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good deal of Iseult—an Iseult more faithless to love, but equally indifferent to anything except love. As Candace in Alexander has the crude though not unamiable naturalism of a chanson heroine, so Cressid— so even Briseida to some extent—has the characteristic of the frail angels of Arthurian legend. The cup would have spilled wofully in her husband's hand, the mantle would scarcely have covered an inch of her; but though of coarser make, she is of the same mould with the ladies of the Round Table,_she is of the first creation of the order of romantic womanhood.
THE MAKING OF ENGLISH AND THE SETTLEMENT OF EUROPEAN PROSODY.
SPECIAL INTEREST OF EARLY MIDIOLE ENGLISH-DECAY OF ANGLO-SAxON —EARLY MIDDLE ENGLISH LITERATURE —SCANTINESS OF ITS CONSTITUENTS–LAYAMON.—THE FORM OF THE * BRUT’—ITs SUBSTANCE —THE ‘ORMULUM': ITS METRE, ITs SPELLING — THE ‘ANCREN RIWLE’—THE ‘OWL AND THE NIGHTINGALE’—PROVERBs—ROBERT OF GLOUCESTER—ROMANCES—" HAVELOK THE DANE *—“KING HoRN’— THE PROSODY OF THE MODERN LANGUAGES–HISTORICAL RETROSPECT –ANGLO-SAXON PROSODY—ROMANCE PROSODY—ENGLISH PROSODY —THE LATER ALLITERATION — THE NEW VERSE — RHYME AND SYLLABIC EQUIVALENCE-ACCENT AND QUANTITY –THE GAIN of FORM-THE “ACCENT" THEORY-INITIAL FALLACIES, AND FINAL PERVERSITIES THEREOF.
THE positive achievements of English literature, during the period with which this volume deals, are not at soul our. * sight great; and all the more finished of Early Middle literary production of the time, till the English. extreme end of it, was in French and Latin. But the work done during this time in getting the English language ready for its future duties, in equipping it with grammar and prosody, in preparing, so to speak, for Chaucer, is not only of the first importance intrinsically, but has a value which is almost unique in general literary history as an example. Nowhere else have we the opportunity of seeing a language and a literature in the process of gestation, or at least of a reformation so great as to be almost equal to new birth. Of the stages which turned Latin through the Romanic vulgar tongues into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Provençal, French, we have the very scantiest remains; and though the Strasburg oaths and the Eulalia hymn are no doubt inestimable in their way, they supply exceedingly minute and precarious stepping-stones by which to cross from Ausonius to the Chanson de Roland. From the earliest literary stages of the Teutonic tongues we have, except in the case of Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic, very little wreckage of time; and Anglo-Saxon at least presents the puzzling characteristic that its earliest remains are, cateris paribus, nearly as complete and developed as the earliest remains of Greek. In German itself, whether High or Low, the change from oldest to youngest is nothing like the change from the English of Beowulf to the English of Browning. And though the same process of primordial change as that which we have seen in English took place certainly in German, and Possibly in the Romance tongues, it is nowhere traceable with anything like the same clearness or with such gradual development. By the eleventh century *t latest in France, by the end of the twelfth in
ermany, verse had taken, in the first case fully, in
e second almost fully, a modern form. In England it was, during the two hundred years from 1150 to 1350, working itself steadily, and with ample examples, from pure accent to accentual quantity, and from alliteration to rhyme. Of this process, and those similar to it in other countries, we shall give an account which will serve for the whole in the latter part of this chapter; the actual production and gradual transformation of English language and literature generally may occupy us in the earlier part. It is to be hoped that by this time a middle way, tolerably free from molestation, may be taken between those historians of English who would have a great gulf fixed before Chaucer, and those who insist upon absolute continuity from Caedmon to Tennyson. There must surely be something between dismissing (as did the best historian of the subject in the last generation) Anglo-Saxon as “that nocturnal portion of our literature,” between calling it “impossible to pronounce with certainty whether anything in it is artistically good or bad,”’ and thinking it proper, as it has sometimes been thought, in an examination in English literature, to give four papers to Caedmon, AElfric, and Wulfstan, and one to the combined works of Addison, Pope, Johnson, and Burke. Extravagances of the latter kind have still, their heyday of reaction not being quite past, a better chance than extravagances of the former. But both may surely be avoided. The evidence is rendered more easy in the present connection by the fact, recognised by the most competent authorities in First English or Anglo-Saxon itself, that for some time before the arbitrary line p..., , and, of the Conquest the productive powers Saron. of the literature had been failing, and the language itself was showing signs of change. No poetry of the first class seems to have been written in it much after the end of the ninth century, little prose of a very good class after the beginning of the eleventh ; and its inflexions must in time have given way—were, it is said by some, actually giving way— before the results of the invasion and assimilation of French and Latin. The Conquest helped; but it did not wholly cause. This, however, is no doubt open to argument, and the argument would have to be conducted mainly if not wholly on philological considerations, with which we do not here meddle. The indisputable literary facts are that the canon of pure Anglo-Saxon or OldEnglish literature closes with the end of the Saxon Chronicle in 1154, and that the “Semi-Saxon,” the “First Middle English,” which then makes its appearance, approximates, almost decade by decade, almost year by year, nearer and nearer to the modern type. And for our purpose, though not for the purpose of a history of English Literature proper, the contemporary French and Latin writing has to be taken side by side with it. It is not surprising that, although the Latin literary Early Middle production of the time, especially in hisEnglish tory, was at least equal to that of any other " European country, and though it is at least probable that some of the greatest achievements