long prefer what is new
to that which is true
Becket is enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen,
even as Cromwell is among the descendants of the Puritans;
and substantially for the same reason,—because
they both fought bravely for their respective causes,—the
cause of the people in their respective ages.
Both recognized God Almighty, and both contended
against the despotism of kings seeking to be absolute,
and in behalf of the people who, were ground down
by military power. In the twelfth century the
people looked up to the clergy as their deliverers
and friends; in the seventeenth century to parliaments
and lawyers. Becket was the champion of the
clergy, even as Cromwell was the champion—at
least at first—of the Parliament.
Carlyle eulogizes Cromwell as much as Froude abuses
Becket; but Becket, if more haughty and defiant than
Cromwell in his private character, yet was truer to
his principles. He was a great hero, faithful
to a great cause, as he regarded it, however averse
this age may justly be to priestly domination.
He must be judged by the standard which good and
enlightened people adopted seven hundred years ago,—not
in semi-barbarous England alone, but throughout the
continent of Europe. This is not the standard
which reason accepts to-day, I grant; but it is the
standard by which Becket must be judged,—even
as the standard which justified the encroachments
of Leo the Great, or the rigorous rule of Tiberius
and Marcus Aurelius, is not that which en-thrones
Gustavus Adolphus and William of Orange in the heart
of the civilized world.
Eadmer’s Life of Anselm; Historia Novarum; Sir
J. Stephen’s Life of Becket, of William of Malmsbury,
and of Henry of Huntington; Correspondence of Thomas
Becket, with that of Foliot, Bishop of London, and
John of Salisbury; Chronicle of Peter of Peterborough;
Chronicle of Ralph Niper, and that of Jocelyn of Brakeland;
Dugdale’s Monasticon; Freeman’s Norman
Conquest; Michelet’s History of France; Green,
Hume, Knight, Stubbs, among the English historians;
Encyclopaedia Britannica; Hook’s Lives of the
Archbishops of Canterbury; Lord Littleton on Henry
II.; Stanley’s Memorials of Canterbury; Milman’s
Latin christianity; article by Froude; Morris’s
Life of Thomas a Becket; J. Craigie Robertson’s
Life of Thomas Becket.
THE FEUDAL SYSTEM.
About A. D. 800-1300.
There is no great character with whom Feudalism is
especially identified. It was an institution
of the Middle Ages, which grew out of the miseries
and robberies that succeeded the fall of the Roman