King Canute on the Seashore
HUNDRED years or more after the time of Alfred the Great
there was a king of England named
The great men and
"You are the greatest man that ever lived," one would say.
And another would say, "Great Canute, there is nothing in the world that
The king was a man of sense, and he grew very tired of hearing such foolish speeches.
One day he was by the
"Am I the greatest man in the world?" he asked.
"O king!" they cried, "there is no one so mighty as you."
"Do all things obey me?" he asked.
"There is nothing that dares to
"Will the sea obey me?" he asked; and he looked down at the little waves which were lapping the sand at his feet.
The foolish officers were puzzled, but they did not dare to say "No."
"Command it, O king! and it will obey," said one.
"Sea," cried Canute, "I command you to come no farther! Waves, stop your rolling, and do not dare to touch my feet!"
But the tide came in, just as it always did. The water rose higher and higher.
It came up around the king's chair, and wet not only his feet,
but also his robe. His officers stood about him, alarmed,
Then Canute took off his crown, and threw it down upon the sand.
"I shall never wear it again," he said. "And do you, my men, learn a lesson from what you have seen. There is only one King who is all-powerful; and it is he who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of his hand. It is he whom you ought to praise and serve above all others."