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romantic attachment, of which, from his rattling reckless manner, and his being a professed votary of the god, “ever fair and ever young,” he was supposed to be incapable. There was at Bath, for the benefit of the waters, a very young girl of exquisite beauty, who, from illness, had lost the use of her limbs so completely that she was only able to appear in public wheeled about in a chair. She was the daughter and coheiress of Sir John Husband, of Ipsley, in Warwickshire, who, though not “of that ilk,” was the last male of a timehonoured race, whom Dugdale states to have been Lords of that manor in lineal succession from the Conquest. Henley, struck by the charms of her face, contrived to be introduced to her, when he was still more fascinated by her conversation. His admiration soon ripened into a warm and tender attachment, which he had reason to hope was reciprocal. But it seemed as if he had fallen in love with a Peri, and that he must for ever be contented with sighing and worshipping at her shrine—when suddenly the waters produced so effectual and complete a cure, that Miss Husband was enabled to comply with the custom of the place by hanging up her votive crutches to the nymph of the spring, and to dance the “minuet de la cour” at the Lower Rooms with her lover. Soon after, with the full consent of her family, she gave her hand to the suitor who had so sedulously attended her. To the end of a long life she continued to enjoy a most perfect state of health, and, their affection remaining unabated, she gave him that first of human blessings, a serene and happy home. The marriage ceremony was performed by his school-fellow, Bishop Newton, of which that prelate, in his Memoirs, has the following agreeable recollection: “It happened that he and his lady were married by Mr. Newton, at the chapel in South Audley Street, at which time they were a very handsome couple. Several years afterwards Mr. Newton went one day into Lincoln's Inn Hall while the Court was sitting, to speak with Mr. Murray on some business, Mr. Henley being next to him, and reading a brief. When he had despatched his business, and was coming away, ‘What,’ said Mr. Murray to Henley, “have you forgotten your old friend Newton, or have you never forgiven the great injury that he did you?” Upon which he started as out of a dream, and was wonderfully gracious to his old schoolfellow, acknowledging that he owed all his happiness in life to him. And, indeed, he had good reason to be happy in his wife and family.” P
A.D. 1745–47. RECORDER OF AND M.P. FOR BATH. 311
His business not being yet very lucrative, and her father surviving for some years, the newly married couple started with but slender means. Their first residence was a small house in Great James Street, Bedford Row, where they lived for three years very quietly, but very contentedly—in a style congenial to the simplicity of their tastes. After he became Lord Chancellor and Lord Lieutenant for Hampshire, both he and his wife would often look back with pleasing recollection from the Grange and Grosvenor Square to the freedom and frugality of their early establishment near Bedford Row, “where a leg of mutton lasted them three days; the first day hot, the second day cold,—and the third day hashed.” His farther rise was now in great peril by the death of his elder brother Anthony without issue, whereby the A.D. 1745– family estates in Hampshire and Dorsetshire de- ** scended upon him, with the fine house on the south side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, now occupied by the College of Surgeons. Fortunately the property was found much incumbered with debt, or the future Chancellor and Earl would have sunk into a country squire, perhaps distinguished by filling the chair at sessions—petty and quarter. The good management of a few years cleared off, or greatly lightened, the incumbrances, but by this time objects of high ambition had presented themselves to him, and the notion of rural retirement had lost all its attractions. After his marriage, Henley continued to go frequently to Bath, carrying his wife along with him. He now led comparatively a sober life, but occasionally he would indulge in his old convivial habits, and by his toasts and his stories, and his very agreeable manners, he ingratiated himself so much with the Mayor and Common Council, forming a very small corporation,--with the right of returning members to parliament exclusively vested in them,--that they made him their Recorder, and agreed to elect him at the next vacancy one of their representatives; being swayed, perhaps, not merely by his personal good qualities, but the prospect of his being now able to show his gratitude for their kindness to him. Accordingly, on the dissolution of parliament, which took place in the summer of the year 1747, he was elected a representative for Bath along with Field Marshal Wade, who had gained such notoriety during the recent rebellion." He became a warm supporter of the party of Frederick
14 Parl. Hist, 77.
Prince of Wales, designated by the appellation of “Leicester House,” to which several eminent lawyers were already attached,—particularly Sir Thomas Booth, Chancellor of the Duchy, Dr. (afterwards Sir ...} Lee, the eminent civilian, and the Honourable Hume Campbell, afterwards Earl of Marchmont, celebrated as the friend of Pope, a set who, struggling for a share of the favours of the Crown during the present reign, confidently expected to monopolise the whole in the next. It is with deep disappointment that, turning to the parA.D. 1747– liamentary records to ascertain when the new member 1751. for Bath made his maiden speech, and by what steps he acquired such a position in the House of Commons as to be appointed Attorney-General to the Crown, and afterwards to be intrusted with the Great Seal,—I cannot discover, during the ten years he sat in that assembly, his name once mentioned or referred to." It appears, however, from Horace Walpole and contemporary memoir-writers, that he was a frequent and active debater. He seems to have been anxious to come forward, as often as he thought he could be of any service to his party, without aiming at oratorical distinction. He was noted as a very steady and consistent politician, so that he did not derive the same benefit from the oblivion of his harangues which might have been enjoyed by some of his successors, who, to further advancement, have spoken with equal ability on both sides of the questions discussed. In 1751 a heavy blow fell upon Leicester House in the sudden death of Frederick. Hume Campbell, and others, took the opportunity of going over to St. James's, but Henley adhered to the Princess Dowager, and, although he thereby rendered himself obnoxious to George II., he secured his ultimate elevation. Frederick's eldest son (afterwards George III.) being created Prince of Wales, and his establishment being formed, Henley became Solicitor-General to his Royal Highness, and at the same time he was appointed a King's counsel. In respect to this last promotion, there being a salary of forty pounds a year annexed to the office, he vacated his seat in , the House of Commons; but he was re-elected without opposition.” Henley's silk gown had great success. He not only got * See Parl. Hist. xiv. xv. was afterwards obviated by “patents of pre
* 14 Parl. Hist. 77. The inconvenience of cedence,” or by declaring that the office was vacating a seat in parliament by a silk gown to be held “without fee or reward.”
A.D. 1751–57. PRACTISES IN COURT OF CHANCERY. 313
into the decided lead on the Western Circuit, but was now in the first business in the Court of King's Bench, both in banc and at nisi prius. He occasionally went into the Court of Chancery in important causes, but, according to the general usage of the eighteenth century, he did not regularly practise there till he became a law officer of the Crown. So things went on till the year 1756, when Murray insisting on leaving the House of Commons, and being ap- A.D. 1751– pointed Chief Justice of the King's Bench, the Duke * of Newcastle resigned, and a new administration was formed. Leicester House was a party to this arrangement, and Henley succeeded Murray in the office of Attorney-General without having previously filled the office of Solicitor-General to his Majesty. Now he left the circuit, and transferred himself to the Court of Chancery, where, from the good foundation he had laid in conducting common-law proceedings, from his natural shrewdness and handiness, and from the influence his station was supposed to give him over the Lords Commissioners who held the Great Seal, in the room of Lord Hardwicke, he immediately came into full employment, and was able to cope with the old Chancery counsel, notwithstanding the advantage they enjoyed in being able to make broad assertions as to the settled practice of the Court, and to cite unpublished decisions of the late Lord Chancellor, expressly in point. He was soon much disturbed by the dismissal of Mr. Pitt and Mr. Legge, and the prospect of himself being Apollis, turned adrift by the total dissolution of the ministry. “"“” By and by he was a little comforted by finding that, with the concurrence of Leicester House, negotiations were opened for a coalition between different parties, but soon alarmed b the report that Lord Hardwicke, who he thought had a particular spite against him, was to resume the office of Chancellor, —and again re-assured by the intelligence that Mr. Pitt peremptorily objected to this arrangement. Next followed a confident statement, which was not very disagreeable to him, that Sir Eardley Wilmot, the junior Lord Commissioner, was to be Chancellor; but this was contradicted by that worthy person, who, in a letter to his brother, which was handed about, said, “the acting junior of the commission was a spectre I started at, but the sustaining the office alone I must * Sir Richard Lloyd, the Solicitor under the Henley had for his colleague as Solicitor the
Duke of Newcastle, was dismissed, but was famous Charles Yorke, whose story we shall afterwards made a Baron of the Exchequer, by and by have to tell.
and will refuse at all events; "I will not give up my peace of mind to any earthly consideration whatever: bread and water are nectar and ambrosia compared with the supremacy of a court of justice.”" One day Henley was much excited by hearing that the Great Seal had been offered to Lord Mansfield, and by anticipating that he might accept it, so as to leave the Chief Justiceship of the King's Bench to the Attorney-General. Then came certain intelligence that, Lord Mansfield having refused the Great Seal, it had been tendered to Sir John Willes, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, who was willing enough to accept it, but was standing out for a peerage, which the King objected to, although the last six Chancellors had been Peers, and there had been a general belief that a gagged Keeper or Chancellor would not again be placed on the woolsack. Henley had not, down to this time, entertained the most distant notion of the Great Seal being offered to himself, as he had only very recently been made Attorney-General from practising in a common law court, and he felt that he had not sufficient political consequence to aspire to such a dignity. But (as sometimes happens) his mediocrity was the real cause of his elevation. Mr. Pitt knew enough of him from his appearances in the House of Commons to be sure that he could not be formidable in the cabinet,_though considered a fair lawyer, qualified decently to get through the duties of a judicial office;—and under colour of paying a compliment to Leicester House, and effectually to bar the return of that old Wolpone, Lord Hardwicke, he proposed, with seeming disinterestedness, that the Attorney-General, though not politically connected with him, should be the man. Leicester House was rejoiced, and the Duke of Newcastle did not object, being somewhat indifferent about the appointment since he could not procure it for Lord Hardwicke. The King was obliged to yield any point on which the three parties were agreed; but as Henley, from his connection with Frederick and with the present Prince of Wales, was personally disagreeable to him, he stipulated that the Great Seal must now be taken without a peerage. The offer being made to Henley with this condition, he instantly and joyously accepted it, not even stipulating for a pension, or the rever
* In fact, the offer was not made to Wil- refused (as we shall see), twice over, in the mot on this occasion, although it was, and year 1770.