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on the fire, while she was otherwise employed in trying to turn a penny. In the disguise of a wandering minstrel,' Alfred visited the camp of the Danes, and, prepared with his jokes, by splitting the sides eventually to make splinters of the enemy. Having returned to his friends, Alfred led them against Guthrum, whom he defeated and compelled to embrace Christianity. The Danes settled quietly on the east side of the island.
'Alfred, having tranquillised the country, died in the year 901, after a glorious reign of nearly thirty years, and is known to this day as Alfred the Great, an epithet which has never yet been earned by one of his successors.
The character of this prince seems to have been as near perfection as possible. His reputation as a sage has not been injured by time, nor has the mist of ages obscured the brightness of his military glory. He was a lover of literature, and a constant reader of every magazine of knowledge that he could lay his hands upon. An anecdote is told of his mother, Osburgha, having bought a book of Saxon poetry, illustrated according to the taste of our own times, with numerous drawings. Alfred and his brothers were all exclaiming, 'Oh give it me!' with infantine eagerness, when his parent hit on the expedient of promising that he who could read it first should receive it as a present. Alfred, proceeding on the modern principle of acquiring Spanish without a master,' and French comparatively in no time,' succeeded in picking up Anglo-Saxon in six self-taught lessons. He accordingly won the book, which was, no doubt, of a nature well calculated to 'repay perusal.'
Nor were war and literature the only pursuits in which Alfred indulged; but he added the mechanical arts to his other accomplishments. The sun-dial was probably known to Alfred; but that acute prince soon saw, or, rather, found from not seeing, that a sundial in the dark was worse than useless. Not content with being always alive to the time of day, he became desirous of knowing the time of night, and used to burn candles of a certain length with notches in them to mark the hours. These were indeed melting moments, but the wind often blew the candles out, or caused them to burn irregularly. Sometimes they would get very long wicks, and, if every one had gone to bed, no one being up to snuff, might render the long wicks rather dangerous. In this dilemma he asked himself what could be done, and his friend Asser, the monk, having said, half sportively, Ah! you are on the horns of a dilemma,' Alfred enthusiastically replied, I have it; yes, I will turn the horns to my own advantage, and make a horn lanthorn.' Thus, to make use of a figure of a recent writer, Alfred never found himself in a difficulty without, somehow or other, making light of it.
He founded the navy, and, besides being the architect of his own fortunes, he studied architecture for the benefit of his subjects, for he caused so many houses to be erected, that during his reign
the country seemed to be let out on one long building lease. He revised the laws, and his system of police was so good, that it has been said any one might have hung out jewels on the highway without any fear of their being stolen. Much, however, depends on the kind of jewellery then in use, for some future historian may say of the present generation, that such was its honesty, precious stones -that is to say, precious large stones-might be left in the streets without any one offering to take them up and walk away with them.
Alfred gave encouragement not only to native, but to foreign talent, and sent out Swithelm, bishop of Sherburn, to India, by what is now called the overland journey, and the good bishop was therefore the original Indian male, or Saxon Waghorn. He brought from India several gems, and a quantity of pepper; the gems being generously given by Alfred to his friends, and the pepper freely bestowed on his enemies.'-pp. 26, 27.
There is little worthy of detailing in the reigns of Ethelstane, Edmund, Edred, Edwy, or Edgar, and our analysis has already been amply sufficient to exhibit the peculiarities of Mr. A'Beckett's mode of treating his subject. When he comes to the Norman conquest, his narrative is truthful enough to make every well-regulated mind deem it a shame and not a boast to be descended from the Norman conquerors. But we have already exceeded our space. We, however, cannot resist presenting to our readers a few specimens of the felicitous wit with which Mr. A'Beckett occasionally hits off the characters of our monarchs. Of William the Conqueror he says-' His character has been a good deal blackened, but scarcely more than it deserves; for there is no doubt that he was cruel, selfish, and unprincipled. It is, however, a curious fact, that what receives blacking from one age gets polished by the next; and this may account for the brilliance that has been shed in this country over the name of one who introduced the feudal system, the Game Laws, and other evils, the escape from which has been the work of many centuries. Though a natural son, he was an unnatural father; and the result was, that being an indifferent parent, his children became also indifferent.' We have met with nothing better in these numbers than the following character of King Stephen.
The historian often finds himself awkwardly situated when called upon to give a character to a king; and there being a natural objection to written characters, the difficulty is greater on that account. It may be said for Stephen, that he was sober and industrious, tolerably honest, not addicted to gluttony, or given to drink, like many of his predecessors, and of course, therefore, not so much accustomed to wait at table. He had a pleasing manner, and a good address, except while confined in prison, when his address was none of the pleasantest. On the whole, when we look at him as the paid
servant of the public, we think him ill adapted for a steward, since England was always in confusion while under his care; and as a coachman he was even worse, for he was quite unfitted to hold the reins of power.'—p. 83.
It is a joyful thing, that in our day wit and ridicule have taken the side of the people and of progress. From the Restoration to the Georgian era-from Samuel Butler to Theodore Hook the wits have been the tools of courts and parties. Ridicule was called the test of truth at the Restoration, and wit was used as a weapon against every thing sacred, or beautiful, or noble. Ridicule is as much a test of truth as it is a test of medicines, but it is a powerful and a valuable instrument in the service of any cause.
Each fool still hath an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing side.
Wit is most valuable as a means of gaining attention to truths and facts which are shut out from many minds, by headstrong prejudices and selfish interests. The tinklings of the cymbals of wit gather audiences to hear ideas. The last seven years has seen wit and ridicule change their service. They have doffed the plush liveries. A new generation of wits has arisen, who have disdained to serve either courts, aristocracies, or parties. The jesters have refused to serve successively the courts and the factions of the noblesse, and will now be merry only in the cause of right and man.
were long the Swiss of literature, ready to do battle for anything which could pay them, either with pelf or puff. However, another, a better, a noble breed of wits has now shone forth, who seem animated with the desire chiefly to make the world benefit by their being in it.
Among this new race of light writers Mr. A'Beckett holds a distinguished place. He carries their spirit, principles and purposes into the past. To him we shall look for a compendium of English history, which may be safely placed in the hands of our children, -a history in which rouged licentiousness will not be passed off as beautiful-in which selfishness, though throned, crowned, sceptred, and jewelled, will be shewn to be baseness still-a simple manly book on the side of the people, because their cause is one with justice and right.
Art. III. A Memoir of the Life and Character of Thomas Wilson, Esq., Treasurer of Highbury College. By his Son. 8vo. London:
We have risen from the perusal of this Memoir with a deep impression of the importance of the lesson which it is adapted to teach. Recording the life of a private gentleman whom no professional ties bound to religious service, it sets before us an animated example of what may be done, by earnest devotedness, in the truest and noblest walk of life. Had the subject of this Memoir been a minister professionally, little would have been heard of him. His activity, prompted by good sense and practical wisdom, might have enabled him efficiently to occupy some subordinate post. As a pastor, he would have been vigilant, unsparingly faithful, evangelical in the tone of his ministrations, strictly denominational, yet solicitous probably within that limit, to multiply and strengthen the churches of Christ. All this, and perhaps something more than this, he might have been; but his mental qualities would have prevented his influence being felt over an extended circle, and we doubt whether he would have elicited strong personal regard. Filling up his appointed sphere with credit, he would have passed off the stage, esteemed it may be by his charge, but little known beyond its precincts. The very directness of his efforts the exclusive pursuit of religious ends to which he was professionally bound, would have militated against his usefulness, and insured to others a less result of good than, by a different destination, was happily effected. We say this with no disrespect, for we revere the memory of Thomas Wilson, but from a sincere concern to elicit from his history the instruction it is suited to yield. There are many false judgments afloat, the correction of which can only be accomplished by a due consideration of such facts as his biography records: and we are persuaded that one of these is near akin to the remarks we are now making.
Nothing is more common among intelligent young men, when first impressed with a deep sense of the importance of religion, than to contemplate devoting themselves to the Christian ministry. It is the natural expression of what is passing within them; the outward and visible sign of the religious life to which they have just awakened. Rejoicing in their own escapeviewing with entire complacency the spiritual life on which they have entered-grateful for the mercy shewn, and tenderly compassionate towards others yet insensible to their danger and wretchedness-their desires naturally revert to the Christian ministry as the vocation which will allow full play to every better feeling, and proffer the opportunity of aiding the best
interests of their fellow men. The earliest movements of the spiritual life are frequently in this direction, and that, too, precisely in the degree in which that life is healthful and strong. Now there is much to be commended in this, but the impulse is not wholly to be trusted. It needs direction and controul. Good in its origin, and most honourable in the object it proposes, it is yet liable to gross perversion; and, unless wisely directed, may become the means of limiting the usefulness, if not of rendering the life of an individual wholly wretched. In former ages it led to monasticism, and other forms of seclusion still more exceptional; and, in our own times, has sometimes prompted pious men to abandon stations for which they were eminently fitted, and to enter on others, the duties of which they were incompetent to discharge. Let no man therefore conclude that the Christian ministry is the only vocation in which religious service can be rendered; or even the one in which, as a universal rule, the largest measure of it can be performed. In some cases, this is unquestionably the fact. Where the specific endowments required are possessed in an unwonted degree; where the intellect and the heart are attuned to the occupation, so as to prompt-apart from all secular considerations to its duties, and to necessitate their discharge; there the seal of the divine spirit is set; and woe be to him, parent, guardian, or friend, who prevents the obvious design of God.
We have frequently been pained to observe the reluctance with which Christian parents-in some cases, officers of our churches-consent to their sons foregoing the prospect of temporal advancement, in order to devote themselves to a vocation for which they are eminently formed. Some of our wealthy men have much to answer for in this respect; and how their consciences are satisfied we know not. If secular aggrandizement be the great object of human life, their opposition is wise and right; but if there be other and higher objects, as their religious profession declares, then their hostility is indifference to the salvation of men, and unfaithfulness to the Redeemer whose name they bear. Either their religious profession is a lie, or their hostility-sometimes carried to an extreme of bitterness-convicts them of infidelity, and brands them as earthly and sensual. The arguments by which professedly Christian men endeavour to turn aside their sons from the service of the sanctuary are fraught with the noxious elements of worldly prudence-are adapted to sap and undermine the integrity of their religious character, and, if followed out to their legitimate results, would induce the entire renunciation of religion itself. But whilst we most seriously deprecate the