Cooper, Anthony Ashley (1621-1683) (DNB00)
COOPER, ANTHONY ASHLEY, first Earl of Shaftesbury (1621–1683), was the eldest son of John Cooper of Rockborne in Hampshire, and of Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Ashley [q. v.] of Wimborne St. Giles in Dorsetshire, in whose house he was born on 22 July 1621, and after whom he was named. He had one brother George, and one sister Philippa, who died in 1701. His parents were both ‘of the first rank of gentry in those countries where they lived.’ His father, created a baronet in 1622, sat for Poole in the parliaments of 1625 and 1628. Lady Cooper died in July 1628, and Sir J. Cooper, who married again, in March 1631. At ten years of age, therefore, Anthony Ashley Cooper became a king's ward, and the extensive estates which he inherited in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire came under the control of the court of wards, then excessively corrupt. His father had left considerable debts, and through the agency of his great uncle, Sir Francis Ashley, then king's serjeant-at-law, a collusive order of sale was obtained, by which several properties were sold below their fair value to Sir Francis himself and to some of the commissioners, in spite of the prolonged resistance of the trustees appointed by Sir John Cooper. From further injury at the same hands the lad was saved in 1634 by his own helpfulness. He went in person to claim the help of Noy, the king's attorney, who had drawn up the settlement which was now attacked, and, in his own words, performed his part ‘with that pertness that he told me he would defend my cause though he lost his place.’ He afterwards reckoned his losses at 20,000l.; but his rental is stated at over 7,000l. a year, and he was always a wealthy man (Shaftesbury Papers, Public Record Office). He had also plantations in Barbadoes, and a quarter share in a ship, the Rose, engaged in the Guinea trade.
After the death of his father, Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, along with his brother and sister, lived with Sir Daniel Norton, one of his trustees, at Southwick, near Portsmouth, and was educated by various tutors. Upon Sir Daniel's death in 1635, the children went to reside with another trustee, Mr. Tooker, at Maddington, near Salisbury. In 1636 he was entered as a gentleman-commoner at Exeter College, Oxford, and went into residence in 1637, but joined Lincoln's Inn in the beginning of 1638. He is said to have made an unusual progress in learning (Raleigh Redivivus, p. 7), and appears from his own account to have been recognised as a leader by the freshmen of his college. In his ‘Autobiography’ he gives most interesting notices of his exploits in that capacity, though in the physical contests which took place he was at a disadvantage from his small stature. On 25 Feb. 1639 Cooper married Margaret, daughter of the lord keeper Thomas Coventry [q. v.] By this marriage he was connected with the two Coventrys, Henry [q. v.] and William [q. v.] and with George Savile, afterwards Lord Halifax, whose father married his wife's sister. The versatility of mind and intellectual eagerness were already strongly developed. He took particular interest in palmistry and astrology, and many expressions in after life make it probable that he was not without some belief in these arts.
After his marriage Cooper lived partly at Coventry's London residences of Durham House in the Strand, and Canonbury House, Islington, and partly at his own Dorsetshire home at Wimborne St. Giles. At Tewkesbury, where he visited, he appears to have made himself so popular, that he was created a freeman of the town, and was chosen member without a contest at the election of March 1640, though his sitting in parliament was contrary to law, as he was not yet of age. There is no mention of any part taken by him in the debates of this parliament. Lord Coventry died on 14 Jan. 1640. Cooper remained with his mother-in-law until Durham House and Canonbury were given up in January 1641, when he went to live with his brother-in-law, the second Lord Coventry, at Dorchester House in Covent Garden.
Cooper failed to obtain a seat in the Long parliament which met on 3 Nov. 1640. He contested Downton in Wiltshire, and a double return was made. In the autobiographical fragment of 1646 he states that the committee of privileges decided in his favour, but that no report was made to the house. The journals record that a day had been fixed in February 1641 for the hearing, but there is no further notice of the matter. Thus the seat remained vacant. It appears that Denzil Holles, who had married the daughter of Sir Francis Ashley, had a suit against Cooper in the court of wards, and very probably opposed him in this matter.
Cooper does not appear to have taken either side in the contest of king and parliament. He was, however, at Nottingham on a visit to his brother-in-law, William Savile, when the king set up his standard on 25 Aug. 1642, and witnessed the scene; and he was also with the king at Derby. By the spring of 1643 he was a declared adherent of the royal cause, and attended Charles at Oxford with Falkland's introduction on a deputation from the gentry of Dorsetshire, with offers of help if the Marquis of Hertford were sent with a small force into the western counties. By Hertford he was commissioned, with three others, to treat for the surrender of Weymouth and Dorchester, and was made colonel of a regiment of horse and captain of a troop of foot, both raised at his own expense. Hertford also appointed him governor of Weymouth and Portland Isle when they should be taken. These places surrendered in August 1643, but Prince Maurice, who had succeeded Hertford, did not confirm the appointment. Cooper at once applied to Hertford, who pressed the matter upon Charles through Hyde, but in vain. Hyde then went in person to the king, and by urgency obtained the commission for the governorship of Weymouth. This is Clarendon's own account, but Cooper himself does not mention any difficulty or dispute in the matter. Charles, however, expressed to Hertford his hope that Cooper and the person appointed by the latter to Portland would, in view of the importance of the places and of his own inexperience in military matters, shortly resign their offices (Shaftesbury Papers). Cooper was at the same time made sheriff and president of the king's council of war for Dorsetshire.
It is difficult to explain the sudden change which now came over Cooper's action. He himself declares that it was through conviction that Charles's aim was destructive to religion and to the state that he gave up, in the beginning of January 1644, all his commissions under the king, and went over to the parliament. Clarendon states that it was from anger at his removal from the government of Weymouth; but there is no evidence that he was removed, and he himself asserts that only a few days before leaving the king's side he received the promise of a peerage and a letter of thanks written by Charles's own hand. It is of course very possible that the knowledge that he was expected shortly to resign his governorship at Weymouth had a good deal to do with his decisions. Clarendon has, too, a long account of Cooper's intention to raise another force called the ‘Clubmen,’ who were to put down both parties, and to insist on a general amnesty and a fresh parliament. An account by a royalist, Trevor, to Ormonde, however (Christie, Life of first Earl of Shaftesbury, i. 52), does not suggest any bad motive; and it must be remembered that the royal cause was at the time uppermost in Dorsetshire, and that Cooper left a large part of his property at the king's mercy (cf. Traill, Shaftesbury, English Worthies Series, pp. 20–2). It is worth noticing, in conclusion, that he had shortly before written to Clarendon, then Sir E. Hyde, asking for a license to leave his country, and complaining that the king's forces were weak and ill-paid there, and that his affairs were generally in bad condition (Clarendon Papers, 1734, Bodleian Library). On 24 Feb. Cooper presented himself at the parliament's quarters at Hurst Castle, and then went to London, where, on 6 March 1644, he appeared before the committee of both kingdoms, and expressed his conviction of the justice of the parliamentary cause, and his willingness to take the covenant.
On 3 Aug. 1644 Cooper received a commission from the Dorset committee to command a brigade of horse and foot in Dorsetshire with the title of field-marshal. His first service was in the taking of Wareham, the garrison of which capitulated on 10 Aug. On the 14th he was added to the committee for governing the army in Dorsetshire, and upon the recommendation of the committee of sequestration he was allowed to compound for his sequestrated estates by a fine of 500l., which, however, was never paid, and which was discharged by Cromwell in 1657. On 25 Oct. Cooper was appointed by the standing committee at Poole commander-in-chief of the parliamentary forces of fifteen hundred men in Dorsetshire; and in the beginning of November he took by storm, after a desperate action of six hours, in which he showed great courage, the house of Sir John Strangways at Abbotsbury. A vivid illustration of the ferocity of the fighting, and of an unexpected strain of cruelty in Cooper's character, is afforded by his own statement that he not only wished to refuse quarter to the garrison, but did his best to burn them alive in the house (Autob. Sketch). He then took Sturminster and Shaftesbury without resistance. In December he assisted, under orders from Major-general Holborne, in relieving Blake at Taunton, then besieged by the royalists. In his ‘Autobiographical Sketch’ he asserts that he had a commission from Essex to command in chief during this expedition. This, however, is a misstatement, and, since the sketch was composed in 1645, appears a deliberate one, intended to enhance his self-importance. Essex's commission, dated 31 Oct. (Shaftesbury Papers, Record Office), distinctly states that Shaftesbury is to take orders from himself, both houses of parliament, and from the major-general commanding in the west, i.e. Holborne (compare Ludlow, Memoirs, i. 135, and Vicars, Parl. Chron. iv. 77). In May 1645 he was appointed to command the forces which were to besiege Corfe Castle, but, troops not being forthcoming, he was unable to accomplish anything. It was in 1645 that he was called upon to bear witness against Denzil Holles on the charge of transactions with Charles. Locke states that Cooper declined to give evidence in a case in which he was at enmity with the person concerned, that he was in consequence threatened with a commitment, and that this conduct brought about a lasting friendship with Holles (Locke, Memoirs, p. 474). In June he went with his wife to Tunbridge to drink the waters, and in October was again with the committee of the west, of which he was usually chairman. In December he succeeded in obtaining the force necessary to subdue Corfe Castle, which surrendered in April 1646. At the end of the month he was at Oxted in Surrey. His period of military service now came to an end. Though not actually included in the self-denying ordinance, inasmuch as he was not a member of the House of Commons, his connection with the presbyterian element in the parliament, and the strong parliamentary feeling which, joined with that of religious tolerance, was through life his prevailing source of action, doubtless rendered him an object of suspicion to the framers of the model.
In the autumn of 1645 Cooper endeavoured in vain to obtain a confirmation of his election for Downton, being probably disqualified by the ordinance that no one who had been in the king's quarters might sit in either house. Whitelocke, however, records that he ‘was now in great favour and trust with the parliament.’
During the next seven years Cooper occupied himself with private and local affairs. His sympathies and political relations were with the presbyterians, not on doctrinal grounds, but as parliamentarians. In December 1646 he was high sheriff for Wiltshire for the parliament, with leave to live out of the county, and was one of the committee for Dorsetshire and Wiltshire for assessing the contributions for the support of Fairfax's army. His wealth and great position in the county are shown by his expenditure when as sheriff he attended the judges at Salisbury: ‘I had sixty men in liveries, and kept an ordinary for all gentlemen at Lawes's, four shillings and two shillings for blue men. I paid for all.’ In March he ‘raised the county twice and beat out the soldiers designed for Ireland who quartered on the county without order, and committed many robberies.’
Cooper's health was never strong. During his youth he had been subject to acute spasmodic pains in the side, and he now was liable to attacks of ague. In February 1648 he ceased to be sheriff of Wiltshire; in July he was made a commissioner in Dorsetshire for carrying out the ordinance of parliament for a rate for Ireland, and one of the commissioners of the Dorsetshire militia. In February 1649 he was appointed justice of the peace for Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, and for the western counties. On 10 July 1649 his wife suddenly died, leaving no children. He appears to have been devotedly attached to her, but on 25 April 1650 he married Lady Frances Cecil, sister of the Earl of Exeter. After the execution of Charles, Cooper was obedient to the supreme power, acted as magistrate, took the ‘engagement’ on 17 Jan. 1650, and on 29 Jan. sat at Blandford as commissioner for giving it. On 31 Jan. he went to London. At this point his own diary ceases, and we have no further account of him until 17 Jan. 1652, when he was named by the Rump parliament as a non-parliamentary member of the commission for the reform of the laws, of which Matthew Hale was the leading member. On 17 March 1653 he was by the parliament solemnly ‘pardoned of all delinquency,’ and was ‘made capable of all other privileges as any other of the people of this nation are.’ On 20 April 1653 Cromwell broke up the Rump parliament, and appointed a council of state; and in June the Barebones parliament was nominated and summoned. Cooper, one of the few gentlemen in it, was nominated for Wiltshire. Among its first proceedings was a request that Cromwell would himself serve in it, and Cooper was head of the deputation which went for that purpose. The council of state was enlarged to the number of thirty, and he was appointed upon it. Cooper was often a teller for the moderate party, and uniformly acted with Cromwell as against the violent root-and-branch section of this assembly. He was the mouthpiece of the council in recommending the house to keep John Lilburne in custody in spite of his acquittal and of the threatening attitude of the masses; and he was deputed by the house to offer Hampton Court to Cromwell, and reported Cromwell's refusal to the house. When, too, a proposal was made to construct a completely new code of laws on unheard-of principles, Cooper busied himself with passing into law the recommendations of the commission above mentioned for cheapening legal proceedings and facilitating conveyancing. The reform of the court of chancery was not, however, carried, nor was he successful in passing a bill for the repeal of the ‘engagement.’ In the debate on tithes, the question upon which the Protector determined to break up the Barebones parliament, he supported Cromwell in desiring that they should be continued. On 12 Dec. a vote, moved by one of Cooper's friends, was passed, by which the parliament put an end to its own existence and gave up its powers to Cromwell. According to Burnet, he was one of those who urged Cromwell to accept the crown, and his desire to secure fair representative government makes the statement probable. He had been immediately appointed on the new council of state of fifteen members, but he never received the salary of 1,000l. a year attached to the office. In the election to the new parliament, which turned on the contest of moderates against republicans, Cooper was chosen for Wiltshire, Poole, and Tewkesbury, and elected to sit for Wiltshire. This county had ten members, and ten candidates were proposed by the cavaliers, presbyterians, and Cromwellites combined, against ten republicans headed by Ludlow. Cooper and Byfield addressed the electors from Stonehenge, and all the moderates were elected with Cooper at their head. During the eight months previous to the meeting of parliament he took part in the repeal of the engagement, the settlement of the terms of union with Scotland, and the attempted reform of chancery, and acted as one of the commissioners for ejecting unworthy ministers.
The house met on 3 Sept. 1654, and was dissolved on 22 Jan. 1655. On 28 Dec. 1654 Cooper made his last appearance at the privy council. He had acted strongly with Cromwell while he appeared to be trying for genuine parliamentary government, and was probably compelled to break away from him when he saw that the Protector was now disposed to rule alone; but it is curious that as late as 27 Nov. he was, with Richard Cromwell, a teller in one of the divisions. His second wife died in 1654, leaving two sons, of whom one died in childhood, and the other, Anthony Ashley, succeeded him. Ludlow states that the reason of the breach with Cromwell was Cooper's unsuccessful suit to Mary Cromwell (Carlyle, Letters and Speeches of Cromwell, iii. 151), but this seems most improbable (Christie, p. 120 n.) On 30 Aug. 1655 he was married a third time, to Margaret, daughter of the second Lord Spencer of Wormleighton, and sister of the Earl of Sunderland, who had been killed at Newbury (Gent. Mag. 1850, ii. 367). By this wife, who survived him till 1693, Cooper had no children. She was a woman of an intensely devotional character, but they lived on terms of the warmest affection.
When the new parliament met, on 17 Sept. 1656, Cooper appeared in opposition to Cromwell, at the head of a coalition of presbyterians and republicans. He was again elected for Wiltshire, under the provisions of the Instrument of Government. Cromwell, however, taking advantage of the requirements of the Instrument that all members must possess the council's certificate, would not allow him to take his seat. With sixty-four members similarly excluded, he signed a protest to the speaker, which was delivered by Sir G. Booth, a presbyterian royalist. This proving useless, a remonstrance was drawn up in terms of the most uncompromising opposition to Cromwell, and Cooper's name appears among those of the 93 (or, according to Whitelocke, 116) members who signed it. By the petition and advice, passed on 25 May 1657, the Instrument was superseded, and two houses of parliament were again created. Cooper's name did not appear in the list of ‘peers.’ Cromwell, it is said, declared that no one was so difficult to manage as the little man with three names (Martyn, Life, i. 168). And yet there was evidently no great enmity between them; for it was now (January 1658) that the fine of 500l., imposed on Cooper by the Long parliament for delinquency, was discharged by Cromwell on the former's petition; and it is certain that Cooper and Henry Cromwell were on terms of intimacy. When the new parliament met, on 20 Jan. 1658, the former House of Commons being by the terms of the petition and advice still in existence, the members previously excluded, Cooper among them, took their seats. They immediately began a vigorous opposition; they denied the legality of the petition and advice, and they especially refused to admit the claims of Cromwell's House of Lords. In this opposition Cooper took a leading part, speaking frequently and well. He urged the commons first of all to debate the title which the other house should bear. ‘Admit lords,’ he said, ‘and you admit all.’ He strongly supported the motion for a grand committee, by which the utmost opportunity can be afforded for obstruction. It was defeated, Cooper being one of the tellers of the ‘ayes.’ Dissatisfied, however, with the smallness of the majority, Cromwell (4 Feb. 1658) immediately dissolved the parliament.
In the election to Richard Cromwell's parliament, which met on 27 Jan. 1659, the ancient constitution was restored. Cooper was returned for Wiltshire and for Poole, a double election at the latter place being decided in his favour, and he once more elected to sit for Wiltshire. He was again a constant and leading speaker in opposition. In the discussion on the bill for the recognition of Richard Cromwell's title he strongly supported a resolution saving the rights of the parliament. He defended a certain member, Henry Nevil, who was charged with being disqualified by blasphemy and atheism, on the ground that no hearsay charge could be admitted; and he favoured the release of the Duke of Buckingham in February. He was, however, unsuccessful in trying to induce the house to begin by debating the limits of the Protector's power. He then vigorously opposed the recognition of the other house, and used his utmost efforts to prolong the discussion regarding the right of the Scotch and Irish members to vote, speaking on 9, 18, and 22 March. On the main question he made a vehement and bitterly personal speech on 28 March 1659, regarded at the time by Burton (if indeed this is the speech to which he refers, Christie, vol. i. app. iv. n.) as sheer obstruction, attacking Oliver Cromwell and the government and ridiculing the so-called ‘peers.’ The question of transacting business was at length carried on 28 March. Cooper, however, continued his opposition on the bill for settling taxes for the life of Richard and for a certain time after his death, and carried a resolution that after the end of the parliament no tax of any sort should be levied under any previous law or ordinance, unless it had been expressly sanctioned by the house. On the meeting of the Rump, on 7 May 1659, Cooper endeavoured to gain admission on his undecided petition for Downton; but for some reason not clear the petition was not allowed. He was, however, one of the ten elected non-parliamentary members of the council of state, and the only presbyterian in the council. From Ludlow's account, great jealousy was expressed of him as being in Charles Stuart's interest (ib. app. iii. p. lx). He took the oath of fidelity to the Commonwealth, and there is no evidence for the charge of intriguing for or corresponding with Charles with which on 18 May 1659 both he and Whitelocke were accused by the republican, Thomas Scott. The charge was indignantly denied by both of them before the council. The matter came before the Rump parliament in September, and he was there acquitted. Eighteen years later, appealing to Charles from the Tower, Cooper solemnly denied the correspondence, when it would have given him a claim upon the king's gratitude. In May 1659 Hyde was informed by Brodrick that Cooper had engaged to raise forces for the king; but his evidence is not of weight, and there is no other. On 4 June he was in correspondence, as one of the council of state, with Monck (Shaftesbury Papers, Public Record Office). As late as February 1660 he is mentioned by royalist agents as holding presbyterian views, and as working independently of the royalists; while the correspondence between Hyde and Mordaunt (Christie, i. 182) goes far in the same direction.
Shortly after the unsuccessful rising of Booth, in August 1659, Cooper was arrested in Dorsetshire, upon the evidence of a boy, who stated that he had carried a letter from him to Booth. Cooper was summoned before the council, and a committee was appointed to inquire into the matter. On 12 Sept., after hearing the committee's report, the council unanimously acquitted Cooper.
In October Cooper stood as usual for the parliamentary cause against Lambert. When the council of state was superseded by the committee of safety, on 25 Oct., he was indefatigable in his efforts to overthrow this committee and restore the power of the Rump. Upon the arrival of Monck's commissioners in London, he and Haselrig obtained a meeting with them at the Fleece Tavern, in Covent Garden, on 16 Nov., and endeavoured unsuccessfully to dissuade them from their arrangement with the committee of safety. On 19 Nov. Cooper, with eight other members of the late council, wrote to assure Monck of their co-operation, and a few days later gave him a commission to command in chief all the forces in England and Scotland. Haselrig and Morley went to Portsmouth, and Cooper was left with a commission to command the forces in London, which it was hoped would revolt. Some suspicion arising, he was taken before Fleetwood and questioned. When asked to give his word that he would not act to their prejudice, he refused, and declared his determination to do all in his power to restore the Rump. He was released, but next night an unsuccessful attempt was again made to seize him.
On 16 Dec. he, with three others, wrote to Fleetwood owning an abortive attempt on the Tower (Christie, vol. i. app. v.). Only eight days later they actually did secure it. A still more important service was that he and two others induced Lawson, with the fleet, to declare for the parliament (Clarendon, pp. 704, 705). The parliament was restored on 26 Dec. by the military, and Cooper was appointed one of the temporary commissioners of the army. Until 7 Jan. 1660 he was one of the four to whom the care of the Tower was entrusted. On 2 Jan. a council of state was created, of whom ten were non-parliamentary, and of these he was the first elected. He once more brought up his old claim to sit for Downton, and it was at last allowed. On 7 Jan. he took his seat and subscribed the ‘engagement.’ He also received the colonelcy of Fleetwood's regiment of horse. It was at this time that he is described by Ludlow as ‘a known bitter enemy to the public and to all good men.’ Ludlow also speaks of his ‘smooth tongue and insinuating carriage’ (Christie, vol. i. app. iii. p. lxii). He at once took a leading part in endeavouring to obtain the restitution of the excluded members. Mordaunt wrote of him to Hyde thus: ‘Cooper yet hath his tongue well hung and words at will, and employs his rhetoric to cashier all officers, civil as well as military, that sided with Fleetwood and Lambert.’ Upon Monck's arrival Haselrig summoned those members of the council whom he could trust to meet him, and Cooper, with others of Monck's friends, in vain tried to gain admittance; he endeavoured, too, without success to dissuade the general from obeying the orders given him to dismantle the city. When parliament placed the command of the forces under five commissioners, Cooper's name was proposed, but rejected by 30 to 15. He and others still continued to urge the admission of the excluded members, which took place on 21 Feb., Cooper, as colonel of Fleetwood's regiment, commanding the escort. A new council of state, composed of friends of the Restoration, included his name; and upon Monck being made commander-in-chief, he received a commission as captain of foot in the Isle of Wight (Shaftesbury Papers). There is no evidence to support Wood's statement that he also received a commission from Monck as governor of the Isle of Wight. Cooper now steadily pursued the design of restoring Charles, and copies are preserved of letters from Charles to him dated 27 March and 8 April (ib.) In the Convention parliament he was returned for Wiltshire, and was one of the twelve deputed by the commons to go to Breda to invite Charles to return. On this journey an accident occurred, by the upsetting of his carriage, which caused an internal abscess that was never cured.
Cooper's apparent inconsistencies during the Commonwealth may be explained by his willingness to accept the de facto rule, and his desire for a genuine parliamentary government.
Cooper met the king at Canterbury, and on the nomination of Monck was one of twelve who, though they had fought against the king, were yet, 27 May, placed on the privy council. According to Clarendon (Life, i. 278), ‘it was believed that his slippery humour would be easily restrained and fixed by his uncle,’ Southampton the treasurer. At the head of his regiment he appeared among the troops assembled on Blackheath when the king made his entry into London. He received a formal pardon on 27 June, and further pardons on 10 Feb. and 8 June 1661. Almost his first duty was to examine the prisoners of the anabaptist congregations in the Tower. On 3 June he was called upon to repel, with what success we do not hear, an attack by Prynne, who ‘fell upon’ him for ‘putting his hand to the Instrument’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. 204 a). On 2 July Prynne seconded a motion for compelling all officers of the protectorate to refund their salaries. Cooper closed the debate with saying that ‘he might freely speak, because he never received any salary; but he looked upon the proviso as dangerous to the peace of the nation, adding that it reached General Monck and Admiral Montague.’ The motion was rejected by 181 to 151. When the debate on religion came on, upon the question of a moderate episcopacy, Cooper, in the court interest, moved and carried that the debate be laid aside, and the committee adjourned for three months. In the debate which followed the third conference between the houses on the Indemnity Bill he urged lenity. On the motion made against Haselrig he ‘was for executing nobody but those who were guilty of the king's blood, and said he thought this man not considerably enough; but moved to put him with the rest.’ When the question arose, on the Bill of Attainder on 4 Dec., as to whether the legacies of Cromwell, Pride, Bradshaw, and Ireton, who had been attainted, should be paid, he moved to allow settlements before marriage, or as far back as 1647, i.e. before the king's death. According to Mrs. Hutchinson, Cooper had declared that if the king were brought back not a hair of any man's head, nor a penny of any man's estate, should be touched (Christie, i. 239). He speedily found that to uphold this was impossible, if he were to continue in favour, and he therefore did the next best thing he could. The fact that he was on the special commission for the trial of the regicides has often been quoted against him. Other commissioners were in the same case, and a year before the Restoration Hyde wrote of him in terms that he certainly would not have used had Cooper been in his eyes guilty of complicity in the death of the king (Clarendon State Papers, iii. 512; Christie; Traill, pp. 46, 47).
On the occasion of the coronation, 20 April 1661, Cooper was raised to the peerage as Baron Ashley of Wimborne St. Giles, the title stipulated in his father's marriage settlement, in case he should rise to such an honour (Collins, Peerage, iii. 419); and on 13 May, Clarendon having given up the chancellorship of the exchequer, he was appointed to that post and the under-treasurership. This latter office he no doubt owed to his connection with Southampton, whose niece he had married as his third wife; and he held it until 1667, when the treasury was put in commission.
In the debate in the House of Lords on the Corporation Act (passed 19 Dec. 1661), which destroyed presbyterianism in the towns, Ashley, according to his biographer, Martyn (i. 255)—and his testimony is confirmed by later events—took a strongly liberal line. He opposed the illiberal provisions of the Act of Uniformity (19 May 1662), which destroyed presbyterianism in the church, and the Militia Act. He joined Bennet and Bristol in advising Charles to issue his first declaration in favour of the dispensing power (26 Dec. 1662); and when on the meeting of parliament, 18 Feb. 1662–3, a bill to turn the declaration into a law was presented by Lord Roberts, he warmly supported it, ‘out of his indifference in matters of religion’ (Clarendon, Life, ii. 95). Clarendon speaks strongly of the ability shown by Ashley. He ‘spake often, and with great sharpness of wit, and had a cadence in his words and pronunciation that drew attention.’
There seems no doubt that Ashley now threw in his lot with the cabal of young men who were opposing Clarendon. His conduct in the matter of Roberts's bill had caused him to rise rapidly in favour. According to Clarendon, he and Roberts now attended the meetings of the cabinet; and Pepys (15 May 1663) mentions him as one of the favourites at court through Bristol's means, and as the probable successor of Southampton at the treasury, ‘being a man of great business, and yet of pleasure and drolling too.’ The French ambassador, Comminges, declared of him (9 April 1663) that he was the only man that could be set against Clarendon for talent and firmness; and this opinion is confirmed by many witnesses.
As a minister Ashley was evidently very diligent. Papers written by him exist to show his minute care in collecting details as to the exchequer, customs and excise, the navy, merchant companies, manufactures, and revenues. His views on all trade questions were far in advance of his time; he hated monopolies, declaring that the restraining of a general trade was like the damming of increasing waters, which must either swell them to force their boundaries or cause them to putrefy where they are circumscribed. His practice in office delighted the businesslike Pepys (3 June 1667). Ashley was probably not quite free from corruption. Pepys seems fairly to establish at least one case of genuine bribery (20, 21 May 1666). But nothing has been found to justify the words of Pepys's friend that ‘my Lord Ashley will rob the devil and the altar, but he will get money if it be to be got’ (9 Sept. 1665).
On the outbreak of the Dutch war, which he favoured in opposition to Clarendon, Cooper was appointed treasurer of the prizes, and one of the commissioners to sit upon all appeals against sentences given by the judge of the admiralty (Clarendon, ii. 87). His appointment contained a proviso that he was to be accountable to the king alone. Clarendon vehemently opposed this proviso, and, in spite of Ashley's insistence, signed it at length only on Charles's express order. Ashley showed great jealousy in keeping the money entirely under Charles's control, and when his brother-in-law, William Coventry, proposed to devote the proceeds to the war, ‘my Lord Ashley did snuff and talk as high to him as he used to do to any ordinary man.’ Ashley's compliance with the king in this matter can scarcely be regarded as honourable, considering that he was chancellor of the exchequer. On the other hand, no imputation was ever made against him for misappropriation, nor was any charge brought against him when the accounts were inspected by the commission of 1668. From the first Ashley had taken a leading part in colonial affairs. He had been one of the council appointed on 1 Dec. 1660 for foreign plantations, which met for the first time on 7 Jan. 1661, and then constantly throughout the year (Cal. State Papers, Col. Series, 1661–8; Shaftesbury Papers, Public Record Office). He was also one of the nine to whom Charles had given a grant of Carolina on 24 March 1663, renewed in June 1665. He took a leading part in the management of the colony, and it was at his request that Locke drew up in 1669 a constitution for it, of which, though aristocratic in form, toleration was an important feature (Locke, x. 175, ed. 1812). The manuscript copy in Locke's handwriting is preserved in the ‘Shaftesbury Papers.’ In 1670 another grant of the Bahamas was given to him and five others, and in this charge too he showed the greatest industry. His interest in the Barbadoes and Guinea has been noticed. In connection with this subject should be mentioned the bill passed by Ashley in March 1670, in obedience to popular outcry, against the practice of ‘spiriting away,’ or kidnapping, children for the colonies (Cal. State Papers, Col. Series, preface, p. 29).
In the Oxford parliament of 1665 Ashley strongly opposed Downing's appropriation proviso to the subsidy bill. The bill was already in the Lords, but at his instance (Clarendon, Life, pp. 792–803) a few of the chief advisers of the crown were summoned to reconsider it, when he ‘enforced the objections with great clearness and evidence of reason.’ The reasons do not appear; it was probably only to gratify the king that he took this line, supported for once by Clarendon, an unusual agreement noticed by Ruvigny. They differed widely, however, on the iniquitous Five Mile Act, which, with Southampton and Wharton, he vehemently opposed (Burnet, i. 390). In all questions of toleration Ashley was consistently upright. That he was now in favour at court is shown by the fact that in September 1665, while they were staying at Salisbury to be out of reach of the plague, Charles and the queen paid him a visit at St. Giles (Miscellanea Aulica, p. 361).
In June 1666 Ashley was again at Oxford, and while there first formed the acquaintance of Locke, who was studying medicine at Christ Church, and who accompanied him as medical attendant to Sunninghill, where he was obliged to take the waters in consequence of the internal swelling which resulted from the accident at Breda. Locke was now taken under Ashley's patronage, was made his secretary on becoming lord chancellor in 1672, and shortly afterwards secretary to the council of trade and plantations, of which Ashley was president from 1672 to 1676. He was tutor both to Ashley's son and grandson, and the friendship lasted until Shaftesbury's death. Locke's testimony is always favourable to Shaftesbury. Ashley now joined Buckingham in the most vehement support of the bill prohibiting the importation of Irish cattle; an act in direct contradiction to his former strongly expressed views on trade. The explanation least to his discredit is that the period was one of great agricultural depression in England, and that both Buckingham and Ashley were large landed proprietors (Pepys, 9 April 1667, 1 and 31 Jan. 1668). Carte speaks of a ‘private combination between Ashley and Lauderdale to monopolise the trade of cattle between England and Scotland’ (iv. 264). It is probable that it was but one way of expressing opposition to the high church-and-king party, of which Ormonde, who would have greatly benefited by the importation, was a leading member. Clarendon, indeed, states (Life, ii. 332) that Ashley was not ashamed to urge the accession of fortune to Ormonde as itself a good reason for supporting the bill; and Carte describes him (iv. 265) as doing his best in the committee of privileges to hinder the Irish nobility from taking rank in England. Still more strange was Ashley's conduct in opposing the admission into England of the charitable gifts sent from Ireland to London after the fire. The cattle bill gave rise to debates wherein Ormonde's son, Ossory, used expressions for which, on Ashley's complaint, the house compelled him to apologise (Carte, iv. 272). Carte also mentions a dispute with Conway during which the latter regretted that he had thus injured himself in Irish opinion, since he was so likely to be the next lord-lieutenant. Ashley, in reply, defended himself on the ground of the separation of the countries, expressed his extreme desire for legislative union, and by his professions of friendship to Ireland convinced Conway that his guess at Ashley's ambition was correct (ib. iv. 275). It was probably with reference to these affairs that Ashley wrote to Essex in December 1672: ‘My stars have not been very propitious as to Irish affairs or governors’ (Essex Papers, Brit. Mus.).
In May 1667, on the death of Southampton, the treasury was put in commission. Clarendon states that Charles was compelled to place Ashley upon it, but refused to make him one of the necessary quorum; and that Ashley chose to be thus slighted rather than dispute the point. The cause of Charles's dissatisfaction is not clear; but Pepys (16, 19 Jan. 1667) says that it was because Ashley would not obey his orders as to the disposal of prize goods. He soon, however, became the leading man upon the commission, and his efforts were apparently directed to economy; it is mentioned in especial that he was active in cutting off the customary presents of plate to the ambassadors (Christie, i. 308).
With the fall of Clarendon Ashley had apparently nothing directly to do. It cannot, indeed, have been displeasing to him, and we know that he was one of those who attended Lady Castlemaine's evenings, where the cabal against the minister was carried on. But Pepys (30 Dec. 1667) mentions Charles's anger with Ashley for his constancy to Clarendon, and the chancellor himself declares that Ashley opposed the impeachment; and there is plenty of further evidence practically conclusive on this point (ib. i. 312–13).
Upon Clarendon's fall the government fell chiefly to Buckingham and Arlington. Buckingham's programme was toleration and comprehension of dissent, and Ashley, from a mixture of interest and principle, joined him warmly (Pepys, 12 Feb. 1669; Mignet, Documents inédits, &c., iii. 58). Ormonde particularly was still the object of their attacks. They promoted an investigation into his Irish administration and proposed an impeachment (Carte, iv. 339). Under Buckingham's protection Ashley soon recovered his position with Charles; and, if Burnet may be trusted, he strengthened his influence by ‘managing for the king one of his mistresses, Miss Roberts’ (i. 484). He now assisted Buckingham by a remarkable paper addressed to the king in favour of toleration to all dissenters except Roman catholics and Fifth-monarchy men, as a necessary measure for increase of population and improvement of trade; urging wider naturalisation with the hope of attracting the ablest foreigners to the country, and suggesting with the same object a measure for the registration of titles to land as an infallible security to the purchaser or lender (Christie, ii. app. i.) His clear and statesmanlike views are still further shown in the advice he gave the king in 1670 (ib. p. 9), with its distinction between trade and commerce, which led to the appointment in 1670 of the commission of trade.
The question of the succession to the throne began already to occupy men's minds. Buckingham first suggested the plan of divorce, and afterwards that of legitimising Monmouth. In 1670, in support of the former project, a bill was brought in for enabling Lord Roos to marry again after obtaining a divorce. Ashley vigorously supported the bill, which was warmly favoured by Charles (Marvell (Grosart), ii. 316). The result was (ib. ii. 326) to strengthen his influence at court. Buckingham, Lauderdale, Ashley, Orrery, and Trevor are named as the governing cabal. In the second scheme Ashley appears also to have co-operated (Macpherson, State Papers, i. 46), and he soon afterwards kept the idea of using Monmouth as a stalking-horse steadily in view (Lauderdale Papers, iii. preface).
The celebrated cabal was a toleration cabinet, but its members were at complete variance on any question into which the advantage of catholicism entered. Thus, when the infamous treaty of Dover was concocted in 1669 and 1670, it was necessary to keep from Buckingham and Ashley at least the condition by which Charles bound himself, for a money gift from Louis, to introduce catholicism into England. At the same time their support, and that of Lauderdale, was necessary to compass the other part of the treaty, the declaration of war against Holland. Accordingly Buckingham was permitted to arrange a mock treaty, the conditions of which were otherwise precisely those of the genuine treaty, but in which the objectionable articles were omitted. In this matter he consulted Ashley, who, while urging caution, took a decided part in arranging its conditions; and on 31 Dec. 1670 the latter, with the rest of the cabal, signed this mock treaty, the real treaty having been signed by Arlington, Clifford, Arundel, and Bellinge. Thus, while Ashley is free of all complicity in the catholic plot, he is fully responsible, from this early stage, for the second and iniquitous Dutch war.
As it was not found practicable to begin the war until March 1672, and as it was desirable not to allow it to be known that the engagement between Charles and Louis had lasted so long, the treaty of 31 Dec. 1670 was now replaced by a duplicate, signed on 2 Feb. 1672 by the same ministers as before; and this was produced to parliament as the original and sole treaty. That is, in common with the other members of the cabal, Ashley lent himself to a deliberate fraud. According to Martyn, Ashley had urged Buckingham not to make the treaty, and had endeavoured to persuade Charles also; but, finding this impossible, did his best to make it favourable for England, and especially he urged that the number of ships employed by France should be reduced, and the number of places to be taken by England increased by Worne and Goree; and this is borne out by Burnet (i. 527), who quotes Shaftesbury's own statements. Buckingham also, in his defence before the commons in 1674, declared that Ashley had joined him in urging the duty of consulting parliament before the war was begun. On the whole, having in mind the view then taken of ministerial responsibility, there is little, with the exception of the fraud implied in signing the 1672 duplicate, to blame in his conduct. There is no evidence of his having been bribed; he received nothing more than the formal presents (after the 31 Dec. 1670 treaty) customary on such occasions; Burnet's statement on this point (i. 535) being contradicted by the fact that no such jewelled picture as he refers to had ever been seen or heard of by those who, if it existed, must have known of it.
In 1670 Ashley had shared in the attempt made by the House of Lords to interfere in a money bill, which led to the loss of the intended supplies. Buckingham and Ashley urged in council that parliament should again be summoned to grant supplies, but were overruled through French influence. To obtain the money rendered necessary by the Dutch war, Charles now had recourse to the stop of the exchequer, a national act of bankruptcy borrowed from the career of Mazarin, by which the government obtained nearly a million and a half of money. Ashley has been accused of complicity in this, and Macaulay ascribes the plan entirely to him. It was in fact proposed to the king by Clifford, and received Ashley's strenuous opposition. It is stated by Martyn that Clifford had proposed it in 1671, and that it had then been withdrawn in consequence of Ashley's objections. When the proposal was renewed, Ashley laid before the king a paper of five reasons against it (Martyn, i. 415; Christie, ii. 59). In this paper he contends that it is contrary both to law and justice; that it violates the king's promises; that it will bring ruin on thousands of innocent persons; and that it will cause an immediate depression of trade, and raise exultation among all enemies of England. He wrote also a letter to Locke on 23 Nov. 1674, in which he admits having known that it was about to take place, but says that of course he had not betrayed the king's secret; and in this letter he asserts his opposition. Temple also, only a few months after the event, 23 May 1672 (Works, ii. 184), positively ascribes the step to Clifford; and Evelyn (12 March 1672) calls the latter the sole adviser, ‘though some pretend it was Lord Ashley's counsel.’ Ormonde and Lord Mohun appear to have borne similar testimony, saying that they were present in the council when Clifford proposed, and Ashley opposed, the measure. The witnesses on the other side consist of Roger North, who was a bitter opponent; of Burnet, who says (i. 561) that ‘Shaftesbury was the chief man in the advice;’ that he excused the measure to him by the usury and extortion of the bankers; and that, knowing of it beforehand, he took all his money out of the bankers' hands. Lord Dartmouth also says that Ashley warned Sir C. Duncombe of what was to happen (Burnet, i. 561 n.) The accusation is also made in Clarke's ‘Memoir of James II,’ but this, as well as Burnet's book and Roger North's, was written thirty or forty years after the event. The antecedent improbability that a man of Shaftesbury's clear mind and commercial knowledge should propose such a step is so great as to amount to practical certainty.
On 15 March 1672 appeared the declaration of indulgence for dissenters. This had now Ashley's warm approval. He argued that there was no logical distinction between a single or limited dispensing power and a general one, nor between a dispensing power in civil and in ecclesiastical cases; and he pointed out that in civil cases Charles had already exercised the prerogative twice. He declared that the executive ought to be able to suspend laws in the intervals of parliament; and further that it was to the interest of the church that it should live in content, and to that of trade that it should have nothing to do with religion. He thought that the declaration was favourable to the protestants, and that papists should only be disqualified. The second Dutch war was the other of the great cabal schemes which Ashley vigorously supported. He was ignorant, as has been shown, of the ulterior design of introducing popery, and his defence must rest upon the ground which he always held, of the necessity of maintaining England's naval and commercial supremacy.
Ashley was now made Earl of Shaftesbury and Baron Cooper of Pawlet, the patent being dated 23 April 1672. Shortly afterwards he was, as related in Stringer's memoir (Christie, ii. app. iii.), offered the post of lord high treasurer, and appears to have gone to extraordinary pains to avoid it. For this unwillingness the stop of the exchequer would be sufficient reason. It is difficult to disbelieve the memoir, which is extremely circumstantial; Shaftesbury, however, nowhere mentions the offer himself, but, on the contrary, speaks of the stop of the exchequer as ‘being the prologue of making the Lord Clifford high treasurer.’
After the great sea battle of June 1672 Shaftesbury and Clifford accompanied Charles to the Nore, and by Shaftesbury's advice the fleet, instead of again putting out to fight De Ruyter, was sent, against the wish of James, who was in command, to endeavour to intercept the Dutch East India fleet. Upon its return in September he seems again to have interfered in exactly the opposite direction, but was this time overruled (Clarke, Mem. of James II, pp. 478, 480).
On 27 Sept. 1672 Shaftesbury succeeded the Earl of Sandwich as president of the council of trade and plantation, created chiefly through his advice, with a salary of 800l. a year; an office which he retained until April 1676. On 17 Nov. 1672 he was made lord chancellor, ‘in regard of his uninterrupted services’ (London Gazette, 18 Nov.), succeeding Orlando Bridgeman [see Bridgeman, Sir Orlando], and the change was regarded by the French ambassador as very favourable to French interests, since Shaftesbury was sure to follow Charles's wishes implicitly. It is related in Carte (iv. 434) that after giving him the seals Charles asked Ormonde what he thought of the step, and that Ormonde replied, ‘Your majesty doubtless acted very prudently in so doing, if you know how to get them again.’ He at once joined the cabal formed by Clifford and Lauderdale to keep Arlington out of power (Longleat Papers; Christie, ii. 98), although at the same time he was on excellent terms with Essex, then viceroy of Ireland, Arlington's intimate friend.
Before parliament met, on 4 Feb. 1673, Shaftesbury had committed an act which gave rise to vehement debates. He had, as chancellor, with the approval of the king, issued thirty-six writs for elections to fill vacancies caused during the long prorogation of nearly two years. That this step was not actually illegal seems proved (ib. ii. 124); but it was against late precedents, and at once aroused ‘much discourse and some grumbling,’ especially when it was noticed that eight of the constituencies lay in the county where Shaftesbury was influential. It was of the utmost importance at the time for the court to secure a majority, and almost all who were chosen were supporters of the court. Shaftesbury had strong personal reasons for wishing for a court majority, since he had been threatened with impeachment for the share he had taken in the declaration of indulgence (Parl. Hist. iv. 507–12). Colonel Strangways, whose house Shaftesbury had stormed in 1644, took the lead in opposition; and the result was that the thirty-six members were unseated, fresh writs issued by the speaker, and the important principle finally established that the issuing of writs rested primarily with the house, and not with the lord chancellor.
On 5 Feb. Shaftesbury made a long and florid speech to the houses, which Burnet calls ‘a base complying speech.’ He first urged the prosecution of the Dutch war, the Dutch being the common enemies of all monarchies, and their only rivals in trade. ‘Delenda est Carthago,’ he declared, in an outburst of which he is said to have been reminded when, sick and hunted, he landed ten years later at Holland. He then defended, on the ground of ministerial responsibility, the stop of the exchequer, and urged a supply to pay the bankers their promised 6 per cent. Finally he vindicated the declaration of indulgence; of the cancelling of which, however, he had to inform the lords on 7 March. Charles had previously referred the question to the lords, following probably in this a suggestion of Shaftesbury (Christie, ii. 132). Colbert on 27 Feb. informed Louis that Shaftesbury, Buckingham, and Lauderdale were in favour of maintaining the declaration and dissolving parliament if necessary; but on 17 April he contradicts himself as far as the declaration is concerned. Shaftesbury's conduct was undoubtedly difficult to understand (see North's charges analysed by Ralph, i. 222). Oldmixon describes the address with which he warded off the danger of an impeachment by bribing Sir R. Howard with an auditorship of the exchequer, though Marvel says that Howard had previously ratted to the king's side (ii. 351, 28 Nov. 1670). Shaftesbury's personal safety was in danger in this time of excitement. North says (Examen, p. 38): ‘Clifford and Shaftesbury looked like high sheriff and under-sheriff. The former held the white staff and had his name to all returns; but all the business, and especially the knavish part, was done by the latter.’ It was now that the feud within the cabal suddenly displayed itself. The commons brought in the Test Act, which rendered it impossible for a catholic to hold office. Shaftesbury warmly supported it; a change of front which is probably explained by assuming that Arlington, disappointed at Clifford's promotion to the treasurership over his head, had revealed to Shaftesbury how he had been duped in the matter of the Dover treaty. The Test Act contradicted his own professions regarding toleration as advantageous to trade, as well as the declaration of indulgence which he had supported. Its immediate effects were the resignations of James, Clifford, and other Roman catholics. The forced dismissal of the king's favourite ministers, in a great degree through Shaftesbury's efforts, would naturally have brought about his fall also. Burnet, indeed (ii. 15), says that he had lost Charles's favour, but it was not thought fit to lay him aside yet. Moreover, a protestant ministry was wanted. Arlington and Shaftesbury, henceforward acting together, secured the support of Ormonde, Rupert, and Henry Coventry in opposing the continuance of the French alliance and the Dutch war. Shaftesbury himself now began his course of anti-catholic agitation. A letter from him to the Duke of York urging him to change his religion was circulated in June (Christie, ii. 150); and whether in real or feigned alarm he now caused his household to be well armed, and kept constant watch in his house throughout the summer.
When parliament met on 20 Oct. the commons were much excited about James's second marriage. To baulk their attack, James was anxious that an immediate prorogation should take place, and Shaftesbury is stated to have purposely retarded this (Burnet, ii. 31). Burnet adds that he gave his advice to Charles to send James away. From a letter of Conway to Essex of 18 Nov. (Essex Papers, Brit. Mus.) we learn that ‘the king fears and hates the Duke of York, yet is wholly governed by him.’ On Sunday 9 Nov. Shaftesbury was dismissed in as insulting a manner as possible, and Henry Coventry, his wife's brother, was sent to demand the seals, and an order to leave London was twice repeated. Shaftesbury, however, according to Conway (ib. 22 Nov.), ‘refused to stir.’ He is related to have said when Coventry came to him, ‘It is only laying down my gown and putting on my sword.’
Shaftesbury had uniformly refused as chancellor to pass grants to the duchesses of Cleveland or Portsmouth. He had incurred the enmity of Lauderdale by encouraging Hamilton and other Scotch nobles to break down the system of personal despotism established in Scotland by that minister, who on 18 Nov. describes to the king the consternation visible on the faces of his opponents when the news of Shaftesbury's disgrace reached Edinburgh (Lauderdale Papers, ii. 240, 245, iii. 12). Colbert mentions the joy felt ‘on the disgrace of the greatest enemy of France, and I may add without passion of the most knavish, unjust, and dishonest man in England; but a discarded minister, who is very ill conditioned and clever, left perfectly free to act and speak, seems to me much to be feared in this country.’ On his dismissal Shaftesbury received the usual protecting pardon from the king (Christie, ii. 158).
Shaftesbury was probably not a great lord chancellor; but North is the only authority for the statement that he was despised, baited, and finally beaten and tamed by the bar; while the famous lines of Dryden demonstrate his unimpeachable character as a judge.
Shaftesbury revived the obsolete custom of riding on horseback with the judges from his residence at Exeter House, which he had inhabited since 15 April 1650 (Shaftesbury Papers), to Westminster Hall. North, who makes great ridicule of this, says also that Shaftesbury used to sit ‘on the bench in an ash-coloured gown, silver laced and full-ribboned pantaloons displayed, without any black at all in his garb unless it were his hat;’ a dress which, though unusual, was perfectly appropriate, since he was a layman. As chancellor he expressed the same objections to the methods of proceeding in the court of chancery as he had formerly done in 1653.
Within a very few days both Charles and the French ambassador were making Shaftesbury the highest offers of money and honours if he would return to office. According to Stringer, Charles sent his regrets through the Earl of Oxford; and Ruvigny visited him with compliments from the two kings and with the offer of ten thousand guineas on Louis's part, and that of a dukedom and any post he might choose from Charles. Shaftesbury thereupon had an interview with Charles at Chiffinch's lodgings, and there distinctly refused the offers. From this moment he shook himself free of all connection with his former colleagues, and placed himself at the head of the parliamentary opposition to the court (ib. 180–3).
Parliament met on 7 Jan. 1674. As late as 4 Jan. it seemed probable that Shaftesbury might be again employed. On 8 Jan., however, without disclosing his knowledge of the 1670 treaty, he led the attack in the lords which resulted in an address to the king for a proclamation ordering papists to depart ten miles from London. He began now his extravagant course of exciting popular feeling by the most reckless statements. During the whole session he formed one of a cabal, of which Halifax, Buckingham, Carlisle, Salisbury, and Faulconbridge were other leading members, meeting at Lord Holles's house (Essex Papers, Brit. Mus.) He took part in preparing the bill for educating the royal children in the church of England, and for preventing the marriage of any member of it with a Roman catholic, supporting a proposal that the penalty should be exclusion. All these measures were stopped by the sudden prorogation of 24 Feb. It stopped, too, a petition with which Shaftesbury had been charged, to the effect that Ireland was in danger from a French invasion (Christie, ii. 192). A bill for a new test, specially aimed at the Duke of York, was, to his great disgust, defeated by two votes. He was at this time reconciled with Buckingham, from whom he had been estranged, and actively assisted him in the proceedings against him regarding his shameful connection with Lady Shrewsbury (Essex Papers, 3 Feb. 1674).
Shaftesbury's actions were carefully watched. According to Macpherson (i. 74), he now began to excite the city, and especially the common council, which met once a month, by loudly expressed fears of a catholic rising. On 19 May he was dismissed from the privy council, and ordered to leave London, to prevent his acting in concert with the Dutch ambassador, who lodged in his house (Christie, ii. 198). He was also removed from the lord-lieutenancy of Dorsetshire (Essex Papers, 29 May 1674). He now retired to St. Giles. The list of books which he took with him is preserved (Shaftesbury Papers), and affords a good idea of the comprehensiveness of his intellectual interests. By successive prorogations parliament was put off until April 1675. Shaftesbury determined that the cry should be for a new parliament. The court was fully alive to the danger, as is shown by a letter sent to Lord Yarmouth, lieutenant of the county of Norfolk, advising that none of Shaftesbury's party should be named deputy-lieutenants or colonels (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. 374 b). A letter from himself to Lord Carlisle was circulated before the meeting of parliament, and afterwards printed, in which he mentions that a great office with a strange name is preparing for him, but that he will accept no court office so long as the present parliament shall last. This is confirmed by a letter from William Harbord to Essex (Essex Papers, 23 Jan. 1675), in which he is mentioned as coming to court again.
Upon the assembling of parliament, Danby brought forward his celebrated Test Bill, imposing an oath of non-resistance. Shaftesbury led the opposition for seventeen days, ‘distinguishing himself,’ says Burnet, ‘more in this session than ever he had done before; he spoke once a whole hour to show the inconvenience of condemning all resistance upon any pretence whatever, and the very ill consequence it might be of to lay such an oath on a parliament.’ He had taken the pains to note down a number of reasons against the bill, and spoke to them. He urged, with especial force, that it took away the very object of parliament, which was to make alterations when necessary, and at the same time destroyed the king's supremacy. In committee of the whole house he pertinently asked whether the church was to be regarded as infallible, and what were the bounds of the protestant religion. Upon being gravely informed by the Bishop of Winchester that it was contained in the Thirty-nine Articles, the liturgy, catechism, and homilies, he launched out on the spot into a copious disquisition on all these matters. During one of his speeches he overheard one of the bishops say jeeringly, ‘I wonder when he will have done preaching,’ and at once replied, ‘When I am made a bishop, my lord.’ The bill was carried in the lords, but went no further, as a dispute between the two houses as to the right of the lords to interfere in the commons' impeachments, fomented to the utmost by Shaftesbury and his friends, caused such a dead-lock to business that the king was forced to another prorogation. During the debates Shaftesbury made one famous speech, given almost entire by Ralph (i. 293), which exhibits his clearness of view and power of expression more aptly than anything else of his on record.
As against Danby's scheme, the interests of James, Shaftesbury, and the nonconformists were for the while identical; and Shaftesbury threw overboard his violent anti-catholic principles. On 15 June, during the recess, William Howard informed Essex (Essex Papers) that there were some ‘great designs afoot,’ and that Shaftesbury had been with the duke, along with Penn, Owen, and other leading nonconformists. He says, on 19 June: ‘The treasurer hath lost ground; the duke is trying to bring in Shaftesbury; he refused a conference with the king, and was three hours alone with Shaftesbury.’ On the 26th, Shaftesbury, Cavendish, and Newport were forbid the court. When parliament again met on 13 Oct., Shaftesbury revived and pressed to the uttermost the quarrel between the houses, and carried a motion maintaining the lords' rights (Ranke, iv. 12). Lord Mohun, one of his party, now moved for an address praying for a dissolution, which, through the accession of the Duke of York and the other Roman catholic peers, was defeated by only two votes. Parliament was immediately prorogued, on 22 Nov., for fifteen months. It was no doubt a condition of the new alliance of Shaftesbury and James that nothing should be said about exclusion (Clarke, Mem. of James II, i. 505). During the autumn Shaftesbury had had a violent quarrel with Lord Digby on a Dorsetshire election. Digby, in anger, publicly accused him of being against the king and for a commonwealth, and threatened that he ‘would have his head next parliament.’ Shaftesbury now brought an action against him and obtained 1,000l. damages. Digby's father, Bristol, used language to Shaftesbury in the debate on privileges for which he too was compelled to apologise. In February 1676 Shaftesbury was again advised to leave town, a direct message being sent him from the king, but he once more refused. In April the council of trade and plantations, of which he had been president since April 1672, came to an end. In July he left Exeter House, which he had taken on being made chancellor, and rented Thanet House, Aldersgate Street, instead, at 160l. a year.
Shaftesbury and his friends now looked about for good ground for an attack on Danby, and for getting rid of the present parliament. They asserted the illegality of a prorogation of more than a year, and they circulated pamphlets arguing that this illegality ipso facto dissolved the parliament. On the opening of parliament Buckingham and Shaftesbury at once took up this position. Their motion was rejected, and another at once brought in by the court that Buckingham, Shaftesbury, Salisbury, and Wharton should be called to account for their action. They were ordered to acknowledge their error and to beg pardon of the king and the house. Upon their refusal they were brought to the bar as delinquents and committed to the Tower during the pleasure of the king and house, kept in separate confinement, and not allowed to receive visitors without the leave of the house. According to Burnet, Shaftesbury and Salisbury, pretending fear of poisoning, made a special request that they might be attended by their own cooks. In this agitation Shaftesbury and his colleagues were so flagrantly wrong (Christie, ii. 233), that they only did harm to their cause; and the immediate result of this grave political blunder was a great accession of strength to the court, and the entire alienation of the present House of Commons, whose existence they had attacked. The four peers now sent up a joint petition to the king for release, with no result. They then petitioned separately, Shaftesbury's request for leave to go to Dorsetshire (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 232 a) being presented on 2 May by Henry Coventry (Marvel, ii. 551). On 23 June he moved the king's bench for a writ of habeas corpus. On the 27th he appeared before the court, and his case was heard on the 29th; he was opposed by the court lawyers, but allowed to speak for himself. In a very powerful argument he admitted the supreme judicature of the lords, but denied their power to commit to indefinite imprisonment on a general warrant. The judges, however, said that they had no jurisdiction in the case, and Shaftesbury was sent back to the Tower. Salisbury was released in June, and Buckingham in July, but Shaftesbury and Wharton were still detained. Shaftesbury, indeed, was for a while laid under still stricter confinement, but this was taken off on his petition alleging that his health was suffering (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 232 a). He now found relaxation in reading and in studying the war maps of Europe; while at the end of September his friends were allowed to visit him freely. He appeared, too, though troubled with gout, to improve greatly in health through his enforced idleness.
Shaftesbury was not released until 26 Feb. 1678. His petition was presented in the House of Lords by Halifax on 14 Feb. (Marvel, ii. 580). A long debate on his conduct in appealing to the king's bench was adjourned to the 21st, on which day he made a final petition, admitting that he might have done wrong in this respect, and asking forgiveness. He was allowed to address the house on 25 Feb., when he acknowledged that his maintaining parliament to be dissolved was ill-advised, and he begged pardon for it, as also again for the appeal to the king's bench. In fact, he made a complete submission. Upon this he was released on the 26th, and on the following day took his place in the lords. During Shaftesbury's imprisonment negotiations had been going on between Louis XIV and the leaders of the opposition. There is no doubt that Shaftesbury was cognisant of their schemes, for Russell was a frequent visitor at the Tower during January, and in March Louis was informed by Barillon that Shaftesbury would be fully engaged in the treaty.
The alliance noticed above between James and Shaftesbury appears to have lapsed, and this with Louis to have taken its place. During the spring of 1678 an overture was again made by James (Christie, ii. 283–5). In James's ‘Memoirs,’ indeed (i. 513), the exact reverse is said to have occurred, namely, that Russell and others had promised to restore him to the high admiralship if he would concur in Danby's removal. There can be little doubt, however, from a comparison of authorities, that the former is the correct statement, and that Shaftesbury and his friends refused the overtures.
Before the meeting of parliament on 21 Oct. the popish terror had broken out. Shaftesbury is not accused of starting, but of cherishing, the agitation (North, Examen, p. 95). He was from the first foremost in his zeal for the plot. The temptation to use this means of avenging himself upon his enemies was probably irresistible; that he could have believed in the plot is impossible. According to Burnet (ii. 164, 171 n.) he declared that the evidence must be supported. On 23 Oct. he was one of a committee for drawing up an address for the removal of papists from London and Westminster, and on 26 Oct. on another for examining Coleman and other prisoners. On 30 Oct. he was added to the sub-committee for investigating the murder of Godfrey, and on 16 Nov. was one of the committee for preparing the papers for Coleman's trial. On 4 Nov. the great attack was opened at his instance by Lord Russell in the commons; it was proposed to address the king to remove James from his person and councils. On 20 Nov. he carried a bill in the lords, disabling all Roman catholics from sitting in either house, with a proviso, carried by only two voices in the commons, to except the Duke of York from its operation. On 28 Nov., with two other peers, he protested against a refusal of the lords to concur in the address of the commons to remove the queen, her retinue, and all papists from court. One of the worst acts of Shaftesbury's career was his vote in 1680 for Stafford's death, especially if (ib. ii. 272 n.) it was because Stafford had named him before the lords as having undertaken to procure toleration for them at the time of the Duke of York's conversion. Clarke (Memoirs of James, i. 546) declares that Shaftesbury went on this course of unscrupulous violence in order to outdo Danby, who, to save himself, also affected belief in the plot. In December, however, Danby was ruined, and on 24 Jan. 1679 parliament was dissolved. It seems probable that Danby had made arrangements with Shaftesbury and the popular leaders for a dissolution on condition that he were not impeached. The new parliament met on 6 March. The chancellor, Finch, opened it with a speech, in which he said that the king ‘supported by his favour the creatures of his power.’ ‘My lords,’ said Shaftesbury, ‘I think we are all agreed that in this kingdom there are none but creatures of the divine power; the power of the king does not extend further than the laws determine’ (Ranke, iv. 77). In the debate as to how to deal with Danby the opposition lords voted for the lesser punishment of banishment, and Shaftesbury, with Essex and the chancellor, drew up the argument for the conference with the commons. He vigorously opposed, too, the right of the bishops to vote in treason cases. Meanwhile Charles thought of reconciling himself with the opposition. On 7 April Barillon reported that Shaftesbury, Halifax, and other chiefs of the country party, were professing good intentions to the king, who showed a desire to satisfy them. In the course of the month Shaftesbury was made president of a newly constituted privy council, with a salary of 4,000l. a year and official rank next to that of the chancellor, Charles promising that nothing of importance should be done without the consent of the whole council. Ralph (i. 438) assumes that this was only to buy off his opposition for the time, and Burnet says that the king thought that he was angry only because he was not employed. Ralph's view is probably correct, for on 25 March Shaftesbury had made a violent but eloquent speech on the state of the nation (ib. i. 434), referring chiefly to the dangers of protestantism, and especially to the misgovernment of Scotland and Ireland under Lauderdale and Ormonde [see Butler, James, first Duke of Ormonde]. The attack on Ormonde, for which he had been at great pains to secure evidence in Ireland (Carte, iv. 574), was one of the unprincipled actions of Shaftesbury's life, and can be explained only by his anxiety now to catch at any weapons. Ossory, Ormonde's son, replied to Shaftesbury with such warmth that Ormonde a few weeks later wrote to excuse him [see Butler, Thomas, Earl of Ossory].
In taking his new office Shaftesbury had relinquished none of his views. On 21 April he took a prominent part in the debate on the question of requiring protestant nonconformists to take the oaths exacted from Roman catholics. The motion, however, was carried against him, and he declared that he would not have taken office had he thought that he could not succeed in such a matter. The new privy council rapidly disclosed two parties on the question of Monmouth's succession, which was favoured by Shaftesbury and opposed by his kinsman Halifax. After James's dismissal to Flanders many meetings of Shaftesbury and Monmouth took place (ib. iv. 578). To defeat their design Charles again solemnly declared that he was never married to Monmouth's mother.
On 4 May a resolution was passed in the commons to bring in a bill to exclude James from the throne. Shaftesbury always upheld simple exclusion. Essex and Halifax, on the other hand, favoured the scheme of limitations, which Shaftesbury declared would create a democracy rather than a monarchy. The second reading of the bill was carried on the 21st; but a sudden prorogation on 26 May, at the instance of the Halifax cabal, and in violation of the promise given by Charles, put an end to the bill. Shaftesbury angrily avowed that he would have the heads of the advisers of this step (Temple, Memoirs, ii. 519). One great measure, the Habeas Corpus Act, brought in by Shaftesbury, long known as ‘Shaftesbury's Act,’ was passed during this short session, though apparently only by an amusing trick (Christie, ii. 335).
The Halifax cabal, joined by Henry Sidney and the Duchess of Portsmouth, now urged the Prince of Orange to come to England, in order to take the position which Shaftesbury desired for Monmouth. Sunderland endeavoured also to bring Shaftesbury himself into the plan; but this was frustrated by the enmity between him and Halifax. In July the king once more unexpectedly dissolved parliament, an act again noticed by Shaftesbury with expressions of the bitterest resentment. Meanwhile the rebellion in Scotland in June had offered Shaftesbury an occasion for putting Monmouth forward, by obtaining for him the command of the troops; but he failed in an attempt to raise guards for the king's person to be commanded by the favourite. At the end of August, when the king fell ill, Sunderland, to frustrate Shaftesbury, sent for James in haste. Both he and Monmouth were again ordered from court upon Charles's recovery; but in October, having effected a money treaty with Louis, Charles was able to take the step of recalling James and dismissing ‘Little Sincerity,’ the cant name for Shaftesbury used between the king and James, from the council. It was known that on coming up from the country he had been received with great enthusiasm by the populace (Ranke, iv. 94), and that he had on 5 Oct. called together his friends in the council to induce them to remonstrate against the recall of James. The Meal Tub plot, in which it was asserted that Shaftesbury was implicated, was now discovered. He was fully persuaded that the object of Dangerfield was to assassinate him, and Dangerfield stated this himself (Christie, ii. 349). Mrs. Cellier is also said to have tried to do the same, and a Portuguese Jew named Faria afterwards declared (Lords' Journals, 28 Oct. 1680) that he had been commissioned to do this as early as 1675. Within a month from Shaftesbury's dismissal the first commissionership of the treasury was, on Essex's resignation, offered him. He insisted on the divorce of the queen and the dismissal of James as the conditions of taking office. They were of course refused, and Shaftesbury then, in spite of another attempt, remained in opposition. North notices the growth of clubs as a marked feature of the time, and mentions Shaftesbury as the great prompter-general, especially of the Green Ribbon Club.
Near the end of November Shaftesbury is said to have taken a distinctly treasonable step. Monmouth returned to London without Charles's permission, and, according to Barillon, was concealed for three days in Shaftesbury's house. He took, too, every step to agitate for the reassembling of parliament on 26 Jan. 1680, which it was feared Charles meant to postpone. He was one of the ten peers who presented a petition in this sense, and he probably set on foot the general petitioning which now took place, and which Charles met in December by proclaiming it as illegal, and by immediately proroguing parliament from time to time until 21 Oct. 1680. On 28 Jan. the king declared his intention of sending for James. Shaftesbury thereupon urged his friends in the council by letter to resign, in order that they might justify themselves before the country, hinted at probable attempts to alter religion and government with the help of the French, and besought them, after taking notes of its contents, to burn the letter (Christie, ii. 357). The next day they followed his advice, Essex and Salisbury alone remaining. In March came news of a catholic plot in Ireland. Shaftesbury at once demanded from the council the appointment of a secret committee. His informants, Irishmen of the lowest character, declared that aid had been asked for from Louis, and that Ormonde and Archbishop Plunket were in the plot. The information was undoubtedly false, and Shaftesbury could not have been its dupe. The court laughed at it; but London, where Shaftesbury's influence was very powerful, sustained him in the agitation. The judicial murder of Plunket a year later must be laid to his door.
A second illness of the king in May put Monmouth's adherents on the alert. Meetings were held at Shaftesbury's house to consider the steps to be taken in case of Charles's death. Lord Grey, in the ‘Secret History of the Rye House Plot’ (pp. 3–5), states that a rising in the city was determined on, and steps taken in preparation. On 26 June Shaftesbury, with other leaders of the opposition, went to Westminster Hall, and indicted the Duke of York and the Duchess of Portsmouth as popish recusants. A pretence was, however, found for discharging the jury before the bills were presented. Barillon asserts that Shaftesbury's language was most violent, if not actually treasonable, and he continued to keep the city at fever point. There were now two parties at the court, that of Sunderland, Godolphin, and the duchess, who, with the Spanish ambassador, wished to conciliate Shaftesbury (Clarke, i. 599), and that of Lawrence Hyde and the Duke of York. Towards the end of September Sunderland was in active negotiation with Shaftesbury and Monmouth for satisfying parliament, and Charles was induced to send James to Scotland. In the middle of September Shaftesbury was ill of fever, and his popularity was shown by the crowds who came to inquire. By 9 Oct., however, he had recovered.
On 21 Oct. parliament met; by 15 Nov. a bill for excluding James from the throne had passed the commons and had reached the lords. There, through the ability of Halifax, ‘who was much too hard for Shaftesbury, who was never so outdone before’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. 18 Nov.), the second reading was rejected by 63 to 30. Shaftesbury of course joined in the protest against the rejection. On the 16th he opened a debate as to the effectual securing of the protestant religion. He declared that as exclusion had been rejected the divorce of the king was the only expedient. Clarendon, he said, had purposely married Charles to a woman incapable of bearing children. He did not, however, persevere in his proposal. In the debate on the king's speech of 15 Dec. he delivered another violent speech (Christie, ii. app. vi.), which was immediately published, but which was of such a character that after Christmas it was ordered to be burnt by the common hangman. The violent course adopted by the whigs defeated itself. All legislation and all supply were stopped. Charles prorogued parliament on 10 Jan., and eight days later dissolved it, and summoned a fresh one to meet at Oxford, no doubt to avoid the influence of the city. Clarke (i. 651) mentions a design of giving Shaftesbury the freedom of the city and of next day making him alderman and lord mayor, so as to secure the machinery of the city for his purposes.
On 25 Jan. Essex presented a very strongly worded petition to Charles, signed by Shaftesbury, himself, and fourteen other peers, praying that parliament might sit at Westminster. Shaftesbury now prepared instructions to be distributed among the constituencies for the guidance of the members whom they elected (Christie, ii. app. vii.) viz. (1) to insist on a bill of exclusion of the Duke of York and all popish successors; (2) to insist on an adjustment between the prerogatives of calling, proroguing, and dissolving parliaments, and the people's right to annual parliaments; (3) to get rid of guards and mercenary soldiers; and (4) to stop all supplies unless full security were provided against popery and arbitrary power.
Lodgings were taken by Locke for Shaftesbury at Dr. Wallis's, the Savilian professor; but in the end he was provided for at Balliol College. By the time of the meeting of the Oxford parliament Charles had again succeeded in making a treaty with Louis, which, as regarded money, rendered him free of the necessity of supply. He was thus enabled to open parliament with an uncompromising speech in which he especially declared that on the matter of the succession he would not give way. The commons were equally violent, and debated nothing but exclusion. In the lords Shaftesbury reintroduced a bill for a repeal of the act of 35 Eliz., which imposed penalties on protestant dissenters, and moved for a committee to inquire why it had not been presented to the king for signature along with other bills before the last prorogation. A very unsatisfactory explanation was given (Christie, ii. 406). A matter leading to a hot quarrel between the houses was the impeachment of Fitzharris, accused of a design of fastening upon Shaftesbury a libel concocted by himself against the king. The commons wished to impeach him, but the lords resolved that he should be left to the common law. Shaftesbury and nineteen other peers protested against the lords' refusal. The commons, too, were furious, but the sudden dissolution on 28 March put an end to the quarrel and to the exclusion agitation. Shaftesbury immediately returned to London. Barillon states (28 March) that a conversation took place between Charles and Shaftesbury in which the king told Shaftesbury that he would never yield on the Monmouth proposal.
The dissolution cut the ground from beneath Shaftesbury's feet. The excessive violence of the whigs, and his signal political blunder in espousing the cause of an illegitimate son of the king, had strengthened the natural tendency to a reaction. Shaftesbury felt his danger clearly; it was rumoured he wished to renounce the peerage that he might have the privilege of being judged by others than peers selected by the king. In anticipation of attack he secured his estate to his family by a careful settlement, and granted copyhold estates for their lives to several of his servants.
In a discussion of the committee of foreign affairs on 21 June, Halifax and Clarendon urged that Shaftesbury should be arrested before parliament should meet again; and early in the morning of 2 July he was seized at Thanet House, Aldersgate Street, and carried to Whitehall, where he was examined at a special meeting of the council in the king's presence. All his papers, too, had been seized without his being allowed to make a list of them as a reasonable precaution (Ralph, i. 611). The witnesses against him were chiefly the very men who had been his informants regarding the pretended Irish plot. Shaftesbury, who had in vain requested to have his accusers face to face (ib.), defended himself; he was in the end committed to the Tower on the charge of high treason, in conspiring for the death of the king and overthrow of government. He was taken to the Tower by water, and in the evening was visited there by Monmouth, Grey, and others of that party. It is mentioned, as showing how completely and suddenly his power was gone, that ‘he was brought from the heart of the city to his examination by two single messengers, and sent to the Tower, no man taking notice’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. 533 a). Two days later he was ordered to be kept close prisoner. He and Howard petitioned the judges, under the new Habeas Corpus Act, that they might be brought to trial or bailed; but the judges refused, on the ground that the Tower was out of their jurisdiction. In the Tower he was ill of his old ague, and on 14 July leave was given him to take the air. In the heat of August he was so ill, having had two fits in twenty-four hours, that the lieutenant of the Tower removed him to cooler lodgings. In the meanwhile the court were taking great pains to find evidence sufficient to convict Shaftesbury, and it was widely said that much tampering of witnesses was going on. In the beginning of September, and in October, applications by Shaftesbury and Howard were again made to the Old Bailey for trial or bail, and again refused, as were those to the magistrates of Middlesex. In the September sessions his indictments against the magistrate who had taken the information leading to his arrest and against the witnesses were not allowed to be presented. While he lay in prison Stephen College [q. v.], one of his followers, was found guilty of treasonable language on the same evidence as that against himself, and executed. On 2 Aug. he instructed his agents at St. Giles to sell his stud, evidently not expecting to escape with his life. In October he petitioned the king, through Arlington, in vain, offering if released to retire to Carolina, of which he was part proprietor. On the 12th his secretary was committed to the Gatehouse on charge of treason. At length on 24 Nov. a special commission was opened for his trial. Shortly before it began a statement was published by Captain Henry Wilkinson of the endeavours made by Booth, one of the witnesses, to suborn him to give false evidence against Shaftesbury, and of his examination by the king himself. The narrative is extremely circumstantial, and was never contradicted (Christie, ii. 149). The bill of indictment at the Old Bailey was framed on the statute of 13 Car. II, which made the intention to levy war high treason, and the designing and compassing the king's death high treason, without an overt act. At the close of the chief justice's charge to the grand jury the attorney-general asked that the witnesses might be examined in the presence of the judges, in order that they might thus be overawed, and this was granted, while a request from the jury for a sight of the warrant for Shaftesbury's commitment was refused. On the other hand the grand jury had been selected by sheriffs favourable to Shaftesbury, and had been picked out ‘from the very centre of the party,’ a mob also being brought down from Wapping to awe the court (North, Examen, p. 113). All the sharp practice of the court was of no avail. The witnesses were men of low character, and the grand jury disbelieved the evidence (Ralph, i. 648). ‘Immediately the people fell a holloaing and shouting;’ the acclamations in court lasted an hour; ‘the bells rung, bonfires were made, and such public rejoicing in the city that never such an insolent defiance of authority was seen’ (Clarke, i. 714); and Luttrell gives the same account.
A medal was at once struck to celebrate the occasion, a bust of Shaftesbury with the inscription ‘Antonio comiti de Shaftesbury’ on one side, and on the reverse a picture of the Tower, with the sun emerging from a cloud, the word ‘Lætamur,’ and the date 24 Nov. 1681. The copper plate of this medal is preserved with the ‘Shaftesbury Papers.’ But he was unmercifully satirised; Dryden did his worst in ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ and in the ‘Medal;’ and Butler in ‘Hudibras.’ Otway, in ‘Venice Preserved,’ represents him as the lewdest of debauchees. Duke, an imitator of Dryden, is still worse in his allusions to his abscess kept open by a silver pipe; and in 1685 the same thing was done by Dryden himself in ‘Albion and Albanius,’ which was illustrated by a huge drawing of ‘a man with a long lean pale face, with fiend's wings, and snakes twisted round his body, accompanied by several rebellious fanatical heads, who suck poison from him, which runs out of a tap in his side.’ He was called Tapski in derision, and the abscess represented as the result of extreme dissipation (Christie, ii. 428–39). It is to Shaftesbury's credit that he bore all this with such perfect temper as to excite the admiration of even Lady Russell (ib. app. viii.) A week after the finding of the grand jury Shaftesbury was admitted to bail, four sureties in 1,500l. and himself in 3,000l.; Monmouth, to Charles's extreme displeasure, offered himself for bail. The joy at the acquittal extended to many parts of the kingdom; and on 13 Dec. the Skinners' Company, of which Shaftesbury was a member, entertained him with a congratulatory dinner. He was finally released from bail on 13 Feb. 1682. He had meanwhile brought actions of scandalum magnatum and conspiracy against several persons concerned in his late trials. The defendants moved for trial in another county on the ground that it would not be fairly conducted in Middlesex, and the claim was allowed. Shaftesbury refused to go on with the actions under these circumstances. Hitherto his support had lain in the city. He was an intimate friend of one of the sheriffs, Pilkington, the master of the Skinners' Company, who on 17 March gave a great dinner to Monmouth, Shaftesbury, and the other leading men of the party.
But the tide had turned; Charles was no longer dependent on parliament, and all moderate men were against Shaftesbury. Among the papers seized at the time of Shaftesbury's arrest was one, not in his handwriting, and unsigned, containing a project of association for defence of the protestant religion and for preventing the succession of the Duke of York. Another paper regarded with great suspicion was one containing two lists headed respectively ‘worthy men,’ and ‘men worthy,’ the latter being construed ‘worthy to be hanged.’ Magistrates of Shaftesbury's party were now put out of the commission, and the penal laws against protestant dissenters vigorously executed. To secure the support of the common council for the crown, a false return, carried out with shameless illegality, was made at the midsummer election of sheriffs, two tories being returned in the place of Shaftesbury's friends. He now felt that there was no chance of escape if another indictment were preferred against him, since the sheriffs had the nomination of the juries. On the night of the election he is said to have left his house and to have found a hiding-place in the city (Ralph, i. 710). With Russell, Monmouth, and others, he began to consult as to the possibility of a concerted rebellion in different parts of the country. He and Russell jointly were to make themselves masters of the Tower and manage the city, and Russell the west country; while Monmouth made a progress in Cheshire (Christie, ii. 445). Burnet gives a different account, declaring that Essex and Russell were opposed to Shaftesbury's views (ii. 349). But in September Monmouth was arrested. Shaftesbury now urged an immediate rising in Cheshire under Russell, while he himself answered for the city, promising Russell to join him with ten thousand brisk boys from Wapping. About Michaelmas day, however, he left Thanet House, ‘stept aside, but not before a warrant was signed for his apprehension’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. 497 b), and was for some weeks concealed in obscure houses in the city and Wapping, busily engaged in fomenting the rising. In the beginning of November, at a meeting in the house of Shepherd, a wine merchant, a report was read from Shaftesbury, and it was arranged by those present to rise a few days later. At a second meeting on 19 Nov., however, it was decided to postpone action for a few weeks. Upon this Shaftesbury, knowing or being told that fresh warrants were out against him, determined to flee at once. It is difficult to believe that the search for Shaftesbury was earnest; it was obviously more to the interest of the crown to frighten him away than to arrest him; and it is probable that the same course was pursued in his case as in that of the Earl of Argyll when he came to London [see Campbell, Archibald, ninth Earl of Argyll]. Before leaving London Shaftesbury had a meeting with Essex and Salisbury, when ‘fear, anger, and disappointment had wrought so much upon him, that Lord Essex told me he was much broken in his thoughts, his notions were wild and impracticable’ (Burnet, ii. 350). He reached Harwich in disguise as a presbyterian minister, with his servant Wheelock. Here he was in imminent danger of discovery, but, after waiting some days for a fair wind, was able to leave Harwich for Holland on 28 Nov. 1682. After a stormy passage, during which other vessels in company with his were lost, he reached Amsterdam in the first days of December. Upon his petition he was placed in safety by being admitted a burgher of Amsterdam; one inhabitant welcoming him, it is said, with a pungent reference to his famous speech, ‘Carthago nondum est deleta.’ For a week he lodged in the house of an English merchant named Abraham Keck, on the Guelder Kay, associating chiefly with Brownists. Here, about the end of December, he was seized with gout, which flew to the stomach, and which caused him excruciating pain. On Sunday, 21 Jan. 1683, he died in his servant's arms, between eleven and twelve in the morning. It was stated that his death was hastened by the cessation in the flow from his abscess. The news reached London on 26 Jan.; on 13 Feb. his body left Amsterdam to be taken to Poole in Dorsetshire (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. 389 a). According to Martyn it was met by the principal gentlemen of the county of all shades of opinion, who accompanied the hearse to Wimborne St. Giles, where he was buried.
Shaftesbury was undoubtedly the most eminent politician of his time; Burnet (i. 175) declares that he never knew any man equal to him in the art of governing parties. His subtlety and readiness of resource fitted him especially for a foremost place, under the existing conditions of political life. The leaders, with scarcely an exception, led lives of mystery and intrigue; in Shaftesbury's case the springs of his action can even now be often only guessed at. With the exception of Locke he had no intimate friends; North says that if he were a friend to any human being, besides himself, it was to Charles II (p. 119). That he was a man of keen ambition is very certain, though Ralph's phrases (i. 711) are extravagant. As a statesman he will always remain memorable, because, starting from the conception of tolerance, he opposed the establishment of an Anglican and royalist organisation with decisive success. He seems always to have espoused the doctrines that had the greatest future, and he may be regarded as the principal founder of that great party which opposed the prerogative and uniformity on behalf of political freedom and religious tolerance (Ranke, iv. 166, 167). The extremely modern type of Shaftesbury's character renders him especially interesting as a politician. In him, as is observed by Mr. Traill (Shaftesbury, ‘English Worthies,’ p. 206), are foreshadowed the modern demagogue, the modern party leader, and the modern parliamentary debater. As a demagogue he at the same time swayed the judgment of the House of Lords and the passions of the mob. As a party leader, ‘while sitting in one house of the legislature he organised the forces and directed the movements of a compact party in the other.’ And in him we first meet with ‘that combination of technical knowledge, practical shrewdness, argumentative alertness, aptitude in illustration, mastery of pointed expression, and readiness of retort, which distinguish the first-rate debater of the present day.’ He was a man of wide accomplishments; he spoke Latin with ease and fluency; he was also well acquainted with Greek and French, and especially with the literature of his own country. Ancient and modern history, and the state of Europe and foreign politics, were also favourite studies. Charles is reported to have said that he had more law than his judges and more divinity than his bishops. He had all the tastes of the English country gentleman: estate management, hunting, horse-breeding, gardening, planting, and the like; and he dabbled in alchemy, palmistry, and the casting of horoscopes. Burnet says that ‘he had the dotage of astrology upon him to a high degree,’ and that he told him ‘how a Dutch doctor had from the stars foretold him the whole series of his life’ (i. 175). He was reputed a deist, but the state of his mind is perhaps best represented by the anecdote in Sheffield's memoirs, which represents him as answering the lady who inquired as to his religion, ‘Madam, wise men are of but one religion;’ and when she further pressed him to tell what that was, ‘Madam, wise men never tell.’ Shaftesbury's private life was of rare purity for the age; the charge of licentiousness probably arose from the story told by Chesterfield (Works, ii. 334, Mahon's ed.), and, in different ways by different authors, that Charles once exclaimed, ‘Shaftesbury, you are the wickedest rogue in England,’ and that Shaftesbury replied, ‘Of a subject, sir, I believe I am.’ Christie shows that there is no certainty in the story, and that, even if it be true, there is no reason for thinking that it has the meaning imputed.
[The materials for this article are drawn chiefly from two sources—the Shaftesbury Papers in the Public Record Office, and Mr. Christie's very important work, which is founded mainly upon them. These papers, so far as they are concerned with the first earl, consist of six sections, the contents of which will be found described in detail in the report of Mr. Noel Sainsbury. Besides the original diaries and autobiographies, there is a large collection of letters and papers directly concerning the earl, and extending over his lifetime. There are also a large number of documents connected with the settlement of Carolina, including many of Locke's composition, the draft of the first constitutions of the colony being among them, and with the government of Jamaica, the Barbadoes, and the Bahamas. The diaries, autobiographical fragments, and some of the more important papers have been separately printed by Mr. Christie. His larger work, the ‘Life,’ in spite of the fact that he evidently holds a brief for Shaftesbury, is of extreme value in sweeping away the misrepresentations which political partisanship or ignorance had allowed to gather about his name, and of which Macaulay and Lord Campbell have been in modern times the chief exponents; and it is only in one or two places that inaccuracies may be detected, or that a tendency is visible to keep out of sight or extenuate really blameworthy actions. Where evidence can be obtained he is indefatigable in procuring it, and he is, on the whole, impartial in weighing it. A few materials have become accessible since Christie wrote, such as the reports of the Hist. MSS. Commission, the Lauderdale and Essex Papers, the Calendar of State Papers, Ranke's History, &c. The latest work on the subject is Mr. Traill's ‘Shaftesbury,’ in the ‘English Worthies’ series. Mr. Traill, without sufficient apparent justification, takes as a rule the unfavourable view of his character and conduct. The interesting and valuable part of his book, as noticed in the article, is the account of Shaftesbury as a party leader of the modern type. The leading authorities are all fully referred to in the article.]