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for their king, through whose instructions and instigation Duncan had been betrayed to his death. (See Shakespeare's “Macbeth.”)
A. 1100. This year King William was shot with an arrow by his own men as he was hunting.
All that was abominable to God and oppressive to men was common in this island in William's time.
With the last entry in the Chronicle in 1154 the history of AngloSaxon or, as it is sometimes called, First-English literature comes to an end. For a period of over a hundred years previous to that time a new and powerful influence had been moulding the intellectual life of the nation.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. What sort of people did Cæsar find upon his arrival in Britain? Who
are their present descendants ? 2. What has English literature derived from the Celtic element? 3. From where and under what circumstances came the Jutes, Saxons,
and Angles ? 4. What do we know of the early Saxon's idea of government? 5. Describe the life of an early Saxon scop. 6. Who was King Arthur ? 7. In outline tell the class the story of Beowulf. 8. What words do we use that are directly derived from the religion of
the Norsemen ? 9. What did Caedmon do for the English people? 10. Who was the first English historian? How did the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle originate? Suggested Readings.-Cæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic War,", Book iv, 23-38, and Book v, 8-23; Henry Morley's “English Writers," vol. i; Green's “Shorter History of the English People," Chapter I; “ Beowulf”; Tennyson's “Idylls of the King"; selections from Bede's “Ecclesiastical History” and “The Saxon Chronicle” in the Bohn Edition.
THE NORMANS (876–1216) “ There are two languages which must take precedence, the one as having contributed most largely to our vocabulary and built up the framework of our speech, the other both as having influenced somewhat the structure of English and as being in itself a sort of embodiment of universal grammar. These are the Anglo-Saxon and the Latin tongue.”
-George P. Marsh. UNDER the year 876 we find in the “ Saxon Chronicle" this entry: “This year Rollo overran Normandy with his army and he reigned fifty years.” This, it will be noted, was in King Alfred's reign, when the tide of northern piracy was temporarily diverted from England. Rollo and his followers were Norwegians and belonged to the same Teutonic stock as the Danes and English. Indeed, the only recorded scrap of Rollo's conversation sounds more like English than like Norwegian. When the King of France required him to kiss his foot in token of submission, he indignantly exclaimed, “ Ne se by God,” while one of his followers seized the royal foot so roughly that his majesty was overset.
Unlike the Saxons, however, these Northmen had a quick wit and a powerful fancy. Their mythology is exceeded in these qualities only by that of the Greeks. Their ancient beliefs are preserved and at the same time half ridiculed in two invaluable books, called the “Eddas.” From these we get a picture of the warrior's heaven, or Valhalla, which throws much light on their character. No one could enter this paradise unless he fell in battle. Those who died a straw death (i.e., in bed) had another place. In Valhalla the warriors fight every morning with one another. That is their play. When they are weary of hewing and chopping, they gather their fragments up and ride home to eat and drink. Their drink is mead, their meat the boiled flesh of the boar Saerimmir, who is sodden every day and eaten, and whole every night ready to be boiled again.
Some of their stories about the gods and giants have rare dramatic and humorous qualities. Such is that of Thor and Thrym. Thor woke up one morning and found his hammer gone. It was evident
that it had been stolen by Thrym, chief of the Eotens, or stupid giants. In order to recover it, Thor made Loki array himself in Freya's feather dress and go down to the land of the giants. Here sat Thrym. “How are the gods?” asked he. “ And what brings you to Eotenham? ” “ It is not well with the gods,” said Loki.
hidden the Thunderer's hammer? ” I have hidden the Thunderer's hammer eight baiting stages deep under the earth,” said Thrym,“ and no one shall get it again unless he bring me Freya for a bride.” When Freya was told this, she stormed until she shook the whole hall of the gods. Then Heimdall, the cleverest of the gods, suggested that Thor himself be disguised as Freya in bridal raiment. Thor demurred, but Loki said: “ The giants will be in Asgard if we do not get your hammer back.” So they dressed Thor as a bride and Loki as her maid, and set out for Eotenham. On their arrival, Thrym made a bridal feast and the giants drank much ale, while Thor ate an ox, eight salmon, and all the sweets provided for the women. This excited Thrym's suspicion. “I never saw brides swallow so greedily," said he, “nor a maid drink so much beer.” But Loki was ready with
Freya loves you so much that she has not eaten for eight days.” When Thrym raised Freya's veil in search of a kiss, he recoiled in terror the whole length of the hall, crying: “How terrible the eyes of Freya blaze! ” But Loki said: “ Freya loves you so much that she has not slept for eight nights." Then the sister of Thrym begged a ring from the bride and Thrym called: “ Bring me the hammer of Thor to hallow the bride. Lay Mjölnir in the maiden's bosom and give us to each other worthily.” Then the Thunderer's heart laughed within him as he felt the hard heart of the hammer, and he smote Thrym and all the other giants, not omitting the old sister who had had the effrontery to ask for a gift.
On another occasion Thor and two friends undertake an expedition to Eoten-land. At nightfall in a trackless forest they find a house, whose door is the whole breadth of one end. Here, in one large hall altogether empty, they lodge. At dead of night there is a terrible uproar. Thor seizes his hammer and stands in the door prepared to fight, while his friends hide in a little closet. In the morning it turns out that the uproar was only the snoring of the giant Skrymer,
who lay peacefully sleeping near by. The house was his mitten, the door its wrist, and the closet its thumb.
One of the causes of the quick wit of these Norwegians was unquestionably the character of their first home. Norway is practically one huge rock, cracked in countless places along the edges by volcanic action. These cracks, into which the sea flows, often for many miles, are called fjords. The interior of the country is barren and cold. Existence there is possible only through a constant intelligent struggle with nature. In many localities the only source of food is the sea. It is no wonder that the Northmen were quick, self-reliant, adaptable, and bold.
Once settled in France, they forgot their native land and their native language, married French women, adopted French manners, embraced Christianity, and speedily became the foremost race in Europe. “They raised their new language,” says Macaulay, “to a dignity and importance which it had never before possessed. They renounced that brutal intemperance to which all the other branches of the great Germanic family were too much inclined. The polite luxury of the Norman presented a striking contrast to the coarse voracity and drunkenness of his Saxon and Danish neighbors. He loved to display his magnificence, not in huge piles of food and hogsheads of strong drink, but in large and stately edifices, rich armor, gallant horses, choice falcons, banquets delicate rather than abundant, and wines remarkable rather for their exquisite flavor than for their intoxicating power. That chivalrous spirit which has exercised so powerful an influence on the politics, manners, and morals of all the European nations, was found in its highest exaltation among the Norman nobles. Those nobles were distinguished by their graceful bearing and insinuating address. They were distinguished also by their skill in negotiation and by a natural eloquence which they assiduously cultivated.
But their chief fame was derived from their military exploits. Every country from the Atlantic Ocean to the Dead Sea witnessed the prodigies of their discipline and valor. One Norman knight, at the head of a handful of warriors, scattered the Celts of Connaught. Another founded the monarchy of the Two Sicilies, and saw the emperors both of the East and of the West fiy before his arms. A third, the Ulysses of the First Crusade, was invested by his fellow soldiers with the sovereignty of Antioch; and a fourth, the Tancred whose name lives in the great poem of 'Tasso,' was celebrated through Christendom as the bravest and most generous of the deliverers of the Holy Sepulchre.”
The vicinity of this remarkable people early began to produce an effect on the intellectual life of England. English princes received their education in Normandy. Norman French was spoken in the palace of the English king.
In 1066 the battle of Hastings placed Duke William of Normandy on the English throne and gave up the whole population of England to the tyranny of the Norman race. The country was portioned out among the captains of the invaders. A cruel penal code guarded the privileges and even the sports of the alien tyrants. Yet the subject race, though beaten down, still made its sting felt. Some bold men betook themselves to the woods and there waged a predatory war against their oppressors. Among these the most famous was that Robin Hood who is the favorite hero of the oldest English ballads and who appears in Sir Walter Scott's “ Ivanhoe ” as Locksley. Anyone who wishes, by a most agreeable process, to burn into his memory a vivid and ineffaceable impression of the conditions that prevailed in England throughout this period, can do so by reading the books listed below: Reign Dates
Books William the Conqueror....1066_1087.... Tennyson's “Harold," a tragedy.
Kingsley's “ Hereward the Wake,"
Manor,” a story.
story. William Rufus.
. 1087–1100. Robin Hood Ballads. Henry I..
. 1100_1135. .Kipling's The Joyous Venture,”
a story. Kipling's “ Old Men at Pevensy,”
a story. Kipling's The Tree of Justice,"
a story. Stephen
1135–1154. “Geoffrey of Monmouth.” Henry II.
. 1154-1189.... Tennyson's "Beket," a tragedy. Pichard I..
.1189_1199. .Scott's “ Ivanhoe,” a novel.
Scott's “Talisman," a novel.