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MATTH. ix. 31.
Ith eis us-gaggandans us-meridedun ina in allai But they out-going out-heralded him in all airthai jainai. earth that (yon).
MATTH. x. 36.
Jah fijands mans innakundai is.
The grammatical system of the Gothic dialect has been compared for its effect to that of the Sanscrit. But while these two languages may be mentioned together as the two signal examples of high inflectional tension, it should not be forgotten that an immense gulf of circumstance divides them. The Sanscrit grammar is the product of a longsustained and cloistered culture—the Gothic grammar was the property of shepherds, who were little in advance of the life of nomads. Not until the field of language has been much more generally cultivated, will it be known and appreciated how great a light of history is preserved to us in the Gothic remains. For these we have to thank the benign and fertilising effect of Christianity, which sheds light directly and indirectly, and in whose nature it is to promote all things that enrich the life of man, and to animate with worthy objects every one of his faculties. Professor N. Max Müller has declared how greatly philology is indebted to Christianity; and he has testified that, but for its influence, this science could hardly, as yet, have come into existence.
In the subjoined Lord's Prayer the English is a little distorted in order to act as a guide to the Gothic words:—
THE LORD’S PRAYER. From the Gothic VERsion of ULPHILAs; made about A.D. 365.
Aivaggeljo thairh. Matthaiu.
Atta unsar thu in himinan Father our thou in heaven
Veihnai namo thein Be-ballowed name thine
Kvinnai thiudinassus theins
Come kingdom thine Vairthai vilja theins, svě in himina jah ana airthai Be-done will thine as in heaven yea on earth Hlaif unsarana thana sinteinan gif uns himma daga Loaf ozz7° the daily give us this day,
Svasve jah veis afletam thaim skulam unsaraim
The Low Dutch family of languages falls into two natural divisions, the Southern or Teutonic Platt-Deutsch, and the Northern or Scandinavian. It was at the point of junction between these halves—at the neck of the Danish peninsula, along the banks of the Elbe, and along the south-west coasts of the Baltic—that our continental progenitors lived and spoke. A question has been raised, whether we are to be classed with the northern or the southern division of this great family.
An incident that occurred at Clair-sur-Epte in the year A.D. 912, tends to shew that Englisc then was very like Danish. Rolf the Northern chief would not kiss the foot of Charles the Simple, unless he lifted it to his mouth. According to one form of the tale, the famous refusal was made in a language which was taken for Englisc. Now the company present spoke Frankish, that is to say, Old High Dutch; and unless we suppose Rolf to have learnt Englisc, which seems a romantic hypothesis, we have the interesting testimony that the Franks saw little or no distinction between Englisc and Danish *.
A great deal may be said, and in fact has been said and written, to prove that we are Scandinavians, and to draw us over the middle border. But it generally resolves itself into a number of points of similarity rather than into an essential and ancient similitude. Words and names are compared as if it were forgotten how largely we have borrowed from the Danes in historic times. It is not to be denied, however, that we have some peculiarities in common with the Norsk dialects, which argue very close relations with those people. A striking illustration of this may be found in the AngloSaxon word for the giant of the legends. The giant is eosen, the same word as the Old Norskjötunn—a word unknown in the Teutonic branch. Grimm imagined that the word had been derived from the verb to eat (elan), because the giant is a huge eater. But this can hardly be. Already in the Beowulf we have the adjective formed from eosen, eolenisc, of a sword that had belonged to giants. Professor Nilsson, in his Stone Age (p. 228, ed. Lubbock), has, with great appearance of probability, traced this word to a Lapland origin, so that the word would have flowed out along with the GiantSagas, which he makes the Laps the parents of. That a word of mark like this should have its barrier between us and Germany—should be in Norsk and Saxon, but not in any High or Low Dutch—is an indication that our ancestors can hardly be classed as pure and unaltered Teutons. The Saxons were a border people, and spoke a Low Dutch strongly impregnated with Scandinavian associations. But the more we go back into the elder forms on either side, the more does it seem to come out clear, that our mother tongue is, in fundamentals, to be identified with the Plat!JDeutsch, the dialect of the Hanseatic cities, the dialect which has been created into a national language in that which we call the Dutch, as spoken in the kingdom of the Netherlands. The people of Bremen call their dialect Nieder-Sãchisch, i.e. Lowland-Saxon; and the genuine original ‘Saxony’ of European history was in this part, namely, the middle and lower biet of the Elbe. The name of ‘Saxon’ has always adhered to our nation, though we have seemed almost as if we had been willing to divest ourselves of it. We have called our country England, and our language English : yet our neighbours west and north, the Welsh and the Gael, have still called us Saxons, and our language Saxonish. It has become the literary habit of recent times to use the term ‘Saxon' as a distinction for the early period of our history and language and literature, and to reserve the term ‘English’ for the later period. There is some degree of literary impropriety in this, because the Saxons called their own language Englisc. On this ground some critics insist that we should let the word English stand for the whole extent of our insular history, which they would divide into Old English, Middle English, and New English. But on the whole, the terms already in use seem bolder, and more distinct. They enable us to distinguish between Saxon and Anglian ; and they also comprise the united nation under the compound term Anglo-Saxon. As expressive of the dominant power, it is not very irregular to call the whole nation briefly SAXON. We have no contemporary account of the Saxon colonisation. The story which Baeda gives us in the eighth century, is, that there were people from three tribes, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. The latter were said to be still distinguishable in Kent and the Isle of Wight; but, except in this statement, we have lost all trace of the Jutes. The Angles and Saxons long stood apart and distinct from one another; and they had each a corner of their own. The Anglians occupied the north and east of England, and the Saxons the south and west. The line of Watling Street, running from London to Chester, may be taken as the boundary line between these races, whom we shall sometimes combine, according to prevalent usage, under the joint name of Anglo-Saxons, or under the dominant name of Saxons. When the Anglo-Saxons began to make themselves masters of this island, they found here a population which is known in history as the British race. This people spoke the language which is now represented by the Welsh. It was an ancient Keltic dialect somewhat tinctured with Latin. The Britons had been in subjection to Roman dominion for a space of between three and four centuries. This would naturally have C
* Freeman's Norman Conquest, vol. i. p. 190.