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of a Saxon minstrel, and ventured into the Danish camp at Chippenham, about thirty miles distant from his strong-hold amongst the marshes. In this disguise he went from tent to tent, and, as some of the chroniclers tell us, was admitted into the tent of Guthrum himself, the Danish leader, his quality of gleeman assuring safety even to a Saxon. Having obtained the necessary information, he returned to Athelney, which he finally left on the seventh week after Easter, and rode to Egbert's Stone, in the eastern part of Selwood, or the Great Wood. Here he was met by all the neighbouring folk of Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, who had not, for fear of the pagans, fled beyond the sea. Once more he encountered his enemies, and with a success almost as marvellous as the vision of St. Neot, which announced it, he routed the Danes at Ethendune with so much slaughter, that they were glad to obtain peace on such terms as he chose to dictate. Guthrum embraced Christianity, and became the adopted son of Alfred.

The king's next care was to endeavour at amalgamating the Danes, who had settled in the country with the victorious Saxons; a wise policy, and as wisely carried out. The result of it was, that when new hordes of invaders poured down upon England, they met with no encouragement from their countrymen, already established in the island, and for want of this support were easily put to flight. Nor was it by land only that Alfred proved his superiority, being no less successful by sea against the Danes of East Anglia. These he defeated off their adopted coast, and captured thirteen of their ships, with all the treasure in them. Fearful as were the ravages committed by the Danes, they were yet, like many others of the evils of life, productive in the end of good. Before their invasion of the country, Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumberland existed as four independent kingdoms. The three last they subdued in a little time to their own power, but being in turn defeated by Alfred, the conquered states fell to him, and this led the way to their final consolidation into a single

kingdom. It was, however, a work of time, for the turbulent spirit of the Northmen required long and judicious treatment to make them lay down the sword, and take up the spade and sickle.

Peace being at length restored, Alfred, who was a full century in advance of his people, commenced in earnest the arduous task of civilization. He called about him from all parts the most learned men of the day, and, setting the example in his own person, did more in a few years for the general advancement, than had been previously effected in as many ages. Deficient, himself, in cultivation, but a giant in intellect, he devoted himself to study amidst care, toil, and disease, mastered the Latin tongue, and,—if we may believe William of Malmsbury,— translated almost all that was known of Roman literature into Saxon. His clear and capacious mind was pious without bigotry, and while he reverenced the pope as universal vicar, according to the doctrines of his age, he had yet none of the religious weakness of his father, but governed his kingdom in absolute independence of the Roman see. At the same time no prince was more earnest in advancing the general interests of religion, which he considered, truly enough, essential to the wellbeing of the country. He rebuilt the ruined monasteries, added largely to the endowments of those that had escaped the barbarous invaders, and gave every encouragement to the ecclesiastics, who came recommended to his favour by ability

or virtue.

While thus employed in the arts of peace, Alfred did not for an instant neglect the military defences of his kingdom, without which, indeed, he would have been like an improvident husbandman, who should carefully cultivate his land, but leave it unhedged and unprotected. One of his most efficient measures for this purpose, was the building of a new kind of gallies, which were twice as long, twice as high, sailed more quickly, and were less unsteady than those of the Danes; some of these ships had sixty oars, some more." In addition to these

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naval improvements, his genius, which seemed to adapt itself alike to all arts, suggested a complete revolution in the existing state of military tactics, both in the field and in fortifications. He was, however, feebly seconded by his people; they had not yet arrived at that degree of practical wisdom, which teaches men to endure a present pain for the sake of a future benefit, and could with difficulty be brought to make preparations against dangers which were still remote from them.

Had Alfred done no more than what has been already mentioned, he would have deserved the lasting gratitude of his countrymen. But, in addition to all this, his services as a legislator must be taken into the account. If we judge of the system established by him, with reference to the age in which, and for which, it was produced, we shall find that in this respect also, the great Alfred stands without a rival. He had no help from the accumulated wisdom of ages; his enactments were to a great extent the result of his own mind and genius; or, at least, we may say of him, that he was the most original of legislators.

Peace had lasted for what in those days must be held a very considerable period. But now the storm burst forth again as violently as ever. In the year 893, a famine visited the coast of France, and of so sweeping a kind, that the Danes, who had settled there under Hastings, determined to relieve themselves by a piratical attack upon Kent. Having landed without opposition, for Hastings had taken the English by surprize, he formed two encampments, the one at Appledore, the other at Milton, only twenty miles apart; there they were joined by many of their countrymen, who poured in from the north and east, notwithstanding their oaths, and that they had given hostages for their good conduct to the king of Wessex. Incredible as it may now seem, the invaders were allowed for a whole year to retain possession of the land thus acquired, without any attempt being made to dislodge them. The chroniclers of the time, however,

tell us that this delay was occasioned by the necessity of providing against the faithlessness of their brethren, who, although they had not yet revolted, were hardly to be trusted without some farther security for their loyal adherence to the pledges already given. Having taken the necessary measures, Alfred then attacked Hastings, compelled him to sue for peace, and next turned his arms against a body of these pirates who had established themselves at Farnham. With them, too, he was no less successful; but while he was thus occupied, the East-Anglian and Northumbrian Danes seized the opportunity of revolt, and sailed in two fleets for the coast of Devonshire. These also he defeated, though even then it required no less than three years to drive these new invaders from the country.

And now, in the year 991, having fulfilled his earthly mission, as the defender and civilizer of his people, the great and good king Alfred expired, on the 26th of October, six days before the Mass of All Saints-not less beloved by his cotemporaries than admired by after-ages.

Robert Bruce.

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OBERT BRUCE was born in the year 1274, on the Feast of the translation of St. Benedict, being the 21st of March, and was undoubtedly of Norman origin. In an annual roll containing the names of those knights and barons who came over with William the Conqueror, we find that of Brueys; and from the Domesday Book, it appears that a family of the same name were possessed of lands in Yorkshire. Coming down to a later period, 1138, when David I., of Scotland, made his fatal attack upon England, -fatal, that is, to himself and his people, the English barons, previous to the battle of Cutton Moor, near Northallerton, sent a message to the Scottish king, by Robert Bruce, of Cleveland, a Norman knight, who possessed estates in either country. Upon his death, this knight bequeathed his English lands to his eldest son, and those in Annandale to his younger, who received a confirmation of his title by a charter of William the Lion. From this root sprung Robert Bruce, the competitor for the crown with Baliol, whose grandson was the more celebrated Robert Bruce, the younger, earl of Carrick in virtue of his mother's title, and afterwards king of Scotland. He was the eldest of three brothers, and seven sisters, whose marriages with some of the leading families of Scotland, proved an important

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