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schools at Shaftesbury and Athelney, with perhaps another at Oxford, as centers of liberal learning. Even scholars as well as teachers were imported from other countries when the love of learning proved deficient among the Saxons. But, above all, Alfred served in the great army not pretend to servile accuracy: sometimes he expands to
His translations do explain a difficulty, or inserts a fuller account from his
knowledge, or from the report of travelers at his pith of a paragraph that had just been read out to him. The books he chose were the best fitted of all to form the consist of "A History of the World on Christian PrinciChurch," by Bede; “ The Consolation of Philosophy,"
The History of the Anglo-Saxon by Boëthius. The historical and ethical character of the King's mind is apparent in his choice of authors.
double the length, and impelled by sixty instead of twenty rowers; they were thus able to pursue, overtake, and run down the enemy. It was a revolution in naval warfare.
Alfred's zeal for learning is one of his most honorable 6 titles to remembrance. Incessant war had made every man a soldier. When the King looked round England, after the peace of Wedmor, he could find no man south of the Thames who understood the Latin in which he prayed; and few, indeed, were the learned men among the Mercians. He himself was probably unable to read or write until late in life, though he repeatedly put himself under masters, and perhaps got so far as to attach a certain sense to the words in the little book of prayers which he carried about him. He made it the first care of his years of peace to attract scholars from old Saxony, from Gaul, and from Ireland, to the court; and he founded of learning himself, as a translator.
. own court; more often he epitomizes, as if he were
ples," by Orosius;
translation of Gregory's “Pastoral Care” was executed by the King, in partnership with his bishops. Probably many elementary works were issued under the royal patronage, as we find at a later time several spurious works, such as “Moral Poems and Fables,” recommended by Alfred's name. And it is characteristic of the new growth of letters in the country that the chronicles of contemporary events begin, about the end of this century, to be regularly kept in the Saxon tongue, though scattered and meager notices may have been consigned to writing in previous years. 8 Of Alfred's personal appearance we know nothing.
His active life and fondness for field-sports are in strange contrast with the fact that he was perpetually visited by paroxysms of a fearful and mysterious disease, which attacked him on the day of his marriage (A. D. 869), and tormented him for thirty years (A. D. 901). But the features of his pious and studious life, even to his measurement of time by tapers, sheltered in horn-lanterns from the draught, have been recorded by one who lived with him. In days when charity had grown cold, and when religion no longer restrained the powerful, their King was the one man to whom the needy could apply for support, and the injured for redress. His shrewd sense was dreaded by evil-doers, and, while the sternness of his early years was tempered, as he grew older, by courtesy,
his wish to conciliate never led him to swerve from the truth. His revenue was divided equally between the state and the Church. Of the secular moiety one third went to his civil list, one third to public works, and one third to the support of ambassadors and distinguished foreigners. The part destined to religion and education was assigned in equal proportions to the poor, to the support of church fabrics, to the two conventual schools at
Athelney and Shaftesbury, and to the other more secular school, perhaps at Oxford, which he had founded for the sons of nobles. It is not without reason that we look back
Al-9 fred as the typical English king. Whether or not the name of England, as a commonwealth and not merely a province, was first introduced under him is a little uncertain and quite unimportant; our national history dates from the peace of Wednor. Its struggles and its victories had transferred the prestige of the national name to Wessex; it remained for the great statesman to reconstruct society, preserving its old institutions, and informing them with new ideas. Both in his greatnesses and in his imperfections Alfred represents his people; patient, resolute, inexorably attached to duty and truth, with a certain practical sagacity, but over-careless of logical consistency, and sacrificing thought to fact, the future to the moment. The state Church, which we owe to Alfred, confounding, 10 as it did, by its old theory, of which some vestiges still remain, the duties of Christian and citizen, is a strange legacy for a statesman to have bequeathed us.
The English King, blinded by his roral abhorrence of sin, laid down resolutely the first principles of religion by the side of the secular and inconsistent laws of his people ; he had given them the ideal of life, let them work it out as they could. A thousand years of clashing jurisdictions, civil law contending with criminal, divine theories of kingship contending with peoples' charters, laws of marriage as a sacrament with laws of marriage as a contract, attest how that unextinguished torch has been handed down through successive generations. Yet, with all its inconsistencies, that Saxon and mediæval theory of a people framing their life in accordance with God's law, and regarding eternal truth, not cheap government or success, as the final cause
of their existence, is among the grandest conceptions of history. It is Plato's republic, administered, not by philosophers, but by the vulgar; failing, not from inherent baseness, but because its ideal was higher than men could
bear. 11 In one or two minor points we may trace a curious
resemblance between the views of Alfred and those of later English society. His character was of that sterling conservative type which bases itself upon old facts, but accepts new facts as a reason for change. Recognizing slavery, he was yet careful in his will to provide for the liberty of his old servants. It is in his laws that we first find the principle of entail maintained, and in his will he declares his intention of following his grandfather's example, and leaving his lands on the spear-side. His laws confirmed the authority of the nobles as well as that of the King. That he opened the ranks to the ceorl who enriched himself, or to the merchant who had made three voyages, proves, indeed, that his love of order was not the narrow and senseless love of caste, but does not weaken the presumption that he was aristocratic in his sympathies. The watchwords of modern democracy would have sounded strangely in his ears. Some regard him as a Protestant before Luther. It is the fondest of speculations to discover such abstract tendencies in Alfred ; his devotion, his admiration of Gregory, and the wish to revive monasticism, indicate a more Catholic tone of mind than was common in Saxon England at that time. It is possible that a more original thinker, such as Scotus Erigena was, might, if called upon to legislate, have anticipated the modes of thought that are common in our own days. But it is at least doubtful whether such high speculative talent could have been combined with the tact, the statesmanship, and the success of Alfred.
LIFE IN BRITAIN IN ROMAN TIMES.
PEARSON'S “ENGLAND IN THE EARLY AND MIDDLE AGES.”
Life in Britain in Roman times throws much light upon the condition of the island during the time that it was subject to Roman rule. Professor Pearson thinks that the impression made by the Roman occupation was much deeper and more abiding than has been generally supposed, and he adduces many instructive facts in confirmation of his opinion. The Roman conquest of Britain was begun by Julius Cæsar 55 B. o., but was scarcely completed before 78 A. D.
The life of Roman colonists in Britain was, of course, 1 much the same as that of Romanized citizens elsewhere. They brought into England the manufactures in which they anticipated fourteen hundred years of Germanic civilization—the tinted glass, the Samian potteries, and the sculptured bronze. They were skilled in the tricks of trade. The inscribed boxes of their quack medicines are still disinterred; spurious coin is found in quantities that induce us to regard it as a device of the imperial treasury; and locks, with contrivances in the wards which have been reinvented and patented in the last thirty years, attest alike the art of their thieves and of their smiths. Roman bricks and mortar have furnished inexhaustible materials for Saxon towns, Norman castles, and even for English farmhouses. The great number of the Roman villas whose remains can still be traced is a proof that the lords of the soil were in easy
circumstances ; while the fact that the structures were commonly of wood, raised upon a brick or stone foundation, is an argument against large fortunes. Probably no rich man would have chosen to spend his life so far from Rome, and under a British sky. Nor can the towns have been 2