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Character of Hampden.
Mr. Hampden was a man of much greater cunning, and it may be, of the most discerning spirit, and of the greatest address and insinuation to bring any thing to pass which he desired, of any man of that time, and who laid the design deepest. He was a gentleman of a good extraction, and a fair fortune; who, from a life of great pleasure and licence, bad on a sudden retired to extraordinary sobriety and strictness, and yet retained his usual cheerfulness and affability; which, together with the opinion of ‘his wisdom and justice, and the courage he had shewed in opposing the ship-money, raised his reputation to a very great height, not only in Buckinghamshire, where he lived, but generally throughout the kingdom. He was not a man of many words, and rarely begun the discourse, or made the first entrance upon any business that was assumed; but a very weighty speaker, and after he had heard a full debate, and observed how the house was like to be inclined, took up the argument, and shortly, and clearly, and craftily so stated it, that he commonly conducted it to the conclusion he desired; and if he found he could not do that, he was never without the dexterity to divert the debate to another time, and to prevent the determining any thing in the negative, which might prove inconvenient in
the future. He made so great a shew of civility, and modesty, and humility, and always of mistrusting his own judgment, and esteeming his with whom he conferred for the present, that he seemed to have no opinions or resolutions, but such as he contracted from the information, and instruction he received upon the discourses of others : whom he had a wonderful art of governing, and leading into his principles and inclinations, whilst they believed that he wholly depended upon their counsel and advice. No man had ever a greater power over himself, or was less the man that he seemed to be: which shortly after appeared to every body, when he cared less to keep on the masque.
He was a gentleman of a good family in Buckinghamshire, and born to a fair fortune, and of a most civil and affable deportment. In his entrance into the world, he indulged to himself all the license in sports and exercises, and company, which were used by men of the most jolly conversation. Afterwards he retired to a more reserved and melancholy society, yet preserving his own natural chearfulness and vivacity, and above all, a flowing courtesy to all men; though they who conversed nearly with him, found him growing into a dislike of the ecclesiastical government of the church, yet most believed it rather a dislike of some churchmen, and of some introducements of theirs, which he apprehended might disquiet the public peace. He was rather of reputation in his own country, than of public discourse, or fame in the kingdom, before the business of ship-money; but then he grew the argument of all tongues, every man enquiring who and what he was, that durst, at his own charge, support the liberty and property of the kingdom, and rescue his country, as he thought, from being made a prey to the court. His carriage, throughout this agitation, was with that rare temper and modesty, that they who watched him narrowly to find some advantage against his person, to make him less resolute in his cause, were compelled to give him a just testimony. And the judgment that was given against him, infinitely more advanced him, than the service for which it was given. When this parliament begun, (being returned knight of the shire for the county where he lived) the eyes of all men were fixed upon him, as their patri puter, and the pilot that must steer the vessel through the tempests and rocks which threatened it. And I am persuaded, his power and interest, at that time, was greater to do good' or hurt, than any man's in the kingdom, or than any man of his rank hath had in any time: for his reputation of honesty was always flows. He was a man essentially great; and whoever wishes to form his language to a lofty and noble style his character to a fervid sincerity of soul, will read the works of Milton.
Earl of Clarendon and lord high chancellor of England, descended from an ancient family in Cheshire, was born at Dinton near Hindon, in Wiltshire, in 1608. He entered 'at Magdalene Hall, Oxford, in 1622, being only .fourteen years old, and proceeded bachelor of arts in 1625; soon after which, he removed .to the Middle Temple, and was subsequently called to the bar.
In the short parliament held at Westminster, April 10, 1640, he was elected member for Wotton-Basset in Wiltshire; and in the long parliament was member for Saltash in Cornwall. In 1649, he was made chancellor of the exchequer, and at the same time knighted, and sworn of the privy council. In these offices, he was continued by Charles II. He became lord high chancellor in 1657.