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ATHELSTAN. In the year 940 Athelstan died, regretted by his subjects, and admired by the surrounding nations. He was of a slender habit, and middling stature. His hair, which was yellow, he wore in ringlets entwined with thread of gold. Among the higher orders of the nobility he maintained that reserve which became his superior station : to the lower classes of his subjects he was affable and condescending. From his father he had inherited a considerable treasure; but his liberality was not inferior to his opulence, and the principal use which he made of money was to enrich others. To his vassals he was accustomed to make valuable presents: the spoil collected in his military expeditions was always divided among his followers : and his munificence to the clergy was



proved by the churches which he erected or repaired. Neither ought his charities to be left unnoticed. He annually redeemed, at his private expense, a certain number of convicts, who had forfeited their liberty by their crimes; and his bailiffs were ordered, under severe penalties, to support a pauper of English extraction on every two of their farms. As a legislator he was anxious to suppress offences, to secure an impartial administration of justice, and to preserve the standard coin of the realm in a state of purity. With this view he held assemblies of the witan at Greatly, Faversham, Exeter, and Huddersfield : associations were formed under his auspices for the protection of property ; and regulations were enacted respecting the apprehension, the trial, and the punishment of malefactors. Negligence in the execution of the laws was severely chastised. A thane paid to the crown a fine of sixty shillings; a superior magistrate was amerced in double that sum, with the forfeiture of his office. In his will he had chosen the abbey of Malmesbury for the place of his sepulture. There he had deposited the remains of his cousins Alfwin and Ethelwin, who fell at Brunanburgh; and to the same place his own body was conveyed in solemn pomp, followed by a long train of prelates and nobles, and surrounded by the presents which he had bequeathed to the monastery.



If we estimate the character of a sovereign by the test of popular affection, we must rank Edward among the best princes of his time. The goodness of his heart was adored by his subjects, who lamented his death with tears of undissembled grief, and bequeathed his memory as an object of veneration to their posterity. The blessings of his reign are the constant theme of our ancient writers : not, indeed, that he displayed any of those brilliant qualities, which attract admiration, while they inflict misery. He could not boast of the victories which he had won, or of the conquests which he had achieved: but he exhibited the interesting spectacle of a king neg. ligent of his private interests, and totally devoted to the welfare of his people; and by his labours to restore the dominion of the laws; his vigilance to ward off foreign aggression; his constant, and ultimately successful, solicitude to appease the feuds of his nobles; if he did not prevent the interruption, he secured at least a longer duration of public tranquillity than had been enjoyed in England for half a century. He was pious, kind, and compassionate : the father of the poor, and the protector of the weak : more willing to give than to receive; and better pleased to pardon than to punish. Under the preceding kings, force generally supplied the place of justice, and the people were impoverished by the rapacity of the sovereign. But Edward enforced the laws of his Saxon predecessors, and disdained

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