Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/287

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WILLIAM MURRAY (EARL OF MANSPIFID). 81

gave information in natural history, chiefly relating to the geology of Scotland. The charter was obtained on 15th July, 1662.

This useful and high-minded man died suddenly in June, 1673. Burnett says of this event : " He was the wisest arid worthiest man of the age, and was as another father to me. I was sensible how much I lost on so critical a con- juncture, being bereft of the truest and faithfullest friend I had ever known : and so I saw I was in danger of committing great errors for want of so kind a moni- tor." 14 But the same partial hand, on all occasions graphic and rich in de- scription, has elsewhere excelled its usual power, in drawing the character of Sir Robert Murray. " He was the most universally beloved and esteemed by men of all sides and sorts of any man I have ever known in my whole life. He was a pious man, and, in the midst of armies and courts, he spent many hours a- day in devotion, which was in a most elevating strain. He had gone through the easy parts of mathematics, and knew the history of nature beyond any man I ever yet knew. He had a genius much like Peiriski, as he is described by Gassandi. He was afterwards the first former of the Royal Society, and its first president ; and while he lived, he was the life and soul of that body. He had an equality of temper in him, which nothing could alter : and wag in practice the only stoic I ever knew. He had a great tincture of one of their principles: for he was much for absolute decrees. He had a most diffused love to all man- kind, and delighted in every occasion of doing good, which he managed with great discretion and zeal. He had a superiority of genius and comprehension to most men ; and had the plainest, but, withal, the softest way of reproving, chiefly young people, for their faults, that I ever knew of." 15

MURRAY, WILLIAM, earl of Mansfield, and lord chief justice of the King's Bench, the fourth son of Andrew, viscount Stormont, was born at Perth on the 2nd March, 1704. 1 In 1719, he was admitted a king's scholar at Westmin- ster. On the 18th June, 1723, he entered Christ church, Oxford, having been first in the list of those promoted to the university. In 1730, he visited the continent, after having graduated as master of arts; and, on his return, was called to the bar at Michaelmas term 1731. As a schoolboy and student, he gained prizes, and is said to have shown promise of literary distinction ; while, even after having joined his profession, he did not appear to direct his powers to the acquisition of legal knowledge. The office of a special pleader frequent- ly damps the energy of talents formed to cast honour on the bar or the bench ; and Murray, along with many who have, and many who have not, been able to overcome the rigid barrier to the pursuit in which their talents made them capable of shining, was generally esteemed more fitted for a scholar than a law- yer. It is probable that the success of his first attempts showed him how sue- cessfully he might employ his energies in this direction. He was early engaged in a few important appeals, his appearance in which brought so speedy an ac- cumulation of business, that it is said to have been remarked by himself, that he never knew the difference between absolute want of employment, and a pro- fessional income of 3000 a-year. He soon threw the whole powers of his mind into the most minute acquirements necessary to procure eminence as a speaker, and is known to have been caught practising gesture before a mirror, with his friend Pope at his side acting as teacher of elocution. The intimacy with the illustrious poet probably commenced in similarity of pursuits (for Mur- ray wrote poetry in his youth, which has fallen into probably merited oblivion), and was fostered by the absence of rivalry in after life. Pope condescended to turn his verses into compliments on his forensic friend, and the latter must

M Own Times, i 356. Ibid. 69.

1 Hollidaj's Lift of Mansfield, p. 1. Roscoe's Lives of British Lawyers, 171.