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CHAP. the licence void without the consent of parents or guardians CXXXV.
-- the banns to be for three successive Sundays in the parish church — and the granting of ordinary and special licences to be subject to certain regulations — the ceremony to be performed by a priest according to the liturgy of the Church of England. The first great blot upon the measure was, that it required Roman Catholics, Dissenters, and others who might have serious scruples of conscience against being married according to the prescribed service (the least felicitous in the English liturgy) to submit to it, — or debarred them from matrimony altogether. Another great defect was, that no provision was made by it respecting the marriage out of England of persons domiciled in England, so as to prevent the easy evasion of it by a trip to Gretna Green. The measure was likewise highly objectionable in making no provision for the marriage of illegitimate children - who had no parents recognised by law, and could only have guardians by an application to the Court of Chancery, -and in declaring marriages which were irregular by reason of unintentional mistakes in banns or licences absolutely void, although the parties might live long together as man and wife, having a numerous issue considered legitimate until the discovery
of the irregularity. Opposition Lord Hardwicke laid the bill on the table, and explained to it in the its provisions at the commencement of the session. On the
second reading, the Duke of Bedford made a speech against it; but it passed easily through the Lords. In the Commons, however, it experienced the most furious opposition, particularly from Henry Fox, who was supposed to feel very deeply on the subject, because he himself had run off with Lady Caroline Lennox, eldest daughter of the Duke of Richmond,
and married her without the consent of her family. Attack by I cannot compliment him, or the other opposers of the Henry Fox bill, on the topics they employed. Instead of pointing out
its real defects, which in practice were found oppressive and mischievous, they absurdly denied the right of Parliament to legislate upon the subject; they dwelt upon the aristocratic tendency of the bill; they denounced it as leading to vice and immorality; they prophesied that it would thin our
population, and endanger our existence as a nation. Fox, CHAP.
CXXXV. who kept the bill in committee many nights, became so heated by his own opposition to it against Murray, the Solicitor General, and other lawyers who defended it, that he inveighed bitterly against all lawyers and their jargon. He even indulged in a personal attack upon its author, whom he designated “the great Mufti,” whom he accused of pride and arrogance, and whose motives in bringing it forward he described as selfish and sordid.* On a subsequent evening he made an apology for these expressions, and declared his high respect for the learning and integrity of the noble and learned Lord he was supposed to have alluded to.
The bill at last passed the Commons by a majority of Attack by 125 to 56, and was sent back to the Lords. When the Lord Hard..
wicke on amendments were to be considered, the MUFTI resolved to Henry Fox. have his revenge; and as the parliament was to be prorogued the following day, he knew that he was safe from a rejoinder. In a most unusual manner, he read his observations from a paper which he held in his hand, as if he were afraid to trust himself to express his excited feelings ; and he commented, with much warmth and asperity, on the conduct of Fox, whom he designated as “ a dark, gloomy, and insidious genius, an engine of personality and faction ;” thus concluding his philippic : “I despise the invective, and I despise the retractation; I despise the scurrility, and I despise the adulation.” | Fox, who had that evening attended some ladies to Vauxhall, being soon told by a good-natured friend how he had been abused in the House of Lords, gathered some young members of parliament round him, and told them, with great eagerness, that he wished the session had lasted a little longer, as, in that case, “ he would have paid off the Lord Chancellor with interest.” I
* I suppose it was from this vituperation that the vulgar said out of doors that the Chancellor was afraid his own children would form some low connection in marriage - whereas they were all already married into the first families.
† According to Cooksey, in the warmth of his invective he called his antagonist “ that bad, black man." - Cooks. 103.
15 St. Tr. 84–86. It is curious how this hatred of Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Bill descended to Henry Fox's posterity. His son, the celebrated Charles James, several times abused it in the House of Commons; and I myself
CHAP. The session of 1754 passed over without a single debate in CXXXV.
the House of Lords ; but, in the midst of the profoundest Death of
quiet, a storm of short duration was suddenly raised by the Mr. Pel- death of the prime minister, Mr. Pelham. Till his brother ham
could decently appear, Lord Hardwicke was called into
council by the King, and, according to his own account, he Lord Hard- was for some days prime minister. In a letter from him to
Mr. Pitt, which seems to have escaped the notice of hister to Mr. Pitt, de- torians and memoir writers, he gives an interesting account scribing the state of par
of this crisis. After apologising for not sooner replying to a ties on the communication he had received from Mr. Pitt, he proceeds : death of Mr. Pel.
-“Besides this, I have lived in such continual hurry, ever ham. since the day of our great misfortune, Mr. Pelham’s death,
Ille dies, quem semper acerbum,
Semper honoratum (sic Dii voluistis) habebo, that I have no time for correspondence.
“ The general confusion called upon somebody to step forth; and the Duke of Newcastle's overwhelming affliction and necessary confinement threw it upon me. I was a kind of minister ab aratro, I mean the Chancery plough, and am not displeased to be returned to it, laborious as it is to hold. I never saw the King under such deep concern since the Queen's death. His Majesty seemed to be unresolved; professed to have no favourite for the important employment vacant, and declared that he would be advised by his cabinet council, with the Duke of Devonshire added to them." *
have frequently heard his grandson, the late Lord Holland, in private, express high disapprobation of it - still adhering to the old doctrine, that marriage should be contracted when and where and how the parties please — and therefore still censuring the last Marriage Bill, which I had the honour to assist in framing, and which I consider quite perfect. I excuse a churchman who says that the Church alone ought to lay down regulations for marriages, and judge of its validity; but I cannot understand how a statesman who allows it to be a civil contract can deny that the manner of entering into it may be regulated by law as much as the manner of entering into a contract to purchase goods or to let land.
* The writer proceeds at great length to try to persuade Mr. Pitt that he had been labouring to bring him into office; and having stated the opposing difficul. ties, he thus concludes: “ I agree that this falls short of the mark; but it gives encouragement. It is more than a colour for acquiescence in the eyes of the world; it is a demonstration of fact. No ground arises from hence to think of retirement rather than of courts and business. We have all of us our hours wherein we wish for those otia tuta ; and I have mine frequently : but I have that opinion of your wisdom, of your concern for the public, of your regard and
few days the Duke of Newcastle was placed at the head of CHAP. the Treasury, and Lord Hardwicke was again secure in his cXXXV. office of Chancellor, and, if possible, with more influence. Now Lord Hardhe was created Earl of Hardwicke and Viscount Royston. wicke creIt is said that he might sooner have enjoyed this elevation, Earl. as far as the King was concerned, had not a superior power interposed. One of his biographers, in giving an account of his two daughters and of his wife, thus explains the delay. “ Both these young ladies my informer has often seen at Powis House (his town residence) opening the door of their mother's apartment, (where he had the honour of attending her during the settling her domestic accounts, on Monday mornings,) and, with the most graceful deference, asking what company was expected, and in what manner they should dress for the day? Having received her Ladyship’s directions, they courtesied and withdrew. On this she observed, that the Lord Chancellor was in a hurry to be made an Earl, which the King would make him any day he chose it, but I delay it as much as I can. These girls you see submitting, with so much humility and observance, to consult me even in the little article of dress, would perhaps, by the acquisition of titles, be transformed into fine ladies, and abate in their respects to me.
Their fortune, too, on marriage must be doubled. Ten thousand pounds, which would be deemed a sufficient fortune for a Miss Yorke, must be made twenty to a Lady Elizabeth and Lady Margaret.' These young ladies had been recently married, the one to the celebrated navigator Lord Anson, and the other to Sir Gilbert Heathcote. In the year 1755 the political horizon began to blacken. Duke of
Newcastle Domestic politics were much perplexed by the machinations Prime Miof Leicester House, and by the Duke of Newcastle's doubts nister. whether he should ally himself with Pitt or with Fox, while
affection for your friends, that I will not suffer myself to doubt that you will continue to take an active part. There never was a fairer field in the House of Commons for such abilities, and I Aatter myself that the execution of them will complete what is now left imperfect,”
hostilities being ready to break out on the Continent, the King, for the protection of Hanover, had entered into subsidiary treaties with Russia and Hesse Cassel, which were exceedingly unpopular. On the meeting of parliament these treaties were furiously assailed in the House of Lords, and the defence of them rested chiefly on the Chancellor; for the new prime minister, although he had considerable volubility of gabble, was quite incapable of reasoning, and was only listened to that he might be laughed at. There is no tolerable report of Lord Hardwicke's speech on this occasion, but we have what must be considered more curious and more valuable, the notes which he made for it, in his own handwriting, showing the immense pains which he still took to prepare himself, notwithstanding all his experience, and all the authority which he possessed.
Introductory Observations. wicke's mode of
Foreigners, if present, must be surprised. preparing
No false colours needful to support - only to wash off false colours thrown to speak in upon it to sully it. the House All the objections reducible to two general heads of Lords.
Legal - Political.
1. Legal Restrictive clause in Act of Settlement.
This depends on the general rules of the constitution.
2. Strictly on the Act of Settlement.
Construction of the clause of restriction.
Treaty of Hanover, 1725.
Nobody then thought of suggesting it to be a breach of the Act of Settlement.
Reserved for the sagacity, the penetration of these times.