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ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.

FIRST PERIOD.

FROM THE EARLIEST TIME TILL THE YEAR 1400.

The first language known to have been spoken in the British Islands, was one which is now totally unknown in England, but still exists, in various slightly altered shapes, in Wales, in the Highlands of Scotland, and in many parts of Ireland. This language is usually called, in reference to England, the British tongue; in reference to Scotland, the Gaelic; and in reference to Ireland, the Irish. It was originally the language of a large body of people called the Celts, who, several centuries before the Christian era, occupied all the western parts of Europe, but are now to be traced only in the Welsh, the Scottish Highlanders, the Irish, and a few tribes scattered along the western shores of France and Spain. A great number of names of places, both in England and in the Lowlands of Scotland, and many of the designations of natural objects, such as hills and rivers, are borrowed from this language, but we do not derive from it many of the words in our common speech.

In the fifth century, a people called Saxons, from Lower Germany, landed in the country now named England, and soon drove the original inhabitants into the western and northern parts of the island, where their descendants and language have ever since been found. In the course of time, nearly the whole island south of the Firths of Forth and Solway was overspread by Saxons, whose posterity to this day forms the bulk of the people of that part of the country. From a leading

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