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when in their frenzy, a whole people, long down-trodden, so that their moral nature was utterly crushed out, swept away the costly paraphernalia of an empty state, a heartless religion and a merciless justice. However, his hero, who was one of England's great men, yet more Scotiorum, Carlyle claims him for his own country, as they claim our Shakespeare, Milton, Newton and many more, (other brother Britons also, make similar claims on dear old England). Cromwell fought against unrighteousness in king and priest with might, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Carlyle for writing (as well as to his dear old mother for urging her son to write) the Life and Letters of Oliver Cromwell ; in which that noble man is shown in the clear light of his true character. Cromwell was a great leader, and men are ever in want of such great leaderskings of men-full of energy, and wisdom to rule and guide their fellows-aye, and when men feel they have such a one as their leader they submit themselves to his rule and guidance in perfect trust, and will follow him to death itself, if need be. Such leaders of daring and doing— men of character-full of self-abnegation and fellow-feeling, doing as they would be done by—have ever been silently present among us, and without such great and brave souls--God's gifts to humanity-society would quickly fail in its efforts to raise itself to higher social, moral and spiritual ideals. Such men are called heroes, and such a man was Ælfred, King of England, 1000 years ago, that Ælfred, whom men in glowing admiration have named “the Great,” “the truth teller,” and “England's darling”! The warrior, the hunter, the lawmaker, the singer, the deliverer and the lover of his people—but more,

— he was called “lord of the harp and liberating spear, “the creator of our first navy”—and, above all, he was the father of English literature.

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Egbert, the grandfather of Alfred, being banished by Brihtric, of Wessex, sought refuge with Charlemagne, and went with him to Rome, where he was made Emperor of the West. Egbert succeeded Brihtric in 800 A.D. He warred most successfully with the Britons while the other Saxons fell into ruin through ceaseless dissensions. At length, in 819, he began a formal course of conquest which in eight years made him sole monarch. the title of “Bretwalda” was revived, and Egbert is seen by a charter granted in 828 to have used the title of “King of the English,” though more usually he termed himself “King of Wessex."

In 827,

Ælfred was born in 849, at Wantage, in Berks : the youngest son of Æthelred and Osburg, and grandson of Egbert. In his fourth year the boy was sent with an embassy to Rome, then the centre of the world of thought and law. Leo IV, the pope, ordained and anointed him as king, and received him as his adopted son. Two years after he thither accompanied his father, who loved him more than his other sons, and he stayed in the city until he was seven years old.

His residence twice at Rome, with its noble architecture and ancient monuments, then comparatively perfect, the vastness of the city, its law, its story, its early Christian life, its spiritual power; even the temporal power which flowed from it into Charles-the-Great, of whom Alfred had heard so much, must have made a deep impression for the inspiration and education of such a boy, and their remembrance must have excited in Alfred's mind that eagerness for knowledge which, in after life, so usefully distinguished him. In his eighth year, on his return from Rome, he stayed some time in the Frankish court of Charles-theBald, during his father's courtship and marriage of Judith,


who was granddaughter of Charles the Great, and that great emperor's memory and power still, after 50 years, shed a departing gleam over the dying empire. Doubtless the learned men of the court would tell him of the English scholar Alcuin, who had brought to Charles the treasures of learning from York. His own people had done this great work, Alfred never forgot it. He recalled it years after in one of his prefaces. From his eighth to his twelfth year his biography is uncertain, some chronicles intimate that infirm health caused him to be sent to Modwenna, a religious lady in Ireland, renowned as a saint and miraculous healer, in accordance with the superstition of the times. But though Ælfred's excited capability and eagerness for knowledge abounded, he had received no regular education from masters and books, which is singular, as his father, some say, had been trained as a priest under Swithin, at Winchester. No doubt, as Alfred had been a favourite, and of delicate health, indulgence, even to ignorance, as usual, had been his lot. Happily he was not spoilt withal, and his mind first showed its activity by his love of the simple but stately and heroic Anglo-Saxon poetry. By day and night he listened wherever it was recited, stored his memory with it, and, at last became a versifier himself. But there was a dearth of intellect, few would learn to read, and Ælfred, a prince, son of an educated father, who had twice visited Rome and lived in Paris after Charles-the-Great had improved the people, passed into youth without the simple tuition which the poorest child has now the opportunity to acquire and is urged to attain. This he at last got from his step-mother-Judith. When Ælfred was twelve years old she was sitting one day amongst the children with a manuscript book of Saxon poetry in her hands,-a volume, no doubt, beautifully illuminated and bound, and of great rareness and value in those times. She was able to read it, for the Franks had received from the Saxons a taste for poetry and literature which they were diligently pursuing and enjoying. “Whoever of you first learns the songs," said the queen, “shall have the

, book”; and Ælfred had no rest until he had won the prize. The love of his native literature never left him, and even in after life, one of his chief pleasures was to recite English songs, to collect Saxon poems and teach them to his children, to get his nobles to care for them and have them taught in schools. He knew the old Sagas and the heroic names. He mentions Weland the mighty smith; he told Asser the story of Eadburgh, a legend of Offa of the ancient Englaland; and he recorded with touches of personal interest the story of Cædmon, the first poet of England. However, the Anglo-Saxon language was not the repository of literature. The learned Bede, Alcuin, and others, had written their useful works in Latin, and in the language of Rome rested all the facts of history, the elegance of poetry, and the disquisitions of philosophy. His great regret, which he uttered with deep sighs, was that, when he had youth and leisure, and might have learned, he could find no teachers. No masters capable of initiating him in Latin, in which the great minds he afterwards studied had conversed and written, were then to be found in all Wessex.

Ælfred excelled other men in personal comeliness and strength; as a hunter he was unrivalled, and was praised for his great skill in the chase. His love of knowledge made him neither effeminate nor slothful; his whole life was one of great warlike exertion, and the exercise of hunting may have been both salutary and needful, and was proof of his eager activity; the more so as he was afflicted with a disease which would have sanctioned indolence in one less alert. His malady seems to have been an unusual kind of slow fever, with symptoms that made some call it the ficus or hæmorrhoids. He suffered from infancy of this debilitating disease, and as he approached manhood “he had recourse,” says Asser, “ to a church in Cornwall, where St. Gueryr rested, and where St. Neot, a relative, then was, and in prayerful faith he was relieved ;” but another affliction followed which haunted him with agony, yet, nothing could suppress his unwearied genius.

Surrounded with troubles which would have shipwrecked any other man, his energetic spirit changed them into active aids to advance him to virtue and to fame. He was religious from his childhood, and used to frequent sacred places to offer up prayer and to give alms. Imagine, then, at the age of eighteen, how bitter was his sorrow when he heard there was not one religious house from the Tyne to the Humber which was not ravaged and burnt by the heathen ; and not one trace, saving perhaps in York, and in a few Abbeys north of the Tyne, was left of the learning and libraries of Northumberland.

Still more bitter would be his sorrow in 869, when the rich abbeys of East Anglia were destroyed by the pirates Ivar and Hubba, sons of Ragnar Ludbrok ; and Wessex, his own land, lay open to the ravager. Gorm or Guthrun led this new attack, and the long gathered wrath of the patriot and lover of learning whetted Ælfred's sword, when, on the height of Ashdown, around the stunted thorn, he and his brother Æthelred made their final charge, and beat the brutal invaders down the hill with a pitiless slaughter.

In the battles which followed, Æthelred was wounded to death, and in 871, when 22 years old, Ælfred became King. During his brother's reign he had born the royal title of Secundarius. In his nineteenth year he married

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