bad (when he would spontaneously give it up) he tried to convey the notion that the Judges, if they showed any disposition to decide against him, were chargeable with gross ignorance, or were actuated by some corrupt motive. By such arts he was soou in first-rate business, and all of a sudden-from extreme poverty-in the receipt of a very large income. Hitherto he had taken little part in politics, and he seemed in a state of great indifference between the two parties, associating with the mem bers of both indiscriminately-in conversation, sometimes speaking for, and sometimes against the taxing of the colonies, and sometimes censuring, and sometimes defending the prosecution of Wilkes. Now beginning to feel the stings of ambition, and resolved upon political advancement, it was necessary to choose a side." gim
* Next morning, a retainer in Douglas v. the Duke of Hamilton' was left at Thurlow's chambers, with an immense pile of papers, having a fee indorsed upon them, ten times as large as he had ever before received. * * While so employed, he made acquaintance with several of the relations and connexions of the Douglas family, who took the deepest interest in the result; and, amongst others, with the old Duchess of Queensbury, the wellknown friend of Gay, Pope, Swift, and the other wits of the reign of Queen Anne. When she had got over the bluntness of his manners (which were certainly not those of the vieille cour), she was mightily taken with him, and declared that since the banishment of Atterbury, and the death of Bolingbroke, she had met with no Englishman whose conversation was so charming. She added that, being a genuine Tory, she had considerable influence with Lord Bute, the new favourite, and even with the young sovereign himself, who had a just respect for hereditary right, lamenting the fate of the family whom his own had somewhat irregularly supplanted. On this hint Thurlow spoke, and with the boldness that belonged to his character, said that a silk gown would be very ac ceptable to him.' Her Grace was as much surprised as if he had expressed a wish to wear a silk petticoat-but upon an explanation that the wished-for favour was the appointment to the dignity of king's counsel, in the gift of the Government, she promised that it should be conferred upon him. She was as good as her word.
Chancellor Northington demurred, but the Duchess obtained the intervention of the King, and the Chancellor's doubts, as a matter of course, vanished.
"In December, 1761, Thurlow boldly doffed his stuff gown for the silk-renouncing his privilege to draw law papers, or to appear as junior counsel for any plaintiff. In the following term, he was elected a Bencher of the Inner Temple, but it was some time doubtful whether he would reap any other fruits from his new rank. Rival barristers complained much, that in the seventh year from his call, being known for nothing except his impertinence to Sir Fletcher Norton, he should be put over the heads of some who might have been his father; while the general consolation was, that the silk gown could never answer to him, and that he had cut his own throat.' He himself had no misgivings; and there were a few of more discernment, who then predicted that he would eventually rise to the highest office in his profession. "In truth, his success was certain. With the respectable share he possessed of real talents and of valuable acquirements, together with his physical advantages of dark complexion, strongly-marked features, piercing eyes, bushy eye-brows, and sonorous voice, all worked to the best effect by an immeasurable share of self-confidence, -he could not fail. This last quality was the chief cause of his greatness."
Lord Campbell quotes very aptly Lady Mary Wortley's well-known estimate of the value of impudence in the rapid advancement of public men. It is, like action to the orator, indispensable; and with this quality, not of the pert and perking,
This side was easily chosen." It was the win ning one, and quite easily made, as times then went. It would be more difficult for a young political adventurer, or trading politician, to choose the wise—that is, the winning-side now. Thurlow was elected member for Yarmouth, and Lord Campbell becomes witty on the bashful, blushing modesty of his maiden speech. Of this speech, or of all his speeches, it is remarked, “he never hesitated to resort to reasoning which he must have known to be sophistical; or to make a convenient assertion [i.e., tell a falsehood, or assume a fact], trusting largely to the ignorance of his audience." He was too seldom at fault in this confidence, even though his auditors were the members of the House of Commons.
Dunning resigned at this period, and Thurlow was made Solicitor-General. From this time forward, and indeed throughout his whole public career, he opposed every good measure or principle, and defended every bad one. He attacked the liberty of the press he defended slaveryhe denied the rights of juries to consider the question of libel or no libel. Of his speech on this constitutional point, Lord Campbell remarks:— ' "It does seem astounding to us that such a speech should be delivered, and tolerated, and applauded by the ministers of the Crown after the Revolution, and in the latter end of the eighteenth century. It ought to be recorded as showing the progress of public opinion and the improvements of the constitution in recent times, If now offered by a law officer of the Crown under what insure his being disclaimed by his leader overnight, and is called a Tory or Conservative Government, it would dismissed from his office next morning.
But Mr. Solicitor Thurlow was so much applauded and encouraged that on Sergeant Glynn's motion soon after he considerably exceeded his former doings; for he not for an inquiry into the administration of criminal justice, only proposed a severo censure upon the mover, but plainly intimated an opinion that trial by jury should be