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which they freely promised. They all con- borders they maintained their peace, their tinued to weep and mourn, especially because customs, and their might, and at the same time he had said that they should not see his face extended their territory beyond; how they much longer in this life. But they rejoiced prospered both in war and in wisdom; and also because he said, “It is time that I return to 5 how zealous were those of the religious life in Him who made me, who created me and formed teaching and in learning and in all those seryme out of nothing. I have lived long, and my ices which they owed to God; and how foreigngracious Judge has ordered my life well; the ers came hither to this land seeking wisdom and time of my return is come, for I desire to die and learning, and how we must now get them from to be with Christ."
10 abroad if we are to have them. So clean was This and much else he said, passing the day learning fallen away among the English, that in gladness up to vespers. And the boy men- there were very few on this side of the Humber tioned above said, “One sentence, dear master, who could understand their service-book in is yet to be written.” He answered, “Write English, or translate a letter from Latin into quickly.” After a little the boy said, “Now the 15 English; and I ween there were not many sentence is written.” “It is well; you spoke beyond the Humber. So few of them were truly; it is finished. Take my head in your there that I cannot think of one south of the hands, for it pleases me greatly to sit opposite Thames when I came to the throne. To God my holy place where I was wont to pray, so Almighty be the thanks that we have any supthat sitting I may invoke my Father.” And 20 ply of teachers now. And therefore I bid thee, thus, on the floor of his cell, chanting “Gloria as I believe thou art willing, as often as thou Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto," as he named art able, to free thyself from worldly affairs, the Holy Spirit he breathed his last, and so that thou mayest apply the wisdom that passed to the heavenly kingdom.
God gavest thee wherever thou canst. Think All who saw the death of the venerable 25 what punishments came upon us on account of father said that they had seen no one end his this world, when we neither loved wisdom ourlife in such devotion and tranquillity, for, as selves nor allowed it to other men: the name you have heard, while his soul was in his body, alone of being Christians we loved, and very he chanted the Gloria Patri and other divine few of the practises. songs to the glory of God, and, his hands up- 30 When I remembered all this, I also recalled lifted to the living God, he uttered thanks that I saw, before it was all laid waste and without ceasing. Know, dear brother, that I burnt, how the churches throughout England could record many things of him, but my lack stood filled with treasures and books, and also a of skill in speech makes my narrative short. great number of God's servants; but they knew Nevertheless, I purpose, with God's help, to 35 very little use of those books, since they were write of him more fully what I have seen with able to understand no whit of them, for they were my eyes and heard with my ears.
not written in their own tongue. As if they had
said, “Our elders, who held these places of old, King Alfred
loved wisdom, and through it they got wealth
40 and left it to us. Here we can yet see their 819-901
tracks, but we know not how to follow them;
and therefore we have lost both the wealth and THE STATE OF LEARNING IN ENG
the wisdom, because we would not bend our LAND
minds to follow their path.” King Alfred's Preface to his Translation of 45 When I remembered all this, I wondered very Gregory's Pastoral Care
greatly, concerning the good wise men who were
formerly among the English and had fully (Translated by P. V. D. SHELLY)
learned all those books, that they had turned Alfred, the king, greets bishop Werferth, no part of them into their own language. But I with his words lovingly and in friendly wise; and 50 soon answered myself and said, “They did not I let it be known to thee that it has very often think that men would ever become so careless come to my mind what wise men there were and that learning would so fall away; hence forinerly among the English, both of godly and they neglected it, through the desire that there of worldly office, and what happy times were might be the more wisdom here in the land the those throughout England; and how the kings 55 more we knew of languages.” who had rule of the folk in those days obeyed Then I called to mind how the law was first God and His ministers; and how within their found in Hebrew; and again, when the Greeks
learned it, they translated all of it into their 1 Bishop of Worcester. Alfred intended to send a copy of this work to cach of the English bishops.
own tongue, and also all other books. And again, the Romans likewise, after they learned possession of earthly power, nor longed for this them, translated the whole of them, through authority," but I desired instruments and wise interpreters, into their own language. materials to carry out the work I was set to do, And also all other Christian peoples turned which was that I should virtuously and fittingly some part of them into their own tongue. 5 administer the authority committed unto me. Therefore it seems better to me, if it seems so to Now no man, as thou knowest, can get full play you, that we also translate some books that are for his natural gifts, nor conduct and administer most needful for all men to know, into that government, unless he hath fit tools, and the language which we are all able to understand; raw material to work upon. By material I and that, as we very easily can with God's help 10 mean that which is necessary to the exercise of if we have peace, we cause all the youth now in natural powers; thus a king's raw material and England of the class of freemen, who are rich instruments of rule are a well peopled land, and enough to be able to apply themselves to it, to he must have men of prayer, men of war, and be set to learn, the while they can be put to no men of work. As thou knowest, without these other employment, until they are well able to 15 tools no king may display his special talent. read English writing, and afterward let those Further, for his materials he must have means be taught in the Latin tongue who are to be of support for the three classes above spoken of, taught further and to be put in a higher office. which are his instruments; and these means are When I remembered how, before now, the land to dwell in, gifts, weapons, meat, ale, knowledge of Latin had fallen away among the 20 clothing, and what else soever the three classes English and yet many knew how to read Eng- need. Without these means he cannot keep lish writing, I began, among other various and his tools in order, and without these tools he manifold concerns of this kingdom, to translate cannot perform any of the tasks entrusted to into English the book that in Latin is called him. “I have desired material for the exercise "Pastoralis," and in English, “Shepherd's 25 of government that my talents and my power Book,”—at times word by word, and again might not be forgotten and hidden away,” for according to the sense, as I had learned it from every good gift and every power soon groweth Plegmund my archbishop, and from Asser my old, and is no more heard of, if Wisdom be not bishop, and from Grimbold my mass-priest, and in them. Without Wisdom, no faculty can be from John my mass-priest. After I had learned 30 brought out, for whatsoever is done unwisely it, I turned it into English as I understood it can never be accounted as skill. To be brief, and could most clearly expound it; and to every I may say that it has ever been my desire to bishopric in my kingdom I wish to send one; live honourably while I was alive, and after my and in each there is a book-mark worth fifty death to leave to them that should come after mancuses. And I command in God's name that 35 me my memory in good works.' no man take the book-mark from the book, nor the book from the minster. We know not how
FATE AND PROVIDENCE long there may be such learned bishops as, God “Then she began to speak in a very remote be thanked, there now are nearly everywhere. and roundabout fashion, as though she were Therefore, I would that they may always be 40 not alluding to the subject, and yet she led up in their place, unless the bishop wishes to have to it, saying, 'All creatures, both the seen and them with him, or they be lent anywhere, or the unseen, the motionless and the moving, anyone copy them.
receive from the unmoving, unchanging, and
undivided God their due order, form, and
45 proportions; and, inasmuch as it was so created, THE CONSOLATION OF BOETHIUS He knoweth why He hath made all that He
hath made. Nothing of what He hath made is (Selections from King Alfred's Translation)
without use to Him. God ever dwelleth in the (Translated from the Old English by W. J. high city of His unity and mercy; thence He SEDGEFIELD)
50 dealeth out ordinances many and various to THE KING AND HIS SERVANTS!
all His creatures, and thence He ruleth them
all. But regarding that which we call God's “When Philosophy had sung this song she providence and foresight, this exists as long as was silent for a time. Then the Mind answered, it abides with Him in His mind, ere it be saying, 'O Philosophy, thou knowest that I 55 brought to pass, and while it is but thought. never greatly delighted in covetousness and the But as soon as it is accomplished we call it Fate.
From this every man may know that Prov* The passages in this, and in the following selection, idence and Fate are not only two names, but Dot enclosed in double quotation marks, were composed by Alfred himself and inserted in his translation. two things. Providence is the Divine Reason,
and lieth fast in the high Creator that knoweth wards. Just as the spokes have one end stickhow everything shall befall ere it come to pass. ing in the felly and the other in the nave, while But that which we call Fate is God's working in the middle the spoke is equally near either, day by day, both that which we see, and that so the midmost men are at the middle of the which is not seen of us. The divine forethought 5 spokes, the better sort nearer the nave, and the holdeth up all creatures, so that they may not baser nearer the fellies, joined, however, to the fall asunder from their due order. Fate there- nave, which in turn is fixed to the axle. Now, fore allots to all things their forms, places, the fellies are fastened to the spokes, though seasons, and proportions; but Fate comes from they roll on the ground; and so the least worthy the mind and the forethought of Almighty 10 men are in touch with the middle sort, and these God, who worketh whatsoever He will accord- with the best, and the best with God. Though ing to His unspeakable providence.
the worst men turn their love towards this ‘Even as every craftsman thinks over and world they cannot abide therein, nor come to marks out his work in his mind ere he take it in anything, if they be in no degree fastened to hand, and then carries it out altogether, so this 15 God, no more than the wheel's fellies can be in changing lot that we call Fate proceeds accord- motion unless they be fastened to the spokes, ing to His forethought and purpose, even as and the spokes to the axle. The fellies are He resolveth that it shall be done. Though it farthest from the axle, and therefore move seem to us manifold, partly good, partly evil, least steadily. The nave moves nearest the yet it is to Him good, pure and simple, for He 20 axle, therefore is its motion the most sure. bringeth it all to a goodly conclusion, and So do the best men; the nearer to God they set doeth for good all that He doeth. When it is their love, and the more they despise earthly done, we call it Fate; before, it was God's things, the less care is theirs, "and the less they forethought and His purpose. Now Fate He reck how Fate veers, or what she brings." So setteth in motion by means of the good angels 25 also the nave is ever sound, let the fellies or the souls of men, or the lives of other crea- strike on what they may; and nevertheless tures, or through the heavenly bodies, or the the nave is in some degree severed from the divers wiles of evil spirits; at one time through axle. Thereby thou mayest perceive that the one of them, at another through all. But it is
wagon keeps far longer whole the less its manifest that the divine purpose is single and 30 distance from the axle, and so also those men unchanging, and rules everything in orderly are most free from care, both in this present wise, and gives unto all things their shape. life of tribulation and in the life to come, that Now some things in this world are subject to are firmly fixed in God. But the farther they Fate, others are in no way subject; but Fate, are sundered from God, the more sorely are they and the things that are subject to her, are sub- 35 confounded and afflicted both in mind and in ject to divine Providence. Concerning this I body. can tell thee a parable, so that thou mayest the “That which we call Fate is, compared to more clearly understand who are the men that divine Providence, what reflection and reason are subject to Fate, and who are they that are are when measured against perfect knowledge, not.
40 and as things temporal compared with things *All this moving and changing creation turns eternal, or, again, like the wheel compared round the unmoving, the unchanging, and the with the axle, the axle governing all the wagon. undivided God, and He ruleth all creatures as So with the forethought of God; it governeth He purposed in the beginning, and still doth the firmament and the stars, and maketh the purpose. The wheels of a wagon turn upon its 45 earth to be at rest, and measureth out the four axle," while the axle stands still and yet bears elements, to wit, water, earth, fire, and air. all the wagon and guides all its movement. These it keepeth in peace; unto these it giveth The wheel turns round, and the nave next the form, and again taketh it away, changing them wheel moves more firmly and securely than the to other forms and renewing them again. It felly does. Now the axle is as it were the high- 50 engendereth everything that groweth, and est good we call God, and the best men move hideth and preserveth it when old and withered, next unto God just as the nave moves nearest and again bringeth it out and reneweth it the axle. The middle sort of men are like the when it pleaseth.” Some sages, however, say spokes, for one end of each spoke is fast in the that Fate rules both weal and woe of every nave, and the other is in the felly; and so it is 55 man. But I say, as do all Christian men, that with the midmost man, at one time thinking it is the divine purpose that rules them, not in his mind upon this earthly life, at another Fate; and I know that it judges all things very upon the divine life, as if he looked with one rightly, though unthinking men may not eye heavenwards, and with the other earth- think so. They hold that all are good that work their will, and no wonder, for they are stars showed themselves full-nigh half an hour blinded by the darkness of their sins. “But after nine in the forenoon. divine Providence understandeth it all most rightly, though we in our folly think it goes A. 596. This year Pope Gregory sent Augusawry, being unable to discern what is right. 5 tine to Britain, with a great many monks, who He, however, judgeth all aright, though at preached the word of God to the nation of the times it seems to us otherwise."
Aelfric THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE
c. 955-c. 1020 Selections
THE DAILY MIRACLE (Translated by J. A. Giles)
(From the Homilies, 990–994, translated by
P. V. D. SHELLY) A. 443. This year the Britons sent over sea to Rome, and begged for help against the Picts; 15 Many wonders hath God wrought, and daily but they had none, because they were them- doth work; but these wonders are much weakselves warring against Attila, king of the Huns. ened in the sight of men because they are very And then they sent to the Angles, and en- common. That each day Almighty God feeds treated the like of the ethelings of the Angles. all the earth and directs the good, is a greater A. 444. This year St. Martin died.
20 miracle than was that of feeding five thousand
men with five loaves; yet men marvelled at A. 449. This year Martianus and Valentinus that, not because it was a greater miracle, but succeeded to the empire, and reigned seven because it was uncommon. Who grants fruit years. And in their days Hengist and Horsa, 2 to our fields, and increases the harvest from a invited by Vortigern, king of the Britons, 25 few grains, but He who multiplied the five landed in Britain on the shore which is called loaves? The might was in Christ's hands, Wippidsfleet;; at first in aid of the Britons, and the five loaves were seed, as it were not but afterwards they fought against them. sown in the earth, but multiplied by Him who King Vortigern gave them land in the south- wrought the earth. east of this country, on condition that they 30 This miracle is very great and deep in its should fight against the Picts. Then they tokens. Often one sees fair letters written, and fought against the Picts, and had the victory praises the writer and the letters, and knows wheresoever they came. They then sent to the not what they mean. He who has knowledge Angles; desired a larger force to be sent, and of letters, praises their fairness, and reads the caused them to be told the worthlessness of the 35 letters, and understands what they mean. In Britons, and the excellencies of the land. Then one way do we view a painting, but in other they soon sent thither a larger force in aid of wise, letters. In the case of the painting, one the others. At that time there came men from needs only to see it and praise it; but it is not three tribes in Germany; from the Old-Saxons, enough that you look at letters without also from the Angles, from the Jutes. From the 40 reading them and understanding the sense. Jutes came the Kentish-men and the Wight. So is it with the wonder that God wrought warians, that is, the tribe which now dwells in with the five loaves; it is not enough that we Wight, and that race among the West-Saxons marvel at the token or praise God for it, unless which is still called the race of Jutes. From we also understand its meaning. the Old-Saxons came the men of Essex and 45 Sussex and Wessex. From Anglia which has
Wulfstan ever since remained waste betwixt the Jutes and
SERMON TO THE ENGLISH the Saxons, came the men of East Anglia, Middle Anglia, Mercia, and all North-humbria.
AT THE TIME OF THEIR GREAT SUFFERINGS Their leaders were two brothers, Hengist and 50
FROM THE DANES, THAT IS, IN THE
Days OF KING AETHELRED.1 Horsa: they were the sons of Wihtgils; Wihtgils son of Witta, Witta of Wecta, Wecta of Woden;
(Translated by P. V. D. SHELLY) from this Woden sprang all our Royal families, Beloved men, know it for sooth, that this and those of the South-humbrians also.
world is in haste and neareth the end. Hence A. 540. This year the sun was eclipsed on the 55 in the world is it ever the longer the worse, and twelfth before the Kalends of July, and the so it must needs grow very evil from day to 1 Princes.
day before the coming of Antichrist, because ? Leaders of the Jutes.
1 This was apparently written in either 999 or 1014. Now, Ebbsfleet in the Isle of Thanet, on the east The writer may have been Wulistan, Archbishop of York, coast of Kent.
of the folk's sins; and indeed it will then be ished. Freemen cannot command their own fearful and terrible far and wide in the world.
persons, nor go where they will, nor do with Understand also that the devil hath now for their own as they wish; nor can thralls have many years led this people too far astray, that what they possess, though they toiled for it there has been little faith among men, though 5 in the time that was theirs, nor that which by they have spoken fair. Wrong hath reigned God's grace good men have given them as an too much in the land, and of many men never. almsgift for the love of God; but each almshath one thought of the remedy as eagerly as he right which each one in God's grace ght right ought; but daily have we heaped evil upon evil, gladly to perform, he decreaseth or withand reared injustice and un-law far too widely 10 holdeth, since injustice and love of un-law are throughout the nation. And for this we have too common among men. In a word, God's also endured many losses and insults, and if laws are loathed, and learning is despised; and we are to expect any mending, then must we for this we all often suffer insults through God's merit of God better than we have done ere anger, as he may understand who can; and the this, for with great deserving have we earned 15 loss will be common to all this people, though the miseries that sit upon us, and with very men think not so, unless God save. great deserving must we obtain the remedy at Certainly it is clear and manifest to us all God's hands, if things henceforth are to be that hitherto we have more often broken (the
etter. We know full well that a mickle breach law] than bettered it, and hence this nation needs much mending, and a great fire, much 20 hath had many set-backs. This long time water, if that fire is at all to be quenched. And naught hath availed at home or abroad; there great also is the need to every man that he have been harrying and hunger, burning and willingly keep God's law henceforth better bloodshed, on every hand often and often; than he did before, and carry out His justice stealing and slaughter, sedition and pestilence, with uprightness.
25 cattle-plague and disease, slander and hate, and Among heathen people no man durst hold rapine of robbers have harmed us greatly; back little or much of that which by law is due unjust taxes have afflicted us sorely, and often to the worship of idols; but everywhere we foul weather has spoiled our harvests; because, withhold God's rights, all too often. Neither as it may seem, now for many years in this land among the heathen durst man injure, within or 30 there ve been much unrighteousness and without, any of those things that are brought unstable faith among men everywhere. Often to the idols and are appointed for sacrifice; but hath a kinsman protected his kinsman no we have clean despoiled God's house within more than a foreigner, nor the father his son, and without. Also, God's servants are every- nor at times the son his own father, nor one where deprived of honor and protection; and 35 brother the other. Nor hath any of us ordered some men say that among heathen peoples no his life as he should,-neither those in orders, man durst in any wise ill treat the servants according to their rule, nor laymen, according of idols, as men now too generally do the to the law; but the lust of crime is all too often servants of God, in places where Christians a law to us, and we hold not to the learning or should hold to God's law and protect God's 40 law of God or of men as we should. No one servants.
hath thought toward the other faithfully as he Sooth is it that I say—we have need of should, but for the most part each is deceitful mending, for God's laws have been waning too and injures others by word and by deed; long within this land on every side, and the unrighteously and from behind, each striketh folk-laws have become worse, all too much 45 at his fellow with shameful calumnies and since Edgar died.2 Sanctuaries are too gen- accusations; let him do more if he can. erally unprotected, and God's houses are too Here in our land is much treachery toward clean bereft of their old rights, and are stripped God and the world, and likewise in divers ways within of all things befitting. Men of religion traitors too many. Of all treasons in the world have now this long time been greatly despised; 50 the greatest is that a man betray his lord's widows unlawfully are forced to marry, and soul; and a full great treason is that also, that a too many are made poor and are greatly ill man betray his lord's life or drive him living used. Poor men are sore deceived and misera- from the land; and both have been present bly' ensnared, and, though innocent, are sold in this realm. Edward3 was betrayed, then out of the land into the power of foreigners; 55 murdered, and after that burned, and Aethelthrough cruel un-law children are enslaved for red“ was driven from the land. Gossips and petty theft; free-right is taken away, and 3 Edward the Martyr, murdered in 978. thrall-right curtailed, and alms-right dimin
* Aethelred the Un-redy, or will advised," was obliged
to flee to Normandy in 1014. 2 Edgar, King of Wessex, died 975.