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vately by the Tory ministry in arranging the preliminaries of the peace of Utrecht; he was shortly after sent to Paris, with the authority and appointments of an ambassador, but the Duke of Shrewsbury, who soon followed, refusing to be associated with a man so meanly born, Prior acted without the title until this pompous personage returned to Englạnd next year, when he assumed the dignity, and continued at Paris until 1715. On his return he was committed to the Tower, and impeached of high treason for his share in the treaty of Utrecht. He continued in confinement until the close of 1717, when he was discharged; but was now, in the 534 year of his age, with no other means of subsistence than the income arising from his fellowship at Cambridge. His friends, however, who were numerous and powerful, incited him to collect and publish his Poems by subscription, which produced £4000, and Lord Harley added an equal sum for the purchase of Down Hall, in Essex, which was to revert to him after Prior's decease, which event took place in September, 1721.; he was interred in Westminster Abbey, and a monument was erected to his memory, for which he had, “ as the last piece of human vanity,” left £500. His character is summed up in the following manner by Dr. Johnson : “ In his private relaxation he revived the tavern, and in his amorous pedantries he exhibited the college ; but on nobler subjects, when habit was overpowered by the necessity of reflection, he wanted not wisdom as a statesman, nor elegance as a poet."
About three miles from Wimborne, on the summit of a considerable eminence, is an extensive Encampment, of a circular form, called Badbury Rings; it is enclosed by treble ramparts and ditches, the outermost of which is nearly a mile in circumference; its origin has been variously attributed to the Britons, Romans, and Saxons; the most probable conjecture appears to be, that it was formed by the first; occupied by the second (as is evident from many of their coins, arms, &c. being found there); and known to the third.
WIMBORNE ST. GILES, a small village near Cranborne, is principally remarkable as the birth-place of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, who was born here, at the residence of his family, in 1621. He was educated at Oxford, and afterwards removed to Lincoln's Ion, with the view of studying the law; but in 1640, when only 19, he was chosen Member of Parliament for Tewkesbury, and was thenceforward actively engaged in public life. At the commencement of the great contest which soon took place, he sided with the King; but, presuming to advise his Majesty to concede some of his extravagant pretensions, he was treated with so much coldness and sus. picion, that he went over to the Parliament, and rendered great service to their cause by his influence in Dorsetshire. He afterwards became one of Cromwell's privy council, although he had joined in a Protestation by the excluded members of the Long Parliament, denouncing him as “ a public enemy and destroyer:” he acted in several other instances, during this eventful period, with similar duplicity; and after the Restoration, to which he greatly contributed, was appointed a Commissioner for the trial of the Regicides, in most of whose measures he had participated!
In 1661 his zeal was rewarded with the title of Baron Ashley, and the offices of Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Lord of the Treasury. He was also a member of the administration called the Cabal, from the initials of those noblemen who formed it; and was concerned in several of the illegal and unprincipled measures by which the reign of Charles I) was disgraced. In 1672 he was appointed Lord Chancellor, having been previously created Earl of Shaftesbury; his conduct in this important office is praised even by his enemies; but he had not held it more than a year, when the seals were taken from him, and the loss of place immediately converted him into a zealous patriot. Whatever might be the motive of his conduct, however, the arbitrary conduct of Charles fully justified the vigorous measures of opposition adopted by him and his friends, and every Englishman must remember with gratitude, that it is to them we are indebted for that great bulwark of liberty, the Habeas Corpus Act.
Shaftesbury has been charged with the fabrication of the Popish plot; but although it is quite certain that he made great use of it in forwarding his own
interests, it is by no means clear that he was the original contriver of that disgraceful tissue of perjury and bloodshed. During this turbulent period he experienced all the vicissitudes attendant on he intriguing politician; was imprisoned in the Tower a twelvemonth; was President of the Council four months; was driven from office, charged by infamous accusers, with_subornation of perjury; again committed to the Tower, tried for high treason, and acquitted: this acquittal gave the highest dissatisfaction to the Court party, and
produced Dryden's celebrated poem of " Absalom and Achitophel,” in which the Earl and his partisans are depicted with such merciless severity. But the triumph of the popular party was now at an end: Charles acquired almost absolute sway; and Shaftesbury, although he had escaped, did not consider himself safe; he therefore retired to Holland, in November, 1682, and died there in January, 1683. The character of this nobleman has been so variously represented by his opponents and his admirers, that it is difficult to arrive at a true estimate of it; and it would be as unfair to give credit to the calumnies of the one as to receive the panegyrics of the other. He appears to have been tainted with many vices, in some measure redeemed by great abilities; and to have been, generally speaking, a friend of liberal government, alloyed by too much of the spirit of faction, and a wish for personal distinction. He is said to have written a “ History of his own Times," which he entrusted to the care of Locke, who burnt it, from the fear of incurring a fate like that of Algernon Sydney, were it found in his possession, at that period of uncurbed despotism.
WINGFORD EAGLE, a village about seven miles north-west of Dorchester, is entitled to notice as the place where that great physician Sydenham was born, in 1624. He was at Oxford, pursuing his studies, at the commencement of the Civil War; and, after a short residence in London, returned to the University, and received the degree of M. B. in 1648. He afterwards settled in Westminster, and during many years was the most celebrated practitioner of his day. His treatment of small-pox was particularly judicious and successful, at a period when that horrible disease made the most dreadful ravages. He died in 1689, at his house in Pall Mall, equally respected for his abilities in his profession, and his virtues in private life.
At a short distance west of Wingford Eagle is Eggesdon Hill, on whose summie is a large Fortification, surrounded by two ditches and ramparts, enclosing an area of nearly 50 acres. A Roman road leads from hence, in a direct line, to Dorchester, which tends to confirm the supposition, induced by its form, that both are indebted to the same people for their
origin. In the valley between Maiden Newton and Frampton, about two miles east of Wingford, a beautiful Tesselated Pavement was discovered in 1794, only a foot below the surface. Its length was 27 feet, and its breadth 20: it was much injured in clearing the ground, but exhibited a variety of beautiful designs, executed with great skill. It was re-covered with earth, but was again opened for the inspection of their Majesties in 1799, when it was found to be considerably more injured than on the first inspection. Several other remains of Roman antiquity have been discovered in the neighbourhood. At Winterborne Abbas, a few miles to the south, a small Druidical Circle, consisting of nine erect stones, of unequal size, still exists; many Barrows, and other similar monuments, are scattered over every part of the surrounding Downs; and in concluding our account of Dorsetshire it may be remarked, as a subject of some surprise, that it contains so many evidences of its occupation by the early inhabitants of this island, the Britons, the Romans, the Saxons, and the Danes, and yet exhibits, in its history, so few remarkable events connected with their contests or their residence.
END OF THE DESCRIPTION OF DORSETSHIRE.
This County, with the exception of Yorkshire, is the largest in the Kingdom; its length from north to south being on an average 70 miles, and its breadth varying from 50 to 64 miles; its superficial area is computed at 1,650,000 acres, and its population, in 1821, was stated to be 439,040 persons. “It is bounded on the east by the counties of Somerset and Dorset; on the west by Cornwall, and the river Tamar; while on the north the Bristol, and on the south the English, Channel, afford it a sea-coast of nearly 150 miles. It is divided into 33 hundreds, containing 430 parishes, and is represented in Parliament by 26 Members, viz. two for the County, two for the city of Exeter, and two for each of its 11 boroughs. For judicial purposes it is comprised in the Western Circuit; and, ecclesiastically, it forms a part of the diocese of Exeter; its proportion of the Militia is 1600 men: Earl Fortescue is the present Lord Lieutenant.
The appearance of this County is varied and irregular; near its eastern border a range of hills stretches across its whole extent; while its south-western side is almost wholly occupied by the wild and rugged district of Dartmoor Forest, which is estimated to contain more than 100,000 acres. To the south and east of this waste is the district called the South Hams, affording a striking contrast, in its gentlyswelling hills, fine vales, beautiful streams, and luxu. riant verdure, to the barren wildness of the neighbouring tract; it includes nearly 250 square miles, and is exceedingly fertile. From Exeter, the whole southern side of the County, as far as the eastern border, is finely diversified in appearance, and highly productive: the district around that city, called the Vale of Exeter, is distinguished for the beauty of its scenery; and West Devon, which extends from Dart