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SECTION LXIV.—THE INTRODUCTION OF THE ANGLO-SAXON ELEMENT.
After holding possession of Britain nearly five hundred years from the time Cæsar first landed on its shores, the Romans, pressed by enemies from without, and torn by intestine divisions, found themselves obliged to retire from the island. The Britons, thus left to enjoy their liberty, found themselves unfitted, by their long subjugation to the Romans, to defend themselves against the Picts and the Scots, who poured in upon them from the northern part of the island. Being thus hard pressed, Vortigern, the most powerful of the British kings, in A.D. 449 invited Hengist and Horsa, with their followers, to fight his battles.
Then, sad relief, from the bleak coast that hears
And yellow-haired, the blue-eyed Saxon came.” Saxon, a term derived from a short, crooked sword, called seax, carried under their loose garments by the warriors of the nation, was a general term given to the adventurers led by those chieftains, though they belonged to three tribes, namely, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. These belonged to the Gothic race which composed the second great stream issuing from Asia, and spreading itself over the northern and western part of Europe. The branch to which they belonged was the Teutonic or Germanic, which occupied the part of Europe now occupied by the Germans, and by the southern part of the Danish nation.
SECTION LXV. CHARACTER OF THE ANGLO-SAXONS.
The Saxons were a fierce race of pirates, reckless of life, who traversed the German Ocean in osier boats, covered with skins sewed together, in pursuit of plunder, and not of fame. Their persons were of the largest size, their eyes blue, their complexion fair, and their hair almost uniformly of a light colour. Though the love of gain was their ruling passion, still they sometimes showed a high regard for honour, and a pride of mind that could not endure disgrace. Twenty-nine Saxons strangled themselves to avoid being brought into a theatre for a gladiatorial show. Their arms were long lances, short, crooked swords or knives, called seaxes, with small shields, suspended by chains, and long iron sledgehammers.
They were a race of idolators, who sacrificed to their favourite idols the captives they took in battle, and the cowardly of their own army. The abstract name of the Deity was God. But there were other principal deities of the Northmen. ODIN, whom they called the All-Father; FREYA, his wife; and their son THOR. Of these, the Anglo-Saxons, like the Danes, paid the highest honour to Odin;
the Norwegians and Icelanders to Thor; and the Swedes to Freya. Alphabetical characters were used by the Gothic nations on the Baltic before they received Christianity, and the origin of them is ascribed to Odin. As the profession of arms was generally aspired to by the youth of the Teutonic race, their education from the first had a bearing upon their success in that profession. Aristotle says that the “ Germans used to take their new-born children and dive with them into rivers, as well to make a trial of their strength as to accustom them to hardness; and that they laid their children among their armour in the
camp, it being sport to the infants to see the glittering of the armour. They taught their little boys to manage the pike, having small javelins made for the purpose.
Thus qualified to fight the battles of the Britons against their enemies, the Picts and Scots, they came, few in number at first, as mercenaries into the army of Vortigern, until, their numbers increasing, they turned their arms against the very nation they came to protect. Afterward Ella and Cerdic came with the Saxons proper, then Ida with the Angles. To these, for many years, the Britons offered a brave but a vain resistance, under three kings; under Elrian, Owen, and Prince Arthur, with his knights of the round table, celebrated by the British bards.
To escape from the exterminating sword of their enemies, the natives, as soon as they saw that resistance was fruitless, fled to the hills and forests. Multitudes found a secure asylum among the mountains which cover the west part of the island. Others, under the conduct of their priests and chieftains, abandoned, it is supposed, their native country altogether, and, crossing the ocean, seized the desolate lands on the western extremity of Armorica, subdued the neighbouring cities, and gave the tract the appellation of the parent country It is still known by the name of Bretagne. But the work of devastation was at last checked by views of personal interest. The Britons were at last spared, because their labour was found ne 'essary to the cultivation of the soil. Without distinction of rank, or sex, or profession, they were divided, together with the land, among the conquerors. Being thus diffused among the AngloSaxons, they introduced the Celtic element into the body of the English language.
SECTION LXVI.NAMES OF THE IMMIGRATING TRIBES.
The Jutes, in A.D. 449, came from Jutland, in Denmark, and occupied small possessions in Kent and the Isle of Wight.
The Saxons came from a wide-spread territory south of Denmark. The South Saxons established themselves in Sussex A.D. 491; the West Saxons, in Hampshire, 519; the East Saxons, in Essex, 527.
The Angles came from Anglen, in Sleswick, in the south part of Denmark, and established themselves in East Anglia, in Norfolk, m 527; in Bernicia in Northumberland, in Deira in Yorkshire, 559.
There were one Jute, three Saxon, and four Angle (in all, eight) kingdoms, though they went by the name of the Saxon Heptarchy. The Angles very naturally denominated that part of the country they inhabited Anglelund, or the land of the Angles, which was afterward contracted to England. It is a remarkable fact, that the English of the present day are called by the Britons in Wales, and by the Highlanders in Scotland, in Cambrian and Gaelic, not Angles or English, but Saxons.
After the entire subjugation of the Britons, the West Saxons grew in influence and territory until A.D. 827, when Egbert, king of Wessex, defeated and made tributary all the other Saxon kings. The most distinguished of the West Saxon kings was Alfred, who, to remarkable prowess in war, united a taste for letters. He not only drew learned men from other parts of Europe into England, but by his own literary efforts, especially in translatin Bede's “History," and Boethius “On the Consolations of Philoscphy," and Orosius's “History of the World,” he gave so much prominence to the West Saxon language as to constitute it the cultivated language of the Anglo-Saxons.
Thus we can understand how it is that the Anglo-Saxon enters so largely into the English; that it is less an element than it is the mothert ongue, upon which a few words have been ingrafted from other languages. To this point we shall return.
It is remarkable that the Jutes, the Angles, the Saxons, and a fourth emigrating tribe, namely, the Frisians, lay between the two great branches of the Gothic, the Scandinavian on the north, and the Teutonic on the south. The Jutes were the most Danish, and the Frisians were the most Dutch. That they understood each other's language there can be no doubt. Probably, however, they differed so much, that the provincial differences now existing in England may be owing to original difference of dialect in these tribes. The Frisians now residing in Friesland speak a language strongly resembling the Anglo-Saxon. Probably but few of their tribe came to England with the other tribes, while so many of the Angles came as to leave their country unpeopled.
SECTION LXVII.-OBJECTIONS TO THE TERM ANGLO-SAXON. Objections have been made to the use of the term Anglo-Saxon, as applicable to the language, on the ground that the Angles, emigrating in much greater numbers, and occupying a much larger part of Britain than the cther tribes, have a claim to give their own name to the language, as they did to the country, to wit, Angleland England. An additional ground of objection may be found in the fact that the term “ Englise," as applied to the language, and the term “ Anglorum lingua,” were for centuries in use before the term Anglo-Saxon obtained currency, .
“Our national name of Angle is derived by Bede from the nook,
angulus, in which our forefathers lived on the Continent. Angle, in Anglo-Saxon, means a hook, and in the Gothic language seems to have meant anything that ended in a point. The Angli of Tacitus, it is well known, lived at the point where the coast of the Baltic bends suddenly northward.”-GUEST, London Phil. Soc.
SECTION LXVIII. -THE LANGUAGE BEFORE THE COMING OF THE NORMANS.
As to the language spoken before the coming of the Normans, Camden remarks: "" Great, verily, was the glory of the English tongue (An.-Sax.) before the Norman Conquest, in this, that the Old English could express most aptly all the conceits of the mind in their own tongue, without borrowing from any. For example, the holy service of God, which the Latins call religio, because it knitteth the minds of men together, they call ean fastness, as the one only assurance anchor-hold of our soul's health. The certain inward knowledge of that which is in our own mind, be it good or bad, which with the Latin word we call conscience, they call inwit ; as that which doth inwardly wit, that is, doth know certainly. That which in a river is called channel was called stream race. That which we call
, grandfather they called eald fader. That which we call greatgrandfather they called third fader. The alteration in our tongue hath been brought about by the entrance of strangers, as Danes, Normans, and others which have swarmed hither; by traffic, for new words as well as new wares have always come in ; by the tyrant time, which altereth all things under heaven; by use, which swayeth most and hath an absolute command in words; and by pregnant wits it hath been beautified and enriched out of other good tongues, partly by refining and mollifying old words, and partly by implanting new words with artificial composition, so that our tongue was as copious as any other in Europe.
Such is the parentage of the English language. As compared with the Anglo-Saxon, with what emphasis, then, can we say of the present English, in the words of Horace,
“O matre pulchra, filia pulchrior!”
SECTION LXIX.-INTRODUCTION OF THE DANISH ELEMENT.
As early as A.D. 787 the Northmen, including Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes, commenced their aggressions upon England, and for at least three centuries were the terror of the Anglo-Saxons. Of these three Scandinavian nations the Swedes took the least share, the Norwegians the greatest, in these invasions. “They generally anchored their ships at the mouths of rivers, or lay under the islands on the coasts. Thence they would sail
the rivers to the interior of the country, where they frequently mounted on horseback, and conveyed themselves with incredible speed from one place to another.
Their frightful sabre-cuts resounded everywhere. The terrified inhabitants imagined they beheld a judgment of God in the devastations of the Vikings, which had been foretold in ancient' prophecy.” . Having taken possession of the country, they placed on the throne successively three Danish kings, which they occupied for the space of twenty-six years. They afterwards yielded to the line of Saxon kings in the person of Edward the Confessor.
The language of the three nations was the same, the differences being those of dialect. Many traces of this language are to be found in England, especially in the northern parts.
1. Thus, Grimsby (the town of Grim);: Whitby (the white town); Deorby, contracted to Derby (town of deer); Dalby (village in the dale); Millthorpe, Dan. Möldrup (mill village); Colale (cow dale). It appears that there are 1373 names of places of Danish origin.
2. The Danish element enters largely into provincial dialects of the north of England, namely, Northumberland, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire.--WORSAE's Danes and Norwegians, p. 85.
3. On a monument in Aldburgh Church, Holdernesse, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, referred to the age of Edward the Confessor, is found the following inscription :
“ Ulf het araeran cyrice for hanum and for Gunthara saula.”
Uif did rear the church for him and for the soul of Gunthar. Now, in this inscription, Ulf, in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon Wulf, is a Norse form; while hanum is a Norse dative, and by no means an Anglo-Saxon one. Old Norse, hanum; Swedish, honom.
4. The use of at for to, as the sign of the infinitive mode, is Norse, not Saxon; as, at think, at do, instead of to think, to do. It is the regular prefix in Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, and Feroic. It is also found in the northern dialects of the Old English, and in the particular dialect of Westmoreland at the present day.
5. Formerly sun was used for as; e. g., swa sum, we forgive oure detturs (Dan. som). War is now used for was (Dan. var).
6. The words in this list, which might be increased, are found in Northumberland and Yorkshire, and elsewhere:
The Danish or Norse element of the Anglo-Norman, as in the proper names Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, constitutes the indirect