The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 16/Heads for Henry II's Character - Extracted from the Monks

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Henry the Second's Character.

Extracted from the Monks.

[Hard to gather his character from such bad authors.]

A WISE prince, to whom other princes referred their differences; and had ambassadors from both empires, east and west, as well as others, at once in his court.

Strong and brawny body, patient of cold and heat, big head, broad breast, broken voice, temperate in meat, using much exercise, just stature, forma elegantissima, colore subrufo, oculis glaucis, sharp wit, very great memory, constancy in adversity and in felicity, except at last he yielded, because almost forsaken of all; liberal, imposed few tributes, excellent soldier and fortunate, wise and not unlearned. His vices: mild and promising in adversity, fierce and hard, and a violator of faith in prosperity; covetous to his domesticks and children, although liberal to soldiers and strangers, which turned the former from him; loved profit more than justice; very lustful, which likewise turned his sons and others from him. Rosamond and the labyrinth at Woodstock. Not very religious; mortuos milites lugens plus quam vivos amans; largus in publico, parens in privato. Constant in love and hatred, false to his word, morose, a lover of ease. Oppressor of nobles, sullen, and a delayer of justice; verbo varius et verstitus —— used churchmen well after Becket's death; charitable to the poor, levied few taxes, hated slaughter and cruelty. A great memory, and always knew those he once saw.

Very indefatigable in his travels backward and forward to Normandy, &c. of most endless desires to increase his dominions. *****

Cætera desiderantur.