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better than he had governed them before."
The Unready, instead of coming himself, sent
Edward, one of his sons, to make promises for
him. At last, he followed, and the English
declared him king. The Danes declared
CANUTE, the son of Sweyn, king. Thus,
direful war began again, and lasted for three
years, when The Unready died. And I know
of nothing better that he did, in all his reign
of eight and thirty years.

Was Canute to be king now? Not over
the Saxons, they said; they must have
EDMUND, one of the sons of The Unready, who
was surnamed IRONSIDE, because of his strength
and stature. Edmund and Canute thereupon
fell to, and fought five battlesO unhappy
England, what a fighting ground it was!—
and then Ironside, who was a big man,
proposed to Canute, who was a little one, that
they two should fight it out in single combat.
If Canute had been the big man, he would
probably have said yes, but, being the little one,
he decidedly said no. However, he declared
that he was willing to divide the kingdom
to take all that lay north of Watling Street,
as the old Roman military road from Dover to
Chester was called, and give Ironside all that
lay south of it. Most men being weary of so
much bloodshed, this was done. But, Canute
soon became sole King of England; for, Ironside
died suddenly within two months. Some
think that he was killed, and killed by Canute's
orders. No one knows.

Canute reigned eighteen years. He was
a merciless king at first. After he had
clasped the hands of the Saxon chiefs, in token
of the sincerity with which he swore to be
just and good to them in return for their
acknowledging him, he denounced and slew
many of them, as well as many relations of
the late king. "He who brings me the head
of one of my enemies," he used to say, "shall
be dearer to me than a brother." And he
was so severe in hunting down his enemies,
that he must have got together a pretty large
family of these dear brothers. He was strongly
inclined to kill EDMUND and EDWARD, two
children, sons of poor Ironside; but, being
afraid to do so in England, sent them over to
the King of Sweden, with a request that the
king would be so good as to "dispose of
them." If the King of Sweden had been like
many, many other men of that day, he would
have had their innocent throats cut; but, he
was a kind man, and brought them up
tenderly.

Normandy ran much in Canute's mind. In
Normandy were the two children of the late
king, EDWARD and ALFRED by name; and
their uncle the Duke might one day claim
the crown for them. But, the Duke showed
so little inclination to do so now, that he
proposed to Canute to marry his sister, the widow
of The Unready; who, being but a showy
flower, and caring for nothing so much as
becoming a queen again, left her children and
was wedded to him.

Successful and triumphant, assisted by the
valor of the English in his foreign wars, and
with little strife to trouble him at home,
Canute had a prosperous reign, and made
many improvements. He was a poet and a
musician. He grew sorry, as he grew older,
for the blood he had shed at firstand went to
Rome in a Pilgrim's dress, by way of washing
it out. He gave a great deal of money to
foreigners on his journeybut he took it from
the English before he started. On the whole,
however, he certainly became a far better man
when he had no opposition to contend with,
and was as great a king as England had known
for some time.

The old writers of history relate how that
Canute was one day disgusted with his
courtiers for their flattery, and how he caused
his chair to be set on the sea-shore, and feigned
to command the tide as it rose not to wet the
edge of his robe, for the land was his; how
the tide rose, of course, without regarding
him; and how he then turned to his flatterers,
and rebuked them, saying, what was the
might of any earthly king, to the might
of the Creator, who could say unto the sea,
"Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther!"
We may learn from this, I think, that a little
sense will go a long way in a king; and that
courtiers are not easily cured of flattery, or
kings of a liking for it. If the courtiers of
Canute had not known, long before, that the
king was fond of flattery, they would have
known better than to offer it in such large
doses. And if they had not known that he
was vain of this speech (anything but a
wonderful speech it seems to me, if a good
child had made it) they would not have been
at such great pains to repeat it. I fancy I see
them all on the sea-shore together; the king's
chair sinking in the sand; the king in a
mighty good humour with his own wisdom;
and the courtiers pretending to be quite
stunned by it!

It is not the sea alone that is bidden to go
"thus far, and no farther." The great
command goes forth to all the kings upon the
earth, and went to Canute in the year one
thousand and thirty-five, and stretched him
dead upon his bed. Beside it, stood his
Norman wife. Perhaps, as the king looked
his last upon her, he, who had so often
thought distrustfully of Normandy, long ago,
thought once more of the two exiled Princes
in their uncle's court, and of the little favour
they could feel for either Danes or Saxons,
and of a rising cloud in Normandy that
slowly set towards England.

Now ready, price 5s. 6d., neatly bound in cloth,
THE SECOND VOLUME
OF
"HOUSEHOLD WORDS,"
Containing from Number 27 to Number 52, both inclusive.

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