« EelmineJätka »
HISTORICAL ESSAYS. • 1 trated, in the early part of this reiga,
by the humiliating conduct of the No. VIII.
rival sovereigns Henry and Lewis
of France, who, meeting his holiOn the Corruption of Christianity in
ness, as he was most falsely called, Britain during the Reign of Henry
at tho castle of Torci on the Loire, the Second. A. D. 1154—1170.
both dismounted and conducted We have already seen, that the him into the castle, walking on foot success of the Roman pontiff's in the by his side, holding each a rein of augmentation of their unscriptural his horse's bridle: “a spectacle," power was much influenced by the exclaims one of his votaries, talents and disposition of the reign-“ to God, angels, and men, and ing monarch: and it is equally evi-, such as had ever before been exhi- * dent, that the happiness or misery bited to the world !” a spectacle, of a kingdom, under a system of the Christian youth will not fail to superstition so notoriously corrupt, remark, contemptible in the eyes of materially depended on the conduct the spiritual mind, because the reof the clergy: such facts could not verse of the conduct of Him by have escaped the discriminating whom kings reign, of whom this observation of so able a prince as dignitary feigned to be the repreHenry II. It must, therefore, have sentative; who, uniformly, refused been an advantage to him as impor- the honour that cometh from men, tant as it was singular, that he inade himself of no reputation, and could arrive at the throne with so kumbled himself to death, even the little of their officious aid, and com- death of the cross, for the good of mence his government in a tranquil the church, constantly verifying by lity, that, in those rude ages, seldom his conduct the truth of his declaadorned an incipient reign: the un-| ration, that “his kingdom was not bounded confidence in his talents of this world.” greatly contributed to this blessing. It was not uncommon in this age In addition to the extraordinary of absurdities for infants to be be competency of this sovereign, the trothed to each other in marriage extensive continental possessions by their interested parents. Thus which he brought with him to the Margaret of France and young crown, forming nearly a third part Henry of England were affianced to of France, not a little increased each other long before they could his importance. It might, there understand the nature of the confore, have been expected, that the tract, and the fortress of Gisons was sad consequences of clerical usurpa | a part of her dowry. This fortress tions' would for the present cease, I was committed to the care of the because, the ecclesiastics would knights templars till the solemnizarather content themselves with re tion of the nuptials. Henry, covet. cent acquirements, than hazard the ous of the dowry, solemnized the displeasure of so powerful a ruler ; nuptials at once, and accordingly and this perhaps might bave been got possession of Gisons. This his happiness, had he not so grossly being resented by Lewis, Pope mistaken the character of the man Alexander III. interposed his authowhom, on the first vacancy, he pro- rity, and allayed the storm of their moted to the primacy.
anger. It is worthy of remark, that The reverence entertained for the this Pope was then residing in Pope, and the proud dignity to France, having been driven from which he had arrived, were illus- Rome, by the anti-pope Victor IV:
so little did these interested men bis great liberality to their order; regard even the semblance of de- and affecting the most extraordinary cency and consistericy, and so little gravity and sanctity, the very reverse did they act up even to their false of his late ostentatious habit, bis pretences, and so sunk in the dark conduct attracted the greater atness of superstition were their vo tention. taries, as to allow such monstrous Having been the confidant of the imposition. Though Henry, in this King, he was well aware of his instance, had no great reason to be designs against the clergy, and 'dissatisfied with the Pope's media thought it policy early to contion, yet he might justly dread, that vince him, that it was as much his the interference now employed in own design to defend and increase his favour, would be hercafter as the privileges of the priesthood, as it efficacious to his injury, especially could be Henry's to attack and as it was his design, if not to curtail abridge them. He therefore required clerical power, at least to prevent the Earl of Clare, a most powerful its encroachment. The death of the nobleman, to give up the barony of aged Archbishop of Canterbury, Tunbridge, because it was ancienthowever, seemed to favour his views, ly annexed to the see of Canteras it afforded him an opportunity of bury, although it had been enjoyed endeavouring to fill that station by the Earl's family ever since the · more to his satisfaction, which was Conquest. Nor did Becket rest here, of the utmost consequence, as the but presented one of his favourites matter appeared rapidly hastening to a living that did not belong to to a crisis, whether the King or him, and afterwards excommunicatPrimate, should be in reality go-ed the person in whose gift it was vernor of the nation.
for expelling the individual he bad • Thomas à Becket, already raised placed in it: nor would he absolve to the dignity of Chancellor, was the the party, till after repeated remonperson selected by Henry, contrary strances and threats from the King to the advice of his friends, for the himself. vacant benefice: one with whom 10 who can estimate the sum of he was familiarly friendly, one to human guilt and misery that has whom he had been particularly arisen from the neglect of scriptural kind, and on whose grateful returns advice and example in ecclesiastical he thought he might doubtless cal- concerns ! Spirituality, and conseculate. The priests of this period quent simplicity, are the great chasetting a higher value on human racteristics of the modern dispensathan on divine approbation, were tion; hence the offices in the Chris"ever anxions for popularity, as that tian church are few in number, and * alone could ensure their triumph their nature as far removed as possiover kingly power. The first act of ble from the pomps and vanities of Becket, after his promotion, showed this wicked world; nor are such how indispensable he, considered offices at the disposal of any indivithis advantage. He therefore im- dual, however great his wealth, exmediately resigned the office of tensive his influence, or elevated bis Chancellor, without consulting his rank. benefactor; stating, that it became Among the numberless inventions him to occupy himself solely in the of popery, for which, alas! thou. *discharge of his spiritual duties. He sands of hypocritical priests will substituted exemplary abstinence have to answer in the tremendous for his former luxury, and wore day of accounts, was the awful dedirty sackcloth next to his skin, lusion of receiving money from the which, pretending to conceal, was ignorant, in mitigation or excuse of the more remarked. He inflicted the penance enjoined as auxiliary painful discipline on bimself; and to the pardon of their sins; and to daily, on his knees, washed the feet such an alarming extent had this inof thirteen beggars, afterwards dis- fernal practice rcached, that Henry missing them with presents. He calculated the sams thus extorted ensured the favour of the monks by from his subjects, exceeded to
whole revendes of the state! He enacted. To secure the regard af therefore appointed an officer to at the clergy to these laws, he required tend the ecclesiastical courts, whose that the bishops should set their consent should be essential before seal to them, and promise obie. this pretendedly holy composition dience. Becket alone dared to reshould be levied. Indeed it was ab- fuse, and it was not till the Grand solutely necessary that a check Prior of the Templars, on his knees, should be put to their rapidly in with tears, besought him not to rouse creasing impudence and power, for the further indignation of his sovewhile they became more watchful reign, that he would take the oath over the conduct of their flock, in to observe them. order to enrich themselves, they Henry, the more effectually to claimed exemption from the re- bind the clergy, sent these constitústraints of ordinary laws and civil | tions to Pope Alexander for his conjurisdiction, (on the ground of firmation ; but he, with the exceptheir spiritual order,) and fearless- tion of a few inferior articles, conly perpetrated the most notorious demned and abrogated them. trimes. It appeared, that at least Becket, delighted with this conone hundred murders had been com- duct of the pontiff, heartily repented mitted by these men already, during of his consent, and practised the the present reign; and a glaring out-greatest self-denial and austerity as tage practised by one of the frater an atonement, refusing to officiate nity in Worcestershire, that roused in his sacred character till he should the indignation of the people, was obtain the Pope's absolntion. The the signal to the King for attempt- King, that he might gain some advane ing some reformation. He summoned tage over his opponent, applied that the prelates, and taking a general the legantine commission might be view of existing enormities, put to transferred to the soe of York, and thèm this short question, “ Whether | Alexander, anxious to obligo Henry they were willing to submit to the when the digrity of his office was ancient laws and customs of the not infringed, granted the request; kingdom ?" they expressed their wil- but prohibited the legate from lingness, “ saving their own order;" | using his commission at all to the by which expedient they hoped to prejudice of the Archbishop of Cánappoase the King, and more honour- terbury. This prohibition rendering ably reserve to themselves their li- the commission useless for the purberties ; but he perceiving the de | pose for which it was sought, the vice indignantly left the meeting, and | King resented tlre affront, returning immediately ordered the primate to the commission by the bands that deliver úp the castles of Eye and brought it. Berkham;a mandate that alarm Determined on the humiliation of ed every prelaté but Becket, who, his primate, he was transported be in all probability, would have obsti yond the bounds of justice, and pro bately refused to comply but for the ferred claims against him wbich he interposition of Philip, the Pope's had neither reason to expect hör legate, who considered it impolitic means to satisfy; and the inflexible to proceed to extremities with so priest, whose spirit was rather rous able a prince.
ed than subdued by such measures, Deservedly anxious effectually to secretly withdrew from court, and terminate disputes so tiresome and disguised himself till an opportunidangerous, Henry resolved to define ty offered of escaping the kingdom, the clerical privileges, and for that which he found, A. D. 1164, and af purpose convoked the nobility and rived sately at Gravelines. He was bishops at Clarendon, on the 25th warmly received by the sovereigh January, 1164. The barons esports- pontift, and by those princes who ing the side of the King, it was utter- | were gratified with every opportunix lý vain for the prelates to refuse ty of obstructing the rising greatness compliance with his propositions ; of the English monarch. Becket the Constitutions of Clarendon, as watchful of every expedient to auga They were called, were therefore inedit the influence of Rome, now
resigned his 'see into the hands of the King of France, who, though not the Pope, having just discovered a sincere friend of Henry's, was so that it was irregular in him to hold struck with his arguments and the it, as he bad received it of the King primate's arrogance, as for a time and not of his holiness. The latter, to withdraw his countenance from pleased with every acknowledgment the latter. Henry offered to submit of bis superiority, accepted it, but his cause to the decision of the immediately re-invested his cham- French clergy, and addressing pion with it, and absolved him from Lewis, said: “There have been his obligations to keep the engage many kings of England, some of ments forced from him in England. greater, some of less authority thar A residence was assigned bim in the myself; there have also been many convent of Pontigny, with flattering archbishops of Canterbury, holy and resources, where he remained seve- good men, entitled to every kind of ral years.
respect; let Becket but act towards Henry, well aware of popnlar su- me with the same submission which perstition, feared the fulminations of the greatest of his predecessors have Rome, and sought an interview with paid to the least of mine, and there the Pope, which not being able to shall be no controversy between obtain, he forbade all appeals to us." The King, however, grew the pontiff or the archbishop, or the weary of these disputes, and solicitreception of any of their commands; ous to relieve his ministers from the and that he might, as far as possible, sentence of excommunication under evade the effects of their retaliation, which they laboured, and dreading he published it treasonable in him the further vengeance of an interdict who should venture to bring an in- on his kingdom, with which he was terdict into the kingdom, and threat-threatened, finally consented to ened to banish those who should terms inconsistent with his dignity, obey it if brought. He suspended and ncedlessly flattered the prithe payment of Peter's-pence, and mate's vanity, even holding his stirtalked of acknowledging the claims rup, on one occasion, while he of the anti-pope. Becket, on the mounted his borse. other hand, whose success depend Becket accordingly · returned, ed on his popularity, compared his evidently elated with his triumph, trial and sufferings to those of Christ, and immediately evinced that his and declared that kings reigned by spirit and designs were unchanged ; the authority of the church alone; for meeting the following prelates, and resenting the measures of the who had least espoused his cause, King, excommunicated his chief on their way to the King in Norministers, and all who favoured the mandy, be informed the Archbishop Constitutions of Clarendon, at the of York that he was suspended, and same time absolving all men from the Bishops of London and Salis, their oaths of adherence to them. bury that they were excommuni
The King and the Archbishop were cated. He proceeded on his journey evidently rivals, and by their late in the most ostcntatious manner, conduct had fruitlessly endeavoured and his pride was additionally flatto intimidate each other; and as the tered by the shouts and praises of spiritual weapons had not bad the the ignorant multitudę, who crowd effect of disturbing the internal ed to witness his arrival, and hail peace of England, nor the royal pro- his return. Henry had crowned his ceedings humbled the prelate, they son as his successor in Becket's were mutually anxious to embrace absence, and as this was done withthe first plausible opportunity of an out that prelate's aid, he resented adjustment of their differences: yet the indignity, and began to punish it was not surprising that repeated those who had assisted at the cereconferences were held, and as re mony. He had the temerity to compeatedly broken up, as it was diffi- municate with the King of France, cult to imagine terms that should whose daughter being betrothed to neither be derogatory to the royal young Henry, he contended ought honour, nor humiliating to clerical to have shared the benefits of the pride. At one of these conferences, ceremony: which step of the pri
mate was the more important, from · LUTHER's FESTIVAL the superstitious opinion that then
OF THE prevailed, that the royal unstion, received at coronation, was essen Translation of the Scriptures. tial to the exercise of royal power. - On the arrival of the persecuted prelates in Normandy, they informed
For the purpose of engaging in the King of Becket's proceedings,
this important labour, Luther had and the Archbishop of York having
| devotod the previous summer to the added, that tranquillity could scarce
study of Greek and Hebrew. His Jy be expected while Becket lived,
skill in German is universally adHeury gave way to the feelings of
mitted. Versions of a very inferior the moment, and lamented the
kind had been published at Nuremwant of zeal in his servants, who
| berg in the years 1477, 1483, 1490, could endure to see him so long
| and at Augsburgh in 1518, which exposed to the ungrateful returns of
| were not only ill calculated to atso baughty a prelate. Reginald
te Reginald tract public notice, but interdicted Fitz-Urse, William de Traci, Hugh
from being read. The gospels of de Moreville, and Richard Brito,
Matthew and Mark were first pubgentlemen of the household, mis
lished by Luther, then the epistle to taking the ebullitions of passion for
the Romans, and the other books in the wishes of judgment, communi
succession, till the whole New Teseated their thoughts to each other,
tament was circulated by the month swore to avenge their prince's
of September. In a letter which wrongs"; and, though by different]
Melancthon addressed to the celeroutes, quickly arrived at Saltwoode,
brated physician George Sturciad, near Canterbury, about the same dat
dated the fifth of May, 1522, he time. Some violent expressions
speaks of the whole version being they had uttered at their departure
in the hands of the printers. The induced a fear of their design, and
essential assistance he rendered in a mossenger was dispatched after
completing the work is likewise apthem to prevent its perpretration ;
parent, for he states, that he had but their awful purpose was accoin
paid particular attention to the difplished before the message could
ferent kinds of money mentioned reach them. They, on their meet
in the New Testament, and had ing, hastened to the archiepiscopal |
consulted with many learned men palace, and finding the primate
te that the version might express them slenderly attended, dropt some re
with the utmost accuracy. He begs proachful and menacing expres
his correspondent to give his opinion, sions: but he, trusting to the sacred-1 and to consult Mutianus, as being ness of his office, proceeded to St.
profoundly skilled in the knowledge Benedict's church to perform his
of Roman antiquities. He entreats devotions; thither they followed him to
* followed him to attend to his application him, nor did the reverence of his
from a regard to the general good, high office, the seriousriess of his
and to do it immediately, because present engagement, nor the sanctity
the work was in the press, and of the place, deter them from ac
printing with great expedition. tually cleaving his head before the
* I wait your reply," he adds, altar; after which they retired un
“ with the utiņost anxiety, and I molested from the tragical scene.
beseech you for faith, love, and kindThe death of this antichristian
bess' sake, and every other urgent prelate was an awful cominent upou consideration:
consideration, not to disappoint us." the text," Pride goeth before de
The difficulties of the uudertaking struction, and a haughty spirit be- particularly, pressed upon Luther fore a fall."
when he proceeded to the translaThe direful consequences of this tion of the Old Testament, but he event, the useful reflections it sug
persevered with indefatigable zeal. gests, and the further review of this | It appears that Melancthon was memorable reign, we assign as the
| deeply engaged in revising this ima subject of the next Essay,
portant work for his friend, two "H.S. A months previous to his return.