He received formal leave of absence in January 1908, when he received the title of president of the board of customs. Both the Chinese and the British governments from time to time conferred honours upon Sir Robert Hart.
In 1855 he was elected a member of the second chamber; and as the government refused to allow him leave of absence from his official duties he resigned his post in the public service.
In 1866 he received three years' leave of absence to collect fresh materials, and in 1869 succeeded Heinrich Ewald as professor of oriental languages at Gottingen.
After gaining a further extension of leave of absence from his regiment he returned to Ajaccio and spent six months more in the midst of family and political affairs.