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Many were the improvements Alfred made in his army and navy. By his attention to the latter, he laid the foundation of that fuperiority at fea which England has hitherto been able to maintain over all the other maritime powers; and to the encouragement he gave to navigation, with the unwearied pains he took to discover remote countries, is to be attributed, in a great meafure, the prefent extenfivenefs of our com



To enumerate all the beneficial and illuftrious acts of this great prince, would exceed our limits. Suffice it to fay, that after he had restored peace and regularity to his ple, provided for their future defence, and endeavoured to introduce riches and plenty among them, by the encouragement he gave to trade and commerce, he turned his thoughts to the cultivation of the arts, and the restoration of letters. For this purpose he invited over, and, by his great liberality and condefcenfion, fecured to himself, fuch learned men as had rendered themselves confpicuous in other nations; reformed his clergy, built religious houfes, founded schools, particularly the univerfity of Oxford, and erected

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erected or embellished many towns and cities.

Nor was his private character lefs worthy of being recorded, than his noble actions and beneficial ordinances, Independent of his regal qualities, in his private life he was the most amiable person this island ever produced. His form was unexceptionable, his mien graceful, and his addrefs easy and genteel. In converfation he was agreeable and inftructive; but when he harangued his ar my, or endeavoured to excite the indignation of his nobles against their infidel invaders, the energy and fire of Demofthenes gave weight to his arguments, and rendered them irresistibly persuasive.

His affability gained him the love of his fubjects; but at the fame time he knew how to condescend without finking below his dignity, and how to endear himself to them without leffening their veneration. He never immoderately indulged himself in the luxuries of the table; on the contrary, he was uncommonly moderate in his diet, and reftrained all his defires within proper bounds. His charities were more than proS 3 portioned

portioned to his revenues, and were fo much the more praise-worthy, as they were done without the leaft oftentation.

The literary works of Alfred were numerous, confifting both of original compofitions. and tranflations; and he devoted fo much. time to his ftudies, that he at length became the most acute scholar of the age he lived in : he was a grammarian, a rhetorician, a philofopher, an historian, the prince of Saxon poesy, a musician, a geometrician, and an excellent architect,

Such was Alfred.-No wonder then that he acquired the name of Great, (an appellation which hiftorians of every nation have beftowed upon him), or that his fubjects lamented his death, which happened in the fifty-second year of his age, with the fincereft forrow: And while the name of Englishman retains its wonted value, will his name be respected, and his memory held facred, as the first founder of thofe invaluable privileges we continue to enjoy. He was born at Wantage in Berkshire, a principal manor of the Weft Saxon kings, in the year 849; and died in the year 900, after a reign of twenty-nine years.



The viciffitudes which happened to the corpfe of this prince, were not unfuited to the transitions of his life. No fooner was it interred in the cathedral of Winchefter, than the Canons, whom he had kept to the duties of their function with a ftrictnefs that ill agreed with their indolence and luxury, pretended to be disturbed by his ghost; which induced his fon, King Edward, to remove the body to the new monaftery that Alfred had founded in his lifetime. There it remained till the diffolution of monafteries, when Dr. Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester, ordered the bones of all the Saxon kings to be collected and put into leaden coffins, with inscriptions containing every monarch's name. These chefts were afterwards placed on the top of a wall of curious workmanship, built by him to inclose the chancel of the cathedral: But Sir William Waller, who commanded the Parliament forces at the taking of Winchester, in 1642, entered the church, broke the windows, destroyed the monuments, threw down the leaden chefts, and, violating those facred cabinets of the dead, fcattered the bones all over the pavement. As many as could be collected together, were afterwards brought to Oxford, and humanely lodged in the repofitory adjoining to the Bodleian library.

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Though deck'd with all the gaudy pomp and show
A youthful monarch's bounty can bestow,

His fmiles withdrawn, the pageant fades away,
And leaves the unplum'd wretch to grief a prey.


HOMAS WOLSEY, the celebrated Cardinal of that name, affords us another extraordinary example of the variableness and uncertainty of human affairs. The fon of a poor butcher at Ipswich in Suffolk-who could have expected that from fo mean a beginning, he would have reached the highest ftations both in church and ftate?-Yet fuch was his lot! He found, however, that the fmiles of kings, though they might raise to greatness, do not always annex stability to that greatness; for, like an idol set up by Fortune, merely to fhew her power, he was of

*Hiftory of England, Fidde's Life of Cardinal Wolfey. British Plutarch.

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