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I know what I ought to do.” Then said Salisbury, “I pray God it may be good.” Now the knights departing out of the place, and going about to put on their armour, certain came to the archbishop, and said, “My lord, they arm themselves.” “What forceth it,” said he," let them arm themselves."
Now when they were armed, and many other about them, they entered into the archbishop's palace. Those that were about the archbishop cried upon him to flee, but he sat still and would not once remove, till the monks brought him even by force and against his will into the church. The coming of the armed men being known, some of the monks continued singing of even song, and some sought places where to hide themselves, other came to the archbishop, who was loath to have entered into the church, and when he was within, he would not yet suffer them to make fast the doors, so that there was a great stir among them, but chiefly when they perceived that the armed men went about to seek for the archbishop, by mean whereof their even song was left unfinished.
At length the knights with their servants having sought the palace, came rushing into the church by the cloister door with their swords drawn, some of them asking for the traitor, and some of them for the archbishop, who came and met them, saying, “Here am I, no traitor, but the archbishop.” The foremost of the knights said unto him, “Flee, thou art but dead.” To whom the archbishop said, “ I will not flee.” The knight stept to him taking him by the sleeve, and with his sword cast his cap beside his head, and said, “Come hither, for thou art a prisoner." "I will not,” said the archbishop,“ do with me here what thou wilt,” and plucked his sleeve with a mighty strength out of the knight's hand. Wherewith the knight stepped back two or three paces. Then the archbishop turning to one of the knights, said to him, “what meaneth this, Reginald, I have done unto thee many great pleasures, and comest thou now unto me into the church armed ?" Unto whom the knight presently answered and said, “Thou shalt know anon what is meant, thou art but dead; it is not possible for thee any longer to live.” Unto whom the archbishop answered, “I am ready to die for my God, and for the defence of his justice and the liberty of the church ; gladly do I embrace death, so that the church may purchase peace and liberty by the shedding of my blood.” And herewith taking another of the knights by the habergeon, he flung him from him with such violence, that he had almost throwu him down to the ground. This was Sir Will. Tracy, as he after confessed.
Then the archbishop inclined his head after the manner of one that would pray, pronouncing these his last words :-“To God, to St. Mary, and to the saints that are patrons of this church, and to St. Denis, I commend myself and the church's cause.” Therewith Sir Reginald Fitzurse striking a full blow at his head, chanced to light upon the arm of a clerk named Edward of Cambridge, who cast up his arm to save the archbishop; but when he was not able to bear the weight of the blow, he plucked his arm back, and so the stroke staid upon the archbishop's head, in such wise that the blood ran down by his face. Then they stroke at him one after another, and though he fell to the ground at the second blow, yet they left him not till they had cut and pushed out his brains, and dashed them about upon the church pavement. All this being done, they rifled his house, spoiled his goods, and took them to their own uses, supposing it lawful for them being the king's servants so to do.
But doubting how the matter would be taken, after they had wrought their feat, they got them into the bishopric of Durham, there to remain till they might hear how the king would take this their unlawful enterprise ; though (as they alledged) they had lustily defended his cause, and revenged his quarrel as faithful servants ought to do. Howbeit, it chanced otherwise than they looked it should have done ; for king Henry gave them so little thanks for their presumptuous act, sounding to the evil example of other in breach of his laws, that they despairing utterly of pardon, fled one into one place, and another into another, so that within four years they all died an evil death (as it hath been reported).
66.—THE KING AND THE ARCHBISHOP.
GEORGE DARLEY. (From Thomas à Becket, a Dramatic Chronicle.)
The Council Room.
Salisbury, London, Norwich ; Glanville.
Glanville. I judge, sir, as you speak
Henry. Yea, good Ranulph, yea;
Enter De Bohun, Clare and Leicester.
Leicester. From the round church, my liege
Henry. So! ye look grave : as if he being at prayers,
De Bohun. Nought strange in such a darer, though 'twere monstrous
Henry. What was that, ha ?
Save to the mole-eyed people, of distress,
Oh! he would set up
He comes, my liege ;
Enter Becket, arrayed in purple and pall, with his Crosier elevated, and a proud
Becket. I bear it for my sole protection !
Becket. My liege ! my liege ! my liege !
Henry. Oh ! I am then thy sovereign yet, it seems!
Becket. I did never lack allegiance, -
Which made for the more glory of the master,
'Tis not what
Becket. Crying injustice ! able to bring down
Henry. Thank heaven we have one milk-white soul among us !
Becket. There was no perjury !
Hear this ! hear this!
[To the Bishops. Did your supreme here (give me your corporate voice), Swear to our constitutions, rea or no ?
Becket. Foolish children that would judge their father :
Fraud within fraud !
Becket. His Holiness can ne'er absolve, except
Yes, you may load
My dear liege !
Henry. To save the church !
Of thy kind, loving, generous, royal master ?
Becket. Not generous now to say I'd pierce thy heart !
Henry. Thou hast done so !—if not with knife or brand,
I know it.
Henry. Good man!—Thou would'st betake thyself to Louis,
On that summons
Henry. Ha ! ha!
Becket. Sir! sir ! 'tis truth; and he who here
Like it iniquitous ! [The Barons start up, and Becket's train advance. Becket raises his Crosier and Henry his Sceptre between them. Henry.
These sacred wands,
Winchester. My liege, accept two thousand marks from bim,
Henry. I will not, Winchester !
[They retire some paces