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sake me, unless I forsake Thee. But I will not forsake Thee, because Thou art the highest good. There is none of those who seek Thee rightly, that may not find Thee. But they only will seek Thee rightly, whom Thou instructest to seek Thee, and teachest how to find Thee."
Many other specimens might be given; for “the subject never occurs to his pen, but he dilates upon it with such visible affection, as to shew that this was the habitual and predominant feeling of his lofty and cultivated mind.”
Inquire now, as to the earliest existing cause, of all these prodigious acquirements, at such an early period, in a man who passed through the severest civil commotions, and who, establishing himself and his posterity on the throne of England, brought order and subordination out of the greatest confusion; and who, during the greater part of his life, was also the subject of very frequent bodily anguish. Go back to the days of his childhood, and, though greatly above his years in the knowledge of men and things, yet see him passing into youth still unable to read! But when Alfred was twelve years old, Judith, his stepmother, the grand-daughter of Charlemagne, sitting one day, surrounded by her family, with a manuscript of Saxon poetry in her hands. With a happy judgment, she proposed it as a gift to him who would the soonest learn to read it. The elder princes, one then a king, the others in mature youth or manhood, thought the reward inadequate to the task, and were silent; but the mind of Alfred, captivated by the prospect of information, and pleased with the beautiful decoration of the first letter of the writing, inquired if she actually intended to give it to such of
her children as would the soonest learn to understand and repeat it? His Mother, repeating the promise, with a smile of joy at the question, he took the book, found out an instructor, and learnt to read it. When his industry had crowned his wishes with success,
he recited it to her. To this important, though seemingly trivial incident, we owe all the intellectual cultivation, and all the literary works of Alfred, as well as all the benefit which by these he imparted to his countrymen. If this family conversation had not occurred, Alfred would probably have lived and died as ignorant, as unimportant, and as little known, as his three brothers.”
The thirst thus excited by his Mother was not to be soon satisfied. In future life, therefore, he was to be seen inquiring for teachers on every subject, or teaching himself where these could not be procured. He was to be seen searching most eagerly for books, and sparing no cost in procuring them. For one book on cosmography, Alfred is said to have given a very large estate!
This strong desire after learning, so effectually implanted by Judith, may, however, be traced to some circumstances in early life, and then his Father appears. Certainly he had neglected his education, so far as the mechanical art of reading goes ; but of Alfred he had been particularly fond. When only about five years of age, he had sent him to see the world, under proper care, as far as Italy; and before he had reached his eighth year, his father himself went with him, through France, a second time, as far as Rome. The survey of the Capitol, as well as all that he had seen elsewhere, must have produced
strong impressions even on a child, especially such a child, and must have engendered, in a mind like his, great eagerness for knowledge, and the cultivation of his mind.
At a subsequent period of his life, while a young man, there is no doubt that Alfred was a very different character, and often fell into such misery, that none of his subjects knew where he was; and it seems equally evident, that, during his seclusion and afAlicted state, in a little islet, formed by the stagnated waters of the Thone and Parret, in Somersetshire, called Athelway, a great change was effected in his mind. Indeed after this he appears a new character, and, in future life, the subject of such varied excellencies, as the grace
of God alone can produce; but still the parents of this man may, and must, be allowed their share in forming his mind, and even sowing the seeds of his future eminence.
The greatness of some men, however, consists merely in cultivating their own minds; but to do this, mainly with a view to benefit others, is a much higher character. If it is a great thing to be truly blessed, it is greater still to be a blessing. Such a man was Alfred. With his code of laws and trial by jury; his arrangements for enlightening and civilizing his whole kingdom ; his foreign correspondence; and the never-to-be-forgotten sentiment expressed by him in his will, “ IT IS JUST THAT THE ENGLISH SHOULD FOR EVER REMAIN FREE AS THEIR OWN THOUGHTS ;" with any of these we cannot interfere-domestic economy being our present object. Now it so happens, that, in the arrangement and order of his family; in the distribution of his time; in the disposal of his property; and in the education and training of his children ; Alfred was as eminent an example to posterity as he was in any one of the excellencies already mentioned. Several of his children died in infancy, but five survived him; and he lived to be rewarded in a great degree for all his vigilant superintendence. His eldest daughter, Ethelfleda, was an extraordinary woman, and is extolled as having been “ the wisest lady in England.” His youngest son, Ethelweard, became celebrated for his learning. His eldest son and successor, Edward, and his daughter Alfritha, were educated at home, under his own eye, with the utmost care. It was to this son that Alfred, at the close of all his greatness, in this world, addressed his patriarchal adieu, so finely descriptive of his character as a man, a monarch, and a parent:
“ 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."*
GEORGE WASHINGTON.--To that of Alfred, I would fain add some notice of another ruler, in modern
* See Spelman's Life, and the History of the Anglo-Saxons, by Sharon Turner ; 3d edition. A most interesting work.
times; but the information in regard to his earlier years is still very scanty: though, so far as it goes, it tends to the confirmation of all that has been advanced. I refer to that extraordinary man, to whom, above all others, America is indebted, at this moment, for all her civil and religious privileges. The close of his public life may be taken as a specimen of what must have preceded it. The resignation of high and commanding power, but a few years after it had, in a great degree, by a man's own energy, been acquired, is almost singular in the history of our species; but the manner of doing so will mightily contribute to increase our admiration.
“ The acceptance of,” said Washington, in his farewell address, " and continuance hitherto in the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn."" The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the Government, the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience, in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence in myself ; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me, more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.”
Still anxious, in the highest degree, for the health and prosperity of his country, he then tendered much