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duced; more words might have been inserted in a line and more lines in a sheet, and the fees for the copies might have been lowered. But the proceedings continued equally prolix; neither were there more words in a line or more lines in a sheet; the copy money per folio continued equally exorbitant, and no ways or means were discovered to save the suitor from being plundered. The Judge and all the officers of the Court were paid by fees, and Lord Hardwicke could not have made a vigorous effort to regulate them without some sacrifice of his own pecuniary gains, and without danger of incurring ill will from others.
That I may clear the way for following lum in his political career, which must be more interesting to the general reader, I have now only to consider how he executed that most important function of a Chancellor—the appointment of Judges and law officers of the Crown, — and here he is entitled to unmixed praise. Lee, Willes, and Parker, with able puisnies, presided satisfactorily under his auspices in the Common Law Courts, and the bar could not have furnished better men for the officers of Attorney and Solicitor General than Ryder, Strange, and Murray. It is objected to him that "he prevented the creation of law Lords whereby his power in the House of Peers he apprehended might be diminished;" "the peerage of Lee, Ryder, Willis, and even of Parker, Chief Baron," says Cooksey, "though acknowledged due to their long services of the state, were delayed or denied: thus he remained the sole law Lord during the whole term of his Chancellorship."* There is here, however, considerable exaggeration. Ryder's patent was too long delayed, and he unfortunately died before the Great Seal was put to it. The others, though respectable men, had never gained great distinction in parliament or in their profession, and law peerages ought not to be (as they have sometimes been) wantonly and inconveniently multiplied.
When we view Lord Hardwicke as a magistrate, it might be supposed that he could have had no political functions to disturb him, but now that we are to view him immersed in
politics, we might suppose that he had nothing to think of CHAP, but how he might please the King, and not offend the heir' apparent — how he might intrigue to keep up ministerial majorities — how he might assist in modelling measures to make the session come smoothly to a conclusion -— how on a rupture in the cabinet he might reunite some of its scattered fragments, — and how he might make all things work together for his own aggrandisement. It will be found that to advance the interests of his party and of his family he displayed great shrewdness and dexterity. His character as a statesman, about which he was very solicitous, is more doubtful. "Men are apt to mistake," says Lord Chesterfield, "or at least to seem to mistake, their own talents—in hopes, perhaps, of misleading others to allow them that which they are conscious they do not possess. Thus Lord Hardwicke valued himself more on being a great minister of state, which he certainly was not, than upon being a great magistrate, which he certainly was. All his notions were clear, but none of them were great. Good order and domestic details were his proper department: the great and shining parts of government, though not above his parts to conceive, were above his timidity to undertake."
From the disputes in the Royal Family, he had a very Disputes difficult and disagreeable task assigned to him at the very Q^^jj moment when he received the Great Seal. George II., who and Frehad been disliked by his own father, actually hated his own pr"^ of son. Prince Frederick being at last permitted to come to Wales. England long after the accession of his family to the throne, now headed a powerful party in opposition to the government, and was banished from court, without being allowed a sufficient income decently to maintain himself and his wife and children. A motion was to be made in the House of Commons by his friends, for an address to the crown to assign him 100,000/. a year out of the Civil List. According to the court scheme, this was to be counteracted by a proposal to parliament to vote him 50,000/. a year, and at the same time he was to be reprimanded for his factious proceedings. A controversy arose with respect to the bearer of Lord Hardthe reprimand, and the matter happened to be debated at the lected to
Vol. v. F
s CHAP, very cabinet at which Walpole had announced that Lord
'Hardwicke was to be the successor of Lord Talbot. Some
deliver a one proposed that the new Chancellor should be the mes
reprimand senger. This was unanimously agreed to, and he was sum
from the & , . ., , 7 , i i
King to the moned to attend a council next day at twelve o clock to receive FerTai the Great Seal. Accordingly, while he was waiting in the 1737. ante-chamber at St. James's, with the Dukes of Newcastle and Argyle, the Earl of Wilmington, and other Privy Councillors,—Sir Robert Walpole came out of the King's chamber in a great hurry, holding a paper in his hand, and read to them the draught of a message, in his own handwriting, and acquainted them that "it was the King's pleasure that the Lord Chancellor, accompanied by the Lord President, Lord Steward, and Lord Chamberlain, should immediately cany it to the Prince." Lord Hardwicke, expecting nothing but smiles and congratulations on this auspicious day, was greatly shocked at such a commencement of his cancellarian career, and wished that he had allowed Fazakerley to be made a Whig. What added to his embarrassment was, that the King was then labouring under a low fever, from which some foretold that he would not recover. To the expressions in the reprimand " the undutiful measures which his Majesty is informed your Royal Highness intends to pursue," he positively objected; but it was replied by the minister that the King insisted on the word "undutiful," and that he had with great difficulty been dissuaded from using harsher terms. A concession was made, however, by changing "intends " into "hath been advised to pursue." Still Lord Hardwicke took Walpole aside and expostulated with him on the hardship of making such a painful errand his introduction to the heir apparent. The Minister answered that he had hinted this to the King as far as he durst venture in so nice a case, but the King prevented all further discussion, by exclaiming, "My Chancellor shall go." To soften matters, it was agreed that the whole cabinet should attend in a body, when the message was to be delivered, but Sir Robert contrived to slip away —on pretence that his presence was indispensably required in the House of Commons. Lord Hardwicke was then admitted into the King's closet, and received the Great Seal, with many gracious expressions of royal favour, but without a CHAP.
word respecting the reprimand. Having taken the usual oaths CXXXI
he retired to make himself, as he apprehended, for ever odious
to the Prince, who might in a few weeks be upon the throne.
He had a wonderful escape, however, from the " forlorn hope"
on which he had been put; Frederick considered it politic on
this occasion to be very civil to the Chancellor, and to use
dutiful language towards the King; and he was swept off to
an early grave, while the Great Seal remained in the firm
grasp of its present possessor. *
A debate on the subject arose in the House of Lords the Feb. 23. very day that Lord Hardwickc took his place on the wool- 1787sack as Chancellor; but he left the defence of the government to the Duke of Newcastle, and took no part in the proceedings beyond communicating the King's message to the Prince, and the Prince's answer. f
The first occasion of the new Chancellor's coming forward Bill to in debate was to defend the bill to punish the citizens of Punishth°
* citizens of
Edinburgh for the murder of Captain Porteous,—by repealing Edinburgh the city charter, by razing the city gates, and by abolishing mu^6r o[ the city guard. This measure being furiously attacked by Captain the Duke of Argyle, who, in answer to the threat of the Queen as Regent to turn Scotland into " a hunting ground," had said "he must go down to prepare his hounds," Lord Hardwicke justified all its enactments, observing, in answer to the argument derived from the ancient loyalty of the citizens of Edinburgh, that "the merit of ancestors in a former age can never atone for the degeneracy of their posterity." This was considered by Macullamore a reflection on himself and his clan, and called forth from him a statement of their services in placing and retaining the present royal family on the throne. The Lord Chancellor declared, "that the noble Duke had mistook his meaning; that he entertained the highest opinion of the noble Duke's candour and loyalty, as well as of his talents and gallantry, and that it never was his intention to insinuate any thing to the disadvantage of any Campbell whatsoever." The division was in favour of the
* Com. Walp. iii. 537. f 9 Hist. 1448.
Chap, government, but the bill was so flagrantly unjust, and was so cxxxi. strenuously opposed by all the Scotch members in both Houses of Parliament, and by the whole Scotch nation, that the minister prudently abandoned it, and it was turned into a bill to impose a fine of 2000/. on the city of Edinburgh for the benefit of Captain Porteous's widow. "All these fierce debates ended only in making the fortune of an old cookmaid, for such had Mrs. Porteous been before the Captain made her a lady." *— A melancholy event was impending, from which important consequences were apprehended.
• See " Tales of my Grandfather," and "Heart of Midlothian." I cannot justify the manner in which the Captain came to his end, hut no true Scotsman can sincerely regret it.