Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/290

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84 \VILLIAM MURRAY (EARL OP MANSFIELD).

another occasion, the scene is thus told : " After Murray had suffered for some time, Pitt stopped, threw his eyes around, then fixing their whole power on Murray, said, ' 1 must now address a few words to Mr Solicitor : they shall be few, but they shall be daggers.' Murray was agitated : the look was con- tinued ; the agitation increased. ' Judge Festus trembles,' exclaimed Pitt, ' he shall hear me some other day.' He sat down, Murray made no reply, and a languid debate is said to have shown the paralysis of the house." 6 It may be well here to give the picture which Wnlpole has furnished us of Mur- ray and his two great rivals in oratory, Pitt and Fox. The picture is beautiful, and though too glaringly coloured, must be to a certain extent founded on truth. " Murray, who at the beginning of the session was awed by Pitt, find- ing himself supported by Fox, surmounted his fears, and convinced the house, and Pitt too, of his superior abilities. He grew most uneasy to the latter. Pitt could only attack, Murray only defend. Fox, the boldest and ablest champion, was still more formed to worry, but the keenness of his sabre was blunted by the difficulty with which he drew it from the scabbard : I mean the hesitation and ungracefulness of his delivery took off from the force of his arguments. Mur- ray, the brightest genius of the three, had too much, and too little of the law- yer ; he refined too much, and could wrangle too little, for a popular assembly. Pitt's figure was commanding ; Murray's engaging from a decent openness ; Fox's dark and troubled ; yet the latter was the only agreeable man. Pitt could not unbend; Murray in private was inelegant : Fox was cheerful, social, com- municative. In conversation, none of them had wit: Murray never had: Fox liad in his speeches, from clearness of head and asperity of argument. Pill's wit was genuine, not tortured into the service, like the quaintnesses of my lord Chesterfield." 7 On the accession of the duke of Newcastle's ministry in 1754, Mr Murray was advanced to the office of attorney-general, in place of Sir Dudly Kyder, made chief justice of the court of King's Bench. It was at that period whispered, that the highest honours to which a British statesman can be presumed to aspire, were almost within the grasp of Murray, but that he declined a contest for any distinction which was not professional. His character presents a strange mixture of eager, unremitting ambition, with an un- willingness to grasp the highest objects within his reach, probably from a mental misgiving as to his ability to perform the part of leader. In pursuance of this feeling, on the death of Sir Dudly Ryder, in 1756, he followed him as chief justice of the King's Bench, the post to whicli he always looked as the most desirable, and which he preferred to the labours and responsibilities of the chancellorship or premiership. He probably had no wish to remain longer a member of such a government as Newcastle's ; but that weak head of a cabinet had sufficient wisdom to calculate the loss of such a man as Murray, and extravagant offers are said to have been made to induce him to remain for some time a working partisan of the ministry. In his promotion, however, he does not seem to have wished to relinquish the honours of administration, while he eschewed the responsibility. Contrary to custom, but not to precedent, he re- mained a member of the cabinet, and changed his sphere of action for the house of lords, with the title of baron Mansfield of Mansfield, in the county of Nottingham. On his taking leave of the society of Lincoln's Inn, he received the usual congratulatory address, which was presented by the honourable C. York, son to krd Hardwicke.

Let us now cast a glance at lord Mansfield's character, and services to the public, as a judge. It is in this capacity that we will find the only practical

"Butler's Remains. Roscoe, 181. 7 Walpole's Memoirs, i. 490.