Page:The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, Volume 16.djvu/88

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80
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

robbery, and plunder; many of the nobles, although pretending to hold their castles for the king or the empress, lived like petty independant princes in a perpetual state of war against their neighbours; the fields lay uncultivated, all the arts of civil life were banished, no veneration left for sacred persons or things; in short, no law, truth, or religion, among men, but a scene of universal misery, attended with all the consequences of an embroiled and distracted state.

About the eleventh year of the king's reign, young Henry, now growing toward a man, was sent for to France by a message from his father, who was desirous to see him; but left a considerable party in England, to adhere to his interests; and in a short time after (as some write) the empress herself grown weary of contending any longer in a cause where she had met with nothing but misfortunes of her own procuring, left the kingdom likewise, and retired to her husband. Nor was this the only good fortune that befel Stephen; for, before the year ended, the main prop and pillar of his enemies was taken away by death; this was Robert earl of Gloucester, than whom there have been few private persons known in the world that deserve a fairer place and character in the registers of time, for his inviolable faith, disinterested friendship, indefatigable zeal, firm constancy to the cause he espoused, and unparallelled generosity in the conduct thereof: he adhered to his sister in all her fortunes, to the ruin of his own; he placed a crown on her head; and when she had lost it by her folly and perverseness, refused the greatest offers from a victorious enemy, who had him in his power, and chose to continue a

prisoner