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to take a form in which the beginning
of the present English may be plainly discovered; this change seems not to have been the effect of the Norman conquest, for very few French words are found to have been introduced in the first hundred years after it; the language must therefore have been altered by causes like those which, notwithstanding the care of writers and societies instituted to obviate thern, are even now daily making innovations in every living language. I have exhibited a specimen of the language of this age from the year 1135 to 1140 of the Saron chronicle, of which the latter part was apparently written near the time to which it relates.
Unber heuen nis lonb t wisse.
Nis i. flei fle no lowse.
OLDE ant yonge 1 prere ou oure folies for to lete. 3Denchez on gob Pat yef ou wit oure sunnes to beze. pere mal cellen ou. wit worbes fene ano swcote. +)e vie of one melban. was hoten CDaregrete. pire faber was a patriac, as icou tellen may. In auntloge wifeches 1 &e false lay. Deve gobes ant coumbe. he served nutt - ant bay. So beben mony opere. Pat singet wellawey. Theobosius was is nome. on crist ne levete he noutt. be levepe on pe false gobes. Čat peren wit honben wroutt. +)o par chilo sculoe christine ben, ic com him well in poutt. € bet wen it were bore, to behe rt were ibnoutt. +)e mober was an hepene wif jaz hire
- to wyman bere.
£o hat chilo bore was. nolce ho hit furfare.
posenbert into asye. wit messagers ful yare.
To a nonice paz hire wiste, ant serve hire colore.
Be norce par hire wiste, children
Be eittepe was maregrete, cristes may of heuene.
Tales ho ani tolbe. ful feire ant ful eulene.
Wou ho poleben marriroom. sein Laurence ant seinze Szeuene.
In these fragments, the adulteration of the Saron tongue, by a mixture of the Norman, becomes apparent; yet it is not so much changed by the admixture of new words, which might be imputed to commerce with the continent, as by changes of its own form and terminations; for which no reason can be given.
Hitherto the language used in this island, however different in successive time, may be called Saron; nor can it be expected, o the nature of things gradually changing, that any time can be assigned, when the Saron may be said to cease, and the English to commence. Robert of Gloucester however, who is placed by the critics in the thirteenth century, seems to have used a kind of intermediate diction, neither Saron no English ; in his work therefore we set the transition exhibited, and, as he is th first of our writers in rhyme, of whom any large work remains, a more exten sive quotation is extracted. He write apparently in the same measure with th foregoing author of St. Margarite, whic polished into greater exactness, appeare to our ancestors so suitable to the gewo of the English language, that it was co tinued in use almost to the middle of t seventeenth century.
OF pe batayles of Denemarch, pat dude in pys londe pat worst were of alle opere, we m abbe an honde. Worst hii were. vor opere adde somwa yao, As Romeyns & Saxons, & wel wuste lond perto. Achii ne kept yt holde nogt, bote rol and ssende, And destsrue, & berne, & sle, & nec, abbe non ende. And bote lute yt nas worp, pey hii ouercome ylome. Vor myd ssypes and gret poer as efsone hii come,
Vor in peal our vorst Xer of y's kynedom Myd Pre & prytty'ssypuol men her prince hyder coine, And at Soupamtone aryuede, an hauene by Soupe. Anojer gret ost pulke tyme aryuede at Portesmoupe. }e kyng nuste weper kepe, at delde ys Ost atuo. }e Denes adde pemay'stre. poal was ydo, And by Estangle and Lyndeseye hii wende vorp atte laste, And so hanward al by Kent, & slowe & barnde vaste. Agenwynter hi wende hem. anober 3er eft hii come. And destrude Kent al out, and Londone nome. }us alan ten 3er pat lond hii broxte per doune, So fat in je tepe žer of pe kynge's Croune, Albysoupe hii come alond, and pet folc of Somersete }oru je byssop Alcston and pet folc of Dorsete Hi come & smyte an batayle, & pere, boru Gode's grace, Pe Deneys were albynepe, & pelond folc adde pe place, And more prowesse dude po, pan be kyng myote byuore, Peruore gode lond men ne bep noxt al verlore. be kyng was peboldore po, & agen hem pe more drou, Andys foure godes sones woxevasteynou, Edelbold and Adelbryxt, Edelred and Alfred. }}s was a stalwarde tem, & of gret wysdom & red, And kynges were al foure, & defendede wel bys lond, An Deneys dude ssame ynou, he me volwel vond. In syxtepe žere of he kynge's kynedom Is eldeste sone Adebold gret ost to hym
nome, And 5s fader also god, and opere heye men also, And wende agen pys Deneys, pat muche wo addey do. Wor myd tuo hondred ssypes & an alf at Temse mou; hii come, And Londone, and Kanterbury, and oper tounes nome,
And so vorb in to Sopereye, & slowe & barnde vaste, pere * and ys sone hem mette atte aste. pere was batayle strong ynou ysmyte in an prowe. pe godes knyotes leye adoun as gras, wan medep mowe. Heueden, (pat were of ysmyte,) & oper lymes also, , Flete in blode al fram be grounde, ar pe batayle were ydo. Wanne Pat blod stod al abrod, was per gret wo y nou. Nys yt reupe vorto hure, pat me so volc slou ? Acour suete Louerd atte lastessewede ys suete grace, And sende pe Cristyne Englysse men pe may strye in pe place, , And pe hepene men of Denemarch bynepe were echon. Nou nas per 35ut in Denemarch Cristendon non; pe kyng her after to holy chyrcheys herte - e more drou, And tepe;ede wel & alys lond, as hii agte, wel y nou. Seyn Swythyn at Wynchestre byssop po was, t And Aleston at Syrebourne, pat amendede muche pys cas. pe kyng was wel pe betere man poru her beyre red, Tuenty wynter he was kyng, ar he were ded. At Wynchestre he was ybured, as he gut lyp pere. Hystueye sones he 3efys lond, as he byetham ere. Adelbold, the eldore, pe kynedom of Estsex, And suppe Adelbryot, Kent and WestSex. Eyote hondred 5er yt was and seuene and fyfty also, After pat God anerje com, pat pys dede * was ydo. . Boje his wuste by her tyme wel her kynedom, At pe vyfte 3er Adelbold IIone. At Ssyrebourne he wasybured, & ys bro- per Adelbryxt His kynedom adde after hym, as lawe was and ryot. By ys daye pe verde com of 'pe hepen2 men wel prout, And Hamtessyre and destrnde Wynchestreal out.