Hare, James (DNB00)

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HARE, JAMES (1749–1804), wit and politician, was, according to Foster (Alumni Oxon. p. 607), 'son of Richard Hare of Limehouse, gentleman.' His father was an apothecary of Winchester, and his grandfather was Bishop Francis Hare [q. v.] His friendship with Charles James Fox is said to have been formed at Eton and Oxford, but Foster gives his matriculation entry as from Balliol College, 3 April 1778, aged 29, and his degrees as B.A. of St. Edmund Hall 1790 and M.A. 1791. Fox was at Hertford College from 1764 to 1766. As soon as Hare entered London life, his wit was generally recognised, and he was closely intimate with leaders of fashion like Lords Carlisle and Fitzwilliam, General Fitzpatrick, Fox, and Storer. The Duchess of Gordon described him and his associates as 'the Hare and many friends.' His fortune was much augmented by his marriage at St. George's, Hanover Square, London, on 21 Jan. 1774, to Hannah, only daughter of Sir Abraham Hume, first baronet. She was born at Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London, 20 May 1752, and died 6 May 1827, when a monument to her memory was placed in the chancel of Wormley Church, Hertfordshire. Their issue was one daughter. Hare sat for the borough of Stockbridge, Hampshire, from May 1772 to 1774, and for Knaresborough, a constituency ruled by the Duke of Devonshire, from 3 July 1781 until his death in 1804. When Fox was congratulated on the success of his first speech in parliament, he exclaimed, 'Wait until you hear Hare!' but the latter broke down in his first address, and never made a second attempt. Hare was extravagant, particularly at cards, and Eden on one occasion writes to George Selwyn that a vacant commissionership of bankruptcy, with 160l. a year, would suit their friend as an 'introduction to something better.' In 1779 his losses were so great that he was anxious for either of the diplomatic posts of Munich or Warsaw, though he plaintively expressed his preference for a commissionership of customs at London to the crown of Poland, with life at Warsaw. From October 1779 to January 1782 he was minister plenipotentiary in Poland. In 1802 he was very ill at Paris, and Fox paid him frequent visits. After many months of suffering he died at Bath, 17 March 1804. 'Poor Hare,' wrote Fox, 'one can hardly be sorry he is released; but an intimate friendship of upwards of forty years and not once interrupted must make one feel.' His classical knowledge was considerable, and he was well read in general literature. Every one acknowledged his wit, and Lady Ossory summed it up as 'perhaps of a more lively kind' than Selwyn's. Storer left him a legacy of 1,000l., and Georgiana Cavendish [q. v.] duchess of Devonshire, wrote some verses on his death (Gent. Mag. 1804, pt. i. p. 552). He is believed to have been one of the writers in the 'Rolliad.'

[Trotter's Fox, pp. 311-12; Memorials of Fox, iii. 243; Jesse's Selwyn, iii. 59, 283-94, iv. 138-43, 223; Wraxall's Memoirs, ed. 1884, ii. 17, iii. 384; Walpole's Letters, v. 256, viiii 405, ix. 270; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 509; Hanover Square Registers, in Harl. Soc. p. 237; Cussans's Hertfordshire, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 250; Gent. Mag. 1804 pt. i. p. 287, 1806 pt. i. p. 512; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. xi. 297-8,. 370.]

W. P. C.