So that there are instances among them of men, who, named with Scripture names a singularly common fashion on the island and in childhood naturally imbibing the stately dramatic thee and thou of the Quaker idiom; still, from the audacious, daring, and boundless adventure of their subsequent lives, strangely blend with these unoutgrown peculiarities, a thousand bold dashes of character, not unworthy a Scandinavian sea-king, or a poetical Pagan Roman.
Warren Hastings sprang from an ancient and illustrious race. It has been affirmed that his pedigree can be traced back to the great Danish sea-king, whose sails were long the terror of both coasts of the British Channel, and who, after many fierce and doubtful struggles, yielded at last to the valor and genius of Alfred.
In 893 a large fleet steered for the Andredsweald, while the sea-king Hasting entered the Thames. Ælfred held both at bay through the year till the men of the Danelaw rose at their comrades' call. Wessex stood again front to front with the northmen. But the King's measures had made the realm strong enough to set aside its old policy of defence for one of vigorous attack.
Their lives of ravage and outrage won them esteem at home and the daring and successful sea-king ranked in fame with the noblest of the home-staying chiefs. We have seen how King Erik began his career as a viking and ended it in the same pursuit; how Rollo, a king's son, adopted the same profession; and from this it may be seen that the term was one of honor instead of disgrace.
His cousin stood grasping one of the steering paddles; the ruddy lantern light gleamed on the pirate's frame and face, and made him the perfect personification of a sea-king; he was some grandly stern Poseidon, the "Storm-gatherer" and the "Earth-shaker." When he spoke to Agias, it was in the tone of a despot to a subject. "The lady is below. Go to her.
England, arrogant with long success at sea, was taught a lesson of courtesy and justice, for now the foe whom she had despised and insulted had shown himself her equal, a king of the sea-king stock.
The story was indeed that, being a sea-king, they had built a boat or dragged it thither from the river shore and set him in it with all the slain for rowers; also that he might be seen at nights seated on his horse in armour, and staring about him, as when he directed the battle. At least it is true that the mount was called King's Grave, and that people feared to pass it after sundown.
King of the waters, far and near, I ask not of thy golden store, I wish not jewels of pearl to wear, Nor silver either, ask I for, But one is odd and even is two, So give me a cow, sea-king so bold, And in return I'll give to you A slice of the moon, and the sun's gold. 'What's that you're humming? asked the old man.
The bitterest of all his enemies was his own brother, Tostig, who, having been banished partly by his means, on account of his misgovernment of Northumbria, was living in Flanders, whence, the instant he heard of Harold's coronation, he hastened with the tidings to Normandy; and not thinking William's preparations speedy enough to satisfy the impatience of his hatred, he went to Norway, where he found a willing ally in Harald Hardrada, the last sea-king.
For though the albatross has been seen in our latitudes, yet the southern seas are his native home. There he spreads his long wings and floats over the ocean like a white sea-king. The greater part of his feathers are white, but the head and back are shaded with grey.