Page:The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, Volume 16.djvu/60

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52
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

This one slight inconsiderable accident, did, in all probability, put a stop to very great events; for, if that young prince had survived his victory, it is hardly to be doubted but through the justness of his cause, the reputation of his valour, and the assistance of the king of France, he would in a little time have recovered Normandy, and perhaps his father's liberty, which were the two designs he had in agitation; nor could he well have missed the crown of England after the king's death, who was now in his decline, when he had so fair a title, and no competitors in view but a woman and an infant.

1129. Upon the king's return from Normandy, a great council of the clergy was held at London, for the punishing of priests who lived in concubinage, which was the great grievance of the church in those ages, and had been condemned by several canons. This assembly thinking to take a more effectual course against that abomination, as it was called, decreed severe penalties upon those who should be guilty of breaking it, intreating the king to see the law put in execution; which he very readily undertook, but performed otherwise than was expected, eluding the force of the law by an evasion to his own advantage; for, exacting fines of the delinquent priests, he suffered them to keep their concubines without farther disturbance; a very unaccountable step in so wise a body for their own concernments, as the clergy of those times is looked upon to have been; and although perhaps the fact be not worth recording, it may serve as a lesson to all assemblies, never to trust the execution of a law in the hands of those, who will find it more to their interests to see it broken than observed.

1132. The