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deeds of that family, has fourteen different forms. Shakespeare is found in the manuscripts of the period spelled in any manner that may express the sound or the semblance of it. Many of the learned engaged in the ambitious reform of teaching the nation how to spell and pronounce. But the pronunciation was so discordant in different shires, that the orthoepists are quite irreconcilable with each other or with themselves. Some may amuse. One would turn the language into a music-book. He says:
"In true orthographie, both the eye, the voice, and the eare must consent perfectly, without any let, doubt, or maze.' Another affords a quaint definition of orthoepy combined with orthography:
Orthographie, conteyning the due order and reason howe to write or painte thimage of manne's voice, moste like to the life or nature.' While Shakespeare sarcastically describes the whole race of philologists: Now he is turned orthographer, his words are a very fantastical banquet; just so many strange dishes.' The English Bible had been the strong breakwater against the tides of novelty and the vicissitudes of time; and Tyndale's New Testament, executed in the traditional sacred dialect of Wycliffe, did more to fashion and fix our tongue than any other native work from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The Lord's Prayer illustrates well its force and purity of expression:
Our Father, which arte in heven, halowed be thy name. Let thy kingdom come. Thy wyll be fulfilled, as well in erth as hit ys in heven. Geve vs this daye oure dayly breade, and forgeve vs oure treaspasses, even as we forgeve them, which treaspas vs. Leede vs not into temptacion, but delyvre ve from yvell. Amen.' In 1575, standard English had so progressed in simplicity and power, that Sidney could say, to his honor:
‘English is void of those cumbersome differences of cases, genders, moods, and tenses, which I think was a piece of the Tower of Babylon's curse, that a man should
put to schoole to learn his mother tongue; but for the uttering sweetly and properly the conceit of the minde, which is the ende of speech, that it hath equally with any other tongue in the world.'
Travel and commerce, enlarging with the rapid progress of geographical discovery, made numerous and important accessions to the vocabulary. New wares were introduced, new stores of natural knowledge flowed in from regions hitherto unknown. For a single instance of the many terms which thus rose above the horizon, seldom more grateful if less material, potato' now
1 From the Indian batata.
made its first appearance in Europe, imported from America. Of this esculent tuber, a voyager makes the following mention:
Openark are a kinde of roots of round forme, some farre greater, which are found in moist and marish grounds, growing many together, one by another in ropes, as though they were fastened by a string. Being boiled or sodden, they are very good meat. A more prolific origin of new words than the taste for sea roving was the intense thirst after religious discussion. The Reformation enriched our theological dialect by the translation of many moral and religious works from the Latin; and the very general study of theology rendered this dialect more familiar than that of any other branch of letters. Latin, moreover, was the great link between our Reformers and those of the Continent, and the new ideas taking root, brought in shoals of new terms. Finally, the versions of classical authors, after the brief reaction against classical learning, were an inexhaustible mine of linguistic wealth; and the far-journeyed gentlemen' returned not only in love with foreign fashions, but equally fond 'to powder their talk with over-sea language.' The influx of foreign neologisms alarmed the purists, who always deem that English corrupt which recedes from its Saxon character. Says Wilson in 1550:
Some seke so farre for outlandishe Englishe, that thei forgette altogether their mothers' language, ... He that commeth lately out of France, will talke FrencheEnglish, and never blush at the matter. The unlearned or foolishe phantasticall that the simple cannot but wonder at their talke and thinko surely thei speake by some revelacion. I know them that thinke Rhetorique to stand whollie upon darke woordes, and he that can catche an ynke horne terme by the taile, hym thei coumpt to be a fine Eng. lishman and a good Rhetorician.' Notwithstanding, in 1583 Vulcaster wrote: “The English tung cannot prove fairer than it is at this day.' Querulous critic and rash soothsayer! The one did not reflect that an expansion of thought compels an expansion of its garniture, and could not know that even Chaucer's 'well of English undefiled' was a well in which were deposited many waters; while the other could not foresee the luxuriant productiveness, the powerful stimulus, of * the next thirty years. A single example may suggest something of that variety and alluence by which the speech, once so rude and impotent, was being made ready for the enlarged and diversified conceptions of the great masters: wrath and ire' came over with Hengist; the Danes brought anger; the French supplied
1 From Saxon yrre,
rage and fury; the Latin indignation; the Greek choler; and we now, it may be added, confer this sense on passion. final illustration of the state of English orthography in its process of evolution, we extract the following from the address of Brutus to the people in the drama of Julius Cæsar, written in or before 1601, and printed in 1623:
'I have done no more to Cæsar than you shall do to Brutus. The Question of his death, is inroll'd in the Capitol: his Glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy; nor his offences enforc'd, for which he suffered death.
Heere comes his Body, mourned by Marke Antony, who though he had no hand in his death, shall receiue the benefit of his dying, a place in the Commonwealth, as which of you shall not. With this I depart, that as I slewe my best Louer for the good of Rome, I haue the same Dagger for my selfe, when it shall please my Country to need my death.
All. Liue Brutus, liue, liue.
1. Bring him with Triumph home vnto his house.
Cæsars better parts
Peace, silence, Brutus speakes
And (for my sake) stay heere with Antony:
Here our survey is approximately complete. We have arrived at the stage where new capabilities are no longer imperiously demanded by the advancement of culture. The nursling has become a child, the child a man,-still, with proper training, to acquire additional flexibility and strength, yet to remain substantially the same. The closing century that witnessed the vast and varied revelation of man's moral nature, witnessed also the end of that organic action by which the English language was developed from its elements and constitutionally fixed, unfettered and many-voiced. Your daughter, O Thor and Odin, has indeed lost the likeness of her mother, but,
Not from one metal alone the perfectest mirror is shapen,
IW. W. Story.
Poetry.- Do but consider the life of man, that we are as a shadow and our days as a post, then think whether it were good to disinter the lifeless versifiers who fill up the spaces around and between the noticeable elevations of this age, with scarce a soul to a hundred, and of interest to poetical antiquarians only. Chaucer, it has been seen, left nothing to resemble him. Gower is a feeble spring, obstructed by scholastic rubbish. Occleve and Lydgate are as dead sea-moss on a barren shore. The Scotch poets, with more energy, are yet nebulæ, which no telescope could resolve into individual stars. Where they mean to be serious, they are tedious; and where lofty, pedantic. Their compositions, with scattering remembrances of beauty or occasional throbs of true vitality, have the same vices of unreality and allegory which were the fashion of the day. Verse that makes us foreigners is no poetry.
One writer alone, in its early years, displays, like a feudal premonition, the two great destined features of the sixteenth century,— hatred of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is the Reformation; and the realism of the senses, which is the Renaissance. His rhyme,
"Tattered and jagged,
Rusty, moth-eaten,' full of English and popular instincts, is a sort of literary mud with which he bespatters those who retain the privileges of saints:
*Thus I, Colin Clout,
How wearily they wrangle!
With almost brutal coarseness alternate gleams of the sprightly fancy. Called upon to praise the ladies of the court, he can give a portrait of the outside, clear, pretty, and full of detail. He compares one to
The fragrant camomile,
The pretty strawberry,
Star of the morrow grey,
By his hilarity and freedom only, does Skelton exhibit the new spirit. Rooted in the soil, he grovels there, with no aspiring instinct towards diviner air.
A brighter light in this rising dawn gives clearer promise of refulgent day. For Howard, Earl of Surrey, it was reserved to mark a transformation of the intellect, — to introduce a new and manly style, and to teach the English muse accents she had never tried before. Says Puttenham:
• In the latter end of the same king (Henry the eight) reigne, sprong up a new company of courtly makers, of whom Sir Thomas Wyat th' elder and Henry Earle of Surrey were the two chieftaines, who having travailed into Italie, and there tasted the sweete and stately measures and stile of the Italian Poesie, as novices newly crept out of the schooles of Dante, Arioste, and Petrarch, they greatly pollished our rude and homely maner of vulgar Poesie, from that it had bene before, and for that cause may justly be sayd the first reformers of our English meetre and stile.'
The life of Surrey was a chivalric romance. An earl, a relative of the king, a satellite of the Court, brilliant in arms, magnificent, sumptuous, ambitious, four times imprisoned, then beheaded at twenty-seven; like Dante and Petrarch, a plaintive and platonic lover. More than all, his mystical love for the fair Geraldine, like Dante's for Beatrice and Petrarch's for Laura, invests his memory with a peculiar charm. She too is a child, seen only to be idealized; one of nature's sweet creatures that, like chastened colors, have always a holy reference beyond themselves; whose image, entering the poet-soul, is straightway enthroned in a region sublime, to shine as a light, a consolation, a hope, in a dark and troubled world. With the polish and disposition of his Italian model, he says of this being of the heart and mind: