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"Though to his mind right come not as it should,
In trouble's hard place,
"That to Him is resign'd."
Thus quoth Alfred :-" When a child is wise,
But, if thou leave him to his evil will,
"When grown, such duties will be galling still, "For thy bad teaching he shall curse thee sore, "And shall transgress thy counsels more and more; "Better for thee an unborn son, I wot,
"Than one whom thou the father chastenest not."
Thus quoth Alfred:-" If thou growest old, "And hast no pleasure, spite of weal and gold, "And goest weak ;-then, thank thy Lord for this, "That he hath sent thee hitherto much bliss, "For life, and light and pleasures past away; "And say thou, come and welcome, come what may !
Thus quoth Alfred :-" Worldly wealth and strength "Come to the worms, and dust, and death at length, Though one be king of earth and all its power,
"He can but hold it for life's little hour.
Thy glorious state will work thee grievous fate, "Unless thou purchase Christ, before too late. "Therefore in living well, at God's behest,
By serving Him we serve ourselves the best.
So, rest thou well that He will send thee aid, "As Salomon the King right wisely said,
"He that does worthy good on earth has wit, "At last he goeth where he findeth it.”
Thus quoth Alfred:" My dear son, come near,
"Succour the right,
Against the wrong :
"And thou, my son, by law thyself restrain,
"And He shall give thee greatly to succeed.
And now, Reader, (by old prescription, "candid, gentle, and benevolent,") you here have had set out before you somewhat of the very mind of Alfred, and that as much as might be in his own pure words: a wholesome feast of reason and most curious interest; for the first time (though after a thousand years,) served in such sort as that you may confidently feed on it with ease, and perhaps not without pleasure.
You have here had evidence of the deep country's-love and high sense of duty that dwelt in our first great King of old: in that, notwithstanding the continual torments of a chronic disease, the constant vicissitudes of invasion or conquest, and the ceaseless cares and anxieties of government, Alfred still found time himself to learn, and then to teach his half barbarian people. To this end, he used the common speech of his own Anglo-Saxon realm, instead of the language of the learned herein standing almost alone among the teachers, not only of that day, but of almost all others. Bede, Alcuin, and John Erigena, with every body else a thousand years ago, and all but every body ever since, wrote and taught in Latin: but it better pleased our noble-minded King to condescend to the instruction of his humblest subjects through the means of their mother-tongue.
Thus, as we have seen, he did his best to give them an insight, however small our more enlightened age may deem it, not only into those highest matters of morals and religion, but also into such good earthly food for man's mind here below, as physics, history, geography, astronomy. All this argued the King to be himself the liberal-minded scholar, as well as the pure-minded Christian : and in these more independent and democratic days of wide-spread knowledge, we cannot sufficiently estimate the good practically accomplished by such a man as Alfred, at once the Ruler and the Teacher of his people.
For the present version, let it be repeated that no attempt has been made to "improve upon" the original: and as little licence as possible has been permitted for filling up a stanza, or gaining a rhyme. So then if, according to the genius of the Anglo-Saxon fitte or song, Alfred aims at bringing the same sounds upon the ear, and the same sense upon the mind, over and over again, those modern abominations of criticism, alliteration and tautology, must be regarded not as faults but beauties; not symptoms either of carelessness or of a mere ear-tickling jingle, but marks of heedfulness and art, and according to the character of early bardic ballads. These metres, for the most part, are here rendered into such primitive English as that a Saxon may readily understand every word of them. But it does not follow that, because some words appear to be Latin, they are not also Anglo-Saxon: for instance Alfred uses some very similar to MAGISTER, CASTRUM, OVIS, CARCER, and many others: and, as every linguist is aware, there are several words which prove our common origin, being common to nearly every nation under heaven.
In conclusion, let the reader not read these modern thoughts of ours the last, but just look once again at those most touching words of Alfred to his son, wherewith, as a dying speech, we suitably make an end to these few snatches of his Poetry.