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Harold : the Last of the Saxon Kings — Volume 04 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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BOOK IV.


THE HEATHEN ALTAR AND THE SAXON CHURCH.




CHAPTER I.


While Harold sleeps, let us here pause to survey for the first time
the greatness of that House to which Sweyn's exile had left him the
heir. The fortunes of Godwin had been those which no man not
eminently versed in the science of his kind can achieve. Though the
fable which some modern historians of great name have repeated and
detailed, as to his early condition as the son of a cow-herd, is
utterly groundless [99], and he belonged to a house all-powerful at
the time of his youth, he was unquestionably the builder of his own
greatness. That he should rise so high in the early part of his
career was less remarkable than that he should have so long continued
the possessor of a power and state in reality more than regal.

But, as has been before implied, Godwin's civil capacities were more
prominent than his warlike. And this it is which invests him with
that peculiar interest which attracts us to those who knit our modern
intelligence with the past. In that dim world before the Norman
deluge, we are startled to recognise the gifts that ordinarily
distinguish a man of peace in a civilised age.