« PreviousContinue »
claims our attention; the difference between his reign and that of his father's is singularly striking Right being stronger than might, is fully exemplified by the contrast. Louis gave permission to the cities to purchase their freedom, by which they became corporate bodies. The conduct of judges and governors was submitted to severe scrutiny, the mayors no longer exercised that unlimited sway which might have been termed republicanism under the cloak of a king. That enlightened statesman the Abbé Suger reformed the whole monarchy, and the king himself regarded the high situation he held as one of sacred responsibility. With him conscience mixed itself with power, and heaven's justice reigned through the mortal king! His contemporary and rival, Henry the First of England had consderable abilities, but his moral conduct was rather a slave to a powerful, but ill-directed, mind, than the welltrained discipline of the highest gift of man,his searching intellect. The Beauclerc of the
age was the murderer of his brother; and the
might of bodily courage which kept the foreign enemy at bay, was under no law of that right of equality which forbids mortal man tyrannizing over the life of his fellow-creature. Philip Augustus of France and Richard Cour de Lion of England are powerful examples to bear out our principle. Both brave, both rash, both obstinate, and both possessing high abilities; still their lives were spent in a continued struggle, the jealousy of actual strength was the vaulting ambition of bothan ambition which can only be sustained by an equal sway of rule and courage : the latter was the dominant passion in the breasts of both kings; but the monarch of a realm must unite the thoughts of a civilian to the courage of a warrior, or else he is but one individual at the mercy of circumstances. A mutiny in his army, a panic fear, an epidemic disease, and he is handed over to his foe.
Had Richard possessed less of the warrior and more of the law-restrained politician within his breast, he would not have met his untimely death ; a king can no more be justified than a subject when, armed only with the right of monarchical power, he besieges the castle of a subject, to deprive him of an inheritance which chance has thrown in his way. Richard's death, generally so lightly passed over, is, in fact, a great and searching lesson.
Let us now pass over two reigns; which brings us to that of Philip the Third of France, contemporary with Edward the First
His reign was scandalously corrupt; the features of the cruelty of that period will never be effaced from history. The Sicilian Vespers, the Albigense crusade, the
Flemish war, and the barbarous treatment of the Knights Templars, are marks for the historian, the poet, and the philosopher. And the latter may vainly vaunt man's courage, let him rather mourn over his sanguinary strength, the force of arms was needed for all these cruel purposes ; but Philip the Third will answer at a stronger tribunal for the victims of his sateless revenge.
His contemporary meanwhile earned for himself the title of “ the English Justinian.” His useful laws will be amidst England's codes* when Philip, surnamed the Hardy, will be considered hardy only on one point-cruelty.
Philip the Sixth, the first of the race of Valois, presents a memorable lesson in the history of his misfortunes; and remote as the period may be, we could, were it not too personal, compare the way in which he was treated as a prisoner in England, with the modern treatment of a certain splendid, but too ambitious, warrior. That law of conscience which is comprehended in the word “honour," made Edward trust his prisoner, and when the unfortunate Dauphin, returning to his native country, found himself deficient of the required ransom, he returned broken-hearted, but with unstained honour to his English
* Vide the “ Cinque Ports."
The mind of the Dauphin soared far beyond the century, and the binding honour of a promise was felt at the expense of liberty and life: this inherent rule of honorable conduct being too often slighted, law has arisen to bind, to sanctify, to render impassable the contract which is made between nation and nation, man, and man; but in some high and well-regulated minds, simple honour is as powerful as law; the latter so often misconstrued is, in fact,