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distinguished from the crowd; and if he would describe the manner in which he has attained this eminence, you would feel a melancholy interest in contemplating that process, of which the result is so prodigious.—John Foster.
ALFRED THE GREAT. This greatest of princes, the third son of Ethelwolf, was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in 849, and succeeded his elder brother in 871. In the fifth year of his age he was sent to Rome with an embassy, for what reason is unknown. Ethelwolf brought him, a few years after, on a pilgrimage to that city. On his return he visited Paris, where his father married Judith, the daughter of Charles the Bald. These pilgrimages, and the society of his stepmother Judith, probably contributed to unfold his natural character. Though he had reached the age of twelve before be acquired an art then so rare as that of reading, he was delighted with listening to the Anglo-Saxon songs. Judith, holding in her hands a volume of these poems, in which the beautiful characters pleased her husband's children, said to them, “I will give it to the one among you who first learns to read it.” “Will you?” eagerly asked Alfred, though the youngest. He suddenly snatched the volume out of her hands, and running to a schoolmaster, in no long time read or recited it to her.
His accession fell on the most troublous times. In the early years of his reign, Mercia and Northumberland were overrun and nearly laid waste by the Danish invaders, who were thus enabled to turn their whole force against Wessex. Their armies traversed the country from Tweed to Thames. At last, the spirit of the West Saxons was worn out. The Danes overran the country, drove many into exile, and subdued the rest to their will. “All," says the chronicler, “but Alfred the king.” He, unconquered, took a few noble Saxons, and established himself in the isle of Athelney, where he remained for a time seemingly forgotten. Yet he began, even in that condition, to revive the spirit of his followers by striking blows at small parties of the enemy. He is said, in the disguise of a harper, to have visited the Danish camp, examined its approaches and disposition, and ascertained the disorder of which the impunity of his own visit afforded sufficient proof. In a short time he burst from his fastness; he was received by his oppressed people with enthusiasm; they flocked to his standard in such numbers as to enable him to take the enemy by surprise, and Guthrun the Danish chief was compelled to evacuate Wessex, to submit to baptism, and to receive from the conqueror a grant of territory to the north of the Thames, together with part of Northumberland.
For fifteen years after the restoration of Alfred, England enjoyed universal peace, which he employed in strengthening his kingdom and improving the condition of his people. During four years of the latter part of his reign he was engaged in repelling a formidable invasion, conducted by a pirate named Hastings. He was, on this occasion, the first improver of ship-building, and the founder of a naval force.
Alfred's love of literature grew up in a general state of the grossest ignorance. “When I took the kingdom," he says, “ very few on this side of the Humber, very few beyond, not one that I can recollect south of the Thames, could understand their prayers in English, or translate a letter from Latin into English.” To remedy this evil, he brought together such scholars as the time afforded, enforced education by refusing to promote the uneducated, and at an advanced period of his reign was able to thank God that those who sat in the chair of the instructor were then capable of teaching: He himself acquired Latin in his thirty-eighth year, and translated from it several works. He composed Anglo-Saxon poetry; devised a means of measuring time, in order strictly to improve it; revised the laws, and caused them to be administered with the most impartial justice. There is, perhaps, no example of any man who so happily combined the magnanimous with the mild virtues; wbo joined so much energy in war with so remarkable a cultivation of the arts of peace. In any age or country such a prince would be a prodigy, but the miracle is increased by the fact that he lived in a rude and barbarous age and nation. His studies were pursued in the midst of
civil and foreign wars, whilst he suffered incessantly from painful maladies; yet they so little encroached on the duties of government as to leave him for ages the popular model for exact and watchful justice. He was pious without superstition, and he had the glory to be the deliverer as well as father of his country. Alfred died October 26th, A. D. 901, in the 53rd year of his age, and 30th of his reign. Abridged from Mackintosh.
LESSON XII.-TUESDAY. MATTER-ITS NON-ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES. The non-essential properties of matter are, compressibility, contractibility, expansibility, porosity, elasticity, divisibility, and inertia.
COMPRESSIBILITY signifies, that reduction in the volume of a body may result from the molecules being forced more closely together by external pressure. Twelve cubic inches of copper may be reduced to eleven by hammering, and forty-two cubic inches of platinum may be reduced to fortyone by the process of wire-drawing.
CONTRACTIBILITY signifies, that reduction in the volume of a body may result from the molecules being drawn more closely together by internal forces. A given weight of mercury occupies much less space when frozen, than in a liquid state. The contraction of long iron rods is rendered quite perceptible by exposing them to the cold of a frosty night. Liquids and gases have their volumes reduced by cooling.
EXPANSIBILITY is that property of bodies by virtue of which their volume may be enlarged. Three hundred cubic inches of lead, eight hundred of iron, one thousand of glass, will each measure one cubic inch more, when their temperature is raised from the freezing point of water to its boiling point. The arches of Southwark Bridge are an inch higher in summer than in winter, on account of the variation of temperature. Nine pints of alcohol will measure ten, when heated to the boiling point; and the same change in the temperature of four hundred and eighty cubic inches of air will increase its volume to six hundred and sixty inches. Water is a singular exception to the general law of expansion. Other liquids decrease in volume till they freeze, but water reaches its minimum volume at 8° above the freezing point, and if this temperature is reduced it begins to expand. This is a beneficent arrangement. For if water were subject to the general law of expansion the most disastrous consequences would ensue. As the surface of lakes and rivers cooled in winter, the colder and heavier portions of the water would sink to the bottom, until the whole had reached the temperature of 32°, when it would instantly become a mass of ice. All the fish would thus be destroġed, and the time required to liquefy the large masses of ice would impede navigation and produce great inconvenience.
POROSITY.-If bodies are capable of compression and contraction their component molecules cannot be in actual contact, but small interstices or pores must exist between them, The existence of this intersticial space in bodies constitutes porosity. The quantity of intersticial space determines the degree of porosity. Cork and light bodies in general are very porous; platinum, lead, and heavy bodies have little porosity. Very porous bodies have their component molecules less closely packed together than those which have little porosity. The degree of closeness with which the molecules are packed together is expressed by the term density. The greater the density of a body the less is its porosity. Mass denotes the number of material molecules in a body, or in other words, the quantity of matter it contains. Volume denotes the space occupied by the mass, including the intersticial spaces. If the volumes of two bodies are equal, their masses are proportional to their densities; if the densities are equal, their volumes are proportional to their masses; and if the passes are equal, their volumes are inversely proportional to their densities.
ELASTICITY is that property by which bodies, whose shape or magnitude has been altered, resume of themselves their original form or dimensions. India rubber, whalebone, steel springs, and all gaseous bodies possess this property in a remarkable degree. The elasticity of an ivory ball is exemplified by letting it fall on a hard flat surface, slightly smeared with colouring matter. After falling, the body will still retain its spherical shape, but a large round spot will be found on
its surface. As a sphere only touches a flat surface on one point, the size of the spot is owing to a momentary alteration in the shape of the ball, resulting from the concussion.
DIVISIBILITY is the capability of being separated into parts. This inay be carried to a degree of minuteness truly astonishing. A piece of gold may be obtained, by mechanical means alone, not exceeding the three millionth part of a grain; and although platinum is the heaviest of all known bodies, it may be drawn into a wire so fine, that a mile of it will not weigh more than a grain. Divisibility often proceeds spontaneously, as in the case of odoriferous substances. A grain of musk will impregnate the changing atmosphere of a large room with its scent for twenty years, without being apparently lessened; yet every part of the atmosphere where the scent is traceable contains some quantity of musk.
INERTIA is the inability.of a body to change its state of rest or motion. A body never begins to move without some force being applied to it, and
a moving body never stops of its own accord. A body rolling on a flat surface is brought to a state of rest by the combined force of gravity, and the resistance of the air. A wheel turning on an axis is stopped by the force of friction, when the moving force is withdrawn. By oiling the axis the force of friction is diminished, and if the wheel is set in motion and the motivepower is then withdrawn, it will continue to move much longer with the friction thus diminished, than if its axis were dry and rusty. As the motion of bodies continues after the cessation of the impulsive force, in proportion as opposing forces are removed, if such forces could be entirely removed, the motion would continue for ever.
The essential properties of matter are true both of matter in its molecular condition, and in the form of masses, while the non-essential properties can only be affirmed of matter in the latter form.
MORNING HYMN IN PARADISE.