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Last Message of Alfred The Great To His Son

( Originally Published 1902 )

THERE were ten centuries between Victoria and Alfred. The death of the Queen was mourned and the thousandth anniversary of the great king was celebrated the same year. The dust of oblivion has hidden most of the faces and events of the past, but Alfred's mental and moral features stand out more distinctly as the years go by. He is more respected, revered and loved than when he lived and fought and ruled on the earth, and the British people show their gratitude to the founder of their monarchy by a fitting celebration of his death. Among the incidents connected with the event celebrated, none is more beautiful than his last words to his son. As he lay upon his deathbed he summoned to his side his eldest son, Edward, and gave to him his farewell advice :

" Thou, my dear son, set thee now beside me, and I will deliver thee true instructions. I feel that my hour is coming. My strength is gone; my countenance is wasted and pale. My days are almost ended. We must now part. I go to another world, and thou art to be left alone in the possession of all that I have thus far held. I pray thee, my dear child, to be a father to thy people. Be the children's father and the widow's friend. Comfort the poor, protect and shelter the weak, and with all thy might right that which is wrong. And, my son, govern thyself by law. Then shall the Lord love thee, and God himself shall be thy reward. Call thou upon him to advise thee in all thy need, and he shall help thee to compass all thy desires."

If no other sayings of his had been preserved, these would entitle him to be called Alfred the Great. After a thousand years of growth in English Iearning and religion, it is hard to find anything in the Victorian age in method of expression, or quality of thought, or nobility of sentiment superior to this message of Alfred to his son. It would be well for individuals and nations to embody these principles in their character and life.

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