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England had been for nearly four hundred years in the possession of the Romans, who, under Julius Cæsar, had partially wrested it from the Celts; but, about the middle of the fifth century of our era, the critical condition of affairs in Italy made it necessary to withdraw the Roman armies from Britain. Thereupon the Picts and Scots, fierce barbarians from the north part of the island, poured down upon the helpless people of the south, enfeebled and unwarlike from long subjection to their military masters. In their distress the sufferers invoked the aid of the Teutonic pirates of the lower Elbe.

"Then, sad relief, from the bleak coast that hears
The German ocean roar, deep-blooming, strong,
And yellow-haired, the blue-eyed Saxon came."

These auxiliaries, who first arrived A. D. 451, finally turned their arms against the feeble Celts whom they came to protect. Multitudes of the Britons fled for refuge to the mountains of Wales: others crossed the English Channel to the north-west corner of France, called Brittany or Bretagne.

The home of these Saxons (so called from sear, a short crooked sword carried under their loose garments) was a wide-spread territory south and southwest of Denmark. In the year 491 of the Christian era they established themselves in Sussex (i. e., South-Saxons), England; in 519, in Hampshire (formerly called Wessex; i. e., West-Saxons); and in 527, in Essex (i. e., East-Saxons). All these dates must be regarded as approximations.

The home of the Angles (from angle, a hook, or angulus, a corner) was probably Anglen, in Sleswick. In 527 they established themselves in Norfolk (i. e., North-folks); in 559, in Yorkshire and Northumberland.

The constant influx of Angles and Saxons filled England (i. e., Angleland), and their blended language became established, to the exclusion of the old Celtic. To this statement one important exception should be made: a multitude of Celtic geographical names were retained in England, precisely as the old Indian names of rivers, lakes, districts, and mountains, have been preserved in America.

About the year 787, the Northmen, including Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes, began their aggressions upon England. Their inroads continued at intervals for nearly three centuries, and finally, in the year 1014, the Danish king, Sweyn, got complete possession of the country. In 1041 the Danish dynasty ceased, and the Anglo-Saxon rule was restored in the person of Edward the Confessor.

In 1066, William the Norman came to England at the head of sixty thousand men. The great battle of Hastings seated him upon the English throne. For two or three hundred years persistent efforts were made by the Norman French to substitute their language, a mixture of the Latin, the Celtic, and the Scandinavian, for the Anglo-Saxon. To only a limited extent was the attempt successful, some three-fifths of the words in actual use in England at this day being of Anglo-Saxon origin. Perhaps one-tenth of the words in common use are from the Norman French.

The different stages of the language of England may be thus designated by chronological periods:

(1.) Celtic, to the conquest of England by the Angles and Saxons in the sixth and seventh centuries; then,

(2.) Anglo-Saxon, five or six hundred years, to about the year 1150.
(3.) Semi-Saxon, one hundred years, from 1150 to 1250.

(4.) Old English, one hundred years, from 1250 to 1350.
(5.) Middle English, two hundred years, from 1350 to 1550.
(6.) Modern English, from 1550 to the present time.

In every hundred words, counting those which are repeated, but omitting proper names, Chaucer and Shakespeare employ, of Anglo-Saxon words, about ninety; Tennyson and Longfellow, about eighty-seven; Spenser, Milton, Addison, and Pope, about eighty-five; Macaulay, Everett, and Webster, about seventy-five.

NOTE 1.-For an admirable statement of the development of the English language, see Professor Hadley's Brief History of the English Language, prefixed to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. Probably there is nothing of the kind superior to it. See Marsh's Lectures on the English Language, Max Müller's Lectures on the Science of Language, Whitney on Language and the Study of Language, English Lessons for English People, by Abbott and Seeley; Teutonic Etymology, by Prof. J. W. Gibbs, Gibbs's Philological Studies, Trench's English, Past and Present, Trench's The Study of Words; Studies in English, by Prof. M. Schele de Vere. See also the treatises of Blair, Quack. enbos, Day, Campbell, Hart, and others, on Rhetoric; those of Craik, Arnold, Taine, and others, on English Literature; Fowler's English Grammar (Revised edition), Goold Brown's Grammar of Grammars, Latham's Hand-Book of the English Language, etc.

NOTE 2.-Besides tho six great stocks of languages named on page 9, many philologists recog nize a seventh, which they variously term Altaic, Ural-Altaic, Turanian, Mongolian, Tartaric, and Scythian. The last name is most favored. According to these authorities, the Scythian stock covers the whole of the northern portion of the eastern continent, and the greater part of central Asia. It includes the languages of the Laplanders, the Finns, the Magyars of Hungary, the Samoyed tribes, the Turks, the Mongols, and the Manchus. Some scholars would add to this list the tribes that inhabit the Dekhan, and the Japanese. The distinguishing characteristic of these languages is that they are agglutinative; that is, they "attach their formative elements somewhat loosely to a root which is not liable to variation." See Whitney on Language and the Study of Language, Brace's Races of the Old World, Max Muller's Lectures, etc.

Let the student write an essay on each of these stocks; on the Latin division, the Greek, the Celtic, the Gothic; on the Teutonic branch; on the Low Germanic family; on the Anglo-Saxon dialect; on England under the Romans, under the Saxons, under the Danes, under the Normans. Let him write an essay confirming or disproving any of the statements made in this chapter.

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Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled,

On Fame's eternal bead-roll worthy to be fyled.-SPENSER.

A perpetual fountain of good sense.-DRYDEN.

-That noble Chaucer, in those former times

Who first enriched our English with his rhymes,

And was the first of ours that ever broke
Into the Muses' treasures, and first spoke
In mighty numbers, delving in the mine
Of perfect knowledge.-WORDSWORTH.

-The morning star of song, who made
His music heard below;

Dan. Chaucer, the first warbler, whose sweet breath
Preluded those melodious bursts that fill

The spacious times of great Elizabeth

With sounds that echo still.-TENNYSON.

One of those rare anthors, whom, if we had met him under a porch in a shower, we should have preferred to the rain!--LOWELL.

In the dim twilight of five hundred years ago, the "morning star of song" began to shine. Born about the year 1328, as we infer from an inscription on his tomb, Geoffrey Chaucer, the "father of English poetry," received a thorough education, at either Oxford or Cambridge, or both. It is pretty clear that he understood well the French and Latin tongues. Whether he was versed in Italian, may be doubted, though he spent some time in Italy, and was all his life a student.

In the autumn of 1359 Chaucer served in the army of Edward III. invading France, where he was captured at the siege of Retters. In the year 1367 we find him one of the king's valets de chambre, and receiving a yearly pension of twenty marks. About this time he married Philippa Roet, sister of the lady who afterwards became the wife of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. In 1370 he was abroad in the king's service. In November, 1372, he was sent on a mission to Genoa, to treat of the choice of a port in England where the Genoese might form a commercial establishment. Having renained about a year in Genoa and Florence, we find him again in England in the latter art of 1373. The great Dante had died fifty years before, but Petrarch and Boccaccio, lready famous, were still alive. He puts into the mouth of his "Clerk" or student, who is supposed to represent Chaucer himself, the following words in regard to the origin of the story of Patient Griselda:

"I will you tell a tale which that I
Learned at Padowe of a worthy clerk,
As proved by his wordes and his work;
He is now dead and nailed in his chest,

I pray to God to give his soule rest;
Francis Petrarch, the laureate poete,
Highte this clerk, whose rhetoric sweet
Enlumined all Itaille of poetry."

He repeatedly quotes Dante, but it is uncertain whether he was familiar with the writings of Boccaccio.

We find a curious record on the 23d of April, 1374, of a grant of a pitcher of wine daily by the king, soon afterwards commuted for another pension of twenty marks. On the 8th of the following June he was appointed controller of the customs and subsidies of wools, skins, and tanned hides, in London. Other tokens of the royal favor followed, and in the last year of Edward's long reign (1327-1377) we find him an ambassador, first to Flanders, and afterwards to France.

Soon after the accession of Richard II. Chaucer was sent to France to negotiate a treaty for a marriage between the boy king and a daughter of the French monarch. Returning soon to England, he was sent in May, 1378, to Lombardy, to treat of military matters. It was on this occasion that he nominated his brother poet, John Gower, whom he afterwards calls "Moral Gower," his attorney and legal representative during his absence. Gower, in his poem entitled Confessio Amantis, makes Venus say,

"And greet well Chaucer when ye meet,
As my disciple and my poete."

In 1386 he was elected knight of the shire, or county representative in parliament, for Kent. The session was very brief, and its proceedings were largely directed against Chaucer's particular friend and patron, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. Strongly enlisted on the side of the duke, Chaucer appears to have shared his fortunes, and to have lost the office of controller. Many years before, one Geoffrey Chaucer, probably our poet, had been fined two shillings for whipping a Franciscan friar în Fleet street; and now he became implicated in a London riot, and was obliged to flee to the Continent with his wife and children. After eighteen months he returned to England, to look after his property, but was seized and flung into the Tower. Yet he seems to have continued to receive, or at least to have been entitled to receive, his two pensions, until he sold them in 1388, being in great destitution. In May, 1389, he was again in favor at court, and in July of that year he was appointed "Clerk of the King's Works," with a pension of £36, and afterwards an annual pipe of wine.

Cloud and sunshine alternately filled his sky. In September, 1391, he was dismissed from office, but soon afterward was restored to public favor. Sixty-three years old, weary of public life, but not soured nor despondent, he retired to his house, given him at Woodstock by the noble duke, and sat down to write. There, and at Donington Castle, where an old tree long bore the name of Chaucer's oak, he composed his greatest work, The Canterbury Tales. One of the vellum manuscripts of these tales, in the possession of the Marquis of Stafford, has a striking picture of the poet; a portly figure, in a thoughtful attitude, his head inclining forward, his chin almost resting on his breast; a buttoned bonnet on his head, its folds hanging gracefully behind his shoulders; a loose frock of camlet reaching below the knee, its wide sleeves gathered and fastened at the wrist; his shoes horned, and his hose supposed to be red. Silver locks peep out from beneath his bonnet. His beard is of moderate length and neatly trimmed. The expression of his face singularly unites cheerfulness and thoughtfulYou can fancy a mirthful twinkle in the eye, and almost expect the grave face to relax into an arch smile as some funny thought flashes through his brain. This man has evidently a just sense of the vanity of all things earthly; but he has also a kind heart and a merry wit.


The accession of his patron's son, Henry IV., brought more sunshine; for within four days the new king granted him (Oct. 3, 1399) a yearly pension of forty marks.


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