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Chamberlains and grooms came after, silver sticks and

gold sticks great, Chaplains, aides-de-camp, and pages -- all the officers of


Sliding after like his shadow, pausing when he chose to

pause, If a frown his face contracted, straight the courtiers dropped

their jaws; If to laugh the King was minded, out they burst in loud


But that day a something vexed him—that was clear to

old and young: Thrice his Grace had yawned at table, when his favorite

gleemen sung; Once the Queen would have consoled him, but he bade her

hold her tongue.

“Something ails my gracious master,” cried the Keeper of

the Seal. "Sure, my lord, it is the lampreys served to dinner, or the

veal?” “Psha!” exclaimed the angry monarch, “Keeper, 't is not

that I feel.

"'T is the heart, and not the dinner, fool, that doth my rest

impair: Can a king be great as I am, prithee, and yet know no care? Oh, I'm sick, and tired, and weary,”—Some one cried,

“The King's armchair!”

Then towards the lackeys turning, quick my Lord the Keeper

nodded; Straight the King's great chair was brought him, by two

footmen able-bodied; Languidly he sank into it: it was comfortably wadded. “Leading on my fierce companions,” cried he, "over storm

and brine, I have fought and I have conquered. Where was glory

like to mine?" Loudly all the courtiers echoed: “Where is glory like to


“What avail me all my kingdoms? Weary am I now and

old; Those fair sons I have begotten long to see me dead and

cold. Would I were, and quiet buried underneath the silent

mold! .

“Yea, I feel,” continued Canute, “that my end is. drawing

near.” “Don't say so,” exclaimed the courtiers (striving each to

squeeze a tear). “Sure your Grace is strong and lusty, and may live this fifty


“Live these fifty years!” the Bishop roared, with actions made

to suit. “Are you mad, my good Lord Keeper, thus to speak of

King Canute?

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Men have lived a thousand years, and sure His Majesty

will do 't..

“Did not once the Jewish captain stay the sun upon the hill,

And, the while he slew the foemen, bid the silver moon

stand still? So, no doubt, could gracious Canute, if it were his sacred will."

“Might I stay the sun above us, good Sir Bishop?" Canute

cried; "Could I bid the silver moon to pause upon her heavenly ride? If the moon obeys my orders, sure I can command the tide.

“Will the advancing waves obey me, Bishop, if I make the

sign?” Said the Bishop, bowing lowly, “Land and sea, my Lord, are

thine." Canute turned towards the ocean “Back!” he said, “thou

foaming brine.

“From the sacred shore I stand on, I command thee to

retreat; Venture not, thou stormy rebel, to approach thy master's

seat. Ocean, be thou still! I bid thee come not nearer to my feet!"

But the sullen ocean answered with a louder, deeper roar, And the rapid waves drew nearer, falling sounding on the

shore. Back the Keeper and the Bishop, back the King and courtiers


And he sternly bade them never more to kneel to human

clay, But alone to praise and worship That which earth and seas


And his golden crown of empire never wore he from that day. King Canute is dead and gone: parasites exist alway.

Ca nute' (ka nūt'), a famous king of England and Denmark in the eleventh century; Chan'cel lor (chăn'sel ēr), high state official; Bish'op, high church official; se dāte', thoughtful; chām'hêr lains, officers who manage the royal household, silver sticks and gold sticks, officers of the life guards, so-called from the rods given them when they receive their commissions; āides-de-camp (kămp), military officers to assist a general or sovereign; court'iers (kõrt'yérz), gentlemen of the court; glee'men, minstrels, singers; lam' preys (lăm'priz), eel-like fish; prith'ee, pray thee; lack'eys (lăk'iz), servants; lŭsty, healthy; Jewish captain (jū'ish kăp'tỉn), Joshua (for the story, see Joshua x, 12); păr'a sites, toadies, persons who live off others. STUDY HELPS

Why was the king "weary-hearted"?
Picture the scene described in the opening stanzas.

Why were the attendants of the king so concerned about his condition? Do you think they understood his trouble?

What instances of "toadyism” can you find in the story?
What did the bishop say about the power of the king?
How did the king show that the bishop was wrong?

What did the king mean by saying, "If the moon obeys my orders, sure I can command the tides”?

What lesson did Canute read his followers?
Why did he no longer wear his “crown of empire"?
Try to explain what Thackeray meant by the last line.




Scott proposed a ramble to show me something of the surrounding country. As we sallied forth, every dog in the establishment turned out to attend us. There was the old staghound Maida, a noble animal, and a great favorite of

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