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tortions which in fact we shall find to have been practiced upon them. In the year 1241, 20,000 marks were exacted from them : two years after, money was again extorted; and one Jew alone, Aaron of York, was obliged to pay above 4000 marks : in 1250, Henry renewed his oppreftions; and the same Aaron was condemned to pay him 30,000 marks upon an accusation of forgery : the high penalty imposed upon him, and which, it seems, he was thought able to pay, is rather a presumption of his innocence ihan of his guilt." In 1255, the King demanded 8000 marks from the Jews, and threatened to hang them, if they refused compliance. They now lost all patience, and defired leave to retire with their effects out of the kingdom. But the King replied : “ How
can I remedy the oppressions you complain of? I am my*“ self beggared. I am despoiled, I am stripped of all my re
venues : I owe above 200,000 marks; and if I had said “ 300,000, I should not exceed the truth : I am obliged to
pay my son, prince Edward, 15,000 marks a year : I have
not a farthing; and I must have money, from any hand, “ from any quarter, or by any means.” He then delivered over the Jews to the earl of Cornwal, that those whom the one brother had flead, the other might embowel, to make use of the words of the historian *. King John, his father, once deinanded 10,000 marks from a Jew of Bristol; and on his refusal, ordered one of his teeth to be drawn every day till he should consent. The Jew loft seven teeth ; and then paid the sum required of him.”
The barbarity exercised toward this race of men, will not so greatly surprize us, when we consider the severity of the antient law of England, by which, if a christian man married a woman who was a Jewels, or a christian woman did marry with a Jew, it was felony, for which the offending party was to be burned alive. This strange and inhuman law was made in the infancy of christianity, and we might almost doubt its real existence, did we not consider that zealots have ever been forward to violate the dictates of reason and humanity, in defence of a new and favourite system, against an opposite fect.
The reign of Edward I. who has been celebrated as the English Justinian, affords abundant matter of speculation. Under this prince, the English constitution acquired some tolerable consistence. Knights, citizens, and burgesses were now more regularly summored to parliament, and the commons beheld the gladfome dawn of independence, It suf* Matthew Paris.
fered many eclipses however, before it rose fo near to the meridian as it has since advanced. Our Historian makes a digrefíion in this reign, in which he gives a succinct and ingenious account of the progress of the commons' authority. Nevertheless it is too long for us to give it entire, and to relect any particular part, would be injustice to the whole. We will only observe therefore, that Mr. Hume seems to rely too much on the authority of Brady, who, though very ingenious and intelligent, is, in many instances hasty and partiał: and we are by no means persuaded by the authorities he cites, that the knights originally sat apart from the commons, and that the latter, even in the reign of Henry IV. had not any legislative authority. Were we however to enter into a regular confutation of these propositions, it would Carry us too far into the cobwcbs of antiquity, whither few of our readers, perhaps, would chuse to follow us. We therefore refer the examination of these niceties to the learned and curious.
It would be needlefs to enter into the military exploits of this prince in France and Scotland, against the latter of which he was actuated inore by principles of policy than justice, having violated the confidence reposed in his friendly arbitration, to promote an usurped dominion. The civil government of this reign is most worthy of our attention, and is indeed well described by our Historian. Here however he is clearly mistaken, when he says, that “ Edward seems to have been the first Christian Prince, who passed a statute of mortmain ;" for this was one of the articles of the Great Charter paffed in his father's time.
Our Historian's reflections on the reign of that weak and unfortunate Prince, Edward II. are well worthy of observation. Mr. Hume has foftened the character of this unhappy Monarch, and takes notice, that it is a shameful delusion in modern historians, to imagine that all the antient Princes who were unfortunate in their government, were also tyranical in their conduct. This refection is certainly just : but we must add, that if a prince is ever fo innocent and inoffensive in himself, yet his weak attachment to a tyrannical and oppressive minion, is as reasonable a ground for oppofing his authority, as if the tyranny was perfonal in himself. It must be confefled nevertheless, that “the facility and weakness of this Prince, more than his violence, threw every thing into confusion;" and these considerations, more than any real grievances, gave birth to the sedition of the turbulent Barons; whok conduct and influence is admirably described
in the following extract, which opens with some curious particulars, relative to the elder Spenser, father to Edward's favourite
“ The petition of the elder Spenser to parliament, complaining of the devastation committed on his lands by the barons, contains several particulars, which are curious, and discover the manners of the age. He affirms, that they had ravaged fixty three manors belonging to him, and he makes his lofles amount to 46,000 pounds; that is, to 138,000 of our present money. Ainong other particulars, he enumerates 28,000 sheep, 1000 oxen and heifers, 1200 cows with their breed for two years, 560 cart horses, 2000 hogs, together with 600 bacons, 8o carcaffes of beef, and 600 muttons in the larder ; ten tuns of cyder, arms for 200 men, and other warlike engines and provisions. The plain inference is, that the greatest part of Spenser’s vast eltate, as well as that of the other nobility, was farmed by the landlord himself, managed by his fte vards or bailiffs, and cultivated by his villains. Little or none of it was let on lease to husband men : its produce was consumed in rustic hospitality by the baron or his officers : a great number of idle retainers, ready for any disorder or mischief, were maintained by him: all who lived upon his erlate were absolutely at his disposal : instead of applying to courts of justice, he usually sought redress by open force and violence: the great nobility were a kind of independant potentates, who, if they submitted to any regulations at all, were less governed by the municipal law, than by a rude species of the laws of nations. The method in which we find they treated the King's favourites, and ministers, is a proof of their usual way of dealing with each other. A party, which complains of the arbitrary conduct of ministers, ought naturally to affect a great regard for the laws' and constitution, and maintain at least the appearance of justice in their proceedings : yet thefe barons, when discontented, came to parliament with an armed force, conftrained the King to aflent to their measures, and without any trial or witness or convi&tion, passed, from the pretended notoriety of facts, an act of banishment or attainder against the minister, which, on the first revolution of fortune, was reverled by like expedients. The parliament, during factious times, was nothing but the organ of present power. Tho' the persons of whom it was chiefly composed, seemed to enjoy great independance, they really possessed no true liberty ; and the security of each individual ainong them, was not so much derived from the general protection of law, as from his own private power and that of his confederates. The au
thority of the monarch, tho' far from absolute, was very ir.
We are here presented with a very just and lively picture of the manners of these times, and this may serve as a key for the more perfect understanding of the disorderly and violent transactions of these reigns. Such comments display the true characteristics of an Historian,
The reign of Edward III, affords little more than a romantic scene of chivalry. The much celebrated victories of Crecy and Poiétiers, only serve, among other instances, to prove that heedless temerity frequently triumphs over supine confidence. The treatment however, which John, the captive King of France received from the Black Prince, his conqueror, displayed a noble generosity and humanity, which Mewed the Prince to have poffessed a mind superior to the little ambition of false heroism. The military exploits of this reign have ever been the theme and boast of vulgar admiration ; but we find little improvement in civil polity, which is more worthy of attention. The government, as our Histori. an observes, “ at best, was only a barbarous monarchy, not regulated by any fixed maxims, nor bounded by any certain undisputed rights, which were in practice regularly observed, The King conducted himself ' by one set of pris ples; the barons by another; the commons by a third ; the clergy by a fourth. All these systems of government were contrary and incompatible: each of them prevailed according as incidents were favourable to it: a great Prince rendered the monarchical power predominant; the weakness of a King gave the reins to aristocracy; a superstitious age saw the clergy triumphant: the people, for whom alone government was instituted, and who alone deferve consideration, were commonly the weakest of the whole. But the commons, little obnoxious to any other order, though they funk under the violence of tempeíts, filently reared their head in more peaceable times; and while the storm was brewing, were courted by
all sides, and thus received still some accession to their privileges, or, at worst, fome confirmation of them.”
The reign of that weak Prince, Richard II. affords little matter worthy of commemoration. Our Historian, though he warns the reader not to give entire credit to writers who composed their works during the reigns of the Lancastrian Princes, acknowledges neverthcless, that “ he was a weak Prince, and unfit for government, less for want of natural parts and capacity, than of folid judgment, and of a good education. He was violent in his temper, profuse in his expences ; fond of idle thew and magnificence; devoted to favourites, and addicted to pleasure : passions, all of them, the moft inconsistent with a prudent economy, and consequently dangerous in a limited and mixed government."
The ensuing reign, though busy and active, was chiefly employed in defending a bad title to the crown, so that Henry IV. had little leisure to look abroad, or perform any actions which might redound to the honour or advantage of the nation. “ It must be owned however,” adds our Hiltorian, “ that his prudence and vigilance and foresight, in maintaining his power, was admirable: his command of tem per remarkable : his courage, both military and political, , without blemish : and he possessed many qualities, which fitted him for his high station, and which rendered his usurpation of it, though pernicious in after times, rather salutary, during his own reign, to the English nation." We confess that we cannot readily subscribe to the propriety of this concluding sentiment. It is difficult to conceive, in what respect Henry's usurpation was falutary to the kingdom, even during his own reign: neither does such a reflection seem consistent with what our Historian had before acknowledge ed, viz. “ That Henry had little leisure to perform any actions, which might redound to the honour or advantage of the nation.”
His fon however raised the nation to the highest pitch of honour to which martial merit and success could exalt it. This conqueror of France, it is well known, was, while Prince of Wales, wild and diffolute to a shamefut excess and his extravagance is thus, not improbably, accounted for by our Historian.
" The many jealousies, to which Henry IV's situation naturally exposed him, had fo infected his temper, that he had been perfuaded to entertain unreasonable fufpicions with re