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income of a few hundreds was swelled at once to thousands. In after-life he frequently referred, with expressions of lively pleasure, to the event of this cause.
In the proceedings in parliament which took place subsequently to the celebrated Porteous riots in Edinburgh, Mr. Murray was employed to oppose the bill for incapacitating the provost, and fining the city; and, in consequence of his great exertions on this occasion, was presented with the freedom of the city of Edinburgh in a gold box.
In the year 1743, Mr. Murray was appointed solicitorgeneral, and was returned to parliament. In the house of commons his eloquence, and the respect with which he was regarded, soon rendered him a very efficient supporter of the administration.
At the trial of the rebel lords in 1746, Mr. Murray assisted in his character of solicitor-general. His speech on the trial of Lord Lovat is said to be one of the few of his speeches which have been authentically given.* It consists, indeed, of little more than a concise and lucid statement of the evidence. “ Every gentleman," said the solicitor-general, “ who has spoken in this trial has made it a rule to himself to urge nothing against the prisoner but plain facts and positive evidence without aggravation.” The prisoner himself made some singular observations on the address of Mr. Murray. My lords, I am very sorry I gave your lordships so much trouble on my trial, and I give you a million of thanks for being so good in your patience an attention hilst it lasted. I thought myself very much loaded by one Murray, who, your lordships know, was the bitterest enemy there was against me. I have since suffered by another Mr. Murray, who, I must say with pleasure, is an honour to his country, and whose eloquence and learning are much beyond what is to be expressed by an ignorant man like me. I heard him with pleasure, though it was against me. I have the honour to be his relation, though perhaps he neither knows it nor values it. I wish that his being born in the north may not
* Boswell's Johnson, vol. i. p. 158. 2d ed.
hinder him from the preferment that his merit and learna ing deserve. Till that gentleman spoke, your lordships were inclined to grant my earnest request, and to allow me further time to bring up my witnesses to prove my innocence; but it seems that has been overruled.” * concluding his defence, Lord Lovat added, “ I have said all I have to say; and beg your lordships' pardon for the rude, long discourse I made to your lordships. I had great need of my cousin Murray's eloquence for half an hour, and then it would have been more agreeable." +
While Mr. Murray filled the office of solicitor-general, his attachment to the reigning family was called in ques. tion, but the charge was never substantiated. In his early life, he had been intimately acquainted with two gentlemen of the names of Fawcett and Stone, and with Dr. Johnson, afterwards bishop of Gloucester. Fawcett had become a provincial barrister, and recorder of Newcastle, and Stone had been appointed sub-governor of the young prince. At a dinner given by the dean of Durham, at which Fawcett, Lord Ravensworth, and other persons, were present, the preferment of Dr. Johnson being spoken of, Fawcett observed that “he was glad Johnson was so well off, for he remembered him a jacobite several years ago, and that he used to be with a relation of his who was very disaffected, one Vernon, a mercer, where the pretender's health was frequently drunk.” This conversation having been repeated to Mr. Pelham, the minister, an enquiry was instituted into the facts; in the course of which, Fawcett stated, that though he could not recollect positively whether Johnson drank those healths, yet that Murray and Stone had done SO several times. The delinquency of the bishop was now forgotten in the accusation against persons of such consideration in the state as the solicitor-general and the preceptor of the prince. Both the king and the minister were inclined to treat the charge slightly; but Stone, for his own justification, insisted on an enquiry. The matter was accordingly referred to the cabinet council, before whom Stone appeared and entered on his de* State Trials, vol. xviii. p. 827.
+ Id. p. 833.
fence. The solicitor-general was then heard. He represented that he had been well affected to the present establishment ever since he could think on the subject. That when he went to Oxford he had taken the oaths to the government, and that he had done it with serious
That when he pleaded at the bar of the commons, he had studiously professed the principles by which the government was supported. That he had determined never to come into parliament but upon Whig principles; and that, with regard to office, it was not to be supposed that a person of Sir John Strange's well-known loyalty would have resigned to him, if he had not been thoroughly convinced of his sincerity. That ever since he had been in the king's service, he had got nothing by his employment (he spoke it not by way of complaint) but the ordinary perquisites of office, and had never recommended any friend of his own to preferment. That he had not been able to learn any objection to his conduct without doors, but the not having loaded the rebels with reproachful epithets, as if epithets would have added to their guilt. That he did not think such sort of language would be agreeable to his royal master; and that had he been employed for the crown against Sir Walter Raleigh, and that unfortunate person had been as guilty of high treason as the rebels, he would not have made Sir Edward Coke's speech against him for his estate. He concluded by acknowledging the indulgence of the lords in hearing him, and the justness and goodness of the king, who would not suffer his servants to be stabbed in the dark, but gave them an opportunity of clearing their innocence. He then took the voluntary oath, as the others had done, and gave a particular answer to every part of the charge, denying that he had ever been present at Mr. Vernon's when treasonable healths were drunk, and stating that he believed that gentleman incapable of such behaviour. Mr. Murray having concluded, the lords came to an unanimous resolution of reporting to the king, that there appeared to
* Doddington's Diary, sub anno 1753.
them no foundation for any part of the charge, and that it ought not to asperse the character of the bishop, or of either of the gentlemen affected by it.* The affair was afterwards brought before the house of lords by the Duke of Bedford, who moved an address to the king, that his majesty would be pleased to suffer the proceedings of the council to be laid before the house; but the motion being lost by a large majority, no further enquiry was made into the circumstances.
Although the imputation of jacobitism was thus indignantly and successfully met by Mr. Murray, yet with many persons he still suffered from suspicions which it was impossible to remove. In the house of commons his political adversaries did not hesitate to affront him with allusions, the application of which could not be misunderstood; and upon one occasion Mr. Pitt, in uttering a vehement invective against the university of Oxford, made an obvious reference to the supposed youthful opinions of Mr. Murray. He said, “ that the body he meant (Oxford) was learned and respectable,-so much the more dangerous! He would mention what had happened to himself the last summer on a party of pleasure thither. They were at the window of the Angel Inn ;, a lady was desired to sing God save great George our King! The chorus was re-echoed by a set of young lads drinking at a college over the way, but with additions of rank treason. He hoped, as they were lads, that he should be excused for not having taken more notice of it. After this, walking down the high street, in a bookseller's shop he observed a print of a young Highlander with a blue ribbon. The bookseller, thinking he wanted to buy it, held it out to him. But what was the motto ? Hunc saltem everso juvenem! This was the prayer of that learned body, for it was in Latin.” –“ Colours, niuch less words,” adds Horace Walpole, who has reported this speech, “ could not paint the confusion and agitation that worked in Murray's face during this almost apostrophe. His counte
nance spoke every thing that Fawcett had been terrified to prevaricate away."
Of the political life of Mr. Murray,while, as solicitorand attorney-general, he supported the measures of government in the house of commons, it is difficult to gather any very accurate account; the debates of that day, where preserved at all, being reported in a manner which renders it impossible to rely upon their authenticity. In the Memoirs of Horace Walpole, at that period himself a member of the house, we find frequent mention of the solicitorgeneral, and always in language denoting the respect in which his talents were held. We are told that on the question of the Bavarian subsidy he made a very masterly speech, and we find him throughout all the debates on the regency bill distinguishing himself by his skill as a debater. He appears again in the debates on the Saxon treaty, and on various other occasions.
Of his style as a parliamentary orator, and of the character which he held in the house, Walpole has spoken in terms of high commendation. “ Murray, who at the beginning of the session was awed by Pitt, finding himself supported by Fox, surmounted his fears, and convinced the house, and Pitt too, of his superior abilities. He grew most uneasy to the latter.
Pitt could only attack; Murray only defend. Fox, the boldest and ablest champion, was still more formed to worry; but the keenness of his sabre was blunted by the difficulty with which he drew it from the scabbard; I mean the hesitation and ungracefulness of his delivery took off from the force of his arguments. Murray, the brightest genius of the three, had too much and too little of the lawyer: he refined too much, and could wrangle too little, for a popular assembly. Pitt's figure was commanding; Murray's engaging, from a decent openness; Fox's dark and troubled; yet the latter was the only agreeable man. Pitt could not unbend; Murray in private was inelegant; Fox was cheerful, social, communicative. In conversation none of them had wit: Murray never had: Fox
* Memoirs, vol. i. p. 358.