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A form, though not of finest mould,
Unconsciously doth please ;
A modesty and ease. But still her air, her face, each charm, Must speak a heart with feeling 'warm,
And mind inform the whole ; With mind her mantling cheek must glow, Her voice, her beaming eye must show
1. A Grammar of the Anglo-Saxon Tongue, with a
. additional Notes, &c. By his Brother, WILLIAM DANIEL CONYBEARE. London. 1826. pp. 286. 8vo.
An all-inspiring soul.
By Hymen's silken tie,
, my all I'd give, For her alone delighted live,
For her consent to die.
My aching head I'd lay;
And drive my griefs away.
In turn, I'd soften all her care,
, each wish, each feeling share;
I'd watch beside her bed.
And, were its fury hurled,
Defy the opposing world.
To praise the Almighty name;
My soul should catch the flame.
And all to love be given;
But live and love in Heaven,
The language and literature of the Anglo-Saxons must ever be a subject of lively and enduring interest to the descendants of that race, wherever scattered abroad over the many-peopled globe. Wherever the English tongue is spoken, this parent language deserves to be studied by those who would acquire a thorough knowledge of that tongue. To Englishmen, and their offspring in every land, the Anglo-Saxon is precisely what the Latin is to the Italians, Spaniards, and Portuguese, or the Icelandic to the modern inhabitants of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Doubtless, the original language of England has received, in its passage through the long tract of time, great accessions of strength and riches from the tributary streams of Norman, French, and Latin ; but its sturdiest roots are to be looked for and found in the Anglo-Saxon. Even the mere beauty of its idiom has often been impaired by these foreign accessions. The constant tendency of fashion has been to innovate upon its original simplicity. The affectation of writing a Latinized or Frenchified English is, indeed, now quite discredited by the public taste both here and in the parent country. Still we often find even the best writers and speakers using words and idioms of Latin and French origin, where those of Anglo-Saxon growth would have far more force and beauty. This tendency can only be corrected by a knowledge of the primitive tongue spoken and written by our ancestors not only before, but after the Norman conquest, when the Romanz or langue d'ouil, introduced by the English kings of the Norman line as the language of the court and
the law, was justly considered by their English subjects as a hateful badge of slavery. The study of the Anglo-Saxon may, therefore, be considered as essential to a complete knowledge of modern English.
Still this study has not been cultivated with any very decisive success in England,—the country, of all others, most interested in its improvement. In vain have rich endowments been founded for this purpose at Oxford. England, with all her pride and magnificence of patronage, is still indebted to foreigners,—to learned natives of the cold and barren North, for the successful developement of her original national language. What is more, some of her scholars have not been ashamed to use the intellectual treasures gathered by the sagacity and unwearied industry of the Danish philologists, without the slightest acknowledgement or hint of the source whence they derived their information.
That great lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson, was fully sensible of the importance of assigning the Gothic portion of our language to its Gothic origin. Dr. Jamieson, in his Dictionary of the Scottish, has availed himself of the old Gothic tongues to illustrate that Doric dialect of the English language. So also J. Serenius, in the second edition of his AngloSwedish Dictionary, has traced several English words to their Gothic source; but the acquaintance of these writers with the old Gothic languages was too superficial to enable them thoroughly to develope their affinities with modern English. Much of this rich field still remains ungleaned by the students of our language.
We shall bereafter show that the Anglo-Saxon literature is of some intrinsic value, though it certainly cannot be considered as a rich literature in comparison with the Icelandic, or old Scandinavian, and still less with that of any modern civilized people. The original fountains of our laws flowed in this dialect. The light of Christianity first shone on the British island through its medium. The Saxon Chronicle and other writings are the earliest monuments of English history. But the Anglo-Saxon language and literature would have a still stronger claim to the general interest of the literary world, if that language could be shown to be the parent of the present living tongues of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; and if it
2 could be proved that the Icelandic poetry, versification, and mythology, were all borrowed froin the Anglo-Saxons, and
have never been truly national on the Scandinavian continent, or in the Danish Archipelago. This theory has been maintained by the late Professor Rühas, of Berlin, and other German writers. To this contested point, Professor Rask has
. therefore applied himself with patriotic zeal, aided by his mighty philological powers and unrivalled knowledge of the anatomy and filiation of languages.
In the first place, the comparative poverty of the AngloSaxon literature affords a strong presumption against this speculation. We shall here seek in vain for such works as the Icelandic prose and poetic Edda, containing a greater mass of poetry, mythology, rhetoric, and philosophy, (not of classic origin,) than any other European nation can boast ;* for a national history like the Heimskringla of Snorre Sturleson ; for a biography like that of Njála ;t or such a treatise on the offices of human life as Kóngsskuggsjá. I
Professor Rask has fortified this ground by a strong historical argument.
It is an acknowledged fact, says he, that nations bring their languages with them from the countries whence they migrate. Thus the Phenicians brought the Punic tongue to Africa; the Greekts, the Greek to Magna Græcia; and the Scandinavians, the old Northern (Norræna) to Iceland: but there exists no trace of our forefathers having migrated to our present settlements from England; on the contrary, it is known with much greater certainty, that Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, were inhabited by Scandinavian tribes long before the passing of the Anglo-Saxons into Britain, and that it was only after this emigration that they became united into one people, speaking a common language. It is, therefore, not to be conceived on what
* The author of the present article has given some account of these curious books in a former number of this Review. See N. A. Review, January, 1829.—Art. II.
+ This is a biography of the celebrated Icelander, Njáll Thorgeirsson, and his sons, considered as a master-piece for its authenticity and style.
| Kóngsskuggsja, or the Mirror of Kings, is supposed to have been written by King Sverre, who reigned in Norway in the latter part of the twelfth century. It contains a treatise of the various offices of human life with reference to the different professions and civil conditions of that age, such as the courtier, clerk, merchant, &c.; presenting a very striking and instructive picture of the manners, customs and opinions of the North during the middle ages. The best edition of this work is that published by Halfdan Einarson, at Sore, in 1768, with a learned introduction by the celebrated Erikson.
historical authority the present Scandinavian tongues can be derived from the Anglo-Saxon, which was never spoken out of England. On the contrary, we are told by the Anglo-Saxons themselves, that they removed to England from the southern parts of Sleswig and neighboring tracts of Germany; so that with much more reason we might assume the converse of the proposition, and say, that the Anglo-Saxon is derived from the old Danish ; this has not, however, to my knowledge, been asserted by any one; it would, moreover, be absurd and false ; as it was not the Danes themselves, but their neighbors, who migrated; it was, therefore, not the Danish language, but their own Teutonic dialects, which they took with them.
It is also known, that these emigrants consisted of three distinct Gothic races, viz. Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. Whether the Angles or the Saxons were more numerous is not known with certainty; but the Angles finally conquered a larger portion of the country, and gave their name to the whole nation. It was they, perhaps, who were especially invited by the Britons ; yet it is remarkable, that the English, to the present day, are called, both by the Britons in Wales and the Highlanders of Scotland, (in Kymric and Galic) not Angles or Englishmen, but Sarons. The emigrant Saxons also founded three kingdoms; but whether we suppose the Saxons or the Angles to have been the more numerous, it is certain that the Jutes where the fewest ; this is evident from a remarkable passage in the Saxon Chronicle, An. 449, where it is said :
Of Jótum comon Cantware From the Jutes came the inand Wihtware, thætis seó habitants of Kent and of Wight, mæith, the nú eardath on Wiht, that is, the race that now dwells and that cynn on West-Saxum, in Wight, and that tribe among the man gyt hæt Jútnacynn. the West-Saxons, which is yet Of Eald-Saxum comon East- called the Jute tribe. From the Seaxan and Suth-Seaxan, and Old-Saxons came the East-SaxWest-Seaxan. Of Angle comon ons and South-Saxons. From (se át siththan stód westig be- the Angle's land (which has altwix Jútum and Seaxum) East- ways since stood waste betwixt Engle, Middel-Angle, Mearce, the Jutes and Saxons) came the and ealle Northymbria. East-Angles, Mercians, and all
the Northumbrians. Thus the Jutes constituted a very inconsiderable portion of the emigrants, and even this was separated into three bodies; so that also upon this ground, we Scandinavians can ascribe to ourselves a very small share in the language; for whether the Angles are assumed to have been Scandinavian or Teutonic,
the utmost we can thence conclude is, that the Danish tongue was introduced into the Anglo-Saxon, and not vice versa, as the Angles never returned ; nor could the Danes have mingled with any that remained behind; for it is expressly said, that their emigration was so complete, that the land stood waste betwixt the Jutes and the Saxons. That the Saxons were Teutonic, and not Scandinavian, seems evident beyond a doubt, from their whole history, from their ancient habitation, and from the accounts left us by King Alfred, and other Anglo-Saxons. By a parity of reasoning, the Danish cannot be derived from the language of the emigrant Saxons; nor can the Danes and their language be said to be descended from those Saxons before their emigration ; for there is not, as far back as history reaches, the faintest trace or hint of any Saxon emigration to the North; on the contrary, the Danes are, from the remotest times, distinguished from the Saxons, with whom they were in a state of constant warfare ; so that when the Swedish King, Adils, requested aid of Rolf Krage, King of Deninark, against King Ale in the uplands of Norway, Rolf Krage, as we learn from Skalda, Chap. 44, could not go himself, because he was engaged in a Saxon war. The Danes are, moreover, from time immemorial, described as great and powerful nation, that often threatened the independence of their neighbors; as in the times of Ivar Vidfadme, Ragnar Lodbrog, Canute the Great, the Valdemars, and Queen Margaret; and cannot, therefore, with the faintest show of probability, be considered as a Saxon colony. They are besides so clearly distinguished from the Saxons, that, as we are informed, there dwelt a small tribe of Angles between them. That these Angles were Teutonic, it is reasonable to infer from the circumstance of their being so closely connected with the Saxons, that the whole of them accompanied the latter in their emigration, whereas it can only have been detached families from Jutland, who having heard from report of the fortunes that were to be acquired, joined the others, in the hope of sharing the spoil. That the Angles were a Teutonic race is not only probable, but almost certain, from the fact, that the dialect of these invaders so soon coalesced into one common tongue, and assumed a character so decidedly Teutonic, that, with the exception of a few Normanisms, introduced in later times, there is scarcely a vestige deserving notice of the old Scandinavian, or of Danish structure, to be found in Anglo-Saxon ; so that in this respect, even the Old-Saxon bears a stronger resemblance to the Scandinavian tongues.'-- Preface, pp. viii-xii.
This diversity of origin is again illustrated by the difference of grammatical structure between the Anglo-Saxon and the
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