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CAUSES OF HIS POPULAR REPUTATION.
days, no one probably will assert. He was doubtless in CHAP. VII. some respects a better man than Cnut, than Harold, or than William; as a King of the eleventh century no one will venture to compare him with those three mighty ones. His wars were waged by deputy, and his civil government was carried on largely by deputy also. Of his many per- Eadward's sonal virtues, his earnest piety, his good intentions in personal every way, his sincere desire for the welfare of his people, there can be no doubt. Vice of every kind, injustice, wanton cruelty, were hateful to him. But in all kingly qualities he was utterly lacking. In fact, so far as a really good man can reproduce the character of a thoroughly bad one, Eadward reproduced the character of his father Ethelred. Writers who lived before his canonization, or who did not come within the magic halo of his sanctity, do not scruple to charge him, as his father is charged, with utter sloth and incapacity.1 Like his Points of father, he was quite incapable of any steady attention his father. to the duties of royalty; 2 but, like his father, he had occasional fits of energy, which, like those of his father, often came at the wrong time.3 His contemporary panegyrist allows that he gave way to occasional fits of wrath, but he pleads that his anger never hurried him into unbecoming language. It hurried him however, more than
1 See Appendix B.
* His monastic biographer (Æth. Riev. X Scriptt. 388) says by way of praise, "Cuncta regni negotia Ducibus proceribusque [to Earl Harold and the Witan] committens, totum se divinis mancipat obsequiis. Quanto autem se corporalibus subtrahebat, tanto luminosius se spiritalibus indidit theoriis."
See vol. i. p. 297.
* Vita Eadw. 396. "Si ratio aliquem suscitaret animi motum, leonini videbatur terroris, iram tamen non prodebat jurgiis." We shall presently come across a ludicrous example of his "nobilis ira," venting itself in an oath. Possibly the reference may partly be to his abstinence, like that of Saint Lewis, from the French, and generally southern, vice of reviling God and the Saints. See Joinville, p. 120 ed. Ducange, 1668; p. 217 ed. Michel, 1858.
CHAP. VII. once, into very unbecoming intentions. We shall find that, on two memorable occasions, it needed the intervention of his better genius, in the form first of Godwine and then of Harold, to keep back the saintly King from massacre and civil war.1 Here we see the exact parallels to Ethelred's mad expeditions against Normandy, Cumberland, and St. David's. But Eadward was not only free from the personal vices and cruelties of his father; there can be no doubt that, except when carried away by ebullitions of this kind, he sincerely endeavoured, according to the measure of his ability, to establish a good administration of justice throughout his dominions. But the duties of secular government, although doubtless discharged conscientiously and to the best of his ability, were with Eadward always something which went against the His virtues grain. His natural place was, not on the throne of Engwholly monastic. land, but at the head of a Norman Abbey. Nothing, one would think, could have hindered him from entering on the religious life in the days of his exile, unless it were a vague kind of feeling that other duties were thrown upon him by his birth. For all his virtues were those of a monk; all the real man came out in his zeal for collecting relics, in his visions, in his religious exercises, in his gifts to churches and monasteries, in his desire to mark his reign, as its chief result, by the foundation of his great Abbey of Saint Peter at Westminster. In a prince of the manly piety of Ælfred things of this sort form only a part, a pleasing and harmonious part, of the general character. In Eadward they formed the whole man. His time was oddly divided between his prayers and the
I allude to his wish, frustrated by Godwine, to subject Dover to military chastisement (Chron. Petrib. 1048. Cf. the dealings of the Emperor Theodosius with Thessalonica and Antioch), and his wish, frustrated by Harold, to wage war with the Northumbrians on behalf of Tostig in 1065. Vita Eadw. 423.
2 See vol. i. pp. 298, 300, 348, 632.
HIS LOVE OF HUNTING.
pastime which seems least suited to the character of CHAP. VII. a saint. The devotion to the pleasures of the chase was His love of hunting. so universal among the princes and nobles of that age that it is needless to speak of it as a feature in any man's character, unless when some special circumstance forces it into special notice. We remark it in the two Williams, because it was their love of hunting which led them into their worst acts of oppression; we remark it in Eadward, because it seems so utterly incongruous with the other features of his character. There were men even in those times who could feel pity for animal suffering and who found no pleasure in the wanton infliction of pain. Ten- Contrast derness for animals is no unusual feature in either the humanity real or the legendary portraits of holy men. Anselm, the true saint, like Ceadda in earlier times, saved the life of the hunted beast which sought his protection, and made the incident the text of a religious exhortation to his companions. He saw a worthy object for prayer in the sufferings of a bird tortured by a thoughtless child, and his gentle heart found matter for pious rejoicing in the escape of the feathered captive.2 Humanity like this met with but little response in the breast of the saintly monarch.
1 Vita Eadw. 414. 66 Benignissimus Rex Edwardus. . . plurimum temporis exigebat circa saltus et silvas in venationum jocunditate. Divinis enim expeditus officiis, quibus libenter quotidianâ intendebat devotione, jocundabatur plurimum coram se allatis accipitribus vel hujus generis avibus, vel certe delectabatur applausibus multorum motuum canibus. His et talibus interdum deducebat diem, et in his tantummodo ex naturâ videbatur aliquam mundi captare delectationem." So William of Malmesbury (ii. 220), in a passage which, like several others, makes one think that he had this Life of Eadward before him; "Unum erat quo in sæculo animum oblectaret suum, cursus canum velocium, quorum circa saltus latratibus solebat lætus applaudere ; volatus volucrum quorum natura est de cognatis avibus prædas agere. Ad hæc exercitia continuis diebus, post audita mane divina officia, intendebat." He retained these tastes to the last. In 1065 Harold built a house at Portskewet as a hunting-seat for the King. Chronn. Ab. and Wig., and Flor. Wig. in anno.
2 For these two beautiful stories of Saint Anselm, see his Life by John of Salisbury, Anglia Sacra, ii. 165.
CHAP. VII. The piercing cry, the look of mute agony, of the frightened, wearied, tortured beast awakened no more pity in the heart of the saintly King than in that of the rudest Danish Thegn who shared his savage pastime. The sufferings of the hart panting for the water-brooks, the pangs of the timid hare falling helpless into the jaws of her pursuers, the struggles of the helpless bird grasped in the talons of the resistless hawk, afforded as keen a delight to the prince who had never seen steel flash in earnest, as ever they did to men whom a life of constant warfare in a rude age had taught to look lightly on the sufferings and death even of their own kind.1 Once, we are told, a churl, resisting, it well may be, some trespass of the King and his foreign courtiers on an Englishman's freehold, put some hindrance in the way of the royal sport. An unsaintly oath and an unkingly threat at once rose to the lips of Eadward; "By God and his Mother, I will hurt you some day if I can." Had Anselm, in the might of his true holiness, thus crossed the path of his brother saint, he too, as the defender of the oppressed, might have become the object of a like outburst of impotent wrath. A delight in amusements of this kind is hardly a fair subject of blame in men of any age to whom the rights of the lower animals have perhaps never been presented as matter for serious thought. But in a man laying
1 It is not clear whether Eadward did not take the same delight as Queen Elizabeth in another form of animal torture. There is something suspicious in part of the royal dues paid by the city of Norwich, et sex canes ad ursum” [a very business-like phrase]. Domesday, Cf. Will. Fitz-Stephen, Giles, i. 180.
2 Will. Malms. ii. 196. "Dum quâdam vice venatum isset, et agrestis quidam stabulata illa quibus in casses cervi urgentur confudisset, ille suâ nobili percitus irâ 'Per Deum' inquit 'et Matrem ejus, tantumdem tibi nocebo si potero.'" William's whole comment is very curious. This story has been made good use of by Lord Lytton, in his romance of "Harold," which, if the sentimental and supernatural parts were struck out, would form a narrative more accurate than most so-called histories of the time. For a somewhat similar tale see Motley, United Netherlands, iii. 172.
HIS PERSONAL HABITS AND APPEARANCE.
claim to special holiness, to special meekness and gentle- CHAP. VII. ness of character, we naturally look for a higher standard, a standard which a contemporary example shows not to have been unattainable even in that age.
In person Eadward is described as being handsome, of Personal moderate height, his face full and rosy, his hair and beard and habits white as snow.1 His beard he wore long, according to what seems to have been the older fashion both of England and of Normandy. Among his younger contemporaries this fashion went out of use in both countries, and the Normans shaved the whole face, while the English left the hair on the upper lip only. He was remarkable for the length and whiteness of his hands. When not excited by passion, he was gentle and affable to all men; he was liberal both to the poor and to his friends; but he had also the special art of giving a graceful refusal, so that the rejection of a suit by him was almost as pleasing as its acceptance by another. In public he always preserved his kingly dignity; but he took little pleasure in the pomp of royalty or in wearing the gorgeous robes which were wrought for him by the industry and affection of his Lady.4 In private company, though he never forgot his rank, he could unbend, and treat his familiar friends as an equal.5
1 Vita Eadw. 396. "Hominis persona erat decentissima, discretæ proceritatis, capillis et barbâ canitie insignis lacteâ, facie plenâ et cute roseâ, manibus macris et niveis, longis quoque interlucentibus digitis, reliquo corpore toto integer et regius homo." William of Malmesbury (ii. 220) seems again to copy the Biographer; "Erat discrete proceritatis, barbâ et capillis cygneus, facie roseus, toto corpore lacteus, membrorum habitudine commodâ peridoneus." Eadward was seemingly an albino.
" In the Bayeux Tapestry Eadward and one or two others are represented with long beards. William and Harold, and the mass of their respective countrymen, are represented according to the later fashions described in the text.
3 Vita Eadw. 396. "Cunctis poscentibus ut benigne daret aut benigne negaret, ita et ut benigna negatio plurima videretur largitio."
Ib. 415. So Will Malms. ii. 220.
5 Ib. 396. "In frequentiâ vere se Regem et dominum, in privato, salvâ quidem regiâ majestate, agebat se suis ut consocium."