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sufferings not to be compensated by the casual equity of his ruled Henry II. ascended the throne amid the calamities with which the fierce contests and baronial oppressions of the stormy reign of Stephen had visited England. He found that there were still in reserve for bim additional perplexities in the encroachments of the clergy, and the turbulence of his sons. We have already adverted to the view taken by Mr. Lingard of the quarrel between Henry and Becket. For no other purpose conceivable by us, than that of prejudicing the reader's mind against the former, and thus preparing him to side with the latter as the victim of craft, violence, and oppression, an unfavourable character of the monarch is introduced, contrary to the usual practice, at the commencement of his reign. It is, however, powerfully, though, we think, not quite fairly drawn.
• Before I proceed with this narrative, I shall lay before the reader a sketch of the king's character, as it has been delineated by writers, who lived in his court, and observed his conduct under the vicissitudes of a long and eventful reign. Between the conqueror and all his male descendants there existed a marked resemblance. The stature of Henry was moderate, his countenance majestic, and his complexion florid: but his person was disfigured by an unseemly protuberance of the abdomen, which he sought to contract by the united aid of exercise and sobriety. Few persons have equalled him in abstemiousness, none perhaps in activity. He was perpetually in motion on foot or on horseback. Every moment, which could be spared from more im. portant concerns, he devoted to hunting : but no fatigue could subdue his restlessness: after the chase he would snatch a hasty repast, and then rising from table, in spite of the murmurs of his attendants, keep them walking or standing till bed-time. During his education in the castle of Gloucester he had acquired a knowledge of letters: and after his accession delighted in the conversation of the learned. Such was the power of his memory, that he is said to have retained whatever he had heard or read, and to have recognised at the first glance every person whom he had previously seen. He was eloquent, affable, facetious; uniting with the dignity of the prince the manners of the gentleman : but under this fascinating outside was concealed a heart, that could descend to the basest artifices, and sport with its own honour and veracity. No one would believe his assertions or trust bis promises : yet he justified this habit of duplicity by the maxim, that it is better to repent of words than of facts, to be guilty of falsehood than to fail in a favourite pursuit. Though possessed of ample dominions, and desirous of extending them, he never obtained the laurels of a conqueror. His ambition was checked by his caution. Even in the full tide of prosperity he would stop to calculate the chances against him, and freqaently plunged himself into real, to avoid imaginary, evils. Hence the characteristic feature of his policy was delay: a hasty decision could not be recalled : but he persuaded himself that procrastination would allow him to improve every advan. tage which accident might offer. In his own dominions he wished, says a contemporary, to concentrate all power within his own person. He was jealous of every species of authority which did not emanate from himself, and which was not subservient to his will. His pride delighted in confounding the most haughty of his nobles, and depressing the most powerful families. He abridged their rights, divided their possessions, and married their heiresses to men of inferior rank. He was careful that his favourites should owe every thing to himself, and gloried in the parade of their power and opulence, because they were of his own creation. But if he was a bountiful master, he was a most vindictive enemy. His temper could not brook contradiction. Whoever hesitated to obey his will, or presumed to thwart his desires, was marked out for his victim, and was pursued with the most unrelenting vengeance. His passion was the raving of a madman, the fury of a savage beast. In its paroxysms his eyes were spotted with blood, his countenance seemed of flame, his tongue poured a torrent of abuse and imprecation, and his hands were employed to inflict vengeance on whatever came within his reach. On one occasion Humet, a favourite minister, had ventured to offer a plea in justification of the king of Scots. Henry's anger was instantly kindled. He called Humet a traitor, threw down his cap, ungirt his sword, tore off his clothes, pulled the silk coverlet from his couch, and unable to do more mischief, sate down, and gnawed the straw on the floor. Hence the reader will perceive that pride and passion, caution and duplicity, formed the distinguishing traits in his character. Vol. II. pp. 41, 2, 3. · A Catholic clergyman is not exactly the individual to whom we should look for a fair statement of all the transactions which distinguish the reign of John as one of the most remarkable in the English annals; but, making some necessary deductions on the score of professional partialities, Mr. Lingard has acquitted himself satisfactorily.' The Great Charter is justly represented, not as a new code, nor as an assertion of the fundamental principles of legislation, but as a correction of palpable abuses in the old system, and as the assertion of certain rights and iinmunities in opposition to the encroachments of the crown. On the occasion of the celebrated parliament summoned by Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, in 1265, Mr. L. enters into the much agitated question respecting the composition, in prior times, of the great council of the realm. It is beyond controversy, that, in this instance, representatives were present from the counties, cities, and boroughs; but it has been contended, that it was a novel measure, adopted by Leicester for the furtherance of his own views. Mr. Lingard embraces tbis opinion. He holds that under the earlier Norman kings, the parliaments were constituted strictly on feudal principles, being, on ordinary occasions, composed of the bishops and abbots, the earls and • barons, the ministers and judges, and the neighbouring knights,
holding of the crown;' but, under more pressing circumstances, the monarch was accustomed to summon the whole body VOL XVI. N.S.
of bis tenants in chief. There are, however, instances from whiclı it appears that knights of the shire, originally chosen for a subordinate purpose, had become a usual part of the great national council. . The introduction of the representatives of cities and boroughs, seems to have been first adopted by Leicester. Mr. Lingard bas searched in vain for evidence that the practice had obtained previously to the date of de Montfort's parliament.
On these points we have followed Mr. Lingard, if not al. ways with entire conviction, yet, with much interest and gratification. But we po sooner encounter him on professional grounds than we find him at fault. The history of the illustrious Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, is stated to have had consider
able interest' attached to it by the partiality of modern .writers. Our readers will, by this time, have fully understood the meaning of this inuendo. It is, as usual, accompanied with a a narrative in which all that is piquant is left out: the statements of Matthew Paris, who affirms that the bishop treated the Pope with very little ceremony, are dismissed as ridiculous tales;
. ' and the accredited story, that' he died under a sentence of sus
pension or excommunication,' is rejected as derived from'ques
jionable authority.' Of all such glaring evasions we can only say, valeant quantum. It might, however, have been expedieut to be less peremptory in accusations of partiality.'
The reign of Edward I. was distinguished by important concessions from the crown to the people. The improvements effected by that monarch in the administration of justice, have procured for him the title of the English Justinian. For these salutary reforms, however, it is well remarked by Mr. Lingard, that the nation was indebted not merely to his wisdom, but also to bis necessities; since they were always granted at the re
quest of his parliament, and purchased with the vote of a valu« able aid.' But the firmness of the leading nobles, supported by the spirit of the people, wrested from the haughty and reluctant king, a still more valuable privilege, in the sole right of • raising the supplies.' We have been especially gratified with the narrative of this period of history. That portion of it which relates to Edward's Scottish expedition, is written with much discrimination ; and the following strictures, though they may wear the appearance of severity, yet, commend themselves to approbation by their acuteness and independence of popular opinion.
• It may perhaps offend the national partiality of some among my readers, but I greatly suspect that Wallace owes his celebrity as much to bis execution as to his exploits. Of all the Scottish chieftains, , who deserved and experienced the enmity of Edward, he alone perished on the gallowo: and on this account his fate called forth and
monopolized the sympathy of his countrymen. They revered him as the martyr of their independence: his blood animated them to vengeance : the huts and glens, the forests and mountains, which he had frequented, became consecrated in their eyes : and as the remembrance of his real exploits gradually faded, the aid of fiction was employed to embellish and eternize the character of the hero. If we may believe the Scottish writers, who lived a century or two after his death, he was gigantic in stature, powerful of limb, and patient of fatigue beyond bis contemporaries. He knew no passion but the love of his country, His soul was superior to bribery or insult: and at the call of liberty he was as ready to serve in the ranks as to assume the command of the army. His courage possessed a talismanic power, which led his fullowers to attempt and execute the most hazardous enterprises: and which on Stainmoor compelled the king and army of England to flee from his presence, even before they entered upon action. Under so brave and accomplished a leader Scotland might have been saved; she was lost through the jealousy of her nobles, who chose to crouch in chains to a foreign despot, rather than owe their deliverance to a man of inferior family. Of all this a part may perhaps be true; but it is derived from no credible authority: much must be false, because it is contradicted by real history. The only great battles in which Wal. lace is known to have fought, are those of Stirling and Falkirk. In the first he was victorious: but he must share the glory of the action with sir Andrew Moray, who was certainly his equal in command, perhaps his superior. In the second he was defeated : and the defeat was the most disastrous, that Scotland ever experienced. In the history of the next five years his name is scarcely mentioned: but when the rest of his countrymen made their peace with Edward, his interests were not forgotten. “ It was agreed that he also might put " himself on the pleasure and grace of the king, if he thought pro“ per.” He did not think proper : and to this, whether it were patriotism or obstinacy, we are to attribute his punishment. He had been summoned to a parliament of both nations held at St. Andrew's; and, as he neglected to appear, sentence of outlawry according to the Scottish law was pronounced against him, with Andrew Fraser, and the garrison of Stirling. Edward was not, however, as he has been represented, a blood-thirsty tyrant. He still accepted the submission of Fraser: and contented himself with the captivity of Oliphant and his companions, though they had uselessly involved him in so much danger, and entailed on him so much expense. If the fate of Wallace was different from that of all others, it proves that there was something peculiar in his case, which rendered him less deserving of mercy.' Vol. II. pp. 4-46-419.
The impolitic, but brilliant schemes and exertions for the attainment of continental dominion, which distinguished the reigns of our Edwards and our Henrys, find an adequate narratur in Mr. Lingard. His descriptions of battles are admirably written : they never trench on the marvellous; authorities are carefully examined ; and the results are judiciously given in language at pace simple and nervous. The romantic victories of Crecy, Poitiers, and Azincourt were gained, as far as human means were concerned, by the ability of the commanders, the unrivalled skill of the English archers, and by that peculiar quality of British troops, unyielding firmness. The memory of the Edwards is clouded by instances of sternness and infliction of suffering, from which the name of Harry of Azincourt is happily free; but the victor of Crecy has been charged with actions or purposes, of which he seems to bave been guiltless. It is clear from the explanations of the present Historian, that the severity of his menaces against the self-devoted citizens of Calais, was the effect of policy, and by no means that of ferocious intention.
The wars of the Roses, with all their dependent complications of political and military detail, are unravelled by Mr. Lingard with his accustomed skill. The cominon report of the sanguinary and hypocritical character of Richard 111. is adopted on grounds wbich cannot easily be shaken. “Attempts, in soine degree plausible, bave been made, to exonerate that monarch from the infamy entailed on his name by the various murders which he is affirmed to have perpetrated ; and the statements and reasonings of his different defenders have been imbodied and enforced by Mr. Laing in an appendix to the last volume of Henry's History of England. His investigation is executed with considerable ability, though there is some little confusedness in the composition. But his statements and inferences are completely demolished by Mr. Lingard, who places the question on its original foundation, ascribes to Richard the atrocious misdeeds which gained him the throne, and, on a balance of evidence, decides that Perkin Warbeck was an impostor.
We do not think it necessary to enter on the examination of the reigns of Henry VIIl. and his Son, which occupy the fourth voluine, having already intimated our opinion, and not being aware that a fuller exposition of our sentiments would answer any important purpose. But, as we have been particuJarly interested by Mr. L.'s account of the battle of Floddenfield, we shall extract it as an illustration of his distinctness in descriptions of this kind. Hume's statements, we feel no disposition to discuss. He is at once so partial and so negligent an historian, that, whether we might deem him right or wrong, we should seldom think it expedient either to refer to him, or to vindicate our dissent from him, as an authority in questions of fact. But Dr. Henry, as both a diligent inquirer, and a man of pure intentions, deserves a more respectful treatment, and we have fixed on this passage of history as affording us an opportunity of remarking, that he appears to us sometimes to indulge an innocent and unconscious partiality towards his own country
In the narrative of this fierce and well-contested engagewent, for instance, he adopts all the romantic tales of the Scot