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Which made for the more glory of the master,
Whose humour now condemns it was he, sire,
Who had been found a fraudful Chancellor
Deem'd fit to be a Primate?

'Tis not what
He had been deem'd, but what we've proved him since.

Becket. Crying injustice ! able to bring down
Those spheres in molten fragments on mankind,
But that 'twould crush the guiltless with the guilty !

Henry. Thank heaven we have one milk-white soul among us !-
Thou scarlet sinner !-why-my gorge is swoln
With names, not huge enough for thy vast insolence !
Tell me this—thou—who claim'st the saintship next
Vacant i' the calendar,—this, immaculate !-
Thou didst subscribe in these law-guarded terms
'Legally, with good faith, and without fraud,
Without reserve,'—to certain constitutions,
Which thou abjur'st now: does such perjury
Merit no lapidation from the spheres
If they did hurl their hissing firestones at us?

Becket. There was no perjury !

Hear this ! hear this !-
Sun-dwelling truth, hast thou not one bright dart
To strike him through the brain with ?-ye, grave Suffragans !

[To the Bishops. Did your supreme here (give me your corporate voice), Swear to our constitutions, ea or no?

Bishops. Yea!

Becket. Foolish children that would judge their father!-
I kept to what I swore, those constitutions,
While they were such : but when a power beyond
Thine to enact, annull’d them, how could I
Observe non-entities?

Fraud within fraud !
In this same wise you may play fast and loose
With any oath ; may be, for aught I know
My very true, sworn subject, on proviso,
Till you're absolved by bull into a traitor!

Becket. His Holiness can ne'er absolve, except
To save or serve the church.

Yes, you may load
The winds with loyal oaths, to piace your heart
Between mine and all stabbers, yet, even now,
Bear in one sleeve a permit to kill kings,
And in the other a poniard ?

My dear liege !
This is uncharitable.

Henry. To save the church !
To save the church, man !–Did the Romish altar
Burn for thy sovereign, as a sacrifice,
Thou’rt bound to slaughter him !-0 Thomas ! Thomas !
Could I e'er think that thou would'st pierce the heart

Of thy kind, loving, generous, royal master ?

Becket. Not generous now to say I'd pierce thy heart !

Henry. Thou hast done so !-if not with knife or brand,
With keen-cold weapon of ingratitude,
More poignant still !-- But 'tis no matter : go!
There is a gulf as wide as heaven from hell
Between us, across which 'tis vain to think
Of ever shaking hands !—I am thy enemy,
To thy perdition or my own!

I know it,
So would betake me into banishment,
And save a sacrilege unto thy soul.

Henry. Good man!—Thou would'st betake thyself to Louis,
To the French court, which breeds intriguants,
Fast as Lutetian filth breeds vermin vile,
Against my kingdom.---Twice thou hadst fled thither,
But that the roaring winds, our rough allies,
Forbade thy ship to fetch and carry treason !
My very seas rose up, upon my side,
Against thy steps !-Stay, and be baited here,
Till thy proud dewlaps drop with sweat and foam !
As a first humblercent, thy goods and chattels
Be all confiscate for contempt of court
And breach of fealty, in not attending
Our summons, when John Mareschal appeal'd thee
About the manour of Pagehain.

On that summons
I, being sick, sent four good household knights
To plead for me. Was this contempt? Was this
Devoir left unperform'd -Yea, when the cause
Itself, was weigh'd at mine own spiritual court
In scales which might have dropp'd from Libra stars,
As nice as conscience trims with trembling hand-

Henry. Ha ! ha!

Becket. Sir! sir ! 'tis truth ; and he who here
By royal subornation brings that cause,
Would blush for it,—but before this grave council,

Like it iniquitous ! [The Barons start up, and Becket's train advance. Becket raises his Crosier and Henry his Sceptre between them. Henry.

These sacred wands,
Not unanointed swords, decide the fray!
Archbishop, from thy last words, if no more,
I see thou art a self-devoted man
Unto destruction imminent !Take your way.

Winchester. My liege, accept two thousand marks from hin,
In lieu of all demands.

Henry. I will not, Winchester !
But thou another froward priest, de Blois,
Whose mitre coped thy brother Stephen's crown,
Shalt pronounce sentence for the full amount.

[They retiré some paces.

Norwich (to Becket). My lord, beseech you on my knees, submit, Or you, the church, and all of us are lost !

Salisbury (to him). We cannot be thy sureties for such sum,
Though for the less we might.
York (to him).

Take exhortation
From one a Primate like thyself, and moved
By most disinterested love, -resign
Thy see, to gain full peace, release, and pardon.

London (to him). 'Twas thou thyself who led'st us to subscribe
The constitutions, yet, when all too late,
Would'st have us now proclaim ourselves, with thee,
Rebels to royal power, and renegades
To our own oaths !

Becket. Folliott, thou shalt be ever
A stench i' the nostril of posterity!
Thou art corrupted, man! Primate of York,
This pall is much too weighty for thy shoulders !
Sarum, I always knew thee as a gryphon,
Keeping thy claw fast on thy hoarded gold !
Poor Norwich, thou art pitiful ye suffragans,

[Turning to the other Bishops who implore him.
Ay, who will suffer again, again, again,
(Spare me the pertinent quibble !) all the ills
That tyranny can heap on callous meanness,
Repose your deprecative arms! they'll soon
Have beggar's-work enough, when ye are turn'd
By foes o'the church against whom ye raise no finger,
To mendicant monks and alms men !--stay me not,
I will go forward !

York. There's no stopping some men
Upon their course down the steep fall of ruin!

Becket. 'Tis plain, sir King! lord of these lower skies !
Where you point all your thunderbolts. But let them
Break first on this bare head, as yon poor image
Placed shelterless aloft that pinnacle
Bears with mild brow the elemental brunt
To shield his fane beneath! Thou hast resolved,
I know, thy throne shall rise above all height
Upon the ruins of the downcast church,
Thy Babel-towering throne, from which shall come
Confusion o'er the land !-Have then thy will !
On this offensive mount, flourish a time,
Perish eternally!

At thy behest ?
Becket. There is a throne, compared to earthly ones,
Higher than heaven above the hills: dread thence
Thunderings, which shall shake thy throne to dust,
And bury thyself beneath it, and thy barons
Send down with blasted fronts, to be the spurn
Of devils less degraded towards their king !

Henry. All this, because I summon a state debtor,
Punish a peculator, and attach

The goods of a respectless feudatory-
By Mahmoud, that's strange doctrine !

Mere pretences
To crush the church in me!—I do appeal
'Gainst all your sentences and penalties
Unto the Pope ; and henceforth do commit
To his safeguard, myself and my whole See !

Barons. High treason, an appeal to Rome!

High traitor,
I then !—too high for ye to touch !-though graspers
For whom the sacristy holds no sacred things !
Nay, scowl on others, king it daunts not me!-
Thou—thou should'st rather quail beneath my frown !
Thy sword may kill the body, but this staff,
Sword of the militant church, which I do wield,
Can kill the soul !

Henry. Pronounce his sentence straight !
He is deprived of all his lands and holdings !

Becket. I will not drink pollution through mine ears !
Breathe it pot, Winchester till I am gone,
Lest it scorch up thy lips to whitest ashes !

Henry. Hear how the wolf can howl!

Since impious men
Whom strength makes wrongful, wrongfulness makes strong,
Plunder-swoln, gross with produce of all crime,
Band them against the battlements of heaven
On earth, to wit the bulwarks of the church.

Henry. He means his turreted Elysium
At Saltwood Park, to touch which we are Titans !

Becket. And have decreed its sole defender here,
Me !-me !-most violently trampled down-
Their mounting step to that assault sacrilegious,-

Henry. Why thou wert far above our reach but now !

Becket. Since prayer, plaint, rhetoric's mingled honey and gall, Cannot withhold them from the fathomless pit Gaping beneath their steps,-if they must follow Satan's dark inspirations to such deeds, Flagitious, dreadless, godless—which mute heaven Permits, but weeps at-good men's mazement, The angels' horror

Henry. Wipe from thy blest mouth
That surge of foam !

Becket. Since then, perverse ! thou seem'st
Desperate on self and state destruction both,
What more but this can parting Becket say,-
Thine and hell's will be done !

[Exit. Henry. The wolf's dog-mad!

[Scene closes.


BURKE. It will not be unpleasing to pause a moment at this remarkable period, in order to view in what consisted that greatness of the clergy, which enabled them to bear so very considerable a sway in all public affairs ; what foundations supported the weight of so vast a power ; whence it had its origin ; what was the nature, and what the ground, of the immunities they claimed; that we may the more fully enter into this important controversy, and may not judge, as some have inconsiderately done, of the affairs of those times by ideas taken from the present manners and opinions.

It is sufficiently known, that the first Christians, avoiding the Pagan tribunals, tried most even of their civil causes before the bishop, who, though he had no direct coercive power, yet, wielding the sword of excommunication, had wherewithal to enforce the execution of his judgments. Thus the bishop had a considerable sway in temporal affairs, even before he was armed by the temporal power. But the emperors no sooner became Christian, than, the idea of profaneness being removed from the secular tribunals, the causes of the Christian laity naturally passed to that resort where those of the generality had been before. But the reverence for the bishop still remained, and the remembrance of his former jurisdiction. It was not thought decent, that he, who had been a judge in his own court, should become a suitor in the court of another. The body of the clergy likewise, who were supposed to have no secular concerns, for which they could litigate, and removed by their character from all suspicion of violence, were left to be tried by their own ecclesiastical superiors. This was, with a little variation sometimes in extending, sometimes in restraining the bishops' jurisdiction, the condition of things whilst the Roman empire subsisted. But, though their immunities were great, and their possessions ample, yet living under an absolute form of government they were powerful only by influence. No jurisdictions were annexed to their lands'; they had no place in the senate, they were no order in the state.

From the settlement of the northern nations, the clergy must be considered in another light. The barbarians gave them large landed possessions; and by giving them land, they gave them jurisdiction, which, according to their notions, was inseparable from it. They made them an order in the state ; and as all the orders had their privileges, the clergy had theirs, and were no less sturdy to preserve, and ambitious to extend them. Our ancestors, having united the church dignities to the secular dignities of baronjes, had so blended the ecclesastical with the temporal power in the same persons, that it became almost impossible to separate them. The ecclesiastical was however prevalent in this composition, drew to it the other, supported it, and was supported by it. But it was not the devotion only, but the necessity, of the times, that raised the clergy to the excess of this greatness. The little learning, which then subsisted, remained wholly in their hands. Few among the laity could even read ; consequently the clergy alone were proper for public affairs. They were the statesmen, they were the lawyers ; from them were often taken the bailiffs of the seignorial courts; sometimes the sheriffs of counties, and almost constantly the justiciaries of the kingdom. The Norman kings, always jealous of their order, were always forced to employ them. In abbeys the law was studied; abbeys were the palladiums of the public liberty by the custody of the royal charters, and most of the records. Thus, necessary to the great by their knowledge, venerable to the poor by their hospitality, dreadful to all by the power of excommunication, the character of the clergy was exalted above every thing in

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