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well suppose, would have been glad to invent and propagate any story to my disadvantage, but they could never find any which they thought would wear the face of probability. I cannot say there is no vanity in making this funeral oration of myself, but I hope it is not a misplaced one; and this is a matter of fact which is easily cleared and ascertained.


(From “ History of England.”) WHEN [1170] the suspended and excommunicated prelates arrived at Baieux, where the king (Henry II.] then resided, and complained to him of the violent proceedings of Becket [Archbishop of Canterbury, and Primate of all England], he instantly perceived the consequences; was sensible that his whole plan of operations was overthrown; foresaw that the dangerous contest between the civil and religious powers — a contest which he himself had first roused, but which he had endeavored by all his late negotiations and concessions to appease — must come to an immediate and decisire issue; and he was thence thrown into the most violent commotion, The Archbishop of York remarked to him that so long as Becket lived he could never expect to enjoy peace or tranquillity. The king himself being vehemently agitated, burst forth into an exclamation against his servants whose want of zeal, he said, had so long left him exposed to the enterprises of that ungrateful and ambitious prelate.

Four gentlemen of his household, - Reginald Fitz-Urse, William de Traci, Hugh de Moreville, and Richard Brito, – taking these passionate expressions to be a hint for Becket's death, immediately communicated their thoughts to each other; and swearing to avenge their prince's quarrel, secretly withdrew from court. Some menacing expressions which they had dropped gave a suspicion of their design; and the king despatched a messenger after them, charging them to attempt nothing against the person of the primate; but these orders arrived too late to prevent their fatal purpose.

The four assassins, though they took different roads to England, arrived nearly about the same time at Saltwoode, near Canterbury; and being joined there by some assistants, proceeded in great haste to the archi-episcopal palace. They found the primate — who trusted entirely to the sacredness of his character — very slenderly attended; and though they threw out many menaces and reproaches against him, he was so incapable of fear — that, without using any precautions against their violence, he immediately went to St. Benedict's Church to hear vespers. They followed him thither, attacked him before the altar, and having cloven his head with many blows, retired without meeting with any opposition.

This was the tragical end of Thomas à Becket - a prelate of the most lofty, intrepid, and inflexible spirit, who was able to cover to the world, and probably to himself, the enterprises of pride and ambition under the disguise of sanctity and zeal for the interests of religion. An extraordinary personage, surely, had he been allowed to remain in his first station, and had he directed the vehemence of his character to the support of law and justice, instead of being engaged by the prejudices of the times to sacrifice all private duties and public connections to ties which he imagined or represented as superior to every civil and political consideration. But no man who enters into the genius of that age can reasonably doubt of this prelate's sincerity. The spirit of superstition was so prevalent that it infallibly caught every careless reasoner -- much more every one whose interest, and honor, and ambition were engaged to support it.


(From "History of England.”) The suspicions which soon arose [1327] of Queen Isabella's criminal commerce with Mortimer, the proofs which daily broke out of this part of her guilt, increased the general abhorrence against her; and her hypocrisy in publicly bewailing with tears the king's unhappy fate, was not able to deceive even the most stupid and most prejudiced of her adherents. In proportion as the queen became the object of public hatred, the dethroned monarch who had been the viction of her crimes and her ambition, was regarded with pity, with friendship, with veneration ; and men became sensible that all bis misconduct, which faction had so much exaggerated, had been owing to the unavoidable weakness, not to any voluntary depravity, of his character.

The Earl of Leicester, - now Earl of Lancaster, -- to whose custody he had been committed, was soon touched with those generous sentiments; and besides using his prisoner with gentleness and humanity, he was suspected to have entertained still more honorable intentions in his favor. The king, therefore, was taken from his hands, and delivered over to Lord Berkeley and Maltravers and Gournay, who were intrusted alternately each for a month — with the charge of guarding him.

While he was in the custody of Berkeley he was still treated with the gentleness due to his rank and his misfortunes; bût when the turn of Maltravers and Gournay came, every species of indignity was practised against him, as if their intention had been to break entirely the prince's spirit, and to employ his sorrows and afflictions, instead of more violent and more dangerous expedients, for the instruments of his murder. It is reported that one day when Edward was to be shaved, they ordered cold and dirty water to be brought from the ditch for that purpose; and when he desired it to be changed, and was still denied his request, he burst into tears, which bedewed his cheeks; and he exclaimed that, in spite of their insolence, he should be shaved with clean and warm water.

But as this method of laying Edward in the grave appeared still too slow to the impatient Mortimer, he secretly sent orders to the two keepers, who were at his devotion, instantly to despatch him ; and these ruffians contrived to make the manner of his death as cruel and barbarous as possible. Taking advantage of Berkeley's sickness, in whose custody he then was, and who was thereby incapacitated from attending his charge, they proceeded to Berkeley Castle, and put themselves in possession of the king's person. They threw him on a bed, held him down violently with a table which they flung over him; thrust into his fundament a red-hot iron, which they inserted through a horn ; and though the outward marks of violence upon his person were prevented by this expedient, the horrid deed was discovered to all the guards and attendants by the screams with which the agonized king filled the castle while his bowels were consuming.


(From "History of England.”) The success which Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, from his cautious and prudent conduct, had met with in governing the Parliament, and engaging them to concur both in the marriage of Queen Mary and Philip of Spain, and in the re-establishment of the ancient religion, — two points to which it was believed they bore an extreme aversion, — had so raised his character for wisdom and policy, that his opinion was received as an oracle in the Council; and his authority, as it was always great in his own party, no longer suffered any opposition or control. Cardinal Pole himself — though more beloved on account of his virtue and candor, and though superior in birth and station — had not an equal weight in public deliberations ; and while his learning, piety, and humanity were extremely respected, he was represented more as a good man than a great minister. A very important question was frequently debated before the Queen and Council by these two ecclesiastics : whether the laws lately revived against heretics should be put in execution, or should only be employed to restrain by terror the bold attempts of these zealots ?

Pole was very sincere in his religious principles; and though his moderation had made him be suspected at Rome of a tendency toward Lutheranism, he was seriously persuaded of the Catholic doctrines, and thought that no consideration of human policy ought ever to come in competition with such important interests. Gardiner, on the contrary, had always made his religion subservient to his schemes of safety or advancement, and by his unlimited complaisance to Henry VIII. he had shown that, had he not been pushed to extremity under the late minority, he was sufficiently disposed to make a sacrifice of his principles to the established theology. This was the well-known character of these two great councillors; yet such is the prevalence of temper above system, that the benevolent disposition of Pole led him to advise a toleration of the heretical tenets which he highly blamed; while the severe disposition of Gardiner inclined him to support by persecution that religion which at the bottom he regarded with great indifference.

This circumstance of public condnct was of the highest importance; and from being the object of deliberation in the council, it soon became the subject of discourse throughout the nation. We shall relate, in a few words, the topics by which each side supported, or might have supported, their scheme of policy : and shall display the opposite reasons which have been employed with regard to an argument that ever has been, and ever will be, so much canvassed.

The practice of persecution, said the defenders of Pole's opinion, is the scandal of all religion; and the theological animosity so fierce and violent, far from being an argument of men's conviction in their opposite sects, is a certain proof that they have never reached any serious persuasion with regard to those remote and sublime subjects. .. But while men zealously maintain what they neither comprehend nor entirely believe, they are shaken in their imagined faith by the opposite persuasion or even doubts of other men, and vent on their antagonists that impatience which is the natural result of so disagreeable a state of the understanding; and if they can also find a color for connecting this violence with the interests of civil government, they can no longer be restrained from giving uncontrolled scope to vengeance and resentment. But surely never enterprise was more unfortunate than that of founding persecution upon policy, or endeavoring, for the sake of policy, to settle an entire uniformity of opinion in questions which of all others are least subject to the criterion of human reason. The universal and uncontradicted prevalence of one opinion in religious subjects can be owing at first to the stupid ignorance alone and barbarism of the people, who never indulge themselves in any speculation or inquiry; and there is no expedient for maintaining that uniformity so fondly sought after, but by banishing forever all curiosity and all improvement in science and cultivation. It may not, indeed, appear difficult to check, by steady severity, the first beginnings of controversy ; but besides that this policy exposes forever the people to all the abject terrors of superstition, and the magistrate to the endless encroachiments of ecclesiastics; it also renders men so delicate that they can never endure to hear of opposition. . . . But whatever may be said in favor of suppressing by persecution the first beginnings of heresy, no solid arguments can be alleged for exercising severity toward multitudes, or endeavoring by capital punishment to extirpate an opinion which has diffused itself among men of every rank and station. Besides the extreme barbarity of such an attempt, it commonly proves ineffectual to the purpose intended; and serves only to make men more obstinate in their persuasion, and to increase the number of their proselytes. ... Open the door to toleration, mutual hatred relaxes among the sectaries; their attachment to their particular modes of religion decays; the common occupations and pleasures of life succeed to the acrimony of disputation, and the same man who in other circumstances would have braved fames and tortures is induced to change his sect from the smallest prospect of favor and advancement, or even from the frivolous hope of becoming more fashionable in his principles. If any exception can be admitted to this maxim of toleration, it will only be where a theology altogether new is imported from foreign countries, and may easily at one

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