"WILL YOU FORGIVE ME?"
[v] THE story of William the Conqueror is the
story of the man who for more than a quarter of
a century was the most prominent personage of
western Europe. Into whose hands shall England
fall, was one of the two or three great questions
of the time, and it was William who solved
Whether or not his claim to the English throne
was just, the people and their new sovereign
seemed made for each other. The English could
follow; William could lead. The English could
endure; William could strike the blow that made
endurance needless. The English were inclined
to be grave and serious; William enjoyed a jest.
The English were a little slow in their thinking;
William was quick-witted. The English would
yield to fate; William was fate itself.
William's reign was a period of transition, and
in such a time both faults and virtues stand out
[vi] in bold relief. Whatever in the character of the
Conqueror the twentieth century may find worthy
of blame or of praise, no student of his life will
deny that his faults were those of his time, that
his virtues were his own.