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Clecme shich fer? deb./8H/15P.
History speaks of all ages and nations: it discourses of the present, and leads us back, through the wide space of past ages, to the very dawn of creation. It brings before us the scenes and events of more than five thousand years. History thus surveys not only our own vast dominions, and the whole extent of the Roman, the Grecian, the Persian, and the Assyrian empires, but it enables us to speak with our English Alfred, the Spanish Orosius, the Roman Livy, the Grecian Herodotus, and with the inspired Moses and the Prophets.
In this point of view, attractive as history is; yet, when taken as a whole, and studied in all its extent, with its complicated and minute details, it overwhelms and often leads to confusion. The mind throws off this unwieldy burden, and relieves itself by resting upon the most striking events, and upon the actions of the most eminent men. These events are viewed with interest and attention, in smaller and separate groups. History is thus naturally epitomized, and the chief events of history are deeply impressed on the memory.
The rise and fall of great men, as of nations, are often involved in an obscurity, which the unaided powers of the brightest intellect cannot remove.
As a dense, black cloud, covering the sun, shrouds all nature in gloom, till a gleam, darting from behind, not only gilds the edge, but illuminates and cheers the whole scene; so Revelation throws a clear light on the dark page of history, by which the Divine Hand is seen reducing confusion to order, and introducing men and measures to promote" peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.”
History thus receives light from revelation. Just such is the work before us—the epitome of Universal History, written in Latin by Orosius, and translated into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred the Great. General History, it must be confessed, is little else
than a narrative of the follies, crimes, and miseries of men. This was so evident, that heathen writers adduced it as an argument against Revelation, asserting that Christianity was the cause of increased misery in the world. To correct this perversion, the African Bishop, S. Augustine, induced his friend Orosius to write this abridgement of Universal History, upon Christian principles, to shew the real origin of the misery of the world; hence the work is entitled, De miseriá mundi 1.
This History of the world, from the creation to A.D. 416, was very popular in the time of Alfred, and was held in the highest estimation for many ages. It was first printed at Vienna in 1471, from an excellent manuscript. Numerous editions were subsequently published by the most eminent printers, but the most important to us is the first edition of Schüszler, iñ folio, 1471, for it contains passages omitted by subsequent editors, which are retained in King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version. From this we may infer that Alfred translated from a copy of the MS. from which Schüszler printed his valuable text. Several instances might be quoted, but that relating to the quality of the fruit of Sodom will be sufficient :-“Illic poma virentia et formatos uvarum racemos, ut edentibus gignant cupiditatem, si carpas, fatiscunt in cinerem, fumumque excitant, quasi ardeant ?.”
This passage is omitted in subsequent editions, and it is not found in the critical text of Havercamp, but it is in Alfred's Anglo-Saxon.
A minute description of Schüszler's scarce and early printed folio volume of 1471 may afford some interest. It is printed in a round, thick letter, between German and Roman, to represent the MSS. of that age, and has spaces left for the insertion of illuminated capitals. The title, the name of the author, the publisher, and the date are at the end, as in the earliest printed books. It commences with the table of contents, consisting of 7 leaves, and begins
“Regstrum pro capitulis tocius libri inquirendis. De miseria hominum ab initio per peccatum. Ca.'pmum.” It ends at the bottom of the thirteenth page with—“Vbi constātius comes gothos a narbona expulsos in hispaniam abire coegit xlvij”
1 In some manuscripts it is called, Ormesia, Ormesta, Ormista, Hormesta, and Orchestra, which seem to be corrupted contractions of De miseriâ mundi, or rather Orbis miseria, written contractedly Or. misia, and by ignorant scribes Ormesia etc. Ormista may be formed from Or. m. ista, an abbreviation for Orosii mundi historia.
2 Schüszler in loco : Anglo-Sax. p 27, 30–32; Eng. p 63, 9, note 1: p 77 note 1 ; and p 198 note.
Then follow two pages of what is called the Prologue, to which is prefixed
“ Pauli horosij presbiteri historiogphi discipl'i sancti
aduersù cristiani nois qrulos prologus i libros septē." “Preceptis tuis parui beatissime pater augustie" The P, in Preceptis, is an illuminated red letter. At the end is
“Pauli horosij presbiteri historiographi discipl’i sancti Augustini episcopi. aduersum cristiani nominis querulos libri numero septē incipiūt”
Capitulum primum" The last, the left page of these 122 leaves, which are not numbered, closes with
“Beati Pauli horosij presbiteri in xpiani nois querulos libri nûo septem finiunt feliciter, Per Johannē Schúszler florentissime vrbis Auguste conciu? impressi, Anno a ptu virginis Marie salutifero: Mo ğdringētesimo et septuagesimo p'mo.  Circit' iunij nonas septias."
Another edition, in small folio, by Herman Levilapis (Leichtenstein), with the text revised from other MSS., was published at Vincenza in the north of Italy, without date [about 1475]. From this the nine Venice editions appear to have been printed. A description of that of 1500, which omits the sentence relating to the fruit of Sodom, will serve for the others. At the top of the first page, just above the dedication to S. Augustine, are the two following lines in small Roman Capitals,
“ PAVLI OROSII VIRI DOCTISSIMI HISTORIARVM INI
TIVM AD AVRELIVM AVGVSTINVM. LIBER PRIMUS.' It is printed in Roman letters, with many contractions. There is not any table of contents, but short headings to the chapters, and the names of the chief persons and places in the margin. It consists of 79 leaves: the pages are not numbered, but PAVLI OBOSII LIBER PRIMVS, SECVNDVS etc. is put as a head line. At the beginning of each chapter a space is left, and a small letter printed in the middle as a guide to the illuminator. These spaces, in the copy before me, the loan of the Rev. H. S. Trimmer, Vicar of Heston, Middlesex, are filled with large red letters, having very little ornament.
At the end of the history, on the right hand page, which is the 79th, is printed
“ Vt ipse titulus margine in primo docet.
Orosio nomen mihi est.
Exemit Aeneas mihi.
Ab orbis ipsa origine.
Cladesq; nosse: me legat.