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DISPOSAL OF THE GREAT SEAL.
was naturally eager to see Lord Hardwicke again Chancellor, that he might have his powerful support in that office; and Lord Hardwicke himself, professing to be tired of public life, would not have been unwilling to resume his labours, with the prospect now opening of a powerful government. They felt their way by at first proposing that he should have a seat in the cabinet, but conditions were annexed even to this concession, which showed the main object to be utterly impracticable. The fact was, that “the Great Commoner” and the ex-Premier, in the midst of much politeness and courtesy, thoroughly knew each other. The former determined to have all the power in his own hands, that he might pursue unchecked his vast plans for the nation's pre-eminence and glory :-while he was willing to throw to others all jobbing patronage, he could not bear the thought of seeing in high office a man of character and weight, who, from ancient associations, would be disposed to stand by the sordid and meddling Duke.—Lord Hardwicke behaved exceedingly well upon this occasion. He did not allow his disappointment to be known to the world, and although he plainly saw that he could gain nothing for himself,out of regard to his old patron, and (let us believe) out of regard to his country, then in imminent peril, he exerted himself to smooth away all difficulties. On the 22nd of June thus he writes to Mr. Pitt:
“Since I had the honour of seeing you last, I have talked, by way of sounding, in the best manner I could, to all the three persons who can now come under consideration in the disposition of the Great Seal. I think I see clearly the way of thinking and inclination of them all, which differs very little from the conjectures which we had formed concerning them. It is now so late, that, if I should have any chance of finding you at home, I should only put you in danger of being out of time for the levee. .... I am very desirous that we should meet this evening, for precious moments are lost, and not innocently wasted, but to the detriment of that great and useful system which we are labouring to establish. I am most sincere and zealous in my endeavours to bring about what you so much wish for, a present arrangement of the Great Seal; but I see vast difficulties attending it.”
Willes, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and now First Commissioner of the Great Seal,
the Great Seal,-a good lawyer, and no politician, -was expected for some time to be the successful candidate, but he haggled for a peerage, to which the King would not consent. A charge of treachery towards Willes in this affair has been brought against Lord Hardwicke, but it is
not supported by any evidence, nor, as he had given up all thoughts of the Great Seal himself, by any probability. At last Pitt fixed upon a man who could not be formidable to him, who was ready to accept the office on very moderate terms, and who might be expected to perform decently well its judicial duties --Sir Robert Henley, the Attorney-General, and urged that his appointment was a stipulation that had been made by Leicester House to reward a man who had long and faithfully adhered to that party.
The following letter from Lord Hardwicke to Mr. Pitt throws great light on these intrigues :
Powis House, June 25, 1757, Saturday night. “Dear Sir, “However improper for a private man, yet majora effugiens opprobria culpæ, I did, in compliance with your commands, and thuse of our other friends who met on Thursday night, attend the King to-day, in order to know if he had any orders for me relating to the disposition of the Great Seal. I found his Majesty very grave and thoughtful on the news which came last night, but calm. He soon entered into matter; and it is unnecessary, as well as hardly possible, to give you the detail of my audience in writing. His Majesty expressed his desire to settle his administration on the plan fixed, but thought there was no necessity of making a hasty disposition of so important an office as the Great Seal an immediate part of it. However, the result was, that he absolutely refused to give a peerage with it," which, I think, puts my Lord Chief Justice Willes out of the case ; for his Lordship not only told me before, but has since repeated, that peerage is with him a condition sine qua
I see the King inclines more to Mr. Attorney-General; and when I stated to his Majesty what I collected or conjectured to be his views, he hearkened, and at last bade me talk to Sir Robert Henley, reduce his terms as low as I could, and bring them to him in writing on Monday.
“Since I saw my Lord Chief Justice Willes, I have seen Sir Robert Henley, who talks very reasonably and honourably. His proposals are : First, a reversionary grant of the office of one of the tellers of the Exchequer to his son for life; second, a pension of 15001. per annum on the Irish establishment to himself for life, to commence and become payable upon his being removed from the office of Lord Keeper, and not before, but to be determinable and absolutely void upon the office of teller coming into possession to his son. My present opinion is, that the King may be induced to agree to this on Monday ; for when I hinted in my discourse at a pension upon Ireland, though his Majesty
6 See Cooksey, 82; and Life of Lord Northington, post.
+ Defeat of the King of Prussia at Kolin.
u I suspect that Lord Hardwicke did not much combat this resolution, still wishing to have no more law lords in the House.
A MEMBER OF MR. PITT'S CABINET.
treated it pretty severely at first, yet when I stated the several contingencies in which it might in this case never become any real charge upon the revenue, he said of himself, that made the case different.
I found to-night by my Lord Chief Justice Willes, that he is to go to Kensington on Monday, to get some warrants signed, and thinks that either the King may speak to him, or that he may say something to his Majesty on this subject; but I am persuaded that will have no effect, unless he gives up the peerage, which I am of opinion he never will.
“If the affair of the Great Seal should be settled on Monday, in the person of Sir Robert Henley, as I conjecture it will, I see nothing that can distrust your beginning to kiss hands on Tuesday. For God's sake, Sir, accelerate that, and don't let any minutiæ stand in the way of so great and necessary a work. I long to see this scheme executed for the King's honour and repose, the harmony of his royal family, and the stability of his government. I have laboured in it zealously and disinterestedly, though without any pretence to such a degree of merit as your politeness and partiality ascribes to me. I
that attempts are flying about to tarnish it; but if it is forthwith executed on this foot, those will all be dissipated in the region of vanity, and, instead of a mutilated, enfeebled, half-formed system, I am persuaded it will come out a complete, strong, and well-cemented one, to which your wisdom, temper, and perfect union with the Duke of Newcastle will give durableness. In all events, I shall ever retain the most lively impressions of your great candour and obliging behaviour towards me, and continue to be, with the utmost respect,
From the same quarter conciliatory advice was likewise given to the Duke of Newcastle,--and Mr. Pitt's famous administration was formed, which carried so high the renown of the English name, but in which I cannot boast that the lawyers played any very distinguished part. Lord Hardwicke had nominally a seat in the cabinet, but he seems to have been very little consulted by the autocratic Prime Minister,
Though now without the chance of office except through some very remote contingency, he still attended regularly in the House of Lords. All opposition ceasing, insomuch that, for a whole session together, there was not a single division
* As soon as Lord Hardwicke resigned the 1756, till 4th July, 1757, when Sir Robert Great Seal, a commission appointed Lord Henley took his place on the woolsack as Sandys Speaker of the House of Lords; and Lord Keeper.- Lords' Journals. be acted in this capacity from 2nd December,
and hardly a debate, the hearing of appeals and writs of error was his chief labour. Occasionally he was called upon to deliver his opinion upon
measures concerning the administration of justice.
In the session of 1758 there were various discussions, in which he took the principal share, upon a bill to amend the Habeas Corpus Act, by authorising a single judge in all cases to issue a writ of habeas corpus in vacation, and by allowing the truth of the return to be controverted by affidavit. Conceding the defective state of the law, he opposed the bill as ill-framed, and, on his motion, certain questions were referred to the Judges, with instructions to prepare another bill to be submitted to the House at the commencement of the following session of parliament. I am sorry to say that, when the next session arrived, nothing was thought of except the taking of Quebec, and the subject was not again resumed till the very close of the reign of George III., when Serjeant Onslow's Act passed, most materially advancing the remedy by Habeas Corpus for the protection of personal liberty,--the great glory of English jurisprudence.”
In praising Lord Hardwicke as an ex-Chancellor, a deduction should be made in respect of his having done so little to improve the laws and institutions of the country, when he had abundant leisure to prepare measures for this purpose, and, one would have supposed, sufficient influence to carry them through. From his long experience at the bar and as a Judge in courts of law and equity, many points must have presented themselves to him, wanting "the amending hand.” His own emoluments no longer in any degree depended upon the continuation of abuses, and he might surely have discovered some which might have been corrected without materially affecting the offices and reversions held by his family, Yet he suffered six years of health and mental vigour, allotted to him after his resignation, to pass away unmarked by a single attempt to extend his fame as a legislator. It is possible that he could get no one to second him effectually, and that if he had carried very useful bills through the House of which he was a member, they would have been neglected or thrown out « elsewhere.' For several sessions, parliament
y 15 St. Tr. 897–923.
At different periods of our history, it has 7 Stat. 56 Geo. 3, c. 100.
been very difficult to draw the notice of the * I can say, of my own knowledge, that representatives of the people to measures for this state of things has since actually existed. the amendment of the law,
TAKING OF QUEBEC.
only met to vote thanks and supplies; and the whole of the proceedings of the two Houses as reported, from the King's opening to his proroguing speech, would not fill more than a few columns of a modern newspaper.
I can find no farther trace of Lord Hardwicke for the rest of this reign. During the warlike triumphs which A.D. 1757– now dazzled the nation, he seems almost completely 1760. to have sunk from public notice, and it was hardly known that he had a seat in the cabinet. Indeed, unless when it happened that those who had favours to ask of the government were obliged to look to the Duke of Newcastle as the head of the Treasury, Mr. Pitt was regarded at home and abroad as the sole minister of the Crown. George II., though advanced in
years, retained his health and his strength, and the existing state of affairs seemed likely to have a long continuance; but
b He still continued to compose the royal honour of your Lordship's very obliging attenspeeches delivered at the commencement and tion, in answer to the short bulletin from my close of every session of Parliament: but, office, to defer expressing my best thanks for judging from the two following letters on the such a favour. The defeat of the French taking of Quebec, there seems to have been army, and the reduction of Quebec, are indeed very little familiarity between him and the matters for the warmest congratulations be“Great Commoner:
tween all faithful servants of the King and " Wimple, Octo" 18, 1759.
lovers of their country. In the many and re“Dear Sir,–With the greatest pleasure I mote prosperities which have been given to lay hold on this first opportunity to thank you
His Majesty's arms, the hand of Providence for the honour of your very obliging note,
is visible, and I devoutly wish that the hand which I received by yesterday's post.
of human wisdom and of sound policy may “ As a dutiful subject to the King, and a
be conspicuous in the great work of negotialover of my country, and a sincere friend to tion, whenever this complicated and extenthis administration, I do, upon the happy sive war is to be wound up in an honourable event of the conquest of Quebec, most cor
and advantageous peace. Perhaps it is not dially congratulate you in a particular man
too much to say, that sustaining this war, ner. This important and, at the instant it arduous as it has been and still is, may not be came, unexpected success has crowned the more difficult than properly and happily closcampaign on the part of England in the most ing it. The materials in His Majesty's hands glorious manner. God grant that it may lead are certainly very many and great, and it is to what we all wish,-an honourable and to be hoped that in workthem up in the lasting peace.
The King has now great great edifice of a solid and general pacification materials in his hands for this good work; of Europe, there may be no confusion of lanand I make no doubt but his Majesty and guages, but that the workmen may underhis Ministers will make the wisest aud the stand one another. Accept my sincere wishes most advantageous use of them.
for your Lordship's health, and the assurances “ I have nothing to add but my best wishes of the perfect respect and esteem with which for your health, and the sincerest assurances
I have the honour to remain of that perfect respect and esteem with which “Your Lordship’s most obedient
" and most humble Servant, “Dear Sir,
“ W. PITT. “ Your most obedient and “May I here beg to present my best com“ most humble Servant, pliments to Lord Royston, if with your Lord.
“ HARDWICKE. ship? "My Lord, I am too sensible to the Hayes, Octobr ye 20th, 1759.”