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individual, he was too apt to show it. This, however, was never founded on any disparity of fortune, but appeared only when persons assumed a merit to which they had no just title, and when they were too busy in matters beyond their knowledge. This behaviour undoubtedly created him many enemies, and gave birth to most of the slanders which were published of him.
These attacks were very numerous. They provoked, however, no other feeling in his lordship than mere contempt : they could not rouse him to an answer, or to take any notice of them, though several occasional discourses were written by him, or by his direction. They never even moved him to resentment; for where the authors had any real worth, he readily showed his sense of it, and his forgiveness of their abuses. An instance of this appears with regard to Dryden, whose fortune and spirit were vastly inferior to his genius. As the greatness of this made him useful to the court, the want of the other threw him into its power; and he was often forced to prostitute his talents to its pleasure or revenge. His “ Absalom and Achitophel" is one of the finest satires that had then ever appeared.
The design of it was to expose several lords and others who had opposed the measures of the court. As Lord Shaftesbury for some years stood the foremost of these, the chief force of the satire is pointed at him; yet, after the poem had been published, when his lordship, as a governor of the Charter-house, had the nomination of a scholar, without any application from Dryden, or from any person in his favour, he gave it to one of his sons. Upon this, Dryden, to be grateful, resolved to show him some justice in this very poem; and therefore celebrated his conduct as lord chancellor in the following lines :
In Israel's court ne'er sat an Abethdin
When King Charles read these lines, which were not in the first edition, he told Dryden that he had spoiled all which he had said of Shaftesbury by them.
I shall not in this relation enter into any public affairs which have been mentioned by other authors; unless where it may be necessary to lead the reader into a knowledge of his lordship’s conduct in them. The facts which are told by Mr. Locke, I have inserted in the order in which they happened, and likewise a letter of his to Mr. Stringer, never yet published. This was written from Oxford during the sitting of the parliament there, and gives an account of some transactions in it; and of one particular affair, viz. the withdrawing of a bill of great consequence from the table of the house of lords in the former parliament, when it was ready for the royal assent. The few speeches which remain of Lord Shaftesbury's I have introduced in those periods of his life in which they were spoken. The other parts of the relation are taken chiefly from the loose papers of his lordship, or from a manuscript account written by a gentleman who was many years near his person. This was Thomas Stringer, Esq. of Joy. church, near Salisbury, whom I just now mentioned, who had an excellent understanding, great knowledge in the law, and a warm affection for the interest of his country. He had a remarkable probity and evenness of temper, and was strictly faithful to his trust. These qualifica
6 This Mr. Stringer, from the intimacy he enjoyed with the Shaftesbury family, must have possessed the very best oppor
tions made him worthy of the confidence of Lord Shaftesbury, and entitled him to the friendship of several persons of the first rank, as the Duke of Kingston, Earl of Pembroke, Lord Somers, Lord Lexington, the Earl of Fitzwalter, Edward Ash, Esq. Commissioner of Trade, and others. He was a familiar acquaintance of Mr. Locke. He died in 1702, being greatly esteemed by the gentlemen of the country wbere he resided. He had, for some years before, been chairman of the quarter sessions, when they were held at Salisbury.
As I have mentioned two very distinguished names, Mr. Locke and M. Le Clerc, who have spoken favourably of Lord Shaftesbury, it may not now be improper just to take notice of the principal authors who have mentioned him to his disadvantage, and of the particular prejudices which some of them had against him. It may be thought too much to attribute all they say to this motive; but if their prejudices can
tunities for writing the life of his early patron. By a letter written to that gentleman by the third Earl, while Lord Ashley, dated 1695, and preserved among the Harleian MSS., it appears that he then enjoyed the confidence and esteem of the grandson, as he had formerly that of the grandfather.
be pointed out, and it can be incontestably proved that their accounts of the many facts which they relate are erroneous, it is not unfair to suppose that they wrote under the influence of their private passions.
Sir Roger L'Estrange, who was continually publishing against him invectives which generally died with the day, was the noted hireling of the court. He had, besides this, a particular motive for his spleen against Lord Shaftesbury. His lordship, as chairman of a committee of the house of lords, made a report to the house, that Mr. Roger L'Estrange had been several times at mass, and had owned himself to be of the church of Rome: Mr. L'Estrange acted in the commission of peace at this time, notwithstanding the test act of 1672, which incapacitated every papist. Their lordships summoned him to attend, which summons he did not obey; and they then ordered that he should not be permitted to license the printing of any more books, and that the lord chancellor should put him out of the commission.?
7 L'Estrange, however, very solemnly denied this charge. There is still extant, among the MSS. in the British Museum, the original of a declaration made by him at St. Giles's church upon the sacrament, in which he says he never was in a popish