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especially as it is completely borne out in all its statements by those other historians of the time, whose
strenuous supporter, a direct denial to a serious charge made by the suffragans as well as the Bishop of London. Such a denial, however, might be held as good by some people against the Bishop of London and the Suffragans, did it not happen that two of Becket's most zealous and eager friends give a strong contradiction, both to the assertion of the Primate, and to that of his clever but malignant follower, John of Salisbury. In regard to the assertion of the latter, that the applause of the Bishop was more strongly marked than that of any one else, we have only to turn to Fitz-Stephen, the panegyrist of Becket, to find the bitter sarcasm with which Foliot vented his indignation on Becket's consecration; and with regard to the election, which Becket declares to have been perfectly canonical, we have the unfortunate testimony of his friend and devoted companion Alanus, by which we find that he himself acknowledged to the Pope every thing in regard to the election with which Foliot charges him. (See a note farther on upon this subject.) Moreover, the uncanonical character of Becket's election has nothing to do with the present letter, which only repeats a charge contained in other letters, which no one has ventured to doubt. All this while, Mr. Berington does not advance the slightest doubt that the letter was written by Foliot. He only attempts to prove that Foliot lied against Becket. But as Foliot has the testimony of the Pope Alexander himself to his upright integrity, this would be an indirect proof that the letter was not his, if by any means it could be established that the charges of the letter were false ; for then the Bishop of London could not have made them. What then is Mr. Berington's argument to prove that the rest of the charges were false ? First, that Roger Hoveden, and Diceto, both of whom were in all probability present, give (he asserts) “ a story, which hardly in a single instance accords with Foliots.” This worthy gentleman is fond of assuming such things without any very great accuracy, and I will shew that
account is not marked with suspicion by their being the professed eulogists of the refractory prelate.
the statements of this letter are confirmed throughout by the best contemporary authority. The account of Diceto is extremely brief, and as he omits a thousand particulars regarding the parliament at Clarendon, he omits these amongst the rest, merely stating the broad result. Hoveden, however, is much more ample; and I do not scruple to affirm, that in every particular of which, by his station, he could have personal cognizance, he confirms the account given in the Bishop's epistle Foliot puts Becket in mind, in his letter, of what had happened at London and at Oxford. Hoveden tells us what that was; namely, that Becket refused at London to receive the laws of Henry I. without a saving of the rights of his order and the Holy Church; and that upon Henry's anger he followed him to Woodstock (which is what Foliot means by Oxford) and promised the King to receive his laws bonâ fide, and without evil intention. “ Se bonâ fide et sine malo ingenio leges suas servaturum.” The letter of Foliot then goes on to say, that, at Clarendon, when for three successive days the King had tried to draw from the prelates a recognition of the ancient laws of the realm, and the Bishops had refused to give it unconditionally, the Barons entered and threatened them; upon which the Archbishop retired, consulted with some other persons, and returning, declared that he had made up his mind to perjure himself, and do penance afterwards. How does Hoveden describe the same matter? He says, that at Clarendon, Becket announced his determination to break his word, plighted in good faith at Oxford, and that the King was thereat so angry, that he threatened him with both exile and death. Whether the Bishops consulted in a chamber apart or not, he does not say; but we must remember that in all such assemblies it was the constant custom of the prelates so to do. What took place in the conference of the Bishops amongst themselves, Hoveden was in no situation to witness, he being merely one of the King's chaplains; but he goes on to tell us what took
It is certain, however, if such a fact may be received as any excuse for Becket's conduct on the
place at a moment when his very words show that Becket had separated himself, both from the general assembly, then sitting at Clarendon, and from his brother Bishops. He tells us, that the Bishops of Salisbury and Norwich, the Earls of Cornwall and Leicester, and two Knights Templars, went to Becket, and prevailed upon him to come, and swear to receive the King's laws. This was evidently when he had separated himself from his brethren, as Foliot describes, and gone to consult apart; and the only thing that is here omitted, is what took place in the chamber where the Bishops were alone, which Hoveden, not being one of them, could not be acquainted with of his own knowledge. Neither he, nor other historians of the time, except Foliot, describe the entrance of the armed men into the chamber where the Bishops were assembled; but Hoveden himself says that there was good cause for alarm, and another contemporary relates the menaces used towards the Bishops in such a manner as to confirm, perhaps more strongly, the truth of Foliot's letter upon this point, than even if he had repeated exactly the same words. He says “ There certainly were various officers rushing about the royal chambers, brandishing their shining battle-axes, as if prepared to smite the heads of the Bishops.” This is the account of Gervase, one of the best and most accurate historians of the day, connected with the church of Canterbury, and possessed of every means of information; and it must be contended that this in the strongest manner corroborates the account given by Foliot. The only thing that now remains uncorroborated by collateral proof, are the words used by Becket, that it was the will of his Lord that he should perjure himself and do penance after. On this point we can surely have no stronger proof than his own actions. He had already perjured himself to a certain point—that is to say, broken his solemn promise to the King given at Oxford, there can be no doubt; and that he again did so on the present occasion, in taking an oath to observe present occasion, that he was threatened in the most violent and angry manner by the King and
the customs, and then violating that oath, nobody has ever attempted to deny. The only question is, whether he did or did not, as the Bishop of London declares, meditate the perjury while he took the oath. Gervase says, "He, the Archbishop, did certainly fall in words, but quickly coming back to himself, he rose again all the stronger in works ;” and we find it proved beyond doubt, that Becket, immediately after having taken this oath, sought absolution from the Pope for so doing, and suspended himself from the service of the altar till he had obtained it ; which is surely very like perjuring himself because it was the will of his Lord, and doing penance afterwards. Thus then I assert in opposition to Mr. Berington, that the story which is told by contemporaries, several of whom were certainly present, confirms in every respect the letter attributed to Foliot Bishop of London ; that Hoveden, Diceto, and Gervase prove that Becket first of all refused to consent to the King's views in London, then followed him to Oxford, and promised to receive the laws which he wished to enforce, retracted this promise at Clarendon, and being threatened with the King's anger, separated himself from the other bishops, and consulted apart. They prove also, that many of the King's friends and officers threatened the bishops with their brandished weapons, and that under these menaces Becket gave way, and took the oath to observe the customs, which he instantly violated, and sought absolution, and did penance for taking it. Foliot tells exactly the the same story, and adds nothing but two facts which came more immediately under his own cognizance than under that of the historians-namely, that the officers, who were seen brandishing their battle-axes, as if about to dash the bishops' brains out, as described by Gervase, did actually enter the hall where they were assembled, and threatened them there, and that Becket, while he took the oath, had not the slightest intention of keeping it, which, indeed, his whole subsequent conduct would prove, even if the bishop had
by the Barons; and it would appear, that while he was absent from the Bishops on the occasion
never made the assertion. Thus, instead of being unconfirmed by other historians, the letter is confirmed in every particular.
As far as we have hitherto gone, Mr. Berington seems not to have had a doubt of the authenticity of the letter. It is against Foliot that he fights in defence of his favourite, Becket, and nothing is too bad for the Bishop of London; his letter is declared to be libellous and false, and the Bishop is declared never to have sent it to Becket, because he knew it could be refuted.
Rising, however, in his enthusiasm, Mr. Berington next proceeds a step further, finds out that he has done the Bishop of London wrong, declares that the letter is a forgery, written by some anonymous enemy of Becket, and attributed by him to the Bishop of London, in order to give it an appearance of authority. The assertion is a very bold one, but it is supported by an assertion bolder still. “The letter,” he says, “must be a forgery, because the Bishop of London could not in the short space of two years, forget the events that had happened at Clarendon; “and he goes on to say, "He, the writer, speaks of the bishops being shut up in one room at Clarendon, and of a third day of the meet. ing, and of the nobles violently entering their chamber, and of the Primate's withdrawing. But none of these things happened at Clarendon. The bishops were not shut up, the meeting lasted but two days, the nobles did not enter their chamber, and the Primate did not withdraw.” Such is Mr. Berington's very bold assertion. Whether the bishops were or were not shut up in consultation together during a part of the time that they were at Clarendon, we have no evidence but probability to show; but in no other respect whatever, is Mr. Berington justified, even by the absence of evidence, in making the assertions he has made. In two instances, indeed, he goes directly in the teeth of historical facts. It may be a difficult thing, to prove how long the parliament of Clarendon did sit, but there is no difficulty whatever in showing, that it sat more than two days. For its commencé