Unformatted text preview: , and honour, and ambition, were engaged to support it. All the wretched literature of the times was inlisted on that side: Some faint glimmerings of common sense might sometimes pierce through the thick cloud of ignorance, or what was worse, the illusions of perverted science, which had blotted out the sun, and enveloped the face of nature: But those who preserved themselves untainted by the general contagion, proceeded on no principles which they could pretend to justify: They were more indebted to their total want of instruction, than to their knowledge, if they still retained some share of understanding: Folly was possessed of all the schools as well as all the churches; and her votaries assumed the garb of philosophers together with the ensigns of spiritual dignities. Throughout that large collection of letters, which bears the name of St. Thomas, we find, in all the retainers of that aspiring prelate, no less than in himself, a most entire and absolute conviction of the reason and piety of their own party, and a disdain of their antagonists: Nor is there less cant and grimace in their stile, when they address each other, than when they compose manifestos for the perusal of the public. The spirit of revenge, violence, and ambition, which accompanied their conduct, instead of forming a presumption of hypocrisy, are the surest pledges of their sincere attachment to a cause, which so much flattered these domineering passions. Henry, on the first report of Becket’s violent measures, had Grief and submission purposed to have him arrested, and had already taken some steps of the king. towards the execution of that design: But the intelligence of his murder threw the prince into great consternation; and he was immediately sensible of the dangerous consequences, which he had reason to apprehend from so unexpected an event. An archbishop of reputed sanctity, assassinated before the altar, in the exercise of his functions, and on account of his zeal in maintaining ecclesiastical privileges, must attain the highest honours of martyrdom; while his murderer would be ranked among the most bloody tyrants, that ever were exposed to the hatred and PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 230 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 detestation of mankind. Interdicts and excommunications, weapons in themselves so terrible, would, he foresaw, be armed with double force, when employed in a cause so much calculated to work on the human passions, and so peculiarly adapted to the eloquence of popular preachers and declaimers. In vain would he plead his own innocence, and even his total ignorance of the fact: He was sufficiently guilty, if the church thought proper to esteem him such: And his concurrence in Becket’s martyrdom, becoming a religious opinion, would be received with all the implicit credit, which belonged to the most established articles of faith. These considerations gave the king the most unaffected concern; and as it was extremely his interest to clear himself from all suspicion, he took no care to conceal the depth of his affliction. r He shut himself up from the light of day and from all commerce with his servants: He even refused during three days all food and sustenance:s The courtiers, apprehending dangerous effects from his despair, were at last obliged to break in upon his solitude; and they employed every topic of consolation, induced him to accept of nouri...
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This note was uploaded on 02/12/2011 for the course CHIN 101 taught by Professor Dr.yu during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .
- Spring '08