« НазадПродовжити »
“ will be conducted on principles similar to those on which the Queen's “ Colleges have been founded ; and will strictly avoid sectarian and “ party politics.”
That is something more to the point, said we, as we glanced over the foregoing unvarnished paragraph. Still it is yery meagre, and its only merit consists in its truth. We must write something more explanatory, and better calculated to give a general idea of our design. While thus musing, a thought flashed across our mind. Would not a Preface be somewhat relieved from its usual tediousness by being presented under the garb of poetry? Would we not be able to shadow forth a great deal in verse, that could not be so well said in prose? We at once determined to woo the poetic muse. Grasping our pen more firmly than ever, we mustered all our energies, and penned the following introduction, which we send to fight its own way in the world.
In olden times, when youthful knights
The “good old times,” at such a notion
Deeming, what even monkies tell,
Such being now the case- no more
They were the guardians of the laws.
Around us pitched, such lists appear,
Truth, kindly truth, our knights confess
Her dictates always shall direct,
Sure that her hand must rule aright,
The student here of every art,
The fairer sex themselves can here,
So, now and then, in this disguise
Then Scholars, Poets, Wits, and Sages
THE CONVERSION OF THE ANGLO-SAXON INTO ENGLISH.*
WE perform a pleasing duty in intro- standing side by side with its more dis. ducing and recommending to the atten- tinguished rivals, though patriotism tive perusal of our readers the book would surely have suggested that this whose title stands at the foot of this was a poor reason for its utter neglect page. It will be found by the young and abandonment. Yet we cannot but student to be an excellent introduction be the more surprised at the conduct to an acquaintance with the essential of those who have been entrusted with facts of English Philology, aud, as it the direction and control of the studies presents a systematic and well-con- of English youth, when the fact is, densed summary of the whole subject that the literature of England is far in of which it treats, it will serve the more advance of every other, excepting that of advanced inquirer as a useful manual Greece alone; and even over the latter, and text-book. It is, however, to the while in other respects we might hesistudents of the Queen's University in tate to which party to assign the vicIreland, that the present workisspecially tory, it possesses the immense superiordirected; and it cannot but be regarded ity that it embodies within it the pure as the sign of a sound and practical edu- and exalted doctrines of Christianity, cation that our native tongue is thus and the principles and dictates of a placed on a footing of equality with higher morality. those languages which have hitherto It is not, however, our object to enter usurped the place of honour in our into any condemnation of the system of colleges and universities. It is not be- instruction which is still prevalent in our cause the Greek and Latin do not in old, and as at present constituted, anthemselves possess intrinsic excellencies, tiquated universities ; but taking Pro. for every one must admit that they de- fessor Craik's Outlines as our guide, to serve to be well studied, that we object present before our readers a short and to the almost exclusive place which condensed account of the causes which they have occupied in the philological have operated in transforming Anglodepartments of university education ; Saxon into modern English, but because they have unduly claimed The Anglo-Saxon language was inthe attention of the major part of the troduced into England during the fifth students to the disregard of their own century of our era by the Angles and language, which would undoubtedly Saxons, who invaded and conquered have yielded them a richer return in the country and settled down, the forthe practical affairs of after-life. There mer in its northern, the latter in its might have been some excuse for the southern districts. In all probability mode of procedure which has been these two people came from different adopted, if the literature which is con parts of the Continent, and were, for a tained within the range of the Eng- few generations, distinguished from each lish language had been unworthy of other by some dialectical variation of
. * “ Outlines of the History of the English Language, by G. L. Craik, Professor of History and English Literature, Queen's College, Belfast.”
speech ; the language of the Angles the thirteenth century, when the Anglobeing interspersed with considerable Saxon disappeared for ever as the traces of Scandinavianism, while the tongue of living men. Saxon dialect bore a closer resemblance Some philologists have asserted, with to its kindred tongues of Low Germanic confidence, that the revolution which origin. But it cannot be supposed that took place in the Anglo-Saxon was octhere were any essential differences be- casioned solely by the social and polititween them, for, after a short period, cal degradation of the Saxon-speaking they coalesced and melted down, with- population under the rule of the Nor. out difficulty, into one, which became man kings. But this theory, while it is the literary and acknowledged language at variance with the general history of of both nations, though probably the all languages which have passed original variations were still to a large through the same stages, is indefenextent retained in the oral speech of sible, when it is considered that lanthe provincials.
guage is the exponent of mind, and Like all primal or original languages, must, therefore, be controlled and reguthe Anglo-Saxon was highly inflected; lated by mental laws. It would, if corthat is, its roots were clothed with pre- rect, imply that political misfortunes fixes and affixes, with initial and final had operated so powerfully as to reduce increments, by which case, gender, per- the mass of the people to a state of babson, state, time, and mode were clearly bling infancy, when they forgot the signified. The order and regularity of its established mode of expressing their composition, its innate richness of express thoughts and feelings. But no event, sion, and the plastic power by which it short of a loss of reason (and scarcely was enabled to form new compounds at even that) could affect any mind to such pleasure, and thus to accommodate it an extent as to cause the derangement self to every phase of the national mind, and confusion of the language which have been made the subject of praise had been the medium of conversation by every one who has studied its consti- from childhood and onwards; much less tution. So long as the Saxons continued that a whole nation should be so overmasters of Britain, their native lan- whelmed with despair as to change the guage was spoken in nearly its ancient stately march of their mother-tongue, purity, at least by the higher and edu- and transform it into a powerless jarcated classes of society. But about the gon. All changes in language, as well time of the Conquest, or a little before, as in every other department of Naevident symptoms of the breaking up of ture's works, must be slow and regular, its complicated structure began to rnani- and must proceed upon fixed principles, fest themselves in the gradual lopping which are immediately and directly gooff of its grammatical forms, and in the verned by the general laws of mind; marked tendency of the people to ar- and, until the laws of mind become unrive at a more simple and natural mode settled and irregular, we may with of expression. Even while the written safety assume that no disorganization, language preserved in its compositions other than is natural, can be effected in all the characteristic forms of its highest language which is their outlet and restate of development, and attended to presentative. The changes which took the same rules of grammatical con- place in the Anglo-Saxon were cerstruction as those which regulated the tainly not dictated by caprice, but were writers of the classic era of Alfred the originated, directed, and controlled in Great, it would seem to be beyond doubt consequence of a universal law, which that an oral dialect of a less artificial has been proved to apply to all lantexture was in prevalent use among the guages when passivg from an ancient to rude and unlettered peasantry, who do a modern form. That law is, that as not care to trammel theinselves with languages become modern, they lose the diction of the learned, or with more their inflection, and substitute in its than is absolutely required for the pur- stead circumlocutions by means of preposes of ordinary conversation. At any positions and auxiliary verbs. They rate, about the middle of the eleventh throw off one after another of the cumcentury, a process of destruction had set brous trammels in which they have in, which was carried on with constantly- been enveloped, and array themselves increasing rapidity, until the middle of in lighter and more suitable apparel.