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would sometimes mystify his juvenile hearers by declaring that the last judge in his family had tried a very illustrious prisoner. From such a descent, naturally flowed those popular principles which have invariably been maintained by the whole line of the Cromptons, who, different from the temporizers, and not of the vespertilio class, as fabled, have in good and in bad repute, in good and in bad times alike, as well in the blast as in sunshine, been found ever the firm, unflinching, consistent advocates of the popular cause—of that which they esteemed to be the true cause of civil and religious freedom.
Dr. Crompton was educated for the medical profession, and studied first at Edinburgh and then at Leyden, where he took his degree. By the death of his elder brother he inherited a considerable property. On his succession to that inheritance he ceased to practise medicine as a profession, but he did not abandon it as a pursuit. Possessing a great love of his profession, with considerable knowledge of it, and swayed, as he ever was, by that strong love of his kind, which was afterwards even more touchingly and fully developed in his son Charles, manifested by the latter in his friendly and equal intercourse with those inferior to him in station, the Doctor might have been seen-to use the potential mood, so great a favorite with novelists-going his gratuitous rounds on horseback amongst the poor, through a wide scattered district then but thinly peopled. He rode not unaccompanied, for his youngest daughter, then a young girl, was commonly seated on a pillion behind him. These kindly services in conjunction with his cordial manners made him very popular amongst his poorer neighbours, but one of the people in his vicinity, who had not apparently' much faith in human nature, somewhat cynically supposed that the doctor had stained his land on condition of attending the poor " as he was sure nobody would do so much for nothing.”
In 1787, at the early age of 21, Dr. Crompton married Mary Crompton, his second cousin. She was born in 1759, and was therefore seven years older than her husband. She was the daughter of John Crompton, of Chorley Hall, Lancashire, a property which her grandfather had purchased in 1715 from the Crown, whose title arose by forfeiture for treason.
Mrs. Crompton, the mother of the late judge, was a woman of no common stamp. She was beautiful, but her beauty of person was the least of her attractions. Gifted with an excellent understanding, she had not suffered her talent to lie buried. Her mind was highly cultivated, and her manners were elegant and refined. Modest and retiring, she kept in the background; there was not a note of the parrot in her talk, nor the slightest shade of blue in her stockings. A common mind might have failed to appreciate her, but to one extraordinarily gifted mind she appeared as she was. The Poet Coleridge knew her intimately, appreciated and admired her character. He spoke always with a just sense of her high and tender nature. He could not fail to see in her, “how divine a thing a woman may be made.” He called her “ angelical,” and used to say that he “always expected to see wings start from her shoulders.” This sketch, for a sketch only has been attempted, of the parents of Charles Crompton, will suffice to show that some of his own best qualities, his freedom from affectation, pretension, and vanity, his genial natural character, and the love and tenderness which underlay every part of his inner man existed in the sources from which his being was derived. If the corrupted spring mantle into a fouler pool, and the vicious race produce descendants
Progeniem vitiosiorem let us cherish the hope and trust that virtuous inclinations, sweet affections, and improved qualities of mind and body, are by the same general law, and in an equal degree, impressible and impressed
Such a woman as Mrs. Crompton would naturally acquire a great influence for good over her children, and deep and lasting-ineffaceable, indeed—was the impression that her virtues, her talents, and her sweetness produced upon the minds of her children. The most tender affection existed ever between
her and her son Charles. He kept up, when absent from home, a constant correspondence with her, collecting and sending to her all the news of the day likely to interest her, not abstaining from the political topics of the times, a subject on which her interest was always sustained, and upon which her opinions, rational though strong, based upon her principles of right, and not flowing from envy or hate, had in them nothing unfeminine, and were expressed with equal intelligence and zeal. She was present at the State Trials in 1794, and heard Erskine's defence of Horne Tooke. She used to describe the trial with much animation and graphic effect. A mind of that order could appreciate the magnitude of the danger to liberty involved in a charge of constructive treason, based on such wide and unjustifiable inferences of intention. She could appreciate at once the power of the advocate and the greatness of the issue. She might exaggerate the peril to her own mind, for she was not free from a terror of a closer and private relation to herself. She believed that had the Crown obtained the verdict, her husband and some of his friends, active and ardent advocates of reform in the representation of the people, might, from the belief of the prosecutors that treason lurked disguised under a specious pretext of a constitutional remedy, have been involved in the meshes of that new criminal drag net; fears which, though they may appear now overwrought, were natural enough, and not lightly conceived at a time when men viewed each other as tyrants, or fautors of tyrants, on the one hand, as rebels, or fautors of rebels, on the other, seeing each other dimly by the lurid light of those bad times, when a terror, rational had it been moderate, of the spread of a spirit of impiety and cruelty, for a short time rampant in France, had turned aside the current of popular favour from the cause of liberty, through a horror of the crimes lately perpetrated in
The school-days of the late judge were not happy days, and they pained him in the retrospect. It was not a part of his life on which he loved to converse. He thought that he had not been understood there, and had undergone treatment not cruel, nor unkind, but injudicious. He was a bashful and retiring boy. He was at all times, equally in his later as in his earlier years, diffident of his own powers, distrustful of himself, and over sensitive to ridicule, and when he was smarting under it, the discouragement which ensued led him to exaggerate to himself the disadvantage of the defects of
person, manner, and pronunciation from which he was not free. He had been exposed at school to ridicule and a sort of rough banter, of a character which such a spirit cannot brook. He withdrew into himself, and did not expand in that ungenial climate. Some portion of that aversion from general society which he constantly manifested, though by his wit and humour calculated to divert it, may be fairly ascribed to this early check which a naturally genial disposition underwent. In his happier hours, in a small private society with his intimates, he was social, happy, and happily communicative of himself; then the true man came out-the playmate, companion, confidant, and friend of the young-genial, jocose, learned, wise, and witty ; wise enough not to disdain sometimes to play the fool. A“ solemn humbug” was always his abhorrence. He laughed at one who “talked sentences,” and a conceited fool and he mutually repelled each other.
From school he went at the early age of fifteen to Trinity College, Dublin. Here the frost of his mind disappeared, he passed creditably through the usual course of college tuition, and that he neither neglected nor failed to benefit by the studies of the place may be inferred from the academical honours which he gained in the years 1814, 1815, and 1816. In Ireland he gained many valuable friends, to whose society and its influence in the formation of his character he held himself largely indebted. A gentleman then resident in Dublin, who afterwards became his brother-in-law, Robert Hutton, was one who, in the grateful recollection of the judge, stood foremost in the rank of these honoured associates and friends. During the years which Charles Crompton spent at the
University, his holidays were always passed at home, where, in a happy, congenial, and affectionate family circle, the time went happily and too quickly by. The derivation of many amiable qualities of his mind has been traced already ; it is now necessary to speak of one propensity not amiable—the indulgence of a satirical vein, which may perhaps have been inherited, or acquired by early imitation. Originality, humour, wit, and cleverness were found both in the elder and younger members of the family. Eton House, the residence of Dr. Crompton, was famous for unbounded hospitality. The Doctor often stood at the gate of his hospitable mansion, pressing his passing acquaintance to enter and partake of the refreshment which it might chance to afford. He enjoyed with extraordinary zest the society of persons who were different from the common pattern of mankind. He was a curious noticer of eccentricities, a nice judge of character, and loved to draw out by questions and remarks likely to elicit them any peculiarities of disposition or thought of which he knew or suspected the existence in those with whom he conversed. Something of malice is often supposed to be allied with the love of quizzing, but Dr. Crompton was more led to it by speculation and the love of mirth than by malice. He possessed naturally a satirical vein which often made him art ugly customer in political pugilism : his blows were not easily parried, and when planted they often told severely. He never spared one whom he deemed politically corrupt, and as he was a strong partisan, and prejudiced, many whom history now acquits of evil design fell under his suspicion, and underwent his castigation. Those who by groundless claims to superior sanctity-not evidenced by superior virtue -by narrowness, illiberality, or insincerity, justly incurred his displeasure, were the victims of a sharp pleasantry, which exposed and sometimes silenced them. Public wrongs and public wrongdoers, that is, those he so esteemed, seemed to him the fair subject of his public censure.
Such attacks are in truth defensive when they are founded on justifying causes.