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Which made for the more glory of the master,
'Tis not what
Becket. Crying injustice ! able to bring down
Henry. Thank heaven we have one milk-white soul among us !-
Becket. There was no perjury !
Hear this ! hear this !-
[To the Bishops. Did your supreme here (give me your corporate voice), Swear to our constitutions, ea or no?
Becket. Foolish children that would judge their father!-
Fraud within fraud !
Becket. His Holiness can ne'er absolve, except
Yes, you may load
My dear liege !
Henry. To save the church !
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,
I know it,
Henry. Good man!—Thou would'st betake thyself to Louis,
On that summons
Henry. Ha ! ha!
Becket. Sir! sir ! 'tis truth ; and he who here
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,
Winchester. My liege, accept two thousand marks from hin,
Henry. I will not, Winchester !
[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,
London (to him). 'Twas thou thyself who led'st us to subscribe
Becket. Folliott, thou shalt be ever
[Turning to the other Bishops who implore him.
York. There's no stopping some men
Becket. 'Tis plain, sir King! lord of these lower skies !
At thy behest ?
Henry. All this, because I summon a state debtor,
The goods of a respectless feudatory-
Barons. High treason, an appeal to Rome!
Henry. Pronounce his sentence straight !
Becket. I will not drink pollution through mine ears !
Henry. Hear how the wolf can howl!
Since impious men
Henry. He means his turreted Elysium
Becket. And have decreed its sole defender here,
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
Becket. Since then, perverse ! thou seem'st
[Exit. Henry. The wolf's dog-mad!
67.—THE GREATNESS OF THE CLERGY.
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