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Then called Arthur, noblest (boldest] of kings: 'Where be ye, my Britons, my bold thanes (knights]? The day it forth goeth; this folk against us standeth. Cause we to glide to them sharp darts enow, and teach them to ride the way towards Rome!' Even with the words that Arthur (then) said he (they) sprang forth on steed [upon steeds], as spark doth of fire. Fifty thousand were following him.

47. In the second specimen, which is from the elder text, th has been substituted for þ and , to accommodate the unpractised reader.


Line 28582. Tha nas ther na mare,

Then was there no more i than fehte to laue,

in that fight left alive, of twa hundred thusend monnen, out of 200,000 men, tha ther leien to-hawen;

that there lay cut to pieces ; buten Arthur the king one,

but Arthur the King only and of his cnihtes tweien.

and two of his knights. Arthur wes forwunded

Arthur was wounded wunderliche swithe.

dangerously much. Ther to him com a cnaue,

There to him came a youth the wes of his cunne;

who was of his kin; he wes Cadores sune,

he was son of Cador, the eorles of Cornwaile.

the earl of Cornwall. Constantin hehte the cnaue ;

Constantin hight the youth ; he wes than kinge deore.

to the king he was dear. Arthur him lokede on,

Arthur looked upon him, ther he lai on folden,

where he lay on the ground, and thas word seide,

and these words said, mid sorhfulle heorte.

with sorrowful heart. Constantin thu art wilcume,

Constantine thou art welcome, thu weore Cadores sune :

thou wert Cador's son : ich the bitache here,

I here commit to thee, mine kineriche:

my kingdom: and wite mine Bruttes,

and guide thou my Britons a to thines lifes :

aye to thy life's cost : and hald heom alle tha lazen, and assure them all the laws, tha habbeoth istonden a mine dazen: that have stood in my days : and alle tha lazen gode,

and all the laws so good, tha bi Vtheres dazen stode.

that by Uther's days stood. And ich wulle varen to Aualun, And I will fare to Avalon, to uairest alre maidene;

to the fairest of all maidens ; to Argante there quene,

Argante the queen, aluen swithe sceone :

elf exceeding sheen: and heo scal mine wunden,

and she shall my wounds, makien alle isunde,

make all sound,

al hal me makien,
mid haleweize drenchen.
And seothe ich cumen wulle
to mine kineriche:
and wunien mid Brutten,
mid muchelere wuone.

Æfne than worden,
ther com of se wenden,
that wes an sceort bat lithen,
sceouen mid vthen:
and twa wimmen therinne,
wunderliche idihte:
and heo nomen Arthur anan,
and aneouste hine uereden,
and softe hine adun leiden,
and forth gunnen hine lithen.

all whole me make,
with healing drinks.
And sith return I will,
to my kingdom :
and dwell with Britons,
with mickle joy.

Even with these words,
there came from sea-ward wending,
that was a short boat sailing,
moving with the waves :
and two women therein,
of marvellous aspect :
and they took Arthur anon,
and quickly bore him off,
and softly him down laid,
and forth with him to sea they gan

to move away. Then was it come to pass what Merlin said whilome; that there should be much curious care, when Arthur out of life should fare.

Britons believe yet, that he be alive, and dwelling in Avalon, with the fairest of all elves : still look the Britons for the day of Arthur's coming o'er the sea.

Tha wes hit iwurthen, that Merlin seide whilen; that weore unimete care, of Arthures forth fare.

Bruttes ileueth 3ete, that he beo on liue, and wunnie in Aualun mid fairest alre aluen : and lokieth euere Bruttes zete, whan Arthur cume lithen.

48. A third specimen shall be taken from near the close of this voluminous work, where the elder text only is preserved.


Line 31981. þa tiden comen sone,

The tidings came soon to Cadwaðlader kinge

to Cadwalader king into Brutaine,

into Britanny, þer þar he wunede

where he was dwelling mid Alaine kinge,

with Alan the king, be wes of his cunne.

who was of his kin. Me dude him to understonde Men did him to understand of al bisse londe ;

all about this land ; hu Adelstan her com liðen,

how Athelstan had here embarked, ut of Sex londen;

coming out of Saxon parts; and hu he al Angle lond,

and how he all England sette on his agere hond ;

set on his own hand; E

and hu he sette moting,
& hu he sette husting;
and hu he sette sciren,
and makede frið of deoren;
& hu he sette halimot,
& hu he sette hundred;
and þa nomen of pan tunen,
on Sexisce runen:
and Sexis he gan kennen,
þa nomen of þan monnen:
and al me him talde,
þa tiden of pisse londe.
Wa wes Cadwaladere,
þat he wes on liue.

and how he set mote-ting,
and how he set hus-ting ;
and how he set shires,
and made law for game;
and how he set synod
and how he set hundred;
and the names of the towns
in Saxon runes !
and in Saxish gan he ken,
the names of (British] men :
and so they told him all
the tidings of this land !
Wo was to Cadwalader,
that he was alive.

49. The Ormulum may be proximately dated at A.D. 1215. This is a versified narrative of the Gospels, addressed by Ormin or Orm to his brother Walter, and after his own name called by the author Ormulum'; by which designation it is commonly known.

Icc þatt tiss Ennglish hafe sett

Ennglisshe men to lare,
Icc wass þær þær I cristnedd wass

Orrmin bi name nemmedd.

I that this English have set

English men to lore,
I was there-where I christened was

Ormin by name named.

piss boc iss nemmnedd Orrmulum

Forrpi þatt Orrm itt wroghte.

This book is named Ormulum

Because that Orm it wrought.

In this poem we find for the first time the word 'English' in the mature form. Layamon has the forms englisc, englis, ænglis, anglisce; but Orm has enngliss, and still more frequently the fully developed form ennglissh. The author is lavish of his consonants.

50. This is a constant feature of the Ormulum. For Orm was one of Nature's philologers, and a spellingreformer. He carefully puts the double consonant after the short vowel. Had his orthography been generally adopted, we should have had in English not only the mm and nn with which German is studded, but many other double consonants which we do not now possess.


great a study Orm had made of this subject we are not left to gather from observation of his spelling, for he has emphatically called attention to it in the opening of his work.


And whase wilenn shall piss boc

efft operr sibe writenn himm bidde icc þat he't write rihht

swa summ biss boc him tächepp and tatt he loke well þatt he

an bocstaff write twiggess eggwhær þæt itt uppo biss boc

iss writen o þatt wise. loke well batt he't write swa,

for he ne magg nohht elless on Ennglissh writenn rihht te word,

þatt wite he well to sope.

And whoso shall purpose to make another copy of this book, I beg him to write it exactly as this book directeth; and that he look well that he write a letter twice wherever upon this book it is written in that wise. Let him look carefully that he write it so, for else he cannot write it correctly in English-that know he well for certain !

51. There is another point of orthography which is (almost) peculiar to this author. When words beginning with þ follow words ending in d or t, he generally (with but a few, and those definite exceptions) alters the initial þ to t. Where (for example) he has the three words þatt and þatt and be succeeding one another continuously, he writes, not þatt þalt þe, but þatt tatt te. One important exception to this rule is where the word ending with the d or t is severed from the word beginning with } by a metrical pause ; in that case the change does not take place, as,

7 agg affter be Goddspell stannt

þatt tatt te Goddspell menepþ.

and aye after the Gospel standeth

that which the Gospel meaneth.

Here the stannt does not change the initial of the next word, because of the metrical division that separates them. Other examples of these peculiarities may be seen in the following



Forr himm birrþ beon full clene mann,

and all wiþþutenn ahhte, Buttan þatt mann himm findenn shall

unnorne mete and wæde. And tær iss all þatt eorplig þing

þatt minnstremann birrþ aghenn Wipþutenn cnif and shæþe and camb,

and nedle, giff he't georneþþ. And all biss shall mann findenn himm

and wel himm birrþ itt gemenn; For birrþ himm nowwþerr don þæroff,

ne gifenn itt ne sellenn. And himm birrþ æfre staudenn inn

to lofenn Godd and wurrþen, And agg himm birrþ beon fressh þærto

bi daggess and by nihhtess; And tat iss harrd and strang and tor

and hefig lif to ledenn, And forbi birrþ wel clawwstremann

onnfangenn mikell mede, Att hiss Drih htin Allwældennd Godd,

forr whamm he mikell swinnkepþ. And all hiss herrte and all hiss lusst

birrþ agg beon towarrd heoffne, And himm birrþ geornenn agg þatt an

hiss Drihhtin wel to cwemenn, Wiþþ daggsang and wiþþ uhhtennsang

wiþþ messess and wiþþ beness, &c.

For he ought to be a very pure man

and altogether without property, Except that he shall be found in

simple meat and clothes. And that is all the earthly thing

that minster-man should own, Except a knife and sheath and comb

and needle, if he want it. And all this shall they find for him,

and it is his duty to take care of it, For he may neither do with it,

neither give it nor sell. And he must ever stand in (vigorously)

to praise and worship God, And aye must he be fresh thereto

by daytime and by nights ; And that's a hard and stiff and rough

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