Page:The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, Volume 16.djvu/20

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About this time died archbishop Lanfranc; by whose death, the king, loosed from that awe and constraint he was under, soon began to discover those irregularities of his nature, which till then he had suppressed and disguised, falling into those acts of opppression and extortion that have made his name and memory infamous. He kept the see of Canterbury four years vacant, and converted the revenues to his own use, together with those of several other bishopricks and abbeys, and disposed of all church preferments to the highest bidder. Nor were his exactions less upon the laity, from whom he continually extorted exorbitant fines for pretended transgression of certain penal laws, and entertained informers to observe men's actions, and bring him intelligence.

It is here worth observation, that these corrupt proceedings of the prince have, in the opinion of several learned men, given rise to two customs, which are a long time grown to have the force of laws. For, first the successors of this king, continuing the custom of seizing on the accruing rents in the vacancy of sees and abbeys, it grew in process of time to be exacted as a right or acknowledgment to the king as founder; whence the revenues of vacant bishopricks belong at this day to the crown. The second custom had an original not unlike. Several persons, to avoid the persecutions of the king's informers, and other instruments of oppression, withdrew themselves and their effects to foreign countries; upon which the king issued a proclamation, forbidding all men to leave the kingdom without his licences from whence, in the judgment of the