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house of Ivery,” and is illustrated by a great number of portraits and plates. It was not intended for sale ; but a few copies are got abroad, and sell at a very high price. Lord Orford, in the first edition of his “ Royal and Noble Authors,” attributed “ The great Importance of a religious Life,” to this nobleman, which, however, was soon discovered to be from the pen of Mr. Melmoth.'
PERCEVAL (John), second earl of Egmont, and son to the preceding, was born at Westminster, Feb. 24, 1711; and after a learned education at home, and the advantages of travelling, was chosen in 1731 (though then under age) a burgess for Harwich; and on Dec. 31, 1741, unanimously elected representative for the city of Westminster; as he was in 1747 for Weobly in Herefordshire. In March 1747, he was appointed one of the lords of the bedchamber to Frederick prince of Wales, in which station he continued till the death of that prince. In 1754, he was elected a member of parliament for the borough of Bridgwater, in the county of Somerset; and on January 9, 1755, was sworn the lords of his majesty's most honourable privy-council. He was likewise appointed one of the privy-council upon the accession of his present majesty to the throne; and was again elected in April 1761, for the borough of Ilchester, in the county of Somerset, but was next day rechosen for the borough of Bridgwater, for which place he made his election. On May 7, 1762, his lordship was called up to the house of peers in Great Britain, by the title of lord Lovel and Holland, baron Lovel and Holland, of Eumore, in the county of Somerset, two of those baro. nies which were forfeited by attainder of Francis viscount Lovel, in the 1st of Henry VII. On Nov. 27, 1762, the king was pleased to appoint him one of the postmastersgeneral, in the room of the earl of Besborough; but this he resigned on Sept. 10, 1763, in consequence of being appointed first lord of the admiralty, which office he resigned also in Sept. 1766. His Lordship died at his house in Pall Mall, Dec. 4, 1770, and was buried at Charlton, 'in Kent.
Mr. Coxe characterises this nobleman as fluent and plausible debater, warm in his friendship, and violent in his enmity.” Lord Orford, after mentioning some of his foibles, among which was a superstitious veneration for the
1 Lodge's Peerage.-Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, by Park.
feudal system, says, that, with all these, he had strong parts, great knowledge of the history of this country, and was a very able, though not an agreeable orator. His domestic virtues more than compensated for some singularities that were very innocent: and had he lived in the age whose manners he emulated, his spirit would have maintained the character of an ancient peer with as much dignity, as his knowledge would have effaced that of others of his order.
As a writer, he deserves most credit for a very able and celebrated pamphlet, long attributed to lord Bath, entitled
Faction detected by the evidence of facts; containing an impartial view of Parties at home and affairs abroad.” Of this a 'fifth edition was published in 1743, 8vo. The following also are said to have been written by him : 1. “An Examination of the principles, and an inquiry into the conduct of the two brothers (the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pelham),” 1749. 2." A second series of facts and arguments” on the same subject, 1749. 3.“ An occasional Letter from a gentleman in the country to his friend in town, concerning the Treaty negociated at Hanau in the year 1743,” 1749. 4. “Memorial soliciting a grant of the whole island of St. John, in the gulph of St. Lawrence. This was not published, but copies were given by the author to ministers and some members of both houses. Lord Orford says, that its object was to revive the feudal
sys. tem in this island. 5. “A Proposal for selling part of the Forest Land and Chaces, and disposing of the produce towards the discharge of that part of the national debt due to the Bank of England; and for the establishment of a National Bank, &c." 1763, 4to.'
PERCEVAL (SPENCER), second son to the preceding, by his second lady, was born in Audley Square, Nov. 1, 1762. His infancy was spent at Charlton, the seat of his family, in Kent, where he went through the first rudidiments of learning, and also contracted an early attachment for the youngest daughter of the late Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, bart. who afterwards became his wife, From Charlton he removed to Harrow, where he successfully prepared himself for the university. At the proper age he entered of Trinity College, Cambridge, where the present bishop of Bristol, Dr. William-Lort Mansell, was
1 Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, edit. in his works; and in 8vo, by Park. Collins's Peerage.
his tutor. There unwearied application and splendid abilities led hiin to the highest academical honours. In 1782 he obtained the degree of master of arts, and on the 16th of December of the following year was admitted of Lincoln's Inn ; where, after performing the necessary studies, he was called to the bar in Hilary Term 1786. He commenced, his professional career in the Court of King's Bench, and accompanied the Judges through the Midland circuit. His chief opponents were then Mr. (now Sir S.) Romilly, Mr. Clarke, and Mr. serjeant Vaughan; and, notwithstanding a degree of modesty, which at that period almost amounted to timidity, he displayed encouraging promises of forensic excellence, on some of the first trials on which he was retained, particularly that of George Thomas, of Brackley, Northamptonshire, for forgery. In this case he was retained for the prosecution; and had the honour of contending with Mr. Law, since Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough. This trial excited much public attention; and the ability evinced by Mr. Perceval increased the number of his clients. His advancement was now both regular and rapid. In Hilary term 1796, he obtained a silk gown, and became the leading counsel on the Midland circuit, not only in point of rank, but also in quantity of business. He was soon after appointed counsel to the Admiralty; and the university of Cambridge acknowledged its sense of his merits by nominating him one of its two counsel. About this time, he had attracted the notice of an attentive observer and acute judge of men and talents, the late Mr. Pitt, by a pamphlet which he had written, to prove an impeachment of the House of Commons did not abate by a dissolution of parliament." This work became the foundation of his intimacy with the premier, and his subsequent connexion with the
government, and caused a sudden alteration in his prospects. His object now was to obtain a seat in parliament, where he might support those measures for which the situation of the country seemed to call, and a most favourable opportunity presented itself. His first cousin, lord Compton, succeeded to the earldom of Northampton in April 1796, on the demise of his maternal uncle, and consequently vacated his seat for the borough of that
Mr. Perceval immediately offered himself to represent the vacant borough, and was too well known, and too universally esteemed, to meet with any opposition. He had been previously appointed deputy recorder; and so
highly did his constituents approve of his political conduct and private worth, that they returned him to serve in three parliaments.
Mr. Perceval now endeavoured to become thoroughly master of every branch of policy; and particularly dedicated much of his attention to the subject of finance; and some of his plans, in that important department, are deserving of high commendation. In Hilary vacation, in 1801, at the formation of the Addington administration, Mr. Perceval, then in his 39th year, was appointed solicitor-general, on the resignation of sir William Grant, who succeeded sir Pepper Arden, afterwards Jord Alvanley, as master of the rolls. In Hilary vacation, 1802, he was promoted to the situation of attorney-general, become vacant by the elevation of sir Edward Law (now lord Ellenborough) to the seat of chief justice of the Court of King's Bench.
Mr. Perceval, on receiving the appointment of solicitorgeneral, relinquished the Court of King's Bench, and practised only in that of Chancery. In taking this step, he was influenced chiefly by the wish of having more time to dedicate to his political duties. But it is doubtful whether he succeeded in this view. In the King's Bench, though he was occasionally engaged in conducting causes of great importance, his business had never been so great as wholly to occupy his time.
Nor is this to be wondered at, when it is considered, that at that time he had to contend with, as conipetitors in that court, Mr. Erskine, Mr. Mingay, Mr. Law, Mr. Garrow, and Mr. Gibbs, all of them king's counsel, much older than himself, and established in great practice before even Mr. Perceval was called to the bar. It is no disgrace to him, that he did not, before the age of forty, dispossess these genilemen of their clients. But when he came into Chancery, he found competitors less powerful; and though his disadvantages, in entering a court in the practice of which he had never been regularly initiated, were great, he advanced rapidly in practice; and long before his abandonment of the bar, he had begun to be considered as the most powerful antagonist of sir Samuel Romilly, the Coryphæus of Equity Draftsmen.
Mr. Perceval retained his situation as attorney-general, when Mr. Pitt resumed the reins of government,
and continued to distinguish himself as a ready and staunch supporter of the measures of that great man. He had the
honour sometimes to call down upon himself all the eloquence of the opposition, and proved a most useful partisan of the administration. On Mr. Pitt's death, a coalition took place between the Fox and Grenville parties, in which Mr. Perceval declined to share; and having resigned bis office, appeared for the first time on the benches of the opposition, on which he continued until Lord Howick, in 1807, brought forward the Catholic petition, and a bill was proposed to reinove the political disabilities of which the members of that sect complain. Mr. Perceval, then, alarmed for the safety of the Protestant- Church, rose in its defence; and Catholic emancipation being a measure generally obnoxious, the dissolution of the administration followed. As Mr. Perceval, at this time, was considered the ablest man of his party, it might have been expected that he would have claimed one of the first places in the new ministry as his right. On the contrary, the chancellorship of the exchequer was several times rejected by him, whose only wish was to resume the situation of attorneygeneral. This, however, not being satisfactory to his majesty, Mr. Perceval was offered the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster for life, as a compensation for his professional loss, and a provision for his family, provided he should agree to fill the office to which the esteem and confidence of the monarch called him. Notwithstanding that the value of the chancellorship proposed did not much exceed 20001. a year, nearly one thousand less than Mr. Perceval's profession produced per annum, his sense of public duty induced him to comply: and when, after his nomination, parliament expressed their dissatisfaction at the nature of the grant, he allowed it to be cancelled, and repeated in the house the assurance of his readiness to serve his majesty even withoạt the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster, for life.
The new administration was no sooner formed, in March 1807, than it became necessary to consolidate it by an appeal to the sense of the people. Parliament was in consequence dissolved; and in the new one, Mr. Perceval found an increase of strength, which enabled him to carry on that system of public measures begun by Mr. Pitt. To recapitulate these, and notice every occasion in which he stood prominent in debate, belongs to future history. It may suffice here to mention, that he had the voice of the country with him; and that when a regency became again VOL. XXIV.