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PREFACE.

In our

INSTEAD of a “Preface,” this is properly a Conclusion; and not only the conclusion of a volume, but the conclusion of our editorial work. There is something solemn in uttering the last words, and one cannot but have a sense of sadness in penning them. One does not like to say "good-bye,” and yet the time comes when the “farewell ” must be uttered. However, in this case it does not come prematurely, and our pensive thoughts aro brightened by “sunny memories.” For more than twenty-two years the Editor and his readers have walked and talked together, and happy is the review of the scenes through which we have passed.

“ Editorial walks " we have had many delightful rambles together through the British Museum, the Crystal Palace, the Gardens of Kew, the Tower of London, the Zoological Gardens, and other places of public interest in this great city; and we have described many of the wonderful things contained in them all. We have also sat and conversed together at the Editor's Desk for many thousands of hours, and have asked and answered about a thousand questions, in explanation of God's precious Word. We have gone regularly through the numerous centuries of English History and the History of the Church of Christ. We have glanced at the manners, and customs of various nations, ancient and modern, with illustrations of their peculiarities. We have gazed together at the planets and stars, and contemplated the wonders of astronomy. We have had many instructive and pleasing re

creations in other departments of science. We have looked into the animal and vegetable kingdoms-beasts, birds, fishes, insects, and reptiles, and their structure, instincts, and habits have furnished wonderful displays of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. During the last two years we have made our acquaintance with Remarkable Persons, Remarkable Places, Remarkable Books, and Remarkable Events. Nor must we forget the beautiful examples of early piety and of happy deaths recorded; nor the many hundreds of anecdotes and incidents by which we have been instructed, admonished, and encouraged.

In opening out and diffusing these streamlets of instruction, some spiritual and saving good, we hope, has been done ; indeed, our hearts have been gladdened by knowing that some souls have been led to Christ. After all we find cause for humiliation, and we regret that we have not done more, and done it more faithfully.

Most fervently we thank God for his kind providence in enabling us to perform our duties for so long a period; and very cordially we thank all who have assisted us in our work, whether by contributing to our pages or aiding our circulation. Beloved friends, young and old, ministers, teachers, Sunday scholars, and general subscribers, accept the expression of our gratitude; and be assured that the memory of our official connection with you for so many years will be always refreshing and delightful. May Jehovah bless you, and grant we may all meet in heaven.

In laying down his editorial pen, your editor begs as a parting request that you will afford to his worthy successor the same support and encouragement you have for so many years so kindly rendered to him. Good-bye, dear friends, and believe me over yours affectionately,

WILLIAM COOKE.

Forest Hill, London, S.E.

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KING ALFRED, DISGUISED AS A HARPER, IN THE DANISH CAMP.

Remarkable Persons.

ALFRED THE GREAT. Who has not heard of Alfred the Great-the brave, the pious, and the beloved Saxon king? Alexander was called the Great; but why? Because he was a great robber and murderer. He slow myriads of human beings, because they loved their country and resisted his ambitious designs. Fierce as the leopard in his heart, and formidable as a pestilence in his army, he was the terror of the world. His path was strewed with ruins. Before him, beautiful cities, prosperous and happy, were bathed in the sunlight; behind him were cities in smoking ruins, with myriads of dead bodies, and weeping widows and fatherless children bewailing their loss. But King Alfred was a great scholar, a great benefactor, a great deliverer, and truly great in his moral excellences.

He was born about the year 849. He appears to have drawn all hearts to him, even as an infant; he was the pet of his mother, the favourite of his father, and old Saxon ballads sing of him as England's darling. It was the delight of Osburga, his mother, to teach her child to repeat after her the old Saxon poems of her race, and to watch the kindling imagination of the youth as the charm of the heroic strain fastened itself upon his mind. What a great uncancelled debt does the world owe to the silent, patient labours of its good mothers! One day she was sitting surrounded by her children, who had probably been listening to some tale of Norse adventure, when she showed them a beautiful book filled with Saxon poetry, and said, “I will give this to the one who shall learn it first. Alfred, attracted by the glittering illuminations of the book, ran up to his mother, and said, “ Wilt thou really give this book to him who will learn it ? ” His mother, smiling, told him she would, when he took it from her and ran to his teacher, who by reading its contents to him impressed them upon his eager mind in a very short time, when he delighted his mother by repeating them to her from memory.

In the year 868, when in his twentieth year, he was betrothed to Ethelswitha, a daughter of the Earl of the Gaini. They were married in Mercia, and returned to Ethelred's court, when in a short time messengers came from the bride's friends, informing them that the Danes were in the field, and must be met at once.

The happiness of Alfred's honeymoon was disturbed by the shrill trump of war, and the two brothers prepared for the terrible emergency. The one leaving his kingdom, and the other his bride, placed themselves at the head of the army, and marched as far as Nottingham, and compelled the enemy to a truce. But he had

ALFRED THE GREAT.

many encounters with these depredators afterwards. His wars, however, were all defensive, to deliver his people from plunder, oppression, and cruelty. At one time he went as a harper into the Danish tents, that he might know their state.

He made it his practice to travel about his kingdom, to promote his people’s welfare. He compiled a code of laws, with the advice and assistance of the wise men of the kingdom; and he reorganized the administration of justice. In the year 880, when the Pagans came and took possession of London, he made a vow that if they were defeated he would send an embassy with gifts to the Christian Churches in the remote East. London was recovered, and Alfred fulfilled his vow.

A new life seemed to have awakened under the influence of this good king. He had bitterly felt the want of early education himself; it had caused him many a weary night's vigil, when battling against his own ignorance, and he longed for the diffusion of knowledge amongst his people of all classes. In his own works he has expressed a wish that all the free-born youth of his dominions might be taught at least sufficient to enable them to read the Scriptures in their native tongue-a noble sentiment, this, for a monarch of the ninth century, and a member of a Church which was destined to be overturned before that wish could be accomplished.

As an author, he has left an imperishable name behind him. This man, who could not read until his twelfth year, and began to learn Latin at twenty, became an indefatigable translator of Latin authors--and not a mere translator, but a commentator, as his own reflections show. He had great love of compiling. It was his practice to get his friend Asser to read favourite works to him, and to enter choice passages in a book, which grew until it contained the gist of his reading, and the gems of his own thoughts. That book was his constant companion; he carried it in his bosom, and has testified to the consolation it was to him in the hour of sadness and misfortune.

Ten years of peace were thus occupied, and then the Danes once more invaded the country under Hastings, and Alfred was compelled to lay aside his pen and gird on his sword. The Danes were repelled, but returned to the struggle, when the indefatigable monarch resolved upon meeting them on their own element. Ships were built, in which he put to sea, fought the enemy, and if he did not wholly defeat them, he crushed their strength.

Asser, the friend and biographer of Alfred, informs us that, when the great monarch had secured peace and protection to his subjects, he resolved to extend among them a knowledge of the arts. For this purpose he collected, from many nations, a multitude of skilled workmen, the most expert in their respective trades. Among these were not a few workers in gold and silver, who,

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