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It happened that Dr. Birch was at the same time preparing his General Biography, and he wrote the memoir of the third Earl (the author of the Characteristics) entirely under the superintendence of his son.* A frequent correspondence was therefore carried on upon literary subjects between the fourth Earl, Mr. Martyn, and Dr.
* As it has been often supposed that the fourth Earl was the author of this Memoir, I insert the following letters which point out exactly the share he had in its composition. “My LORD,
“Mr. Martyn having informed me that your lordship was desirous of perusing again the manuscript of your father's life, I take this opportunity of returning my humble thanks for the valuable Memoirs and Papers with which your lordship was pleased to furnish me. These, with what further additions or alterations you shall think proper to suggest, will enable me to give the public a just idea of a character which has been extremely injured by the misrepresentations of party men and bigots; and it will be the highest satisfaction to me to be in any measure the instrument of removing the prejudices which have been unjustly raised against a noble writer, whose works alone, when impartially considered, are a sufficient testimony that he was not only a friend to morality and virtue, but likewise a zealous advocate for those principles which are the foundation of all religion. I am, my Lord,
“ Your Lordship’s most obliged and
“ Most obedient, humble servant, “ St. John's Lane, Clerkenwell,
“ Tho. Birch." “ London, July 22, 1738."
Birch, great part of which is still extant among the Birch Manuscripts in the British Museum.
In this correspondence the anxiety with which original information was sought is very apparent;* and, from Mr. Martyn's letters, the progress of the work, which was frequently interrupted by his
“ St. Giles's, July 26, 1738. “I take the first opportunity to thank you for your letter, and for the papers sent me at the same time with it, concerning my father's life. As soon as I have finished the addition I propose making to it, I will return it to you again to complete what you have thus far done so judiciously. I am, Sir,
“ Your most humble servant,
- SHAFTESBURY." The third letter seems to relate to the completion of the article.
“ Grosvenor Square, May 18, 1752. “ Doctor Hales left me the papers to peruse and forward to you afterwards, which I herewith send ; and indeed I proposed to have sent them some time since, but I waited for Mr. Martyn's recovery, who has been confined a great while, though now he is pretty well again. As he is so, I take the first opportunity of desiring the pleasure of your company to meet him here at dinner next Wednesday, if you are not engaged.
“ Your most humble servant,
“ SHAFTESBURY.” * He is particular in his inquiries for some letters said to exist from Sir Anthony to Henry Cromwell, and also for some papers which the Duchess of Kent had shown to Dr. Birch, from which it appeared that Shaftesbury had, upon many oc
illness, may in some measure be traced. In a letter dated from St. Giles, (the seat of the Shaftesbury family,) November 27, 1738, after speaking of a recent sickness, Mr. Martyn says, “In the intervals of my pain I have been much taken up in looking, with Lord Shaftesbury, over a great heap of his great-grandfather's papers, among which I have met with some anecdotes that I fancy will please you, and a great many rough undigested hints that only serve to give one an idea of the extent of his capacity, but are not a sufficient foundation for forming anything on them in his life. These are interspersed with several things in Mr. Locke's hand, and (which I believe you will wonder at,) some copies of verses of his writing ; one I shall be able to show you when I come to town. It is addressed to Greenhill the painter, upon his drawing Lord Shaftesbury's picture in 1672, which is hung up here and very finely done.” *
casions, opposed Charles's prodigal grants to the Duchess of Cleveland. He does not, however, appear to have been successful in his inquiries, and all trace of these documents is now lost.
* These verses are inserted, post, vol. ii. p. 13.
The allusions to the work then growing under his hands are generally in this strain, either canvassing the materials before him, inquiring for other channels of information, or thanking his correspondent for hints already received. When Dr. Birch's Memoir of Shaftesbury 'was completed, this work was also in a state of forwardness, since he had there mentioned it in very favourable terms, and spoke of it as immediately about to appear. This passage, however, at the instance of Lord Shaftesbury, was omitted. “I have shown the Life (says Martyn) to Lord Shaftesbury; he very much approves of it, but is of opinion that the following paragraph (“as will be sufficiently shown in an history of his life the public may soon expect, from the most authentic memoirs,') should be omitted, and I agree
with his lordship, because it may tend to raise the expectation of the people, and is in no respect necessary.
Whether the work was completed by Martyn, or whether it was broken off by his illness or his
Aysc. Cat. fol. 4313. 132.
appointment to an office in the customs, I have no means of knowing. If it was completed, the original intention of publication was abandoned, since at his death, in 1763, it was still in manuscript.
The fourth Earl of Shaftesbury died in 1771, leaving the work still unprinted, as appears from the quotations it contains from Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs, the publication of which was not completed until 1773. The work was then taken under the protection of his son, the late Earl, by whom it was consigned to Dr. Kippis, the wellknown editor of the Biographia Britannica.
This author has left some account of the work, and of the share which he had in its composition, in his notes to the memoir of Shaftesbury in the Biographia Britannica ; which the peculiar facilities he enjoyed, enabled him to render one of the most valuable in his elaborate work.
After mentioning the materials from which this Life was compiled, and the labours of the original author, the Doctor continues, “ Notwithstanding the pains that had been taken by Mr.