Page:Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.djvu/22

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found time to reconstruct destroyed cities and towns, and to found others upon fresh sites: he erected royal residences of different kinds both of stone and of timber, such as excited the admiration of his subjects: and for convenience he changed the situation of some of his stone manor-houses. Some of these structures are declared to have been adorned with gold and silver." (Quid loquar) De civitatibus et urbibus renovandis, et aliis, ubi nunquam ante fuerant, construendis? De ædificiis aureis et argenteis incomparabiliter illo docente fabricatis? De aulis et cambris regalibus, lapideis et ligneis, suo jussu mirabiliter constructis? De villis regalibus lapideis antiqua positione mutatis, et in decentioribus locis regali imperio decentissime constructis?" (Ut sup. 58.) But though Alfred's buildings were so skilfully framed and so richly adorned for the age, it is also quite clear, that the workmanship was really very defective. For after his ingenious invention for ascertaining the time by means of wax candles, so divided by marks, as that each portion would last just an hour, he was compelled farther to contrive horn lanthorns[1] to hold those candles, because otherwise they often consumed too rapidly in consequence of high winds by day and by night rushing violently through not merely the doors and windows of the churches, the openings of the masonry and planks, but likewise the frequent cracks in the walls. "Ventorum violentia inflante, quse aliquando per ecclesiarum ostia et fenestrarum, maceriarum quoque et tabularum, vel frequentes parietum rimulas." (Ut sup. 68.) It having been mentioned above, that libraries even were not neglected in Saxon times, a testimony may be added to prove the care taken to preserve family documents. A charter of A.D. 903 states that Duke Æthelfrid having lost all his hereditary records by a fire, he petitioned K. Edward, his lieutenants, and the senators of Mercia for their consent and licence to have others written; to which they unanimously agreed. "Contigit quod Æthelfrido duci omnes hereditarii libri ignis uastatione combusti perierant. Tali igitur necessitate cogente, praedictus dux rogauit Eadweardum regem, Æthelredum quoque et Æthelfledam, qui tune principatum et potestatem gentis Merciae sub praedicto rege tenuerunt, omnes etiam senatores Merciorum, ut ei consentirent, et licentiam darent alios

  1. Though the manufacture of glass had been introduced into England two hundred years previous to Alfred's reign, and above a century before the last-named event Bede had noticed the advantage of that article for the construction of church lamps (see the quotation above from Bede, 319) it is remarkable, that K. Alfred used horn instead of glass for his lanthorns, which must indeed have been of considerable height, but plates of glass might surely have been procured equal to the largest laminae of horn, and either would require the support of cross-bars.