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mentioned above, the Bishops of Norwich and Salisbury, and the Earls of Leicester and Cornwall,
ment, we will take the authority which Mr. Berington acknowledges to be the best—that of Diceto, who says that the Parliament met on the eighth calends of February, in other words, the twenty-fifth of January. Thus the commencement is ascertained, but Diceto does not tell us when the session concluded. The constitutions of Clarendon themselves, however, were sworn to by the bishops on the fourth day before the purification of the blessed Virgin, that is to say, on the twenty-ninth of January ; and thus, including the day that the parliament assembled, and the day of the swearing to the constitutions, there were five whole days during which the Parliament sat. Such are the dates as given by the very best authority, the Dean of Saint Paul's, who is known to have been present on the occasion, who is extremely accurate in his accounts, who had no motive, whatever, for falsifying the truth, and who was certainly favourable to Becket rather than to Henry--such, I say, are the dates given by him, and by the constitutions of Clarendon themselves. The words of Diceto are, “Concurrentibus episcopis et proceribus eput Clarendune VIII. kal. Februarii.” Now it is true, that the writers of those days did sometimes invert the Roman mode of counting the calends, and instead of counting back counted forward ; but I cannot find that this was ever the case with Diceto: and if it were, it would only make the matter worse for Mr. Berington's argument, giving three days more for the sittings at Clarendon. But let us see what some other historian gives as the date. Gervase says, that the meeting took place on the festival of Saint Hilary—“in festivitate sancti Hylari.” This is carrying it still further back, and making the sittings of the assembly last more than a fortnight. By a great stretch, indeed, of the historian's language, one may suppose that Gervase meant that the meeting took place during the quindisme of Saint Hilary, which, though it would make the matter vague as to the precise day, would not give any support to Mr. Berington ; as the very last day of the quindisme still
together with the two knights Templars, of whom we have before spoken, sought him out and
allows three whole days for the sittings of Clarendon. Whence then is it that Mr. Berington derives his date ?
Hoveden unfortunately does not give us any date, but he says nothing whatsoever to support the assumption of Mr. Berington. In regard to the two other points, the words of Hoveden show, as I have before demonstrated, that Becket did withdraw from the rest of the persons assembled at Clarendon. He says that the Bishops, and the Earls of Leicester and Cornwall, went to him, and begged him to come with them to the King, in order to promise before the people to receive the constitutions. Gervase says, that some of the Bishops, who were afraid of the King's anger, on account of old offences, went to the Archbishop, so as to distinctly prove that he was not with the rest; and the words of this author would also lead one to believe that the King was not present when Becket first announced his intention of break.ing his word in regard to the Constitutions. Gervase says: “When it came to the knowledge of the King,” that he intended to recede from his word, the King became furious. Now he would have never made use of this form, if the King had actually heard the Prelate's declaration. He and Hoveden would both have used the words, when the King heard, if the King had been present. We know that the King was present with the nobles, but, from the words we have stated, there is reason to believe that he was not present with the Bishops; and therefore, we may imply that they conferred apart, as the letter attributed to Foliot, asserts. No historian, except Mr. Berington, declares that during some part of the time at least, the Bishops did not confer apart; and in regard to the threats used towards the Bishops by the friends and attendants of Henry, I have already shown that Gervase completely bears out the statement of the letter, that armed men with naked weapons, did pass to and fro through the chambers of the palace, as if ready to slay the Bishops. Let me remark here that there is a little disingenuous. besought him on their knees, and with tears, to yield to the will of the King, and to receive the laws in dispute.
ness in Mr. Berington's translation of this phrase of Gervase. The historian says, “Discurrerunt certe quidam satellites per cameras regis secures splendidas vibrantes, succincti, et quasi in capita episcoporum irruituri.” Mr. Berington translates it, “with their garments tucked up and ready for execution," leaving out all about the Bishops. It would not, indeed, have suited his purpose so far to confirm the statement of the letter. That it does confirm it is evident; for who can doubt, that these “Satellites secures splendidas vibrantes et succincti,” were the very same people who, according to the words of the letter, rushed into the hall where the Bishops were, "rejectis pallüs exertisque brachiis ?” No one who is in any degree capable of appreciating evidence. I have, I trust, now shown, that there is no foundation for Mr. Berington's assertion—" that none of these things hap- . pened 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.” I have shown that the Bishops did probably confer apart, that the meeting lasted several days, that the nobles did threaten the Prelates, and probably enter the chamber where they were, and that the Archbishop did withdraw. I trust that I have prored, moreorer, that Mr. Berington's assertion, that the account given in the letter is at variance with that of contemporary historians, is equally destitute of foundation; and that the three contemporary historians, Gervase, Diceto, and Hoveden, two of whom are known to have been present, confirm in every material point the statements of the letter. The only remaining objection which is urged against the epistle, is that neither Becket nor his friends replied to it. Whether this be really an objection or not, must be decided in the minds of erery one by the opinion entertained of the merits of the question between Becket and the Bishop of London. Those
Some persons have asserted that the laws were not collected and written down till after the consent
who believe as I do, that the assertions of the Bishop of London, borne out as they are by the concurrent testimony of many independent persons, were perfectly true, that Becket knew them to be so, and that the Primate was well aware also, that—though none of the Bishops had ventured to reveal that speech which the Bishop of London now revealed in the height of his indig. nation--all of them could bear witness to his having spoken it, will very easily comprehend why he neither answered the charge himself, nor suffered his friends to do so.
It seems to me that in every respect whatsoever, the attempt of Mr. Berington to throw discredit upon this letter is one of the most lamentable and unsuccessful efforts which strong prejudice has ever made to pervert the course of history. It is utterly baseless, and every assertion by which it is supported, is found, upon examining the historians to whom that author refers, to be borne out in no degree by the real sense of the words that they used. Irritated by the violence and intemperance of Becket, it is very probable that the Bishop of London did give the very harshest form to his accusations; and we do know, from the friends of Becket himself, that when sent by Henry to the Pope, the Bishop of London commenced a series of charges against the Primate, of so terrible a character, that the Pope stopped him, and would not suffer him to proceed.
Farther, I have only to state my own thorough conviction, · that the letter is the genuine composition of Foliot, Bishop of
London, that it was sent to Becket, and that Becket transmitted a copy of it to the Pope. My reasons for believing such to be the case, are these:
In the first place, the manuscript in which it is found is very ancient, probably the most ancient copy of Becket's letters extant; the hand-writing leaves no doubt whatever of its antiquity. It forms then a part of one of the very earliest copies of Becket's correspondence.
of the Bishops had been given; but this can scarcely be supposed to have been the case, and at all events,
In the next place, by a careful comparison of that letter with other letters of the Bishop of London, such as that to the Pope, I find a precise similarity of style, the same sort of figures of speech, similes of exactly the same character with each other, and especially a frequent reference to the likeness between the head of the Church and the head of the human body, and to the effects produced upon the limbs in the one instance, and the inferior members of the Church in the other, when anything affects the head. Besides this, as I have said, the concurrent testimony of three contemporary writers sustains the truth of every important point mentioned in this letter; and in the next place when I am told that it is a forgery, I ask myself; first, why such a forgery should be committed ? secondly, could it be - committed, and remain undetected so long? In regard to the
first question, I am answered, It was forged by some enemy of Becket to do his reputation an injury. It was forged, then, during the life of Becket. It must have been circulated very generally to do him an injury, or else it lost its effect. Did Becket himself, then, never hear of it? Did none of Becket's friends ever hear of it? Did the Bishop of London never hear of it? Did the Pope never hear of it ? And if so, why did not the one party expose, if they could, the falsehood of the facts; and why did not the other expose the shameful forgery of his name? Why, at some period, did not Alexander himself, or the subsequent Popes, or any of the papal scribes, publicly declare this charge against one of their great saints and martyrs, to be a notorious forgery? Why did they not call upon the Bishop of London to declare it to be such? It could not well have escaped the observation of the Bishop of London himself; for that Bishop survived many years the contest between Becket and the King, and lived to see his opponent canonized. Why then did not he disown it? It did not escape the knowledge of the Pope, as I shall show hereafter.