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ANECDOTES And CHARACTERS.
Yindicatiom of the Character of the Earl or Shaftesbury.
[From the first Volume of the" History of Great Britain, from the Revolution to the Accession of the House of Hanover, by W. Belsham.]
'O character has laboured under greater obloquy than that of the earl of Shaftesbury: 'yet he appears from the general tenor of his conduct to have deserved highly of his country; and those parts of it which are at all questionable have been most grossly and invidiously aggravated. It is the province of history to correct these errors, and to distribute with impartial justice the awards of praise or censure. Unfortunately for the memory oT lord Shaftesbury, the most eloquent historian of the age, Mr. Hume, has in relation to him imbibed all the prejudices of preceding writers, in all their virulence and all their absurdity. His ideas of this celebrated nobleman are indeed evidently and almost wholly taken from bishop Burnet, low as the authority of tliat prelate stands with him upon innst other occasions. But what Mr. Hume re-" marks of the duke of Albemarle is at least as true of lord Shaftesbury, • that bishop Burnet, agreeably to
'his own factious spirit, treats this 'noblemau with great malignity/ Mr. Hume has even copied the ridiculous notion of the bishop, that lord Shaftesbury was addicted to judicial astrology. Lord Sbaftesbi'ry is known to have entertained a dislike and contempt of Burnet; and possessing a strong turn for humour, in order to avoid serious disquisition, he might possibly divert himself at.times with the bishop's curiosity and credulity. At the period of the Restoration, few persons stood higher in the esteem of the nation at large than sir Anthony Ashley Cooper; and though decidedly of opinion, in opposition to general Monk, that conditions ought to have been proposed for the security of public liberty, the king, nothing offended at his warmth of patriotism, even before his coronation created him a peer by the title of lord Ashley. And m the preamble to his patent, the restoration is expressly said * to be 'chiefly owing to him; and thatafA 2 « ter