The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, October 19, 1901, Image 1

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    L 0L. XVI., NO.XLII
Ektxkkoix thb roaTomcx at Lincoln as
Office 1132 N street, Up Stairs.
Telephone 384.
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i V aij
"In the Days of Alfred the Great."
The one-thousandth anniversary of
Alfred the Great's death is properly
celebrated by England with reverence
and gratitude for the life and deeds
of a great man. In consequence of
this celebration a number of biogra
phies of Alfred are being issued.
He was one of tbe great men of the
earth. No man or boy or girl can
read his life without gaining a new
idea of what greatness is. To be sure
not every one who tries can be what
Alfred was, even as not every one who
loves a sunset or is deeply stirred by
the ocean or life can be a poet. The
expression of greatness in deeds or
in poems is restricted to a few. But
no one can behold tbe life of a great
man, from youth to old age, and not
receive an inspiration more or less
. dynamic.
Many thousands of great men have
lived since Alfred lived and died. It
is easier to be great now and to be
famous the world around than it was
then, but through the mists of a
thousand years Alfred's name and
deeds shine and are not eclipsed.
Charlemagne, Washington and Lin
coln possessed the sameort of great
ness: constructive, intuitive, pro
phetic, unselHsh, conserving all that
man had done and making it easier
for every one who came after them
to create, giving their countrymen
a more united and a more distin
guished country to be proud of and die
for if necessary.
Napoleon was a great man, too; but
nr.t as Alfred, Lincoln and Washing
ton were great. If there had been
no Waterloo for Napoleon, if the King
of. Rome had succeeded his father,
Napoleon would still have failed. He
hid no profound influence upon his
time. He left Frenchmen as he found
them, only more discontented. The
growth of the English spirit during
Alfred's time was remarkable. He
was like a nucleus or strong magnet
whose circle reached far beyond East
and West Anglia and united together
and to him the inhabitants of Eng
land. England does well to celebrate
Alfred, for in him the national spirit,
which was to drive the Danes out and
to survive and conquer the conqueror,
William, was born.
Miss (or Mrs.) Eva March Tappan,
Ph. D , is the author of a new book
on Alfred the Great, which for young
er readers, is the most satisfactory, I
know of .To a reader used to foot-notes
and bibliographical references, there
is something missing, but these con
fuse younger readers. Miss Tappan
also decides everything for herself.
Many points of Alfred's life are dis
puted, but there is no hint of con
flicting authorities in Miss Tappan's
book, "In the Days of Alfred the
Great." The mists cf antiquity ob
scure Alfred's life, but with the pos
itivism of a woman tbe author ad
mits no difficulties. For instance,
Alfred's mother was Osburga. When
Alfred was a little boy his father sent
him to Rome with Bishop Swithin.
Historians report there is no further
account of Queen Osburga after the
little boy leaves for Rome. His fath
er, Ethelwulf, joins him in Rome and
on their way back they pay a visit to
the king of the Franks, and Albert's
elderly father marries Judith, the
youngest daughter of the king, nnd
brings her home with him to the
West Saxons. Whether Osburga has
died or tired of Ethelwulf with a mod
ern ennui, we do r.ot know positively.
But the evidence indicates that she
died. However, youngsters do not
care for the sifting of evidence. To
become as a little child is to have
faith. Therefore young readers re
quire positive statements, and
Miss Tappan is more certain of her
facts than the naval captains whose
ships were in the fight off Santiago.
The style of the narrative is clear,
succinct! It is probably because
the book is written for the young
that most of the space is devoted to
Alfred's youth and so few pages to
his literary labors, his codification
of the laws and to his nationalization
of Mercia and east and west Anglia.
Young readers are of course more in
terested in the prince's first boar
hunt, in his journey to Home, his
visit to the robber baron of the Nile,
in the more adventurous Dart of his
life before the responsibilities of a
king were laid upon him. The young
would not have to be urged to finish
this biography having once begun it
for the interest is sustained and the
English is so clearimple and straight
forward that one forgets one is read
ing and thinks only of Alfred and his
valiant needs as a boy and his wisdom
as a king. The last paragraph of this
contribution to current literature
justly summarizes Alfred's life:
"In 1001 Alfred died and was buried
with lc father at Winchester. At
twenty-two he inherited a land over
run by savage pirates. a restless, ig
norant, defenseless land. The king
was not safe in his palace, the priest
in his church. There was little op
portunity for agriculture; laws were
not executed; schools bad disappeared,
the very wish to learn had disap
peared; the whole land was rapidly
sinking into ignorance and barbar
ism. To restore a land in such a con
dition to peace and quiet and safety
and freedom from fear, to establish
churches and schools, to make just
laws and see to it that they were justly
executed a man might well have
been proud to have succeeded in do
ing any one of these things. To him
who, in the midst of all the fighting
and the weariness and the anxiety
and the temptation and tbe respon
sibility, lived a calm, simple, unsel
fish, blameless life, to him of all the
sovereigns of Eogland who have
served their country well, may the
title 'the Great most justly be given."
"The Reign of Law."
Mr. James Lane Allen is an out
door writer. His stories are full of
trees, ripening grains, full-blossomed
scents and atmosphere of the south.
In "The Reign of Law" Mr. Allen
treats of denominationalism. For
merly, a treatise was not disguised
in the clothes of a novel, but it is
growing more and more customary
now-a-days. When Milton desired to
discuss a topic of public interest he
issued a pamphlet and called it by
some Greek name that sufficiently
disguised the subject from tbe com
mon people. Few contemporaries
would buy, much less read, a book
called Areopagitica. They would Hee
from the title and hold a grudge
against the book seller for offering
such a work. Under the name and
aspect of a love story, with a hero
and a heroine in love and with tbe
usual trials that love encounters, the
novelists of the present discuss the
problems of religion and life. And
thus the problems that were confined
to pamphlets and to readers who find
diversion and instruction in pam
phlets are now slipped in between
love scenes and a hero's trials and
lamentations. In this way more peo
ple are forced to think of the more
serious aspects of life. They stumble
over it before they know what to ex--pect,
and tbe cleverer, more facile
author who has been thinking about;
these things gives a name and form to
their inarticulate thoughts. But
there are a certain number of read
ers who prefer both romance and
pamphlets straight, not that the lat
ter are often served with what they
like at the present time.
"The Reign of Law" is a discussion
of the effect of denominational in
terpretation of the Bible on tho re
ligious ideas and faith of a youth
possessing a deeply religious nature
and accustomed to interpret the Bible
and nature as Job did without learn
ing or dogmatism, but just as a re
fined, introspective savage might in
terpret man's p'.ace in the world with
the Bible for his only guide.
When "David," the hero of "The
Reign of the Law." goes to college he
has made an exhaustive study of the
Bible and of nature at first hand,
only he has interpreted the latter by
the former. He knows nothing and
cares nothing for Baptist, Catholic,
Presbyterian or Methodist applica
tions of parts of the Bible to prove
denominational translations.
Of course the churches which sup
port a Baptist theological school ex
pect and exact that that school shall
turn out a certain number of Baptist
preachers, well-grounded in the doc
trine and polity of the Baptist
church. What we pay our money to
attain we expect to have delivered.
Men and women loyal to this or that
denomination deny themselves in
order that they may give money to
extend its influence and increase the
number of people who think as they
do. The comfort of a larger and
'arger number of people agreeing with
us and attaining salvation by accept
ing this or tbat-formula is worth the
price; even a heathen soul is worth
effort, and there are Methodist, Bap
tist, Presbyterian and all kinds of
missionaries in iieathendom. The
sects confuse the heathen. They can
never understand them and ask all
manner of questions about the lines
of demarcation between the denom
inations of the Christian religion. On
this point no missionary has ever
, been able to satisfy one honest hea
then inquirer.
So of course when David's pastor
began to try to prove that the Bap
tists were tbe chosen people and alooe
correctly interpreted the Bible, Da
vid was puzzled. Instead of quietly
accepting dogma, the church that his
pastor preached against Id the morn
ing, David attended in the evening.
His absence was noted and he was
interrogated. The pastor, who for
some mysterious reason had selected'
himself for a minister, failed to com
prehend the integrity of David's
doubts and received his investiga
tions as a personal insult. David,
perceiviqg. the lack or ministerial
sympathy and comprehension, aban
doned his questions, read Darwin and
by tbe light of the 'Origin of Spe
cies" decided that man was only an
incident of creation, the world only
one globe in a myriad of spheres that
constitute the universe, aud that man
on the earth was not the reason for
all the rest of the universe, or even
of the earth. He announced his con
clusion to the faculty of the Bib.e
college he was attending, which
promptly expelled him,and he returned