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valuable (even to the very Shrines), he sold them publicly to the best bidder, without regard to merit or capacity *.
After having been led, by the nature of the subject, to speak thus freely of this King's rapacity, it is but justice to mention an instance of his generosity. It is related that, two Monks striving to outbid each other for a rich Abbey, the King perceived a third standing by, who did not bid any thing; to whom the King addressing Trimself, asked '* how much he would give?" The Monk replied, "he had no money, and, if he had, his conscience would not suffer him to lay it out in that manner:" upon which the King swore his usual oath -f* " that he best deserved it, and should have it for nothing J."
Though William was thus continually filling his coffers with these dishonourable and sacrilegious spoils, yet was he avaricious without frugality, covetous and prodigal at the same time; always in want, and devising new ways to raise money, however mean and despicable. I cannot omit one artful and almost ludicrous method which Rufus practised to raise money, in the war with his brother Robert, who had engaged the French in his interest. "Under pretence (says M. Rapin, from Simeon Dunelmensis, Matthew Paris, &c.) that there was occasion for supplies of men, William Rufus [then in Normandy] sent orders into England, to raise, with all possible speed, 20,000 men. In raising this army, such were purposely taken for soldiers who were well to pass, or to whom it was very inconvenient to leave their families, When these levies were going to embark, the King's Treasurer told them, by his order, '* that they might every man return home, upon payment of ten shit* lings each." This news was so acceptable to the soldiers, listed thus against their wills, that there was not one but who was glad to be dismissed at so easy a rate. By this means William raised the sum of 10,0Q0Z, with which he bribed the French to retire. Various other instances of extortion and rapacity (though not attended with so much ingenuity as this) might be adduced from the history of this Reign, recorded by contemporary writers; but enough has been mentioned to convince us that but little order or decorum is to be expected within the walls of the Court of so unprincipled a King. On the contrary, indeed, all writers agree * in their accounts of the dissolute manners of his Household and Adherents, which called forth rigid edicts in the next Reign, for the suppression of vices which had grown too flagrant to be removed by reprobation alone. The crimes laid to the charge of his retinue were, some of them, of the most serious nature, and required an uncommon exertion of severity; as we shall see presently. "In the magnificence of his Court and buildings, however, (says Lord Lyttelton *,) he greatly exceeded any King of that age. But though his profuseness (continues his Lord* ship) arose from a noble and generous nature, it must be accounted rather a vice than a virtue; as, in order to supply the unbounded extent of it, he was very rapacious. If he had lived long, his expences would have undone him, and they had brought him some years before his death into such difficulties, that even if his temper had not been despotic, his necessities would have rendered him a Tyrant.
* Saxon Chronicle.
t "Per Vultum di Lucca." See Lord Lyttelton's note, vol. i. p. 424, octavo. I have seen a private letter from his Lordship in defence of his opinion.
* " Ipse namque, et qui ei famulabantur (says Matthew Paris) omnia rapiebant, omnia conterebant, et subvertebant. Adulteria violenter, et impune committebant, quicquid fraudis et nequitiae antea non erat, his temporibus pullulavit." Henry of Huntingdon uses nearly the same, but rather stronger, expressions. •
After so had an oeconomist (to say no worse of William Rufus), we may hope to see a more prudent direction of the revenues of the State, and a less abandoned Retinue
* Introduction tq History pf Henry II.
about the Royal Person. This is, however, Do great compliment to Henry, who succeeded; for a moderate character will appear with some degree of lustre, after one so very much disfigured as that of Rufus. Henry had, without question, many good qualities. He was a wise and prudent Prince, and, as the Saxon Chronicle says, "magno honore habitus *;" but yet, we shall discover, one of his ruling passions was avarice, when we come to look nearly into his interior conduct in life. There was a glaring inconsistency in his very outset; for, soon after his accession, we find him punishing and imprisoning the abettors of William Rufus's exactions, and, among the rest, Ranulph Bishop of Durham, the Minister and instrument of all those oppressive and unwarr rantable measures; and yet, very soon after, we behold Henry sequestering to his own use the revenues of the Archbishopric of Canterbury, and keeping them in his bands for five years, after the example of the very man whose rapacious conduct he had, but just
* Saxon Chronicle, p. 237.