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feeble woman, but I have the heart and its influence on the language has never yet stomach of a king, and of a king of England been traced with anything like careful accutoo, and think foul scorn that Parma, or racy and minuteness. Mr. Marsb, indeed, Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare in his excellent work on The Origin and to invade the borders of my realm." The History of the English Language, points out national spirit, thus appealed to, triumphed; one of its immediate effects in the numerand it is almost impossible; even at this ous translations of theological and other distance of time, to estimate the magnitude works, by continental reformers, scholars, of the result. The destruction of the Ar- and divines which appeared in rapid succesmada at once broke the aggressive power of sion; but his general description of these Rome and Spain, beating them back to their versions is bardly accurate, while his esticontinental seats, flushed with an exulting mate of their effect on the language is, to say sense of victory the nation, that almost the least, one-sided and erroneous. He single-handed had ventured on such an un describes them as bringing in a « flood of equal conflict, and crowned with European Latinisms," as introducing new words and fame
ideas, a special technical phraseology, which “This scepter'd isle, made" at once a very considerable accession This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, of Latin words to the vocabulary of English.” This other Eden, demi-paradise,
There is, indeed, a certain amount of truth This fortress built by Nature for herself
in this statement. The new conceptions and Against infection and the hand of war,
forms of doctrine which the Reformation This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea,
produced required a language of their own, Which serves it in the office of a wall,
and in some of the early English translaOr as a moat defensive to a house,
tions of foreign theological works a glossary Against the envy of less happier lands, of such terms is given at the end of the This blessed spot, this earth, this realm, this volume. But the remarkable feature about
England, the translations, as a whole, is not their LaThis land of such dear souls, this dear, dear tinisms, not their specially theological dia
lect, but their extraordinary wealth of Dear for her reputation through the world.” genuine English words. To take a single
illustration, we would refer any one curious Shakespeare had come to London two on this point to the versions of Nicholas years before the destruction of the Armada, Udall, an accomplished scholar, author of and the intense feeling of national exultation the earliest comedy in the language, and it produced beats with a full pulse not only successively head-master of Eton and Westin this passage, but throughout the whole minster. Amongst his other labours, at the of his historical plays. Britain, as champion instance of Queen Catherine Parr, Udall of the Reformation, had, however, not only undertook a translation of Erasmus' voludefeated Catholic Europe, and reached a minous paraphrase of the New Testament, position of peerless renown in the Old World. and executed a large part of it himself. The She had become mistress of the seas, and work is not only clear and vigorous in style, thus commanded the ocean-paths to the New but rich in English idioms, in expressive World, the El Dorado in the far golden colloquial phrases, and pithy Saxon terms; West, which successful maritime adventure and is accordingly frequently quoted in had revealed, and whose untold treasures illustration of such words, both in Richarddaring English navigators were beginning to son's Dictionary and by Dr. Latham in his explore. This acted as a powerful addi- new edition of Johnson. Curiously enough, tional stimulus to the intellect and imagina- Mr. Marsh does not even mention Udall, tion of the nation. It enlarged men's minds, although from his translations alone a list of widened their moral horizon, and inspired Saxon words might be collected, in some rethem with the confident hope of destroying spects more complete than is to be found in any established forms of error, and discovering existing dictionary or glossary of Euglish. new continents of truth. The strong and Another way in which the Reformation sustained intellectual reaction of the whole had a direct effect on the language was by movement produced, in the short space of a the amount of controversy it provoked, by quarter of a century, those unrivalled mas- the extensive literature of attack and reply, terpieces of literature which constitute the of polemical dissertations, pamphlets, and glorious Elizabethan age.
broadsides it produced. The appeal in these The direct connexion of the whole Re- discussions being a popular one,
a twoformation movement with the great produc- fold effect on the language, helping both to tive period of our literature is well known, simplify its structure and to give prominence and has been pretty fully investigated; but to the strictly vernacular elements of the
t. 1 and
vocabulary. Sir Thomas More, and John aim being to stimulate the one and inform Bale, bishop of Ossory, represent the ex
the other. Translators and controversialista, tremes of this controversial literature, the for- historians and expositors, alike recognise mer being a bigoted Romanist, and the latter the direct interest of the nation in the cona rabid Protestant. In point of taste and fict of opinions, and maintain the ultimate temper there is perhaps not a pin to choose authority of its judgment in deciding the between them, both being singularly eloquent questions at issue. This is true of all classes, in the coarse rhetoric of vituperation and from the headstrong monarch bimself, who unmeasured personal abuse. Nor are they ordered that copies of the English Scrip. without points of resemblance in other and tures should be placed in all the churches of higher respects. The English Chancellor the land for public use, and the Queen, who is the more quick-witted, learned, and ac- caused Erasmus' paraphrase to be translacomplished disputant, as well as the more ted, “ that all English people may to their voluminous writer. In his great polemic health and ghostly consolacion, be abundantagainst Tyndale he discusses the points at ly replenyshed with the frute thereof," and issue with an exhaustive minuteness of detail to be circulated in a similar manner, down that would become wearisome but for the to the nameless authors of popular broadlively play of fancy, the grave wit and fer- sides and satirical doggrel, written in Skeltility of humorous illustration that relieve tonical verse. The free use of the vernacuthe tedium of his argument and soften the lar speech was obviously indispensable to the bitterness of his invective. He is, more progress of such a movement; and it may be over, naturally fond of argument, cunning of said, without exaggeration, that the whole logical fence, and displays even a kind of literature of reflection and instruction assumscholastic subtlety in defending against his ed a national dress in this country a century opponent the use of images, modern Romish earlier than on the Continent. miracles, and the doctrine of the sacraments. How intense and influential was the awa. The Irish bishop has none of More's dialec. kened spirit of nationality which thus extical skill, and hardly attempts anything like pressed itself in the Reformation, is further serious or sustained argument, his nume- apparent from the striking fact, that it at rous polemical writings consisting rather of once absorbed and turned to popular account historical facts and loose declamation, pass the two great continental influences that for ing not unfrequently into coarse but vigorous a time arrested the progress of the nativo invective. But More and Bale have in literature in the other countries of Europe. common certain rhetorical characteristics These influences were those arising from the that will entitle them to a place in the hiss enormous revolution effected in the means tory of English prose during the first half and mechanism of intellectual culture by. the of the sixteenth century. They both possess revival of letters and the invention of printa great command over the resources of col. ing. On the Continent, these influences loquial and idiomatic English, and write with operated for half a century at least as a an ease, animation, and freedom which is powerful denationalizing force. The early very rarely to be found at this early period. presses of France, Germany, and Italy, but The necessity of popular appeal gives to their especially of the two latter countries, were style a flexibility and directness that brings largely occupied in the production of accuthe written literary language much nearer to rate classical texts, while many of the ablest the spoken tongue than had hitherto been minds were absorbed in the necessary work the case. The change is complete in those of textual revision, criticism, and explanaof the reformers who, like Latimer, helped tion. But in England, for half a century the movement chiefly by oral discourse. after the introduction of printing, the works What is true of More and Bale is true in a issued by Caxton and his associates were all, degree of the other early writers who took a with insignificant exceptions, in the vernaleading part in the struggle, such as Frith cular tongue, all identified with the native and Barnes, Ridley and Tyndale; but none literature, either as original works or effecof their works-not even those of Tyndale, tive translations. These early English presswho writes with unfailing purity and vigour es multiplied copies of Chaucer, Gower, -have the vivacity and popular interest and Lydgate, of Trevisa's translation of which belong to the style of More and Bale. Higden, and other prose works of interest,
The important fact, however, is that in and thus supplied for the first time the ma. the whole controversy, as indeed in all the terials of a literary culture at once national effective writing of the time, the appeal is in its basis and popular in its range. made, not to the judgment or the prejudices In the same way, under the over-mastering of a sect or profession, but to the reason and influence of what continental critics would couscience of the nation at large, the avowed probably call the insular spirit, the new
classical literature itself was speedily turned were translated immediately from the French.
It is dedicated to Sir John Cheke, tal food. There was, in fact, a general thirst commemorated in Milton's well-known sonfor some knowledge of the revived classical net, and at that time the first Greek scholar literatures, which the scholars of the time in England, the author in the dedication hastened to gratify. Before the end of the praying him "not onelye with favour to century, most of the great masterpieces of accept this, the first my fruict in translatyon, Greek and Roman literature were translated, but also conferring it with the Greke, so to and many with surprising spirit and accura- amend and correct in those places and sen cy. This is true of the Iliad and Odyssey, tences which your exact learning and knowith the minor Homeric poems, translated laige shall judge meet to be altered and by the poet Chapman ; of Musæus, translated reformed." The translation fills a folio of by Marlowe; of Ovid's Metamorphoses, 500 pages, and is, all things considered, retranslated by Arthur Golding; and of large spectably executed. But the fact that a parts of Virgil
, as well as of Horace and London tradesman should have carefully Martial, attempted by different scholars. translated an author like Thucydides, even Not only the great poets, however, but the from the French, though he seems also orators, Demosthenes, Isocrates, and Cicero; to have used the excellent Latin version the historians, Thucydides and Livy, Sallust, of Laurentius Valla, well illustrates the Cæsar, and Tacitus, the moralists Plutarch living interest in liberal studies that had and Seneca; the rhetoricians and writers on grown up outside the universities, and which, natural history and science, were all trans- with little direct academic help, was gralated during this period. Aristotle's Ethics dually diffused amongst the people, espeand Politics, and parts of Plato, also appear-cially the mercantile, trading, and profesed in an English dress.
sional classes of the town populations. The With regard to the versions from Greek universities, indeed, yielding to a tendency authors, it is true indeed that Thucydides, too common in such corporations, obstinately Aristotle's Politics, and Plutarch's Lives / resisted the introduction of Greek as a new
Revolutions in the Queen's English.
fangled study, tried to expel the first teachers | beauty, grandeur, and power. His dramas of the offensive tongue, and clung tepaciously illustrate the resources and capabilities, as long as possible to their scholastic curricu- the matchless grace and loveliness, the fresh lum, in all its medieval integrity. What and exhilarating life, the muscular strength the obscure monastic pedants of the univer- and sinewy flexibility, of the fully-formed sities were for a time characteristically slow English tongue. They exhibit the language to attempt, popular enthusiasm, with the in its perfect bloom and vigour, when for help of a few liberal, enlightened, and indus- the first time it had become fully equal to trious scholars, speedily accomplished. Be all the demands of the thinker and the poet. fore the end of the century, the substance of The period of the Revolution brought classical literature, the contents of the great changes to the language and the litergreat masterpieces of antiquity, both in ature, and the change affected the language prose and verse, were placed within the reach even more than the literature. Politically, of all who had any taste for letters, and it was a period of reaction after a violent could read their native tongue.
and protracted struggle, towards the close To meet the varied requirements of these of which, notwithstanding the gains and translations, all the scattered and hitherto losses on either side, little real progress neglected elements of the language were seemed to have been made. Not the licennot only called into requisition, but attained tious reaction of exhaustion and indifference a certain degree of currency by being em- that marked the Restoration, but the reacployed in works of general interest. Alltion of sobriety and vigilance natural to its accumulated stores of characteristic and men tired of useless and disappointing ex. expressive terms, provincial, archaic, col- periments in government, and determined loquial, and professional, would obviously at all costs to establish the constitutional be required to render effectively such poets liberties of the country on a settled basis
. as Homer and Ovid, and such prose writers But on its literary side the period retained as Plutarch and Pliny. The influx of words and developed many of the characteristics during this period—some few exotics, but impressed upon it at the Restoration. The the great majority native-was indeed so domestic struggles incident to the peaceful great that no English lexicographer has revolution that changed the reigning dy. been able even yet to collect and register nasty, and the aggressive foreign policy it them all. Nay, the works of a single in naturally produced, absorbed for a time the dustrious translator, Philemon Holland, attention of the country, leaving its relaxed master of the Coventry Grammar School, intellectual energies to follow the secondary whose versions fill five or sis dense folios, influences of taste and fashion belonging to contain a mine of linguistic wealth which the Restoration period. During the interthe recent labours of accomplished and zeal- val between the Restoration and the Revoous students, such as Archbishop Trench lution, literature being no longer stirred by and Mr. Marsh, have not half explored. rational impulses, became an affair of soNot only the new literatures, however, but ciety, of the Court, and of the town. Unnew discoveries and inventions, new ideas fortunately the monarch and his Court were and conceptions, new aims and aspirations, total strangers to anything like national sennew feelings, hopes, and imaginations, re- timent and patriotic feeling, having spelit quired new words and new combinations their lives abroad, and acquired French for their adequate expression. These re- tastes and habits at the very time when quirements were fully met, and in a few France was both politically and intellectuyears the language of reflection became as ally almost supreme in Europe. This inrich and copious as that of imagination. creased the effect which the brilliant literaThese accumulated inaterials of expressive ture of the French Augustan age would diction prepared the way for the works of naturally have had upon our own in a sexoriginal genius and creative power that fol- son of lassitude and reaction. The corrupt lowed. The difficult task which Dante had taste of the Court naturally tended, moreto execute for hiinself, that of creating a over, to bring into vogue the more superliterary language out of a number of rustic ficial, witty, and licentious forms of condialects, Shakespeare found done to his temporary French literature, and for a time hand. At the time when he entered on his the literary favourites of the Court, in their dramatic career, the language was exactly loose songs, impudent comedy, and fantastio in the state best fitted for all the purposes inflated tragedy, fell into a servile imitation of the poet,-rich, various, and expressive, of degraded French models. but still plastic to the touch, yielding readi- Lord Macaulay has indeed suggested that ly to the impress of genius, and capable the French fashions of the Court affected of being moulded into forms of exquisite the diction as well as the spirit and char
acteristic forms of literature, and, after that infected the fashionable conversation of
to speak like one of the vulgar; and if I have
words for your daily expense. stances, and these are wholly insufficient to
6 Mel. Drained ? What a word's there! prove any conscious or intentional depart- Epuisée, you sot you. Come, produce your ure from the thoroughly English diction morning's work. which marks all his writings, both in prose " Phil. 'Tis here, madai. [Shows the paper. and verse. It is true that Dryden occa
“ Mel. O, my Venus ! fourteen or fifteen sionally uses French words, such as bizarre, words to serve me a whole day! Let me die, fanfaron, and nobless ; but he did not in at this rate I cannot last till night. Come, troduce them, the last being common to will not pass muster neither.
read your words, twenty to one half of 'em the Elizabethan writers, and used more than " Phil. Sottises.
[Reads. once by Shakespeare himself. With a thor- “Mel. Sottises : bon. That's an excellent oughly English instinct, indeed, he especial word to begin withal: as for example: He or ly denounced and satirized the attempted she said a thousand sottises to me. Proceed. corruption of the national speech by the “Phil. Figure : as, What a figure of a man reckless introduction of foreign words and is there!
“Mel. Naive! as how? phrases. In discussing the means of improving and refining the language, he con rally said : It was so naive. Or such an inno
“Phil. Speaking of a thing that was natudemns the motley speech in which exquisites cent piece of simplicity: 'Twas such a naiveté. and loungers who had crossed the Channel " Mlel. Truce with your interpretations. attempted to disguise their poverty of Make haste. thought. “For I cannot approve of their
“Phil. Foible, chagrin, grimace, embarasse, way of refining, who corrupt our English double-entendre,' équivoque, éclaircissement, idiom by mixing it too much with French ; suicté, beveue, façon, penchant, coup d'etourdy, that is a sophistication of language, not an
" Mel. Hold, hold; how did they begin? improvement of it,-a turning English into
“Phil. They began at sottises, and ended en French, rather than a refining of English by ridicule. French. We meet daily with those fops, "Mel. Now give me your paper in my hand, who value themselves on their travelling, and hold you my glass, while I practisa my and pretend they cannot express their mean- postures for the day. [Melantha laughs in the ing in English, because they would put off glass. How does that laugh become my face?
" Phil. Sovereignly well, madam. to us some French phrase of the last edition, without considering that, for ought amiss. That word shall not be yours: I'll in
“ Mel. Sovereignly? Let me die, that's not they know, we have a better of our own; vent it, and bring it up myself. My new point but these are not the men who are to refine gorget shall be yours upon 't. Not a word of
Their talent is to prescribe fashions, the word, I charge you. not words; at best they are only service- " Phil. I am dumb, madam." able to a writer, so as Ennius was to Virgil. It will be seen that many of the terms We may aurum ex stercore colligere, for 'tis and phrases in this extract, stigmatized by hard if, amongst many insignificant phrases, Melantha's maid as French gibberish, have there happen not something worth preserv- passed into the language since Dryden's ing, though they themselves, like Indians, day, and are now in habitual use. Foible, know not the value of their own commod-caprice, grimace, and ridicule, for example, ity.” Again, in the comedy of Marriage-à- are good English words, constantly emla-Mode, he introduces Melantha, an affected ployed by the best writers, probably withfine lady of the day, for the very purpose out any suspicion of their comparatively of ridiculing the vulgar rage for Gallicisms I recent introduction. This is true of many
that ected char