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Unformatted text preview: are all our pious endeavours now frustrated by the dissolute lives of the priests? Not that I throw any blame on you: You have reasoned, besought, inculcated, inveighed: But it now behooves you to use sharper and more vigorous remedies; and conjoining your spiritual authority with the civil power, to purge effectually the temple of God from thieves and intruders.”f It is easy to imagine, that this harangue had the desired effect: and that, when the king and prelates thus concurred with the popular prejudices, it was not long before the monks prevailed, and established their new discipline in almost all the convents. We may remark, that the declamations against the secular clergy are, both here and in all the historians, conveyed in general terms; and as that order of men are commonly restrained by the decency of their character, it is difficult to believe, that the PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 81 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 complaints against their dissolute manners could be so universally just as is pretended. It is more probable, that the monks paid court to the populace by an affected austerity of life; and, representing the most innocent liberties, taken by the other clergy, as great and unpardonable enormities, thereby prepared the way for the encrease of their own power and influence. Edgar, however, like a true politician, concurred with the prevailing party; and he even indulged them in pretensions, which, though they might, when complied with, engage the monks to support royal authority during his own reign, proved afterwards dangerous to his successors, and gave disturbance to the whole civil power. He seconded the policy of the court of Rome, in granting to some monasteries an exemption from episcopal jurisdiction: He allowed the convents, even those of royal foundation, to usurp the election of their own abbot: and he admitted their forgeries of ancient charters, by which, from the pretended grant of former kings, they assumed many privileges and immunities.g These merits of Edgar have procured him the highest panegyrics from the monks; and he is transmitted to us not only under the character of a consummate statesman and an active prince, praises to which he seems to have been justly entitled, but under that of a great saint and a man of virtue. But nothing could more betray both his hypocrisy in inveighing against the licentiousness of the secular clergy, and the interested spirit of his partizans, in bestowing such eulogies on his piety, than the usual tenor of his conduct, which was licentious to the highest degree, and violated every law, human and divine. Yet those very monks, who, as we are told by Ingulf, a very ancient historian, had no idea of any moral or religious merit, except chastity and obedience, not only connived at his enormities, but loaded him with the greatest praises. History, however, has preserved some instance of his amours, from which, as from a specimen, we may form a conjecture of the rest. Edgar broke into a convent, carried off Editha, a nun, by force, and even committed violence on her...
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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