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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.

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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER
The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.
page 424



of his soldiers to him. and sent him to the king, commanding him to divide with him all his treasures, and the riches which he had inherited from his father, and to reign as tributary to him. But it was in treachery that Hinguar demanded his treasures, as he thirsted for the head of that most benevolent monarch, rather than for his money. Accordingly, when the soldier, after a rapid journey, had arrived at the dwelling of king Edmund, he addressed him in the following words :— " My master, the universally-dreaded Hinguar, the most invincible king of the Danes, has come to this country to winter. And if you despise his power, you shall be judged unworthy of either life or kingdom." And when, in this manner, he had related to the king all the messages which he had been commanded to deliver, one after another, as we have detailed them before, the most pious king Edmund groaned out of the depth of his heart, and, having summoned Humbert, bishop of Helmham, he asked counsel of him, saying, " 0 Humbert, servant of the living God, the half of my own soul, behold, the arrival of barbarian enemies is at hand, who will endeavour utterly to destroy, and to efface from the memory of succeeding generations, all that is left of our dear country and its inhabitants, which is already partly desolated. But, behold, would that, by my death, the people who are subject to me might escape with their lives. For, out of love for a temporal kingdom, or for the gain of this present life, I will not subject myself to a heathen tyrant, when, dying like a soldier for my nation and my country, I may become a standard bearer of the king of heaven." The bishop answered him thus : " My most beloved king, those whom you wish to preserve and to survive their country, unless you guard against them and save yourself by flight, will immediately be wicked traitors, who will endeavour to destroy you and your subjects." Then the most merciful king replied: "This is the most ardent wish that 1 entertain, not to survive my most faithful and beloved friends, whom that savage bandit has most inhumanly slain ; and, indeed, what you suggest to me is to stain my glory with guilt, when, up to this day, I have never incurred the disgrace of warfare ; and the King of Heaven shall be my witness to this, that no fear of the barbarians shall ever separate me, alive or dead, from the love of Christ." Then the most blessed king Edmund turned to the messenger who had been sent to him by the


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