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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Lord Thurlow

  • [Edward Thurlow, an English lawyer and politician; born in Norfolk, 1732; educated at Cambridge; member of Parliament, 1768; solicitor-general, 1770; attorney-general, 1771; lord chancellor, 1778–92; died 1806.]
  • The accident of an accident.

  • The Duke of Grafton having reproached Thurlow, during a debate on Lord Sandwich’s administration of Greenwich Hospital, on his low extraction, the lord chancellor rose from the woolsack, and, advancing towards the duke, said that he was amazed at his grace’s speech; that the noble duke “could not look before him, behind him, and on either side of him, without seeing some noble peer who owes his seat in this House to his successful exertions in the profession to which I belong. Does he not feel that it is as honorable to owe it to these as to being the accident of an accident?”
  • He said while lord chancellor that he was hesitating, in making a legal appointment, between the intemperance of A and the corruption of B; adding, “Not but what there is a deal of corruption in A’s intemperance.”
  • To the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV., Thurlow once remarked with great frankness, “Sir, your father will continue to be a popular king as long as he goes to church every Sunday, and is faithful to that ugly woman your mother; but you, sir, will never be popular.”
  • When a solicitor remarked that he ought to know of a certain person’s death, because he was his client, Thurlow added, “No wonder, when he was your client.” His last words were characteristic: “I’m shot if I don’t believe I’m dying.”
  • Burke said of Thurlow’s obsequiousness at court, and his severity in the House of Lords, “Thurlow was a sturdy oak at Westminster, and a willow at St. James’s.”