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"These thoughts concerning miracles were occasioned by my reading Mr. Fleetwood's Essay on Miracles, and the letter writ to him on that subject. The one of them defining a miracle to be an extraordinary operation performable by God alone: and the other writing of miracles without any definition of a miracle at all."
RELATING TO THE
LIFE OF ANTHONY
FIRST EARL OF SHAFTESBURY.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
Writ by the Earl of Shaftesbury while Prisoner in the Tower; one to King Charles II., another to the Duke of York, a Third to a noble Lord: found with Mr. Locke's Memoirs, &c.
BEING at Oxford in the beginning of the Civil War (for he was on that side as long as he had any hopes to serve his country there) he was brought one day to king Charles I., by the lord Falkland, his friend, then secretary of state, and presented to him as having something to offer to his majesty worth his consideration. At this audience he told the king that he thought he could put an end to the war if his majesty pleased, and would assist him in it. The king answered, that he was a very young man for so great an undertaking. Sir, replied he, that will not be the worse for your affairs, provided I do the business; whereupon the king showing a willingness to hear him, he discoursed to him to this purpose:
The gentlemen and men of estates, who first engaged in this war, seeing now after a year or two that it seems to be no nearer the end than it was at first, and beginning to be weary of it, I am very well satisfied would be glad to be at quiet at home again, if they could be assured of a redress of their grievances, and have their rights and liberties secured to them. This I am satisfied is the present temper generally through all England, and particularly in those parts where my estate and concerns lie; if therefore your majesty will empower me to treat with the parliament garrisons to grant them a full and general pardon, with an assurance that a general amnesty (arms being laid down on both sides) should re-instate all things in the same posture they were before the war, and then a free parliament should do what more remained to be done for the settlement of the nation :
That he would begin and try the experiment first in his own country; and doubted not but the good success he should have there would open him the gates of other adjoining garrisons, bringing them the news of peace and security in laying down their arms.
Being furnished with full power according to his desire, away he goes to Dorchester, where he managed a treaty with the garrisons of Pool, Weymouth, Dorchester, and others; and was so successful in it, that one of them was actually put into his hands, as the other were to have been some few days Prince Maurice. after. But prince Maurice, who commanded some of the king's forces, being with his army then in those parts, no sooner heard that the town wa surrendered, but he presently marched into it, and gave the pillage of it to his soldiers. This sir A. saw with the utmost displeasure, and could not forbear to express his resentments to the prince; so that there passed some pretty hot words between them; but the violence was committed, and thereby his design broken. All that he could do was, that he sent to the other garrisons, he was in treaty with, to stand upon their guard, for that he could not secure his articles to them; and so this design proved abortive, and died in silence.
This project of his for putting an end to a civil war, which had sufficiently harassed the kingdom, and nobody could tell what fatal consequences it might have, being thus frustrated, it was not long before his active thoughts, always intent upon saving his country (the good of that being that by which he steered his counsels and actions through the whole course of his life) it was not long before he set his head upon framing another design to the same purpose. The first project of it took its rise in a debate between him and serjeant Fountain, in an inn at Hungerford, where they accidentally met and both disliking the continuance of the war, and deploring the ruin it threatened, it was started between them, that the countries all through England should arm and endeavour to suppress the armies on both sides. This proposal, which, in one night's debate, looked more like a well-meant wish than a formed design, he afterwards considered more at leisure, framed and fashioned into a well-ordered and practical contrivance, and never left working in it till he had brought most of the sober and well-intentioned gentlemen of both sides all through England into it. This was that which gave rise to that third sort of army, which of a sudden started up in several parts of England, with so much terror to the armies both of king and parliament; and had not some of those who had engaged in it, and had undertaken to rise at the time appointed, failed, the Clubmen, for so they were Clubmen. called, had been strong enough to carry their point, which was to make both sides lay down their arms, and, if they would not do it, to force them to it; to declare for a general amnesty; to have the then parliament dissolved; and to have a new one called for redressing the grievances, and settling the nation. This undertaking was not a romantic fancy, but had very promising grounds of success; for the yeomanry and body of the people had suffered already very much by the war; and the gentry and men of estates had abated much of their fierceness, and wished to return to their former ease, security, and plenty; especially perceiving that the game, particularly on the king's
side, began to be played out of their hands, and that it was the soldiers of fortune who were best looked upon at court, and had the commands and power put into their hands.
He had been for some time before in Dorsetshire, forming and combining the parts of this great machine, till at length he got it to begin to move. But those, who had been forward to enter into the design, not being so vigorous and resolute when the time was to appear and act; and the court, who had learnt or suspected that it had its rise and life from him, having so strict an eye upon him that he could not maintain correspondence with distant countries, and animate the several parts as it was necessary, before it was his time to stir; he received a very civil and more than ordinary letter from the king to come to him at Oxford: but he wanted not friends there to inform him of the danger it would be to him to appear there, and to confirm him in the suspicion that the king's letter put him in, that there was something else meant him, and not so much kindness as that expressed. Besides, the lord Goring, who lay with an army in those parts, had orders from court to seize him, and had civilly sent him word, that he would come such a day and dine with him. All this together made him see that he could be no longer safe at home, nor in the king's quarters; he therefore went, whither he was driven, into the parliament quarters, and took shelter in Portsmouth. Thus, for endeavouring to save his king and country, he was banished from the side he had chosen. And the court, that was then in high hopes of nothing less than perfect conquest, and, being masters of all, had a great aversion to moderate counsels, and to those of the nobility and gentry of their party, who were authors or favourers of any such proposals as might bring things to a composition: such well-wishers to their country, though they had spent much, and ventured all on the king's side, when they appeared for any other end of the war but dint of arms, and a total reduction of the parliament by force, were counted enemies; and any contrivance carried on to that end was interpreted treason.