Imatges de pÓgina

The earls re-entered, and Leicester approached him and began slowly and reluctantly to announce the sentence. “Nay,' said Becket, lifting his tall meagre figure to its haughtiest height, do thou first listen to me. The child may not judge his father. The king may not judge me, nor may you judge me. I will be judged under God by the pope alone, to whom in your presence I appeal. I forbid you under anathema to pronounce your sentence. And you, my brethren,' he said, turning to the bishops, since you will obey man rather than God, I call you too before the same judgment-seat. Under the protection of the Apostolic See, I depart hence.'

No hand was raised to stop him. He swept through the chamber and flung open the door of the hall. He stumbled on the threshold, and had almost fallen, but recovered himself. The October evening was growing into twilight. The hall was thronged with the retinues of the king and the barons. Dinner was over. The floor was littered with rushes and fragments of rolls and broken meat. Draughts of ale had not been wanting, and young knights, pages, and retainers were either lounging on the benches or talking in eager and excited groups.

As Becket appeared among them, fierce voices were heard crying “Traitor! traitor! Stop the traitor!' Among the loudest were Count Hamelin, the king's illegitimate brother, and Sir Ranulf de Broc, one of the Canterbury knights. Like a bold animal at bay, Becket turned sharply on these two. He called Count Hamelin a bastard boy. He reminded De Broc of some near kinsman of his who had been hanged. The cries rose into a roar; sticks and knots of straw were flung at him. Another rash word, and he might have been torn in pieces. Some high official hearing the noise came in and conducted him safely to the door.

In the quadrangle he found his servants waiting with his palfrey. The great gate was locked, but the key was hanging on the wall ; one of them took it and opened the gate, the porters looking on, but not interfering. Once outside he was received with a cheer of delight from the crowd, and with a mob of people about him he made his way back to the monastery. The king had not intended to arrest him, but he could not know it, and he was undoubtedly in danger from one or other of the angry men with whom the town was crowded. He prepared for immediate flight. A bed was made for him in the chapel behind the altar. After a hasty supper with a party of beggars whom he had introduced into the house, he lay down for a few hours of rest. At two in the morning, in a storm of wind and rain, he stole away disguised with two of the brethren. He reached Lincoln soon after daybreak, and from Lincoln, going by cross paths, and slipping from hiding-place to hiding-place, he made his way in a fortnight to a farm of his own at Eastry, near Sandwich. He was not pursued. It was no sooner known that he was gone from Northampton than a proclamation was sent through the country forbidding every man under pain of death to meddle with him. The king had determined to allow the appeal, and once more to place the whole question in the pope's hands. The Earl of Arundel with a dozen peers and bishops was despatched at once to Sens to explain what had happened, and to request Alexander to send legates to England to investigate the quarrel and to end it. The archbishop, could he have consented to be quiet, might have remained unmolested at Canterbury till the result could be ascertained. But he knew too well the forces which would be at work in the papal court to wait for its verdict. His confidence was only in himself. Could he see the pope in person, he thought that he could influence him. He was sure of the friendship of Lewis of France, who was meditating a fresh quarrel with Henry, and would welcome his support. His own spiritual weapons would be as effective across the Channel as if used in England, while he would himself be in personal security. One dark night he went down with his two companions into Sandwich, and in an open boat crossed safely to Gravelines. At St. Omer he fell in with bis old friend Chief Justice de Luci, who was returning from a mission to the court of France. De Luci urged him to return to England and wait for the pope's decision, warning him of the consequences of persisting in a course which was really treasonable, and undertaking that the king would forgive him if he would go back at once. Entreaties and warnings were alike thrown away. He remained and despatched a letter to the pope saying briefly that he had followed the example of his holiness in resisting the encroachments of princes, and had fled from his country. He had been called to answer before the king as if he had been a mere layman. The bishops, who ought to have stood by him, had behaved like cowards. If he was not sustained by his holiness, the Church would be ruined, and he would himself be doubly confounded.



A FOREIGN statesman, honoured in all lands for his life-long advocacy of Liberal principles through good report and through evil report, alike


to and in the highest post to which a subject can usually aspire, spoke to me lately with some regret of the speech of Lord Hartington in the debate upon the Eastern Question. I explained to him, as well as I could, the very peculiar circumstances in which the late Cabinet had found itself; but the incident set me thinking, and led me to try whether I could not, during the leisure of a Whitsun recess, throw upon paper some notes on a discussion which has not, I think, been fully understood on the Continent, and which will certainly be come historical at home, not on account of its merits, but from the strange position into which English parties have been thrown by it and its antecedents. Such a paper, if it is to be of any value, must be free from party bias. I cannot for a moment pretend to be, under ordinary circumstances, more independent of that disturbing influence than my neighbours; but I so much regretted the Eastern Question being made the subject of party strife at all-I should have been so well content to have had no division upon the subject—that I think I may trust myself to write about it, in no spirit of hostility to those whose ill fate it is to be at the helm of affairs during the anxious year which is passing over us.

Towards the end of the last session of Parliament several animated conversations took place in the House of Commons about the atrocious massacres which accompanied the suppression of the Bulgarian rising. The worst details of that horrible business were not, however, generally known till later, and when they were known they led to the series of meetings which so much puzzled all Europe except that infinitesimal fraction of it which knows that the inhabitants of the calculating perfidious Albion' are the most enthusiastic, impulsive population in the world. Mr. Gladstone took a more active interest in those meetings than any other statesman, and continued all through the recess to keep the affairs of Turkey before the English public. During the earlier part of this session frequent attempts were made to bring on a full discussion of these affairs, but, discouraged by those who did not see their way to any practical result, VOL. 1.-No. 5.

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they led only to somewhat fragmentary debates and conversations, When the House of Commons reassembled after the Easter holidays, some of the hotter spirits of the Opposition were anxious that a vote of censure should be moved against the Government, and very serious consideration was given to their views by those who were responsible for the guidance of the Liberal party. It soon became clear, however, that such a proceeding would not accord with the wishes of the great majority of their followers, and all idea of it was abandoned.

No sooner, however, were the minds of those who deprecated the introduction of party feeling into questions of foreign affairs set at rest by this wise decision, than they were startled by notice being given on behalf of Mr. Gladstone that he would move certain resolutions, the general tenor of which speedily transpired, and which presently appeared in the following form :

1. That this House finds just cause of dissatisfaction and complaint in the conduct of the Ottoman Porte with regard to the despatch written by the Earl of Derby on the 21st day of September, 1876, and relating to the massacres in Bulgaria.

2. That, until such conduct shall have been essentially changed and guarantees on behalf of the subject populations other than the promises or ostensible measures of the Porte shall have been provided, that government will be deemed by this Ilouse to have lost all claim to receive either the material or the moral support

of the British Crown.

3. That, in the midst of the complications which exist and the war which has actually begun, this House earnestly desires the influence of the British Crown in the counsels of Europe to be employed with a view to the early and effectual development of local liberty and practical self-government in the disturbed provinces of Turkey, by putting an end to the oppression which they now suffer, without the imposition upon them of any other foreign dominion.

4. That, bearing in mind the wise and honourable policy of this country in the protocol of April 1826, and the treaty of July 1827, with respect to Greece, this House furthermore earnestly desires that the influence of the British Crown may be addressed to promoting the concert of the European Powers in exacting from the Ottoman Porte, by their united authority, such changes in the government of Turkey as they may deem to be necessary for the purposes of humanity and justice, for effectual defence against intrigue, and for the peace of the world.

5. That an humble address, setting forth the prayer of this House according to the tenor of the foregoing resolutions, be prepared and presented to Her Majesty.

Against the first of these propositions no one had much to -advance. Some doubted the experiency of asking the House to record a resolution about the conduct of a foreign government, and thought that enough had been done to express the national dissatisfaction through the usual diplomatic channels ; but no one, whom I chanced to see, had a word to say in contradiction of the proposition itself. It was not till they arrived at the second resolution that many members of the Liberal party began to perceive that they were getting on dangerous ground. Why, it was asked, when the Govern

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ment has just issued a proclamation of neutrality, should we pass a
resolution which linds us by implication to give material or moral
support to Turkey if her government puts to death some of the
leading persons connected with the Bulgarian massacres, and gives
what are vaguely described as "guarantees on behalf of the subject
populations other than promises or ostensible measures'? Why
should the House commit itself, at this particular time, to support
Turkey at all? It will be sufficient to wait and see if cause for
doing anything at present so improbable eventually arises. Then,
as to the third resolution, some objected to it on the ground
that neither local liberty nor practical self-government was what
was wanted for the provinces of Turkey, but an intelligent and
civilised central government, availing itself of the best European
agency at its command. Others exceedingly disliked the concluding
clause, which, as it seemed to them, might at any moment bring
the House of Commons into direct antagonism with the interests
and aspirations of Greeks, Austrians, Montenegrins, and Russians.
Many, again, who had no particular dislike to the idea of creating
half-a-dozen new Servias, saw no wisdom in tying their own hands,
and held to the alors comme alors of Kaunitz. As to the fourth
resolution, very few felt that amount of pride in the policy of
1826 and 1827 with respect to Greece which would have made
them anxious, half a century afterwards, to record an approval
of it; while they considered that to address the Crown, asking
it to exact from the Ottoman Porte, in concert with united
Europe, certain changes, when one of the greatest European Powers
was already at war with the Ottoman Porte, was to ask Her Majesty
straightway to go to war, and to try to get her allies to do the same-
a course which appeared at least a roundabout way of promoting
humanity and justice and establishing the peace of the world.'

Such is a kind of outline of the conversations which were heard pretty generally amongst members of the Opposition as soon as Mr. Gladstone's resolutions were placed upon the table, while, even at an earlier period, it became clear to those who had heard what he intended to propose, that they must lose no time in taking measures to prevent themselves being dragged into the support of propositions which some of them would strongly disapprove, and all think inopportune.

The Parliamentary form of the previous question, which sets aside a proposal, as not appropriate to the occasion, without expressing any opinion on its merits, suggested itself as the most convenient under the circumstances; and no sooner had Mr. Gladstone given the formal notice of his resolutions than Sir John Lubbock, who was peculiarly well fitted to represent the great interests which would have been imperilled if what an eminent jurist has well called the bloody meddlesomeness' of those who wished for a new Navarino

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