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Written by JulieW
(8/20/2004 11:28 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Oldcastle and Falstaff, penned by JulieW
The people of Europe were, by this time, degenerated from what they were even two hundred years before: a continuance of war had blotted out the very traces of morality. The vices of the clergy had drawn upon them contempt and opposition, which they returned, not by reforming themselves, but by persecuting those who opposed them. This reign was begun in an attempt to extirpate the heresy of Wickliffe, John Oldcastle, baron of Cobham, was the most considerable protector of this sect; he was the king’s domestic and stood highly in his favour. The archbishop of Canterbury, therefore undertook to prejudice him in the royal opinion, and endeavoured to persuade the young monarch that fire and faggot were the only instruments capable of saving a heretic from future damnation; and that Oldcastle’s opinions deserved the severest punishments of the law. The king was, at length, persuaded to talk with Oldcastle in private, and finding him immovable, gave him up to the fury of his enemies. Persecution ever produces those crimes which it endeavours to abolish. Oldcastle was condemned but, escaping, was obliged to become, in fact, that guilty person which they had at first falsely represented to him: he headed a body of malcontents, and refused to be amenable to the royal power. This unhappy man, after a variety of distresses, at length fell into the power of his enemies: and never did the cruelty of man invent , or the crimes of the delinquent draw down more torments than he was made to endure: he was hung up with a chain by the middle, and by a slow fire burned, or rather roasted alive.
Dispassionate isn’t it…;-)
JA, when she states “his Majesty then turned his thoughts to France”, she echoes Goldsmith’s blithe assessment of Henry V’s next step:
“Such spectacles as these must naturally produce a disgust in the people both to the government and to the clergy: but to turn their minds from these hideous spectacles, Henry was resolved to take advantage of the troubles in which France was ,at that time, involved…
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