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monks, affected to be entirely guided by their directions in all his succeeding transactions.

Little worthy of notice is mentioned of this monarch, except his amour with Elfrida, which is of too singular a nature to be omitted. Edgar had long heard of the beauty of a young lady, whose name was Elfrida, daughter to the Earl of Devonshire; but unwilling to credit common fame in this particular, he sent Ethelwald, his favourite friend, to see, and inform him, if Elfrida was indeed that incomparable woman report had described her. Ethelwald, arriving at the earl's, had no sooner cast his eyes upon that nobleman's daughter, than he became desperately enamoured of her himself. Such was the violence of his passion that, forgetting his master's intentions, he solicited only his own interest, and demanded for himself the beautiful Elfrida, from her father, in marriage. The favourite of a king was not likely to find a refusal: the earl gave his consent, and the nuptials were performed in private. Upon his return to court, which was shortly after, he assured the king that her riches alone, and her high quality, had been the cause of her fame, and he appeared amazed how the world could talk so much, and so unjustly, of her charms. The king was satisfied, and no longer felt any curiosity; while Ethelwald secretly triumphed in his address. When he had, by this deceit, weaned the king from his purpose, he took an opportunity, after some time, of turning the conversation on Elfrida, representing that though the fortune of the Earl of Devonshire's daughter would be a trifle to a king, yet it would be an immense acquisition to a needy subject. He therefore humbly entreated permission to pay his addresses to her, as she was the richest heiress in the kingdom. A request so seemingly reasonable was readily complied with; Ethelwald returned to his wife, and their nuptials were solemnized in public. His greatest care, however, was employed in keeping her from court; and he took every precaution to prevent her from appearing before a king so susceptible of love, while she was so capable of inspiring that passion. But it was impossible to keep his treachery long concealed. Edgar was soon informed of the whole transaction; but dissembling his resentment, he took occasion to visit that part of the country where this miracle of beauty was detained, accompanied by Ethelwald, who reluctantly attended him thither. Upon coming near the lady's habitation, he told him he had a curiosity to see his wife, of whom he had formerly heard. so much, and desired to be introduced as his acquaintance. Ethelwald, thunderstruck at the proposal, did all in his power,

but in vain, to dissuade him. All he could obtain, was permission to go before, on pretence of preparing for the king's reception. On his arrival, he fell at his wife's feet, confessing what he had done to be possessed of her charms, and conjuring her to conceal, as much as possible, her beauty from the king, who was but too susceptible of its power. Elfrida, little obliged to him for a passion that had deprived her of a crown, promised compliance; but, prompted either by vanity or revenge, adorned her person with the most exquisite art, and called up all her beauty on the occasion. The event answered her expectations: the king no sooner saw, than he loved her, and was instantly resolved to obtain her. The better to effect his intentions, he concealed his passion from the husband, and took leave with a seeming indifference; but his revenge was not the less certain and fatal. Ethelwald was some time after sent into Northumberland upon pretence of urgent affairs, and was found murdered in a wood by the way. Some say he was stabbed by the king's own hand; some, that he only commanded the assassination: however this may be, Elfrida was invited soon after to court, by the king's own order, and their nuptials were performed with the usual solemnity.

This monarch died, after a reign of sixteen years, in the thirty-third year of his age, being succeeded by his son, Edward, whom he had by his first marriage with the daughter of the Earl of Ordmer.

Edward, surnamed the Martyr, was made king by the interest of the monks, and lived but four years after his accession. In his reign there is nothing remarkable, if we except his tragical and memorable end. Hunting one day near Corfe Castle, where Elfrida, his mother-in-law, resided, he thought it his duty to pay her a visit, although he was not attended by any of his retinue. There desiring some liquor to be brought him, as he was thirsty, while he was yet holding the cup to his head, one of Elfrida's domestics, instructed for that purpose, stabbed him in the back. The king, finding himself wounded, put spurs to his horse; but, fainting with the loss of blood, he fell from the saddle, and, his foot sticking in the stirrup, he was dragged along by his horse till he died.

Ethelred the Second, the son of Edgar and Elfrida, succeeded; a weak and irresolute monarch, incapable of governing the kingdom or providing for its safety. During his reign, the old and terrible enemies, the Danes, who seemed not to be loaded with the same accumulation of vice and folly as the English, were daily gaining ground. The weakness and inexperience

of Ethelred appeared to give a favourable opportunity for renewing their depredations; and accordingly they landed on several parts of the coast, spreading their usual terror and devastation.

As they lived indiscriminately among the English, a resolution was taken for a general massacre: and Ethelred, by a policy incident to weak princes, embraced the cruel resolution of putting them all to the sword. This plot was carried on with such secrecy that it was executed in one day, and all the Danes in England were destroyed without mercy. But this massacre, so perfidious in the contriving, and so cruel in the execution, instead of ending the long miseries of the people, only prepared the way for greater calamities.

While the English were yet congratulating each other upon their late deliverance from an inveterate enemy, Sweyn, King of Denmark, who had been informed of their treacherous cruelties, appeared off the western coast with a large fleet, meditating slaughter and furious with revenge. Ethelred was obliged to fly into Normandy, and the whole country thus became under the power of Sweyn, his victorious rival.

Canute, afterwards surnamed the Great, succeeded Sweyn as King of Denmark, and also as general of the Danish forces in England. The contest between him and Edmund Ironside, successor to Ethelred, was managed with great obstinacy and perseverance: the first battle that was fought appeared undecisive; a second followed, in which the Danes were victorious; but Edmund still having interest enough to bring a third army into the field, the Danish and English nobility, equally harassed by these convulsions, obliged their kings to come to a compromise, and to divide the kingdom between them by treaty. Canute reserved to himself the northern parts of the kingdom: the southern parts were left to Edmund; but this prince being murdered, about a month after the treaty, by his two chamberlains, at Oxford, Canute was left in peaceable possession of the whole kingdom.

Canute is represented by some historians as one of the first characters in those barbarous ages. The piety of the latter part of his life, and the resolute valour of the former, were topics that filled the mouths of his courtiers with flattery and praise. They even affected to think his power uncontrollable, and that all things would be obedient to his command.. Canute, sensible of their adulation, is said to have taken the following method to reprove them. He ordered his chair to be set on the sea-shore while the tide was coming in, and commanded

the sea to retire. "Thou art under my dominion,” cried he, "the land upon which I sit is mine; I charge thee therefore to approach no farther, nor dare to wet the feet of thy sovereign." He feigned to sit some time in expectation of submission, till the waves began to surround him: then, turning to his courtiers, he observed, that the titles of Lord and Master belonged only to him whom both earth and seas were ready to obey. Thus, feared and respected, he lived many years, honoured with the surname of Great for his power, but deserving it still more for his virtues. He died at Shaftesbury, in the nineteenth year of his reign, leaving behind him three sons, Sweyn, Harold, and Hardicanute. Sweyn was crowned King of Norway, Hardicanute was put in possession of Denmark, and Harold succeeded his father on the English throne.

To Harold succeeded his brother, Hardicanute, whose title was readily acknowledged both by the Danes and the English; and, upon his arrival from the Continent, he was received with the most extravagant demonstrations of joy. This king's violent and unjust government was but of short duration: he died two years after his accession, in consequence of excess at the marriage of a Danish lord, which was celebrated at Lambeth.

The disorders of the Danish monarchs once more induced the English to place a monarch of the Saxon line upon the throne; and accordingly, Edward, surnamed the Confessor, was, by the general consent, crowned king.

The English, who had long groaned under a foreign yoke, now set no bounds to their joy, at finding the line of their ancient monarchs restored.

As he had been bred in the Norman court, he shewed, in every instance, a predilection for the customs, laws, and even the natives of that country; and, among the rest of his faults, though he married Editha, the daughter of Godwin, yet, either from mistaken piety or fixed aversion, during his whole reign he abstained from her bed.

Thus having no legitimate issue, and being wholly engrossed, during the continuance of a long reign, with the visions of superstition, he was at last surprised by sickness, which brought him to his end, on the fifth of January, in the sixty-fifth year of his age, and twenty-fifth of his reign.

Harold, the son of a popular nobleman, whose name was Godwin, and whose intrigues and virtues seemed to give a right to his pretensions, ascended the throne without any opposition.

But neither his valour, his justice, nor his popularity, were able to secure him from the misfortunes attendant upon an illgrounded title. His pretensions were opposed by William, Duke of Normandy, who insisted that the crown belonged of right to him, it being bequeathed to him by Edward the Confessor.

William, who was afterwards called the Conqueror, was the natural son of Robert, Duke of Normandy. His mother's name was Arlette, a beautiful maid of Falaize, whom Robert fell in love with as she stood gazing at the door while he passed through the town. William, who was the offspring of this amour, owed a part of his greatness to his birth, but still more to his own personal merit. His body was vigorous, his mind capacious and noble, and his courage not to be repressed by apparent danger. Upon coming to his dukedom of Normandy, though yet very young, he on all sides opposed his rebellious subjects, and repressed foreign invaders, while his valour and conduct prevailed in every action. The tranquillity which he had thus established in his dominions, induced him to extend his views; and some overtures made him by Edward the Confessor, in the latter part of his reign, who was wavering in the choice of a successor, inflamed his ambition with a desire of succeeding to the English throne; the pope himself was not behind the rest in favouring his pretensions; but, either influenced by the apparent justice of his claims, or by the hopes of extending the authority of the church, he immediately pronounced Harold an usurper. With such favourable incentives, William soon found himself at the head of a chosen army of sixty thousand men, all equipped in the most warlike and splendid manner. It was in the beginning of summer that he embarked this powerful body on board a fleet of three hundred sail; and, after some small opposition from the weather, landed at Pevensey, on the coast of Sussex, with resolute tranquillity.

Harold, who seemed resolved to defend his right to the crown, and retain that sovereignty which he had received from the people, who only had a right to bestow it, was now returning, flushed with conquest, from defeating the Norwegians, who had invaded the kingdom, with all the forces he had employed in that expedition, and all he could invite or collect in the country through which he passed. His army was composed of active and valiant troops, in high spirits, strongly attached to their king, and eager to engage. On the other hand, the army of William consisted of the flower of

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