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But it was in his political institutions, more especially, that the practical genius of Alfred shone forth, and so great was the reputation which he enjoyed, in this respect, among his contemporaries, and so vast the fame of his deeds which descended to his posterity, that in the 12th century, when the hand of the Norman was heavyon the land, every institution which the Saxons regretted, and every liberty to which they clung, was invariably attributed to their now almost mythical king. Of the social arrangements thus indiscriminately imputed to him, one was the division of England into shires, whereas an exactly corresponding division into the gá or sár, existed from the very first settlement of the Germans, and was, indeed, common to all Germanic tribes.
It is to his enlightened insight into the principles of government, that we are indebted for the first separation of the judicial from the executive functions, and in the appointment of professional judges, we trace the working of one who was guided by an idea, in an age in which we should have expected chance or necessity to be the only teachers. Nor was this all. From the difficulty which he found in discovering persons qualified to fill the offices which he thus created, he thought it necessary himself to superintend their proceedings. He constituted himself into a sort of “ Cour de Cassation," and with the industry of a Chancellor of future times, he addressed him to the task of reviewing the judgments which were brought before him.
" It was his special care," says Dr. Pauli, “ to discover if any from ignorance or dishonesty, from love, fear, hate, or corruption, had been guilty of injustice. It happened sometimes that the Judges confessed their unskilfulness. Then Alfred read them a lecture after this fashion-* I wonder exceedingly at your presumption, now that you are clothed by God and me with the office and dignity of the wise, that you neglect to make yourselves acquainted with what wise men have done and thought. Either lay down instantly the insignia of power, or set yourselves to work diligently to acquire wisdom.' ... Oftentimes Earls and high dignitaries went from his presence, and endeavoured in their old age to acquire what they had neglected in their youth, nay even contended with boys in the schools, choosing rather to set themselves to the rudiments of learning, than to lay aside the offices which they held.”
Dr. Pauli adds that if any portion of the history of Alfred is credible it is this, since it is repeated frequently, and rests beyond all question on the testimony of eye-witnesses. In addressing himself to the duties of a legislator, Alfred was not unmindful that the only system of laws which can be suited to the condition of a people, is one which has grown out of their natural
VOL. XVII, NO. XXXIII.
genius and the conditions under which it acts, “nec unius hominis est, nec temporis, constituere rempublicam.” “I durst not venture,” he says, " to set down much of my own, not knowing whether it would please those who should come after us." As the basis of his work, he adopted the existing codes or customs of his predecessors, the Kentish collection of the first Christian King Athelbert, with the addition of his successors Lothare, Eadric, and Wilfred, that of his own ancestor, Ine, of that which Offa the great had given to Mercia. Of these he adopted that of Ine almost entirely, adding to it from the others, and modifying it in accordance with his own Christian views. It is not a little remarkable that the now almost exclusive, and apparently indispensable punishment of deprivation of liberty should have dated no further back than Alfred. The first mention of imprisonment which we find among the Germanic nations is the imposition of it by him as a punishment for perjury! Another innovation still more significant of the altered position of affairs, and of his own idea of the royal prerogative, is the introduction of the punishment of death for treason.
Dr. Pauli's last section professes to treat of Alfred " in the family and as a man,” but little beyond what is contained in, or may be conjectured from, the provisions of his most paternal testament, is brought to light.
Having provided for all whom nature or accident had entitled to his bounty, he divided his remaining treasure between the two great objects which had shared the energies of his life—the advancement of the material and spiritual interests of his people; and it is not a little significant of his character, that in an age such as his he gave to the latter its full share. Nor did the Church gain over tlie dying Alfred the ascendency which it then so often obtained; for in the quadruple division which he made of this latter portion of his effects, two parts only were devoted to the support of monasteries, and to purposes which might be called ecclesiastical, whilst the third was to be distributed in alms, according to the celebrated rule of Gregory, “Nec parvum cui multum, nec multum cui parvum; nec nihil cui aliquid, nec aliquid cui nihil;” and the fourth was destined for the support of the school of Winchester, which he had founded for the education, more especially, of the children of his nobles.
That such arrangements were made by one possessing the deepest sense of personal religion, in an age when not only religion itself, but all spiritual life whatsoever, seemed to centre in the Church, is a sufficient witness to the truth of Dr. Pauli's remark, that Alfred felt and thought more as a German than a Roman Catholic, and that in his character were already to be
traced the rudiments of those opinions which afterwards showed themselves in the independence of Protestantism.
Such, according to the latest and best considered judgment, was Alfred. In his own day, in addition to the well-founded gratitude which sprang from a sense of benefits conferred, and the rational admiration which the display of the highest human qualities, in the widest sphere of action, elicited, his person was surrounded by the halo which, even after the introduction of Christianity, their mythical descent from Wodan conferred on the posterity of Cerdic. In after times, when his people groaned under the Norman yoke, their regrets for him and for his race magnified to almost heroic proportions the virtues of the Great West Saxon. In the twelfth' and thirteenth centuries Alfred had become a semi-mythical character, and the same feelings of reverence which deduced his origin from the gods, thus, as it were, restored him to them again.
Our opinion of the manner in which Dr. Pauli has discharged the duties of a biographer has already been indicated during the progress of our sketch. The industry with which he has investigated and compared, and the acuteness with which he has criticised the sources of Alfred's story, has enabled him not only to reject much of what the undiscerning zeal of his predecessors had adopted, but what is still more valuable, to bring back within the pale of authentic history much which formerly we had only hoped might be true. It is refreshing to find how well the historical Alfred of Dr. Pauli fills up the proportions which our imaginations had traced out for the traditionary hero. But in addition to the "thoroughness" which we scarcely feared to miss in the disciple of Niebuhr and of Bunsen, we find a clearness of style and a sprightliness of narration, of the presence of which we do not always feel so confident, when we open the pages of one of Dr. Pauli's countrymen. Whoever may translate the book into English will find no difficulty in adapting it to the reading powers even of those of our countrymen who are least conversant with German ideas, and we are very gravely mistaken if it does not speedily become an integral portion of our national literature. The subject is naturally treated with far greater fulness than in any of the works (those of Turner, Lappenberg, or Kemble) in which it occurs incidentally, and the superiority of Dr. Pauli's book to all of those in our own tongue of which the life of Alfred has been made the special subject, is more manifest than those who are sensitive for the honour of our national literature could have wished. We have turned over the tedious and puerile pages of the latest of them all, “ The Life of Alfred the Great, by the Rev. J. A. Giles," and it is not without some degree of national abasement
that we concur in the opinion of it which Dr. Pauli has expressed in the section in which he treats of the literature of his subject.
“The newest work," he says, “merits to be mentioned only as the last, so faulty is it in every respect, so destitute of all investigation of the sources, and of all elegance in the representation. It does the English little bonour, that so glorious a subject as the life of Alfred, the darling of old England, on the thousandth jubilee of his birth, should not have found a more worthy treatment.”
Since the above was written, we have learned with pleasure that the translation of Dr. Pauli's work is in able hands, and that, too, under the auspices of a very liberal publisher. We consider the enterprise to be one, the success of which is by no means a matter of indifference to our countrymen. Without in any degree giving way to the extravagancies of " hero-worship," it is scarcely possible to over-estimate the benefits which a nation derives, from keeping steadily before its eve the images of its worthies. For the effect of lofty characters on the popular mind, secured by the apotheosis of heathen and the canonization of Catholic times, we must now trust to the labours of the historian ; combined in the present case with those of the translator. In the character of Alfred it is fortunate that the closer view which we thus obtain, more than compensates for the balo of mysterious grandeur which it removes. Many of his qualities are such as may not only be contemplated, but imitated with advantage by all whose position las conferred upon them the power of intiuencing the fate of others; and who, even of the humblest of lis, can say that his own position has not done so more or less ? Even a constitutional monarch might now find it difficult to assume the functions of the legislator to the extent to which Alfred did, and the opportunity of displaying the talents of a general do not occur to many; but it was in neither of these directions that his energies were habitually exercised, or that his daily influence was felt. It was as an example of earnest, patient, and pious striving after a diviner life, than that into which, when effort is laid aside, the human animal of all times inevitably relapses, that he went as a pillar of fire before his own generation, and that he goes before ours. True it is, that his light was set on a high place, but we may remember for our comfort, that the rays wluichi emanate from qualities such as he exhibited, have in themselves an upward tendency. Eminent virtue is far too valuable, and far too rare, to permit any one who possesses a trace of optimism to fear that, however little it may be rewarded with worldly prosperity, it will ever be concealed by obscurity of station.
Binocular Vision and the Stereoscope.
ART. VII.-). On some remarkable and hitherto unobserved Phe
nomena of Binocular Vision. By CHARLES WHEATSTONE,
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Vision, and on the Representation of Solid Figures by the vision of dissimilar Plane Pictures on the Retina. By Sir David BREWSTER, K.H., D.C.L., F.R.S. and V.P.R.S., Edinburgh. Edinburgh Transactions, vol. xv., Part ii., 1843. Reprinted in Philosophical Magazine, May and June 1844, vol.
xxiv. 3. On the Knowledge of Distance given by Binocular Vision.
By Sir DAVID BREWSTER, Edinburgh Transactions, vol. xv., Part iv., 1844. Reprinted in Philosophical Vagazine, May
1847, vol. xxx., pp. 305. 4. On the Conversion of Relief in Inverteil Vision. By Sir
David BREWSTER, K.H., D.C.L., F.R.S. and V.P.R.S., Edinburgh. Reprinted in Philosophical Magazine, June 1847,
vol. xxx., pp. 432. 5. Description of Several New and Simple Stereoscopes for Ex
hibiting as Solids, one or more Representations of them on a Plane. By Sir David BREWSTER, K.H., D.C.L., F.R.S. and V.P.R.S., Edinburgh. Transactions of Royal Scottish Society of Arts, 1849. Reprinted in Philosophical Vlagazine,
January 1852. 6. Account of a Binocular Camera, and of a method of obtaining
Drawings of Full Length and Colossal Slutues, and of Living Bodies, which can be Echibited as Solids by the Stereoscope. By Sir David BREWSTER, K.H., D.C.L., F.R.S. and V.P.R.S., Edinburgh. Transactions of Royal Scottish Society of Arts,
1819. Reprinted in Philosophical Magazine, January 1852. 7. Notice of a Chromatic Stereoscope. By the Same, &c., &c.
&, & 8. Le Stéréoscope, Bulletin du Monde Scientifique. Par M.
L'ABBE MOIgno, Aumônier du Lycée Louis le Grand. Feuil
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The History of Science presents us with numerous cases where an important idea, or an ingenious invention, have long failed to attract the attention which they merited, and where the development of the one, and the improvement of the other, were requisite to bring them into public notice or practical use. An original idea may derive all its importance from the discovery of its useful application, and a rude instrument may be forgotten