Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/269

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when he came a third time the King startled him by the remark, "Make haste, for the treasurer is coming; if he catches you, he will not leave you with a halfpenny". Such sallies as these were remembered at the time, and in later days were the subject of serious comment, which missed their real interest.

A man of such a character was quite outside the ordinary types of the time. He would have been attractive and interesting at any time; he was much more so in his own day. Never since Alfred has there been a king who was at once so homely and so picturesque. Men forgave him that he did little or nothing. What, they may have asked themselves, could he do? But he gave them a sense of repose and trustfulness. He was kindly and compassionate, and men were glad to be reminded that such qualities still had a place in the world. He loved justice and tried to preserve it; and justice is what men understand and love above all else.

It is doubtful if all this would have perpetuated the name of Edward if he had not condensed his general good intentions into a definite act, if he had not been prompted to express them in a memorial which could appeal to the eyes of men. It is the foundation of this great Abbey Church which has kept his memory alive through the ages. If he could do nothing to express his meaning for himself, at least he might leave behind him a monument which others might understand. It is said that Edward's plan of a great foundation near London was in commutation of a vow of pilgrimage to Rome. He well might feel