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Chap, security to the Regent than an obstruction to any of her CL' measures; for, though by our state maxim ' the King can do
A D ,753 no wrong,' I doubt whether that maxim can be applied to one who is appointed to govern, as Regent, in the King's name; and therefore it may much import the Princess, when Regent, that she should be able to make it appear, by an authentic document, that what she does has been thought by responsible advisers to be the most proper and necessary measure for the public good. I would willingly invest her Royal Highness with the full exercise of all the prerogatives of the Crown, if this course were not absolutely inconsistent with our constitution, and if there were not an apprehension that the precedent, on some future occasion, might be attended with the most fatal consequences. This alone makes me do violence to my own inclination, and compels me to banish from my thoughts the personal qualities of the illustrious lady now to be appointed Regent. If others would consider the Regent as a constitutional abstraction, I am fully persuaded that there would be a general unanimity as to the appointment and powers of the council, and no one would propose a course which would be quite novel in our history, and the remote consequences of which might bring upon the authors of it the curses of posterity." *
Horace Walpole, in an account of this debate sent to his correspondent at Florence, says, "Lord Strange and Sir Roger Newdigate both spoke against the bill, and Charles Yorke, a young lawyer of good parts, but precise and affected, for it." f I must own that there is a good deal of flippancy as well as sophistry in this smart harangue, and that the orator is rather gently handled by the critic. Murray followed in a more statesmanlike strain, — and upon a division the "council clause " was carried by a considerable majority.
the address ^e next occn8'on on which wc can trace Charles Yorke in the House of Commons, was the first day of the session of 1753, when he moved the address. We, accustomed to see some tender scion of nobility brought forward for such a task,
* 14 Pari. Hist. 1008.
f Letter to Sir H. Mann, May, 1751. Hur. Walp. Mem. Geo. II. p. 108.
are surprised to find it assigned to a practising lawyer who CHAP, had been several years in parliament. He seems to have been' a good deal laughed at for proposing "to acknowledge his A D i753, Majesty's wisdom, as well as goodness, in pursuing measures calculated to preserve the general tranquillity of Europe." The Earl of Egremont moved that the words " wisdom as well as" be left out, and other members violently censured the measures which were supposed to show such "wisdom as well as" goodness; but the amendment was negatived, and the address carried without a division." *
In the same session Charles Yorke restored and extended He defends his reputation by a spirited defence of his father, when at- mlsthether tacked for bringing forward the famous "Marriage Act." House of Henry Fox, its great opponent, having dilated very offensively agamst on "the chicanery and jargon of the lawyers, and the pride of Henry Fox. their Mufti," went on to apply to the Chancellor the story of a gentlewoman at Salisbury, who, having a sore leg, sent for a country surgeon, who pronounced that it must be cut off; "the gentlewoman, unwilling to submit to the operation, sent for another more merciful, who said he could save her leg, and that no operation was necessary; the surgeons conferred; the ignorant one said,' I know it might be saved, but I have given my opinion, my character depends upon it, and we must carry it through;'—so the leg was cut off." Charles Yorke, rising in great anger, thus began: "It is new in parliament—it is new in politics — it is new in ambition " — He then proceeded to draw a lofty character of his father, and describing in glowing terms the height to which he had raised himself by his merit, concluded by telling Fox how imprudent it was to attack a man so capable of vindicating himself and retaliating upon his accuser. Mr. Fox, in reply, tried to raise a laugh against him, by repeating and playing upon his words, "Is it new in parliament to be conscientious? I hope not. Is it new in politics? I am afraid it is. Is it new in ambition? It certainly is to attack such authority." f However, the House sympathised with the
* 14 St. Tr. 1275.
f Fox was luckier in an encounter with another lawyer in the same debate. He held in his hand a copy of the bill, in which were written in red ink the
pious son, and these gibes were considered in bad taste. When the amended bill came back to be discussed in the Lords, the Chancellor introduced his famous attack upon Fox by a very touching allusion to the manner in which he had been defended elsewhere by one near and dear to him, and in which "the incendiary had been punished." *
This quarrel made so deep an impression on the mind of Fox, that though generally a good-natured man,—when he heard at Nice many years after of Charles Yorke's death, and the melancholy circumstances which attended it, he thus wrote to a correspondent with an affectation of querulousness, but with real malignity: — "I never envied Mr. Yorke whilst he lived, but I must take leave to envy him and every body else when they are dead: I comfort by persuading myself it is happier to wish for death than to dread it, and I believe every one of my age does one or the other. But I do not find myself near a natural death, nor will you see me hanged, though I verily think they will never leave off abusing me." And writing soon after to George Selwyn, who delighted in looking at old friends when laid out for burial, he says, with savage jocularity, "Yorke was very ugly whilst he lived, — how did he look when he was dead?" f
The last important speech of Charles Yorke was delivered in the year 1754, upon the subject of extending the " Mutiny Act" to the East Indies, when all the old arguments being brought forward about standing armies and martial law, he ably showed the necessity of keeping up a military force in those remote regions, and the impossibility of doing so unless soldiers might be tried by a military tribunal for an infraction of the Articles of War.J Although no other fragments of his eloquence are to be found in the regular records of the proceedings of Parliament, we know from contemporary
amendments moved by some members who pretended to be its friends. The
* 15 Pari. Hist. 84.; Hor. Walp. Geo. II. 299.
f Hor. Walp. Lett. iv. } 15 Pari. Hist.
memoirs that he continued to speak and to be respectfully CHAP, listened to, in the House of Commons, on every constitutional' question which arose till near the close of his career.
Meanwhile, amidst all the distractions of business, and the He keeps anxieties of ambition, he preserved his better tastes, and he ^course was glad to escape from the wrangling of lawyers, and the with w«rslang of the House of Commons, to criticism and philosophy. He still kept up a close intercourse, by visits and letters, with Warburton. On one occasion, having been disappointed in the hope of finding him at Prior Park, he thus shows the impression made upon him by this picturesque place, where the "humble Allen" had entertained Pope: "The natural His debeauties of wood, water, prospect, hill and vale, wildness and ^"beautUs cultivation, make it one of the most delightful spots I ever of Prior
saw, without adding any thing from art. The elegance and judgment with which art has been employed, and the affectation of false grandeur carefully avoided, make one wonder how it could be so busy there without spoiling any thing received from nature." After controverting an emendation His advice by Warburton of the text of " Measure for Measure*" he pro- burton, ceeds to give him some excellent and much-needed advice, — to be more tolerant to authors who differed with him: "It is to be expected, where any writer has the marks of an original, and thinks for himself, producing de suo penu things wholly new to most understandings, that some will have their difficulties to propose; others their tenets to maintain; and few will give a ready assent to truths which contradict prevailing notions, till time and posterity have wrought a gradual change in the general state of learning and opinions. What wonder, then, that many should write against you? How natural that you should defend! It was expected from you. The zeal for knowledge is commendable: the deference to mankind becomes you. But here lies the mischief. You
* The Duke, in the character of a friar, says to Claudio, in order to prepare him for death, and dissuade him from a reliance on his sister's intercession with Angelo:
"Do not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are fallible."
The divine proposes to read " falsify ;" but the lawyer shows that " satisfy," in the sense of discharge, is the true reading.
Chap. and your adversaries stand upon unequal ground. They
engage with that best friend and second on their side—
vulgar prejudice. Let their insinuations be ever so malignant, provided they write dully they gain the character of writing coolly! How natural that you should expostulate! If your expostulations have been sometimes too warm, they were not the bitter overflowings of an ill-natured mind, but the unguarded sallies of a generous one. Yet even such sallies are not forgiven you: not because those you answer have deserved better, but because sensible and candid men are disposed to think too well and too highly of you to forgive that in you which they would overlook in others. And therefore, could nobody permit you to reverence yourself as much as I do, you would wait with patience that period when 'Answers' will be forgotten: unless (according to the epigram of Martial) you choose to give flies a value and an immortality by entombing them in amber. It is to flatter me exceedingly to intimate that I have contributed to lead you into those sentiments, in which the very tsedium of controversy, and the pursuit of noble designs, must necessarily confirm you."*
Subsequently, when he had acquired great reputation in public life and the most brilliant prospects were before him, thus he addresses the great scholar and divine: —" I endeavour to convince myself it is dangerous to converse with you, for you show me so much more happiness in the quiet pursuits of knowledge and enjoyments of friendship than is to be found in lucre or ambition, that I go back into the world with regret, where few things are to be attained without more agitation, both of reason and the passions, than either moderate parts or a benevolent mind can support." f He pro- He proved the sincerity of his friendship for Warburton wlrburton obtaining for him the " prcachership" of Lincoln's Inn, tiic preach- which was in this instance, and so often has been, the steppingLi^coln's stone to a bishopric, and by prevailing upon his father, who inn, and a had ceased to have much respect for literature, to give him a ofoucetter. prebendal stall. Thus writes the prebendary-elect to his