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764
SHAFTESBURY, 3rd EARL OF


his steward Wheelock, at the rate of less than £200 a year, and yet had much “to dispose of and spend beyond convenient living.” He returned to England, much improved in health, in August 1704. But, though he had received immediate benefit from his stay abroad, symptoms of consumption were constantly alarming him, and he gradually became a confirmed invalid. His occupations were now almost exclusively literary, and from this time forward he was probably engaged in writing, completing or revising the treatises which were afterwards included in the Characteristics. He continued, however, to take a warm interest in politics, both home and foreign, and especially in the war against France, of which he was an enthusiastic supporter.

Shaftesbury was nearly forty before he married, and even then he appears to have taken this step at the urgent instigation of his friends, mainly to supply a successor to the title. The object of his choice (or rather of his second choice, for an earlier project of marriage had shortly before fallen through) was a Miss Jane Ewer, the daughter of a gentleman in Hertfordshire. The marriage took place in the autumn of 1709, and on February 9, 1710/1, was born at his house at Reigate, in Surrey, his only child and heir, the fourth earl, to whose manuscript accounts we are in great part indebted for the details of his father's life. The match appears to have been happy, though Shaftesbury had little sentiment on the subject of married life. With the exception of a Preface to the Sermons of Dr Whichcote, one of the Cambridge Platonists or latitudinarians, published in 1698, Shaftesbury appears to have printed nothing himself till 1708. About this time the French prophets, Camisards (q.v.), as they were called, attracted much attention by their extravagances and follies. Various repressive remedies were proposed, but Shaftesbury maintained that fanaticism was best encountered by “ raillery ” and “ good-humour.” In support of this view he wrote a letter Concerning Enthusiasm to Lord Somers, dated September 1 707, which was published anonymously in the following year, and provoked several replies. In May 1709 he returned to the subject, and printed another letter, entitled Sensus Communis, an Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour. In the same year he also published The M oralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody, and in the following year Soliloquy, or Advice to an Author. None of these pieces seems to have been printed either with his name or his initials. In 1711 appeared the Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, in three volumes, also without any name or initials on the title-page, and without even the name of a printer. These volumes contain in addition to the four treatises already mentioned, Miscellaneous Reflections, now first printed, and the Inquiry concerning Virtue or Merit, described as “ formerly printed from an imperfect copy, now corrected and published intire, ” and as “ printed first in the year I6QQ.H

The declining state of Shaftesbury's health rendered it necessary for him to seek a warmer climate, and in July 1711 he set out for Italy. He settled at Naples in November, and lived there considerably over a year. His principal occupation at this time must have consisted in preparing for the press a second edition of the Characteristics, which appeared in 1713, soon after his death. The copy, carefully corrected in his own handwriting, is preserved in the British Museum. He was also engaged, during his stay at Naples, in writing the little treatise (afterwards included in the Characteristics) entitled A N otion of the Historical Draught or Tablature of the Judgment of Hercules, and the letter concerning Design. A little before his death he had also formed a scheme of writing a Discourse on the Arts of Painting, Sculpture, Etching, &c., but when he died he had made but little progress with it. “ Medals, and pictures, and antiquities, ” he writes to Furly, “ are our chief entertainments here.” His conversation was with men of art and science, “the virtuosi of this place.” The events preceding the peace of Utrecht, which he regarded as preparing the way for a base desertion of our allies, greatly troubled the last months of Shaftesbury's life. He did not, however, live to see the actual conclusion of the treaty (March 31, 1713), as he died the month before, February 4, 1712/3. He had not completed his forty-second year. His body was brought back by sea to England and buried at St Giles's, the family seat in Dorsetshire. His only son, Anthony Ashley, succeeded him as 4th earl, and his great-grandson was the famous philanthropist, the 7th earl.

Shaftesbury's amiability of character seems to have been one of his principal characteristics. Like Locke he had a peculiar pleasure in bringing forward young men. Among these may be especially mentioned Michael Ainsworth, a native of W'irnbor11e St Giles, the young man who was the recipient of the Letters addressed to a student at the university, and was maintained by Shaftesbury at University College, Oxford. The interest which Shaftesbury took in his studies, and the desire that he should be specially fitted for the profession which he had selected, that of a clergyman of the Church of England, are marked features of the letters. Other protegés were Crell, a young Pole, the two young Furlys and Harry Wilkinson, a boy who was sent into F urly's office at Rotterdam, and to whom several of the letters still extant in the Record Office are addressed. In the popular mind, Shaftesbury is generally regarded as a writer hostile to religion. But, however short his orthodoxy might fall if tried by the standards of any particular church, his temperament was pre-eminently religious. This fact is shown in his letters. The belief in a God, all-wise, all-just and all-merciful, governing the world providentially for the best, pervades all his works, his correspondence and his life. Nor had he any wish to undermine established beliefs, except where he conceived that they conflicted with a truer religion and a purer morality.

To the public ordinances of the church he scrupulously conformed. But, unfortunately, there were many things both in the teaching and the practice of the ecclesiastics of that day which were calculated to repel men of sober judgment and high principle. These evil tendencies in the popular presentation of Christianity undoubtedly begot in Shaftesbury's mind a certain amount of repugnance and contempt to some of the doctrines of Christianity itself; and, cultivating, almost of set purpose, his sense of the ridiculous, he was too apt to assume towards such doctrines and their teachers a tone of raillery. But, whatever might be Shaftesbury's speculative opinions or his mode of expressing them, all witnesses bear testimony to the elevation and purity of his life and aims. As an earnest student, and ardent lover of liberty, an enthusiast in the cause of virtue, and a man of unblemished life and untiring beneficence, Shaftesbury probably had no superior in his generation. His character and pursuits are the more remarkable, considering the rank of life in which he was born and the circumstances under which he was brought up. In many respects he reminds us of the imperial philosopher Marcus Aurelius, whose works he studied with avidity, and whose influence is stamped upon his own productions.

Most of Shaftesbury's writings have been already mentioned. In addition to these there have been published fourteen letters from Shaftesbury to Molesworth, edited by Toland in 1721; some letters to Benjamin Furly, his sons, and his clerk Harry Wilkinson, included ina volume entitled Original Letters of Locke, Sidney and Shaftesbury, which was published by Mr T. Forster in 1830, and again in an enlarged form in 1847; three letters, written respectively to Stringer, Lord Oxford and Lord Godolphin, which appeared, for the first time, in the General Dictionary; and lastly a letter to Le Clerc, in his recollections of Locke, first published in Notes and Queries, Feb. 8, 1851. The Letters to a Young Man at the University (Michael Ainsworth), already mentioned, were first published in 1716. The Letter on Design was first published in the edition of the Characteristics issued in 1732. Besides the published writings, there are several memoranda, letters, rough drafts, &c., in the Shaftesbury papers in the Record Office.

Shaftesbury took great pains in the elaboration of his style, and he succeeded so far as to make his meaning transparent., The thought is always clear. But, on the other hand, he did not equally succeed in attaining elegance, an object at which he seems equally to have aimed. There is a curious affectation about his stylewa falsetto note—which, notwithstanding all his efforts to please, is often irritating to the reader. lts main characteristic is perhaps best hit off by Charles Lamb when he calls it “ genteel." He poses too much as a fine gentleman, and is so anxious not to be taken for a pedant of the

vulgar scholastic kind that he falls into the hardly more attractive