Графични страници
PDF файл

Chap, 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 himselt, 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 minutiae 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 see, with you, 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, "Dear Sir,

"Your most obedient and

"Most humble Servant,


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 CHAP, had nominally a seat in the Cabinet, but he seems to have CXXXVIbeen very little consulted by the autocratic prime minister.

Though now without the chance of office except through a.d. 1757. some very remote contingency, he still attended regularly in • k the House of Lords. * All opposition ceasing, insomuch that, as a memfor a whole session together, there was not a single division ^r °pi(t,s and hardly a debate, the hearing of appeals and writs of cabinet, 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 He opposes which he took the principal share, upon a bill to amend the jj^JJJ, Habeas Corpus Act, by authorising a single Judge in all Habeas cases to issue a writ of habeas corpus in vacation, and by £°[pus 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. f 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 de- Censure on duction should be made in respect of his having done so Hardwicke little to improve the laws and institutions of the country, tot doin8

........ » 1 . nothing as

when he had abundant leisure to prepare measures for this a iaw purpose, and one would have supposed sufficient influence to refurmercarry them through. From his long experience at the bar and as a Judge in courts of law and equity, many points

* As soon as Lord Hardwicke resigned the Great Seal, a commission appointed Ix,rd Sandys Speaker of the House of Lords; and he acted in this capacity from 2d December, 1756, till 4th July, 1757, when Sir Robert Henley took his place on the woolsack as Lord Keeper. — Lords. Journals.

f 15 St. Tr. 897—923.

I Slat. 56 Geo. 3. c. 100.

CHAP, 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 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. Lord I can find no farther trace of Lord Hardwicke for the

wickt" rest of thi8 reign- During the warlike triumphs which now at the con- dazzled the nation, he seems almost completely to have sunk thiTrcigri of from public notice, and it was hardly known that he had a George II. seat i n 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 his sudden death brought about a party revolution, and soon placed all power in the hands of the Tories—who had been nearly banished from Court since the accession of the House of Brunswick.

* I can say, of my own knowledge, that this state of things has since actuallv existed. At different periods of our history, it has been very difficult to draw the notice of the representatives of the people to measures for the amendment of the law.



As soon as Lord Hardwicke heard of the decease of George II., CHAP, he hurried to Carlton House, where the new Sovereign was cxxxv"to hold his first council. Here he was re-sworn a privy Oct. 25. councillor, and was treated with the consideration due to his 176o

, , . . Accession

age and his services. . of Geo. 11 r.

He must soon have seen the rising influence of Lord Bute; but till the quarrel between the favourite and the Duke of Newcastle, he rather showed a disposition to conform to the new regime.

When parliament assembled, a royal message being de- March livered, recommending that the Judges should not be re- JTM*," movable on a demise of the Crown, he moved the address Hardwicke of thanks, and he delivered a very courtly speech most extra- gjy" vagantly over-praising that measure, and creating the de- the mealusion which still prevails that till then the Judges held parent the during pleasure. In truth, by the Act of Settlement*, their dismissal of commissions were " quamdiu se bene gesserint; " and although, t^com-' by a misconstruction of that act contrary to the maxim that TMen«TMent "the King never dies," the appointment was held only reign. during the natural life of the reigning sovereign, only one Judge was removed on the death of George I., not one on the death of George II., and no minister at any time coming would have ventured to remove a competent Judge on the commencement of a new reign. At any rate, this boon from hia Majesty was entirely at the expence of his successor. Nevertheless, Lord Hardwicke represented the measure as of

* 12 & 13 Will. 3. c. 2. The opinion of that great and upright magistrate, Sir Michael Foster, was clear, that after the Judges were required by the legislature to be appointed " during good behaviour," and it was provided that they should only be removable on the joint address of the two Houses of Parliament, they could not be removed on a demise of the Crown. "I think the last precedent was a precipitate proceeding, against the plain scope and intent of the act of settlement, and derogatory to the honour, dignity, and constitutional independence of the Judges, and of the Crown itself. I found myself only on the act of settlement, and the reason of things." Sir Michael Foster to Lord Chief Justice Wilmot, Life of Wilmot, 31.

CHAP, infinite importance to the impartial administration of justice,

CWXVII • • t

'and to the rights and liberties of the people. "For doing this," said he, "his Majesty has laid his reasons before you. They are such as might have become, as they are truly worthy the most renowned legislators of antiquity." After praising our judicial system, subject to the capital defect that quamdiu se bene gesserit means "during the natural life of the King," he proceeds: —" This, which is the only defect remaining, his Majesty voluntarily and of his mere motion invites you to cure. Reflect upon the histories of former times—with what difficulties such acts have been obtained, I was going to say extorted, from the Crown by your ancestors— after many struggles — sometimes after more than one negative from the throne. Accept it now with thanks. Every one of your Lordships feel that gratitude in your own breasts which I have imperfectly attempted to express in the address which I have now the honour to propose for your adoption."*

Oct. 1761. Lord Hardwicke continued steadily to support the government even after the resignation of Mr. Pitt, when being overruled in the Cabinet respecting a declaration of war against Spain, that haughty minister refused "to be responsible for measures he was no longer allowed to guide;" but the Earl of Bute, who would now bear no rival near the throne, and was impatient himself to be at the head of the Treasury, that he might have all patronage as well as power Jan. 1762. in his own hands, having forced out the Duke of Newcastle, the wic'ke'hir<1 Ex-chancellor suddenly saw things in a very different light, and opposition- was of opinion that the policy of the new minister was about to tarnish and render unavailing all the victories won by his predecessor. This changed state of mind was produced by a letter from the Duke, giving an account of an interview with Bute, in which his Grace had threatened, as he had often before effectually done, to resign unless some job were conceded to him, and in which, to his great mortification, he had

• 15 Pari. Hist 1011., where will be seen the notes still extant in Lord Hardwicke's handwriting, which show that he continued the practice of writing out his speeches, almost at full length, before he delivered them.— With regard to this capital improvement, if he thought it of such importance, he might have explained why he did not himself propose it during the preceding reign.

« ПредишнаНапред »