« ZurückWeiter »
his master; he sought inflaming speeches, he began vainglorions 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 more strong-like seat higher in the heavens.
Satan's Speech. What shall I for his favour serve, bend to him in such vassalage? I may be a God as he. Stand by me strong associates, who will not fail me in the strife. Heroes stern of mood, they have chosen me for chief, renowned warriors! . . Boiled withiu 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 inaukind. 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, he 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 iny way:
About me iie huge gratings of hard iron, forged with heat with which me God has fasteued 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 ;
ALFRED THE GREAT.
Tbat wise and energetic sovereign King ALFRED was the earliest of our royal authors. IIe was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in 810, succeeded to the crown at the age of 23, was driven from his throne by the Danes, who overran the kingdom of the West Saxons ; but after experiencing various reverses, completely routed the inVaders in 8.0, and, having firinly established his sway, set himself to reform and instruct his people. He established many beneficial instilutions and just laws, lie translated the historical works of Orosius and Bede, Boethius on the Consolations of Philosophy, and selections fron 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 an i 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 displayirg pure tastes cal culated to be beneficial to others as well as himself, would havo graced the most civilised age nearly as much as it graced one of the rudest. A short specimen of the language of Alfred may be given from his translation of the Pastorals of St. Gregory. Referring to the diecay of learning among the people, especially the religious orders, the king says:
Swa clæne heo wæs othfeallen on Anglecynne, that feawa wæron behaonan Humbre the hira thenunge euthon understandan on Englise, oththe furihon a'2 ærend-ge-writ of Ledene on Englise areccan; and ic wene that nabt monige begeondan Hombre neron. Swa feawa heora wäron, that ic furthou anne culepre De meg-ge-thencan besuthan Thamise tha tha ic tó rice feng. Gode ælmightigum ay thane, thæet we nu ænigne an steal habbath larcown).
So clean it was ruined amongst the English people, that there were very few on this side the lumber who could understand their scrvice in English, or declare fort an epistle out of Latin into English; and I think that there were not many beyond the Thunber. 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 durkened all over the earth the other stars. For this, their brightness cannot be set aught against the sun's light. When mild blows the south and west wind under heaver, then qnickly increase the blossoms of the fields, that they may rajoice. But thó dark storin, when he cometh strong from north and east, he taketh away speedily th: 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 oft a spring bursts from the hoary cliffs, cold and clear, and diffusely flows on, it runneth along the earth ; a great mountain-stone fulleth, and in the inidst of it lies trundled from the mountain; it then into two streams is divided; the pare lake becomes troubled and turbid, and the brook is changed from its right course.
ARCIIBISHOP ALFRIC-CANUTE--THE SAXON CHRONICLE. After Alfred, the next important name is that of ALFRIC, archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1000. This learne'l prelate was a voluminous writer, and, like Alfred, entertained a strony wish to ene lighten the people; he wrote much in his native tongue, particulirly 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
* Alfred's Boethius, by Rawlinson.
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 wiil the English of the middle of the twelfth century: Merie sungen the muneches binnen Ely Merry (sweetly] sung the monks within Thi Chut Ching rew there by : Roweth, 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, arclibishop of Canterbury, for the use of King Alfred. A continuation to the first year of Henry II., or the year 1154, was afterwards added. The united work forms but a dry record of fiucts 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 Macaulay 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 Brunanburh, which gave
Lord of earls,
Bracelet-giver of barons !
And his brother eke,
Edmund Ætheling (or Prince). A lasting glory won hy slanghter in battle with the edges of swords at Brunanburh! The wall of shields they chaved, they hewed the noble banners, ... Puusuing, they destroyed the Scottish people and the ship-tieet. They fell dead! The field resounded, the warriors sweat! After that the sun rose in the morning hour --the greatest star! glad alove the earth God's candle bright, the eternal Lord's! till the noble creature hastened to her setting! Five lay in that battle-place, young kings, by swords quieted. So al:0 sevin, the Earls of Anlaf, and innumerable of the army of the fleet, and the Scots. So the brothers, both together, the king and the atheling their country songht, the West-Suvon land. The screamers of war they left behind, the raven to enjoy, the dismal kite and the black raven with horned beak, and the hoarse toad; the eagle afterwards to feast on the white flesh, the greedy battle-hawk, and the gray beast, the wolf in the wood.*
* Turner's 'Anglo-S
bus,' vol. ii. 289.
ANGLO-NORMAN OR SEMI-SAXON WRITERS. The original Anglo-Saxon terminated with the middle of the eleventh century, or thic conquest of England by the Normans in 1066. A great change was effected in the national speech. Norman-French became the language of eilucation, 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 inflectịonal 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 century.
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 lingu Romana, whence we derive our term 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 denominated 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. (Cæur de Lion), it will be recollected, was one of the number; and during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there were several hundreds of these troubadour versiliers 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 has finely said: The elements of romantic fiction have been traced up to various sources; but neither the Scaldic, nor Saracenic, nor Armorican theory of its
• Tallam thus describes the process: The Anglo-Saxon was converted into English: 1. by contracting of ourwise modifying the gronuuciaiiun and orthograply of words; 2. Byomicing many indictions, p-pecially of the now, and conscqucntly making more use of articles and auxiliaries; 3. By the introduction French derivatives; and. 4. By ui-ing less inversiouanil clipsis, e pecially in poetry. Orthese the second alone. I think, Culonsidered as susicient to describe a ni w foun of language and this viis beseght about s gradually, that we are pot relieved of much of our dificulty, videos
10 Copostes shall 1:25 for the latest ofl pring of the mither, or ivr the curliest fruiis vi the daughter's feruility.'-- Literuiure oj E ope, l'art I. 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 througlı 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 cathedral 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! The 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 tvuntain 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 learned 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 unfailiuý resource for the writers of romantic narrative during the next two 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 lis . 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 exaggerated, may be mentioned the works in Latin of INGULPII, abbot of Croyland (circa 1030–11: 9), who wrote a history of his abbey, and a Life of St. Guthlac; WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY (circa 1095–1143),