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that purpose : But Robert de Broc, « and peace in my blood. Bxt in to whom the house was better the name of God, I forbid you to known, shewed them a passage "hurt any of my people. They through a window, by which they now rushed upon him, and engot in, and, not finding Becket in deavoured to drag him out of the any chamber of the palace, fol. church, with an intention (as they lowed him to the cathedral. When afterwards declared themselres) to the monks within saw them coming, carry him in bonds to the king; they haftened to lock the door; or, if they could not do that, to but the archbishop forbad them to kill him in a less facrod place : do it, saying, "You ought not to but he clinging fast to one of the " make a castle of the church. It pillars of the choir, they could " will protect us jufciently without not force him from thence. Dur. " being Shut: nor did I come hither ing the struggle he thook William " to reft, but to frffer." Which de Tracey fo roughly, that he al. they not regarding, he himself most threw him down; and as Re. opened the door, called in fome of ginald Fitzurfe prest harder upon the monks, who stood without, him than any of the others, he and then went up to the high thrust bim away, and called him altar.
pimp. This opprobrious language The knights, finding, no ob- more enraged that violent man; ftacle, rushed into the choir, and, he lifted up his fword against the brandishing their weapons, ex- head of Becket, who then bowing claimed, " Where is Thomas his neck, and joining his hands " Becket? where is that traitor to together in a posture of prayer, 15 the king and kingdom?" at recommended his own foal, and which he making no answer, they the cause of the church, to God, called out more loudly, " Where and to the saints of that cathedral " is the archbishop ? He then But one of the monks of Canter. turned, and coming down the bury interposing his arm to ward fleps of the altar, « Here am I, off the blow, it was almost cot " no traitor, but a priet. Wbat off; and the archbishop also was " would you have with me? I am wounded in the crown of his «s reads 1o luffer in the name of him head. He food a second ftroke, " who redeemed me with his blood, which likewife fell of his head, in " God forbid that I would fly for the same devout pofture, without “ fear of your swords, or recede a motion, word, or groan: but, " from justice," "They once more after receiving a third, he fell commanded him to take off the proftrate on his face ; and all the excommunication and fufpenfion accomplices presling now to: of the bishops. He replied, " No fare in the murder, a piece of his 16 satisfaction has yet been made ; fkull was ftruck off by Richard " nor will I absolve them. Then Brico. Lastly, Hugh the fubdea" (faid they) thou shalt inftanily con, who had joined himself to “ die, according to thy desert. them at Canterbury, scooped out " I am ready to die (answered he) the brains of the dead archbishop " that the church may obtain liberty with the point of a sword, and
fcattered them over the pave- came the champion of the church
from an ambitious desire of sharing Thus, in the fifty-third year of its power; a power more inde. his age, was assassinated Thomas pendent on the favour of the king, Becket'; a man of great talents, and therefore more agreable to the of elevated thoughts, and of in. haughtinefs of his mind, than that vincible courage ; but of a most which he had enjoyed as a mi. violent and turbulent fpirit; ex. nister of the crown. And this sur cessively passionate, haughty, and picion is increased by the marks vain-glorious ; in his resolutions of cunning and falseness, which inflexible, in his resentments im are evidently seen in his conduct placable. It cannot be denied that on some occasions. Neither is it he was guilty of a wilful and pre- impoffible, that, when first he almeditated perjury : that he op. sumed his new character, he might posed the necessary course of pub- act the part of a zealot, merely lic ju ftice, and acted in defiance or principally from motives of arof the laws of his country ; laws rogance and ambition ; yet, af. which he had most folemnly ac- terwards, being engaged, and inknowledged and confirmed: nor flamed by the contest, work himis it less evidents that; during the felf up into a real enthusiasm. heat of this dispute, he was in The continual praises of those che highest degree ongrateful to a with whom he acted, the honours very kind master, whose' confi. done him in his exile by all the dence in him had been boundless, clergy of France, and the vanity and who from a private condition which appears so predominant in had advanced him to be the fe- his mind, may have conduced to cond man in his kingdom. On operate fuch a change. He cer: what morives he acted can be cer- tainly shewed in the latter part of tainly judged of by him alone to his life a spirit as fervent as the wbom all bearis are open. He warmest enthusiaft's : such a spirit might be misled by the prejudices indeed as constitutes heroism, when of a bigotted age, and think he it exerts itself in a cause beneficial was doing an acceptable service to to mankind. Had he defended God, in contending, even to the established laws of his country, death, for the utmost excess of and the fundamental rules of civil ecclefiaftical and papal authority. justice, with as much zeal and Yet the strength of his under: intrepidity as he opposed them, standing, his conversation in courts he would have deferved to be and camps, among persons whofe ranked with those great men, whofc nocions were more free and ena vittues make one easily forget the larged, the different colour of his allay of fome natural imperfece former life, and the suddenness of tions : but, unhappily, his good the change which feemed to be qualities were fo misapplied, that wrought in him upon his election they became no less hurtful to $0 Canterbury, would make one the public weal of the kingfufpect, as many did in the times dom, than the worst of his wherein he lived, thar he only be. vices.
Commentaries on the Laws of Eng. to be, principally consulted, are
land. Books the first and fecard; often exceedingly dark, doubtful in two volumes quarto. By Wilc and intricate ; whilft those on the liam- Blackstone, Ejg. Vinerian other hand, in which any degree
Profesor of Law, and Solicitor. of clearness is to be found, owe it · general to her Majesty. The second chiefly to the will of the fovereign,
edition. Oxford: printed at the being preposterously adopted, as a Clarendon presso
measure of a subject's right.
Of these two evils, want of per. THE Royal prophet, speak. fpicuity, and want of a strict reT ing of the divine law, fays, gard to universal justice; the former that it was a light to the eyes of must be allowed to be the most tothe undertanding, which imparted lerable, as it may be conquered by wisdom to the moft simple. . an extraordinary degree of appli.
It were much to be wished, that cation in some of the members of what David thus faid of the laws the community, while the amo.' of God, could, almost with any ence consequent on security and allowance, be said of the laws of created by it, will furnish others men; so that while the universal with the means, occasionally, to par. justice, and extensive principles, on chase their knowledge and advice. which they were founded, should The latter evil nothing can com. enlighten and enlarge the under. pensate for, except the temporary standing of the wiselt, their com. hope of an extraordinary degree of prehensive clearness and perfpicu. wisdom and goodness in the fove. ity should give immediate infor. reign; endowments little to be ex. mation and knowledge to the most pected, and seldom to be found in fimple ; and that mankind Tould men, liable from their cradles to fear to break them, from a consci. imbibe the poison of Aattery, and oufness of their apparent and on the intoxication of power. doubted equity, and a reverential It must not however be diflem." sense of the benefits, which they bled, but that in the former case, continually imparted. Ifeven or. the necessity of such a tedious and dinary rulers, who are invested tiresome application, by one part with an authority merely judicial of the members of the community, and executive, pretend to claim to acquire a knowledge of the lates some resemblance to the Deity; in of their country, and the confe. the casual difpenfation of law; it quent loss of time and money, should certainly be the part of which the others muft be at to pay grčat legislators of nations, to en. for the fruits of their laboors, deavour to resemble him in the which, in fact, is to purchase the propermanent establishment of it. tection of those laws, are too apt 10
It is unfortunate that few hu- weaken, and in time totally to wear man bodies of law, if any, can out of men' minds, that affection be said to possess perspicuity, to. and reverential awe, which we gether with a stridt regard to uni. ought to bear towards the laws of versal justice. Those in which the our country. This habitual affecfalus populi is, -as it ought always tion and awe is infinitely prefere
able to the: multiplicity of penal tutes, their digests, their abridge. factions, which are the reproach menrs, and their dictionaries, have of moft Tyttems of laws. , . r
on . all their uie.
But WII. In this, ficuation of things, we stone is the first who has treated muft owe 110 trivial obligation to the law of England as a liberal any gentleman of abilities equal science. His commentaries, beto the talk, who will take the sides affording equal instruction, pains to remove any part of the are infinitely better calculated to obscurity in which our fyftem of render that instruction agreeable. laws is involved, and thereby con. His book may' vie with the purity tribute to render the whole more and elegance of the writers of the intelligible. - It will increase this - Roman laws in its best age. They * obligation if we reflect, that the are not, therefore, the subjects of .. law bas been long looked on, as England only, or those that unthe moft disagreeable of all itu. derstand our language, that are dies; and of so dry, disgusting, likely to be benefitted by this heavy a nature, that fiudents of work. It will probably be tranf. vivacity and genius were deter. lated into others of the Eoropean. red from entering upon it, and languages; and become a diffufiye those of a quite contrary caft were benefit, by bringing other nations looked upon as the fittest to en- acquainted with the advantages of counter the great difficulties which a free conftitution. attended a science, which, how. Mr. Blackstone acquaints us, in ever excellent in its principles, his preface, that he gave private lay in fuch a state of rudeness and lectures on the laws of England disorder.
in the university of Oxford, beThefe obligations we owe to fore Mr. Viner had left funds to Mr. Blackstone, who has entirely establish public ones; a circumeleared the law of England from stance greatly to his honour, as so the rubbish in which it was bu. able a lawyer could not fail of ried ; and now news it to the pub- employing his talents to much lic, in a clear, concise, and intel. greater advantage at the bar. ligible form. This matterly writer Upon the death of Mr. Viner, the has not confined himself to dif. university elected him first Vine. charge the tak of a mere juriscon- rian profeffor , and as this election sult; he takes a wider range, and was an honour to the university ; unites the historian and politician fo it was a happiness to the me. with the lawyer. He traces the mory of Mr. Viner, that they had first establishment of our laws, de. such a man to elect. , velopes the principles on which Mr. Blackstone introduces witat they are grounded, examines their he more immediately calls his propriety and efficacy, and some commentaries or lectures, with
iimes points out wherein they may four sections. The first is on the - be altered for the better. , ftudy of the law, in which after
It is not to be denied, but that mentioning many motives of a many law-writers have before private nature, for its being made wrote treatises, which were very inore or less part of almoft every much to the purpose; their insti. man's education, he very judici.
oofly points out one of a more of England in general; and the public consideration. After re fourth treats of the countries (abs marking, that all gentlemen of jeet to those laws. fortune are, in consequence of their What Mr. Blackstone Szers property, liable to be called upon more properly so conídes as his to establish the rights, to estimate commentaries, is divided into two the injuries, to weigh the accura. books; the first concerning the tions, and sometimes to dispose of rights or doties of persons ;, che ihe lives of their fellow-subjects, second concerning the rights of by serving upon juries : That in things, or those rights which a tbis ftuation they have frequently man may acquire, in and to lock a right to decide, and that upon external things, as are unconnected their oath, questions of nice im. with his person, portance, in the solution of which The first book treats, in as many some legal skill is requisite ; efpee different chapters, of the follow cially where the law and the fact, ing subjects of the absolute as it often happens, are intimately rights of individuals ; the parlia blended together; he pertinently ment; the king and his title; the adds: " And the general incapa. king's royal family; the councils city, even of our bet juries, to belonging to the king; the king's do this with any tolerable proprie duties ; the king's prerogative; ty, has greatly debased their au- the king's revenue ;-Cubordinate thority; and has unavoidably magiftrates, the people, whether thrown more power into the bands aliens, denizens, or natives ;, the of judges, to direct, control, and clergy ; the civil ftate; the milie even reverse their verdicts, than tary and maritime tates; makers perhaps the conftitution intended." and servants; busband and wife;
This lection concludes with a cu- parent and child ; guardian and rious history of the many struggles, ward ; corporations, between our and the Roman (com. The second book treats, in fo monly called by way of excel. many different chapters likewise, Jence, the civil) laws, and the of property in general; of real great victory lately gained by the property į and first of corporeal former, by its being put, in conse. hereditaments, of incorporeal hequence of Mr. Viner's will, upon reditaments; of the feodal systems; an equal fooring with the latter in of the ancient English senurtes ; of one of our universities.
the modern Engħin tenures; of The second section of the in. freehold estates of inheritance ; troduction is on the nature of of freeholds not of inheritances laws in general. In this section, of estates less than frechold; of the British constitution is proved estates upon condition ; of estates to be the beft for the bulk of the in posseflion, remainder, and re., people ; not only in spite, but ra- version ; of eftates in feveralty, ther in consequence, of the share joint tenancy, coparcenarys and of monarchical power residing in common; of the title to things the prince, and of aristocratical real in general ; of title by de. lodged in the nobles.
fçent; of title by purchase ; and The third section is on the laws firft, by escheat; of title by occu
... Proin one's pancy ;.