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the turbulent and marauding Scots, Cumbrians, and Welsh were chastised and kept in awe by his English militia. Malcolm, the Scottish king, is said to have become his liegeman, or to have acknowledged his supremacy. The "Basileus" or emperor of the Anglo-Saxons-for this was the title which Canute took to himself in the latter part of his reign-could thus boast that the English, the Scotch, the Welsh, the Danes, the Swedes, and the Norwegians were his subjects; and he was called the "King of Six Nations." Throughout Europe he was looked upon as the greatest of modern sovereigns. Conrad the emperor, who claimed to be the representative of the imperial Cæsars, and supreme head of the Christianised and holy Roman empire, might make a show of prouder titles, but in extent of real dominion, in wealth and power, Conrad was as nothing compared with Canute, the descendant of the pirates of Denmark. The ability, the energy, the industry, which could keep such vast and distant countries together, and bring so many barbarous, warlike, and cruel people within the pale of Christendom, must have been altogether extraordinary. The disseverance which immediately followed his death is a proof that the union depended on the personal character and genius for government of Canute the Great. In England he had the rare art and happiness to make a conquered people forget that they had been conquered, and that he was a conqueror and an alien. When the first cruel excesses were over, and when his throne was established in peace, the Anglo-Saxons appear to have ceased to consider him as a foreigner. The chroniclers scarcely ever allude to his foreign birth: with them he is "Rex Noster— our King; our King, just and good; our pious King," &c. No doubt his accomplishments as a poet in the Anglo-Saxon language aided in bringing about this advantageous and rare result, which must have been further promoted by his reverence for the old Anglo-Saxon laws, by his zeal for the Christian religion, and by his exceeding liberality to the Anglo-Saxon church.

It was after his return from Rome and when he was in the plenitude of his power, that the following universally known incident is related of him and his flattering courtiers. One day, disgusted with their extravagant adulations, he determined to read these courtiers a practical lesson. He caused his golden throne to be placed on the verge of the sands on the sca-shore as the tide was rolling in with its resistless might, and putting his jewelled crown upon his head, and scating himself upon the throne, he addressed the ocean, and said—“ Ocean! The land on which I sit is mine, and thou art a part of my dominion; therefore rise not, but obey my commands, nor presume to wet the edge of my royal robe." He sat for some time silent with his eye fixed on the broad water as if expecting obedience; but the sea rolled on in its immutable course, succeeding waves broke nearer and nearer to his feet, the spray flew in his face, and at length the skirts of his garment were wetted and his legs were bathed by the waves. Then, rising and turning to his flatterers, Canute said-"Confess now how frivolous and vain is the might of an earthly king compared to that Great Power who rules the elements, and says unto the occan, Thus far shalt thou go and no farther!" The monks conclude the epilogue by saying that he forthwith took off his crown, and depositing it in the cathedral of Winchester, never wore it again.



[In giving the first of a series of Dramatic Scenes from English History, written expressly for this work, the Editor desires to prefix a few observations as to the general purpose, both of the original and the selected scenes. Coleridge has a fine poetical dream of the advantages of rendering our National History popular through the stage :-"In my happier days, while I had yet hope and onward-looking thoughts, I planned an historical drama of King Stephen, in the manner of Shakspere. Indeed, it would be desirable that some man of dramatic genius should dramatize all those [reigns] omitted by Shakspere, as far down as Henry VII. Perkin Warbeck would make a most interesting drama. A few scenes of Marlowe's Edward II. might be preserved. It would be a fine national custom to act such a series of dramatic histories in orderly succession, in the yearly Christmas holi days; and could not but tend to counteract that mock cosmopolitism which under a positive term really implies nothing but a negation of, or indifference to, the particular love of country."


That "some man of dramatic genius should dramatize all those reigns omitted by Shakspere," is, the Editor fears, a vain hope. That managers of our theatres should "act such a series of dramatic histories in orderly succession, in the yearly Christmas holidays," is scarcely to be expected, even if they had the dramas at hand to act. But it is possible that this beautiful illusion of Coleridge may be realized to a limited extent, by collecting together a series of historical SCENES "in orderly succession." The real difficulty in fully carrying such a series through the history of England, before and after the reigns to which Shakspere has given an unfading lustre, consists in the painful inferiority of most of our historical dramatists, as compared with Shakspere, rather than in the total want of dramas having relation to those reigns which he has not touched. We chiefly allude to the dramatists after the Restoration-the poets of the so called Augustan age, who saw the value of English historical subjects, but dealt with them in a prosaic spirit. Dryden and Rowe, we fear, are scarcely exceptions; the revival of Hughes, or Rymer, or Ravenscroft, or A. Hill, or Bancroft, or Lord Orrery, or A. Phillips, or Crowne, or Jerningham, or Banks, or Brooke, would not be a propitious advent for poetry or patriotism. But although, as a whole, no existing drama (perhaps with the exception of Marlowe's Edward II. considerably altered) could take the highest rank in such a series of dramatic histories as Coleridge contemplated, there are some which supply detached Scenes of great merit, and which may be selected to exhibit some continuous pictures of English history. The wonderful series of histories which Shakspere has left us of the "division and dissention of the renowned houses of Lancaster and York,"-a series written, most probably, upon a plan of connexion, has no gaps to be filled up. For nearly a hundred years the course of events rolls on in almost unbroken succession, exhibiting the most striking actions and characters which our history can supply. But even in a selection of Scenes from other dramatic poets of various periods, imperfect as it may be, the true life of history may be preserved; and the end may be steadily kept in view which Coleridge has described as the chief object of the historical drama which Shakspere realized,—" that of familiarizing the people to the great names of their country, and thereby of exciting a steady patriotism, a love of just liberty, and a respect for all those fundamental institutions of social life which bind men together."

The Editor will necessarily have obligations to recent historical plays, without which this selection would be somewhat meagre. These afford some Scenes, which, in many of the essentials of poetry, may be placed, without disadvantage, side by side with passages from the earlier dramatists. The nature of this work, as well as the Editor's respect for the rights of literary property, will prevent him abusing the privilege of quotation from these sources. In the original Scenes he has the especial aid of his friend the REV. JAMES WHITE, from

one of whose dramas an extract has been given in “Half. Hours with the best Authors.” The subjects which will be thus treated, are chiefly those which have been passed over by dramatic writers of adequate power, or wholly neglected. These new passages will aim at conveying the broad historical truth in a picturesque form.]

Hardicanute, son of Canute the Great and Emma of Normandy, died in 1042, leaving Edward Atheling, his half brother,-afterwards known as Edward the Confessor, heir to the English crown. At this time almost all the wealth and power of the kingdom were in the hands of Earl Godwin and his sons. Little was wanted to their ambition but the name of king; and Edward who was of a weak and superstitious character, would willingly have resigned his pretensions and immured himself in a monastery. But opposition was made to Godwin's designs by some of the other nobles, (particularly by Leofric, Earl of Mercia), and he suddenly changed his plans. When Edward sought an interview, on Hardicanute's death, and begged his protection, and license to depart for Normandy, where his youth had been passed,—the English Earl insisted on his taking possession of his inheritance, and promised to support him against all enemies, on condition that he would marry his daughter, Edith the Fair, and so become connected with his family. This agreement was fulfilled, and Edward mounted the throne.

And you,

A Fall in Godwin's llouse. A crowd of his adherents-Harold, Leofric, Thurkell,

The passing bell is heardit stops.
Godwin. So sleeps the king; the last of foreign kings !
The Dane shall squeeze no more the English grape
Into his cup. In Hardicanute's tomb
Lies English slavery, never on this soil
To plant its pestilental foot.

Godwin. Who speaks the word ?

Thurkell the Dane.
With your wild locks still powder'd by the salt
Of Baltic waves, and your rough throat still dry
With pirate shouting, join you in our pray'r ?

Thurkell. Aye ; for the Baltic wave that dashed its foam
Among these locks is long since sunk to rest ;
The pirate cry has ceased; I have a home
On English ground; the land that gives me food
Is all I own for country. Dane no more
I'm English all, and so—God save the Earl!

Adherents. The earl! the earl ! God save the English earl !

Godwin. You're silent Leofric; has your heart grown cold
To Godwin ?

Leofric. There is not a pulse in it all
That thrills not like a harp-string at the name.
Honour I owe you ; gratitude I owe;

Respect and truest service—but no more.

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Godwin. Well man, they'll do till we make further claim
I heard no words that took a higher flight
Than blessings on my head ; and you are silent.
My fair-hair'd Harold, Leofric is your friend
But not your father's friend. He shared your sports
From boyish days. He has kept by your reeking side,
When your hot charger shook the Norsemen's lines
Swept the same seas with you, with emulous flag;
Drank with you, sung with you, laughed and frowned as you did ;
And now he grudges to these grizzling locks
A blessing,-a poor blessing.

Oh not so !
Harold, I need not these appealing looks,
Nor memory of our old companionship,
Nor the dear household thoughts that nestle here
Like building swallows when their flight is done-
Nor voice of the past ; nor future hope, but thus
On bended knee, with hand held up to heaven,
God bless Earl Godwin,-guard of the English throne !

Thurkell. Guard of a few crossed sticks and a plain board
Covered with red brocade, ,-a noble State!
Heaven send a joiner, for the poor old chair
Is ricketty grown.

It grows to nobleness
When justice fills it. English Edward lives
Son of our English Ethelred, with blood
Ripend to redness in the veins of Kings,
Since Ella's forehead throbb'd beneath the crown.

Harold. A likely king, if dancing earn'd a throne.
Why man this scented, feather'd popinjay
Scarce knows the stiff old Saxon for a king,
But clips in French ;-a mongrel tongue it is-
Fit but for women's lips to gossip with.

Leofric. He's rightful lord, dear Harold

He a lord !
A lady he is,—for never a beard has he-
Or a lean friar, for after trying an hour
To pinch his waist, and step on his toe points
Like his French kinswomen,-down he'll fall in ashes
And lie all night before a niche in a wall-
Then forth he'll trip again, with paint on his cheeks,
And if you show him a shield of stout old brass,
Dinted with Scottish blows-mercie ! quoth he,
These ugly dints have spoilt a looking glass ;
And then he combs his hair, and from his hand
Pulls he a glove, thin as gossamer,
And look, says he, how brown this hand hath grown
When its as white'as milk. Be king who likes
I'm subject of a man !

Be false who likes
I'm true to Edward.


Harold (with dignity). Earl of Mercia !
I pray you, weigh the matter of my speech ;
The manner was too light in such a cause,
And used in freedom of the love that bound us
I thought that bond was stronger than it seems.

Leofric. A coward's tongue grows bold in a king's service.
Harold. And a friend's cold.

Affection has no place
When duty bars the door and guards the threshold.

Harold. Look you, Earl Leofric, a poor scholar am I,
And having never passed to foreign courts,
Nor listed Norman poets, or sage men,
I'm deaf to figures of speech, and never can tell
Whether a fiddle be in tune or not ;
But this I know; that if this realm of England
Claims for its king, the man that fits her best,
Whoe'er he be-knight, peasant, prince or earl,
This sword shall be his fence 'gainst all the world,
And shall break down the gate that duty bars,
And cross the threshold it pretends to guard.

Leofric. There may be swords as true of steel as your's,
And arms as strong—I've cleft a Norseman's helm
As deep as Harold.

"Twas of softer metal
Th Harold helmet if the sword you vaunt
Cleft it an inch o' the crest.

Harold—for shame
Leofric—my sons—I think I've called you so
Ere now; and Lcofric smiled to hear the word.
What!—foolish boys,—if Edith heard the brawl,
'Twould bring a frown on her fair brow, for both
Are very dear to her ; aye, and to me-
Come, come, shake hands, shake hands !

From a true heart
Comes this true grasp, my brother-

Godwin ! Godwin !
To the throne Godwin ! to the throne, to the throne.

[drops Harold's hand.
I cannot strain your hand, since from its clasp
Comes music so ill omen'd.

'Tis a tune
To dance to tho' the floor were wrapt in fire-
But keep your grasp till on some other field
I answer it with mine!

Chafe not, son Harold,
He who would bend the bow must hold his breath-
Go, Leofric, go in peace.

Leave as unsaid
What has been said, uuheard what has been heard
Find Edith in the garden bower she raised

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