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decay of the heart and dimming of the eye. Without a realized sense of the divine, the intellect can have no clear vision on moral mountains, nor the national character become great, firm and glorious. A lost faith or an indifferent faith is fatal to all high ideal. Alfred has neither. The strong moral bent of his mind is seen in some of the novelties of his legislation. He believes there is an order from everlasting, and declares it as he understands it, without balancing expediencies or plausibilities. His. Dooms, accordingly, are an almost literal transcript of the Decalogue, with selections from the Mosaic code; as,
* These are the dooms that thou shalt set them :- If any one bny a Christian bondsman, be he bondsman to him six years, the seventh be he free mbought. With such clothes as he went in, with such go he out. If he himself have a wife, go she out with him. If, however, the lord gave him a wife, go she and her bairn the lord's. If then the bondsman say, I will not go from my lord, nor from my wife, nor from my bairn, nor from my goods, let then his lord bring him to the church door, and drill through his ear with an awl, to witness that he be ever thenceforth a bondsman.'1 Amid the cares of state, racked by almost ceaseless pain, he finds time for daily religious services:
"Becanse he feared the anger of God, if he should do anything contrary to his will, he used often to rise in the morning at the cock-crow, and go to pray in the churches and at the relics of the saints.' He consecrates to God the half of his possible services, bodily and mental. To prove his sincerity, he contrives a time-piece for the more exact measurement of the hours, since at night on account of the darkness, and frequently at day on account of the clouds, he cannot always accurately estimate them. He has six candles made, of equal length, each with twelve divisions or rings. Lighted in succession, they burn a night and a day:
"But sometimes when they would not continue burning a whole day and night, till the same hour that they were lighted the preceding evening, from the violence of the wind, which blew day and night without intermission through the doors and windows of the churches, the fissures of the divisions, the plankings, or the wall, or the thin canvas of the tents, they then maroidably burned out and finished their course before the appointed time; the king therefore considered by what means he might shut out the wind, and so hy a useful and cunning invention, he ordered a lantern to be beautifnlly constructed of wood and white ox-horn, which when -kilfully planed till it is thin, is no less transparent than a vessel of glass.' Though simple and kindly in temper, he is a stern inquisitor in executing justice. He has twenty-four officers hung for corruption in the judgment-seat. Affable and liberal, patient, brave, just, and temperate, with a
* See Exodus xxi, 1-6.
clear conscience he may testify: “This I can now truly say, that so long as I have lived I have striven to live worthily, and after my death to leave
memory my descendants in good works.' Rank.-Without the genius to invent and originate, he had the talent to adapt means to ends, to develop and improve the old, to think what the many think and cannot yet say. A great gift, no doubt. It is men of great talent who occupy the headlands of society. In politics, in war, in letters, Alfred simply takes what is nearest and makes the best of it. As an author, he is like Bede, a teacher of semi-barbarians, who tries not to create but to compile, to pick out and explain from Greek and Latin stories something which may suit the people of his age; as a father who draws his little boy between his knees, and with much pains relates a fairy tale or makes an idea clear by visible and tangible things.
There is no evidence of the imaginative qualities which mark the higher statesman. His sphere of action, indeed, was too narrow to justify his comparison, politically or intellectually, with the immortal few. What really lifts him to their level is the moral grandeur of his life. Nay, his altitude is the greater in proportion as wisdom is above knowledge, and goodness above genius, or spiritual growth above mental culture. Among recorded rulers he is unique. What other has possessed so many virtues with so little alloy? A soldier, a statesman, a lawgiver, a lover of learning, and an author of repute; a prince without personal ambition, all whose wars were fought in his country's defense, who bore adversity with noble fortitude and wore his laurels in noble simplicity, steering the ship of state, with a turbulent crew, through a stormy sea,—there is none like him. Of no other will it ever be said that he is ‘England's darling.'
Influence.- Solicitous of his own enlightenment, he never forgot that his first duty was to his people. He educated himself (nearly forty before he acquired an imperfect acquaintance with Latin) that he might educate them. He rebuilt monasteries, and made them educational centres; superintended a school in his own palace, sent abroad for instructors, and desired that every free-born youth who possessed the means should “abide at his book till he well understand English writing'; had skilled
mechanics brought from the Continent, who built houses, says Asser, 'majestic and good beyond all the precedents of his ancestors.' His legislation left imperishable traces upon England. In his court, at his impulse, perchance in his very words, English history begins. True the light will wane and flicker. The flood of national calamity, rising ominously during his life, shall seem to sweep utterly away the ripening harvest of Saxon civilization; but force is indestructible; and that spirit of moral strength, felt afar off, lives still beneath the sun, as seed springs from seed. The oak dies, but the acorn lives. Each moral world is related to many others. The novels of Scott produce the historical works of Guizot and Thiers; the voice of Demosthenes, though it has long since died away over his native shores, heaves many a living breast; and the heart of Paul, whose head was claimed by Nero long ago, beats sacred music in a thousand pulpits.
Χαίρετε Κήρυκες Διός άγγελοι ήδε και ανδρών.
Hail, Heralds, messengers of God and men !- Homer. Biography., Born in the county of Somerset, 1214, of a wealthy family, which had been driven into exile and reduced to poverty by the civil wars. Studied at Oxford, then at Paris, as was at that time the custom of learned Englishmen, and there received the degree of Doctor of Divinity. His whole heritage was spent in costly studies and experiments. Soon after his return home, withdrawing from the civil strife fermenting between the baronage and the Crown, he became a mendicant friar of the order of St. Francis, and settled at Oxford, devoting himself to study with extraordinary fervor, notwithstanding the discipline of the Franciscans, who looked upon books and study as hinderances to their appointed mission of preaching among the masses of the poor. Physics seems to have been the chief object of his labors, and liberal friends of science supplied him with means for pursuing his researches. His spreading fame
i That is, English history expressed in the vernocular.
was mingled with suspicions of his dealings in magic; and the prejudice of the ignorant was encouraged by the jealousy of his superiors and brethren. An accusation was brought against him at the Papal court, and he was interdicted from teaching in the university. For ten years he was under constant supervision, forbidden to publish anything under pain of forfeiture of the book and penance of bread and water. The pope, who had heard of his rare acquirements, requested him to write. Friends raised the necessary money by pawning their goods, upon the understanding that their loan should be made known to the Holy See. Within fifteen months, despite all obstacles, three large treatises' were dispatched to Rome, 'on account of the danger of roads and the possible loss of the work,' by a youth who had been trained and educated with great care by Bacon himself. In 1278, a vehement reformer ere the current of opinion had turned against former establishments, he was thrown into prison, where he remained fourteen years. In 1294, when his life had almost covered the thirteenth century, the old man died, having endured the obloquy of all revolutionists who are not themselves creatures of the revolution.
Writings.-His monumental work is the Opus Majus (1267). It is divided into six parts:
Part I treats of the sources of error and causes of ignorance -- authority, custom, popular opinion, and ostentatious pride. Like a careful and ambitious builder, filled with a new grand idea of nature and life, he lays a sure foundation for the vast superstructure which his plan embraces. Without certain practical conditions, a speculative knowledge of the most perfect method of procedure remains barren and unapplied. Bacon the Friar proves his kinship with the great lights of the world þy his precepts, similar to theirs, on the disposition proper to philosophy. Before him, Socrates had said: "To attain to a knowledge of ourselves we must banish prejudice, passion and sloth.' Bacon the Chancellor was yet to say: ‘If the human intellect hath once taken a liking to any doctrine, either because received and credited, or because otherwise pleasing,- it draws everything
Opus Majus, Opus inus, and Opus Tertium; or, The Greater Work, The Less Work, and The Third Work. The Minus is little more than a summary of the Majus, and the Tertium an appendix to it; both still exist unpublished in the Cottonian and other libraries.
else into harmony with that doctrine and to its support.' And Sir W. Raleigh: 'It is opinion, not truth, that travelleth the world without passport.' “Opinion,' says the great Pascal, 'disposes of all things. It constitutes beauty, justice, happiness.' And the pious Charon: ‘Almost every opinion we have, we have but by authority; we believe, judge, act, live, and die on trust; a common custom teaches us.' Vanity, self-love, traditionary habit, the prestige of a great name, are powerful impediments to a progress in knowledge. Unless we can cast off the prejudices of the man and become as little children, docile and unperverted, we need never hope to enter the temple of science. Let us not follow the philosophers of antiquity with a too profound deference. They, and especially Aristotle, are not infallible. "We find their books,' says Bacon, 'full of doubts, obscurities, and perplexities. They scarce agree with each other in one empty question or one worthless sophism, or one operation of science, as one man agrees with another in the practical operations of medicine, surgery, and the like arts of secular men.' 'Indeed,' he adds, not only the philosophers, but the saints have fallen into errors which they have afterwards retracted.'
Part II treats of the relation between philosophy and theology. All true wisdom is contained in the Scriptures; and the true end of philosophy is to rise from an imperfect knowledge of created things to a knowledge of the Creator. The brilliant results achieved by the ancients, who had not the Word, must have been inspired by a direct illumination from God.
Part III treats of the utility of Grammar. The necessity of a true linguistic science was strongly impressed upon him by the current translations of philosophical writings, which were very bad. This it was which moved him to say, somewhat impatiently:
'If I had power over the works of Aristotle, I would have them all burnt; for it is only a loss of time to study in them, and a course of error, and a multiplication of ignor. ance beyond expression.' And again,
“The common herd of students, with their heads, have no principle by which they can be excited to any worthy employment; and hence they mope and make asses of themselves over their bad translations, and lose their time, and trouble, and money.'
A good translator, he wisely insists, should know thoroughly (1) the language from which he is translating, (2) the language