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849, a little more than a century after the death of Bede. The promise which the efforts of Bede had given of an awakening of the nation into a literary existence had not been realized. The “morning star," as he has been styled, had disappeared, but the light of the coming sun was veiled in dark clouds. The ferocious Danes had traversed the island in almost every direction, and despair seemed to brood over the whole nation, when Alfred appeared to bring light out of the darkness. He was the youngest of four sons, but was the favorite of his father Ethelwulf, who, in those days of irregular succession, designed him for the heir of his regal power. At the age of four, he was sent, accompanied by a great train of nobles, to Rome, where, at the request of his father, he was anointed king by the Pope. Two years later, Ethelwulf made a pilgrimage to Rome carrying Alfred with him, and a year was passed there, and at the French Court. The superior elegance and cultivation of these courts compared with that of Wessex must have made an impression upon the mind of Alfred, even at that early age. We, however, know nothing of the workings of his mind till he was twelve years old, when the beauty of an illuminated volume of Saxon poems which his step-mother promised to that one among her sons who would first learn to read it, induced him to seek a teacher, and he was soon able to claim the offered reward. He had before this been an eager listener to the songs of the bards, which were often repeated at his father's court; he now studied them himself, and even composed new ones. The ravages of the Danes permitted little time for study. Warfare was the necessary occupation of all who were capable of bearing arms.
Ethelwulf died in 857, and his throne was filled successively by each of his
At the age of twenty-two, Alfred found himself the only survivor ; a king, but with little more than the semblance of a kingdom. Some misconduct of his own seems to have alienated the affections of his subjects; and, unable to cope with the forces of the Danes, he hid himself alike from friends and foes in the midst of a morass surrounded by forests, in a spot still called the Isle of Athelnay, (Isle of the Nobles.) The mind of Alfred was one of those which seem to be roused by doing wrong, to a clearer and truer sense of the beauty of doing right. In this wretched retreat he studied the faults of his past life and learned how to amend them. Revealing his existence and place of retreat to a band of followers, he induced them to aid him in attacks upon small parties of the Danes, and his success in these engagements soon swelled his forces to an army. Disguised as a harper, he visited the Danish camp and learned the best mode of attacking it. A series of victories finally established him firmly upon his throne, and at the age of twenty-nine, he found himself king of Wessex and comparatively in peace. It is quite certain that he held a preponderating influence over all England; but whether as the sovereign of the other states under the name of Bretwalda, or by any other title, or by any distinctly acknowledged superiority, is not positively known. Between this time and his death, a period of twenty-two years, he accomplished an amount of labor that would seem absolutely incredible, were it not vouched for by an amount of authority that compels our belief.
To Guthran, the leader of the Danes, Alfred had yielded a large territory north of the Thames, where he established himself with his followers, and ever after remained a fast friend to the king. Other tribes of Danes, however, continued to infest the coast, demanding constant watchfulness to prevent their attacks from becoming serious calamities. One of these bands, headed by the celebrated Hastings, succeeded in obtaining a footing on the island, and it was three years before Alfred was able to overcome him and drive him from the kingdom. It was not till he had fought fifty-six pitched battles that he was able to sit down in peace. One of his first efforts after his accession to the throne was the founding of a navy; and this object he kept steadily in progress throughout his reign, believing it to be the only sure defence against the hordes of Danish pirates. He built castles in upwards of fifty places along the coasts and large rivers, as defences at the points where the Danes were most likely to land upon the island. He revised, with the assistance of his parliament, the laws of the Anglo-Saxons, and established so thorough a system of police that it was asserted one might hang golden bracelets and jewels on the public highways and cross-roads, and no man would dare to touch them, through fear of the law. He was inexorable towards unjust or corrupt officers of the law, and it is asserted that in a single year he ordered the execution of forty-four judges and magistrates of this character. He endeavored to increase the comforts of his people, by teaching them to build better houses, and by instructing them in the useful arts.
He established schools, and called upon his bishops to translate books from the Latin into the Saxon tongue, in order that the wisdom of the world might be accessible to all who would learn to read.
In time of peace, Alfred divided his days into three equal parts. Eight hours he gave to sleep, to his meals, and to exercise ; eight were occupied by the affairs of government; and eight were given to study and devotion. He made himself master of the Latin tongue, and spent much time in translating valuable works from it into his native language. The selection he made of works to translate shows great good sense and judgment. One of these was Boethius's “ Consolations of Philosophy.” This work, composed in prison, by one of the wisest men of the fifth century, consists of conversations supposed to be held between the prisoner and Philosophy, who visits him in order to console him for his misfortunes. The work is characterized by deep religious faith and feeling, and by great justness of thought on all affairs relating to life, and on the insufficiency of temporal gifts for the attainment of true happiness. Alfred does not confine himself to the text in this translation, but expands and amplifies the subjects treated, showing great richness and purity of thought in his additions and illustrations. He seems to have possessed a great love for geography, and he sent persons to various parts of the earth in order to obtain information in relation to distant countries. He translated the geography of Orosius, making many alterations and additions, which he was enabled to do by the information he gained from several voyagers
whom he entertained at his court. Bede's “ Ecclesiastical History” was another work which he rendered into the vernacular language. Various works of devotion and poenis, translated and original, were among his compositions. In short, his genius seems to have turned itself into all departments of thought and of life with a power and a versatility which we seek for in vain in any other hero whose fame has been transmitted to us by history. The wonder we feel in contemplating such a life is heightened by the fact that, throughout the whole of it, he was tortured by a malady, the cause of which was unknown, and which the medical knowledge of that day was unable in the least degree to mitigate or cure.
It was then, as it has been since, a custom to affix to the names of kings some epithet descriptive of their character or their fortunes. That which was given to Alfred does not recall to us the statesman, the warrior, the poet, or the philosopher; but the quality most of all essential to greatness such as his — to all true greatness : he was called “Alfred, the Truth-teller."
But we must forbear; for we have already extended this article far beyond our original purpose; and we will close it with the words with which the dying king sought to prepare his son and his successor to enter upon his dear son, set thee now beside
and I will deli. ver thee true instructions. My son, I feel that my hour is coming. My countenance is wan. My days are almost done. We must now part. I shall go to another world, and thou shalt be left alone in all my wealth. I pray thee (for thou art my dear child) strive to be a father, and a lord to thy people. Be thou the children's father, and the widow's friend. Comfort thou the poor, and shelter the weak; and, with all thy might, right that which is wrong. And, son, govern thyself by law; then shall the Lord love thee, and God above all things shall be thy reward. Call thou upon him to advise thee in all thy need, and so shall he help thee the better to compass that which thou wouldest.”
Art. III.-A Copious and Critical Latin-English Lexicon,
founded on the Larger Latin-German Lexicon of DR. WILLIAM FREUND; with Additions and Corrections from the Lexicons of Gesner, Facciolati, Scheller, Georges, etc. By E. A. ANDREWS, LL. D. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1851. Svo. pp. 1663.
It is with great pleasure that we announce the appearance of this work. We should have preferred to make the announcement earlier ; but, although we have, for more than sixteen years, been acquainted with the character and merits of the original work of Freund, we wished to make ourselves in some small measure acquainted with the translation also before expressing an opinion. If of any literary product, the homely proverb that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” holds true of a dictionary ; using it is the only means of becoming thoroughly acquainted with its merits or defects. Dr. Andrews has, indeed, closely adhered to the leading principles of the original, and the principal alteration consists in condensing the quotations; still, it requires time to judge of the correctness of the translation, as well as of the propriety of the alterations made.
When Freund published, in 1834, the first volume of his dictionary, and, in his preface, laid down the principles on which he had proceeded in its construction, considerable interest was excited among the classical scholars of Germany, and some surprise was expressed at the comprehensiveness of his plan. The doubts entertained and expressed by competent judges related less to his principles and plan, than to the possibility or probability of carrying them into successful execution. The opinion in which the best judges are now pretty well agreed is, that however clearly Freund has conceived the ideal of a dictionary, his work itself is not so far in advance of what his predecessors have accomplished as to silence the demand for a new dictionary. The truth of the matter is, that the construction of a complete dictionary, satisfying the claims which, in the present condition of classical learning, may justly be made on such a work, exceeds the power and means of an individual scholar; it requires the coöperation of several. Those who write for such a work will, in the first place, have to discuss and agree upon the principles on which it is intended to proceed, and this not only generally, but down to the minutest points. The next step will be to distribute the whole field of Latin literature among the several laborers, each reading with the most critical care each author of his share, and extracting therefrom the words, their meanings, their uses, the places in which they occur, constantly regarding the principles which have been agreed upon, which in the end are to give to this huge and various mass of materials a homogeneous character, and make it one work. we have said, the collection of the material must be the result