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life, no reasoning can persuade us that it is just or politic to CHAP:
CXLIX. involve his posterity in his ruin.*
However, Charles Yorke's performance was rapturously A.D. 1744. applauded; his father, in defending the bill in the House of The great
eclat he acLords, made an excellent speech, all the topics of which were quired by known to be taken from itt, - and the solicitors had no longer t
o cation. any scruple in giving briefs to the Chancellor's son, who had shown such acquaintance with his profession, as well as such general ability. He was now in full practice at the bar, and considered likely to outstrip his father in rapid promotion; but in such matters there is much of chance and accident, and Sir Dudley Ryder remaining Attorney General, and Murray, Solicitor, years rolled on without a vacancy.
CONTINUATION OF THE LIFE OF LORD CHANCELLOR CHARLES
YORKE TILL HE WAS APPOINTED SOLICITOR-GENERAL.
CHAP. CHARLES Yorke commenced his senatorial career in the CL.
autumn of 1747, and continued a member of the House of
Commons till within a few hours of his death. He first repreA.D. 1747. Charles
sented the snug borough of Reigate, which had passed under Yorke is
the grant by King William to his grand-uncle Lord Chanto parlia. cellor Somers, and now belonged to his cousins, the Cocks’s. ment for Reigate.
He succeeded his elder brother, who was elected for the
county of Cambridge. Sonnet ad. On this occasion there was addressed to him by Mr. dressed to Edwards the following him on his being
SONNET. returned to parliament.
“ Charles, whom thy country's voice applauding calls
To Philip's honorable vacant seat,
Thus early claim'd from thy lov'd learn'd retreat ;
To guard those sacred rights which elevate
In those bright parts which erst too long confin'd .
Shone in the circle of thy friends alone,
When kindred virtues fan the generous mind
From the scanty accounts handed down to us of parliamentary proceedings in the middle of the eighteenth century, it is very difficult to discover what was his success in debate. Although he sat in parliament twenty-three years,-in the “ Parliamentary History” his name is only mentioned five times. We know, from contemporary writers, that he was a smart orator, and had a considerable position in the House; but it is pretty clear that he did not support the reputation he had acquired at the bar and by his pen; and that he re
• Cooksey, 163.
mained at a vast distance behind the “ silver-tongued Mur- CHAP. ray," whom he strove to emulate.
His maiden speech was upon a law bill; and all that we know May 7. of it is from a letter of Dr. Birch to the Hon. Philip Yorke, 1748.
His maiden containing this statement as part of the news of the day: speech. “ Your brother Charles opened his mouth on Monday, in the House of Commons, with some success, upon the Bill for the Relief of Protestant Purchasers' Trustees, &c. of Papists' Effects; against which he urged such a weight of objections, that the patrons of it, Lord Gage and Mr. Fazakerley, abandoned it without any reply; and the committing of it was postponed."*
At the meeting of parliament in November, 1748, he was He seconds selected to second the address moved by Lord Barrington, the following short sentence being the whole record of his performance: “ The Honourable Charles Yorke, second son of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, rose and seconded, in a very able speech, the motion of the noble Lord.”+ However, in a letter from Mr. Etough to Dr. Birch, preserved in the British Museum, we have this testimony in its favour: “ The figure Charles Yorke made the first day of the session is an agreeable piece of news. Nothing can be more pleasing than such accounts of young men, who have the additional character of probity and virtue.”ť
In 1751 he took a leading part in defending the Regency He defends Bill, introduced on the death of Frederick Prince of Wales, vision in
the prowhereby the Princess Dowager was to be appointed Regent the Re
gency Bill during the minority of her son, afterwards George III. ; but by which (to gratify the King's dislike of her, and his partiality for his the Prinyounger son,) she was to be under the control of a council of ager as Regency, with the Duke of Cumberland at the head of it. Regent was
to be conIn answer to a speech of Mr. Prowse, violently attacking the trolled by a measure as unconstitutional, thus spoke Charles Yorke: council. “ Sir, as the bill now under consideration is designed to be, and certainly will be, a precedent for all future ages, I hope that honourable members, who speak for it or against it, will leave the person thereby to be appointed Regent entirely out
* Hardwicke Papers, 14 Parl. Hist. 266. | MSS. 4326. B.
† 14 Parl. Hist. 325.
A. . 1751
CHAP. of the question. If the present conjuncture were only to be CL.
considered, I believe that, looking to the character and dis751. position of the amiable Princess named, no gentleman would
think of laying her under any restraints or regulations : no one would hesitate a moment in agreeing to invest her, not only with sovereign, but with absolute sway; because it would only be extending the power to do good. But when we are framing institutions for the government of society, we must not consider persons, but things. For this reason our ancestors have chosen, and have handed down to us, a limited rather than an absolute monarchy. They knew, as well as we, that a wise, active, and just king might be trusted with absolute power; that the more absolute he was, the better it would be for society : but they considered how difficult, if not impossible, it was to refuse to a bad king the authority that had been given to a good one. For the same reason, a regency during the minority or incapacity of a king has always, by our constitution, been laid under still greater restraints and limitations. I care not for the theory of the constitution, so much dwelt upon by the honourable gentleman who spoke last. From histories, records, and precedents alone can we know what the constitution really is in practice, and I defy any one to show that a regent or protector has ever been intrusted with a full and absolute sovereign power-I mean, as full and absolute a power as our kings have usually been intrusted with. The Duke of Gloucester, indeed, on the death of Edward IV., usurped a sole regency with absolute power ; but no man will contend that his power was legal or constitutional; and the use he made of it can never, I am sure, be any encouragement for the Parliament to follow that precedent. Even the good Earl of Pembroke, in the minority of Henry III., when appointed Regent, was restrained from making grants under the Great Seal; and his successful government was owing to his own wisdom, not the unlimited power conferred upon him. The honourable gentleman admits, that when the King's person or his right to the Crown may be in danger, the power of the Regent ought to be restrained by a council of regency. But is it not obvious, that this argument can be least used where it is most wanted ? When the Duke of
Lancaster was appointed Regent, in the minority of Rich- CHAP. ard II., was it urged that his ambition might prompt him to murder the infant King, and to usurp the Crown? No, sir; A. D. 1751. the argument made use of. on that occasion was, that the constitution forbad the appointment of a regent with sovereign power, though, in charity, supposed to be a good regent,---for the same reason that we limit the authority of a supposed good king. So a council of regency was created in the infancy of Henry VI., when the Duke of Bedford was appointed Regent, and in his absence the Duke of Gloucester. If the Lords who appointed another Duke of Gloucester Protector, with sovereign power, in the minority of Edward V., had not been guided more by resentment against the Queen-mother and her relations than the rules of our constitution, the Plantagenet line might still have been upon the throne. There is here no slight intended to the Princess. In the three minorities to which I have referred, the mother of the infant-sovereign was entirely passed over in the appointment of a regent;—and a striking proof is given of his Majesty's sense of the known virtues of the Princess by proposing her as Regent. If she is to be laid under restraints, this does not proceed from any jealousies we can entertain of her character. These restraints are only such as every wise king would choose to lay upon himself. Would any wise king choose to make peace or war, to prorogue or dissolve parliaments, or to remove any great officer of state, or appoint bishops or judges, without consulting men who have worthily served their country, and who are the most capable of giving good advice to the Crown? As to the council of regency, their power is merely restrictive; they have no active power; they cannot so much as meet except when called by the Regent, and when they do meet they can take nothing under consideration but what her Royal Highness may recommend to them : they can act in nothing; their resolutions will signify nothing without her concurrence; and if they should refuse to consent to any act necessary for the good of the kingdom, they are removeable on the joint address of the two Houses of Parliament. This formidable council of regency will, therefore, rather be a VOL. V.