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had in his speeches, from clearness of head and asperity of argument. Pitt's wit was genuine; not tortured into the service, like the quaintnesses of my Lord Chester
The latter nobleman, in a letter to his son, has also panegyrised the parliamentary talents of Mr. Murray. “ Your fate depends upon your success as a speaker, and take my word for it, that success turns more upon manner than matter. Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Murray the solicitorgeneral, are, beyond comparison, the best speakers. Why? Only because they are the best orators. They alone can inflame or quiet the house; they alone are attended to in that numerous and noisy assembly, that you might hear a pin fall while either of them is speaking. Is it that their matter is better, or their arguments stronger, than other people's? Does the house expect extraordinary information from them ? Not in the least; but the house expects pleasure from them, and therefore attends; finds it, and therefore approves."
Throughout the whole course of Murray's career in the house of commons, he was the invariable object of Pitt's unsparing invective. “ Pitt," says Lord Waldegravet, “undertook the difficult task of silencing Murray, the attorney-general, the ablest man, as well as the ablest debater, in the house of commons.” Dissimilarity of character, no less than of political principles, added bitterness to the eloquence of Pitt. Despising the policy and distrusting the principles of Murray, he eagerly availed himself of every occasion which presented itself of expressing his indignant sarcasms. Brilliant and argumentative as was the oratory of Murray, he did not always possess the nerve necessary to ward off or to return assaults so terrible as these, and for the most part he bore, in agitated silence, the attacks to which he did not venture to make any reply. In a letter from Lord Holland I, describing the speech which has been just given, the writer says,
“ In both Mr. Pitt's
* Memoirs, vol. i. p. 490.
+ Memoirs, p. 31. | Appendix to Lord Waldegrave's Mem, p. 153.
speeches every word was Murray, yet so managed that neither he nor any body else could or did take public notice of it, or in any degree reprehend him. I sate near Murray, who suffered for an hour.”
" It was, perhaps, on this occasion,” observes Mr. Butler *, “ that Pitt used an expression that was once in every mouth. After Murray had suffered for some time, Pitt stopped, threw his eyes around, then fixing their whole power on Murray, said, 'I must now address a few words to Mr. Solicitor: they shall be few, but they shall be daggers.' Murray was agitated; the look was continued; the agitation increased. Judge Festus trembles,' exclaimed Pitt: he shall hear me some other day.' He sate down; Murray made no reply, and a languid debate is said to have shown the paralysis of the house."
On the death of Mr. Pelham, in the month of March, 1754, amongst the persons whose reputation and station in the country rendered it probable that they might be selected to fill the place of premier, Mr. Murray was named t; but various circumstances concurred to prevent such an appointment. The imputation, though unproved, of his youthful predilection for the pretender, rendered him more than suspected by the Whigs. Pitt and Fox were both opposed to his advancement, and even the chancellor regarded him with an eye of jealousy. I In addition to these reasons it appears that he felt a disinclination to accept a place unconnected with his profession; and accordingly, on the formation of the Duke of Newcastle's administration, he was raised to the office of attorneygeneral, vacant by the promotion of Sir Dudley Ryder to the dignity of lord chief justice of the king's bench. As attorney-general, Mr. Murray continued to be one of the most efficient supporters of government in the house of commons, and in particular rendered himself most useful to the Duke of Newcastle, in supporting his weakness and covering his deficiencies.
When Mr. Murray had filled the office of attorney-gene * Reminis. vol. I. p. 154.
# Doddington's Diary, p. 264. Walpole's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 329.
ral for about the space of two years, Sir Dudley Ryder, the chief justice of the king's bench, died, and the vacant office was immediately supplied by the appointment of Mr. Murray, whose ambition had long been the obtaining of this office, accompanied by a peerage.*
No one had pretensions to compete with him, and he succeeded to the dignity with the common assent of the whole country. His high personal character, his extended professional reputation, his discreet conduct in public life, and his suavity of manners, all pointed him out as .the fittest person to preside in the first common law court of the kingdom. The resignation of his place in parliament was, however, a most severe and painful inconvenience to the head of the administration, who had relied, in every case of emergency, upon the friendship and abilities of the attorney-general.
“ I wish you joy,” observed Charles Townsend to Murray, on the rumour of his promotion, or rather myself; for you will ruin the Duke of Newcastle by quitting the house of commons, and the chancellor by going into the house of lords.”+ If full credit may be given to the narrative of a memoir writer of the day I., the most extravagant offers were made to Mr. Murray by administration, in order .to induce him to retain, even for a few months, his place in the house of commons. The loss of Minorca, under circumstances little creditable to the nation, had placed the ministers in a position of considerable difficulty, and they anxiously sought to secure the assistance which the .talents and character of the attorney-general conferred. The duchy of Lancaster and a pension of 20001., with the reversion of valuable post for his nephew, Lord Stormont, were the first offers made to him; and, subsequently, the amount of the proposed pension was increased to 60001. ; but Mr. Murray was firm. “ He knew,” says Walpole, “ that it was safer to expound laws than to be exposed to them; and he said peremptorily at last, that if he was not to be chief justice, nei
* Waldegrave's Memoirs, p. 56. + Walpole's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 64.
# Horace Walpole. Id. p. 67. and Waldegrave's Mem. p. 60.
ther would he any longer be attorney-general.” He received his appointment of chief justice on the 8th of November, 1756, and was immediately created a peer, by the title of Baron Mansfield, of Mansfield in the county of Nottingham.
On his elevation to the seat of chief justice, Lord Mansfield, contrary to the general usage, became a member of the cabinet; but the ler gth of time during which he continued to sit there has not been very clearly ascertained. In the debates which took place in 1806, on the admission of Lord Ellenborough into the cabinet, the case of Lord Mansfield was insisted on and admitted to be a precedent. It was said by Lord Temple, that “ he had that day seen the original writ of summons issued to Lord Mansfield. He could take upon himself to say, that the noble and learned lord attended every council from 1760 to 1763. In 1763 he left off attending the council, not from any sense of its incompatibility with his judicial situation, but, according to a letter of his own, which was in existence, because he would not sit with the Duke of Bedford, whose measures he disapproved of. In 1765 he returned again, and was named as one of the council of regency in the bill framed by Sir Fletcher Norton.” * It appears, however, from his own declaration, that he ceased to take any part in the discussions of the cabinet, after the formation of the Rockingham administration in 1765, and that he never resumed his place at the table. +
On occasion of his taking leave of the society of Lincoln's Inn, the usual complimentary speech was delivered by the honourable C. Yorke, the son of Lord Hardwicke, upon
whom the chief justice in reply pronounced the following panegyric:
“ I am too sensible, sir, of my being undeserving of the praises which you have so elegantly bestowed upon me, to suffer commendations so delicate as yours to insinuate themselves into my mind; but I have pleasure
• Cobbett's Parl. Debates, vol. vi. p 307.
in that kind of partiality which is the occasion of them. To deserve such praises is a worthy object of ambition ; and from such a tongue flattery itself is pleasing.
“ If I have had, in any measure, success in my profession, it is owing to the great man who has presided in our highest courts of judicature the whole time I attended the bar. It was impossible to attend him, to sit under him every day, without catching some beams from his light. The disciples of Socrates, whom I will take the liberty to call the great lawyer of antiquity, since the first principles of all law are derived from his philosophy, owe their reputation to your having been the reporter of the sayings of their master. , If we can arrogate nothing to ourselves, we can boast the school we were brought up in ; the scholar may glory in his master, and we may challenge past ages to show us his equal.
“ My Lord Bacon had the same extent of thought, and the same strength of language and expression; but his life had a stain.
“ My Lord Clarendon had the same ability and the same zeal for the constitution of his country; but the civil war prevented his laying deep the foundations of law; and the avocations of politics interrupted the business of the chancellor.
“ My Lord Somers came the nearest to his character; but his time was short, and envy and faction sullied the lustre of his glory.
“ It is the peculiar felicity of the great man I am speaking of, to have presided very near twenty years, and to have shone with a splendour that has risen superior to faction, and that has subdued envy.
“ I did not intend to have said, I should not have said so much on this occasion, but that in this situation with all that hear me, what I say must carry the weight of testimony rather than appear the voice of panegyric.
“ For you, sir, you have given great pledges to your country; and large as the expectations of the public are concerning you, I dare say you will answer them.