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by a government popular without is a strange inconsistency in human meanness, and strong without vio- nature ! The greatest minds often lence. But bribes and a standing fall into weaknesses, which the army of the moft odious foreign lowest would be ashamed of; and mercenaries were the wretched sup- persons of mean parts are exempt ports, on which his fucceffor lean- from certain follies, which very ed, to secure a precarious and un- wise ones are enslaved to! Nordid natural power. ' Instead of gradu. this superiority in Stephen produce ally trying to shake off the fetters, such effects on his goveroment, as which the
church had imposed up- might have been naturally expecton him at his accession to the crown, ed from it. The weakest bigot by the proper and legal assistance that ever reigned could not have of parliament, he was continually sacrificed more of the rights of the weakening the royal authority, by state to a false sense of religion, further concessions to the bishops, than he did to false notions of inin hopes of attaching them more tereft and ambition. firmly to his interefts; and, when Considering him in the moft fa. he ventured to quarrel with them, vourable light, we shall find him he did it in a manner, which hurt unfit for a throne. If he had been the privileges of his temporal ba- only an earl of Montagne and rons no less than theirs, and made Boulogne, he might, perhaps, by civil liberty appear to be interested his courage, liberality, and goodin their defence. Thus he destroyed nature, have supported that rank the only ground upon which he with a very fair reputation. But could stand, and changed the na. no great idea can be formed of a ture of the question between him monarch, whose whole conduct and Matilda, making her cause, broke every rule of good and true and her son's, the cause of the na- policy: who having gained his tion, instead of a personal claim of crown by the love of the pation, inheritance.
governed by foreign minifters, and His private life was better by foreign arms; yet, at the same far than his public conduct. He time, gave way to innovations was a good husband and kind fa. which rendered his subjects formi. ther : but to his children, as well dable to him ; then, by all the as to his friends, he was too kind, means of absolute despotism, withand took no care to restrain the out regard to law or justice, esvices of their youth ; a fault, deavoured to subdue the power he which is indeed very blameable in had raised; and after having made a king, because of the mischiefs his whole reign a long civil was, it may afterwards bring upon his purchased at last a dishonourable people.
and joyless peace, by excluding He was remarkably free from his son from the succeffion to the superstition; a merit uncommon crown, adopting his enemy, and in that ignorant age, and seeming leaving himself little more than to indicate a strength of under the vain pageantry and name of standing, which did not belong to a king. him in any other refpects. There
Cba. the same,
Chara&er of Siward, Earl of Nor- ferior to either of them in valour thumberland. From the fame. But no force of magnanimity or
natural courage in a nation can HE TH
Englishman, whom enable it to resist a superior disci. William the First trusted pline, and a greater skill in the art and favoured most, was Waltheof, of war. eldest son to Siward earl of Northumberland, famous for his victory over the tyrant of Scotland, Character of Henry the Second. From Macbeth.
This Siward was one of the most extraordinary men who lived in those times.
monarchs, in war, Huntington or while they are struggling says, he was almost a giant in fta. with the storms of adversity, link, ture, and had a strength of mind in tranquillity, into an effeminate not inferior to that of his body. In and negligent indolence, which the battle against Macbeth he loft seems to unnerve all the vigour of his son, and we are told, that, when their minds. But Henry Plantahe was informd of his death, he genet was not one of those. Peace asked the messenger, “Whether he
" Whether he did not lay his virtues alleep ; it " had received the mortal wound only gave them a different exercise. « before or behind ?" Being an- His courage and magnanimity were swered, that " it was before," he then exerted in correcting the asaid; «I greatly rejoice ; for I buses of government, and bringing “ efteem no other death worthy of the state of the whole kingdom as “ me, or my son.” Another writer near to perfection as the times relates, that, feeling himself ready would permit. How far he had to expire from the violence of a gone, before, in this arduous work, bloody flux, he said, “It was a shame the reader has seen. But a wife “ for a warrior, who had ineffectu. prince will never think of endea“ally fought death in so many bat. vouring to reform all evils at once; « tles, to die now like a beast,” much less such as are covered un. and therefore he commanded his der respectable names, Where he fervants to clothe him in a com- has not only faction but prejudice. plete suit of armour, look his battle- to contend with, he will proceed. axe in his right hand, his shield in with great caution, wait for prohis left, and in that martial habit per seasons, and be fure, by other and posture gave up the ghost. trials, that his authority is too
This was exactly in the spirit of Atrong to be easily bafled. Nay, the ancient Goths or Celts: and he will be patient till he has o'ne should have thought that a brought the voice of the public to great kingdom, the nobility of declare itfelf loudly in favour of which bad these sentiments, was in the reformation he meditates. Henno danger of being conquered a ry did thus, with regard to the in. few years afterwards, by foreign dependency on the civil power, arms. The son of Siward, Earl which, in Stephen's reign, the Waltheof, did not degenerate from English clergy had arrogated to his father: nor was Hereward in. 'themselves, and still continued to Vol. X.
cl m. But before I enter upon were the greatest we read of in our thiubject, I think it will be pro- hiftory, he afligned the tenth past per to give some account of him in of the provisions of his housold, those parts
of his character, which to be constantly given in daily alms make us acquainted with the man as to the poor. His treasures were well as the king. I shall also deli- ever open to all men of merit; but neate a short sketch of the customs he was particularly liberal in his and manners of the nation, and en- presents to Itrangers, who came to deavour to supply whatsoever is visit his court; as many did from wanting for the information of the all the nations in Europe, drawn reader, in the civil and political by his fame, which was every Itate of the kingdom.
where high and illustrious. GiralThe person of Henry was maf. dus Cambrentis, a writer of confi. culine and robuft, excelling rather derable note in those days, speaks in itrength of limbs and dignity of of him with some degree of cenaspect, than in delicate or exact sure on this account; as if his havproportions of beauty. Yer his ing been so lavish to foreigners was features were good; and, when his a detriment to his servants and do. mind was serene, there was in his mestic attendants, who were better eyes a great sweetness; but, when entitled to his gifts. But very lite he was angry, they seemed to fpar- tle regard is due to that author in kle with fire, and dart out flathes what he says againft Henry, toof lightning, says Peter of Blois, wards whom he was foured, pot in a description he gives of him to only by his prejudices as an ecclethe archbishop of Palermo. This fialtic, but by having been dir. paflionate temper, which shewed appointed in his hopes of promoitself in his countenance by such tion to the fee of St. David's, visible marks, was his greatest im- which I shall have occasion to say perfection : for, upon any fudden more of hereafter. His malignity provocation, he could not appears very strong in this instance: mand the firit motions of his rage, for surely that prince deserved no though at other times he pofieiied blame, but rather much commen. an extraordinary degree of pru- dation, for this part of his conduct. dence and judgment. Nevertheless A generous hofpitality is not the this infirinity never betrayed him leatt of royal virtues. It does hointo furious or cruel actions ; but nour to a nation, and is attended only broke out in words or gef. with many political benefits : for tures : vor did his anger long congueits, who have been obliged by tinue; and, when he was cool, his favours conferred upon them in a disp frion and behaviour were foreign court, return home the pargentle and humane. He was ten- uzans and friends of that court, derly compafionate to all persons and often serve it more usefully in diftreis; and his good æconomy than its own minifters. Nor can seemed to be chiefly employed in there be a more Mameful weaknefs providing an ampie fund for his in a king, than the allowing his charity and bounty. Besides what courtiers to consider his wealth as he laid our in acts of munificence a part of their property. Henry occasionally done, fome of which
was too wise to encourage such a
'notion. mainder rests,
notion. He did not fuffer those ing accused, in his presence, of about him to confine either his having, at the suggeition of the purse or his ear to themselves. As bishop of Worcester, talked of him his own judgment directed the indecently and to his dishonour, course of his bounty, so his affa. they did not deny the words which bility extended itself even to the were laid to their charge, but almeaneft of his subje&ts : infomuch ledged that they were fpoken when that his ministers must have found their minds were heated and disorit a very dificult matter to conceal dered with wine. On this apofrom him any truth, which it was logy, he dismissed them all without useful for hiin to know. But, any punishment, and retained no though his ears were always open unkindness towards them or the to information or complaint, his bishop : an admirable proof of true heart was fhut against calumny: magnanimity, and such as is found nor did any good servant, through in few princes! for even the best the whole course of his long reign, are sometimes more angry at any suffer any loss of favour or credit, liberty taken with their perfons, by the secret whispers of malice, than at an act of high treafon aor the vain and groundless clamour gainst their crown. Bat Henry's of popular rumours. He was so good-nature got the better of his constant in his friendships, and pride ; and he was so wise as to chose his minifters with such dis- know that his character would cretion, that not one of those whom gain more by this moderation, than he principally trusted was ever dif. it could suffer by any injurious afgraced; except only Becket, who perfions. Nor would he encourage rather quicred, than loft, the place the baseness and malignity of in. he had gained in his heart. The formers, who endeavour to recompersons who are most steady in their mend themselves to the favour of attachments are generally most apt a prince, by bringing to his ear the to retain their averfions: and I find unweighed expressions of men in it observed in the character of this their hours of freedom : a practice prince, that whom he once hated as pernicious to the quiet of the he could hardly be persuaded to fovereign as to the security of the admit any more to a share of his subject. Henry's behaviour on favour; but it does not appear that this occasion effectually delivered he ever hated without a fufficient his court from that pes, and rencause. With what a generous cle- dered the air of it pure and healthmency hè pardoned rebellions, and ful to liberty. other offences committed against Of the piety of this prince we himself, fome remarkable inftances have a remarkable testimony from have already been given, and more William Fitz-Stephen, a contemwill occur in the latter parts of porary writer of Becket's life. He this history : but there is one which iells us, that the king would someit is proper to take notice of here, times watch with the monks of as it will not fall in with the fe. Merton-abbey three nights before ries of events related in the follow. Easter: and ihat, after the evening books.
ing service on Good Friday, he Some gentlemen of his court be. was accustomed to spend the re
mainder of the night, till the hour and unexpected. “After they had of nine, when the service of Easter " finished their serious affairs, they eve begins, in walking on foot, and “played together,” says a writer muffled up in a cowl, with only of Becket's life,“ like two boys one companion, to visit all the “ of the same age." The king's poor churches in the neighbour, good humour seems, indeed, to have hood, and perform his devotions in been sometimes "too playful, in them. The serious sense of reli. " the eye of the public." But gion, which these practices feem to the notions of decorum were not indicate, however tinctured with a in those times so high and rigid degree of innocent fuperftition, de- now : nor could the military serves great praise ; and more espe life, then led by ouș monarchs, cially in a monarch, who with lo be rendered contistent with all that much spirit opposed the encroach- pride of royal ftare, which the ments of the church on the tempo. forms of a settled court are thought ral rights of the state.
to require. Indeed any king may No gentleman of that age excel. fafely and amiably diveft himself led him in politeness, or had a of þis majesty, in hours of recrea. more becoming and agreeable man- tion, if he knows how to keep it ner of conversing with all who ap- up, on proper occasions; and if proached him. His wit was very those companions, whom he chuses lively, but neither petulant nor to unbend himself with, are neither ill natured : so that it made him so mean, nor so vicious, as by their no enemies, nor ever let down the intimacy to dishonourand leisen his dignity of his character. He had character. Henry sported with his allo the advantage of a wonderful chancellor, and with the nobility memory, and a great flow of natus of his court : but ii does not apral eloquence ; which happy en- pear that he ever contaminated dowments he improved by a conti: himself with the low fociety of nual application to learning. For buffoons, or any of those who find he was not content (as princes access to the leisure hours of prinusually are) with the rudiments ac- ces, by miniftering to their vices, quired in his childhood ; but con- or foothing their follies. ftantly employed a great part of his His favourite diversion was leisure in secret study, or in affem - hunting; in which he followed blies of clergy men, with whom he the customs of his ancestors, and delighted to reason and hear their more especially of the Normans, opinions, on points of literature who took a pride in this exercise, and science. His daily school (lays as indicating a manly temper of Peter of Blois) was the conversa. mid, and forming the body to the tion of the most learned men, and toils and hardships of war. We a kind of academical discussion of are told by his preceptor, Peter of quelliɔns.
Blois, that when he was not readWith his intimate friends he ing, or at council, he had always lived in the most gracious and easy in his hands a sword, or a hunting familiarity,particularly with Beck spear, or a bow and arrows. The
et, to whose house and table he hunting spear was used against wild - would frequently come uninvited boars, which were then in our fo