Maine Historical Society.

Collections of the Maine historical society (Volume 11) online

. (page 1 of 33)
Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 11) → online text (page 1 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook













In Commemoration of the Millenary Anniversary of the Death of

King Alfred the Great,

Opening Address. By Hon. James Phinney Baxter, . . 1

The Life and Character of King Alfred. By Trof. J. William

Black, Ph.D., 5

Alfred a Writer and a Patron of Learning. By Prof. Henry L.

Chapman, 29

The Anglo Saxon Constitution and Laws in the Time of Alfred

the Great. By Hon. Albert R. Savage, 42

Alfred the Great as a Christian. By Asa Dalton, D.D., . 62

Richmond's Island. By Hon. James Phinney Baxter, . . 66

Rev. Josiah Winship. By Rev. Henry O. Thayer, ... 88

The Plymouth Colonists in Maine. By Henry S. Burrage, D.D., 116
The Proposed Province of New Ireland. By Hon. Joseph

Williamson, 147

James W. Bradbury. By Hon. George F, Emery, . . . 158

Major-General Hiram G. Berry. By Gen. Charles P. Mattocks, 162

Presentation of Rufus Mclntire's Sword. By Philip W. Mclntyre, 187
The Capture of the " Caleb Cushing." By Hon. Clarence Hale, 191
Rev. Freeman Parker and the Church in Dresden. By Charles E.

Allen, 212

Church and State in New England. By Hon. Augustus F.

Moulton, 221

The Occasion of the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. By

Henry S. Burrage, D.D., 252

Rev. Thomas Smith, D.D., and His First Parish of Falmouth,

Now Portland. By Rev. John Carroll Perkins, . . 288
Windham's Colored Patriot. By Samuel T. Dole, . . .316
James Sullivan. By Horace H. Burbank, Esq., . . . 322
A Proposed New Arrangement of New England in 1764. Com-
municated by Hon. Joseph Williamson, 339

Paul Little, Esq. By Samuel T. Dole, 344

The Attitude of Maine in the Northeastern Boundai-y Contro-
versy. By Henry S. Burrage, D.D., 353

Public Career of Thomas B. Reed. By Richard Webb, Esq., 369



Extracts from the Early Records of the First Church in New

Marblehead (now Windham, Maine). By Samuel T. Dole, 390
Early Recollections of the Cumberland and Oxford Canal. By

S. B. Cloudman, 397

The Last Tragedy of the Indian Wars : the Preble Massacre at

the Kennebec. By Rev. Henry O. Thayer, . . . 406

General Samuel Thompson of Brunswick and Topsham, Maine.

By Nathan Goold, 423


Major-General Hiram G. Berry, 162


Major-General Berry's Monument, ...... 185

First Parish Meeting-house, 1740 to 182G, 307 '^

Hon. Thomas B. Reed, 369*^




NOVEMBER 1, 1901.




It has been tlie practice from the earliest times for
civilized peoples to publicly com.mem.orate important
episodes in the lives of those who have made them-
selves conspicuous by great achievements, not alone
for the purpose of showing reverence for the mighty
dead, but for the loftier one of keeping bright the
memory of virtues worthy to be emulated by the

It is in accordance with this practice that we have
assembled to celebrate the nativity of a man so grand,
that the memory of what he wrought for a great race
from whose loins we sprang, has survived the mirk
and moil of a thousand years, A thousand years !
How fared the world in that remote day when Alfred,
the anniversary of whose death we commemorate,
opened his eyes upon it ? Surely it was not the
world upon which we look to-day. Then, the activi-
ties of men were universally devoted to war, and an
able warrior stood for the highest type of manhood.
Race strove with race and tribe with tribe marring
the face of nature with carnage and desolation. To
wrest their dearest possessions from alien peoples and
devote them to servitude and sorrow, was a meritorious
Vol, IX. 2


achievement worthy the meed of poetic eulogy, and
the precious crown of heroic virtue. At the time
of Alfred's birth, the little island of England was
divided into petty principalities governed by rulers,
who were jealous of each other, and who acted together
against the common enemy, the Danes, only as their
selfish interests dictated. These fierce sea rovers
made annual incursions into the country, first despoil-
ing the sea coast towns and then ascending the water
ways into the interior, ravaging and slaying as they
went. There was no part of England which was not
kept in continual alarm by these raids of a cruel and
implacable enemy, whose sudden appearance in unex-
pected places, prevented the people from making com-
mon cause against them, as they dared not leave their
own settlements unprotected. Emboldened by suc-
cess, these marauders swanned together and estab-
lished themselves permanently on the soil, which
enabled them more successfully to prosecute their
designs. Continual warfare and slaughter was the
result, and for a long time it seemed that the P^nglish
people were doomed to destruction. In this condition
of affairs the childhood and youth of Alfred were
passed. Brave, prudent and sincere, he was the
favorite of all.

Says Asser, his friend and l)iographer, " Beloved
was he by both father and mother alike with a great
affection beyond all his brothers ; yea, the very darling
of all. It was in the king's court that he was brought
up. As he grew both in childhood and boyhood, so
showed he ever fairer than his brethren, and, in looks


and words and ways, the lovesomest. Above all, from
his very cradle and through all the distractions of
this present life, his own noble temper and his high
birth absorbed in him a longing after wisdom."

When his father and three brothers had died after
enjoying brief reigns, the last having been slain in
battle, the advent of Alfred to the throne revived in
the hearts of the English people a hope of deliverance
from their pitiless oppressors. Though often reduced
to almost hopeless conditions, his confidence in achiev-
ing success never waned, and overcoming all obstacles
he finally conquered the Danes, established order and
placed England in a position of security not hitherto
enjoyed. This alone would have entitled him to the
term great, but it satisfied only a part of the worthy
ambition which he cherished. Long continued war-
fare had seriously interfered with the proper admin-
istration of law, and education, and literature. As
soon as peace was won the great warrior became a
law-giver, and reconstructed the legal code of his
realm, at the same time devoting himself to educa-
tion and literature. As a man of letters Jusserand
calls him, " The chief promoter of the art of prose,"
and another French writer, Guizot, says that " He
opened to the Anglo-Saxon tongue itself a new era by
impenetrating it with strong thoughts and precise
notions, which it was not yet accustomed to bear.
Therein is the original work of Alfred, the seal of his
genius." Well has Alfred been called a Miltiades for
military genius, a Themistocles for statesmanship, and
a Pericles for humanity and wisdom.


We to-day honor Alfred not because lie was a king,
or a successful ruler of a great people, but as a wise
and noble man, worthy of universal honor in any age ;
in fact, a man whom every American, however high
his ideal, may imitate with profit.




In September of this year there gathered in Win-
chester, England, distingiiished people from all parts
of the English-speaking world, bent upon one object, —
that of doing honor to the meinory of a great man.
Just one thousand years ago death put an end to the
reign of King Alfred, a reign so full of fruitage and
marked by many achievements so important for the
future of England and the Anglo-Saxon race. Men of
letters, representatives of the great universities, were
there from Great Britain and Ireland ; Canada, Aus-
tralia, New Zealand, India, America joined with the
British Empire in paying homage to the memory of
this man and in taking part in the unveiling of
Thornycroft's majestic bronze statue of King Alfred.

Our own country is comparatively young and is not
so enriched with historic traditions as the countries of
the old world. But our people belong to a race that
is as old as Europe itself. The ancestors of Alfred
are our ancestors. Their institutions are our institu-
tions. And community of interests and historic tra-
ditions demand that we remember in this fitting
celebration the best type of our race.

The Saxon conquest of Britain in the fifth century
was a first step in the westward migration of the
English from the shores of Germany. The English
conquest of North America in the sixteenth and


seventeenth centuries was a second step in this move-
ment, and in America find the English in their third
home. We still have much to learn from the past and
about the past. It is a strong incentive to historical
research to know that the records of the past have
not all been revealed. We are learning more to-day of
the ancients than they knew of themselves. Egypt,
Assyria, Rome are arising anew in the clearer light
of historical tiTith and revealing facts that the world
has not hitherto known. It is the same with our own
history. It is safe to say that Alfred and his work
are better understood to-day than they ever were
before. The real Alfred is a different thing from the
mythical Alfred. The pioneer efforts of the Saxon
are better understood in the light of to-day than by
the contemporaries of the Saxon king himself. Let
us, therefore, endeavor to put before our minds the
true AKred and profit by his example to the race.

Prior to the time of Alfred, England lacked national
unity. Before the migration of the English to
-Britain they had only a tribal organization. They
had not the conception of a nation, nor did they know
even the name of king. It was this government that
the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes brought with
them from Germany at the time of the English con-
quest in the fifth century. Crowding back the native
population ( the Britons ), they occupied the land and
established many independent kingdoms. Their con-
quest was complete.

In time there were three of these English kingdoms
that acquired especial prominence : Northumbria in


the nortli ; Mercia occupying the center of England,
and Wessex in the south. A struggle for supremacy
was inevitable, and the work of national consolidation
began. A powerful ally in this effort was the English
church, which was hmaly established as a part of the
great continental church of Rome at the Council of
Whitby, 664.

The Gewissas, who settled in southern England
and founded Wessex, the kingdom of the West Saxons,
had chosen their home wisely,^ — a country compact in
area, well fortified by nature, studded with woodland
and stream, easily protected against the invader ;
withal a good foundation for the work of national
consolidation. Winchester, occupying the geograph-
ical center of this region, and easily accessible from all
parts of Wessex, was likewise its logical capital. The
river Thames was a barrier on the north which
fortified the West Saxons against their Mercian and
Northumbrian kinsmen of that region.

By the time of Egbert, or in any event before his
death in 839, the king of Wessex became the over-
lord of all the various English kingdoms in Britain.
He was the last of the so-called " Bretwaldas " ^ before
the coming of the Danes. Though Egbert has some-
times been called the king of all England, he never
deserved such a title. The national federation of the
English kingdoms — Kent, Essex, Sussex, Wessex,
Mercia, East Anglia and Northumberland — was of the
loosest sort, each having its own ruler, Egbert being
merely recognized as an over-lord. Egbert, however,

1 See Stubbs' Constitutional History of England, vol. I, 180, 181


was a vigorous ruler and was fortunate in his success-
ors of the West Saxon line. They gave the country
good government and hastened the establishment of a
national kingdom. In this they were aided and
encouraged by the clergy, who saw in national unity,
under a powerful sovereign, likewise a national church
protected and sustained by the state.

But let us remember that Egbert, though his over-
lordship was generally recognized, had not become
king of England. It was reserved for Alfred to
become the first king of the English, but he was not
the ruler of all England at that. Nevertheless, the
work that Alfred did made it possible for his descend-
ant, Eadred, in 954, to assume the crown of all
England and to become the first national king.

While the over-lordship of Egbert was the first
step in the progress toward national unity, pressure
from the outside completed, in a measure, the work
already begun within. The Northmen, or Danes,
furnished this pressure. The sea rovers of the north
began to infest the shores of Britain before the time
of Egbert, as early as 787. However, it was in the
time of this king ( 802-839 ), the grandfather of
Alfred, that their attacks became persistent, and the
attention and energy of Wessex must be turned from
the problem of national consolidation to that of the
defence of their kingdom against a foreign foe.

Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia had been
overthrown by the Danes and all with comparative
ease. Of all the old English kingdoms, Wessex alone
retained her independence. Upon her now fell the


brunt of preserving England for tlie Anglo-Saxon.
Was she equal to the task ? Let us see.

In the church the Saxon found an able ally.
Indeed, the work of national consolidation was really
begun by the church. As early as the seventh cen-
tury Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus, introduced an
ecclesiastical administrative system that covered the
whole of England and assembled, in 673, at Hertford,
the first general English church council. His work
on behalf of unity in the church prepared the way
for a united English nation. Just as the church on
the continent furnished a powerful agent in overcom-
ing the decentralizing tendencies of feudalism, so did
the Roman church in Great Britain solidify the peo-
ple. The state profited by the organization and the
example of the church.

Now the Dane came as a foe to both, aiming on the
one hand to overthrow the political power ; on the
other hand, offering his heathen gods — Wodan and
Thor — in the place of Christ. The Dane exacted
tribute of the people of Northumbria and Mercia, and
the tribute was paid. The over-lordship, established
by Egbert, was undone. The Dane now approached
the Thames. He looked for an easy conquest of the
south. It seemed now as if nothing could prevent a
change of leadership and of nationality.

In the year 871, the Danes appeared upon the
Thames under a new leader, Guthrum. They went
up the river west of London and placed their camp
at Reading. In the region of Berkshire, and to the
northwest of the Danish camp, lies the town of


Wantage ( just a few miles southwest of Oxford). It
was one of the little sparsely settled village commu-
nities of the Saxons and was designated by Alfred's
biographer, Asser, as the "royal village of Wanating."^
Here Alfred was born in 849. He was the fifth and
youngest son of Ethelwulf and Osburh. Vei*y little is
known of his early years, and much of what is known
is obscured in the veil of myth. His biographer traces
his descent in direct line from Adam and Wodan.
Doubtless Alfred came of a staunch family of noble
blood. We know little more than this of his ancestry.
We are told that in his fifth year he went to Rome,
where he was " anointed for king " by Pope Leo IV
and "adopted as his spiritual son"; further, that at
the age of six he w^as taken by his father from Rome
to the court of Charles the Bald at Verberie, northern
France, where he spent three months and then re-
turned to England. It is said that his experiences at
Rome and at the Frankish court made upon the boy
a great and permanent impression, which profoundly
affected his subsequent life. It is a strain upon the
imagination to accept this statement, though, without
a doubt, Alfred was a precocious youth.

Nevertheless, this boyhood experience is said to
account for the cosmopolitan and international spirit
of King Alfred, his freedom from insular narrowness,
and his deep interest in the brotherhood of man and
of nations.

As a manifestation of an early love of letters, his
biographer gives us this story. His mother one day

1 Asser's Life of Alfred, in Giles' Six Old English Chroniclea t Bohn), p. 43.


was showing an illuminated Saxon book of poems to
her boys, and remarked " Whichever of you shall the
soonest learn this volume, shall have it for his own."^
The beauty of its letters pleased the eye of Alfred.
He took the book to his master, learned to recite it
promptly, then came to his mother, repeated the
poems, and won the coveted prize. While this story
is improbable, for we know that Alfred could not have
been over four years of age at the time of this inci-
dent, and from other evidence that we have, the
story is found to be inconsistent with the facts, never-
theless it may be true in spirit in that it signalized in
the young man an ardent love of learning and an
enmity for ignorance which had such important con-
sequences in his later years.

Alfred married at the early age of nineteen. He
seems to have been afflicted with some mysterious
disease which burdened him to the end of his days,
but as to its real nature we are left to conjecture.
Alfred's rearing was amid stormy times in the history
of his people. Evidence enough of this we find in the
fact that, though he was the fifth son, and his father
and three of his brothers had preceded him on the
throne, the crown was placed upon his head when he
was but twenty-two years of age. He had already
served several years in the army and had learned
the art of war under his brother, King Ethelred.

That the Saxons were aiming at national unity is
further evident from the fact that marriage alliances
were negotiated with that end in view. Alfred's sister

1 Asser, 51.


had married one of the Gainas of the kingdom of
Mercia, and by and by he marries his own daughter
to a Mercian, Ethelred, whom he placed as alderman
( chieftain ) over the Mercians.

We return to the Danes at their camp at Reading,
on the upper Thames, where they were now preparing
for the subjugation of the last of the English king-
doms. The West Saxons attacked the Danish camp,
bnt were defeated and forced to retire up the valley
of the Thames to the heart of their country. Again the
Saxons met the pagans, as they preferred to call the
Danes, at Ashdowii, and here the pagans had the
advantage of higher ground and the better position.
While King Ethelred and his brother Alfred were
arrayed against them, the brunt of the battle fell
upon Alfred. He assumed the offensive and charged
the Danes. Ethelred delayed his forward movement
iintil he had finished the mass. He refused to " aban-
don the divine protection for that of men." God was
on the side of the Saxons and they won the day. The
Danes fell back uj)on their rallying point at Reading.
Ethelred, having been mortally wounded in this con-
flict, "went the way of all flesh," and was succeeded
at once by Alfred (871V

Meanwhile fresh swarms of the Danes were coming
up the Thames to reinforce their comrades, and a
portion of them penetrated into the heart of the West
Saxon territory and camped at Wilton. Alfred was
now outnumbered and was compelled to resort to the
disgraceful proceeding of buying peace from the

1 Aeeer, 66.


invaders. This hour of humiliation was a dark one for
Alfred and his people. The Danes let Wessex alone for
a while, but Alfred well knew that a peace secured on
such terms could not be a lasting one. He was right.

The Danes were simply gathering their forces for
another and final struggle. They now organized in
two sections. One of these was sent against the north
of England and the other and most important, under
their leader Guthrum, was preparing at Cambridge
for an assault upon Wessex. In 876, Guthrum began
his expedition. He embarked in a number of vessels
and sailed around to the southern coast of Wessex to
Dorsetshire. They landed at Wareham. Alfred, too
weak to meet them in battle, again purchased peace,
and the Danes swore by all the relics that they would
at once leave his kingdom.

Again the pagans proved faithless to their vows,
and we next find a number of them coming down
from the north and occupying Exeter, on the extreme
western border of Essex. But the Saxons, rallying
their forces, compelled the Danes to surrender at
Exeter and again to agree to leave the country.
The latter retired to the north, up the valley of the
Severn, but only for a brief respite. After a few
months spent at Gloucester, they swooped down upon
the Saxons again, occupying the heart of their king-
dom, in the region of Chippenham, and terrorizing
the whole country. The eiforts of their land forces
were ably seconded by a Danish fleet of twenty-three
ships, which operated in the British channel upon the
coast of Devonshire.


Alfred's courao-e did not desert him. With a few
faithfid followers he now sought a quiet retreat, and
as Green suggests, " waited for brighter days."^
His retreat was at Athelney, a small island in the
river Parret, a branch of the Severn, surrounded by
swamps and woodland, wliich made it well-nigh inac-
cessible. Here he constructed a fortress, and in three
short months made ready for the defence of his

Alfred was " in great tribulation."^ This was his
Valley Forge. He " spent an unquiet life among the
woodlands," suffering even for the necessaries of life ;
part of the time in disguise we are told, and it was
during these days that Alfred staid at the home of a
cowherd or swineherd of his who knew liim, though
Alfred was unknown to the peasant's wife. One day
the woman Avas baking some cakes and ordered
Alfred, who sat by the hearth, mending his bow and
arrows, to watch them. Alfred, unmindful of his trust,
allowed the cakes to burn ; whereon the good house-
wife coming in rebuked him in the following terms :

" Ca'sn the mind the Ke-aks, man, an'

doossen zee 'em burn ?
I'm boun thee's eat 'em vast enough, az

zoon az 'tiz the turn."3

or, as it is paraphrased by Freeman,

" There, don't you see the cakes on fire ? Then

wherefore turn them not ?
You're glad enough to eat them when they are

piping hot."^

1 Green's Conquest of England, 105 ; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ( Kd. Giles), S56.

2 Asser, 60.

3 Asser, 60.

4 rrelman'8 Old English History, 121, 12'2.


This and other improbable stories were the product
of this disquieting and mysterious part of Alfred's

The men of Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Hamp-
shire were gathered together by their aldermen, and
in the seventh week after Easter, 878, Alfred met his
host at the " Stone of Egbert," on the east of the great
forest Selwood. This great wood, in the extreme
southwestern quarter of England, had covered the
gathering of Alfred's army and " when they saw the
king alive after sach great tribulation," says Asser,
"they received him as he deserved, with joy and

Moving noAv upon Edington or Ethandun, Alfred
met and " with divine help " defeated the enemy,
compelled them to retreat to their camp at Chippen-
ham hard by, and after a siege of fourteen days, to
make a complete surrender. The surrender Avas
unconditional and the victory a decisive one. The
consequences of it were most important, for a peace,
known to history as the Peace of Wedmore, was
negotiated between Alfred and Guthrum. The Danes
agreed, first, to leave the territory of Wessex ; sec-
ondly, to embrace Christianity and receive baptism
from the hands of Alfred ; thirdly, to give hostages as
a guarantee of good faith. Guthrum and his nobles
this time fulfilled their promises, their baptism taking
place a few days later at Aller, near Athelney, and
the " chrism-loosing " at Wedmore.^

1 Asser, 62.

2 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 369.

Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 11) → online text (page 1 of 33)