Page:The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, Volume 16.djvu/85

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77
STEPHEN.

grounded upon a cause, that in its own nature little concerned the interests of the people, this was thought a convenient juncture for transacting a peace, to which there appeared a universal disposition. Several expedients were proposed; but earl Robert would consent upon no other terms than the deposing of Stephen, and immediate delivery of the crown to his sister. These debates lasted for some months, until the two prisoners, weary of their long constraint, by mutual consent were exchanged for each other, and all thoughts of agreement laid aside.

The king, upon recovery of his freedom, hastened to London, to get supplies of men and money for renewing the war. He there found that his brother of Winchester had, in a council of bishops and abbots, renounced all obedience to the empress, and persuaded the assembly to follow his example. The legate, in excuse for this proceeding, loaded her with infamy, produced several instances wherein she had broken the oath she took when he received her as queen, and upon which his obedience was grounded; said, he had received information that she had a design upon his life.

It must be confessed, that oaths of fealty in this prince's reign were feeble ties for binding the subject to any reasonable degree of obedience; and the warmest advocates for liberty cannot but allow, from those examples here produced, that it is very possible for people to run upon great extremes in this matter; that a monarch may be too much limited, and a subject too little; whereof the consequences have been fully as pernicious, for the time, as the worst that can be apprehended from arbitrary power in all its heights, although not perhaps so lasting or

so