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became a great king, but was ultimately killed in fight with a phrase of large portions of the Holy Scriptures, in the old Saxon

formidable dragon. The poem is long, and is full of pictures of the life and manners of the period. It is written in the alliterative metre characteristic of the older Saxon poetry—a metre in which the poetic form consists mainly in the recurrence at certain intervals of syllables beginning with the same letter; a metre of which we shall speak more fully and give some examples hereafter. To what extent poetry of this character was cultivated among the earlier Saxon settlers it is impossible to tell, for the remains that have come down to us are extremely scanty. But from the importance attached at all times to the songs of the Gleemen, who were both poets and musicians, composing songs as well as singing them, we may well suppose that there must at one time have been very many of such poems in existence. But the character of the Saxon people, and therefore of their literature, soon underwent a great change. Frominvaders they became rulers; from a series of armies obeying their military chiefs, a nation with political institutions. And, more important still, from heathen they became Christian. The consequence of these changes is at once seen in the literature of the people. It becomes essentially Christian and religious. The monasteries were the repositories of learning and the centres of intellectual life; the literature consisted of religious treatises, and of histories with a strong theological tinge. And the language of the church, Latin, became for a time the language used in the most important literary productions in England. For the same reason, too, it was but natural that the Celtic race, which had become Christian during the period of the Roman occupation, and among whom Christian learning had never wholly died out, should for a long period take the lead in literature, especially since the communication with Ireland, at that time holding a prominent place in the race of learning, exercised a strong influence over Great Britain. Gildas, the supposed author of a history of the Saxon conquest of Britain—which is probably not the work of Gildas, but is certainly of great antiquity— was a Briton of Strath Clyde—that is, of the British kingdom remaining in the valley of Clyde, of which Dumbarton was the capital. Nennius, the supposed author of the History of the Britons, was also of British race. In Ireland were born St. Columba, the apostle of Scotland; St. Columbanus, one of the greatest theologians of the age; and St. Gall, his pupil, who carried Christianity into Switzerland. The first great name among the Christian Saxons is that of Bede, surnamed the Venerable. He was born about 672. In early childhood he entered the monastery of Wearmouth, afterwards removing to that of Jarrow, and in due time received the orders of deacon and priest. In the monastery his whole life was spent in a close devotion to science and literature in all their then known branches. His works, which are in Latin, are very numerous, including treatises on various branches of natural science, on grammar, Latin orthography and prosody, numerous theological treatises, and commentaries on various portions of the Holy Scriptures. But to posterity his most valuable works are his histories, and among these by far the most important is his Ecclesiastical History of England. This is a work of great diligence and research, and remains to this day the most important authority upon Anglo-Saxon history. Bede died in the year 735, but his influence by no means died with him. Not only did his books remain behind as storehouses of knowledge, but his own example and personal influence had attracted around him a school of learned men who did much to extend the effect of his labours. At the end of the same century flourished Alcuin, also a native of the north of England, one of the most distinguished of that group of learned men who adorned the court of Charlemagne. In the meantime, several prominent writers in the vernacular Saxon had appeared, their works being either intended to popularise the truths of Christianity for the benefit of the uninstructed, or else mere translations of works previously exist?ng in Latin. The first Saxon author of eminence during the Christian period was Caedmon, who lived in the seventh century. He is said to have been originally a herdsman in the employment of the abbey of Whitby. But having suddenly developed a gift of poetry, till then unsuspected by himself or others, and therefore attributed, after the manner of the times, to angelic inspiration, he adopted a monastic life, and passed the rest of his days in the monastery of Whitby. He was the author of a para

alliterative metre. This work was evidently greatly valued, and of great influence for centuries after the author's death. Having been long lost, a manuscript copy of it was discovered by Archbishop Usher, and it was published abroad in 1655, Many scholars have thought that Milton derived some sugges. tions for his great epic, “Paradise Lost,” from the ancient poet.

The most eminent of the Saxon writers before the Conquest, in genius as well as in station, was King Alfred. He reigned from 871 to 901; and among the many great services which he rendered to his country, few were more important than the encouragement which he gave to literature and education. By gathering learned men about him, and by appointing them to the abbeys and sees in which they were likely to exercise most influence over the people, as well as by his own example and persuasion, he sought to stimulate the pursuit of knowledge. But what more immediately concerns us here is his labours as an author. He published translations from the Latin into Saxon of several works of a religious character; but his most important translations were those of Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History,” the “Universal History” of Orosius—a work written by a Spanish scholar early in the fifth century, and which had long been a popular text-book among those who understood Latin—and the “Consolations of Philosophy” of Boethius, the work of a noble Roman, who, after long faithfully serving the Gothic King Theodoric, was at last disgraced, and, after a long imprisonment, unjustly put to death by his ungrateful master in 526. He wrote his famous work during his imprisonment.

Many smaller writers in the Anglo-Saxon tongue might be named; but those we have mentioned are sufficient to indi. cate the character of the vernacular literature. The only other work which it is necessary to refer to is one of a very different kind. The “Saxon Chronicle” is a work of more historical than literary interest. It is a mere record from year to year of the chief facts of English history, from the invasion of Julius Caesar, b.c. 55, down to the death of Stephen, in A.D. 1154. The opinion of the best scholars is that so much as relates the history down to the time of Alfred was composed in the reign of that king, and that the chronicle was afterwards continued from time to time, until it finally came to a close at the period we have mentioned.

THE PERIOD AFTER THE NORMAN CONQUEST.

The Norman Conquest was the death-blow to all literatur among the conquered people. Saxon bishops and abbots gave place to Norman. The richest lands passed to the Normans Every great office of trust and profit was reserved for the Normans. The Saxons were crushed and ground beneath the unflinching tyranny of a people alien in language as in race The “Saxon Chronicle,” it is true, was still carried on in thi abbey of Peterborough; but the people were far too com pletely prostrate to have heart or energy left for any highe literary effort.

Latin literature, however, received a great impulse from th Conquest, for by it England was brought into closer contac with the continent of Europe. In those days the comme wealth of learning knew no distinction of race or country. I our days every nation has its own favourite course of study, 1 which students are taught by their own countrymen, and their own tongue. But in the days of which we are speaking there was one curriculum of learning, and one language for th learned. An English student would have been equally at hom at Oxford, at Paris, or at Bologna. In each place he would fin the same men teaching the same philosophy, and in the sam tongue. Accordingly, long before the Conquest the San Alcuin had taught at the court of Charlemagne; and Scot: Erigena, the Irish philosopher, in France. So now to archbishopric of Canterbury was occupied immediately aft. the Conquest by two Italians in succession, Lanframe an Anselm, both of them great theologians and scholars. Joh Duns Scotus, of Celtic race, and a native either of Scotland: Ireland, taught the scholastic philosophy both at Oxford and Paris; while the great English schoolmen Alexander Hales an William of Occam taught in France and Germany. Of t English philosophers who lived and taught in England, t most eminent was Friar Roger Bacon, known to fame the reputed inventor of gunpowder, who pursued the study natural science with unwearied diligence and remarkable succe in the thirteenth century, and acquired thereby the questionable reputation of a great magician. Poetry in Latin also was cultivated among the learned with considerable success; but most of the productions of this class are of comparatively little interest to us in the present day. There is one class of Latin poems, however, which deserves to be specially noted, not only because it is curious in itself, but still more because it reveals to us much of the thoughts of men at the period; and, moreover, it shows the beginning of a spirit which received its full development in the days of Wycliffe. Walter Map, or Mapes, was a churchman eminent for learning and ability in the reign of Henry II., and held the office of Archdeacon of Oxford. To him was popularly attributed a great mass of poetry written in rhymed Latin verse, the subject of which was generally the corruptions of the clergy, and which attained immense popularity. Map may very likely have written some of the poems attributed to him, but there is no doubt that most of them are of a later date, and are not the work of one writer, but of a series of writers. The central figure in most of these poems is a certain imaginary bishop “Golias,” the representative of idleness, corruption, and sensuality among the clergy. There is the “Vision of Golias,” the “Confession of Golias,” and a vast number of other poems connected with his name. Most of these compositions are satires of the broadest kind, directed against the clergy, especially the monks, and, above all, the Cistercians; but among them are to be found a good many very serious exhortations and moral discourses as to the obligations of the clerical life, and upon kindred subjects. This Gobias literature, its remarkable extent, and great popularity, are instructive, as showing how closely the popular disgust at the growing corruptions of the clergy, and particularly of the monastic orders, was connected with the early development of our literature, a subject upon which we shall have more to say hereafter. But the class of Latin writings most especially characteristic of this period are the innumerable chronicles which were produced during it. These chronicles were written by monks in the great monasteries scattered over the kingdom. They are the histories of different periods; some of them purporting to contain the history of the world from the creation, others only the history of England, or even a small portion of it. And they are of very various degrees of merit, some of them being the merest transcripts of earlier writers, while others give to very life-like pictures of contemporary events. Among the famous of these chroniclers—famous, some for their truth and others for their falsehood—are William of Malmesbury, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Giraldus Cambrensis, Roger of Hoveden, Matthew Paris, William Rishanger, and Ralph Higdon. But the Norman conquerers of England were, as a class, no *ore competent to understand a literature in Latin than the Sonquered Saxons. They had, therefore, as was natural, a literature of their own in French. In France two dialects, or other two languages, prevailed. In the South was spoken the Provençal tongue, and in this tongue the Troubadours composed od sang their poems. In the North was spoken a different dialeet, the ancestor of the modern French, and its poets were the Trooveres. Of the works of these latter, the Normans, no doubt, brought many with them from France, and many more one over later, or were composed in England. The poetry of the Trouveres is the poetry of chivalry, the poetry of the Crusaders. It consisted chiefly of romances in verse upon objects of chivalry, the adventures of King Arthur and his *ndTable, and those of Charlemagne and his peers, occupying of far the largest space. But the subjects of those romances ore very various, though their character is very uniform. There was, besides, a class of stories in verse or prose, founded, *otupon the adventures of heroes, but upon the simpler incidents * real life, which were known as fabliauz. We have said that the Norman Conquest was for the time the destruction of the native literature. The “Saxon Chronicle,” no doubt, was continued for nearly a century longer, down to the end of the reign of Stephen; and there are still extant songs in the native tongue dating from a very early period. * these exceptions are so slight, that it may safely be said that after the Conquest the Saxon tongue soon ceased to be *ed for literary purposes, its place being taken partly by Latin,

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a tendency to revival in the English language, though the remains that have come down to us are but small in extent. Layamon was a priest of Earnley, on the Severn, probably in the days of Henry II. He wrote a chronicle of Britain, under the title of “Brut.” though of course groundless, belief among our ancestors that this island was colonised by one Brutus, of Trojan descent, and after him was called Britain. himself tells us, was founded upon several earlier books in Latin, including Bede's history, and upon the French narrative of Wace. power and originality; and it curiously illustrates the character of the times in which it was written, and the transition that was commencing, by its form; for, alternating with the old Saxon system of alliterative verses, it shows us the rhyming versification borrowed from the Norman-French. In the main, however, its structure is Saxon.

The name represented the general, This chronicle, as the author

The work of Layamon displays considerable poetical

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in the order in which they occur in the Church services. The “Ormulum ” is very long, and has but little poetical merit; but the versification is smooth, and its form is worth noting. The metre is almost identical with the modern ballad metre, but without rhyme, and also without alliteration. Other remains of Semi-Saxon literature have come downtous, but none of so great general interest as the two of which we have spoken. The largest and most important work of this period which has been published next to those mentioned is the “Ancrem Ricole,” or “Rule for Anchoresses” (that is, nuns). This curious book is a treatise on the duties and dangers of nuns, with full instructions for their guidance upon all points, illustrated by warnings and examples from the Bible and other sources. It is addressed, apparently by a learned divine, to three ladies, “sisters, of one father and one mother, having in the bloom of youth forsaken all the pleasures of the world and become anchoresses.” The remaining period, falling between the middle of the thirteenth century and the age of Chaucer, is that during which the name of Old English is given to the language; and in it, as in the preceding period, the literature in the native tongue is but scanty. The two most ambitious works in English belonging to this period are metrical chronicles, those of Robert of Gloucester, and Robert Manning, or Robert of Brunne. Neither of these is of much historical merit; neither is much more than a translation from earlier Latin and French authors. They illustrate, however, the increasing demand for the means of historical teaching in the vernacular. The same thing is strongly shown by the increasing number of versions, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose, of portions of the Holy Scriptures, and other works designed for the purposes of religious instruction. But the revival of national spirit is manifested more plainly still by the lighter literature of the period. At an earlier date the literature of mere pleasure, as distinguished from that designed for instruction, was all, or nearly all, in French. But at this period, writers were busy turning the most popular of the French romances into English; and, as might be expected, they were not only translated but imitated, and to such an extent that a considerable quantity of the vernacular poetry of that age has been handed down to us; while, of course, that which we possess must be but a very small part of that which once existed. Such was, in brief outline, the history of literature in England before the great era of which Chaucer is the most distinguished representative. The literature of his age will form

and partly by Norman-French.

the subject of the next succeeding lessons.

became a great king, but was ultimately killed in fight with a formidable dragon. The poem is long, and is full of pictures of the life and manners of the period.

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phrase of large portions of the Holy Scriptures, in the old Saxon alliterative metre. This work was evidently greatly valued,

It is written in the allitera- and of great influence for centuries after the author's death.

tive metre characteristic of the older Saxon poetry—a metre in Having been long lost, a manuscript copy of it was discovered

which the poetic form consists mainly in the recurrence at certain intervals of syllables beginning with the same letter; a metre of which we shall speak more fully and give some examples hereafter. To what extent poetry of this character was cultivated among the earlier Saxon settlers it is impossible to tell, for the remains that have come down to us are extremely scanty. But from the importance attached at all times to the songs of the Gleemen, who were both poets and musicians, composing songs as well as singing them, we may well suppose that there must at one time have been very many of such poems in existence. But the character of the Saxon people, and therefore of their literature, soon underwent a great change. Frominvaders they became rulers; from a series of armies obeying their military chiefs, a nation with political institutions. And, more important still, from heathen they became Christian. The consequence of these changes is at once seen in the literature of the people. It becomes essentially Christian and religious. The monasteries were the repositories of learning and the centres of intellectual life; the literature consisted of religious treatises, and of histories with a strong theological tinge. And the language of the church, Latin, became for a time the language used in the most important literary productions in England. For the same reason, too, it was but natural that the Celtic race, which had become Christian during the period of the Roman occupation, and among whom Christian learning had never wholly died out, should for a long period take the lead in literature, especially since the communication with Ireland, at that time holding a prominent place in the race of learning, exercised a strong influence over Great Britain. Gildas, the supposed author of a history of the Saxon conquest of Britain—which is probably not the work of Gildas, but is certainly of great antiquity— was a Briton of Strath Clyde—that is, of the British kingdom remaining in the valley of Clyde, of which Dumbarton was the capital. Nennius, the supposed author of the History of the Britons, was also of British race. In Ireland were born St. Columba, the apostle of Scotland; St. Columbanus, one of the greatest theologians of the age; and St. Gall, his pupil, who carried Christianity into Switzerland. The first great name among the Christian Saxons is that of Bede, surnamed the Venerable. He was born about 672. In early childhood he entered the monastery of Wearmouth, afterwards removing to that of Jarrow, and in due time received the orders of deacon and priest. In the monastery his whole life was spent in a close devotion to science and literature in all their then known branches. His works, which are in Latin, are very numerous, including treatises on various branches of natural science, on grammar, Latin orthography and prosody, numerous theological treatises, and commentaries on various portions of the Holy Seriptures. But to posterity his most valuable works are his histories, and among these by far the most important is his Ecclesiastical History of England. This is a work of great diligence and research, and remains to this day the most important authority upon Anglo-Saxon history. Bede died in the year 735, but his influence by no means died with him. Not only did his books remain behind as storehouses of knowledge, but his own example and personal influence had attracted around him a school of learned men who did much to extend the effect of his labours. At the end of the same century flourished Alcuin, also a native of the north of England, one of the most distinguished of that group of learned men who adorned the court of Charlemagne. In the meantime, several prominent writers in the vernacular Saxon had appeared, their works being either intended to popularise the truths of Christianity for the benefit of the uninstructed, or else mere translations of works previously exist?hgin Latin. The first Saxon author of eminence during the Christian period was Caedmon, who lived in the seventh century. He is said to have been originally a herdsman in the employment of the abbey of Whitby. But having suddenly developed a gift of poetry, till then unsuspected by himself or others, and therefore attributed, after the manner of the times, to angelic inspiration, he adopted a monastic life, and passed the rest of his

days in the monastery of Whitby. He was the author of a para

by Archbishop Usher, and it was published abroad in 1655, Many scholars have thought that Milton derived some sugges. tions for his great epic, “Paradise Lost,” from the ancient poet.

The most eminent of the Saxon writers before the Conquest, in genius as well as in station, was King Alfred. He reigned from 871 to 901; and among the many great services which he rendered to his country, few were more important than the encouragement which he gave to literature and education. By gathering learned men about him, and by appointing them to the abbeys and sees in which they were likely to exercise most influence over the people, as well as by his own example and persuasion, he sought to stimulate the pursuit of knowledge. But what more immediately concerns us here is his labours as an author. He published translations from the Latin into Saxon of several works of a religious character; but his most important translations were those of Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History,” the “Universal History” of Orosius—a work written by a Spanish scholar early in the fifth century, and which had long been a popular text-book among those who understood Latin—and the “Consolations of Philosophy” of Boethius, the work of a noble Roman, who, after long faithfully serving the Gothic King Theodoric, was at last disgraced, and, after along imprisonment, unjustly put to death by his ungrateful master in 526. He wrote his famous work during his imprisonment.

Many smaller writers in the Anglo-Saxon tongue might be named; but those we have mentioned are sufficient to indi. cate the character of the vernacular literature. The only other work which it is necessary to refer to is one of a very different kind. The “Saxon Chronicle” is a work of more historical than literary interest. It is a mere record from year to year of the chief facts of English history, from the invasion of Julius Caesar, B.c. 55, down to the death of Stephen, in A.D. 1154. The opinion of the best scholars is that so much as relates the history down to the time of Alfred was composed in the reign of that king, and that the chronicle was afterwards continued from time to time, until it finally came to a close at the period we have mentioned.

THE PERIOD AFTER THE NORMAN CONQUEST.

The Norman Conquest was the death-blow to all literatum among the conquered people. Saxon bishops and abbots gave place to Norman. The richest lands passed to the Normans Every great office of trust and profit was reserved for to Normans. The Saxons were crushed and ground beneath thi unflinching tyranny of a people alien in language as in race The “Saxon Chronicle,” it is true, was still carried on in th abbey of Peterborough; but the people were far too com pletely prostrate to have heart or energy left for any highe literary effort.

Latin literature, however, received a great impulse from th Conquest, for by it England was brought into closer contao with the continent of Europe. In those days the commo wealth of learning knew no distinction of race or country. 1. our days every nation has its own favourite course of study, which students are taught by their own countrymen, and their own tongue. But in the days of which we are speakin there was one curriculum of learning, and one language for to learned. An English student would have been equally at hom at Oxford, at Paris, or at Bologna. In each place he would fit the same men teaching the same philosophy, and in the san tongue. Accordingly, long before the Conquest the San Alcuin had taught at the court of Charlemagne; and Scot: Erigena, the Irish philosopher, in France. So now to archbishopric of Canterbury was occupied immediately at the Conquest by two Italians in succession, Lanfranc as Anselm, both of them great theologians and scholars. Jo Duns Scotus, of Celtic race, and a native either of Scotland. Ireland, taught the scholastic philosophy both at Oxford and Paris; while the great English schoolmen Alexander Hales a william of Occam taught in France and Germany. Of t English philosophers who lived and taught in England. t most eminent was Friar Roger Bacon, known to fame the reputed inventor of gunpowder, who pursued the study natural science with unwearied diligence and remarkable suces in the thirteenth century, and acquired thereby the questionable reputation of a great magician. Poetry in Latin also was cultivated among the learned with considerable success; but most of the productions of this class are of comparatively little interest to us in the present day. There is one class of Latin poems, however, which deserves to be specially noted, not only because it is curious in itself, but still more because it reveals to us much of the thoughts of men at the period; and, moreover, it shows the beginning of a spirit which received its full development in the days of Wycliffe. Walter Map, or Mapes, was a churchman eminent for learning and ability in the reign of Henry II., and held the office of Archdeacon of Oxford. To him was popularly attributed a great mass of poetry written in rhymed Latin verse, the subject of which was generally the corruptions of the clergy, and which attained immense popularity. Map may very likely have written some of the poems attributed to him, but there is no doubt that most of them are of a later date, and are not the work of one writer, but of a series of writers. The central figure in most of these poems is a certain imaginary bishop “Golias,” the representative of idleness, corruption, and sensuality among the clergy. There is the “Vision of Golias,” the “Confession of Golias,” and a vast number of other poems connected with his name. Most of these compositions are satires of the broadest kind, directed against the clergy, especially the monks, and, above all, the Cistercians; but among them are to be found a good many very serious exhortations and moral discourses as to the obligations of the clerical life, and upon kindred subjects. This Gobias literature, its remarkable extent, and great popularity, are instructive, as showing how closely the popular disgust at the growing corruptions of the clergy, and particularly of the monastic orders, was connected with the early development of our literature, a subject upon which we shall have more to say hereafter. But the class of Latin writings most especially characteristic of this period are the innumerable chronicles which were produced during it. These chronicles were written by monks in the great monasteries scattered over the kingdom. They are the histories of different periods; some of them purporting to contain the history of the world from the creation, others only the history of England, or even a small portion of it. And they are of very various degrees of merit, some of them being the merest transcripts of earlier writers, while others give to very life-like pictures of contemporary events. Among the famous of these chroniclers—famous, some for their truth and others for their falsehood—are William of bury, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Giraldus Cambrensis, Roger of Hoveden, Matthew Paris, William Rishanger, and Ralph Higdon. But the Norman conquerers of England were, as a class, no note competent to understand a literature in Latin than the onquered Saxons. They had, therefore, as was natural, a literature of their own in French. In France two dialects, or other two languages, prevailed. In the South was spoken the Provençal tongue, and in this tongue the Troubadours composed ind sang their poems. In the North was spoken a different dialeet, the ancestor of the modern French, and its poets were the Trouveres. Of the works of these latter, the Normans, no oubt, brought many with them from France, and many more one over later, or were composed in England. The poetry of the Trouveres is the poetry of chivalry, the poetry of the Crusaders. It consisted chiefly of romances in verse upon objects of chivalry, the adventures of King Arthur and his RoundTable, and those of Charlemagne and his peers, occupying of far the largest space. But the subjects of those romances ore very various, though their character is very uniform. There was, besides, a class of stories in verse or prose, founded, *upon the adventures of heroes, but upon the simpler incidents * real life, which were known as fabliauz. We have said that the Norman Conquest was for the time the destruction of the native literature. The “Saxon Chronicle,” to doubt, was continued for nearly a century longer, down to the end of the reign of Stephen; and there are still extant ongs in the native tongue dating from a very early period. * these exceptions are so slight, that it may safely be said that after the Conquest the Saxon tongue soon ceased to be * for literary purposes, its place being taken partly by Latin,

The period between the death of Stephen and the age of Chaucer, a period of about two hundred years, is commonly divided, as has been already pointed out, into two pretty equal periods, during which the names Semi-Saxon and Old English are applied to the language. But we must again remind the student that these divisions are adopted, not to mark any sudden breaks in the development of the language, but because chronological divisions are convenient as aids to the memory in retaining a large number of facts spread over a long time. During the first of these two periods, the Semi-Saxon, we find a tendency to revival in the English language, though the remains that have come down to us are but small in extent. Layamon was a priest of Earnley, on the Severn, probably in the days of Henry II. He wrote a chronicle of Britain, under the title of “Brut.” The name represented the general, though of course groundless, belief among our ancestors that this island was colonised by one Brutus, of Trojan descent, and after him was called Britain. This chronicle, as the author himself tells us, was founded upon several earlier books in Latin, including Bede's history, and upon the French narrative of Wace. The work of Layamon displays considerable poetical power and originality; and it curiously illustrates the character of the times in which it was written, and the transition that was commencing, by its form; for, alternating with the old Saxon system of alliterative verses, it shows us the rhyming versification borrowed from the Norman-French. In the main, however, its structure is Saxon. To the same century, though probably a later portion of it, belongs the “Ormulum,” so called by its author Orm, or Ormin, after his own name. Ormin was an Augustinian friar, and his book is a metrical version of the Gospel narrative, harmonised, as he explains himself, from the four Evangelists; and with homilies or discourses added upon the various passages, in the order in which they occur in the Church services. The “Ormulum ” is very long, and has but little poetical merit; but the versification is smooth, and its form is worth noting. The metre is almost identical with the modern ballad metre, but without rhyme, and also without alliteration. . Other remains of Semi-Saxon literature have come down to us, but none of so great general interest as the two of which we have spoken. The largest and most important work of this period which has been published next to those mentioned is the “Ancrem Ricole,” or “Rule for Anchoresses” (that is, nuns). This curious book is a treatise on the duties and dangers of nuns, with full instructions for their guidance upon all points, illustrated by warnings and examples from the Bible and other sources. It is addressed, apparently by a learned divine, to three ladies, “sisters, of one father and one mother, having in the bloom of youth forsaken all the pleasures of the world and become anchoresses.” The remaining period, falling between the middle of the thirteenth century and the age of Chaucer, is that during which the name of Old English is given to the language; and in it, as in the preceding period, the literature in the native tongue is but scanty. The two most ambitious works in English belonging to this period are metrical chronicles, those of Robert of Gloucester, and Robert Manning, or Robert of Brunne. Neither of these is of much historical merit; neither is much more than a translation from earlier Latin and French authors. They illustrate, however, the increasing demand for the means of historical teaching in the vernacular. The same thing is strongly shown by the increasing number of versions, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose, of portions of the Holy Scriptures, and other works designed for the purposes of religious instruction. But the revival of national spirit is manifested more plainly still by the lighter literature of the period. At an earlier date the literature of mere pleasure, as distinguished from that designed for instruction, was all, or nearly all, in French. But at this period, writers were busy turning the most popular of the French romances into English; and, as might be expected, they were not only translated but imitated, and to such an extent that a considerable quantity of the vernacular poetry of that age has been handed down to us; while, of course, that which we possess must be but a very small part of that which once existed. Such was, in brief outline, the history of literature in England before the great era of which Chaucer is the most distinguished representative. The literature of his age will form the subject of the next succeeding lessons.

and partly by Norman-French.

became a great king, but was ultimately killed in fight with a formidable dragon. The poem is long, and is full of pictures of the life and manners of the period. It is written in the alliterative metre characteristic of the older Saxon poetry—a metre in which the poetic form consists mainly in the recurrence at certain intervals of syllables beginning with the same letter; a metre of which we shall speak more fully and give some examples hereafter. To what extent poetry of this character was cultivated among the earlier Saxon settlers it is impossible to tell, for the remains that have come down to us are extremely scanty. But from the importance attached at all times to the songs of the Gleemen, who were both poets and musicians, composing songs as well as singing them, we may well suppose that there must at one time have been very many of such poems in existence. But the character of the Saxon people, and therefore of their literature, soon underwent a great change. From invaders they became rulers; from a series of armies obeying their military chiefs, a nation with political institutions. And, more important still, from heathen they became Christian. The consequence of these changes is at once seen in the literature of the people. It becomes essentially Christian and religious. The monasteries were the repositories of learning and the centres of intellectual life; the literature consisted of religious treatises, and of histories with a strong theological tinge. And the language of the church, Latin, became for a time the language used in the most important literary productions in England. For the same reason, too, it was but natural that the Celtic race, which had become Christian during the period of the Roman occupation, and among whom Christian learning had never wholly died out, should for a long period take the lead in literature, especially since the communication with Ireland, at that time holding a prominent place in the race of learning, exercised a strong influence over Great Britain. Gildas, the supposed author of a history of the Saxon conquest of Britain—which is probably not the work of Gildas, but is certainly of great antiquity— was a Briton of Strath Clyde—that is, of the British kingdom remaining in the valley of Clyde, of which Dumbarton was the capital. Nennius, the supposed author of the History of the Britons, was also of British race. In Ireland were born St. Columba, the apostle of Scotland; St. Columbanus, one of the greatest theologians of the age; and St. Gall, his pupil, who carried Christianity into Switzerland. The first great name among the Christian Saxons is that of Bede, surnamed the Wenerable. He was born about 672. In early childhood he entered the monastery of Wearmouth, afterwards removing to that of Jarrow, and in due time received the orders of deacon and priest. In the monastery his whole life was spent in a close devotion to science and literature in all their then known branches. His works, which are in Latin, are very numerous, including treatises on various branches of natural science, on grammar, Latin orthography and prosody, numerous theological treatises, and commentaries on various portions of the Holy Scriptures. But to posterity his most valuable works are his histories, and among these by far the most important is his Ecclesiastical History of England. This is a work of great diligence and research, and remains to this day the most important authority upon Anglo-Saxon history. Bede died in the year 735, but his influence by no means died with him. Not only did his books remain behind as storehouses of knowledge, but his own example and personal influence had attracted around him a school of learned men who did much to extend the effect of his labours. At the end of the same century flourished Alcuin, also a native of the north of England, one of the most distinguished of that group of learned men who adorned the court of Charlemagne. In the meantime, several prominent writers in the vernacular Saxon had appeared, their works being either intended to popularise the truths of Christianity for the benefit of the uninstructed, or else mere translations of works previously exist?hgin Latin. The first Saxon author of eminence during the Christian period was Caedmon, who lived in the seventh century. He is said to have been originally a herdsman in the employment of the abbey of Whitby. But having suddenly developed a gift of poetry, till then unsuspected by himself or others, and therefore attributed, after the manner of the times, to angelic inspiration, he adopted a monastic life, and passed the rest of his days in the monastery of Whitby. He was the author of a para

| phrase of large portions of the Holy Scriptures, in the old Saxon

alliterative metre. This work was evidently greatly valued, and of great influence for centuries after the author's death. Having been long lost, a manuscript copy of it was discovered by Archbishop Usher, and it was published abroad in 1655, Many scholars have thought that Milton derived some sugges. tions for his great epic, “Paradise Lost,” from the ancient poet.

The most eminent of the Saxon writers before the Conquest, in genius as well as in station, was King Alfred. He reigned from 871 to 901; and among the many great services which he rendered to his country, few were more important than the encouragement which he gave to literature and education. By gathering learned men about him, and by appointing them to the abbeys and sees in which they were likely to exercise most influence over the people, as well as by his own example and persuasion, he sought to stimulate the pursuit of knowledge. But what more immediately concerns us here is his labours as an author. He published translations from the Latin into Saxon of several works of a religious character; but his most important translations were those of Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History,” the “Universal History” of Orosius—a work written by a Spanish scholar early in the fifth century, and which had long been a popular text-book among those who understood Latin—and the “Consolations of Philosophy” of Boethius, the work of a noble Roman, who, after long faithfully serving the Gothic King Theodoric, was at last disgraced, and, after along imprisonment, unjustly put to death by his ungrateful masterin 526. He wrote his famous work during his imprisonment.

Many smaller writers in the Anglo-Saxon tongue might be named; but those we have mentioned are sufficient to indi. cate the character of the vernacular literature. The only other work which it is necessary to refer to is one of a very different kind. The “Saxon Chronicle” is a work of more-historical than literary interest. It is a mere record from year to year of the chief facts of English history, from the invasion of Julius Caesar, B. c. 55, down to the death of Stephen, in A.D. 1154. The opinion of the best scholars is that so much as relates the history down to the time of Alfred was composed in the reign of that king, and that the chronicle was afterwards continued from time to time, until it finally came to a close at the period we have mentioned.

THE PERIOD AFTER THE NORMAN CONQUEST.

The Norman Conquest was the death-blow to all literatun among the conquered people. Saxon bishops and abbots gao place to Norman. The richest lands passed to the Normans Every great office of trust and profit was reserved for to Normans. The Saxons were crushed and ground beneath thi unflinching tyranny of a people alien in language as in Tao The “Saxon Chronicle,” it is true, was still carried on in th abbey of Peterborough; but the people were far too com pletely prostrate to have heart or energy left for any highliterary effort.

Latin literature, however, received a great impulse from th Conquest, for by it England was brought into closer conta with the continent of Europe. In those days the commo wealth of learning knew no distinction of race or country. I our days every nation has its own favourite course of study, which students are taught by their own countrymen, and their own tongue. But in the days of which we are speakin there was one curriculum of learning, and one language for to learned. An English student would have been equally at ho at Oxford, at Paris, or at Bologna. In each place he would fit the same men teaching the same philosophy, and in the san tongue. Accordingly, long before the Conquest the San Alcuin had taught at the court of Charlemagne; and Scot Erigena, the Irish philosopher, in France. So now to archbishopric of Canterbury was occupied immediately at the Conquest by two Italians in succession, Lanframe * Anselm, both of them great theologians and scholars. Jol Duns Scotus, of Celtic race, and a native either of Scotland Ireland, taught the scholastic philosophy both at Oxford and Paris; while the great English schoolmen Alexander Hales a william of Occam taught in France and Germany. Oft English philosophers who lived and taught in England. * most eminent was Friar Roger Bacon, known to fame the reputed inventor of gunpowder, who pursued the study natural science with unwearied diligence and remarkable succo

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