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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

Stephen (1135—1154.)

Stephen (1135—1154.)

Stephen, nephew of the late king and grandson of the Conqueror, in defiance of his solemn oath of allegiance to Maud, Henry's daughter—kings' are like dicers' oaths—at once sought the kingly office, to which he was elected by the aldermen and Common Council of London! All the horrors of a disputed succession ensued—disputed successions and regencies are among the advantages of the monarchical system of government on which the admirers of royalty seldom enlarge. From end to end, the land was filled with rapine. Stephen was a mere swashbuckler; while Maud was an imperious, unfeeling woman, who could inspire no attachment. The perfection of human anarchy was attained. Everywhere frowning castles, built by forced labour, arose; page 25 their lords were undisguised bandits, who hauled men and women into their foul dens to rob them of their all. "Some," say the Chronicles, "they hanged up by the feet and smothered with foul smoke; others they hanged by the thumbs or the head, while fire was put to their feet; about the heads of others they knotted cords and bound them so that they went into the brain. Some were cast into pits where there were adders, snakes, and toads, and died there. Many of the castles had in them a 'loathy and grim,' which was a drag for the neck, such as hardly two or three men could lift. This was thus applied : being fastened to a beam, the sharp iron was placed round the man's neck, so that he could neither sit, nor lie, nor sleep, but must bear all this iron. Many thousands they wore out with hunger. To till the ground was to plough the sea. If two or three men were seen riding up to a town, all the inhabitants fled, taking them for plunderers. And this lasted, growing worse and worse, throughout Stephen's reign. Men said openly that Christ and his saints had gone to sleep."

It is the unspeakable misfortune of Englishmen that the true history of their monarchy has never yet been written by a competent hand. The Humes, Freemans, Froudes, Macaulays and Greens are scholars and polished writers, but the "root of the matter is not in them." They are respecters of persons, party advocates or word-painters, removed, it may be through no fault of their own, from all living contact and sympathy with the people. Comte's dictum, "The working class is not, properly speaking, a class at all, but constitutes the body of society; from it proceeds the various special classes which we regard as organs necessary to that body "—is the true key to universal history, and they comprehend it not. Royalty, aristocracy, and plutocracy are not organs necessary to the body of society. They are but excrescences. They exist only for reprobation and extinction. "By their fruits ye shall know them;" but by their fruits, alas! they have never been made known by historians to the people of England. Royalty and aristocracy have been treated by nearly all English analysts as if they were the body of society, for whom the workers live, move, and have their being. Wanted—a competent English Historian. None but Republicans and Democrats need apply.