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Saxon sovereign, tells us that Heaven vouchsafed him strength to bear these mortal agonies, and that they were borne with a devout fortitude. The disease never quitted him, and was no doubt the cause of his death. “The shepherd of his people,” “the darling of the English,” “ the wisest man in England,” the truly illustrious Alfred, expired in the month of November, on the festival of SS. Simon and Jude, in the year 900, when he was only in the fifty-first year of his
He was buried at Winchester, in a monastery he had founded.
20.-ALFRED, THE FUGITIVE.
SHERIDAN KNOWLES. Alfred discovered trimming some arrows, with an unfinished bow beside him—Maude
kneading flour for cakes.
Alf. Your will ?
Maude. Would thou could'st do my will
Maude. Bad omen that! He'll bring an empty creel ;
Alf. If the game
Alf. What Heaven sends !
Alf. Its will be done!
You'd starve ;
Alf. I'll do
Alf. (solus.] This is the lesson of dependence. Will
Alf. I'll turn them, damc.
Maude. You will ?
Alf. So much for poverty! Adversity 's
Of nature into ice, to whom each change
By being more a man !
Naude. Is this your care ?
Alf. I forgot, good dame.
Maude. Forgot, good dame, forsooth! You ne'er forgot
THIERRY. On the death of the good king Alfred, his son Edward, who had distinguished himself in the war with Hasting, was chosen by the Anglo-Saxon nobles and elders. One of the sons of Alfred's eldest brother, and predecessor, protested against this election, in virtue of his hereditary rights, and in contempt of the rights of the people. The electors of the English kings replied to this insolent and absurd claim, by declaring Ethelwald, the son of Ethelred, a rebel to his country, and condemning him to exile. Instead of submitting to the sentence lawfully passed upon him, this man, with some abettors of his ambition, took possession of the town of Wimburn on the south-west coast, vowing to hold it, or to perish. But he did not keep his oath ; at the approach of the English people, he fled, without coming to an engagement, and betaking himself to the Danes in Northumbria, became a heathen, and a pirate. They appointed him commander of the war against his countrymen. The rejected pretender to the throne made a pillaging inroad upon the lands of those who would not have him for their king, and was killed in the ranks of the foreigners whom he had led. Then king Edward assumed the offensive against the Danes ; he regained from them the eastern coast, from the mouth of the Thames to the gulf of Boston, and confined them to their northern possessions by a line of fortresses, erected in front of the Humber. His successor Athelstan passed the Humber, took the town of York, and forced the settlers of the Scandinavian race to swear obedience to him. One of the Danish chiefs was conducted with honour to the palace of the Saxon king, and admitted to his table ; but four days of a peaceful life were sufficient to disgust him; he escaped, gained the sea, and reentered a pirate vessel, as incapable, says the ancient historian, as a fish of living out of the water.
The Saxon army advanced as far as the shores of the Tweed, and Northumbria was added to the territories under the dominion of Athelstan, the first of all the English kings who reigned over the whole of England. In the flush of this victory the Anglo-Saxons overleapt their old northern boundary, and made an invasion on the Picts and Scots, and on the colony of ancient Britons, who inhabited the Vale of the Clyde. These various nations allied themselves with the Danes from beyond sea, to deliver their countrymen from the power of the southern men. Olave, or Aulaf, the son of Sigrie, the last Danish king of Northumbria, was made generalissimo of the confederated armics, in which were joined to the men from the Baltic, the Danes of the Orcades, the Gauls of the Hebrides
, armed with long twohanded broadswords, which they called glay-mores or great swords, the Gauls from the foot of the Grampian Hills, and the Cambrians of Dumbarton and Galloway, who carried long slender javelins. The two armies came to an engagement north of the Humber, in a place called in the Saxon language Brunan-burh, or the town of springs. The victory was decided in favour of the English, who drove the confederates back to their ships, their islands, and their mountains. The conquerors named this the day of the great fight, and sang of it in the national songs, of which some fragments are still preserved.
(We subjoin this famous song of the battle of Brunanburh, from the translation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the “ Monumenta Historica." Mr. George Darley, who has written a spirited tragedy on the story of Athelstan (or Ethelstan), says
“ The Saxon Ode on Brunanburh Battle has always moved my heart more than a trumpet. That was the hardest-fought field, say our Chronicles, before Hastings, and all but as momentous in its political consequences."]
Here Athelstan, king,
The foe they crushed, The Scottish people and the shipmen fated fell. The field dæniede' with warriors blood, since the sun up at morning tide, mighty planet, glided o'er grounds, God's candle bright, the eternal Soul's, till the noble creature sank to her settle. There lay many a warrior by javelins strewed ; Northern man over shield shot ; so the Scots eke, weary, war-sad. West-Saxons onwards throughout the day, in bands, pursued the footsteps of the loathed nations. They hewed the fugitives behind, amain, with swords mill-sharp. Mercians refused not the hard hand-plug to any heroes who with Aulaf, over the ocean, in the ship's bosom, this land sought fated to the fight. Five lay on the battle-stead, youthful kings, by swords in slumber laid : so seven eke of Aulaf's eorls; of the army countless, shipmen and Scots. There was made flee the north-men's chieftain, by need constrained, to the ship's prow with a little band. The bark drove afloat: the king departed on the fallow flood,