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Eton school, which he left in the year 1718-19. He was fellow of King's College, Cambridge; took the degree of B.A. 1722; of M. A. 1726; and, when he left the University, was called to the bar: but the office of Chief Clerk to the House of Commons being vacant, in 1731, he accepted it, and held it till April 1752, when he was appointed Joint Secretary of the Treasury, on the promotion of James West, esq. in which post he died. He was a very diligent, and most able, upright officer, in both departments; and, though one of the best classical scholars of liis age, deeply versed in the history, laws, and constitution of England, on which he wrote with uncommon perspicuity.
At Eton and Cambridge, he had the fame of the most eminent scholar of his time, and had very singular powers in Latin verse, perhaps inferior to none since the Augustan age * When he was at Cambridge, party was at the highest in his own college, and he was at the head of the Whigs. Doctor Snape was then provost.
A violent contest arose upon the subject of a Mr. Bushe, who having, in one of the College exercises, given offence by some political reflections injurious to the Tory cause, was expelled; and, upon appeal to the Bishop of Lincoln, reinstated. The sentence of the Bishop was litigated; but, in the end, the Whigs prevailed, and gave a turn to the political sentiments of the whole University. In every part of this contest Mr. Hardinge's judgment, knowledge of the law, address, and spirit, were of infinite service to the party, and to his own character. His attention to the points of that controversy led him insensibly to a perfect knowledge of the general subject of visitatorial power, which he discussed in a very masterly Essay, never
* His Latin poems (in every measure and style) are much admired. He was thought equal, if not superior, in that line, to the celebrated Dr. George, provost of King's. Two of them are in the “ Musa Anglicanæ,” and another, written at Knowle Hill, 1739, and addressed to Stephen Poyntz, esq. freceptor to the Duke of Cumberland, is in the “ Select Collection," vol. VI. p. 85; with an English translation, by T. P. of W. College, Oxford, 1778. Z 2
published, but intended for publication, with all the rest of his works. He was a very deep and judicious Antiquary, particularly in what concerned English law and history. At the request of William Duke of Cumberland *, he wrote a very learned Memorial upon the Regency, when the subject arose in the last reign, of which Lord Hardwicke spoke in very high terms, calling it, in a letter which his son has seen,
an invaluable work.” His son had a copy of it; more correct than his own, from the late Mr. Charles Yorke. It was by Mr. Hardinge's advice and encouragement that Mr. Stuart undertook his journey to Athens, with a view of illustrating the history of that city. His diligence, accuracy, knowledge, and skill, in the office of Clerk to the House of Commons were never exceeded.
He put the Journals into their present form; and drew up a very able Report of the condition in which he found them, making part of that work. In his office of Secretary, he was laborious, able, zealous, and so honest that he had many enemies. He was chosen representative for the borough of Eye in parliament in 1748 and 1754; and was a very useful member; but had no talents or courage for eloquence, though his taste in the judgment of it was exquisite. He had a rich vein of humour; and his English Muse, though never inelegant, had a peculiar turn for it. His “Denhill Iliad,” a poem occasioned by the Hounds running through Lady Gray's gardens at Denhill, in East Kent, 1747 *, is very much in the manner of Pope. His “Dialogue in the Senate House of Cambridge, written so lately as 1750, is an admired specimen of poetry and humour united 1. His English
* To whom he had been appointed, in December 1732, Law Reader, with a salary of 1col, a year, and was afterwards his Attorney General. He was also Auditor to Princess Amelia. + Printed in the “Select Collection, 1780,” vol. VI. p. 82.
This Dialogue, which is a most elegant and keen jeu d'esprit, is preserved in the “ Poetical Calendar," vol. IX. p. 92. The Beadle was James Burrough, esq. fellow of Caius College, afterwards master, and knighted; well known at Cambridge as the ingenious Architect who drew the plan of the Senate House and other public buildings.
verses in general seldom attempt more than melody of numbers, in which he had the happiest ear, ingenious turns of thought, wit, and elegant expression -but they are, within that line, as poetical as any modern works. He was a very able critick, and was the first who gave the true reading in a remarkable passage in one of Horace's Odes. Doctor Bentley was struck with it, and passed a very high but singular commendation of it, characteristic of his own pedantry but wit*. A whimsical appeal was made to him when he was Clerk of the House of Commons: Pulteney and Sir Robert Walpole were squabbling; and the former playfully told the latter, that his Latin was as bad as his politicks. He had quoted a line from Horace, and Pulteney insisted that he had misquoted it. The other would not give it up. A guinea was laid, and Mr. Hardinge was made the arbiter, who rose with a very droll solemnity, and gave it against his own patron, Sir Robert. The guinea was thrown across the house, which Pulteney took up, saying it was the first public money that he had touched for a long time. He had formerly been in office. It should be added, to make the anecdote complete, that at Lord Bath's death the individual guinea was found, wrapped up in a piece of paper, with a memorandum upon it, recording the circumstance.
Mr. Hardinge obliged his friends with an engraving, by Mr. Vertue, of two views of the chapel of St. Mary, adjoining to the South side of the
parochial church of Kingston-upon-Thames, in the county of Surrey, in which several English-Saxon
* The authority for this assertion is the late Hon. Thomas Townshend, many years member of parliament for the Univer, sity of Cambridge, and a Teller of the Exchequer. † The well-known lines
-". Hic murus aheneus esto Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa." Sir Robert repeated it, nulli pallescere culpa. He was wrong, so Westminster triumphed over Eton. It is perhaps hardly necessary to add that Mr. Pulteney was educated in the former, and Sir Robert in the latter, of these two famous seminaries.
kings are said to have been crowned, which was ruined in 1730, by the falling down of one of the pillars and arch next the church *.
Since the first outlines of the preceding account of Mr. Hardinge was printed in the former edition of these “ Anecdotes,” they have been considerably improved by the polite communication of his eldest son, George Hardinge, of Trinity College, Cambridge, (M. A. per Literas Regias, 1769); a barrister of the Middle Temple, Solicitor General to the Queen, and one of his Majesty's Justices for the counties of Glamorgan, Breckpock, and Radnor, in Wales af; who married Lucy, daughter and heiress, of Richard Long, of Chesterfield-street, esq.; and in 1780 obliged the learned world with a curious octavo volume of his Father's “ Latin Verses ;" amongst which is a corrected copy of the Ode in the “ Select Collection.” Mr. Hardinge, it is said, translated this Ode, and at the same time engaged Dr. Davies to make another translation. Both, I am told, are preserved, and printed in a volume of English verses; but those I have not seen, The Latin poems are of various dates; some of them school exercises at Eton in 1717, 1718; and wonderful instances of classical taste at so early a period
* The first view represents the antient form of the building, with the addition of a modern roof. The other, the modern form of the building in 1726, when the draught of it was taken. The chapel was demolished by digging a grave, in March 1729-30; the sexton and his man were killed on the spot, his son and daughter dug out alive. British Topography, vol. II. p. 268. A mezzotinto print of the daughter (who was afterwards herself the sexton, a stout athletic person, and as much noticed for the decency of her behaviour as for her strength) is thus inscribed:
“Estr Hammerton late Sexton of Kingston-upon-Thames.
“ N. B. She was miraculously preserved under the ruins of the church, which fell down as she was digging a grave there, in the year 1731. And, notwithstanding she lay covered 7 hours, yet she survived the misfortune 15 years.
J. Butler pinxl, Jus M’ Ardell fecit. + See some elegant Addresses of Mr. Justice Hardinge to the Grand Juries at Brecon and Glamorganshire, in Gent, Mag, yo!. LXXV. pp. 823,927; and in vol. XXVIII. p. 767.
of life; others at Cambridge 1719—1722; a poem on the death of his eldest son 1746, who died in 1741, at the age of seven, and was buried in the church of Kingston (see p. 344); an epitaph on his father, who was buried in the chance of Kingston church, 1750 (printed below); one small poem in 1754; and epistles tò several of his friends between 1730 and 1750*; most of them Lyrics, in which his vein was truly elegant and poetical — perhaps never excelled. Mr. Coxe has printed one of Mr. Hardinge's Odes, which is a most happy imitation of Sir Robert Walpole's famous letter to Colonel Churchill after his retirement.
The following is the inscription intended for his father. His grandson meant to put it up at Kingston.
“GIDEONI HARDINGE, A.M.
hujus ecclesiæ Vicario;
adjuvante facundiâ, vultuque ipso probitatis indice, fidem sibi et amorem conciliavit:
Vicariæ volentis dona
* I mention these so minutely, as the volume in which they are printed (which in some copies are called, " Poemata, Auctore Nicolao Hardinge, Coll. Reg. Socio;" in others, “ Latin Verses by the late Nicholas Hardinge, esq.") has been circulated only among a few friends; and because in most of the copies six leaves, pp. 57–68 are wanting. These contain a Latin poem of some humour, written at Eton in 1724, and addressed to Mr, Justell, a learned and ingenious clergymnan, son of the King's Librarian, and Conduct of Eton College ; a Latin Essay, written in 1727, and addressed to the Earl of Pembroke, on deeds and seals of Robert earl Ferrars and William Fitz Otho, from the originals, in the archives of King's College; the latter illustrated by Maurice Johnson, in the “ Memoirs of the Spalding Society," p. 63. Also a Latin letter to him from his brother Caleb ; and some Latin verses addressed “Ad Amicum 1727." Mr. Gough had a complete copy, which was Dr. Lort's, and is POW consigned to the hammer of Messrs. Leigh and Sotheby.