The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, September 28, 1901, Page 2, Image 2

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snobbery though his opinion and
practice in regard to the relation of
gentility to ability, and promotion
therefor, is responsible for much of
the popular dislike of Sampson, -and
the popularity of Schley. The latter
is good natured and modest where
the former is stiff, pompous and ex
acting. As for ability, the unanimity
of naval opinion in favor of Sampson
is probably trustworthy and capable.
Alfred the Great
Of all the kings of the West Saxons
only Alfred the Great's name is well
known to this century. A scholar, a
statesman and a great general, Alfred
is respected by students of his life as
one of the great and moving forces
in the development of institutions.
His life and deeds are bidden by the
veil of a thousand years. He ruled a
small kingdom not larger than Lan
caster county, Nebraska. The leg
ends which have grown around his
name and the reverence with which
the English people and their descend
ants look back to him and the size
and importance of the British Em
pi re make bis place in real history
and influence out of proportion to the
actual size of the territory which he
saved from Danish usurpation. It is
only another instance of the fact tbat
a Ban's reputation and bis influence
upon bis generation and succeeding
ones depend not so much upon tLe
size of the kingdom he saved as upon
the difficulties and obstacles he con
quered. If the independence of the
United States had been easy toa
chleve, ir there bad been no Valley
Forge, no half-naked soldiers making
forced marches with bleeding feet,
if there bad been no cabals against
-Seorge Washington, if he bad had
oooey enough to equip perfectly a
Mgnificent army, if a united and
powerful people bad placed him at
the bead of their army, he would not
have been called the "Father of his
Country." The heroic qualities
which enabled him to make a nation
out of a few settlers who bad made
up their minds to remain Englishmen
aod to pay allegiance only to an Eng
lish king were only revealed to his
countrymen and to reverent genera
tions by the obstacles which he over
came and which only a man of heroic
build and a prophet's love and zeal
and patriotism could conquer.
Who but scholars know anything
about Alfred's predecessors? In read
ing the story of his most interesting
life, a life whose influence has out
lasted that of men born a thousand
years later to much larger kingdoms,
I find that Ina, a kinsman of King
Caedwalla, caused the laws of his peo
ple to be collected, and it was this
compilation tbat Alfred revised about
two hundred jears afterward. But in
King Ecbert, King Etbelbald, King
Ethelwulf, as well as the kings who
succeeded Albert, we have only a mod
erate, easily satisfied interest.
Doctor Pauli in his history of Al
fred the Great says: "In the history
of the world there is one of ten-recurring
fact, viz, the saviour of a
whole kingdom and the repeller ot
its foreign conquerors has sprung
from some remote province left rude
by nature, and uncultivated access.
From the unimportant mountain
ridge of Asturia, Felayo, the last off.
shoot ot the Goths, and the wonder
accompanied hero of Spain, took the
first step towards the expulsion of
Moors from the Peninsula. From the
eastern borders of Prussia resounded
the first call to arms which had for
its result the driving of Napoleon's
army from Germany. It is a beauti
ful trait in the character of a valiant
nation when after centuries have
elapsed it holds in grateful remem
brance the spot whence its salvation
from great danger once proceeded and
which must be to it as the cradle of
its freedom. And thus to this day
when Alfred, bis sufferings and bis
deeds are the themes of conversation,
the Englishman points out with pride
to the stranger the low lands of Som
erset." Id the marshes of Somerset
Alfred bid for months subsisting on
the scanty nuts, berries and succulent
roots of that section of England. The
wives and children of the little band
that remained faithful to him bid
themselves in the thickets and some
times for the crying of the helpless
ones for food, Alfred and his band
made a foray on the surrounding
An outlaw in his own kingdom, Al
fred resolved to win it back from tbe
Danes. For this purpose he and his
followers built a fortress at Atbnel
ney, near Somerset. This island is
east of the Parrot at the point where
it joins the river Thone and consists
of an eminence rising high above tbe
surrounding country. The place is
always damp and frequently over
flowed by tbe tide. Owing to its dif
ficulty of access the spot required
little labor from human hands to
make it impregnable. The choosing
of ft natural place of vantage is one
of the "qualities of a great general.
Alfred remained here for some time.
He made successful skirmishes into
his kingdom occupied by the Danes.
Every successful assault on the enemy
resulted in accessions to his own
forces. As soon as he bad thus col
lected an army he assaulted the Dan
ish army at Atheldune, and gained an
overwhelming victory, of course.
This was followed by the capture of
the principal Danish fortress and the
capitulation of the Danish King
Guthorm. who in a few days re
nounced bis pagan worship of Woden
and was baptized into tbe Christian
religion, with Alfred as his god
father and bearing tbe new name ot
Athelstan. Tbe convert agreed to
take himself, the remainder of his
army and his family out of Wessex
and become Albert's inoffensive
There is nothing harder to regain
than a throne once lost. A king
whose only retreat is a marsh, whose
people are agricultural rather than
warlike, whose throne is occupied by
a viking whose only profession and
pride and reputation is in fighting, a
king without an army, without funds,
a ragged, hungry king, must have all
the qualities of greatness in order to
inspire tbe farmers to fight and to
believe in their fugitive leader. All
this Alfred accomplished, and laid the
foundations of England in that; little
west Saxon kingdom.
In making new laws for his king
dom Alfred adapted the new to the
old. He was not a reckless innovator,
but in all cases kept whatever part of
tbe old law tbe people themselves had
not outgrown and discarded. In
scholarship he was as modern as the
brothers Grimm. The old songs acd
tales his mother had told him in his
childhood be wrote down and pre
served. "Alfred was a German, and
the influence," says Pauli, "of his de
scent was strong. Those powerful
German songs which the boy had re
ceived as a lasting gift from his be
loved mother, often rang in his ears.
The youth, passionately following tbe
chas2, rejoiced in the gigantic images
of his traditionary ancestors, of whom
poets sung in all lands from the Dan
ube to the Rhine, from the Appenines
to his own island; the king in the
most troubled hours of his sovereign
ty strengthened and confirmed his
anxious heart by the examples of pa
tient endurance which this poetry
revealed to him and caused his own
and bis people's children to learn the
poetry of their ancestors."
Alfred's was not so much a creative
genius as an appreciating -.and pre
serving one. He translated and col
lated and assisted the monks in their
efforts to preserve the history and
literature of the people. He was
without conceit and he desired only
to preserve for his people and to
translate for their quicker apprecia
tion the most valuable works there
tofore concealed from them in Latin,
His was a temperament and an in
spiration like McKinley's: constructive
and able to avail itself of all knowl
edge and wisdom- collected by tbe
men of his time or by tbe ancients.
J Jt
The Portion of Labor.
Miss Wilkins' serial story now ap
pearing in Harper's Monthly is the
most sympathetic and tbe least one
sided presentation of tbe side of labor,
not against capital but against our
system, that I have yet seen. After
all Whistler and tbe rest of the new
est artists can say against making a
picture too real, their strictures-can
not lessen the admiration of tbe artis
try which can produce such real people
with such real griefs. Miss Wilkins'
old factory worker, discharged be
cause his fingers are stiffened by middle-age
and can no longer move rap
idly enough to produce the establish
ed percent of profit for the manu
facturer, is tbe most pathetic, the
most moving figure In contemporary
literature. Honest, industrious, sober
and devoted to his family, of average
capacity and of unusual faithfulness,
still the man loses bis job and can get
no other because Le is too near the
border of tbat time where the grass
hopper is a burden. This spectacle of
the man who is not old but who -has.
lost the facility and elasticity of
youth without firmly establishing
himself in some business where the
prevailing preference for youth is in
effectual, is a frequent and saddening
spectacle. If employers only knew it
tbe elder man is more likely to be
valuable than tbe younger one. True
the former is not so quickly respon
sive to new situations, but be has bad
large experience of the various com
binations which produce difficulties,
and be is not so likely to make ir
reparable mistakes as tbe younger
man. Perhaps not over clever or self
confident, he has laid by in tbe course
of forty years' generalizations of
established value. Such a man is like
an old country doctor of originally
slight acumen. Modestly and con
scientiously keeping track of physi
ological phenomena for half a cen
tury be is at last ot great value to
his patients just at tbe time when be
is scornfully dismissed for being too
old to keep up appearances. The
manufacturer who dismisses an old
hand because his fingers are no longer
supple loses sight of the recklessness
so often inherent in youthful fingers,
and he also forgets the profit he has
made for so many years from the work
of tbe same fingers.
Miss Wilkins' shoe manufacturer
has no modern notions of the respon
sibilities of an employer to bis men.
He regards them as machines and
when one gets a little worn he is dis
carded as if he were a thing of cogs,
bars and straps. There is no mu
tualness or reciprocity in his rela
tions with his employes. He con
siders that his obligations are en
tirely discharged by the wages. In
the young man, his nephew, the lover
of the story, there Is a dawning con
sciousness of responsibility, of some
thing besides services and wages.
Tbe heroine is a New England girl
with the usual conviction that If she
does her duty and repels all forms of
temptation, tbe world is certain t. e
better perceptibly. But even tins
small touch of levity is unworthy
Miss Wilkins' heroine, who is a sub
limated maiden; beautiful in body
and soul and with the extra tine in
dependence of the New England
workman's child. The account of the
moment when the daughter discovers
tbat her fat her has lost his job acd
has been tbe rounds of the other man
ufacturers and cannot get another on
account of his age, and that he lias
also lost his bank savings speculat
ing in mines, is drawn with splendid
dramatic power.
Mr. Howells asseverates that Amer
icans are over-fond of dramatic scenes
and tbat true novelists, like himself
and Mr. Henry James, no longer se
lect newspaper moments for descript
ion, although it is admitted that
they are more interesting. Miss Wil
kins has not lost her liking for crises
and scenes and may it be a long day
before she does. Mr. James has a
strictly psychological tragedy in the
same number of Harper's that for
futilitv, mystery and far removal
from anything of interest to his coun
trymen in America and to the mom
ent is in striking contrast with Miss
Wilkins' story.
J Jt
The Solitude Cure.
Doctor Dedrick of the Peary Re
lief Expedition preferred to be put
ashore at Etab, an Eskimo tillage of
.one ice but, rather than return in the
steamer in company be detested to
tbe United States, warmth, comfort
and family. Tbe officers of the ship
report that Doctor Dedrick took his
gun and went ashore saying tbat he
was going to bunt. When the steam
er was about to start, tbe Doctor told
those who cameashore for him that
be was going to stay all winter and
that they could not get him on the
boat again except by main force. As
he was well armed and appeared to be'
desperate they thought best to let
him alone.
This, is only an extreme instance of
what often happens in expeditions.
The human animal is gregarious, but
when a number of men are confined
in a ship for months it is likely that
one or more not entirely devoted to
tbe object of the expedition will be
willing to adopt any expedient, short
of murder or suicide, to rid himself of
his shipmates. Small companies of
friends frequently go on hunting,
camping or sightseeing expeditions:
they start hilariously with every
demonstration of abiding friendliness
and trust. When they return some
members of the party believe that
their eyes have been opened and they
never resume tbe relations which
may have continued unbroken ft r
vpnra hAfrtrA t.fiAV woro nnnfinprl In
each other's company for a term of Y
months, weeks or days. The most
restoring tonic to the nerves is soli
tude, more medicinal than mountains,
ocean or springs, solitude is a cure
which nearly every one can try.
With several thousand nerves more
delicately adjusted than the strintrs
and stops of the finest instrument, ."
are played upon by ignorant peform
ers, for long intervals without tun
ning. People who have been played
till every note flats plan an expedi
tion for rest and tuning in company
with other instruments badly out of
repair. They return tired and niK
anthroptc but still unconscious of the
tonic power of solitude, and the risk?
of constant association with a group.
There have been a few monks and
devotes to religion or science wh'
could seclude themselves and see with
equanimity the same individuals dav
after day. But the monks had cel.
in which it was their duty and prh-
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