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A.D. 1638. which he accomplished by means of a confidential
servant. This man, when his master went to any house, easily gained admittance among the female servants by his knowledge in the reigning fashions; and such opportunitie she always improved to obtain intelligence of the love affairs of the family. These he conveyed to Sir Anthony, who never failed to turn them into mirth, by pretending knowledge in palmistry, and telling fortunes. It is not improbable but some such a trifling story as this, which was merely a sally of youth and humor, might be the foundation of Bishop Burnet's remark, “ that he had the dotage of astrology in him to a high degree.” 13
13 The bishop is, however, somewhat circumstantial in what he says. “He told me,” he adds, after the passage quoted in the text, “ that a Dutch doctor had, from the stars, foretold him the whole series of his life. But that which was before him when he told me this, proved false, if he told me true, for he said he was yet to be a greater man than he had been.” It has been said, however, that Shaftesbury was in the habit of amusing the bishop with these tales to baffle his attempts to discover his political intrigues.-Seward's Anecdotes.
We find also in an old memoir of Shaftesbury, called Rawleigh Redivivus, a similar story. While Sir Anthony was yet a boy, a German, who had been persecuted in his own country on account of bis Protestant opinions, found a refuge in the hospitality of the Coopers. The young baronet quickly excited his attention ; and we are told that he was able, so precocious
During his stay with Mr. Coventry, the prin- A.D. 1639. cipal people of the town of Tewkesbury invited Occasion of their neighbour, the Lord Keeper's son, to a public parliamento dinner. All the neighbouring gentry were, upon
is brought into
was his intellect, to comprehend the most abstruse su bjects that this gentleman proposed to him. Delighted with the ability and attention of his young pupil, the German, one day, addressed him thus: “Child ! if thou wilt be religious and keep close to God, and take care to avoid the vain and destructive allurements of profaueness and debauchery, and entertain a fixed resolution to improve all thy parts and abilities for the advancing the Protestant and the prejudice of the Romish religion, you shall be a man of the largest parts in Christendom, and shall be an instrument of doing an extraordinary piece of service to your prince, which shall be very acceptable to him; whereupon you shall stand high in his favour, and be promoted to very great honour; yet shall afterwards lose the prince's favour, and be as much disrespected as before honoured and admired; yet, at the same time, you shall be one of the most popular men under heaven, &c. And that you may know this will fall. out according to my prediction, pray remember this that I am now going to tell you, and write it down in your pocket-book that you may not forget it :-Not long after your coming from the university, you shall be in extreme danger of drowning,” telling him the very day when it should happen. The legend goes on to tell how, upon the day specified, Sir Anthony, who was then studying for the bar, was induced by his companions to go by water to Greenwich. As he stepped into the boat, the prediction and the coincidence occurred to him, and he would have returned, but his companions refused to allow him. The boat was upset, but all the party were saved. This prophecy was, of course, never heard of until long after its fulfilment.
A.D. 1639. this occasion, likewise invited. At the dinner,
Sir Anthony was placed near the upper end of the table, opposite to Sir Harry Spiller, one of the queen’s council, a crafty perverse man, and so extremely vain, that he despised all whom he thought his inferiors. Sir Harry opened the conversation with many affronts to the bailiffs and their entertainment, which provoked and discountenanced both them and the rest of the townsmen who were at the entertainment; and the more, as the affront was given in the presence of the first gentlemen of the county, before whom they were willing to appear to the best advantage. When he had discharged abundance of his spleen and rough raillery, Sir Anthony thought it proper, as their guest, to encounter him: and being greatly superior in understanding to Sir Harry, he retorted his raillery with such wit and success, that he obtained a complete victory, and silenced him. This gained Sir Anthony the hearts of the people: he was made free of the town; and the next parliament, (which was called for April 13, 1640,) though he was absent, was not nineteen years old, and had no estate in the county, he was, without any application, or even his knowledge, unani
mously chosen one of their representatives ;* and A.D. 1640. he served them faithfully during the very short time in which that parliament sat. His being thus early and honourably introduced into parliament, rendered him more emulous to appear deserving of the trust reposed in him. He diligently attended the house of commons, in order to get an insight into the state of the nation, and every day wrote an account of their proceedings. From this time he turned his thoughts towards the service of the public: he cultivated the acquaintance and friendship of the principal gentlemen in Dorsetshire and the adjacent counties : he established frequent meetings among them; and his temper recommending him to them, the opportunity of conversation gave him a perfect |
+ He drew many of their characters, which are still extant in the remains of his
memoirs, and carry in them instances of his regard for those gentlemen, and singular marks of his vivacity.14
14 It is much to be regretted, that none of the eminent men, through whose hands this work passed previously to its being sent to the press, thought it necessary to incorporate these fragments of the earl's memoirs in the narrative. They would have furnished a valuable specimen of his literary abilities, which were, doubtless, of no mean order. These are, however, now hopelessly entombed in the record-room at Wimborn St. Giles.
A.D. 1640. knowledge of their characters. It was by his
assiduity in these respects, joined to the superiority of his parts, that he gained an early reputation in the west of England, and was enabled very soon to distinguish himself in the conduct of public affairs, and in the transactions of the civil