Page images

Charles Yorke, in Lincoln's Inn, where, in the year 1752, it was unfortunately destroyed by an accidental fire. From the fragments spared by the flames, Mr. Yorke collected a few papers which, after correcting the damaged passages with his own hand, he bound in a folio volume. From this volume a selection was given in the “ Miscellaneous State Papers,” published by the Earl of Hardwicke, in 1778, some of which have been referred to in the preceding memoir. “The world," says Lord Hardwicke*, “will do that justice to the collection, as not to suppose that these specimens from it, immitis ignis reliquiæ, will afford an adequate idea of its merits. It filled upwards of sixty volumes in quarto, and did not contain a paper from Lord Somers's pen which the most intimate friend would have wished to secrete, or the bitterest enemy could have fairly turned to his prejudice."

Many of the valuable pamphlets which Lord Somers had collected were published in the middle of the last century, in sixteen volumes quarto, usually known under the name of the Somers' Tracts, a work which was republished a few years since, under the superintendence of Sir Walter Scott, who has adopted a much more convenient and methodical arrangement of the materials. Lord Somers appears to have spared no expense in the formation of his library, and is said to have given upwards of five hundred pounds to “ Tom Britton, the celebrated smallcoal man, of Clerkenwell,” for his collection of choice pamphlets. + * State Papers, vol. ii. p. 399. + Morgan's Phonix Brit. vol. i. p. 558.



- The Honourable William Murray, the fourth son of Andrew, Viscount Stormont, was born at Perth, on the 2d of March, 1704, O.S. At the early age of three years he was removed to London, and in 1719 was admitted a king's scholar at Westminster. At the election, in 1723, he stood the first on the list of those destined to be sent to Oxford, and was entered of Christ Church on the 18th of June in that year. Both at Westminster and at Oxford he distinguished himself by his classical attainments, and after taking his degree of M. A., he left the university in the year 1730, and spent some months in travelling abroad. On his return, he was called to the bar in Michaelmas term 1731. It does not appear that at this period of his life he devoted much of his time to the study of his profession, though while a student he was in the habit of attending the meetings of a society of young men, who assembled for the purpose of discussing legal questions. The classical tastes and literary attainments of Mr. Murray led him to prefer the society of scholars and men of genius to that of his professional brethren. “ When he first came to town,” says Johnson, “he drank champagne with the wits.”

The rank, the personal character, and the reputation which he had acquired at the university, all contributed to Mr. Murray's success. It has been said, that for some time after he was called to the bar he was without any practice, and that he had been heard to say, that he never knew the difference between a total want of ema ployment and an income of 30001. a year. It appears, however, that in 1732, the year after his being called, he was engaged in an important appeal case, in which the attorney and solicitor-general were employed, and

* Character of Lord Mansfield, by Mr. Butler, Seward's Anecdotes, YOL iv. p. 492

that in the two following years he was very frequently retained in similar cases before the house of lords. *

The frequent appearance of Mr. Murray in cases of appeal has been alluded to by Pope. The particular period at which the poet and Mr. Murray became acquainted does not appear, but it is probable that it was soon after the return of the latter from his travels. One of his biographers tells us, that “one day he was surprised by a gentleman of Lincoln's Inn, who took the liberty of entering his room without the ceremonious introduction of a servant, in the singular act of practising the graces of a speaker at a glass, while Pope sate by in the character of a friendly preceptor.” + Of the friendship of Pope and Murray, Warburton has said, “ Mr. Pope had all the warmth of affection for this great lawyer; and indeed no man ever more deserved to have a poet for his friend, in the obtaining of which, as neither vanity, party, nor fear had a share, so he supported his title to it by all the offices of a generous and true friendship.” * In the year 1737, Pope published his imitation of the sixth epistle of the first book of Horace, which he dedicated to Mr. Murray, and in which he introduced him in the following flattering lines :

“Go then, and if you can admire the state

Of beaming diamonds and reflected plate,
Procure a taste to double the surprise,
And gaze on Parian charms with learned eyes;
Be struck with bright brocade or Tyrian dye,
Our birth-day nobles' splendid livery:
If not so pleased, at council-board rejoice
To see their judgments hang upon thy voice;
From morn to night, at Senate, Rolls and Hall.
Plead much, read more, dine late, or not at all.
But wherefore all this labour, all this strife,
For fame, for riches, for a noble wife ?
Shall one whom native learning, birth conspired
To form, not to admire, but be admired,
Sigh while his Chloe, blind to wit and worth,
Weds the rich dulness of some son of earth
Yet time ennobles or degrades each line;
It brightend Craggs's, and may darken thine.
And what is fame? the meanest have their day;
The greatest can but blaze and pass away.
Graced as thou art with all the power of words,
So known, so honour'd, in the house of lords

* Holliday's Life, p. 28. + Id. p. 24. I Notes on Imitations of Horace.

Conspicuous scene! another yet is nigh
More silent far, where kings and poets lie;
Where Murray (long enough his country's pride)

Shall be no more than Tully or than Hyde!” In the course of the same year Pope published his imitation of Horace's Ode to Venus, in which he again introduces his friend Murray.

Again? new tumults in my breast ?

Ah, spare me, Venus ! let me, let me rest!
I am not now, alas! the man,

As in the gentle reign of my Queen Anne.
Ah sound no more thy soft alarms,

Nor circle sober fifty with thy charms.
Mother too fierce of dear desires,

Turn, turn to willing hearts your wanton fires ;
To number five* direct your doves,

There spread round MURRAY all your blooming loves;
Noble and young, who strikes the heart

With every sprightly, every decent part;
Equal the injured to defend,

To charm the mistress or to fix the friend;
He, with a hundred arts refined,

Shall stretch thy conquests over half the kind.
To him each rival shall submit,

Make but his riches equal to his wit.” It is said that at this period of his life Mr. Murray unsuccessfully addressed a lady of great wealth, to which allusion is made in both of the poems above mentioned.

The celebrated conveyancer Mr. Booth [Note 44.] was amongst the most valued of his early friends. The following affectionate letter, addressed to him in 1735, is a pleasing specimen of Mr. Murray's epistolary style :

My dear friend, I received yours last night. I cannot but applaud the protection you give a sister, whom I know you love tenderly; yet it seems a little rash to carry your beneficence so far as to dry up the source of all future generosity; and I am sure it is greatly against the interest of every one, who has the least dependence upon you, that you should do any thing which makes it at all difficult for you to persevere in a way where you must at last succeed. Of this I have no doubt: and, therefore, it is as superfluous to add my advice for your coming to town immediately, as it would be to tell you that I omit no opportunity of mentioning your name, and promoting your

* No. 5. King's Bench Walk.

interest. You cannot fail but by staying in the country, and suffering people who have not half your merit to step in before you.

With regard to every thing you say of Mr. Pigot, we will talk more at large hereafter : I as little think he will bring you into his business while he lives, as that you can be kept out of a great part of it when he dies. I am at present consulted upon a devise settlement of his, whereby a great estate is left to a noble Roman Catholic family, which I am very clear is good for nothing. Can you contrive a way by which an estate can be left to a papist? Though I have no more doubt of the case put to me, than whether the sun shines at noon, I told the gentleman who consulted me I would willingly stay to talk with a Roman Catholic conveyancer, &c., whom I expected soon in town, and named you to him.

“ I own I am desirous you should come to town, and be assured the best service you can do your friends is, to put yourself in a way to serve them effectually. As to any present occasions you have, you know where to command while I have a shilling.

I am, I do assure you, with great cordiality and esteem,

« Dear Booth,
“ Your affectionate friend and faithful servant,


[ocr errors]

The first cause in the common law courts in which Mr. Murray distinguished himself was an action for criminal conversation brought by Theophilus Cibber against Mr. Sloper. Mr. Murray was junior counsel for the defendant, and in consequence of a sudden attack of illness, by which his leader was prevented from appearing in court, the duty of conducting the defence devolved


him. At his request the cause was postponed for an hour, at the expiration of which time he again appeared in court, and conducted himself so ably, and made so forcible an address to the jury, that his client escaped with a very small penalty. From this time business poured in upon him from all sides, and an

« PreviousContinue »