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No. 1360.-June 25, 1870.
1. THE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH NATION. III. Macmillan's Magazine,
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She knelt on this, his mother on that side
Stood, for at last his foolish quest he won; His mother, who that quest had long denied,
Gazing with clasped hands on her only son, Thought, After, a sweet life and free from care Is theirs." But who to praise a day shall dare, Or call it happy, ere that day be done?
His arms shone rosy red, by that young light Which faintly through the latticed oriel fell Illumined round him many a storied fight
Worked in old tapestry was there, to tell His father's fame in azure, green, and gold, Worked by small fingers, idle long and coldAs cold as those he clasped to say 66 Farewell."
And for that day he promised to return,
And round the battlements the wind blew keen.
Night, which makes glad the shepherd's heart was gone,
And yet he came not; and dim morning rose, And yet she watched on that high tower alone
For him, who, turning his brave breast to foes, Had turned his back on love, from stars to sun, And still from sun to stars; till one by one
Her hopes fell like dead leaves at autumn's close.
For she from prime to even-song had fed
Imagined all, and to herself oft said,
Hearing the distant murmur of the tide, The first faint flush of morning seemed to be "He comes!" and ere the lark had left the lea,
The dear gleam of his arms so long denied.
But on the path he trod tall grass shall grow, And flame shall freeze, and snow and ice shall burn,
And midday heaven with myriad stars shall glow
As in midnight, before he may return;
His voice, who lies half hid by weeds and fern.
Struck by the lightning's ruddy shaft he lies, While she waits for him; but his brows are cold.
The moaning thunder in the distance dies,
And birds again their woodland council hold; Churls leave their shelter under neighbouring trees,
Comes summer murmuring once more of bees, Dank flowers their beauties to the sun unfold.
Only the strongest oak, the tallest tree Throws out its wide arms to the winds no more;
And under it, as motionless, lies he
Who the red cross and snowy silk scarf bore. From time to time his furbished arms, which
From Macmillan's Magazine.
THE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH NATION.
BY EDWARD A. FREEMAN.
ligion as the conquered, yet it was not from the conquered that they embraced it. They embraced it moreover in a form so far differing from the religion of the conquered as to awaken sectarian disputes from the very beginning. These are the simple facts of history, facts which no one who has ordinary historical knowledge and insight will dispute. The question is only as to the inference to be drawn from the facts. Am I or am I not justified in inferring from those facts that the English of the nineteenth century are essentially the descendants of the English of the fifth and sixth centuries — that the population which they found in the land which they conquered was for the most part killed or driven out that such remnants of them as survived, and such other strangers as have since made either warlike or peaceful settlements among us, have been simply absorbed into the greater English mass ? Am I or am I not justified in inferring, that, though our blood is not absolutely unmixed, yet it is not more mixed than the blood of other nations; that the Englishman of the nineteenth century as truly represents, and is as probably descended from, the Englishman of the sixth century, as the Briton, the Dane, or the HighGerman of the nineteenth century represents and is descended from the Briton, the Dane, or the High-German of the sixth?
In my two former lectures I have striven to set before you the plain facts of the origin and early history of the English nation. We are a Low-Dutch people, who left our old home in the course of the fifth and sixth centuries and found ourselves a new home by conquest in the Isle of Britain. That island, lately a Roman province, had been a short time before left to itself, and was in a state of utter anarchy and disorganization. Its invaders were invaders of a different kind from the other Teutonic settlers in the Empire. While the conquerors of the continental provinces had all been brought more or less under Roman and Christian influences, the Angles and Saxons still remained in their old barbarism and their old heathenism. On the other hand, the withdrawal of the Roman power from Britain had of itself awakened strictly national feelings, and a spirit of national resistance, such as did not exist elsewhere. From these two differences, above all others, arose a wide difference between the Teutonic Conquest of Britain and the Teutonic conquests on the Continent. On the Continent the settlement was speedy; it met with little resistance, with no strictly national resistance; it involved comparatively little change beyond the transfer of political power; the conquered were neither slain, driv-be pored over in the closet, but that broad en out, nor enslaved; they retained their and simple kind of evidence which is best laws and a fixed share of their possessions; suited to come home to the minds of a popthe conquerors gradually adopted the lan- ular audience. I have brought evidence guage and the religion of the conquered, enough, I think, to do what I hold to be the and in the course of centuries they were ab- great object of lectures of this kind, to set sorbed into their greater mass. In Britain you reading and thinking for yourselves. on the other hand the conquest was an af- It is now time to look, in the same rough fair of centuries; the invaders everywhere and general way in which alone we can met with a resolute national resistance; the look, at some of the arguments which are land was won bit by bit by hard fighting, brought on the other side. There are writand the periods of success on the part of ers who, not out of mere ignorance, not out the conquerors alternated with times of re- of a mere slip of the tongue, assert that the verse during which the work of conquest English people are not mainly descended stood still. In the end the laws, the arts, from the Teutons who conquered Britain, the language, the creed, of the conquered but from the Britons whom they conquered. people were swept away; the conquerors In a word they tell us that Englishmen are retained their own laws and language, and not Englishmen, but that they are somethough they at last embraced the same re-thing else.
That is my position. I have already given the evidence for it; not every scrap of evidence which I could bring in a work to
I put the proposition purposely in this | united nation. But remember that Anglobroad shape, because I know it is a shape Saxon does not mean Saxons in England which the holders of the doctrine of which as distinguished from Saxons somewhere I speak would at once reject. If there are else; it does not mean people who lived beany holders of that doctrine in this room, fore 1066 as distinguished from people who they need not trouble themselves to get up lived afterwards. It is simply a shorter and protest; I can do the protesting for way of saying “Angles and Saxons," and a them; I know exactly what they wish to shorter way still is saying "English." In say. They wish to say that they do not short, "English" and "Anglo-Saxon" are maintain any such monstrous doctrine as words which mean exactly the same thing, that Englishmen are not Englishmen, but and to say that Englishmen are not Anglosomething else; what they maintain is that Saxons is exactly the same thing as saying Englishmen are not wholly or chiefly Anglo- that Englishmen are not Englishmen. Saxons. I think I have now at least put it When men speak in this way, what they pretty fairly. But I thought it right to put really mean is one or both of two very difit the other way too, because I really be- ferent things, which they generally contrive lieve that most of the controversy and con- to confuse together. We say that the Engfusion on the subject is owing to nothing in lish are Teutons, speaking a Teutonic lanthe world but mere confusion and careless-guage; that they are the same people, ness as to nomenclature. You will say that speaking the same language, as when they nomenclature is my hobby; and so it is. came to Britain in the fifth century, allowBut it has become my hobby because longing only for those changes in language and study and experience has shown me its par- everything else which cannot fail to happen amount importance; because I know that in fourteen hundred years. Then they say, ideas and the names of those ideas always "Oh but the English are not the Angloinfluence one another, and that clear ideas Saxons." By this they mean one or both and a confused nomenclature never can ex-of two things, either of which may be true ist together. I would ask objectors what or false, but which have nothing to do with they mean by Anglo-Saxons. I know what I mean by it. Anglo-Saxon is a word which I very seldom use, because it is of all words the most likely to be misunderstood; but it is in itself a perfectly good word and has a perfectly good meaning. It is often used in the charters, the public documents, of the tenth and eleventh centuries, but it is not often used except in public documents. It is seldom used except in the royal title, where we often find the King called "King of the Anglo-Saxons." This means simply King of the Angles and Saxons, King of the nation formed by an union of Angles and Saxons. Rex Anglo-Saxonum is simply a short way of saying Rex Anglorum et Saxonum. And King of the Angles and Saxons is of course a fuller and more correct title than King of the Angles or English alone. But, as a matter of fact, after the Teutonic states in Britain had been fused into one kingdom, though "AngloSaxons " was doubtless the more correct and solemn description, "Angli," "English," was the one commonly used, while "Saxon was never used as the name of the
one another. Sometimes they mean that the English language has changed so much, chiefly through causes which are the result of the Norman Conquest, that it has become another language, and that it is not right to call modern English by the same name as Old-English. The old form they call AngloSaxon, and the people who spoke it AngloSaxons; the new form they call English, and the people who speak it Englishmen. This objection, you will at once see, has rothing to do with anything which happened before the Norman Conquest. It is consistent with believing that the people whom the Normans found here were of the purest Teutonic blood and spoke the purest Teutonic language. The other proposition is that the people whom the Normans found in England were not a Teutonic, but mainly a Celtic people, a Celtic people of course who had learned to speak Teutonic. Now this objection has nothing to do with anything which happened after the Norman Conquest. It is consistent with believing in the most perfect identity in blood and speech and everything else between the Englishman of
the nineteenth century and the Englishman | it was not our own word; it was borrowed, of the eleventh. Only it affirms that neither it was adopted, from some other language; the one nor the other has any right to be there was a time when it was not in use and called Teutonic. Now you will see that when it would have been looked upon as a these two propositions have absolutely noth- purely foreign word. There must have ing to do with one another. You may be- been, if we could only find him out, some lieve or disbelieve either, or neither, or one man who brought it in as a novelty, and both, without one having the slightest influ- some particular day when he used it for the ence on the other. But I can see that the first time. But the old words which have two are often unconsciously mixed up to- always been in use, the words which English gether in the minds of those who will not has in common with other Teutonic lanaccept the identity of the English of the guages, house and child and man and father nineteenth century with the English in the and mother and so forth, cannot be said to fifth. Of both these doctrines I must say a be derived from anything. They have allittle, but I need not say nearly so much ways been in use; the utmost change that about the first as about the second. The has happened to them is some small change first is in some sort a question of words; it in spelling or perhaps in sound. The modis hardly a question of facts, except so far ern forms cannot be said to be derived from as words themselves are facts. Our lan- the older forms, any more than a man can guage, as I have already said, has greatly be said to be derived from himself when he changed in the space of eight hundred years. was some years younger. So again I have It has changed so much that the English of seen such phrases as " the Anglo-Saxon eight hundred years back is at first sight or language giving way to the English, or behearing unintelligible. In this however I ing exchanged for the English." Now these would remind you that English in no way expressions are perfectly correct when they differs from other languages; the language are applied to cases in which one language spoken in any other part of Europe eight really displaces another. Thus English has hundred years back is at first sight or hear- displaced Welsh as the language of Corning unintelligible to those who know only wall. That is to say, people left off speakits modern form. If any one chooses to ing Welsh and took to speaking English, call this a difference of language, it is sim- there being of course an intermediate stage ply a question of words. If any one chooses when most people spoke both languages. to call the later form English and the older The English language, as a ready made form Anglo-Saxon, he is using what I think whole, displaced the Welsh language as is a very confused and misleading nomencla- another whole. But there was no time ture, but he is not necessarily saying any- when men in England left off talking one thing which is incorrect in point of fact. language called Anglo-Saxon and took to The objection to this way of speaking is talking another language called English. mainly this. It leads men to confound one There was no time when one man could sort of change with quite another sort of have said to another, "I speak English and change. If we allow ourselves to talk of you speak Anglo-Saxon." But there was a English and Anglo-Saxon as two different time when one man in Cornwall could have languages, we shall almost be sure to con- said to another, "I speak English and you found their relations to one another with speak Welsh." The difference between quite a different sort of relations. One of Anglo-Saxon, or Old-English, or whatever ten sees such expressions as that a modern we call it, and the English which we speak English word is derived from the Anglo- now, is not a difference between one lanSaxon, while another modern English word guage and another, any more than the difis derived from the Latin or some other for- ference between a man when he is young eign language. The word derived is here and the same man when he is old is the difused in two quite different senses. A Ro- ference between one man and another. mance word in modern use, the word derived The change has been very great, but it has itself or any other, may be strictly said to not been the displacement of one language be derived from the Latin. That is to say, by another, but a change within the lan