A Brief History of the English Language and Literature, Vol. 2 (of 2)
by John Miller Dow Meiklejohn
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of the





Professor of the Theory, History, and Practice of Education in the University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Boston D. C. Heath & Co., Publishers 1887

Copyright, 1887,

By D. C. Heath & Co.


The present volume is the second part of the author's "English Language— Its Grammar, History, and Literature." It includes the History of the English Language and the History of English Literature.

The first part comprises the department of Grammar, under which are included Etymology, Syntax, Analysis, Word Formation, and History, with a brief outline of Composition and of Prosody. The two may be had separately or bound together. Each constitutes a good one year's course of English study. The first part is suited for high schools; the second, for high schools and colleges.

The book, which is worthy of the wide reputation and ripe experience of the eminent author, is distinguished throughout by clear, brief, and comprehensive statement and illustration. It is especially suited for private students or for classes desiring to make a brief and rapid review, and also for teachers who want only a brief text as a basis for their own instruction.


This book provides sufficient matter for the four years of study required, in England, of a pupil-teacher, and also for the first year at his training college. An experienced master will easily be able to guide his pupils in the selection of the proper parts for each year. The ten pages on the Grammar of Verse ought to be reserved for the fifth year of study.

It is hoped that the book will also be useful in Colleges, Ladies' Seminaries, High Schools, Academies, Preparatory and Normal Schools, to candidates for teachers' examinations and Civil Service examinations, and to all who wish for any reason to review the leading facts of the English Language and Literature.

Only the most salient features of the language have been described, and minor details have been left for the teacher to fill in. The utmost clearness and simplicity have been the aim of the writer, and he has been obliged to sacrifice many interesting details to this aim.

The study of English Grammar is becoming every day more and more historical— and necessarily so. There are scores of inflections, usages, constructions, idioms, which cannot be truly or adequately explained without a reference to the past states of the language— to the time when it was a synthetic or inflected language, like German or Latin.

The Syntax of the language has been set forth in the form of RULES. This was thought to be better for young learners who require firm and clear dogmatic statements of fact and duty. But the skilful teacher will slowly work up to these rules by the interesting process of induction, and will— when it is possible— induce his pupil to draw the general conclusions from the data given, and thus to make rules for himself. Another convenience that will be found by both teacher and pupil in this form of rules will be that they can be compared with the rules of, or general statements about, a foreign language— such as Latin, French, or German.

It is earnestly hoped that the slight sketches of the History of our Language and of its Literature may not only enable the young student to pass his examinations with success, but may also throw him into the attitude of mind of Oliver Twist, and induce him to "ask for more."

The Index will be found useful in preparing the parts of each subject; as all the separate paragraphs about the same subject will be found there grouped together.

J. M. D. M.


PART III. Page The English Language, and the Family to which it belongs 193 The Periods of English 198 History of the Vocabulary 202 History of the Grammar 239 Specimens of English of Different Periods 250 Modern English 258 Landmarks in the History of the English Language 266


History of English Literature 271 Tables of English Literature 367

Index 381




1. Tongue, Speech, Language.— We speak of the "English tongue" or of the "French language"; and we say of two nations that they "do not understand each other's speech." The existence of these three words— speech, tongue, language— proves to us that a language is something spoken,— that it is a number of sounds; and that the writing or printing of it upon paper is a quite secondary matter. Language, rightly considered, then, is an organised set of sounds. These sounds convey a meaning from the mind of the speaker to the mind of the hearer, and thus serve to connect man with man.

2. Written Language.— It took many hundreds of years— perhaps thousands— before human beings were able to invent a mode of writing upon paper— that is, of representing sounds by signs. These signs are called letters; and the whole set of them goes by the name of the Alphabet— from the two first letters of the Greek alphabet, which are called alpha, beta. There are languages that have never been put upon paper at all, such as many of the African languages, many in the South Sea Islands, and other parts of the globe. But in all cases, every language that we know anything about— English, Latin, French, German— existed for hundreds of years before any one thought of writing it down on paper.

3. A Language Grows.— A language is an organism or organic existence. Now every organism lives; and, if it lives, it grows; and, if it grows, it also dies. Our language grows; it is growing still; and it has been growing for many hundreds of years. As it grows it loses something, and it gains something else; it alters its appearance; changes take place in this part of it and in that part,— until at length its appearance in age is something almost entirely different from what it was in its early youth. If we had the photograph of a man of forty, and the photograph of the same person when he was a child of one, we should find, on comparing them, that it was almost impossible to point to the smallest trace of likeness in the features of the two photographs. And yet the two pictures represent the same person. And so it is with the English language. The oldest English, which is usually called Anglo-Saxon, is as different from our modern English as if they were two distinct languages; and yet they are not two languages, but really and fundamentally one and the same. Modern English differs from the oldest English as a giant oak does from a small oak sapling, or a broad stalwart man of forty does from a feeble infant of a few months old.

4. The English Language.— The English language is the speech spoken by the Anglo-Saxon race in England, in most parts of Scotland, in the larger part of Ireland, in the United States, in Canada, in Australia and New Zealand, in South Africa, and in many other parts of the world. In the middle of the fifth century it was spoken by a few thousand men who had lately landed in England from the Continent: it is now spoken by more than one hundred millions of people. In the course of the next sixty years, it will probably be the speech of two hundred millions.

5. English on the Continent.— In the middle of the fifth century it was spoken in the north-west corner of Europe— between the mouths of the Rhine, the Weser, and the Elbe; and in Schleswig there is a small district which is called Angeln to this day. But it was not then called English; it was more probably called Teutish, or Teutsch, or Deutsch— all words connected with a generic word which covers many families and languages— Teutonic. It was a rough guttural speech of one or two thousand words; and it was brought over to this country by the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons in the year 449. These men left their home on the Continent to find here farms to till and houses to live in; and they drove the inhabitants of the island— the Britons— ever farther and farther west, until they at length left them in peace in the more mountainous parts of the island— in the southern and western corners, in Cornwall and in Wales.

6. The British Language.— What language did the Teutonic conquerors, who wrested the lands from the poor Britons, find spoken in this island when they first set foot on it? Not a Teutonic speech at all. They found a language not one word of which they could understand. The island itself was then called Britain; and the tongue spoken in it belonged to the Keltic group of languages. Languages belonging to the Keltic group are still spoken in Wales, in Brittany (in France), in the Highlands of Scotland, in the west of Ireland, and in the Isle of Man. A few words— very few— from the speech of the Britons, have come into our own English language; and what these are we shall see by-and-by.

7. The Family to which English belongs.— Our English tongue belongs to the Aryan or Indo-European Family of languages. That is to say, the main part or substance of it can be traced back to the race which inhabited the high table-lands that lie to the back of the western end of the great range of the Himalaya, or "Abode of Snow." This Aryan race grew and increased, and spread to the south and west; and from it have sprung languages which are now spoken in India, in Persia, in Greece and Italy, in France and Germany, in Scandinavia, and in Russia. From this Aryan family we are sprung; out of the oldest Aryan speech our own language has grown.

8. The Group to which English belongs.— The Indo-European family of languages consists of several groups. One of these is called the Teutonic Group, because it is spoken by the Teuts (or the Teutonic race), who are found in Germany, in England and Scotland, in Holland, in parts of Belgium, in Denmark, in Norway and Sweden, in Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. The Teutonic group consists of three branches— High German, Low German, and Scandinavian. High German is the name given to the kind of German spoken in Upper Germany— that is, in the table-land which lies south of the river Main, and which rises gradually till it runs into the Alps. New High German is the German of books— the literary language— the German that is taught and learned in schools. Low German is the name given to the German dialects spoken in the lowlands— in the German part of the Great Plain of Europe, and round the mouths of those German rivers that flow into the Baltic and the North Sea. Scandinavian is the name given to the languages spoken in Denmark and in the great Scandinavian Peninsula. Of these three languages, Danish and Norwegian are practically the same— their literary or book-language is one; while Swedish is very different. Icelandic is the oldest and purest form of Scandinavian. The following is a table of the


[The table was originally printed in full family-tree form, using the layout below. The full text is here given separately.]

T. __ ___ LG HG Sc _ _ _ _ __ __ Du Fl Fr E O M N I Dk Fe Sv (Nk) (Sw)

TEUTONIC. LOW GERMAN. Dutch. Flemish. Frisian. English. HIGH GERMAN. Old. Middle. New. SCANDINAVIAN. Icelandic Dansk (or Norsk). Ferroic. Svensk (Swedish).

It will be observed, on looking at the above table, that High German is subdivided according to time, but that the other groups are subdivided according to space.

9. English a Low-German Speech.— Our English tongue is the lowest of all Low-German dialects. Low German is the German spoken in the lowlands of Germany. As we descend the rivers, we come to the lowest level of all— the level of the sea. Our English speech, once a mere dialect, came down to that, crossed the German Ocean, and settled in Britain, to which it gave in time the name of Angla-land or England. The Low German spoken in the Netherlands is called Dutch; the Low German spoken in Friesland— a prosperous province of Holland— is called Frisian; and the Low German spoken in Great Britain is called English. These three languages are extremely like one another; but the Continental language that is likest the English is the Dutch or Hollandish dialect called Frisian. We even possess a couplet, every word of which is both English and Frisian. It runs thus—

Good butter and good cheese Is good English and good Fries.

10. Dutch and Welsh— a Contrast.— When the Teuton conquerors came to this country, they called the Britons foreigners, just as the Greeks called all other peoples besides themselves barbarians. By this they did not at first mean that they were uncivilised, but only that they were not Greeks. Now, the Teutonic or Saxon or English name for foreigners was Wealhas, a word afterwards contracted into Welsh. To this day the modern Teuts or Teutons (or Germans, as we call them) call all Frenchmen and Italians Welshmen; and, when a German, peasant crosses the border into France, he says: "I am going into Welshland."

11. The Spread of English over Britain.— The Jutes, who came from Juteland or Jylland— now called Jutland— settled in Kent and in the Isle of Wight. The Saxons settled in the south and western parts of England, and gave their names to those kingdoms— now counties— whose names came to end in sex. There was the kingdom of the East Saxons, or Essex; the kingdom of the West Saxons, or Wessex; the kingdom of the Middle Saxons, or Middlesex; and the kingdom of the South Saxons, or Sussex. The Angles settled chiefly on the east coast. The kingdom of East Anglia was divided into the regions of the North Folk and the South Folk, words which are still perpetuated in the names Norfolk and Suffolk. These three sets of Teutons all spoke different dialects of the same Teutonic speech; and these dialects, with their differences, peculiarities, and odd habits, took root in English soil, and lived an independent life, apart from each other, uninfluenced by each other, for several hundreds of years. But, in the slow course of time, they joined together to make up our beautiful English language— a language which, however, still bears in itself the traces of dialectic forms, and is in no respect of one kind or of one fibre all through.



1. Dead and Living Languages.— A language is said to be dead when it is no longer spoken. Such a language we know only in books. Thus, Latin is a dead language, because no nation anywhere now speaks it. A dead language can undergo no change; it remains, and must remain, as we find it written in books. But a living language is always changing, just like a tree or the human body. The human body has its periods or stages. There is the period of infancy, the period of boyhood, the period of manhood, and the period of old age. In the same way, a language has its periods.

2. No Sudden Changes— a Caution.— We divide the English language into periods, and then mark, with some approach to accuracy, certain distinct changes in the habits of our language, in the inflexions of its words, in the kind of words it preferred, or in the way it liked to put its words together. But we must be carefully on our guard against fancying that, at any given time or in any given year, the English people threw aside one set of habits as regards language, and adopted another set. It is not so, nor can it be so. The changes in language are as gentle, gradual, and imperceptible as the changes in the growth of a tree or in the skin of the human body. We renew our skin slowly and gradually; but we are never conscious of the process, nor can we say at any given time that we have got a completely new skin.

3. The Periods of English.— Bearing this caution in mind, we can go on to look at the chief periods in our English language. These are five in number; and they are as follows:—

I. Ancient English or Anglo-Saxon, 449-1100 II. Early English, 1100-1250 III. Middle English, 1250-1485 IV. Tudor English, 1485-1603 V. Modern English, 1603-1900

These periods merge very slowly, or are shaded off, so to speak, into each other in the most gradual way. If we take the English of 1250 and compare it with that of 900, we shall find a great difference; but if we compare it with the English of 1100 the difference is not so marked. The difference between the English of the nineteenth and the English of the fourteenth century is very great, but the difference between the English of the fourteenth and that of the thirteenth century is very small.

4. Ancient English or Anglo-Saxon, 450-1100.— This form of English differed from modern English in having a much larger number of inflexions. The noun had five cases, and there were several declensions, just as in Latin; adjectives were declined, and had three genders; some pronouns had a dual as well as a plural number; and the verb had a much larger number of inflexions than it has now. The vocabulary of the language contained very few foreign elements. The poetry of the language employed head-rhyme or alliteration, and not end-rhyme, as we do now. The works of the poet Caedmon and the great prose-writer King Alfred belong to this Anglo-Saxon period.

5. Early English, 1100-1250.— The coming of the Normans in 1066 made many changes in the land, many changes in the Church and in the State, and it also introduced many changes into the language. The inflexions of our speech began to drop off, because they were used less and less; and though we never adopted new inflexions from French or from any other language, new French words began to creep in. In some parts of the country English had ceased to be written in books; the language existed as a spoken language only; and hence accuracy in the use of words and the inflexions of words could not be ensured. Two notable books— written, not printed, for there was no printing in this island till the year 1474— belong to this period. These are the Ormulum, by Orm or Ormin, and the Brut, by a monk called Layamon or Laweman. The latter tells the story of Brutus, who was believed to have been the son of neas of Troy; to have escaped after the downfall of that city; to have sailed through the Mediterranean, ever farther and farther to the west; to have landed in Britain, settled here, and given the country its name.

6. Middle English, 1250-1485.— Most of the inflexions of nouns and adjectives have in this period— between the middle of the thirteenth and the end of the fifteenth century— completely disappeared. The inflexions of verbs are also greatly reduced in number. The strong[1] mode of inflexion has ceased to be employed for verbs that are new-comers, and the weak mode has been adopted in its place. During the earlier part of this period, even country-people tried to speak French, and in this and other modes many French words found their way into English. A writer of the thirteenth century, John de Trevisa, says that country-people "fondeth [that is, try] with great bysynes for to speke Freynsch for to be more y-told of." The country-people did not succeed very well, as the ordinary proverb shows: "Jack would be a gentleman if he could speak French." Boys at school were expected to turn their Latin into French, and in the courts of law French only was allowed to be spoken. But in 1362 Edward III. gave his assent to an Act of Parliament allowing English to be used instead of Norman-French. "The yer of oure Lord," says John de Trevisa, "a thousond thre hondred foure score and fyve of the secunde Kyng Richard after the conquest, in al the gramer scoles of Engelond children leveth Freynsch, and construeth and turneth an Englysch." To the first half of this period belong a Metrical Chronicle, attributed to Robert of Gloucester; Langtoft's Metrical Chronicle, translated by Robert de Brunne; the Agenbite of Inwit, by Dan Michel of Northgate in Kent; and a few others. But to the second half belong the rich and varied productions of Geoffrey Chaucer, our first great poet and always one of our greatest writers; the alliterative poems of William Langley or Langlande; the more learned poems of John Gower; and the translation of the Bible and theological works of the reformer John Wyclif.

[Footnote 1: See p. 43.]

7. Tudor English, 1485-1603.— Before the end of the sixteenth century almost all our inflexions had disappeared. The great dramatist Ben Jonson (1574-1637) laments the loss of the plural ending en for verbs, because wenten and hopen were much more musical and more useful in verse than went or hope; but its recovery was already past praying for. This period is remarkable for the introduction of an enormous number of Latin words, and this was due to the new interest taken in the literature of the Romans— an interest produced by what is called the Revival of Letters. But the most striking, as it is also the most important fact relating to this period, is the appearance of a group of dramatic writers, the greatest the world has ever seen. Chief among these was William Shakespeare. Of pure poetry perhaps the greatest writer was Edmund Spenser. The greatest prose-writer was Richard Hooker, and the pithiest Francis Bacon.

8. Modern English, 1603-1900.— The grammar of the language was fixed before this period, most of the accidence having entirely vanished. The vocabulary of the language, however, has gone on increasing, and is still increasing; for the English language, like the English people, is always ready to offer hospitality to all peaceful foreigners— words or human beings— that will land and settle within her coasts. And the tendency at the present time is not only to give a hearty welcome to newcomers from other lands, but to call back old words and old phrases that had been allowed to drop out of existence. Tennyson has been one of the chief agents in this happy restoration.



1. The English Nation.— The English people have for many centuries been the greatest travellers in the world. It was an Englishman— Francis Drake— who first went round the globe; and the English have colonised more foreign lands in every part of the world than any other people that ever existed. The English in this way have been influenced by the world without. But they have also been subjected to manifold influences from within— they have been exposed to greater political changes, and profounder though quieter political revolutions, than any other nation. In 1066 they were conquered by the Norman-French; and for several centuries they had French kings. Seeing and talking with many different peoples, they learned to adopt foreign words with ease, and to give them a home among the native-born words of the language. Trade is always a kindly and useful influence; and the trade of Great Britain has for many centuries been larger than that of any other nation. It has spread into every part of the world; it gives and receives from all tribes and nations, from every speech and tongue.

2. The English Element in English.— When the English came to this island in the fifth century, the number of words in the language they spoke was probably not over two thousand. Now, however, we possess a vocabulary of perhaps more than one hundred thousand words. And so eager and willing have we been to welcome foreign words, that it may be said with truth that: The majority of words in the English Tongue are not English. In fact, if we take the Latin language by itself, there are in our language more Latin words than English. But the grammar is distinctly English, and not Latin at all.

3. The Spoken Language and the Written Language— a Caution.— We must not forget what has been said about a language,— that it is not a printed thing— not a set of black marks upon paper, but that it is in truest truth a tongue or a speech. Hence we must be careful to distinguish between the spoken language and the written or printed language; between the language of the ear and the language of the eye; between the language of the mouth and the language of the dictionary; between the moving vocabulary of the market and the street, and the fixed vocabulary that has been catalogued and imprisoned in our dictionaries. If we can only keep this in view, we shall find that, though there are more Latin words in our vocabulary than English, the English words we possess are used in speaking a hundred times, or even a thousand times, oftener than the Latin words. It is the genuine English words that have life and movement; it is they that fly about in houses, in streets, and in markets; it is they that express with greatest force our truest and most usual sentiments— our inmost thoughts and our deepest feelings. Latin words are found often enough in books; but, when an English man or woman is deeply moved, he speaks pure English and nothing else. Words are the coin of human intercourse; and it is the native coin of pure English with the native stamp that is in daily circulation.

4. A Diagram of English.— If we were to try to represent to the eye the proportions of the different elements in our vocabulary, as it is found in the dictionary, the diagram would take something like the following form:—

Diagram of the English Language.

- ENGLISH WORDS. - LATIN WORDS (including Norman-French, which are also Latin). + GREEK WORDS. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindustani, Persian, Malay, American, etc. etc. +

5. The Foreign Elements in our English Vocabulary.— The different peoples and the different circumstances with which we have come in contact, have had many results— one among others, that of presenting us with contributions to our vocabulary. We found Kelts here; and hence we have a number of Keltic words in our vocabulary. The Romans held this island for several hundred years; and when they had to go in the year 410, they left behind them six Latin words, which we have inherited. In the seventh century, Augustine and his missionary monks from Rome brought over to us a larger number of Latin words; and the Church which they founded introduced ever more and more words from Rome. The Danes began to come over to this island in the eighth century; we had for some time a Danish dynasty seated on the throne of England: and hence we possess many Danish words. The Norman-French invasion in the eleventh century brought us many hundreds of Latin words; for French is in reality a branch of the Latin tongue. The Revival of Learning in the sixteenth century gave us several thousands of Latin words. And wherever our sailors and merchants have gone, they have brought back with them foreign words as well as foreign things— Arabic words from Arabia and Africa, Hindustani words from India, Persian words from Persia, Chinese words from China, and even Malay words from the peninsula of Malacca. Let us look a little more closely at these foreign elements.

6. The Keltic Element in English.— This element is of three kinds: (i) Those words which we received direct from the ancient Britons whom we found in the island; (ii) those which the Norman-French brought with them from Gaul; (iii) those which have lately come into the language from the Highlands of Scotland, or from Ireland, or from the writings of Sir Walter Scott.

7. The First Keltic Element.— This first contribution contains the following words: Breeches, clout, crock, cradle, darn, dainty, mop, pillow; barrow (a funeral mound), glen, havoc, kiln, mattock, pool. It is worthy of note that the first eight in the list are the names of domestic— some even of kitchen— things and utensils. It may, perhaps, be permitted us to conjecture that in many cases the Saxon invader married a British wife, who spoke her own language, taught her children to speak their mother tongue, and whose words took firm root in the kitchen of the new English household. The names of most rivers, mountains, lakes, and hills are, of course, Keltic; for these names would not be likely to be changed by the English new-comers. There are two names for rivers which are found— in one form or another— in every part of Great Britain. These are the names Avon and Ex. The word Avon means simply water. We can conceive the children on a farm near a river speaking of it simply as "the water"; and hence we find fourteen Avons in this island. Ex also means water; and there are perhaps more than twenty streams in Great Britain with this name. The word appears as Ex in Exeter (the older and fuller form being Exanceaster— the camp on the Exe); as Ax in Axminster; as Ox in Oxford; as Ux in Uxbridge; and as Ouse in Yorkshire and other eastern counties. In Wales and Scotland, the hidden k changes its place and comes at the end. Thus in Wales we find Usk; and in Scotland, Esk. There are at least eight Esks in the kingdom of Scotland alone. The commonest Keltic name for a mountain is Pen or Ben (in Wales it is Pen; in Scotland the flatter form Ben is used). We find this word in England also under the form of Pennine; and, in Italy, as Apennine.

8. The Second Keltic Element.— The Normans came from Scandinavia early in the tenth century, and wrested the valley of the Seine out of the hands of Charles the Simple, the then king of the French. The language spoken by the people of France was a broken-down form of spoken Latin, which is now called French; but in this language they had retained many Gaulish words out of the old Gaulish language. Such are the words: Bag, bargain, barter; barrel, basin, basket, bucket; bonnet, button, ribbon; car, cart; dagger, gown; mitten, motley; rogue; varlet, vassal, wicket. The above words were brought over to Britain by the Normans; and they gradually took an acknowledged place among the words of our own language, and have held that place ever since.

9. The Third Keltic Element.— This consists of comparatively few words— such as clan; claymore (a sword); philabeg (a kind of kilt), kilt itself, brogue (a kind of shoe), plaid; pibroch (bagpipe war-music), slogan (a war-cry); and whisky. Ireland has given us shamrock, gag, log, clog, and brogue— in the sense of a mode of speech.

10. The Scandinavian Element in English.— Towards the end of the eighth century— in the year 787— the Teutons of the North, called Northmen, Normans, or Norsemen— but more commonly known as Danes— made their appearance on the eastern coast of Great Britain, and attacked the peaceful towns and quiet settlements of the English. These attacks became so frequent, and their occurrence was so much dreaded, that a prayer was inserted against them in a Litany of the time— "From the incursions of the Northmen, good Lord, deliver us!" In spite of the resistance of the English, the Danes had, before the end of the ninth century, succeeded in obtaining a permanent footing in England; and, in the eleventh century, a Danish dynasty sat upon the English throne from the year 1016 to 1042. From the time of King Alfred, the Danes of the Danelagh were a settled part of the population of England; and hence we find, especially on the east coast, a large number of Danish names still in use.

11. Character of the Scandinavian Element.— The Northmen, as we have said, were Teutons; and they spoke a dialect of the great Teutonic (or German) language. The sounds of the Danish dialect— or language, as it must now be called— are harder than those of the German. We find a k instead of a ch; a p preferred to an f. The same is the case in Scotland, where the hard form kirk is preferred to the softer church. Where the Germans say Dorf— our English word Thorpe, a village— the Danes say Drup.

12. Scandinavian Words (i).— The words contributed to our language by the Scandinavians are of two kinds: (i) Names of places; and (ii) ordinary words. (i) The most striking instance of a Danish place-name is the noun by, a town. Mr Isaac Taylor[2] tells us that there are in the east of England more than six hundred names of towns ending in by. Almost all of these are found in the Danelagh, within the limits of the great highway made by the Romans to the north-west, and well-known as Watling Street. We find, for example, Whitby, or the town on the white cliffs; Grimsby, or the town of Grim, a great sea-rover, who obtained for his countrymen the right that all ships from the Baltic should come into the port of Grimsby free of duty; Tenby, that is Daneby; by-law, a law for a special town; and a vast number of others. The following Danish words also exist in our times— either as separate and individual words, or in composition— beck, a stream; fell, a hill or table-land; firth or fiord, an arm of the sea— the same as the Danish fiord; force, a waterfall; garth, a yard or enclosure; holm, an island in a river; kirk, a church; oe, an island; thorpe, a village; thwaite, a forest clearing; and vik or wick, a station for ships, or a creek.

[Footnote 2: Words and Places, p. 158.]

13. Scandinavian Words (ii).— The most useful and the most frequently employed word that we have received from the Danes is the word are. The pure English word for this is beoth or sindon. The Danes gave us also the habit of using to before an infinitive. Their word for to was at; and at still survives and is in use in Lincolnshire. We find also the following Danish words in our language: blunt, bole (of a tree), bound (on a journey— properly boun), busk (to dress), cake, call, crop (to cut), curl, cut, dairy, daze, din, droop, fellow, flit, for, froward, hustings, ill, irk, kid, kindle, loft, odd, plough, root, scold, sky, tarn (a small mountain lake), weak, and ugly. It is in Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lincoln, Norfolk, and even in the western counties of Cumberland and Lancashire, that we find the largest admixture of Scandinavian words.

14. Influence of the Scandinavian Element.— The introduction of the Danes and the Danish language into England had the result, in the east, of unsettling the inflexions of our language, and thus of preparing the way for their complete disappearance. The declensions of nouns became unsettled; nouns that used to make their plural in a or in u took the more striking plural suffix as that belonged to a quite different declension. The same things happened to adjectives, verbs, and other parts of language. The causes of this are not far to seek. Spoken language can never be so accurate as written language; the mass of the English and Danes never cared or could care much for grammar; and both parties to a conversation would of course hold firmly to the root of the word, which was intelligible to both of them, and let the inflexions slide, or take care of themselves. The more the English and Danes mixed with each other, the oftener they met at church, at games, and in the market-place, the more rapidly would this process of stripping go on,— the smaller care would both peoples take of the grammatical inflexions which they had brought with them into this country.

15. The Latin Element in English.— So far as the number of words— the vocabulary— of the language is concerned, the Latin contribution is by far the most important element in our language. Latin was the language of the Romans; and the Romans at one time were masters of the whole known world. No wonder, then, that they influenced so many peoples, and that their language found its way— east and west, and south and north— into almost all the countries of Europe. There are, as we have seen, more Latin than English words in our own language; and it is therefore necessary to make ourselves acquainted with the character and the uses of the Latin element— an element so important— in English.[3] Not only have the Romans made contributions of large numbers of words to the English language, but they have added to it a quite new quality, and given to its genius new powers of expression. So true is this, that we may say— without any sense of unfairness, or any feeling of exaggeration— that, until the Latin element was thoroughly mixed, united with, and transfused into the original English, the writings of Shakespeare were impossible, the poetry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could not have come into existence. This is true of Shakespeare; and it is still more true of Milton. His most powerful poetical thoughts are written in lines, the most telling words in which are almost always Latin. This may be illustrated by the following lines from "Lycidas":—

"It was that fatal and perfidious bark, Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark, That sunk so low that sacred head of thine!"

[Footnote 3: In the last half of this sentence, all the essential words— necessary, acquainted, character, uses, element, important, are Latin (except character, which is Greek).]

16. The Latin Contributions and their Dates.— The first contribution of Latin words was made by the Romans— not, however, to the English, but to the Britons. The Romans held this island from A.D. 43 to A.D. 410. They left behind them— when they were obliged to go— a small contribution of six words— six only, but all of them important. The second contribution— to a large extent ecclesiastical— was made by Augustine and his missionary monks from Rome, and their visit took place in the year 596. The third contribution was made through the medium of the Norman-French, who seized and subdued this island in the year 1066 and following years. The fourth contribution came to us by the aid of the Revival of Learning— rather a process than an event, the dates of which are vague, but which may be said to have taken place in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Latin left for us by the Romans is called Latin of the First Period; that brought over by the missionaries from Rome, Latin of the Second Period; that given us by the Norman-French, Latin of the Third Period; and that which came to us from the Revival of Learning, Latin of the Fourth Period. The first consists of a few names handed down to us through the Britons; the second, of a number of words— mostly relating to ecclesiastical affairs— brought into the spoken language by the monks; the third, of a large vocabulary, that came to us by mouth and ear; and the fourth, of a very large treasure of words, which we received by means of books and the eye. Let us now look more closely and carefully at them, each in its turn.

17. Latin of the First Period (i).— The Romans held Britain for nearly four hundred years; and they succeeded in teaching the wealthier classes among the Southern Britons to speak Latin. They also built towns in the island, made splendid roads, formed camps at important points, framed good laws, and administered the affairs of the island with considerable justice and uprightness. But, never having come directly into contact with the Angles or Saxons themselves, they could not in any way influence their language by oral communication— by speaking to them. What they left behind them was only six words, most of which became merely the prefixes or the suffixes of the names of places. These six words were Castra, a camp; Strata (via), a paved road; Colonia, a settlement (generally of soldiers); Fossa, a trench; Portus, a harbour; and Vallum, a rampart.

18. Latin of the First Period (ii).— (a) The treatment of the Latin word castra in this island has been both singular and significant. It has existed in this country for nearly nineteen hundred years; and it has always taken the colouring of the locality into whose soil it struck root. In the north and east of England it is sounded hard, and takes the form of caster, as in Lancaster, Doncaster, Tadcaster, and others. In the midland counties, it takes the softer form of cester, as in Leicester, Towcester; and in the extreme west and south, it takes the still softer form of chester, as in Chester, Manchester, Winchester, and others. It is worthy of notice that there are in Scotland no words ending in caster. Though the Romans had camps in Scotland, they do not seem to have been so important as to become the centres of towns. (b) The word strata has also taken different forms in different parts of England. While castra has always been a suffix, strata shows itself constantly as a prefix. When the Romans came to this island, the country was impassable by man. There were no roads worthy of the name,— what paths there were being merely foot-paths or bridle-tracks. One of the first things the Romans did was to drive a strongly built military road from Richborough, near Dover, to the river Dee, on which they formed a standing camp (Castra stativa) which to this day bears the name of Chester. This great road became the highway of all travellers from north to south,— was known as "The Street," and was called by the Saxons Watling Street. But this word street also became a much-used prefix, and took the different forms of strat, strad, stret, and streat. All towns with such names are to be found on this or some other great Roman road. Thus we have Stratford-on-Avon, Stratton, Stradbroke, Stretton, Stretford (near Manchester), and Streatham (near London). —Over the other words we need not dwell so long. Colonia we find in Colne, Lincoln, and others; fossa in Fossway, Fosbrooke, and Fosbridge; portus, in Portsmouth, and Bridport; and vallum in the words wall, bailey, and bailiff. The Normans called the two courts in front of their castles the inner and outer baileys; and the officer in charge of them was called the bailiff.

19. Latin Element of the Second Period (i).— The story of Pope Gregory and the Roman mission to England is widely known. Gregory, when a young man, was crossing the Roman forum one morning, and, when passing the side where the slave-mart was held, observed, as he walked, some beautiful boys, with fair hair, blue eyes, and clear bright complexion. He asked a bystander of what nation the boys were. The answer was, that they were Angles. "No, not Angles," he replied; "they are angels." On learning further that they were heathens, he registered a silent vow that he would, if Providence gave him an opportunity, deliver them from the darkness of heathendom, and bring them and their relatives into the light and liberty of the Gospel. Time passed by; and in the long course of time Gregory became Pope. In his unlooked-for greatness, he did not forget his vow. In the year 596 he sent over to Kent a missionary, called Augustine, along with forty monks. They were well received by the King of Kent, allowed to settle in Canterbury, and to build a small cathedral there.

20. Latin Element of the Second Period (ii).— This mission, the churches that grew out of it, the Christian customs that in time took root in the country, and the trade that followed in its track, brought into the language a number of Latin words, most of them the names of church offices, services, and observances. Thus we find, in our oldest English, the words, postol from apostolus, a person sent; biscop, from episcopus, an overseer; calc, from calix, a cup; clerc, from clericus, an ordained member of the church; munec, from monăchus, a solitary person or monk; preost, from presbyter, an elder; aelmesse, from eleɇmosŭnɇ, alms; predician, from prdicare, to preach; regol, from regula, a rule. (Apostle, bishop, clerk, monk, priest, and alms come to us really from Greek words— but through the Latin tongue.)

21. Latin Element of the Second Period (iii).— The introduction of the Roman form of Christianity brought with it increased communication with Rome and with the Continent generally; widened the experience of Englishmen; gave a stimulus to commerce; and introduced into this island new things and products, and along with the things and products new names. To this period belongs the introduction of the words: Butter, cheese; cedar, fig, pear, peach; lettuce, lily; pepper, pease; camel, lion, elephant; oyster, trout; pound, ounce; candle, table; marble; mint.

22. Latin of the Third Period (i).— The Latin element of the Third Period is in reality the French that was brought over to this island by the Normans in 1066, and is generally called Norman-French. It differed from the French of Paris both in spelling and in pronunciation. For example, Norman-French wrote people for peuple; lal for loyal; ral for royal; ralm for royaume; and so on. But both of these dialects (and every dialect of French) are simply forms of Latin— not of the Latin written and printed in books, but of the Latin spoken in the camp, the fields, the streets, the village, and the cottage. The Romans conquered Gaul, where a Keltic tongue was spoken; and the Gauls gradually adopted Latin as their mother tongue, and— with the exception of the Brtons of Brittany— left off their Keltic speech almost entirely. In adopting the Latin tongue, they had— as in similar cases— taken firm hold of the root of the word, but changed the pronunciation of it, and had, at the same time, compressed very much or entirely dropped many of the Latin inflexions. The French people, an intermixture of Gauls and other tribes (some of them, like the Franks, German), ceased, in fact, to speak their own language, and learned the Latin tongue. The Norsemen, led by Duke Rolf or Rollo or Rou, marched south in large numbers; and, in the year 912, wrested from King Charles the Simple the fair valley of the Seine, settled in it, and gave to it the name of Normandy. These Norsemen, now Normans, were Teutons, and spoke a Teutonic dialect; but, when they settled in France, they learned in course of time to speak French. The kind of French they spoke is called Norman-French, and it was this kind of French that they brought over with them in 1066. But Norman-French had made its appearance in England before the famous year of '66; for Edward the Confessor, who succeeded to the English throne in 1042, had been educated at the Norman Court; and he not only spoke the language himself, but insisted on its being spoken by the nobles who lived with him in his Court.

23. Latin of the Third Period (ii). Chief Dates. —The Normans, having utterly beaten down the resistance of the English, seized the land and all the political power of this country, and filled all kinds of offices— both spiritual and temporal— with their Norman brethren. Norman-French became the language of the Court and the nobility, the language of Parliament and the law courts, of the universities and the schools, of the Church and of literature. The English people held fast to their own tongue; but they picked up many French words in the markets and other places "where men most do congregate." But French, being the language of the upper and ruling classes, was here and there learned by the English or Saxon country-people who had the ambition to be in the fashion, and were eager "to speke Frensch, for to be more y-told of,"— to be more highly considered than their neighbours. It took about three hundred years for French words and phrases to soak thoroughly into English; and it was not until England was saturated with French words and French rhythms that the great poet Chaucer appeared to produce poetic narratives that were read with delight both by Norman baron and by Saxon yeoman. In the course of these three hundred years this intermixture of French with English had been slowly and silently going on. Let us look at a few of the chief land-marks in the long process. In 1042 Edward the Confessor introduces Norman-French into his Court. In 1066 Duke William introduces Norman-French into the whole country, and even into parts of Scotland. The oldest English, or Anglo-Saxon, ceases to be written, anywhere in the island, in public documents, in the year 1154. In 1204 we lost Normandy, a loss that had the effect of bringing the English and the Normans closer together. Robert of Gloucester writes his chronicle in 1272, and uses a large number of French words. But, as early as the reign of Henry the Third, in the year 1258, the reformed and reforming Government of the day issued a proclamation in English, as well as in French and Latin. In 1303, Robert of Brunn introduces a large number of French words. The French wars in Edward the Third's reign brought about a still closer union of the Norman and the Saxon elements of the nation. But, about the middle of the fourteenth century a reaction set in, and it seemed as if the genius of the English language refused to take in any more French words. The English silent stubbornness seemed to have prevailed, and Englishmen had made up their minds to be English in speech, as they were English to the backbone in everything else. Norman-French had, in fact, become provincial, and was spoken only here and there. Before the great Plague— commonly spoken of as "The Black Death"— of 1349, both high and low seemed to be alike bent on learning French, but the reaction may be said to date from this year. The culminating point of this reaction may perhaps be seen in an Act of Parliament passed in 1362 by Edward III., by which both French and Latin had to give place to English in our courts of law. The poems of Chaucer are the literary result— "the bright consummate flower" of the union of two great powers— the brilliance of the French language on the one hand and the homely truth and steadfastness of English on the other. Chaucer was born in 1340, and died in 1400; so that we may say that he and his poems— though not the causes— are the signs and symbols of the great influence that French obtained and held over our mother tongue. But although we accepted so many words from our Norman-French visitors and immigrants, we accepted from them no habit of speech whatever. We accepted from them no phrase or idiom: the build and nature of the English language remained the same— unaffected by foreign manners or by foreign habits. It is true that Chaucer has the ridiculous phrase, "I n'am but dead" (for "I am quite dead"[4])— which is a literal translation of the well-known French idiom, "Je ne suis que." But, though our tongue has always been and is impervious to foreign idiom, it is probably owing to the great influx of French words which took place chiefly in the thirteenth century that many people have acquired a habit of using a long French or Latin word when an English word would do quite as well— or, indeed, a great deal better. Thus some people are found to call a good house, a desirable mansion; and, instead of the quiet old English proverb, "Buy once, buy twice," we have the roundabout Latinisms, "A single commission will ensure a repetition of orders." An American writer, speaking of the foreign ambassadors who had been attacked by Japanese soldiers in Yeddo, says that "they concluded to occupy a location more salubrious." This is only a foreign language, instead of the simple and homely English: "They made up their minds to settle in a healthier spot."

[Footnote 4: Or, as an Irishman would say, "I am kilt entirely."]

24. Latin of the Third Period (iii). Norman Words (a). —The Norman-French words were of several different kinds. There were words connected with war, with feudalism, and with the chase. There were new law terms, and words connected with the State, and the new institutions introduced by the Normans. There were new words brought in by the Norman churchmen. New titles unknown to the English were also introduced. A better kind of cooking, a higher and less homely style of living, was brought into this country by the Normans; and, along with these, new and unheard-of words.

25. Norman Words (b).— The following are some of the Norman-French terms connected with war: Arms, armour; assault, battle; captain, chivalry; joust, lance; standard, trumpet; mail,+ vizor+. The English word for armour was harness; but the Normans degraded that word into the armour of a horse. Battle comes from the Fr. battre, to beat: the corresponding English word is fight. Captain comes from the Latin caput, a head. Mail comes from the Latin macula, the mesh of a net; and the first coats of mail were made of rings or a kind of metal network. Vizor comes from the Fr. viser, to look. It was the barred part of the helmet which a man could see through.

26. Norman Words (c).— Feudalism may be described as the holding of land on condition of giving or providing service in war. Thus a knight held land of his baron, under promise to serve him so many days; a baron of his king, on condition that he brought so many men into the field for such and such a time at the call of his Overlord. William the Conqueror made the feudal system universal in every part of England, and compelled every English baron to swear homage to himself personally. Words relating to feudalism are, among others: Homage, fealty; esquire, vassal; herald, scutcheon, and others. Homage is the declaration of obedience for life of one man to another— that the inferior is the man (Fr. homme; L. homo) of the superior. Fealty is the Norman-French form of the word fidelity. An esquire is a scutiger (L.), or shield-bearer; for he carried the shield of the knight, when they were travelling and no fighting was going on. A vassal was a "little young man,"— in Low-Latin vassallus, a diminutive of vassus, from the Keltic word gws, a man. (The form vassaletus is also found, which gives us our varlet and valet.) Scutcheon comes from the Lat. scutum, a shield. Then scutcheon or escutcheon came to mean coat-of-arms— or the marks and signs on his shield by which the name and family of a man were known, when he himself was covered from head to foot in iron mail.

27. Norman Words (d).— The terms connected with the chase are: Brace, couple; chase, course; covert, copse, forest; leveret, mews; quarry, venison. A few remarks about some of these may be interesting. Brace comes from the Old French brace, an arm (Mod. French bras); from the Latin brachium. The root-idea seems to be that which encloses or holds up. Thus bracing air is that which strings up the nerves and muscles; and a brace of birds was two birds tied together with a string. —The word forest contains in itself a good deal of unwritten Norman history. It comes from the Latin adverb foras, out of doors. Hence, in Italy, a stranger or foreigner is still called a forestiere. A forest in Norman-French was not necessarily a breadth of land covered with trees; it was simply land out of the jurisdiction of the common law. Hence, when William the Conqueror created the New Forest, he merely took the land out of the rule and charge of the common law, and put it under his own regal power and personal care. In land of this kind— much of which was kept for hunting in— trees were afterwards planted, partly to shelter large game, and partly to employ ground otherwise useless in growing timber. —Mews is a very odd word. It comes from the Latin verb mutare, to change. When the falcons employed in hunting were changing their feathers, or moulting (the word moult is the same as mews in a different dress), the French shut them in a cage, which they called mue— from mutare. Then the stables for horses were put in the same place; and hence a row of stables has come to be called a mews. —Quarry is quite as strange. The word quarry, which means a mine of stones, comes from the Latin quadrⱥre, to make square. But the hunting term quarry is of a quite different origin. That comes from the Latin cor (the heart), which the Old French altered into quer. When a wild beast was run down and killed, the heart and entrails were thrown to the dogs as their share of the hunt. Hence Milton says of the eagle, "He scents his quarry from afar." —The word venison comes to us, through French, from the Lat. venⱥri, to hunt; and hence it means hunted flesh. The same word gives us venery— the term that was used in the fourteenth century, by Chaucer among others, for hunting.

28. Norman Words (e).— The Normans introduced into England their own system of law, their own law officers; and hence, into the English language, came Norman-French law terms. The following are a few: Assize, attorney; chancellor, court; judge, justice; plaintiff,+ sue+; summons, trespass. A few remarks about some of these may be useful. The chancellor (cancellarius) was the legal authority who sat behind lattice-work, which was called in Latin cancelli. This word means, primarily, little crabs; and it is a diminutive from cancer, a crab. It was so called because the lattice-work looked like crabs' claws crossed. Our word cancel comes from the same root: it means to make cross lines through anything we wish deleted. —Court comes from the Latin cors or cohors, a sheep-pen. It afterwards came to mean an enclosure, and also a body of Roman soldiers. —The proper English word for a judge is deemster or demster (which appears as the proper name Dempster); and this is still the name for a judge in the Isle of Man. The French word comes from two Latin words, dico, I utter, and jus, right. The word jus is seen in the other French term which we have received from the Normans— justice. —Sue comes from the Old Fr. suir, which appears in Modern Fr. as suivre. It is derived from the Lat. word sequor, I follow (which gives our sequel); and we have compounds of it in ensue, issue, and pursue. —The tres in trespass is a French form of the Latin trans, beyond or across. Trespass, therefore, means to cross the bounds of right.

29. Norman Words (f).— Some of the church terms introduced by the Norman-French are: Altar, Bible; baptism, ceremony; friar; tonsure; penance, relic. —The Normans gave us the words title and dignity themselves, and also the following titles: Duke, marquis; count, viscount; peer; mayor, and others. A duke is a leader; from the Latin dux (= duc-s). A marquis is a lord who has to ride the marches or borders between one county, or between one country, and another. A marquis was also called a Lord-Marcher. The word count never took root in this island, because its place was already occupied by the Danish name earl; but we preserve it in the names countess and viscount— the latter of which means a person in the place of (L. vice) a count. Peer comes from the Latin par, an equal. The House of Peers is the House of Lords— that is, of those who are, at least when in the House, equal in rank and equal in power of voting. It is a fundamental doctrine in English law that every man "is to be tried by his peers." —It is worthy of note that, in general, the French names for different kinds of food designated the cooked meats; while the names for the living animals that furnish them are English. Thus we have beef and ox; mutton and sheep; veal and calf; pork and pig. There is a remarkable passage in Sir Walter Scott's 'Ivanhoe,' which illustrates this fact with great force and picturesqueness:—

"'Gurth, I advise thee to call off Fangs, and leave the herd to their destiny, which, whether they meet with bands of travelling soldiers, or of outlaws, or of wandering pilgrims, can be little else than to be converted into Normans before morning, to thy no small ease and comfort.'

"'The swine turned Normans to my comfort!' quoth Gurth; 'expound that to me, Wamba, for my brain is too dull, and my mind too vexed, to read riddles.'

"'Why, how call you those grunting brutes running about on their four legs?' demanded Wamba.

"'Swine, fool, swine,' said the herd; 'every fool knows that.'

"'And swine is good Saxon,' said the jester; 'but how call you the sow when she is flayed, and drawn, and quartered, and hung up by the heels, like a traitor?'

"'Pork,' answered the swine-herd.

"'I am very glad every fool knows that too,' said Wamba; 'and pork, I think, is good Norman-French: and so when the brute lives, and is in the charge of a Saxon slave, she goes by her Saxon name; but becomes a Norman, and is called pork, when she is carried to the castle-hall to feast among the nobles; what dost thou think of this, friend Gurth, ha?'

"'It is but too true doctrine, friend Wamba, however it got into thy fool's pate.'

"'Nay, I can tell you more,' said Wamba, in the same tone; 'there is old Alderman Ox continues to hold his Saxon epithet, while he is under the charge of serfs and bondsmen such as thou, but becomes Beef, a fiery French gallant, when he arrives before the worshipful jaws that are destined to consume him. Myhneer Calf, too, becomes Monsieur de Veau in the like manner; he is Saxon when he requires tendance, and takes a Norman name when he becomes matter of enjoyment.'"

30. General Character of the Norman-French Contributions.— The Norman-French contributions to our language gave us a number of general names or class-names; while the names for individual things are, in general, of purely English origin. The words animal and beast, for example, are French (or Latin); but the words fox, hound, whale, snake, wasp, and fly are purely English. —The words family, relation, parent, ancestor, are French; but the names father, mother, son, daughter, gossip, are English. —The words title and dignity are French; but the words king and queen, lord and lady, knight and sheriff, are English. —Perhaps the most remarkable instance of this is to be found in the abstract terms employed for the offices and functions of State. Of these, the English language possesses only one— the word kingdom. Norman-French, on the other hand, has given us the words realm, court, state, constitution, people, treaty, audience, navy, army, and others— amounting in all to nearly forty. When, however, we come to terms denoting labour and work— such as agriculture and seafaring, we find the proportions entirely reversed. The English language, in such cases, contributes almost everything; the French nearly nothing. In agriculture, while plough, rake, harrow, flail, and many others are English words, not a single term for an agricultural process or implement has been given us by the warlike Norman-French. —While the words ship and boat; hull and fleet; oar and sail, are all English, the Normans have presented us with only the single word prow. It is as if all the Norman conqueror had to do was to take his stand at the prow, gazing upon the land he was going to seize, while the Low-German sailors worked for him at oar and sail. —Again, while the names of the various parts of the body— eye, nose, cheek, tongue, hand, foot, and more than eighty others— are all English, we have received only about ten similar words from the French— such as spirit and corpse; perspiration; face and stature. Speaking broadly, we may say that all words that express general notions, or generalisations, are French or Latin; while words that express specific actions or concrete existences are pure English. Mr Spalding observes— "We use a foreign term naturalised when we speak of 'colour' universally; but we fall back on our home stores if we have to tell what the colour is, calling it 'red' or 'yellow,' 'white' or 'black,' 'green' or 'brown.' We are Romans when we speak in a general way of 'moving'; but we are Teutons if we 'leap' or 'spring,' if we 'slip,' 'slide,' or 'fall,' if we 'walk,' 'run,' 'swim,' or 'ride,' if we 'creep' or 'crawl' or 'fly.'"

31. Gains to English from Norman-French.— The gains from the Norman-French contribution are large, and are also of very great importance. Mr Lowell says, that the Norman element came in as quickening leaven to the rather heavy and lumpy Saxon dough. It stirred the whole mass, gave new life to the language, a much higher and wider scope to the thoughts, much greater power and copiousness to the expression of our thoughts, and a finer and brighter rhythm to our English sentences. "To Chaucer," he says, in 'My Study Windows,' "French must have been almost as truly a mother tongue as English. In him we see the first result of the Norman yeast upon the home-baked Saxon loaf. The flour had been honest, the paste well kneaded, but the inspiring leaven was wanting till the Norman brought it over. Chaucer works still in the solid material of his race, but with what airy lightness has he not infused it? Without ceasing to be English, he has escaped from being insular." Let us look at some of these gains a little more in detail.

32. Norman-French Synonyms.— We must not consider a synonym as a word that means exactly the same thing as the word of which it is a synonym; because then there would be neither room nor use for such a word in the language. A synonym is a word of the same meaning as another, but with a slightly different shade of meaning,— or it is used under different circumstances and in a different connection, or it puts the same idea under a new angle. Begin and commence, will and testament, are exact equivalents— are complete synonyms; but there are very few more of this kind in our language. The moment the genius of a language gets hold of two words of the same meaning, it sets them to do different kinds of work,— to express different parts or shades of that meaning. Thus limb and member, luck and fortune, have the same meaning; but we cannot speak of a limb of the Royal Society, or of the luck of the Rothschilds, who made their fortune by hard work and steady attention to business. We have, by the aid of the Norman-French contributions, flower as well as bloom; branch and bough; purchase and buy; amiable and friendly; cordial and hearty; country and land; gentle and mild; desire and wish; labour and work; miserable and wretched. These pairs of words enable poets and other writers to use the right word in the right place. And we, preferring our Saxon or good old English words to any French or Latin importations, prefer to speak of a hearty welcome instead of a cordial reception; of a loving wife instead of an amiable consort; of a wretched man instead of a miserable individual.

33. Bilingualism.— How did these Norman-French words find their way into the language? What was the road by which they came? What was the process that enabled them to find a place in and to strike deep root into our English soil? Did the learned men— the monks and the clergy— make a selection of words, write them in their books, and teach them to the English people? Nothing of the sort. The process was a much ruder one— but at the same time one much more practical, more effectual, and more lasting in its results. The two peoples— the Normans and the English— found that they had to live together. They met at church, in the market-place, in the drilling field, at the archery butts, in the courtyards of castles; and, on the battle-fields of France, the Saxon bowman showed that he could fight as well, as bravely, and even to better purpose than his lord— the Norman baron. At all these places, under all these circumstances, the Norman and the Englishman were obliged to speak with each other. Now arose a striking phenomenon. Every man, as Professor Earle puts it, turned himself as it were into a walking phrase-book or dictionary. When a Norman had to use a French word, he tried to put the English word for it alongside of the French word; when an Englishman used an English word, he joined with it the French equivalent. Then the language soon began to swarm with "yokes of words"; our words went in couples; and the habit then begun has continued down even to the present day. And thus it is that we possess such couples as will and testament; act and deed; use and wont; aid and abet. Chaucer's poems are full of these pairs. He joins together hunting and venery (though both words mean exactly the same thing); nature and kind; cheere and face; pray and beseech; mirth and jollity. Later on, the Prayer-Book, which was written in the years 1540 to 1559, keeps up the habit: and we find the pairs acknowledge and confess; assemble and meet together; dissemble and cloak; humble and lowly. To the more English part of the congregation the simple Saxon words would come home with kindly association; to others, the words confess, assemble, dissemble, and humble would speak with greater force and clearness. —Such is the phenomenon called by Professor Earle bilingualism. "It is, in fact," he says, "a putting of colloquial formul to do the duty of a French-English and English-French vocabulary." Even Hooker, who wrote at the end of the sixteenth century, seems to have been obliged to use these pairs; and we find in his writings the couples "cecity and blindness," "nocive and hurtful," "sense and meaning."

34. Losses of English from the Incoming of Norman-French.— (i) Before the coming of the Normans, the English language was in the habit of forming compounds with ease and effect. But, after the introduction of the Norman-French language, that power seems gradually to have disappeared; and ready-made French or Latin words usurped the place of the home-grown English compound. Thus despair pushed out wanhope; suspicion dethroned wantrust; bidding-sale was expelled by auction; learning-knight by disciple; rime-craft by the Greek word arithmetic; gold-hoard by treasure; book-hoard by library; earth-tilth by agriculture; wonstead by residence; and so with a large number of others. —Many English words, moreover, had their meanings depreciated and almost degraded; and the words themselves lost their ancient rank and dignity. Thus the Norman conquerors put their foot— literally and metaphorically— on the Saxon chair,[5] which thus became a stool, or a footstool. Thatch, which is a doublet of the word deck, was the name for any kind of roof; but the coming of the Norman-French lowered it to indicate a roof of straw. Whine was used for the weeping or crying of human beings; but it is now restricted to the cry of a dog. Hide was the generic term for the skin of any animal; it is now limited in modern English to the skin of a beast. —The most damaging result upon our language was that it entirely stopped the growth of English words. We could, for example, make out of the word burn— the derivatives brunt, brand, brandy, brown, brimstone, and others; but this power died out with the coming in of the Norman-French language. After that, instead of growing our own words, we adopted them ready-made. —Professor Craik compares the English and Latin languages to two banks; and says that, when the Normans came over, the account at the English bank was closed, and we drew only upon the Latin bank. But the case is worse than this. English lost its power of growth and expansion from the centre; from this time, it could only add to its bulk by borrowing and conveying from without— by the external accretion of foreign words.

[Footnote 5: Chair is the Norman-French form of the French chaise. The Germans still call a chair a stuhl; and among the English, stool was the universal name till the twelfth century.]

35. Losses of English from the Incoming of Norman-French.— (ii) The arrestment of growth in the purely English part of our language, owing to the irruption of Norman-French, and also to the ease with which we could take a ready-made word from Latin or from Greek, killed off an old power which we once possessed, and which was not without its own use and expressiveness. This was the power of making compound words. The Greeks in ancient times had, and the Germans in modern times have, this power in a high degree. Thus a Greek comic poet has a word of fourteen syllables, which may be thus translated—

"Meanly-rising-early-and-hurrying-to-the-tribunal- to-denounce-another-for-an-infraction-of-the-law- concerning-the-exportation-of-figs."[6]

And the Germans have a compound like "the-all-to-nothing-crushing philosopher." The Germans also say iron-path for railway, handshoe for glove, and finger-hat for thimble. We also possessed this power at one time, and employed it both in proper and in common names. Thus we had and have the names Brakespear, Shakestaff, Shakespear, Golightly, Dolittle, Standfast; and the common nouns want-wit, find-fault, mumble-news (for tale-bearer), pinch-penny (for miser), slugabed. In older times we had three-foot-stool, three-man-beetle[7]; stone-cold, heaven-bright, honey-sweet, snail-slow, nut-brown, lily-livered (for cowardly); brand-fire-new; earth-wandering, wind-dried, thunder-blasted, death-doomed, and many others. But such words as forbears or fore-elders have been pushed out by ancestors; forewit by caution or prudence; and inwit by conscience. Mr Barnes, the Dorsetshire poet, would like to see these and similar compounds restored, and thinks that we might well return to the old clear well-springs of "English undefiled," and make our own compounds out of our own words. He even carries his desires into the region of English grammar, and, for degrees of comparison, proposes the phrase pitches of suchness. Thus, instead of the Latin word omnibus, he would have folk-wain; for the Greek botany, he would substitute wort-lore; for auction, he would give us bode-sale; globule he would replace with ballkin; the Greek word horizon must give way to the pure English sky-edge; and, instead of quadrangle, he would have us all write and say four-winkle.

[Footnote 6: In two words, a fig-shower or sycophant.]

[Footnote 7: A club for beating clothes, that could be handled only by three men.]

36. Losses of English from the Incoming of Norman-French.— (iii) When once a way was made for the entrance of French words into our English language, the immigrations were rapid and numerous. Hence there were many changes both in the grammar and in the vocabulary of English from the year 1100, the year in which we may suppose those Englishmen who were living at the date of the battle of Hastings had died out. These changes were more or less rapid, according to circumstances. But perhaps the most rapid and remarkable change took place in the lifetime of William Caxton, the great printer, who was born in 1410. In his preface to his translation of the 'neid' of Virgil, which he published in 1490, when he was eighty years of age, he says that he cannot understand old books that were written when he was a boy— that "the olde Englysshe is more lyke to dutche than englysshe," and that "our langage now vsed varyeth ferre from that whiche was vsed and spoken when I was borne. For we Englysshemen ben borne ynder the domynacyon of the mone [moon], which is neuer stedfaste, but euer wauerynge, wexynge one season, and waneth and dycreaseth another season." This as regards time. —But he has the same complaint to make as regards place. "Comyn englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from another." And he tells an odd story in illustration of this fact. He tells about certain merchants who were in a ship "in Tamyse" (on the Thames), who were bound for Zealand, but were wind-stayed at the Foreland, and took it into their heads to go on shore there. One of the merchants, whose name was Sheffelde, a mercer, entered a house, "and axed for mete, and specyally he axyd after eggys." But the "goode-wyf" replied that she "coude speke no frenshe." The merchant, who was a steady Englishman, lost his temper, "for he also coude speke no frenshe, but wolde have hadde eggys; and she understode hym not." Fortunately, a friend happened to join him in the house, and he acted as interpreter. The friend said that "he wolde have eyren; then the goode wyf sayde that she understod hym wel." And then the simple-minded but much-perplexed Caxton goes on to say: "Loo! what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, eggs or eyren?" Such were the difficulties that beset printers and writers in the close of the fifteenth century.

37. Latin of the Fourth Period.— (i) This contribution differs very essentially in character from the last. The Norman-French contribution was a gift from a people to a people— from living beings to living beings; this new contribution was rather a conveyance of words from books to books, and it never influenced— in any great degree— the spoken language of the English people. The ear and the mouth carried the Norman-French words into our language; the eye, the pen, and the printing-press were the instruments that brought in the Latin words of the Fourth Period. The Norman-French words that came in took and kept their place in the spoken language of the masses of the people; the Latin words that we received in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries kept their place in the written or printed language of books, of scholars, and of literary men. These new Latin words came in with the Revival of Learning, which is also called the Renascence.

The Turks attacked and took Constantinople in the year 1453; and the great Greek and Latin scholars who lived in that city hurriedly packed up their priceless manuscripts and books, and fled to all parts of Italy, Germany, France, and even into England. The loss of the East became the gain of the West. These scholars became teachers; they taught the Greek and Roman classics to eager and earnest learners; and thus a new impulse was given to the study of the great masterpieces of human thought and literary style. And so it came to pass in course of time that every one who wished to become an educated man studied the literature of Greece and Rome. Even women took to the study. Lady Jane Grey was a good Greek and Latin scholar; and so was Queen Elizabeth. From this time began an enormous importation of Latin words into our language. Being imported by the eye and the pen, they suffered little or no change; the spirit of the people did not influence them in the least— neither the organs of speech nor the ear affected either the pronunciation or the spelling of them. If we look down the columns of any English dictionary, we shall find these later Latin words in hundreds. Opinionem became opinion; factionem, faction; orationem, oration; pungentem passed over in the form of pungent (though we had poignant already from the French); pauperem came in as pauper; and separatum became separate.

38. Latin of the Fourth Period.— (ii) This went on to such an extent in the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, that one writer says of those who spoke and wrote this Latinised English, "If some of their mothers were alive, they were not able to tell what they say." And Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) remarks: "If elegancy (= the use of Latin words) still proceedeth, and English pens maintain that stream we have of late observed to flow from many, we shall, within a few years, be fain to learn Latin to understand English, and a work will prove of equal facility in either." Mr Alexander Gill, an eminent schoolmaster, and the then head-master of St Paul's School, where, among his other pupils, he taught John Milton, wrote a book in 1619 on the English language; and, among other remarks, he says: "O harsh lips! I now hear all around me such words as common, vices, envy, malice; even virtue, study, justice, pity, mercy, compassion, profit, commodity, colour, grace, favour, acceptance. But whither, I pray, in all the world, have you banished those words which our forefathers used for these new-fangled ones? Are our words to be executed like our citizens?" And he calls this fashion of using Latin words "the new mange in our speaking and writing." But the fashion went on growing; and even uneducated people thought it a clever thing to use a Latin instead of a good English word. Samuel Rowlands, a writer in the seventeenth century, ridicules this affectation in a few lines of verse. He pretends that he was out walking on the highroad, and met a countryman who wanted to know what o'clock it was, and whether he was on the right way to the town or village he was making for. The writer saw at once that he was a simple bumpkin; and, when he heard that he had lost his way, he turned up his nose at the poor fellow, and ordered him to be off at once. Here are the lines:—

"As on the way I itinerated, A rural person I obviated, Interrogating time's transitation, And of the passage demonstration. My apprehension did ingenious scan That he was merely a simplician; So, when I saw he was extravagnt, Unto the bscure vulgar consonnt, I bade him vanish most promiscuously, And not contaminate my company."

39. Latin of the Fourth Period.— (iii) What happened in the case of the Norman-French contribution, happened also in this. The language became saturated with these new Latin words, until it became satiated, then, as it were, disgusted, and would take no more. Hundreds of

"Long-tailed words in osity and ation"

crowded into the English language; but many of them were doomed to speedy expulsion. Thus words like discerptibility, supervacaneousness, septentrionality, ludibundness (love of sport), came in in crowds. The verb intenerate tried to turn out soften; and deturpate to take the place of defile. But good writers, like Bacon and Raleigh, took care to avoid the use of such terms, and to employ only those Latin words which gave them the power to indicate a new idea— a new meaning or a new shade of meaning. And when we come to the eighteenth century, we find that a writer like Addison would have shuddered at the very mention of such "inkhorn terms."

40. Eye-Latin and Ear-Latin.— (i) One slight influence produced by this spread of devotion to classical Latin— to the Latin of Cicero and Livy, of Horace and Virgil— was to alter the spelling of French words. We had already received— through the ear— the French words assaute, aventure, defaut, dette, vitaille, and others. But when our scholars became accustomed to the book-form of these words in Latin books, they gradually altered them— for the eye and ear— into assault, adventure, default, debt, and victuals. They went further. A large number of Latin words that already existed in the language in their Norman-French form (for we must not forget that French is Latin "with the ends bitten off"— changed by being spoken peculiarly and heard imperfectly) were reintroduced in their original Latin form. Thus we had caitiff from the Normans; but we reintroduced it in the shape of captive, which comes almost unaltered from the Latin captivum. Feat we had from the Normans; but the Latin factum, which provided the word, presented us with a second form of it in the word fact. Such words might be called Ear-Latin and Eye-Latin; Mouth-Latin and Book-Latin; Spoken Latin and Written Latin; or Latin at second-hand and Latin at first-hand.

41. Eye-Latin and Ear-Latin.— (ii) This coming in of the same word by two different doors— by the Eye and by the Ear— has given rise to the phenomenon of Doublets. The following is a list of Latin Doublets; and it will be noticed that Latin1 stands for Latin at first-hand— from books; and Latin2 for Latin at second-hand— through the Norman-French.



Antecessorem Antecessor Ancestor. Benedictionem Benediction Benison. Cadentia (Low Lat. noun) Cadence Chance. Captivum Captive Caitiff. Conceptionem Conception Conceit. Consuetudinem Consuetude {Custom. {Costume. Cophinum Coffin Coffer. Corpus (a body) Corpse Corps. Debitum (something owed) Debit Debt. Defectum (something wanting) Defect Defeat. Dilatⱥre Dilate Delay. Exemplum Example Sample. Fabrĭca (a workshop) Fabric Forge. Factionem Faction Fashion. Factum Fact Feat. Fidelitatem Fidelity Fealty. Fragilem Fragile Frail. Gentɨlis Gentile Gentle. (belonging to a gens or family) Historia History Story. Hospitale Hospital Hotel. Lectionem Lection Lesson. Legalem Legal Loyal. Magister Master Mr. Majorem (greater) Major Mayor. Maledictionem Malediction Malison. Moneta Mint Money. Nutrimentum Nutriment Nourishment. Orationem Oration Orison (a prayer). Paganum Pagan Payne (a proper name). (a dweller in a pagus or country district) Particulam (a little part) Particle Parcel. Pauperem Pauper Poor. Penitentiam Penitence Penance. Persecutum Persecute Pursue. Potionem (a draught) Potion Poison. Pungentem Pungent Poignant. Quietum Quiet Coy. Radius Radius Ray. Regⱥlem Regal Royal. Respectum Respect Respite. Securum Secure Sure. Seniorem Senior Sir. Separatum Separate Sever. Species Species Spice. Statum State Estate. Tractum Tract Trait. Traditionem Tradition Treason. Zelosum Zealous Jealous.

42. Remarks on the above Table. —The word benison, a blessing, may be contrasted with its opposite, malison, a curse. —Cadence is the falling of sounds; chance the befalling of events. —A caitiff was at first a captive— then a person who made no proper defence, but allowed himself to be taken captive. —A corps is a body of troops. —The word sample is found, in older English, in the form of ensample. —A feat of arms is a deed or fact of arms, par excellence. —To understand how fragile became frail, we must pronounce the g hard, and notice how the hard guttural falls easily away— as in our own native words flail and hail, which formerly contained a hard g. —A major is a greater captain; a mayor is a greater magistrate. —A magister means a bigger man— as opposed to a minister (from minus), a smaller man. —Moneta was the name given to a stamped coin, because these coins were first struck in the temple of Juno Moneta, Juno the Adviser or the Warner. (From the same root— mon— come monition, admonition; monitor; admonish.) —Shakespeare uses the word orison freely for prayer, as in the address of Hamlet to Ophelia, where he says, "Nymph, in thy orisons, be all my sins remembered!" —Poor comes to us from an Old French word poure; the newer French is pauvre. —To understand the vanishing of the g sound in poignant, we must remember that the Romans sounded it always hard. —Sever we get through separate, because p and v are both labials, and therefore easily interchangeable. —Treason— with its s instead of ti— may be compared with benison, malison, orison, poison, and reason.

43. Conclusions from the above Table.— If we examine the table on page 231 with care, we shall come to several undeniable conclusions. (i) First, the words which come to us direct from Latin are found more in books than in everyday speech. (ii) Secondly, they are longer. The reason is that the words that have come through French have been worn down by the careless pronunciation of many generations— by that desire for ease in the pronouncing of words which characterises all languages, and have at last been compelled to take that form which was least difficult to pronounce. (iii) Thirdly, the two sets of words have, in each case, either (a) very different meanings, or (b) different shades of meaning. There is no likeness of meaning in cadence and chance, except the common meaning of fall which belongs to the root from which they both spring. And the different shades of meaning between history and story, between regal and royal, between persecute and pursue, are also quite plainly marked, and are of the greatest use in composition.

44. Latin Triplets.— Still more remarkable is the fact that there are in our language words that have made three appearances— one through Latin, one through Norman-French, and one through ordinary French. These seem to live quietly side by side in the language; and no one asks by what claim they are here. They are useful: that is enough. These triplets are— regal, royal, and real; legal, loyal, and leal; fidelity, faithfulness,[8] and fealty. The adjective real we no longer possess in the sense of royal, but Chaucer uses it; and it still exists in the noun real-m. Leal is most used in Scotland, where it has a settled abode in the well-known phrase "the land o' the leal."

[Footnote 8: The word faith is a true French word with an English ending— the ending th. Hence it is a hybrid. The old French word was fei— from the Latin fidem; and the ending th was added to make it look more like truth, wealth, health, and other purely English words.]

45. Greek Doublets.— The same double introduction, which we noticed in the case of Latin words, takes place in regard to Greek words. It seems to have been forgotten that our English forms of them had been already given us by St Augustine and the Church, and a newer form of each was reintroduced. The following are a few examples:—


Adamanta[9] (the untameable) Diamond Adamant. Balsamon Balm Balsam. Blasphɇmein (to speak ill of) Blame Blaspheme. Cheirourgon[9] Chirurgeon Surgeon. (a worker with the hand) Dactŭlon (a finger) Date (the fruit) Dactyl. Phantasia Fancy Phantasy. Phantasma (an appearance) Phantom Phantasm. Presbuteron (an elder) Priest Presbyter. Paralysis Palsy Paralysis. Scandălon Slander Scandal.

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