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action for false imprisonment brought by the plaintiff for having been arrested under a general warrant, as one of the publishers of the " North Briton, No. 45." From this dilemma Mr. Attorney dexterously extricated himself by magnifying another objection raised to his justification, and allowing the judgment of the Court to pass against him on that, while he left the main question without any formal adjudication. *
In the spring of 1766, an intrigue was going on for bringing in Charles Yorke as Chancellor to a new cabinet. Thus writes Lord Shelburne to Mr. Pitt, giving an account of a conversation he had had with Lord Rockingham : —
"In regard to the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Yorke, though he had reason to believe they might be brought into every thing that was desired, yet it was to be wished that it should be proposed with a certain degree of regard, and that manner might reconcile men's minds to that which it would be impossible ever to force them to. I observed, or at least thought, he avoided saying whether the seals were to be Mr. Yorke's object, but seemed carefully to adhere to such general terms, upon Mr. Yorke's subject, as I have mentioned." f
In July, 1766, when the Rockingham administration was unfortunately routed, Yorke, still at variance with Pitt who constructed the motley cabinet which succeeded, again resigned his office of Attorney General which he never resumedJ, and he remained in opposition till the ever deplorable moment when he consented to accept the Great Seal.
At the time of his last resignation he narrowly missed the office of Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. On Pratt's elevation to the woolsack this was given to Sir Eardley Wilmot. The Ex-Attorncy General without his "pillow,"
* 19 St. Tr. 1027. f 24th Feb. 1766.
J He was succeeded l,j- De Giey, afterwards Lord Walsingham. It would appear that an effort was then made to induce him to continue in office. Lord Chatham in a PS. to a letter to the Duke of Grafton, on the formation of this Ministry, says: —
"I saw Mr. Yorke yesterday; his behaviour and language very handsome: his final intentions he will himself explain to the King in his audience to-morrow."— MSS. nf Duke of Grafton.
preserved his good-humour, and thus addressed his more Chat. fortunate friend: —
"Tattenhangcr, August 11. 1766.
"I know not whether you arc yet Chief Justice of the His conCommon Pleas in form, but give me leave to congratulate fjas"rlaj;°n you and the public on your advancement. The kind and Wiimot on uniform friendship which you have shown me, makes me feel appointed a real pleasure on the occasion. Dieu vous conserve dans sa Chief Jussainte garde, et moi dans votre amitie /" Common
A copy of an elegant edition of Cicero accompanied this letter as a present, which is preserved with the following inscription upon it in Sir Eardley's handwriting: —
"The Gift Of The Honourarle Charles Yoree.
"Quem tu, Dea, tempore in omni,
Still Yorke retained his literary tastes and friendships, and he
"Feb. 2. 1767.
"My dear Lord,—I cannot resist the impulse of thanking Letter from you in three words for the perusal of your new discourses, as fQ wTrburwcll as your last letter. All the fruits of your friendship are Jon, thankpleasing to me. The book was most eagerly devoured. a new ,JOok. How do you manage always to say something new upon old subjects, and always in an original manner? The bookseller favoured me with it just on the eve of the 30th of January, and within three days of Candlemas; one of them the greatest Civil Fast in England, and the other the greatest Religious Festival of Antichrist. Your Lordship has furnished me with such meditations for both, that I must add it to the account of my obligations,
"And remain always,
"And affectionate humble Servant,
His villa at
So happy had he been with his first wife, that he had again entered the married state, being united to Agneta, daughter of Henry Jobson, Esq., of Berkhampstcad, a lady of great accomplishments, with whom he lived happily, and who brought him a son, the late Sir Joseph Yorke, of the royal navy, said to have been the delight of the quarter-deck, and whom I remember the delight of the House of Commons.
The Ex-Attorney General now had a charming villa near Highgate where his family resided, and to which he eagerly retired as often as the Court of Chancery and Parliament would permit. There Warburton paid him a visit in June, 1769. The following letter, notwithstanding its lively tone, cannot be read without melancholy, when we recollect that the meeting which it describes was the last that ever took place between the two friends, — and that a terrible catastrophe was at hand:
Letter from Warburton, giving an account of his last meeting with Charles Yorke.
"Last Thursday we dined with Mr. and Mrs. Yorke at Highgate. It was not a good day; but we walked on his terrace, and round his domain. He has improved it much. But, in contempt of your latebra dulces, you enter the terrace by the most extraordinary gate that ever was. His carpenter, I suppose, wanting materials for it, got together all the old garden-tools, from the scythe to the hammer, and has disposed them in a most picturesque manner to form this gate, which, painted white, and viewed at a distance, represents the most elegant Chinese railing, though I suspect the patriotic carpenter had it in his purpose to ridicule that fantastic taste. Indeed, his new-invented gate is full of recondite learning, and might well pass for Egyptian interpreted by Abbe Pluche. If it should chance to service the present Members of the Antiquarian Society (as it well may), I should not despair of its finding a distinguished place amongst their future ' Transactions' in a. beautiful copperplate. I was buried in these contemplations when Mr. Yorke, as if ashamed of, rather than glorying in, his artificer's sublime ideas, drew me upon the terrace. Here we grew serious; and the fine scenes of nature and solitude around us drew us from the Bar of the House and the Bishops' Bench to the CLI.
memory of our early and ancient friendship, and to look into CHAP, ourselves. After many mutual compliments on this head, I said,—' that if at any time I had been wanting in this sacred relation, I had made him ample amends by giving him the friendship of the present preacher of Lincoln's Inn.' His sincerity made him acknowledge the greatness of the benefit; but his politeness made him insist upon it ' that it was not a debt which he had received at my hands, but a free gift.' Let it be what it will, I only wish he may show the world he knows the value of it. This I know, that his father, amidst all his acquaintance, chose the most barren and sapless—on which dry plants to shower down his more refreshing rain, as Chapman very sensibly called it."*
These two worthy divines certainly valued the friendship of Charles Yorke on account of his personal good qualities, but likewise on account of the rich church patronage which they believed would belong to him, for they confidently expected that he would one day hold the Great Seal like his father, and by heaping preferment upon them, make a better use of it.
Charles Yorke's last great appearance before the public as Charles an advocate, was at the bar of the House of Lords, in the Yorkc's ,ast
famous Douglas cause; when, along with Wedderburn, he at the bar strenuously, though unsuccessfully strove to support the judg- g"^^"^" ment of the Court of Session, which had been pronounced against the legitimacy of the claimant.
Horace Walpolc, ever eager to disparage all who bore his name, giving an account of this trial in his "Memoirs of George III.," says: "Mr. Charles Yorkc was the least admired. The Duchess of Douglas thought she had retained him; but, hearing he was gone over to the other side, sent for him, and questioned him home. He could not deny that he had engaged himself for the House of Hamilton. 'Then, Sir,' said she, 'in the next world whose will you be, for we have all had you?'"t But there can be no doubt, that in
• Warb. Corr. 432. f Vol. iii. 302.
Course of the Whigs, and prospect of a Whig administration.
pleading for thc respondent, he acted according to the rules of professional etiquette and of honour; and that he displayed ability and eloquence not surpassed by any who joined in the noble strife.
After the judgment of reversal, he very handsomely came forward to vindicate Andrew Stewart, the Duke of Hamilton's agent in conducting the cause, from the aspersions cast upon him by Lord Mansfield and Lord Camden. Thus he wrote to him, intending that the letter should be made public: "Let me beg of you one thing as a friend — not to be too anxious, nor fecl too much because things impertinent or injurious are said of yourself. Can any man exert his talents and industry in public or private business without staking his good name upon it? or at least exposing himself to the jealousy of contending parties, and even to their malice and detraction?"—" All who study the cause must be convinced of the purity of your intentions, and the integrity and honour of your conduct."—" The sincere opinion of a friend declared on such occasions so trying and important, is the genuine consolation of an honest mind. In such causes, an advocate is unworthy of his profession who does not plead with the veracity of a witness and a Judge."
Whether in or out of office — while Charles Yorke maintained the independence of the bar, he behaved with great courtesy to the Judges before whom he practised :— "It was impossible," says George Hardinge, "to conceive any deportment more graceful in good manners for the bench than Mr. Yorke's towards Lord Camden, as long as the latter held the Seals,—and these attentions were mutual. Indeed the Court and the Bar were upon terms of the most amiable intercourse imaginable." *
Although Charles Yorke had been professedly in opposition since the last resignation of his office of Attorney General in July, 1766, he was supposed at times to have coquetted with the ministry, but latterly he had allied himself more closely with the Rockingham "Whigs. His elder brother, the second
* MS. Life of Lord Camden.