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Alfred The Great

      No name in English history is so popular, and so justly popular, as that of Alfred the Great. That he taught his people to defend themselves and defeat their enemies, is the least of his many claims to our grateful admiration; he did much more than this; he gave the first impulse to the spirit of civilization, and taught a horde of wild barbarians that there were other and worthier pursuits than war or the pleasures of the table. In fact, he was one of those highly gifted men that would seem to be raised up especially by Providence to meet certain emergencies, or to advance the career of nations. Such was the hero, so beautifully recorded by the pen of Edmund Burke, and of whose history we now purpose to give a slight sketch for the amusement of those who might turn in weariness from a more ample record.

      Alfred the Great was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in the year 849, one of the most dreary and calamitous periods of English chronicle. He was the youngest son of Ethelwulph, a mild and virtuous prince, but full of a timid piety which utterly disqualified him for the circumstances in which he was placed. According to the historian Asser, young Alfred, being of a more comely person and sweeter disposition than his elder brothers, became the favorite of both his parents, and was sent by them to Rome, while yet a child, in order that he might be anointed king by the Pope himself. But though the feeble piety of Ethelwulph showed this especial instance of regard for his son, h...

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