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they also hold a firm peace together. Thus do fire and water, now, and sea and earth, and many other substances. They will always be as discordant among themselves, as they are now; and yet they are so harmonised, that they can not only be companions, but this further happens, that indeed none can exist without the rest. The one contrariety for ever restrains the other contrariety.
"So the Almighty God has most wisely and pertinently established the successive changes of all things. Thus now spring and harvest. In spring things grow. In harvest they become yellow. Again, summer and winter. In summer it is warm, and in winter cold. So the sun bringeth light days, and the moon enlightens the night through the same Deity's might. So the same Power admonishes the sea, that it must not overstep the threshold of the earth. But he hath appointed its boundaries that it may not extend its limits over the quiet earth.
"By the same government is the like interchange directed of the flood and the ebb. He permits this appointment to stand as long as he wills it. But then if ever he should let go the reins of those bridles with which he has now restrained his creations, the contrariety of which we have before spoken, if he were to allow it to escape, would destroy the peace that he now maintains. Each of them would contend with the other after his own will, and lose their combination, and destroy all this world, and bring themselves to nothing. The same God combines people in friendship together, and associates their families with purer love. He unites friends and companions, so that they truly retain their peace and attachment. How happy would mankind be from this, if their minds were as right, and as established, and as well ordered, as those of other creatures are (1).”
He tells the story of Ulysses and Circe in his own way, and with his own additions, which will show the nature of his historical knowledge.
His story of
"There happened formerly, in the Trojan war, that there was a king of the name of Aulixes (Ulysses). He had two Ulysses and Circe. nations under the Cesar. These were called Ithacige and Retie, and the Cesar's name was Agamemnon. Then Aulixes went with that Cesar to that battle. He had then some hundred ships. Then were they some ten years in that war.
"Then the king returned home from that Cesar, when they had won the country. He had not then more ships than one; but that was a three rower. Then a high tempest and a stormy sea withstood him, and he was driven into an island beyond the Wendel Sea. There lived a daughter of Apolline, the son of Job (Jove).
"This Job was their king, and it pleased them that he should be their highest god, and these foolish men believed in him because he was of a kingly race, and they knew no other god in that time, but they worshipped their kings for gods. Then should Job's father be also a god. His name was Saturnus, and they had him also the same for a god and one of them was the Apolline that we have mentioned.
"This Apolline's daughter should be a goddess. Her name was Kirke.
(1) Alfred, p. 45, 46. A comparison with Boetius, lib. ii. met. 8., will show Alfred's great additions.
They said she was a very great magician; and she lived in that island that the king was driven on. She had there a great retinue of her thegns, and also of other maidens.
"Soon as she saw the forth-driven king, that we spoke of before, whose name was Aulixes, she began to love him, and each of them the other, so immoderately, that he for love of her abandoned all his kingdom and his family, and remained with her, till the time that his thegns would not stay longer with him; but for love of their country, and from being exiled from it, they resolved to leave him. Then began false men to make spells, and they said, that by their magic they would spread and turn these men into the bodies of wild animals; and afterwards throw them into chains and fetters.
"Some they said they should transform into lions, and when they should speak then they roared. Some became boars, and when they lamented their sorrow they furiously grunted. Some were changed into wolves, and when they thought to speak they howled. Some were turned to that deer kind, which men call tigers. Thus were all the company transformed into various kinds of deer, every one to some deer, except only the king. They shunned every meat that men eat, and desired those things which the deer eat. They had no likeness of man, neither in their body, nor in their voice; yet every one knew in his understanding as he did before. This understanding sorrowed very much for the miseries which they suffered (1).”
He has inserted the following observations of his own, on the Supreme Good.—
His thoughts on "This blessedness is then God. He is the beginning and theSupremeGood. the end of every good, and he is the highest happiness.
"There is no man that needs not some increase, but God alone. He hath enough in his own self. He needs nothing but that which he has in himself.
"By these things, we may manifestly understand, that every man desires this, that he may obtain the supreme Good, where he can know it, or is enabled to seek it rightly. But they seek it not in the most right way. It is not in this world..
"There is no creature made, which does not desire that it may proceed thither, from whence it came before. This is to rest and felicity. Its rest is with God, and that is God (2). ”
He has added these remarks on wisdom.
"Wisdom is the highest virtue, and he hath in him four other virtues. One of these is prudence; another moderation; the third is courage; the fourth is righteousness. Wisdom maketh those that love it wise, and worthy, and constant, and patient, and righteous, and with every good habit filleth him that loveth it. They cannot do this who have the power of this world; nor can they give any virtue from their wealth to those who love them, if they have it not in their nature. From this it is very evident, that the powerful in this world's wealth have no appropriate virtue from it; but their wealth comes to them from without, and they can have nothing from without which is their own (5). '
His thoughts on wisdom.
(1) Alfred, p. 115. See Boetius, lib. iv. met. 3. (2) Alfred, p. 49. 53, 54, 55.
(3) Alfred, p. 60.
He turns a sentence of Boetius (1), which he enlarges on, into a commendation of wisdom.—
Do you see any thing in your body greater than the elephant ; or stronger than the lion, or the bull; or swifter than that deer, the tiger? But if thou wert the fairest of all men in beauty, and shouldest diligently inquire after wisdom, until thou fully right understood it, then mightest thou clearly comprehend, that all the power and excellencies which we have just mentioned, are not to be compared with the one virtue of the soul. NOW WISDOM is this one single virtue of the soul; and we all know that it is better than all the other excellencies that we have before spoken about (2).
He pursues the next sentence of Boetius (3) with his own original sentiments.
"Behold now the spaciousness, and the constancy, and the swiftness of the heavens. Yet we may understand that all this is not to be compared with its creator and its governor. But why do ye not let yourselves be weary of admiring and praising that which is unprofitable: this is worldly riches. For as heaven is better, and loftier, and fairer than all within it, except man alone; so is man's body better and more precious than all his possessions. But how much more, bethink thee, is the soul better and more valuable than the body. Every existence is to be honoured according to its proportion, and always the highest most. Therefore the divine power is to be honoured, admired, and worshipped above all other existences (4). "
His free translation of the eighth metrum of Boetius (5) is a specimen of his easy and flowing style, and at the same time a picture of the manners of his time. In this he also turns the ideas of his author, to express his own sublime piety and moral energy.
"Oh! woe! how heavy and how dangerous the folly is, which misleads unhappy men, and draws them from the right way. This way is God. Do ye now seek gold on trees? I know that you do not seek it there; nor find it on them, because all men know that it does not grow there. No more do jewels grow in vineyard. Do you now set your nets on the highest moun
(1) The passage in Boetius is: :-" Can you excel elephants in bulk, or bulls in strength, or precede tigers in swiftness?" Lib. iii. prosa 8.
(2) Alfred, p. 70.
(3) The words in Boetius are only :- Survey the space, firmness, and rapidity of the heavens, and cease sometimes to admire vile things. Boetius, lib. iii. prosa 8.
(4) Alfred, p. 70.
(5) The Latin of Boetius is :- Oh, how ignorance leads wretched men from their right way! You do not seek gold on the green tree, nor pluck gems from the You do not place nets on high mountains to enrich your tables with fish; nor, if you wish to follow the roe, do you hunt the Tuscan waves. Men know the recesses of the sea, that are hidden by the waves; and which wave is more fruitful of the snowy gems; which, of the blushing purple; and what shores excel in the tender fish, or the rough shell-fish. But how is it, they who desire good, blindly endure to be ignorant of it, and, degraded, seek that on earth which lies beyond the starry pole? What that is worthy shall I implore for the foolish minds? They crave wealth and honours; and when they have prepared the false things in a great mass, let them then discern the true goods of life." Lib. iii. met. 8.
tains when you would fish? I know indeed that you do not place them there. Do you lead your hounds and your nets out into the sea, when you would hunt? I think you would set them on hills and in woods. It is wonderful that industrious men understand that they must seek by seavoyages, and on the banks of rivers, for both white gems and red ones, and jewels of every kind. They also know on what waters, and at the mouths of what rivers, they should seek for fishes; and where they should search for all their present wealth; and most unweariedly they seek it. But it is a very pitiable thing, that weak men are so blind of all judgment, that they do not perceive where the true riches lie hid, and have no pleasure in inquiring for them. Yet they think, that in these frail and mortal things, they may find out the true good, which is God. I know not how I can express their folly so clearly, nor tell it so strongly as I would; because they are more deplorable, and sillier, and unhappier than I am able to explain. They desire wealth and dignity, and when they have them, they irrationally think that they possess true happiness (1). "
Boetius had merely said :
"If any one, who had enjoyed several consulships, should go by chance. among barbarous nations, would his honours make him venerated by them (2)? ”
His thoughts on
Alfred on this brief passage pours out the following ideas :— "If any powerful man should be driven from his country, real greatness. or should go on his lord's errand, and should then come to a foreign people, where no man knew him, nor he any one, nor indeed the language; dost thou think that his greatness would make him honourable in that land? But I know that it could not. If, then, dignity were natural to power, and were its own; or if the wealth of the rich were their own affluence, then they could not lose it. Were a person on any land soever, he would be there with what he possessed. His riches and his dignity would be with him; but because wealth and power have no merit of their own, they abandon him; and hence they have no natural good in themselves. Hence he loseth them, like a shadow or smoke, though false hope and imagination of weak men make power to be their highest good.
"Great men will be in one of two conditions, either in a foreign country, or in their own nation, with reasonable men: but both with these wise men, and with the foreigner, their power would be deemed nothing, after they had understood that they had not received it for any virtues, but from the praises of silly men. Yet, if wealth had any excellence of its own, or of nature, in its power, they would have it within them. Though they should lose their territory, they could not lose a natural good; but this would always follow them, and make them worthy in whatsoever land they were (3).
The following extract shows the case with which he translates his author when he chooses to adhere to him. Boetius has a passage on the effect of the vices on the characters of men (4), which Alfred thus expresses with a little expansion:
(1) Alfred, p. 71, 72.
(2) Boetius, lib. iii. prosa 3.
(3) Alfred, p. 61.
(4) In Boetius it is :- "As probity alone can raise any one above humanity, it
"But as the goodness of men raiseth them above human nature to this that they be exalted to divine; so also their evilness converts them into something below human nature, to the degree that they may be named devils. This we say should not be so; for if thou findest a man so corrupted, as that he be turned wholly from good to evil, thou canst not with right name him a man, but an animal. If thou perceivest of any man that he be covetous, and a plunderer, thou shalt not call him a man, but a wolf. And the fierce person that is restless, thou shalt call a hound, not a man. And the false crafty one, a fox. He that is extremely moody, and enraged, and hath too great fury, thou shalt call a lion, not a man. The slothful that is too slow, thou shalt term an ass, more than a man. The unseasonably fearful person, who dreads more than he needs, thou mayest call a hare, rather than man. Thou mayest say of the inconstant and light minded, that they are more like the winds or the inquiet fowls, than steady men. And if thou perceivest one that pursues the lusts of his body, he is most like fat swine, who always desire to lay down in foul soils, and will not wash themselves in clear waters; or if they should, by a rare chance, be swimming in them, they throw themselves again on their mire, and swallow therein (1). ”
Alfred adds much of his own to Boetius's remarks on nobility, as :
"Think now first of noble birth. If any one should glory in this, how idle and how fruitless would that glory be! Because every one knows that all come from one father and one mother."
This reason is the addition of Alfred: he also inserts the following passages from himself :
"Or again of fame among the multitude, or their praise. I know that we rejoice at this; although those persons now seem illustrious, whom the people praise, yet they are more illustrious, and more justly to be applauded, when they are made worthy by their virtues; for no man is so by right from any other advantage.
"Art thou more beautiful for other men's beauty? A man will be full little the better, because he hath a good father, if he himself is but nought.
"Therefore, I teach, that thou mayest rejoice in other men's goods, and their nobility; for this chiefly, that thou dost not prepare thy own self; because every man's good and nobility is more in his mind than in his flesh (2). "
He now adds, paraphrasing the words of Boetius (3) :—
follows that those whom wickedness throws down from the human condition, it lowers below the merit of a man. Therefore when you see any one transformed by vices, you cannot think him a man. Does a violent plunderer of another's property glow with avarice? You may say he is like a wolf. Does a fierce and unquiet one exercise his tongue in strife? He is to be compared to a dog. Does a betrayer rejoice to have surprised by secret fraud? He is on a level with foxes. Does he rage with intemperate anger? Believe that he carries the soul of a lion" etc. etc. lib. iv. pr. 3.
(1) Alfred, p. 113, 114.
(2) Alfred, p. 66, 67.
(3) Which are: "If there be any good in nobility, I think it is this alone, that a necessity seems to be imposed on the noble, that they should not degenerate from the virtue of their ancestors." Lib. iii. prosa 6.