Connop Thirlwall

Statut : Author / academic


Notes : Connop Thirlwall (1797-1875) was born in London. From 1810 to 1813 he was a day scholar at the Charterhouse. After leaving school he worked alone for a year, entering Trinity College, Cambridge, as a pensioner in October 1814. In 1818 he graduated B.A. and was elected fellow of his College. He then spent several months on the Continent. The winter of 1818-1819 was passed in Rome, where he formed a closed friendship with Bunsen, then secretary to the Prussian legation, at the head of which was Niebuhr. Yielding to the urgency of his family, he entered Lincoln’s Inn in February 1820. He was called to the bar in the summer of 1825. In the same year he published anonymously two tales by Tieck (The pictures; the Betrothing. Novels from the German of Lewis Tieck) and Schleiermacher’s Essay on the Gospel of St.Luke ("A Critical Essay on the Gospel of St.Luke, by Dr. Schleiermacher"; with an Introduction by the Translator, containing an "Account of the Controversy respecting the Origin of the first three Gospels since Bishop Marsh’s Dissertation"). In October 1827 Thirlwall abandoned law and returned to Cambridge where he was ordained deacon before the end of the year and priest in 1828.In 1828 the first volume of the translation of Niebuhr’s History of Rome appeared, the joint work of himself and Julius Charles Hare. In 1831 the publication of “The Philological Museum” was commenced with the object of promoting the “knowledge and the love of ancient literatures”. Hare and Thirlwall were the editors, and the latter contributed to it several masterly essays. It ceased in 1833. In 1829 Thirlwall held for a short time the vicarage of Over, and in 1832, when Hare left Trinity College, he was appointed assistant tutor on the side of William Whewell. In 1834 his connexion with the educational stuff was rudely severed under the following circumstances: a bill to admit dissenters to university degrees had in that year passed the House of Commons by a majority of eighty-nine. The question caused great excitement at Cambridge, and several pamphlets were written to discuss particular aspects of it. The first of it, written by Thomas Turton tried to show the evils likely to arise from a mixture of students of differing widely from each other in their religious opinions by tracing the history of the theological seminary for nonconformists at Daventry. Thirlwall answered in a “Letter on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical degrees” (21 May 1834) arguing that at Cambridge “our colleges are not theological seminaries. We have no theological colleges, no theological tutors, no theological students”. The master, Christopher Wordsworth wrote to Thirlwall, calling upon him to resign his appointment as assistant-tutor. Thirlwall obeyed without delay. In November 1834, Lord Brougham offered him the living of Kirby Underdale in Yorkshire. He accepted and went into residence in July 1835. It was at Kirby Underdale that Thirwall completed the “History of Greece”, originally published in “The Cabinet Cyclopaedia” of Dionysius Lardner. At Cambridge, where the first volume was written, he used to work all day until half-past three o’clock, when he left his rooms for a rapid walk before dinner, then served in hall at four; an in Yorkshire he is said to have passed sixteen hours per day in his study. In 1840 Lord Melbourne offered the bishopric of St.David’s to Thirlwall, where he spent twenty four years before retiring to Bath in 1874. Thirlwall took a lively interest in all questions affecting not merely his diocese, but the church in general. He often took though the unpopular side. He supported the grant to Maynooth (1845); the abolition of the civil disabilities of the Jews (1848); the disestablishment of the Irish church (1869). On these occasions he spoke in the House of Lords. He was also a regular attendant at convocation, a member of the royal commission on ritual (1868), and chairman of the Old Testament Revision Company. A considerable number of Thirlwall’s writings have been gathered and edited posthumously: “Thirlwall’s Remains, Literary and Theological” (1877) and “Essays, Speeches, and Sermons” (1880) edited by J.J.S. Perowne, “Letters to a friend” (1881) edited by Dean Stanley, “Letters, Literary and Theological” (1881) edited by Louis Stokes and J.J.S. Perowne. His “History of Greece” was reedited between 1845 and 1852.

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