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exile ; others, forsaking their own houses, built wretched huts in the church-yards, hoping for protection from the sacredness of the place. Whole families, after sustaining life as long as they could, by eating herbs, roots, and the flesh of dogs and horses, at last died of hunger ; and you might see many pleasant villages without a single inhabitant of either sex.”
In endeavouring to form an estimate of the character of King Stephen, we find a number of excellent qualities balanced against one imperfection, which rendered the whole of the former useless and utterly abortive. In the first place he was an usurper ; and his ambition urged him to maintain his power by every means courage
and fortitude suggested ; and the preceding articles shew the consequences to the people at large.
We are told by Historians, he was equally worthy as a husband and father ; liberal, condescending, and facetious : but what must have been the mind of that man, who could suppress every spark of the above virtues when his own supposed interest intervened between their exercise, and the loss of a throne:
The rights of hospitality to the stranger were defined by Henry II. in the following manner:
“ Let it be lawful for no man, neither in borough nor in village, or place of entertainment, to have or keep in his house, beyond one night, any stranger whom he will not hold to right, unless
the person entertained shall give a reasonable essoign or excuse, which the master, or host of the house, is to shew to his neighbours ; and when the guest departs, let him depart in presence of the neighbours, and in the day-time.”
“ Hither (says Selden) belongs that of Bracton. He may be said to be of one's family who shall have lodged with another for the space of three nights ; in that the first night he may be called uncuth, i.e. unknown, a stranger ; but the second night gust, i. e. a guest, or lodger; the third night hogenhine (I read hawan man) i. e. in Greek guolgáregos oixeños, in Latin familiaris, one of the family."
The warlike opinions and manners of the people may be gathered from other ordinances of Henry II. Jews were forbid to have in their possession coats of mail, or habergeons. The subjects of England were charged not to bear arms out of this country without special permission, or to sell them for exportation; nor were they to have more arms than these regulations allowed.
He that had one knight's fee, was to be provided with an habergeon or coat of mail, a helmet, a shield, and lance; and every knight to have a complete suit of the above description, for each knight's fee in his demesne. A layman, freeholder, with an income of 16 marks, was to possess the coat of mail, helmet, shield, and lance. A person of similar description whose income
was but 10 marks, had a little habergeon, a capelet of iron, and a lance.
The burghers, or townsmen of corporations, and communities of freemen (wambars), an iron capelet and a lance. They were individually forbidden to pawn or alienate their arms, which were to descend to their male heirs; when these were not of age, the guardian of the party held them in trust to that period; and, in case of necessity, a man was to be provided as a substitute for the minor.
The above facts furnish us with a favourable opportunity of estimating the manners of our antient citizens, whose bodies, inured to the endurance of the chills produced by their enclosure in metal, and hardened into muscular strength by its weight and the hurling of the lance, must have been proportionably rough and stern. Ninetenths of the effeminate customs we have since invented were unknown to them ; which have rendered us the slaves of initation, enervated our bodies, and, surely, not contributed to our happiness.
Henry II. had received the best of educations from his uncle the Duke of Gloucester; who found his pupil possessed of an understanding capable of receiving every species of instruction, and improving upon it by its native energy. Most fortunately for England, the manners of this Prince were gentle, and his mind disposed to set an ex
ample of the best customs both in government and domestic life. Influenced by a generous commiseration for the forlorn state of his people, disgusted by the civil war of the preceding reign, he began, when only twenty-one, a system of reformation which would have done honour to a man of
greater age and long experience. Before the unnatural behaviour of his own family disunited the kingdom, the urbanity, cheerfulness, and politeness of his deportment, cannot but have influenced his subjects, in some degree, to imitate them; and, whether they emulated his other good qualities, they could not but have admired his learning, bis eloquence, and his extensive knowledge of the laws. He is celebrated for his abhorrence of war, his courage and prudence when compelled to embark in it, and his encouragement of the arts then known, and irunificence in patronising those who professed them.
When this amiable prince heard of the death of his rebellious and detestable son, one who practised every description of treachery against an indulgent father, he fainted thrice, and remembered only the few virtues he had possessed. Viewing hiin, not as the wretch armed against his parent and sovereign, but as the miserable penitent expiring on a heap of ashes, and entreating his forgiveness.
Henry II. gave a noble example to his opulent subjects. This monarch knew the wants of his
people, and relieved them with a liberality which renders his name immortal. The year 1176 was remarkable in France for a scarcity of provisions. Anjou and Maine, two provinces under his dominion in that country, severely felt the consequences. Those he endeavoured to remove by every means in his power; and actually procured sustenance from the neighbouring states, sufficient for the support of ten thousand persons from the commencement of April till the harvest occurred At other times the corn in his granaries was at the service of those in necessity.
The ferocity of manners exhibited by the lower classes of people in the massacre of the Jews, which took place at the coronation of Richard I. lessens much of the concern we should be inclined to feel for their sufferings in the reign of Stephen. The Barons and inferior nobility then preyed on each other, through ambitious purposes. But how are we to excuse the cruelty of the citizens of London in killing persons who dared not to defend themselves?
Richard, a man disgraced by his shameful behaviour to his virtuous father, had shewn some marks of contrition, and, apparently most religiously disposed, commanded that no Jew should presume to enter Westminster Abbey, or the Hall, at the solemnity of his Coronation. Several of the Israelites were so imprudent as to attempt to force their way into the latter place, and were