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Thomas Thurlow, Rector of Little Ashfield, Suffolk. He was educated at the King's School, Canterbury, and at Caius College, Cambridge; and about the year 1750 we find him as a fellow-clerk with Cowper, in Mr. Chapman's office. (Cp. Life, vol. ii. pp. x, xi, xxix, xxxiv.) Called to the Bar in 1754, he became a King's Counsel in 1761, M.P. for Tamworth in 1768, Solicitor General in 1770, Attorney General in 1771; and Lord High Chancellor in 1778, being raised to the Peerage by the title of Lord Thurlow of Ashfield, June 3, 1778. In 1782, when Rockingham's Administration succeeded Lord North’s, Thurlow retained the Seals by the special desire of the King (whoseo favour he had secured by his support of North's American policy), and in spite of the opposition of Fox: but when, on Rockingham's death, the coalition was formed between Fox and North, in Feb. 1783, the Great Seal was held in commission. On the formation of Pitt's Ministry, however, in the same year, Thurlow was again appointed as Chancellor, Dec. 23, 1783, and retained the office till his retirement in 1792. The principles of Thurlow, says Lord Stanhope, were those of the brave old Cavaliers—for Church and King. There was that in him which over-awed and daunted his contemporaries. It was a saying of Mr. Fox, that no man ever yet was so wise as Thurlow looked. His countenance was fraught with sense ;' his aspect stately and commanding, his brow broad, massy, and armed with terrors like that of the Olympian Jove. His voice, loud, sonorous, and as rolling thunder in the distance, augmented the effect of his fierce and terrible invective. Perhaps no modern English statesman, in the House of Lords at least, was ever so much dreaded.'--Hist. Eng., ed. 1858, v. 295.


Poems, 1782, p. 313.

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Written in Feb. 1780. Cowper tells Unwin that on writing this piece he was not quite pleased with a line or two, which he found it difficult to mend, and therefore did not.' * At night,' he continues, "I read Mr. Burke's speech in the newspaper, and was so well pleased with his proposals for a reformation, and with the temper in which he made them, that I began to think better of his cause, and burnt my verses. Such is the lot of the man who writes upon the subject of the day; the aspect of affairs changes in an hour or two, and his opinion with it. What was just and well-deserved satire in the morning, in the evening becomes a libel ; the author commences his own judge, and while he condemns with unrelenting severity what he so lately approved, is sorry to find that he has laid his leafgold upon touchwood, which crumbled away under his fingers.'-(Feb. 27 1780).


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Poems 1782, p. 326. Written in Feb. 1780. "My whisking wit has produced the following, the subject of which is more important than the manner in which I have treated it seems to imply : but a fable may speak truth, and all truth is sterling. I only premise, that in a philosophical tract in the Register, I found it asserted that the glow-worm is the nightingale's food.”—To Unwin, Feb. 27, 1780.



Poems, 1782, p. 299. Written in May, 1780. •The male Dove was smoking a pipe, and the female Dove was sewing, while she delivered herself as above. This little circumstance may lead you perhaps to guess what pair I had in my eye.' To Mrs. Newton, June, 1780. Probably Mr. and Mrs. Bull, to whom Mr. Newton had introduced Cowper in Dec. 1779, on leaving Olney for London. See Life, vol. ii. p. xxv, and cp. note on Conversation, l. 251.


Poems, 1782, p. 318. Written June 22, 1780 : under which date the Poet wrote to Unwin, • Before I arose this morning, I composed the three following stanzas; I send them because I like them pretty well myself.'

William Murray, fourth son of David fifth Viscount Stormont, was born March 2, (1705). He was a King's Scholar at Westminster School, and Student of Christ Church, Oxford; was called to the Bar in 1730; became Solicitor General in 1742, and Attorney General in 1754; and in 1756 was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, an office which he held till his resignation in 1788, five years before his death in 1793. He was created Lord Mansfield of Mansfield, co. Notts, in 1756, and Earl of Mansfield in 1776. He rendered himself unpopular by his severity in the trials of the publishers of Junius' Letters, and of John Wilkes; and by charging a Jury to acquit a priest who was convicted of the crime of celebrating Mass. His house in Bloomsbury Square was consequently burnt down by the No-Popery mob in the Gordon Riots, on Tuesday, June 6, 1780 (see Introd., §. 3, and cp. Table Talk, l. 312.) Then perished an excellent library, formed by one of the most accomplished scholars of his age; books enriched by the handwriting of Pope and Bolingbroke, and of

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his other literary friends, or by his own notes upon the margin. Then was lost an invaluable collection of familiar letters which Lord Mansfield had been storing for wellnigh half a century, as materials, it was said, for Memoirs of his Times.'-(Stanhope, Hist. Eng., ed. 1858, vii. 29). He refused to accept the compensation for his losses voted by the House of Commons. Cowper thought very highly of him. 'I would give much to be able to communicate to Flaxman the perfect idea that I have of the subject, such as he was forty years ago. He was at that time wonderfully handsome, and would expound the most mysterious intricacies of the law, and recapitulate both matter and evidence of a cause as long as from hence to Eartham, with an intelligent smile on his features, that bespoke plainly the perfect ease with which he did it. The most abstruse studies (I believe) never cost him any labour.'—To Hayley, Aug. 7. 1793.

1. 1. The Vandals, a Germanic race, and probably of Gothic stock, have made their name proverbial by their ruthless destruction of works of art, when they sacked Rome under Genseric, A.D. 455.

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Written in the summer of 1780. " • The tragical occasion of it really happened at the house next to ours. I am glad when I can find a subject to work upon : a lapidary I suppose accounts it a laborious part of his business to rub away the roughness of the stone; but it is my amusement, and if after all the polishing I can give it, it discovers some little lustre, I think myself well rewarded for my pains.'—To Unwin, Nov. 9, 1780.


Poems, 1782, p. 315.

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Written in Dec. 1780. The MS., preserved in the British Museum, is thus entitled :

• Nose Plf; Eyes Deft;

Vid. Plowden folio 6,000.' * Happy is the man who knows just so much of the law, as to make himself a little merry now and then with the solemnity of judicial proceedings. I have heard of common-law judgments before now, indeed have been present at the delivery of some, that, according to my poor apprehension, while they paid the utmost respect to the letter of a statute, have departed widely from the spirit of it; and, being governed entirely by the point of law, have left equity, reason, and common-sense behind them at an infinite distance. You

will judge whether the following report of a case, drawn up by myself, be not a proof and illustration of this satirical assertion.'—To Hill, Dec. 25, 1780.


This and the seven pieces that follow it were published in 1782 : see Life, vol. ii. pp. xxvi, xxvii. Table Talk was written in Dec. 1780, and was sent to Mr. Newton, Feb. 18, 1781. It was not the first poem of the series in order of composition, but was placed first in the volume, because the subjects of it are perhaps more popular; and one would wish, at the first setting out, to catch the public by the ear, and hold them by it as fast as possible, that they may be willing to hear one on a second and a third occasion'-To Newton, March 5, 1781. “It is a medley of many things, some that may be useful, and some that, for aught I know, may be very diverting. I am merry that I may decoy people into my company, and grave that they may be the better for it. Now and then I put on the garb of a philosopher, and take the opportunity that disguise procures me, to drop a word in favour of religion. In short, there is some froth, and here and there a bit of sweet-meät, which seems to entitle it justly to the name of a certain dish the ladies call a trifle. I did not choose to be more facetious, lest I should consult the taste of my readers at the expense of my own approbation; nor more serious than I have been, lest I should forfeit theirs.'

- To Newton, Feb. 18, 1781. “My sole drift is to be useful : a point which, however, I knew I should in vain aim at, unless I could be likewise entertaining. I have therefore fixed these two strings upon my bow, and by the help of both have done my best to send my arrow to the mark. My readers will hardly have begun to laugh, before they will be called upon to correct that levity, and peruse me with a more serious air. As to the effect, I leave it alone in His hands, who can alone produce it'— To Mrs. Cowper, Oct. 19, 1781.

1. 6. It was a 'commonly received Tenent' that 'Bayes will protect from the mischief of lightning and thunder ; a quality ascribed thereto common with the fig-tree, Ægle, and skin of a Seale.'—Sir T. Browne's Vulg. Errors, Bk. ii. ch. vi. § 6. Suetonius tells us that the Emperor Tiberius used to wear a wreath of laurel during tempestuous weather :

—Tonitrua praeter modum expavescebat, et turbatiore caelo nunquam non coronam lauream capite gestavit, quod fulmine afflari negatur id genus frondis'-Vit. Tib., cap. 69. And Pliny, in his chapter entitled 'Quae non feriantur fulmine,' writes: 'Ex iis, quae terra gignuntur, lauri fruticem non icit.'-Nat. Hist.

ii. 57

1. 13. Parnassian dews. Parnassus was a mountain near Delphi, having two summits, whereof one was sacred to Apollo and the Muses, and the We answer others' merits in our name.' Coriol. i. 1:


other to Bacchus. It was believed that whosoever slept on Mount Parnassus became either an inspired poet, or mad. To climb Parnassus' is a proverbial expression signifying to write poetry.'

1. 30. The wretch ;—probably Frederick the Great of Prussia.
11. 47–82. Cp. The Task, v. 331–62.
11. 63-82. An eulogy on King George III.
1. 79. Cp. I. 279.

1. 94. This story is not to be found in the Visions of Hell, or in any other of the acknowledged works of Don Francisco Gomez de Quevedo (born at Madrid, 1580 ; died 1645): and Southey remarks, “Certainly no such sober tale would ever have been allowed to pass by the censors of the press in Spain'--S. v. 97.

1. 109. Chaucer is said to have assumed, on his return from abroad, the title of Poet Laureate ; and in 12 Ric. II. 1389, he obtained a grant of an annual allowance of wine. In 1615 James I. granted to his Laureate a yearly pension of 100 marks ; and in 1630 this stipend was increased by a patent of Charles I. to £100 per annum, with an additional grant of one tierce of canary to be taken yearly out of the king's store of wine. On Southey's appointment to the Laureateship, this tierce of canary was commuted to an additional £27 of income. (Haydn's Dict. of Dates). The title of Poet Laureate is supposed to be derived from an ancient custom in our Universities, of presenting a laurel wreath to graduates in Rhetorick and Poetry. Amongst those who have held this office we find the names of Spenser, Ben Jonson, Dryden, Southey, Wordsworth, and Tennyson.

1. 110. quit-rent ;-a nominal, or very small reserved rent-sometimes no more than a 'peppercorn'- -on payment of which the occupant of a manor was quit,' or free of all further charges.

1. 144. Cp. 1. 192.

1. 158. Cp. Tacit. Agric. cap. 27: Iniquissima haec bellorum condicio est : prospera omnes sibi vindicant, adversa uni imputantur.' Aeschyl. Sept. cont. Theb. 4-8:

ει μεν γαρ ευ πράξαιμεν αιτία θεών:
ει δ' αύθ', και μη γένοιτο, συμφορά τύχοι,
'Ετεοκλέης &ν εις πολύς κατα πτόλιν

υμνοίθ' υπ' αστών φροιμίοις πολυρρόθοις. Ant. and Cleop. v. 2:

• Be it known that we the greatest are misthought
For things that others do, and when we fall'

for what miscarries Shall be the general's fault, though he perform To th' utmost of a man.'


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