Front Page Titles (by Subject) MEMOIRS RELATING TO THE LIFE OF ANTHONY First Earl of Shaftesbury. - The Works, vol. 8 (Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Posthumous Works, Familiar Letters)
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MEMOIRS RELATING TO THE LIFE OF ANTHONY First Earl of Shaftesbury. - John Locke, The Works, vol. 8 (Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Posthumous Works, Familiar Letters) 
The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824 12th ed.). Vol. 8.
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MEMOIRS RELATING TO THE LIFE OF ANTHONY First Earl of Shaftesbury.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
Three Letters writ by the Earl of Shaftesbury while Prisoner in the Tower; one to King Charles II, another to the Duke of York, a Third to a noble Lord: found with Mr. Locke’s Memoirs, &c.
Being at Oxford in the beginning of the civil war (for he was on that side as long as he had any hopes to serve his country there) he was brought one day to King Charles I, by the lord Falkland, his friend, then secretary of state, and presented to him as having something to offer to his majesty worth his consideration. At this audience he told the king that he thought he could put an end to the war if his majesty pleased, and would assist him in it. The King answered, that he was a very young man for so great an undertaking. Sir, replied he, that will not be the worse for your affairs, provided I do the business; whereupon the king showing a willingness to hear him, he discoursed to him to this purpose:
The gentlemen and men of estates, who first engaged in this war, seeing now after a year or two that it seems to be no nearer the end than it was at first, and beginning to be weary of it, I am very well satisfied would be glad to be at quiet at home again, if they could be assured of a redress of their grievances, and have their rights and liberties secured to them. This I am satisfied is the present temper generally through all England, and particularly in those parts where my estate and concerns lie; if therefore your majesty will empower me to treat with the parliament garrisons to grant them a full and general pardon, with an assurance that a general amnesty (arms being laid down on both sides) should re-instate all things in the same posture they were before the war, and then a free parliament should do what more remained to be done for the settlement of the nation:—
That he would begin and try the experiment first in his own country; and doubted not but the good success he should have there would open him the gates of other adjoining garrisons, bringing them the news of peace and security in laying down their arms.
Being furnished with full power according to his desire, away he goes to Dorchester, where he managed a treaty with the garrisons of Pool, Weymouth, Dorchester, and others; and was so successful in it, that one of them was actually put into his hands, as the others were to have been some few days after. But prince Maurice,Prince Maurice. who commanded some of the king’s forces, being with his army then in those parts, no sooner heard that the town was surrendered, but he presently marched into it, and gave the pillage of it to his soldiers. This sir A. saw with the utmost displeasure, and could not forbear to express his resentments to the prince; so that there passed some pretty hot words between them; but the violence was committed, and thereby his design broken. All that he could do was, that he sent to the other garrisons, he was in treaty with, to stand upon their guard, for that he could not secure his articles to them; and so this design proved abortive and died in silence.
This project of his for putting an end to a civil war, which had sufficiently harassed the kingdom, and nobody could tell what fatal consequences it might have, being thus frustrated, it was not long before his active thoughts, always intent upon saving his country, (the good of that being that by which he steered his counsels and actions through the whole course of his life,) it was not long before he set his head upon framing another design of the same purpose. The first project of it took its rise in a debate between him and serjeant Fountain, in an inn at Hungerford, where they accidentally met: and both disliking the continuance of the war, and deploring the ruin it threatened, it was started between them, that the counties all through England should arm and endeavour to suppress the armies on both sides. This proposal, which in one night’s debate, looked more like a well-meant wish than a formed design, he afterwards considered more at leisure, framed and fashioned into a well-ordered and practical contrivance, and never left working in it till he had brought most of the sober and well-intentioned gentlemen of both sides all through England into it. This was that which gave rise to that third sort of army, which of a sudden started up in several parts of England, with so much terrour to the armies both of king and parliament; and had not some of those who had engaged in it, and had undertaken to rise at the time appointed, failed, the clubmen,Clubmen. for so they were called, had been strong enough to carry their point, which was to make both sides lay down their arms, and if they would not do it, to force them to it; to declare for a general amnesty; to have the then parliament dissolved, and to have a new one called for redressing the grievances, and settling the nation. This undertaking was not a romantic fancy, but had very promising grounds of success; for the yeomanry and body of the people had suffered already very much by the war; and the gentry and men of estates had abated much of their fierceness, and wished to return to their former ease, security, and plenty; especially perceiving that the game, particularly on the king’s side, began to be played out of their hands, and that it was the soldiers of fortune who were best looked upon at court, and had the commands and power put in their hands.
He had been for some time before in Dorsetshire, forming and combining the parts of this great machine, till at length he got it to begin to move. But those, who had been forward to enter into the design, not being so vigorous and resolute, when the time was to appear and act; and the court, who had learnt or suspected that it had its rise and life from him, having so strict an eye upon him that he could not maintain correspondence with distant countries, and animate the several parts as it was necessary, before it was his time to stir; he received a very civil and more than ordinary letter from the king to come to him at Oxford: but he wanted not friends there to inform him of the danger it would be to him to appear there, and to confirm him in the suspicion that the king’s letter put him in, that there was something else meant him, and not so much kindness as that expressed. Besides, the lord Goring, who lay with an army in those parts, had orders from court to seize him, and had civilly sent him word, that he would come such a day and dine with him. All this together made him see that he could be no longer safe at home, nor in the king’s quarters; he therefore went, whither he was driven, into the parliament quarters; and took shelter in Portsmouth. Thus, for endeavouring to save his king and country, he was banished from the side he had chosen. And the court, that was then in high hopes of nothing less than perfect conquest, and being masters of all, had a great aversion to moderate counsels, and to those of the nobility and gentry of their party, who were authors or favourers of any such proposals as might bring things to a composition. Such well-wishers to their country, though they had spent much, and ventured all on the king’s side, when they appeared for any other end of the war but dint of arms, and a total reduction of the parliament by force, were counted enemies; and any contrivance carried on to that end was interpreted treason.
A person of his consideration, thus rejected and cast off by the king, and taking sanctuary with them, was received by the parliament with open arms; and though he came in from the other side, and put himself into their hands without any terms; yet there were those among them that so well knew his worth, and what value they ought to put upon it, that he was soon after offered considerable employments under them, and was actually trusted with command without so much as ever being questioned concerning what he knew of persons or counsels on the other side, where they knew that his great penetration and forward mind would not let him live in ignorance among the great men, who were most of them his friends, and all his acquaintance.
But though he was not suffered to stay among those with whom he had embarked, and had lived in confidence with, and was forced to go over to the parliament, he carried thither himself only, and nothing of any body’s else; he left them and all their concerns, actions, purposes, counsels, perfectly behind him; and nobody of the king’s side could complain of him after the day he went from his house, where he could be no longer safe, that he had any memory of what he had known when one of them.
This forgetfulness, so becoming a gentleman, and a man of honour, he had established so firmly in his own mind, that his resolution to persist in it was like afterwards to cost him no little trouble. Mr. Denzil Hollis (afterwards the lord Hollis) had been one of the commissioners employed by the parliament in the treaty at Uxbridge; he had there had some secret and separate transactions with the king; this could not be kept so secret, but that it got some vent, and some of the parliament had some notice of it. Mr. Hollis being afterwards attacked in parliament by a contrary party, there wanted nothing perfectly to ruin him, but some witness to give credit to such an accusation against him. Sir A. Ashley Cooper they thought fit for their purpose; they doubted not but he knew enough of it; and they made sure that he would not fail to embrace such a fair and unsought-for opportunity of ruining Mr. Hollis, who had been long his enemy upon a family quarrel, which he had carried so far, as, by his power in the house, to hinder him from sitting in the parliament, upon a fair election for that parliament. Upon this presumption he was summoned to the house; and being called in, was there asked, whether when he was at Oxford he knew not, or had not heard something concerning Mr. Hollis’s secret transaction with the king at the treaty at Uxbridge. To this question he told them he could answer nothing at all; for though, possibly, what he had to say would be to the clearing of Mr. Hollis; yet he could not allow himself to say any thing in the case, since, whatever answer he made, it would be a confession that, if he had known any thing to the disadvantage of Mr. Hollis, he would have taken that dishonourable way of doing him a prejudice, and wreak his revenge on a man that was his enemy.
Those who had brought him there pressed him mightily to declare, but in vain, though threats were added of sending him to the Tower. He persisting obstinately silent, was bid to withdraw; and those who had depended upon his discovery being defeated, and consequently very much displeased, moved warmly for his commitment; of which he, waiting in the lobby, having notice, unmoved expected his doom, though several of his friends coming out, were earnest with him to satisfy the house; but he kept firm to his resolution, and found friends enough among the great men of the party that opposed Mr. Hollis to bring him off; who very much applauded the generosity of his carriage, and showed that action so much to deserve the commendation, rather than the censure of that assembly, that the angry men were ashamed to insist farther on it, and so dropt the debate.
Some days after Mr. Hollis came to his lodging, and having, in terms of great acknowledgment and esteem, expressed his thanks for his late behaviour in the house, with respect to him; he replied, that he pretended not thereby to merit any thing of him, or to lay an obligation on him; that what he had done was not out of any consideration of him, but what was due to himself, and he should equally have done, had any other man been concerned in it; and therefore he was perfectly as much at liberty as before to live with him as he pleased. But with all that he was not so ignorant of Mr. Hollis’s worth, nor knew so little how to put a just value on his friendship, as not to receive it as a very great and sensible favour, if he thought him a person worthy on whom to bestow it. Mr. Hollis, not less taken with his discourse than what had occasioned it, gave him fresh and repeated assurances of his sincere and hearty friendship, which were received with suitable expressions. And thus an old quarrel between two men of high spirits and great estates, neighbours in the same county, ended in a sound and firm friendship, which lasted as long as they lived.
This passage brings to my mind what I remember to have often heard him say concerning a man’s obligation to silence, in regard of discourse made to him or in his presence: that it was not enough to keep close and uncommunicated what had been committed to him with that caution, but there was a general and tacit trust in conversation, whereby a man was obliged not to report again any thing that might be any way to the speaker’s prejudice, though no intimation had been given of a desire not to have spoken it again.
He was wont to say, that wisdom lay in the heart, and not in the head; and that it was not the want of knowledge, but the perverseness of the will that filled men’s actions with folly, and their lives with disorder.
That there were in every one, two men, the wise and the foolish, and that each of them must be allowed his turn. If you would have the wise, the grave, and the serious, always to rule and have the sway, the fool would grow so peevish and troublesome, that he would put the wise man out of order, and make him fit for nothing: he must have his times of being let loose to follow his fancies, and play his gambols, if you would have your business go on smoothly.
I have heard him also say, that he desired no more of any man but that he would talk: if he would but talk, said he, let him talk as he pleases. And indeed I never knew any one penetrate so quick into men’s breasts, and from a small opening survey that dark cabinet, as he would. He would understand men’s true errand as soon as they had opened their mouths, and begun their story in appearance to another purpose.
Sir Richard Onslow and he were invited by Sir J. D. to dine with him at Chelsea, and desired to come early, because he had an affair of concernment to communicate to them. They came at the time, and being sat, he told them he had made choice of them both for their known abilities, and particular friendship to him, for their advice in a matter of the greatest moment to him that could be. He had, he said, been a widower for many years, and begun to want somebody that might ease him of the trouble of house-keeping, and take some care of him under the growing infirmities of old age; and to that purpose had pitched upon a woman very well known to him by the experience of many years, in fine, his house-keeper. These gentlemen, who were not strangers to his family, and knew the woman very well, and were besides very great friends to his son and daughter, grown up, and both fit for marriage, to whom they thought this would be a very prejudicial match, were both in their minds opposite to it; and to that purpose sir Richard Onslow began the discourse; wherein, when he came to that part, he was entering upon the description of the woman, and going to set her out in her own colours, which were such as could not have pleased any man in his wife. Sir Anthony seeing whither he was going, to prevent any mischief, begged leave to interrupt him, by asking sir J. a question, which in short was this, “whether he were not already married?” Sir J. after a little demur, answered, “Yes truly, he was married the day before.” Well then, replied sir Anthony, there is no more need of our advice; pray let us have the honour to see my lady and wish her joy, and so to dinner. As they were returning to London in their coach, I am obliged to you, said sir Richard, for preventing my running into a discourse which could never have been forgiven me, if I had spoke out what I was going to say. But as for sir J. he, methinks, ought to cut your throat for your civil question. How could it possibly enter into your head to ask a man, who had solemnly invited us on purpose to have our advice about a marriage he intended, had gravely proposed the woman to us, and suffered us seriously to enter into the debate, “whether he were already married or no?” The man, and the manner, replied sir Anthony, gave me a suspicion that, having done a foolish thing, he was desirous to cover himself with the authority of our advice. I thought it good to be sure before you went any farther, and you see what came of it. This afforded them entertainment till they came to town, and so they parted.
Soon after the restoration of king Charles II, the earl of Southampton and he having dined together at the chancellor’s, as they were returning home, he said to my lord Southampton, “Yonder Mrs. Ann Hyde (for so, as I remember, he styled her) is certainly married to one of the brothers.” The earl, who was a friend to the chancellor, treated this as a chimæra, and asked him how so wild a fancy could get into his head. Assure yourself, sir, replied he, it is so. A concealed respect, however, suppressed, showed itself so plainly in the looks, voice, and manner, wherewith her mother carved to her, or offered her of every dish, that it is impossible but it must be so. My lord S. who thought it a groundless conceit then, was not long after convinced by the duke of York’s owning of her, that lord Ashley was no bad guesser.
I shall give one instance more of his great sagacity, wherein it proved of great use to him in a case of mighty consequence. Having reason to apprehend what tyranny the usurpation of the government by the officers of the army, under the title of the committee of safety, might end in; he thought the first step to settlement was the breaking of them, which could not be done with any pretence of authority, but that of the long parliament. Meeting therefore secretly with sir Arthur Haselrig, and some others of the members, they gave commissions in the name of the parliament to be majors-generals, one of the forces about London, another of the west, &c. and this when they had not one soldier. Nay, he often would tell it laughing, that when he had his commission his great care was where to hide it. Before this he had secured Portsmouth; for the governor of it, colonel Metham, being his old acquaintance and friend, he asked him one day, meeting him by chance in Westminster-hall, whether he would put Portsmouth into his hands if he should happen to have an occasion for it? Metham promised it should be at his devotion. These transactions, though no part of them were known in particular, yet causing some remote preparations, alarmed Wallingford-house, where the committee of safety sat, and made them so attentive to all actions and discoveries that might give them any light, that at last they were fully persuaded there was something a brewing against them, and that matter for commotions in several parts was gathering. They knew the vigour and activity of sir A. Ashley, and how well he stood affectionated to them, and therefore suspected that he was at the bottom of the matter. To find what they could, and secure the man they most apprehended, he was sent for to Wallingford-house, where Fleetwood examined him according to the suspicions he had of him; that he was laying designs in the west against them, and was working the people to an insurrection that he intended to head there. He told them he knew no obligation he was under to give them an account of his actions, nor to make them any promises; but to show them how ill grounded their suspicions were, he promised that he would not go out of town without coming first and giving him an account of it. Fleetwood knowing his word might be relied on, satisfied with the promise he had made, let him go upon his parole. That which deceived them in the case, was, that knowing his estate and interest lay in the west, they presumed, that that was his post, and there certainly, if any stir was, he would appear, since there lay his great strength, and they had nobody else in view who could supply his room, and manage that part. But they were mistaken: Haselrig, upon the knowledge that they should have Portsmouth, forwardly took that province; and he, who had instruments at work in the army quartered in and about London, and knew that must be the place of most business and management, and where the turn of affairs would be, had chosen that.
Lambert, who was one of the rulers at Wallingford-house, happened to be away when he was there, and came not in till he was gone: when they told him that sir A. Ashley had been there, and what had passed, he blamed Fleetwood for letting him go, and told him they should have secured him, for that certainly there was something in it that they were deceived in, and they should not have parted so easily with so busy and dangerous a man as he was. Lambert was of a quicker sight, and a deeper reach than Fleetwood, and the rest of that gang; and knowing of what moment it was to their security to frustrate the contrivances of that working and able head, was resolved, if possibly he could, to get him into his clutches.
Sir A. A. coming home to his house in NA street in Covent-Garden one evening, found a man knocking at his door. He asked his business; the man answered, it was with him, and fell a discoursing with him. Sir A. A. heard him out, and gave him such an answer as he thought proper, and so they parted; the stranger out of the entry where they stood into the street, and sir A. A. along the entry into the house: but guessing by the story the other told him, that the business was but a pretence, and that his real errand he came about was something else; when he parted from the fellow he went inwards, as if he intended to go into the house; but as soon as the fellow was gone, turned short, and went out, and went to his barber’s, which was but just by; where he was no sooner got in, and got up stairs into a chamber, but his door was beset with musketeers, and the officer went in too with others to seize him: but not finding him, they searched every corner and cranny of the house diligently, the officer declaring he was sure he was in the house, for he had left him there just now; as was true, for he had gone no farther than the corner of the Halfmoon tavern, which was just by, to fetch a file of soldiers that he had left there in the Strand out of sight, whilst he went to discover whether the gentleman he sought were within or no; where doubting not to find him safely lodged, he returned with his myrmidons to his house, sure, as he thought, of his prey; but sir A. A. saw through his made story, and gave him the slip. After this he was fain to get out of the way and conceal himself under a disguise; but he hid himself not lazily in a hole; he made war upon them at Wallingford-house, incognito as he was, and made them feel him, though he kept out of sight. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Several companies of their soldiers drew up in Lincoln’s-inn-fields without their officers, and there put themselves under the command of such officers as he appointed them. The city began to rouse itself, and to show manifest signs of little regard to Wallingford-house; and he never left working till he had raised a spirit and strength enough to declare openly for the old parliament, as the only legal authority then in England, which had any pretence to claim and take on them the government. For Portsmouth being put into the hands of sir Arthur Haselrig, and the city showing their inclination; the counties readily took it, and by their concurrent weight re-instated the excluded members in their former administration. This was the first open step he made towards wresting the civil power out of the hands of the army; who, having thought Richard, Oliver’s son, unworthy of it, had taken it to themselves, executed by a committee of their own officers, where Lambert, who had the chief command and influence in the army, had placed it, till he had modelled things among them, so as might make way for his taking the sole administration into his own hands; but sir A. A. found a way to strip him of that as soon as the parliament was restored.
The first thing he did was to get from them a commission to himself, and two or three more of the most weighty and popular members of the house, to have the power of general of all the forces in England, which they were to execute jointly. This was no sooner done but he got them together, where he had provided abundance of clerks, who were immediately set to work to transcribe a great many copies of the form of a letter, wherein they reciting, that it pleased God to restore the parliament to the exercise of their power, and that the parliament had given to them a commission to command the army, they therefore commanded him (viz. the officer to whom the letter was directed) immediately with his troop, company, or regiment, as it happened, to march to N. These letters were directed to the chief officer of any part of the army who had their quarters together in any part of England. These letters were dispatched away by particular messengers that very night, and coming to the several officers so peremptorily to march immediately, they had not time to assemble and debate among themselves what to do; and having no other intelligence but that the parliament was restored, and that the city and Portsmouth, and other parts of England, had declared for them: the officers durst not disobey, but all, according to their several orders, marched some one way, and some another; so that this army, which was the great strength of the gentlemen of Wallingford-house, was by this means quite scattered, and rendered perfectly useless to the committee of safety, who were hereby perfectly reduced under the power of the parliament, as so many disarmed men to be disposed of as they thought fit.
It is known, that, whilst the long parliament remained intire, Mr. Denzil Hollis was the man of the greatest sway in it, and might have continued it on, if he would have followed sir A. A.’s advice. But he was a haughty stiff man, and so by straining it a little too much lost all.
From the time of their reconcilement already mentioned, they had been very hearty friends; it happened one morning that sir A. A. calling upon Mr. Hollis in his way to the house, as he often did; he found him in a great heat against Cromwell, who had then the command of the army, and a great interest in it. The provocation may be read at large in the pamphlets of that time, for which Mr. Hollis was resolved, he said, to bring him to punishment. Sir A. A. dissuaded him all he could from any such attempt, showing him the danger of it, and told him it would be sufficient to remove him out of the way, by sending him with a command into Ireland. This Cromwell, as things stood, would be glad to accept; but this would not satisfy Mr. Hollis. When he came to the house the matter was brought into debate, and it was moved, that Cromwell, and those guilty with him, should be punished. Cromwell, who was in the house, no sooner heard this, but he stole out, took horse, and rode immediately to the army, which, as I remember, was at Triplowheath; there he acquainted them what the presbyterian party was a doing in the house, and made such use of it to them, that they, who were before in the power of the parliament, now united together under Cromwell, who immediately led them away to London, giving out menaces against Hollis and his party as they marched, who with Stapleton and some others were fain to fly; and thereby the independent party becoming the stronger, they, as they called it, purged the house, and turned out all the presbyterian party. Cromwell, some time after, meeting sir A. A. told him, I am beholden to you for your kindness to me; for you, I hear, were for letting me go without punishment; but your friend, God be thanked, was not wise enough to take your advice.
Monk, after the death of Oliver Cromwell, and the removal of Richard, marching with the army he had with him into England, gave fair promises all along in his way to London to the Rump that were then sitting, who had sent commissioners to him that accompanied him. When he was come to town, though he had promised fair to the Rump and commonwealth party on one hand, and gave hopes to the royalists on the other; yet at last agreed with the French ambassador to take the government on himself, by whom he had promise from Mazerine of assistance from France to support him in his undertaking. This bargain was struck up between them late at night, but not so secretly but that his wife, who had posted herself conveniently behind the hangings, where she could hear all that passed, finding what was resolved, sent her brother Clarges away immediately with notice of it to sir A. A. She was zealous for the restoration of the king, and had therefore promised sir A. to watch her husband, and inform him from time to time how matters went. Upon this notice sir A. caused the counsel of state, whereof he was one, to be summoned; and when they were met, he desired the clerks might withdraw, he having matter of great importance to communicate to them. The doors of the council-chamber being locked, and the keys laid upon the table, he began to charge Monk, not in a direct and open accusation, but in obscure intimations, and doubtful expressions, giving ground of suspicion, that he was playing false with them, and not doing as he promised. This he did so skilfully and intelligibly to Monk, that he perceived he was discovered, and therefore in his answer to him fumbled and seemed out of order; so that the rest of the council perceived there was something in it, though they knew not what the matter was; and the general at last averring that what had been suggested was upon groundless suspicions, and that he was true to his principles, and stood firm to what he had professed to them, and had no secret designs that ought to disturb them, and that he was ready to give them all manner of satisfaction; whereupon sir A. A. closing with him, and making a farther use of what he had said than he intended: for he meant no more than so far as to get away from them upon this assurance which he gave them. But sir A. A. told him, that if he was sincere in what he had said, he might presently remove all scruples, if he would take away their commissions from such and such officers in his army, and give them to those whom he named; and that presently before he went out of the room. Monk was in himself no quick man; he was guilty alone among a company of men whom he knew not what they would do with him; for they all struck in with sir A. A. and plainly perceived that Monk had designed some foul play. In these straits being thus close pressed, and knowing not how else to extricate himself, he consented to what was proposed; and so immediately, before he stirred, a great part of the commissions of his officers were changed; and sir Edward Harley, amongst the rest, who was a member of the council, and there present, was made governor of Dunkirk in the room of sir William Lockhart, and was sent away immediately to take possession of it. By which means the army ceased to be at Monk’s devotion, and was put into hands that would not serve him in the design he had undertaken. The French ambassador, who had the night before sent away an express to Mazarine, positively to assure him that things went here as he desired, and that Monk was fixed by him in his resolution to take on himself the government, was not a little astonished the next day to find things taking another turn; and indeed this so much disgraced him in the French court, that he was presently called home, and soon after broke his heart.
This was that which gave the great turn to the restoration of king Charles II, whereof sir A. had laid the plan in his head a long time before, and carried it on,
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writ by the E. of Shaftesbury whilst Prisoner in the Tower: one to K. Charles II, another to the D. of York, a third to a Noble Lord: found with Mr. Locke’s Memoirs relating to the Life of Anthony, First Earl of Shaftesbury.