Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

been in expectation of some abler pen attempting the delineation of so exalted a character ; and he can truly say, that it would have afforded him infinite pleasure to have had a fair opportunity of refigning his materials to any gentleman desirous of signalizing himself in the annals of biography, and of twining round his brow a wreath of no finall estimation. He would thereby have enjoyed complete satisfaction, in being able to contribute to the utility, the improvement, and greater perfection of a work of this nature.' F. vii.

The liberality of this acknowledgment disposed us to treat Mr. Holliday's work with a candour beyond that which is strictly compatible with the duty of criticism: we therefore regret, that, notwithstanding such a favourable pre-possession, we are compelled to pronounce that the volume tefore us is one of the inost tasteless productions that ever offered themselves to our notice. The materials consist of college exercises, juridical and parliamentary speeches, &c. by the late earl of Mansfield ; and, though already made public through various channels of the press, they might by fome able pen have been combined and commented upon in a manner very illustrative of the life, and honourable to the fame, of that great character. Mr. Holliday, unfortunately for his readers, and the reputation of the earl of Mansfield, displays none of the talents requisite for such an undertaking. Weak and frivolous remarks, conveyed in a sort of composition not sufficiently tangible by cri. ticism to deserve the appellation even of a bad style, convince Lue with what rueful barbarity a great man's memory may be treated under the pretence of biography.

Notwithstanding our justly excited censure, we shall make several extracts from this publication : but let not the author 'mistake the compliment, like a certain animal in the fable, who arrogated to himself the reverence that was paid to the reliques which he carried on his back.

Lord Mansfield's pedigree, birth, and juvenile progress, are thus related.

*The honourable William Murray, afterwards earl of Mansfield, 'was a younger fon and the eleventh child of David viscount Stormont, who was the fifth viscount of the noble and illustrious family of Murray.

Sir William Murray of Tallibard, in the shire of Perth, by Cathariné his wife, daugbier of Andrew lord Gray, had four sons ; and Gr Andrew Murray, the third son, was the progenitor of viscount Stormont, the father of lord Mansfield.

« On the 3d of March, 1705, according to the computation of time in Scotland, but in 1704 according to the legal computation of time in England, William, the fourth lon of lord Stormont, was born at Perth in North Britain.

* About the tender age of three years, he was removed to, and educated in, London; and confequently he had not, when an inEmt, imbibed any peculiarity of dialect, which conld tend to decide that Perth had a fairer claim than Bath to the honor of his birth, The year of his admission, as a king's scholar at Westminfter, appears to be 1719.

· When he was a Weftminster fcholar, lady Kinnont, in one of the vacations, invited him to her home, where, observing him with a pen in his hand, and seemingly thoughtful, the asked him if he was writing his theme, and what in plain Englill the theme was. The school-boy's smart answer rather surprized her ladyship, " What is that to you?” She replied, "" How can you be so rude ? I asked you very civilly a plain question; and did not expect from a school-boy such a pert answer.” The reply was, “ Indeed, my lady, I can only answer once more, What is that to you !" In reality the theme was-QUID AT TE----pertinet?

" Whether the affinity in Scotch enunciation between Perth and Bath, or whether the instructions sent with the honorable Mr. Mur. ray for matriculation at Oxford were not written in a fair hand, the mistake of Bath for Perth was actually made; and, however fingular it may appear, candor must allow, that such a mistake might easily happen.

• Be that as it may, the entry of his admission as a student of Chrift-church, Oxford, of which a correct copy is subjoined, is contrary to the real fact, respecting the place of his birth.

• Trin. Term. 1723, June 18.
Æd. Xti. Gul. Murray 18.
David f. Civ. Bath.
C. Som. V. Com. fil.

T. WENMAN, C. A.
Sir William Blackstone is said to have mentioned this curious
circumstance to the lord chief justice of the king's bench, while he
had the honour to fit with him in that court; when lord Mansfield
answered, “ that poflibly the broad pronunciation of the person,
who gave in that description, was the origin of the mistake.”

• Bifhop Newton, who was one of his cotemporaries at Westminster, bears this honorable testimony to his school-fellow's early fame.

During the time of his being at school, he gave early proofs of his uncommon abilities, not so much in his poetry, as in his other exercises, and particularly in his declamations, which were sure tokens aod prognostics of that eloquence which grew up to such maturity and perfection at the bar, and in both houses of parliament.

• At the election in May, 1723, when he was in the 19th year of his age, he had the honor of standing first on the list of those gentlemen who were sent to Oxford, and was accordingly entered of Christ. Church on the 18th of June following.' P. 1,

[ocr errors]

We are then informed that about four years afterwards he was admitted to the degree of B. A.' - The Prize Verses on the Death of George the First,' and a Fragment of an Oration on Demosthenes,' were academical effufions highly creditable to the talents of Mr. Murray: the latter piece deserves particular praise for the elegance of its Latinity, and the felicity with which it discriminates the beauties of the Grecian orator. : It is stated by his biographer, that

• On the 24th of June, 1730, he took the degree of M. A. and left the university soon afterwards, full of vigor, and determined to travel into foreign parts, before he sat down to the serious prosecution of his legal ftudies, to which his genius and his slender fortune, as a younger son, forcibly and happily prompted him. He travelled through France, and in Italy, at an age fitted for improvement and useful observation ; not between 19 and 21, a period which his great patron lord Hardwicke, in one of the numbers in the Spectator, under the modeft fignature of Philip Homebred, evinces to be too early an age for our British youths to travel to any real advan. tage. At Rome Mr. Murray was probably inspired, and animated with the love of Ciceronian eloquence; at Rome he was prompted to make Cicero his great example, and his theme! At Tusculum, and in his perambulations over classical ground, why might he not be emulous to lay the foundation of that noble fuperstructure of bright fame, which he soon raised after he became a member of Lincoln's Inn?'

The Plan for a short course of study, given to the duke of Portland, has been, we believe, more than once in print: some of the political observations which it includes are erroneous and fuperficial; but it contains many valuable hints for classical reading, and is properly preserved in a collection of this kind.

Mr. Murray was entered a student of Lincoln's Inn, in April 1724, and called to the bar in Michaelmas Term 1730. Our author, on this occasion, obferves, that

• Instead of submitting to the usual drudgery, as some are pleased to deem it, of labouring in the chambers of a special pleader, Mr. Murray's motto feems to have been “ Aut Cicero aut nullus,"

• Early in his legal career he ftudied the graces of elocution under one of the greateft masters of the age wherein he lived.

• Doctor Johnfon, in his life of Pope, fays, “ his voice when he was young was fo plealing, that Pope was called in fondness the little nightingale," Under this mielodious and great master Mr. Murray practifed clocution, and may truly be faid to have brought the modulation of an harmonious voice to the highest degree of perfection.

• One day he was furprized by a gentleman of Lincoln's Inn,

[ocr errors]

who could take the liberty of entering his rooms without the ceremonious introduction of a servant, in the fingular act of practising the graces of a speaker at a glass, while Pope fat by in the character of a friendly preceptor. Mr. Murray on this occasion paid him the handsome compliment of, Tu es mihi Mæcenas!'

P. 24. Lord Mansfield's introduction into professional life was fine gularly conspicuous; but we believe, that, in a majority of instances, even young men of talents will find the drudgery of labouring in the chambers of a special pleader' much more fubfervient to their legal progress, than the graces of elocution.' Mr. Murray soon became celebrated at the bar ; and, according to our author

was also sedulous to introduce into active life his friend Mr. Booth, then a young conveyancer; which Mr. Murray's letter of the 25th of O&tober, 1735, worthy of the younger Pliny, will evince.

• My dear Friend, Lincoln's Inn, 25th Oct. 1735, '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 ralh to carry your beneficence so far as to dry up the fource 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 interest. You cannot fail, but by staying in the coun. try, and suffering people who have not half your merit to step in

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 confulted upon devise-fettlement 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 may be left 10 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 con. veyancer, &c. whom I expected soon in town, and named you to him.

• I own I am desirous you should come to town; and, be afur. ed, 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 have not seen Prowse nor Rigdum fince I had yours, but I am sure they are both your servants very much. Nil mihi refcribasa

before you.

attamen ipfe veni. I am, I do assure you, with great cordiality and esteem,

Dear Booth,
Your affectionate friend and faithful servant,

W. MURRAY.'

P. 3". To this letter, which certainly exhibits the character of the deceased earl in a very amiable light, that able lawyer, Mr. Booth, was doubtless indebted for the impulse of displaying his abilities in the sphere where they were afterwards exerted with great and deserved success.

. On the 20th of November, 1738,' the subject of these memoirs married lady Elizabeth Finch, one of the lix daughters of the earl of Winchelsea.'

• With this lady' (says Mr. Holliday) • he lived in great harmony and domestic happiness almost half a century. Lady Mansfield, who was exemplary through life in diligent, uniform, and unremitted attention to the discharge of her domestic concerns, and of every religious duty, died the icth of April, 1784. P. 40.

In 1742, on the resignation of fir John Strange, Mr. Mur. ray was appointed solicitor-general, and subsequently took his seat in parliament as member for Boroughbridge. The political rivalry between Mr. Murray and Mr. Pitt (afterwards earl of Chatham) is well known; and it seerns aitonishing that the former should have submitted (which was often the case), in filence, to the insulting gestures and loud infinuations of his bullying, but not more accomplished antagoniít. As we are not in ile number of those who think that an office under the crown necessarily contaminates the principles of the holder, and as we believe the political character of the earl of Mansfield to have been grossly calumniated by the party spirit of the times, we are inclined to ascribe the pufillanimity to which we have alluded, to the torpid fascination fometimes produced by eloquent fierceness of reproach, rather than to any consciousness of actions inconsistent with integrity.

In 1754, Mr. Murray obtained the poit of attorney-general; and in 1756, on the decease of fir Dudley Ryder, he was eleyated to the seat of chief justice of the court of King's Bench, and the honour of a peerage.

The ceremony of his taking leave of the society is thus described.

« Previous to his taking his seat as lord chief justice, the usual ceremony of taking leave of alma mater, or the law-fociety of which he was a member, was to be respectfully observed. Whether the origin of this laudable custom is to be classed among thule good old foster-fathers who have contributed to raite emulation in the students of the society, or whether it was dengned to manifest the gratitude of the latter, for the honor which every high carac:

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »