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of a few days. His troops revolted from the Saxon standard and submitted to the Danes, and he was left alone with only a few faithful domestics, attached to him by personal affection as well as by duty. But such was the extremity of his fortune, that he begged they would leave him, that he might the more easily effect his escape from the snares and vigilance of the enemy.

Having separated himself from his faithful followers, who deemed the best service they could now render their royal master, was to arrange, with those who still adhered to his cause, the means of raising again his standard, Alfred assumed the habit of a peasant, and took refuge in a neat-herd's cottage, in the isle of Athelny, a gentle rising ground of about two acres in extent, situated in a morass not far from Taunton, near the confiuence of the Thone and Perret. In this place the king remained concealed from his friends and enemies, and unknown to the herd's wife. One day, as he was busy making bows and arrows in the chimney-corner, while she was baking a cake, which she had placed on the coals, it was burnt; upon which she scolded him for his carelessness in being so near, and allowing the bread to be burnt, which, as she said, he always seemed ready enough to eat.

Hubba, the Danish leader, having laid siege to Kenwith Castle, where the Earl of Devon then lay, was, by a spirited stratagem of the garrison, in abandoning the fortress, overthrown and killed. . Alfred, in his retreat, hearing of this, apprised his friends secretly where he was, and ordered them, against an appointed time, to have their followers in readiness to take the field. He had, however, been himself so little informed, in his retreat, of the force which the enemy had in the country, that he took the boldest resolution that ever entered into the mind of a prince. He disguised himself as an itinerant harper, and one evening entered the Danish camp at Kenwith Castle, and played to the amusement of the soldiers. In this condition he remained several days, until he had obtained a perfect knowledge of their numbers, their discipline, and the distribution of their forces. He then left the camp, and returning to his retreat in the isle of Athelny, instructed his friends to assemble, with their followers, at the time previously appointed, in Selwood Forest.

The whole business was conducted with so much prudence and spirit, that Alfred was at the head of a powerful army, and marching against the Danes, before they had the least intelligence of the insurrection. They were in the utmost consternation when they beheld him approach, and, before they had well time to array themselves in order of battle, he gave the signal for the attack. A fierce conflict ensued, the Danes were routed, some of the fugitives took refuge within the walls of the castle, others fled and were widely scattered over the distant country. Alfred surrounded the walls and forced the refugees to capitulate. The terms he granted were liberal. He agreed to give lands in East Anglia to such as were disposed to become Christians; but he required those who would not to quit England, and to give hostages never to set foot on it again. Guthrun, the Danish commander, agreed to these conditions, and, having seen those embarked who would not change their religion, came to Alfred with thirty of his chief officers, and was baptized.

Having thus recovered his kingdom, Alfred invested Guthrun with the title of King of East Anglia, which was wholly inhabited by Danes, but Guthrun did homage and fealty to him as his vassal. In this liberality towards the vanquished, Alfred showed his wisdom. The other Danes, as much pleased with his moderation as they stood in awe of his power, refrained from attempting to molest his recovered authority. . But the tranquillity gained by prudence did not induce him to relax in his endeavours to secure the stability of his throne. He refitted his fleet, fortified his cities, and throughout his kingdom established a vigorous administration of justice, and a vigilant watch and ward.

When Alfred began his own education, he had not only to find the stimulus in himself, to cherish it in opposition to the prejudices and practice of his countrymen, and to search out his own means, but he had also to struggle against difficulties which would have extinguished the infant desire in a mind of less energy. His principal obstacle was the want of instructors. “ What,” says Asser, his friend, who, happily for posterity, has made us acquainted with the private feelings as well as public pursuits of this nobleminded sovereign, " what of all his troubles and difficulties, he affirmed with frequent complaint and the deep lamentations of his heart, to have been the greatest, was, that when he had the age, permission, and ability to learn, he could find no masters."

On receiving the crown, he exerted himself to remove the ignorance of divine and human learning, which he had been so long lamenting in himself. He sent at various intervals to every part, abroad and at home, for instructors capable of translating the learned languages. “I was called by the king,” says Asser, “ from the western extremities of Wales. I accompanied my conductors to Sussex, and first saw him in the royal city of Dene. I was benignantly received by him. Amongst other conversation, he asked me earnestly to devote myself to his service, and to become his companion. He requested me to leave all my preferments beyond the Severn, and he promised to compensate them to me by greater possessions." Asser expressed an hesitation at quitting without necessity, and merely for profit, the places where he had been nourished and taken orders. Alfred replied, “ If this will not suit you, accommodate me with at least half of your time. Be with me six months, and pass the rest in Wales.” “I was honourably received in the royal city of Leonaford,” says Asser, “and that time staid eight months in his court. I translated and read to him whatever books he wished, which were within our reach ; for it was his peculiar and perpetual custom, day and night, amidst all his other asilictions of mind and body, either to read books himself, or to have them read to him by others.”.

St. Neot says, that he made many books. Malmsbury affirms, that he put into English' a great part of the Roman compositions ; and Ethelwerd declares, that the number of his versions was not known. The first of these is his translation of Boetius, an author, who was master of the offices to Theodoric, king of the Goths, who destroyed him from a political suspicion, in 524; and while he was in prison on this charge, he wrote his celebrated book, Consolations, the object of which is to diminish the influence of riches, dignity, power, pleasure, or glory; and to prove their inadequacy to produce happiness.

Alfred's translation of Orosius is peculiarly valuable for the new geographical matter which he inserted in it. This consists of a sketch of the chief German nations in his time, and an account of the voyages of Ohthere to the North Pole, and of Wulfstan to the Baltic, during his reign. Alfred in this as in all his translations, omits some chapters, abbreviates others; sometimes rather imitates than translates ; and often inserts new paragraphs of his own.

In the Cotton Library there is an Anglo-Saxon MS. of some selections from St. Austin's soliloquies, or, as the MS. expresses it, “The gathering of the flowers," from St. Austin's work. Malmsbury mentions that Alfred began to translate the Hymns of David, but that he had hardly finished the first part when he died.

That Alfred translated the Bible or Testament into Anglo-Saxon has been stated on some authorities, but the selections which he made for his own use appear to have been confounded with a general translation.

In the Harleian Library there is a MS. of a translation of fables styled Æsop's, into French romance verse. At the conclusion of her work, the author asserts that Alfred the king translated the fables from the Latin into English.

The genius of Alfred was not confined to literature : it also extended to the arts; and in three of these, architecture, ship-building, and gold and silver workmanship, he obtained an excellence which corresponded with his other talents. In the less valuable pursuits of hunting, falconry, hawking, and coursing, he was also distinguished.

To the other accomplishments of his mind, Alfred endeavoured to add that of poetry. Fond of Saxon poems from his infancy, he found a pleasure in attempting to compose them.

Alfred was a great example to posterity of his care to educate his children. He was as solicitous to improve his family as himself. He had several children ; some died in their infancy. Æthelfleda, Edward, Ethelgiva, Alfritha, and Æthelweard survived him. Some of the last instructions of Alfred to his son have been popularly preserved, and they deserve to be quoted.

“Thou," quoth Alfred,“ my dear son, set thee now beside me, and I will deliver 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 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."

Alfred was an exact economist of his time, without which nothing can be achieved. We have not a correct detail of its approbation. Asser's general statement, that he consecrated half his time to God, gives no distinct idea, because we find, that his liberal mind, in the distribution of his revenue, thought that to apportion money for a school, was devoting it to the Supreme. Malmsbury's account is, that one-third of the natural day and night was given to sleep and refreshment; one-third to the affairs of his kingdom ; and one-third to those duties which he considered as sacred.

The conduct of kings, says Mr. Sharon Turner, affects the whole nation which contemplates it. The fortunes of human nature are in their hands. Virtue and intellect flourish as their conduct is wise and moral; and nations prosper or decline, as the measures of the executive authority are salutary or ignoble. He lived in an age, when to promote the general welfare was an idea which seldom influenced the conduct. His plans to beneft his subjects were therefore counteracted by their prejudices and their ignorance. But Alfred was not discouraged by the tardiness of his subjects. By mild expostulation, by reasoning, by gentle flattering, or by express command; or, in case of obstinate disobedience, by severe chastisement, he overcame the pertinacity of vulgar folly; and wisely made his bishops, earls, ministers, and public officers, exert themselves for the common benefit of all his kingdom.

When the measures are mentioned by which Alfred endeavoured to excite in his subjects a love of letters, it will not be forgotten that the University of Oxford has been connected with his memory. The concurring testimonies of some respectable authors seem to prove, that he founded public schools in this city; and therefore the University, which has long existed with high celebrity, and which has enriched every department of literature and science by the talents it has nourished, may claim Alfred as one of its authors and original benefactors.

This indefatigable king made also a code of laws, with the concurrence of his witena-gemot, or parliament, which has been called his Dom-boc. In this, for the first time, he introduced into the Anglo-Saxon legislation, not only the decalogue, but also the principal provisions of the Mosaic le

gislation, contained in three chapters which follow the decalogue, with such modifications as were necessary to adapt them to the Anglo-Saxon manners.

For the administration of justice he corrected and fixed the ancient provincial divisions of England, which had long before been as shires. He began the system of dividing them into hundreds, and these into ten parts or tithings. Under these nominal divisions, the population of the country was arranged. Every person was directed to belong to some hundred or tithing. Every hundred and tithing were pledged to the preservation of the public peace and security in their districts, and were made answerable for the conduct of their several inhabitants. In consequence of this arrangement, the inhabitants were speedily called out to repel an invader, and every criminal accused was sure to be apprehended. If he was not produced by the hundred or tithing to which he was attached, the inhabitants of these divisions incurred a general mulct.

Alfred divided the provincial prefects into two officers, judges and sheriffs. -Until his time there were only sheriffs. He separated, by the appointment of justices or judges, the judicial from the executing department of the law, and thus provided an improved administration of law and justice.

Alfred was assiduous in protecting the independence, the purity, and the rights of jurymen. He punished capitally some judges for deciding criminal cases by an arbitrary violation of the right of jury.

He hanged Cadwine, because he condemned Hachwy to death without the assent of all the jurors, iņ a case where he put himself upon the jury of twelve men, and because Cadwine removed three who wished to save him against the nine, for three others into whose jury this Hachwy did not put himself."

“He hanged Markes, because he adjudged During to death by twelve men not sworn."

He hanged Freberne, because he adjudged Harpin to death when the jurors were in doubt about their verdict ; for, when in doubt, we ought rather to save than condemn."

Alfred died at the age of fifty-two, and his life was literally a life of disease, during which he was afflicted with several obstinate complaints.

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