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The blossom which withered here upon its stalk has been transplanted there to a place of endurance; and in the name of Him who, if on earth, would have wept along with them, do we bid all believers present to sorrow not as others which have no hope, but to take comfort in the thought of that country where there is no sorrow and no separation.” Is it no privilege to know that our dear ones are among the angels in heaven—that their sweet voices mingle in the song of Moses and the Lamb? I think I can enter somewhat into the feelings of an afflicted missionary, when he wrote, “I think of the moment when I shall fold my little ones to a father's bosom again, and that for ever; and tears of joy and gratitude flow down my cheeks involuntarily. Even now, while I am writing, the voices of two of my children—is it possible ?-yes, of my children, are singing praises unto HIM who became a poor babe and a man of sorrow for them, and for all men. 0, let them sing then !"
Perhaps the eye of some irreligious parent, who has been bereaved of children, may fall on these pages. And are you, then, the parent of children“passed into the skies ?” They cast their glittering diadems at the feet of that Saviour whose proffered mercy you are still neglecting. They praise and adore Him to whom you neglect to pray. They are gone from
you. O, are they lost to you for ever? The Christian parent, when similarly bereaved, can say : Gone, but not lost,
“A treasure but removed,
Mine still in heaven." Mine hereafter to meet-mine to love-mine with whom to rejoice in eternal hymns to a glorified Saviour.
ALFRED. THE GREAT.
KING ALFRED is the only monarch on whom the English have conferred the appellation of “Great.” He was born a little more than 1000 years ago. His father Ethelwolf was a Saxon King; not of all England, but of “Wessex," the region west of London down to the Lands-End in Cornwall.
Those of our young friends who have read the History of England will not need telling, but others will, that our island had for many hundreds of years before this time been the prey of foreign invaders. Fifty or sixty years before the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem, the great Roman General, Julius Cæsar, came, and saw, and conquered the Ancient Britons, many of whom fled from him into the mountains of Wales for refuge. After them came other invaders; chiefly the Saxons from Germany, a strong, bold, and warlike people, who at length divided the land into several petty kingdoms of which Wessex was one.
Then came the Danes, or Scandinavians, from the north, who for many years .contested with the Saxons for the possession of the land, sometimes with success and sometimes with loss. In the unidst of these contests Alfred was born; he was a younger son, so that after his father's death his elder brother Ethelred reigned in his stead for a few years; but dying from a wound he received in a battle with the Danes, Alfred was called to the throne when only twentytwo years of age.
The father of Alfred was a papist; and wishing to have his young son educated in the best way he could, he sent him, whilst yet a little boy, to Rome, and afterwards went with him to that city, which was then regarded as the high seat of all knowledge and wisdom. There most of the young princes of Europe were then sent for education. But you will think it was a curious education that prince Alfred received, when we tell you that after all the costly expense and toilsome labour of two long journeys, the boy came home again unable to do what I am now doing—he could not writé; and more than this, he could not do what you are now doing—he could not read!
Indeed in those days few even of the nobles or princes could read or write, There were no printed books then. Everything recorded was in manuscripts; the characters being written with great labour and care, usually on parchment; the leading letters being often splendidly illuminated and adorned by gilded miniatures of heads, or figures, or landscapes, which enveloped or surrounded them. Queen Judith had such a manuscript of some Saxon poems. She had learned the language while in France. One day Alfred was looking at the book, and admiring the character in which it was written, particularly the ornamented letters at the headings. Some of his brothers were in the room, and they, of course, were much older than he. Judith said that either of them might have the book who would first learn to read it. The elder brothers paid little attention to this proposal, but Alfred's interest was strongly awakened. He immediately sought and found some one to teach him, and before long he read the volume to Judith, and claimed it as his own. She
rejoiced at his success, and fulfilled her promise with the greatest pleasure.
The first few years after Alfred became King were years of great trouble. Swarms after swarms of Danes followed each other to our shore, and driving all opposition before them, spread themselves over all the land. In vain did Alfred and his nobles attempt to stop their progress. Disheartened and helpless they gave up all for lost.
Alfred, therefore, after disentangling himself from all but one or two trustworthy and faithful friends, wandered on towards the west, through forests, and solitudes, and wilds, to get as far away as possible from the enemies who were upon his track. He arrived at last on the remote western frontiers of his kingdom, at a place whose name has been immortalised by its having been for some time the place of his retreat. It was called Athelney. But it was only a small spot of dry land in the midst of a morass, which, as grass would grow upon it in the openings among the trees, a simple cow-herd had taken possession of, and built his hut there.
The story of Alfred's seclusion on the island, as it might almost be called, of Athelney, is told very differently by the different narrators of it. Some of these narrations are inconsistent and contradictory. They all combine, however, though they differ in respect to many other incidents and details, in relating the far-famed story of Alfred's leaving the cakes to burn. It seems that, though the cow-herd himself was allowed to regard Alfred as a man of rank in disguiseyet even he did not know that it was the king-his wife