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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, warlikc, 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 Nosterour 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 seating 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 cdge 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, succceding 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 rain is the might of an earthly king compared to that Great Power who rules the elements, and says unto the ocean, 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, loth 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 Marlove's Edward II. might be preserved.
It would be a fine national custom to aet 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, eren 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 stries 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 un. fading 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 liistory. 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 preserred; and the end may be steadily kept in view which Coleridge has described as tne 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.
A Tall in Godwin's House. A crowd of his adherents—Harold, Leofric, Thurkell,
Thurkell the Dane.
Thurkell. Aye; for the Baltic wave that dashed its foam
Adherents. The earl! the earl ! God save the English earl !
Godwin. You're silent Leofric; has your heart grown cold
Leofric. There is not a pulse in it all
Godwin. Well man, they'll do till we make further claim-
Oh not so !
Thurkell. Guard of a few crossed sticks and a plain board
grows to nobleness
Harold. A likely king, if dancing earn'd a throne.
Leofric. He's rightful lord, dear Harold-
He a lord !
Be false who likes
Harold (with dignity).
Earl of Mercia !
Leofric. A coward's tongue grows bold in a king's service.
Affection has no place
Harold. Look you, Earl Leofric, a poor scholar am I,
Leofric. There may be swords as true of steel as your's,
"Twas of softer metal
From a true hcart
Godwin ! Godwin !
[drops Harold's hand.
'Tis a tune
Chafe not, son Harold,