Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/289

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WILLIAM MURRAY (EARL OF MANSFIELD).


83


lion of thanks for being so good in your patience and attention while it lasted. I thought myself very much loaded by one Mr 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 hinder him from the preferment that his merit and learning deserve. Till that gentle- man spoke, your lordships were inclined to grant my earnest request, and to allow me farther time to bring up my witnesses to prove my innocence ; but it seems that has been overruled." 3 But one who \vas present, and who has dipped his pen in gall, has given a less pleasing account than that generally believed, of his conduct at these trials. Horace Walpole says, in a letter to Horace Man, " While the lords were withdrawn, the solicitor-general Mur- ray, (brother of the Pretender's minister) officiously and insolently went up to lord Balmerino, and asked him, how he could give the lords so much trouble, when his solicitor had informed him that his plea would be of no use to him? Balmerino asked the bystanders who this person was? and being told, he said, ' Oh Mr Murray ! I am extremely glad to see you : I have been with several of your relations : the good lady, your mother, was of great use to us at Perth;' are not you charmed with this speech : how just it was!" But Mur- ray did not escape charges of disaffection more apparently serious. A dinner had been given by the dean of Durham on occasion of the king's birthday, when a conversation was commenced by an individual of the name of Fawcett, an old class-fellow of Murray, as to the probable preferment of Johnson, a mutual friend, then bishop of Gloucester. On this occasion 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 Mercer, where the Pretender's health was frequently drunk. On a ministerial inquiry, the charge of drinking the Pretender's health was trans- ferred to Murray, and the matter became the subject of an accusation before the cabinet council. Murray was the intimate friend and companion of Vernon's eldest son, and had so established himself as a virtual brother to the young man, that the father, on his son's death, left to Murray a considerable fortune. 4 This man was a Jacobite. The university of Oxford was at that period a nest of traitors; and, taking into view Murray's family connexions, his youth, his ar- dour, and the circumstance that he must have been aware that almost every noble family in Britain then conducted a correspondence with the exiled Stuarts, no man was more likely to have drunk the Pretender's health in a moment of conviviality. However, lie denied the charge, stating his loyalty to- wards the existing government, which, by the time he was made solicitor-general, was probably sincere. Inquiry was stifled, and nothing was proved to the pub- lic on either side. But the accusation was never entirely dropped by his op- ponents ; every one knows the use made of it by Junius. Pitt would use it to poison the sharpest darts of his eloquence, and on such occasions Murray is said to have felt, but never to have dared to answer. Pitt had been detailing some symptoms of Jacob! tism which he had seen at Oxford. Horace Walpole says on this occasion, 5 " colours, much less words, could not paint the confusion and agitation that worked in Murray's face during this almost apostrophe. His countenance spoke everything that Fawcett had been terrified to prevaricate away." On

  • State Tri.il, xvi. 877. * Holliday, 51.

6 Memoir of the hist ten years of George II., i. 368.