The subject of this memoir, born in 1743, was nephew to the great Lord Camden, and second son of Nicholas Hardinge, Esq., chief clerk of the house of commons, who was celebrated as a writer of Latin verses. He was educated at Eton, where he evinced a partiality both for reading and acting plays, and became a contributor to the Musae Etonenses. Having entered at Wadham College, Oxford, he, in 1775, took the degree of B.A.; and, in the following year, made a short tour on the continent, for which he was provided with the means by Lady Darhill, then one hundred years old, and whom, at ninety, he describes as beautiful. He, in 1778, proceeded to the degree of M.A.; and having become a law student, was, in due time, called to the bar, by the society of the Middle Temple. He, however, is said to have cultivated the muses in preference to pursuing his legal studies, having come into a considerable fortune on attaining his majority. He, nevertheless, sought the intimacy of the great lawyers of the day, and by the interest of his uncle, soon obtained a patent of precedency. Having acquired a reputation for eloquence, he came into considerable practice; and, in 1780, being appointed solicitor-general to the queen, he was returned, as member for Old Sarum, to parliament. In 1783, he distinguished himself by defending Sir Thomas Rumbold, who was threatened with a bill of pains and penalties; and he also spoke in favour of the conduct of Warren Hastings. In 1784, he married a Miss Long, and went to reside at Twickenham, where he became acquainted with Horace Walpole. His ardour for professional advancement was considerably retarded by his devotion to literature; but he, in 1787, obtained the office of senior Welsh judge, for the counties of Brecon, Glamorgan, and Radnor. He continued, for some time, to represent Old Sarum in parliament, but closed his senatorial career soon after the Union. In 1807, he lost his only surviving parent, whom he used to call his angel mother; and was occupied about this time, in writing a life of his illustrious uncle, Earl Camden. Shortly afterwards, having experienced another domestic loss, in the death of a nephew, he dissipated his grief by literary pursuits, and became a contributor to the Gentleman's Magazine, in which were published, from his pen, a variety of curious anecdotes relative to his contemporaries. His death, which was hastened by a fall from his horse, some time previously, took place on the 26th of April, 1816, whilst he was on his circuit at Presteigne.
The person of Mr. Hardinge was handsome, and his countenance indicated the benevolence which adorned his character. His temper was mild and cheerful, and such was his charitable disposition, that he often collected, by subscription, large sums for the relief of those whom he thought worthy of his protection. His abilities were considerable, though evincing more brilliance than solidity. His conversational powers were great; and his wit, added to his love of pleasantry, rendered his society extremely agreeable. As a barrister, he was remarkable for his ingenuity in promoting the interests of his clients; and in his judicial character, he distinguished himself by the attention and scrutiny he gave to every point that might affect the formation of his judgment. He published several of his most celebrated speeches; and, in 1791, appeared his letters to Burke, on the constitutional existence of an impeachment against Mr. Warren Hastings. Among his other original productions, are a few poems on various occasions, and two sermons by a layman. He also edited his father's Latin poems, and contributed largely to the literary anecdotes of the eighteenth century. He does not appear to have left any children.