Зображення сторінки
PDF

his master, he sought inflaming speeches, he began vaingloriong words; he would not serve God, he said he was his equal in light and shining, as white and as bright in hue. Nor could he find it in his mind to render obedience to his God, to his King. He thought in himself that he could have subjects of more might and skill than the Holy God. Spake many words this angel of pride, He thought through his own craft that he could make a inore strong-like seat higher in the heavens,

Satan's Speech. What shall I for his favour serye. bend to him in such vassalace God as he. tand by me strong associates, who will not fail me in the strife. Heroes stern of mood, they have choseu me for chief, renowned warriors!' . . Boiled within him his thought about his heart; hot was without him his dire punishment. Then spake he words: This narrow place is most unlike that other that we formerly knew, high in Heaven's kingdom, which my master bestowed on me, though we it, for the All-powerful. may not possess. We must cede our realm; yet hath he pot done rightly, that he hath struck us down to the fiery abyss of the hot hell, bereft us of Heaven's kingdom, hath decreed to people it with inankind. That is to me of sorrows the greatest, that Adam, who was wrought of earth, shall possess my strong seat; that it shall be to him in delight, and we endure this torment-misery in this hell. Oh! had I the power of my hands, and might one season be without, be one winter's space, then with this host I - But around me lie iron bonds, preseeth this cord of chain; I am powerless, me have so hard the clasps of hell so firmly grasped. Here is a vast fire above and underneath ; never did I see a loathlier landscape; the flame abateth not, hot over hell. Me hath the claspings of these rings, this hard polished band, impeded in my course, debarred me from my way. ****5 ... About me iie huge gratings of hard iron, forged with heat with which me God P

u u on cours.Date me on my way: has fastened by the neck. Thus perceive I that he knoweth my mind.'

The Anglo-Saxon poetry is not in rhyming verse, but is alliterative. There are three alliterative words in the couplet, two in the first line, and one in the second :

Like was he [Satan) to the light stars;
The laud (praise) of the Ruler ought he to have wrought,
Dear should he hold his delights in heaven.

ALFRED TIIE GREAT. That wisc and encrgetic sovereign King ALFRED was the earliest of our royal authors. Ile was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in 819, succeeded to the crown at the age of 23, was driven from his throne by the Dancs, who overran the kingdom of the West Saxons ; but after experiencing various reverses, completely routed the inVaders in 8.9, and, having firmly established his sway, set liimself to reform and instruct his people. He established many beneficial institutions and just laws, le translated the historical works of Orosius and Bede, Boethius on the Consolations of Philosophy, and selections from the Soliloquies of St. Augustine; and he wrote in the AngloSaxon language an account of the Laws of the West Saxons, and various chronicles, meditations, &c. Another invasion of the Northmen in 89.3 threatened to destroy all the patriotic and enlightened labours of Alfre:1, but he succeeded in defeating the barbarians, and restoring his country to peace and prosperity. He died October 28, 901. The chracter of this monarch, comprising so much gentleness, along with dignity and manly vigour, and displaying bure tastes cal culated to be beneficial to others as well as himself, would have graced the most civilised age nearly as much as it graced one of the rudest. A sliort specimen of the language of Alfred may be given 'from his translation of the Pastorals of St. Gregory. Referring to the recay of learning among the people, especially the religious orders, the king says:

• Sva clone heo vs othreallen on Anglecvnne, thiet feat tron behmonan Humbre the hira thenuge euthon understandan on Englise, oththe furthon a'2 ærend-ge-writ of Ledene ou Englise areccan; and ic wene thæt nabt monige begeordan Flambre neron. Swa feawa heora wieron, that ic furthou anne culepne De met-ge-thencan besuthan Thamise tha tha ic to rice feng. Gode ælmightiyam ay thane, that we nu ænigne an steal habbath larcown.

So clean it was ruined amongst the English people, that there were very few on this sile the lumber who could understand their service in English, or declare forth an epistle out of Latin into English; and I think that there were not many beyond the lunber. So few such there were, that I cannot think of a single one to the south of the Thames when I began to reign. To God Almighty be thanks, that we now have any teacher in stall,

In Alfred's poetical translation of the poetry in Boethius, there is, as Turner remarks, an effort at description in passages like the following:

Then Wisdom again unlocked her word-treasure. She sang true, and thus herself said: "When the sun clearest shines, serenest in heaven, speedily will be darkened all over the earth the other stars. For this, their brightness cannot be set aurat against the sun's light. When mild blows the south and west wind under heaven, then quickly increase the blossoms of the fields, that they may rejoice. But tho dark storm, when he cometh strong from north and east, he taketh away speedily the blossoms of the rose; and also the wide sea, the northern tempest drives with vehemence, that it be strong excited, and lashes the shores. All that is on earth, even the fast-built works in the world will not remain for ever.'

Two short comparisons by Alfred :

So oft the mild sea with south wind, as gray glass clear, becomes grimly troubled, then the great waves mingle, the sea-whales rear themselves; rough is then that which before was glad to look at.

So ost a spring bursts from the hoary cliffs, cold and clear, and diffusely flows on, it runneth along the earth; a great mountain-stone falleth, and in the inidst of it lics trundled from the mountain; it then into two streams is divided; the puro lake becomes troubled and turbid, and the brook is changed from its right course. *

ARCHIBISHOP ALFRIC-CANUTE--THE SAXON CHRONICLE. After Alfred, the next important name is that of ALFRIC, archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1000. This learned prelate was a voluminous writer, and, like Alfred, entertained a strony wish to ene lighten the people; he wrote much in his native tongue, particularly a collection of homilies, a translation of the first seven books of the Bible, and some religious treatises. He was also the author of a grammar of the Latin tongue, which has given him the sub-name of 'the Grammarian.'.

The Danish sovereign, CNUT or CANUTE (1017-1036), is said to have composed a song on hearing the mus.c of Ely Cathedral, as he

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

was in a boat on the river Nen. One verse of this song has been preserved by the monk of Ely (* IIistoria Eliensis') who wrote about the year 1166, and it continued, after the lapse of a century and a half, to be very popular with the people. The language is still so intelligible that we may suspect the monk to have slightly modernised it in accordance with the English of the middle of the twelfth century: Merie sungen the muneches binnen Ely Merry (sweetly] sung the monks within Tha Chut Chiny rew there by : Rowetli, cnihtos, nocr the lant,

That (when) Cnut King rowed thereby : And here we thes muneches saeng. Row, knights, near the land,

And hear we these monks' song. The Saxon CHRONICLE relates events from the earliest time to the year 891, compiled, as is believed, by Plegmund, archbishop of Canterbury, for the use of King Alfred. A continuation to the first year of Ilonry II., or the year 1154, was afterwards added. The united work forms but a dry record of ficts or marvellous occurrences, but it is one of the authorities for the conquest of Britain, agreeing as it does with the previous narratives of Gildas and Bede. Much of our early history, previous to the introduction of Christianity in the year 597, is now considered mythical. Hengist and Horsa, the reputed popular leaders of the invasion in 450, are ranked by Macauluy with Romulus and Remus, and whole files of English and Scottish kings have been swept from history into the region of fable.

ODE ON THE BATTLE OF BRUNANBURH. In 918 was fought the important battle of Brunanburl, which gave Athelstan the fame of being the founder of the English monarchy. A native bard celebrated the great victory in an ode of about 150 lines, beginning thus:

Athelstan cyning,

Athelstan king,
Eorla drihten,

Lord of earls,
Beorna beah ypa!

Bracelet-giver of barons !
And his brother ac,

And his brother eke,
Eadmund #theling.

Edmund Ætheling (or Prince). A lasting glory won by slanghter in battle with the edges of swords at Brunanburh! The wall of shields they claved, they hewed the noble banners, ... Pursuing, they destroyed the Scottish people and the ship-tieet. They feil dead! The field resounded, the warriors sweat! After that the sun rose in the morning hour

the reatest star! glad alove the earth God's candle bright, the eternal Lord's! till the noble creature hastined to her setting!... Five lay in that battle-place, young kings, by swords quieted. So also sevi, the Earls of Aulaf, and innumerable of the army of the feet, and the Scots. So the brothers, both together, the king and the atheling their country songht, the West-Syxon land. The screamers of war they left behind, the raven to enjoy, the dismal kite and the black raven with horued beak, and the hoarse toad; the tagle aftrwards to feast on the white flesh, the greedy battle-hawk, and the gruy beast, the wolf in the wood.*

* Turner's' Anglo-Saxons,' vol. ii. 289.

ANGLO-NORMAN OR SEMI-SAXON WRITERS. The original Anglo-Saxon terminated with the middle of the elev. enth century, or the conquest of England by the Normans in 1066. A great change was effected in the national speech. Norman-French became the language of education, of the law-courts, the clergy, and the upper classes generally, while Saxon shared in the degradation that the mass of the people experienced under their conquerors. But though depressed, the old speech could not be extinguished. It maintained its ground as the substance of the popular language, and being gradually blended with the Norman, formed the basis of our English tongue The Saxon was changed from an inflectional into a non-inflectional and analytical language,* and the state of transition is considered to have occupied about two centuries, from the middle of the twelfth to the middle of the fourteenth cen- . tury.

The first literary efforts after the Conquest were in the form of translations or imitations of the Norman poets. Rhyme and metre were introduced. The language named from its origin Roman (the linguir Romana, wlience we derive our terin Romance) was separated into two great divisions-that of the South, which is popularly represented by the Provençal, and that of the North, which formed the French and Anglo-Norman. The Provençal used to be distinguished by the name of the Langue d'Oc, and the northern French by that of the Langue d'Oil, both being derived from the words for yes, which were oc in the one and oil (afterwards oui) in the other. The poets of the south were derominated trobadores or troubadours, and those in the north trouvères. The troubadours included princes and nobles, who sung as well as composed their amatory lyrics and light satires. Richard I. (Cour de Lion), it will be recollected, was one of the num: ber; and during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there were seyeral hundreds of these troubadour versifiers in the Provençal language. The trouvères wrote graver strains, romances, legends, chronicles, and national ballads. A trouvère, Taillefer, at the battle of Hastings, rode in front of the invading army, chanting the songs which told of Charlemagne and Roland, and was the first of the Normans to rush on the enemy. As to the origin of the popular fables and chivalrous romances, Campbell las finely said: "The elements of romantic fiction have been traced up to various sources; but neither the Scaldic, nor Saracenic, nor A.rmorican theory of its

lfallam thus describes the process: The Anglo-Saxon was converted into English: 1. By actius loilorwire modifying the pronunciation and ortogripliy of words; 2. Dy onit:in many inctions, pecily of the hou, and consequently making 100 use of articles and auxiliaries; 3. By the introduction French derivatives ; and. 4. By li ingless in versiounileliipsis, e pecially in poetry. Of these thin second alone. I think, CIUD ("sidered its suicient to describe an w foun of language and this viis brught about gradually, that we are not relieved of much of our dilticulty, Tiliter 170 (

14 all as for the latest u pring of the ther, or for the curliest 1ruiis vi the daughter's fertility.'-Literuiure of Europe, l'art 1. 17.

origin can sufficiently account for all its materials. Many of them are classical, and others derived from the Scriptures. The migrations of science are difficult enough to be traced; but fiction travels on still lighter wings, and scatters the seeds of her wild-flowers imperceptibly over the world, till they surprise us by springing up with similarity in regions the most remotely divided.'*

WACE, LAYAMON, AND THE ORMULUM. The earliest Anglo-Norman translator is said to be Maister WACE, a native of Jersey, who, about 1160, rendered into verse the history by Geoffrey of Monmouth, in which the affairs of Britain were traced through a series of imaginary kings, beginning with Brutus of Troy, and ending with Cadwalader, who was said to have lived in the year 689 of the Christian era. Wace also composed a history of the Normans, under the title of the Roman de Rou,' that is, the Romance of Rollo, first Duke of Normandy; and from admiration of his works, Henry II. bestowed upon Wace a canonry in the catliedral of Bayeux. Among the other Anglo-Norman French works were: 'The Roman de la Rose,' imitated by Chaucer ; the 'Romance of Troy, and Chronicle of the Duke of Normandy,' lvy BENOIT DE ST MAUR (1180); a' Chronicle of the Anglo-Saxon Kings,' by GEOFFREY GAIMAR (1118), &c. Wace's poem, "Le Brut d'Angleterre,'consists of no less than 15,300 lines! Tlie original work, Geoffrey of Monmouth's history, is remarkable on account of its effect on subsequent literature. The Britons settled in Wales, Cornwall, and Bretagne, were distinguished for the store of fanciful and fabulous legends they possessed. For centuries previous, Europe had been supplied with tale and fable from the teeming fountain of Bretagne, Walter Calenius, archdean of Oxford, collected some of these tales, professedly historical, relating to England, and communicated them to Geoffrey, by whom they were put into the form of a regular historical work, and introduced for the first time to the learued world. As little else than a bundle of incredible stories, partly founded on fact, this production is of small value; but it supplied a ground for Wace's poem, and proved an unfailiuy resource for the writers of romantic narrative during the next lwo cen:uries. Even in a later, age its influence was not exhausted ; Spenser and Shakspeare adopted the story of Lear, and Sackville that of Ferrex and porrex, while Drayton reproduced much of it in his ' Polyolbion,' and allusions 10 it are seen in the poetry of Milton and Gray. Pope, too, contemplated an epic on the story of Brutus.

As contributions to real history, though often doubtful or exag. gerated, may be mentioned the works in Latin of INGULPH, abbot of Croyland (circa 1030-114 9), who wrote a history of his abbey, and a Life of St. Guthlac; WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY (circa 1095–1143),

* Essay on English Poetry,

« НазадПродовжити »