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E N G L IS H P O ETR Y.

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THE Saxon hanguage spoken in England, is distinguished by three several epochs, and may therefore be divided into

three dialects.

The first of these is that which the Saxons

used, from their entrance into this island till the irruption of the Danes, for the space of three hundred and thirty years". This has been called the British Saxon: and no monument of it remains, except a small metrical fragment of the genuine Caedmon, inserted in Alfred's version of the Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History". The second is the Danish Saxon, which

* The Saxons came into England A. D. 450. b Lib. iv. cap. 24. Some have improperly referred to this dialect the HanMoxy of THE Four Gospels, in the Cotton library; the style of which approaches in purity and antiquity to that of the CoDEx ARGENTEUs. It is Frankish. See Brit. Mus. MSS. Cotton. CALig. A 7. membran. octavo. This book is supposed to have belonged to king Canute. Eight richly illuminated historical pictures are bound up with it, evidently taken from another manuscript, but probably of the age of king Stephen. The recent discovery of another copy of this “Harmony,” at Bamberg, has gained for it the attention of several German antiquaries; and of these, Mr.

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Reinwald, an able and intelligent philo-
loger, has very clearly shown, that its
language is not Francic, but a Low
German dialect. Mr. Reinwald con-
ceives the author to have been a native
of the district afterwards called West-
phalia (Münster, Paderborn, Berg),
and that he lived in the early part of the
ninth century.
[The Bamberg Codex is now preserved
in the Royal Library at Munich, and
a transcript from it, collated with the
Cotton MS., has for several years occu-
pied the leisure of Mr. Scherer, with a
view to publication. Independently of
the value of this production as a rich
repository of philological lore, from the
extreme antiquity and purity of its lan-
guage; it possesses a strong and pecu-

prevailed from the Danish to the Norman invasions; and of which many considerable specimens, both in verse" and prose, are still preserved; particularly two literal versions of the four gospels", and the spurious Caedmon's beautiful poetical paraphrase of the Book of Genesis', and the Prophet Daniel. The third may be properly styled the Norman Saxon; which began about the time of the Norman accession, and continued beyond the reign of Henry the Seconds. The last of these three dialects, with which these Annals of English Poetry commence, formed a language extremely barbarous, irregular, and intractable; and consequently promises no very striking specimens in any species of composition. Its substance was the Danish Saxon, adulterated with French. The Saxon indeed, a language subsisting on uniform principles, and polished by poets and theologists, however corrupted by the Danes, had much perspicuity, strength, and harmony: but the French imported by the Conqueror and his people, was a confused jargon of Teutonic, Gaulish, and vitiated Latin.

liar interest for the student in English
archaeology, from the light it throws
upon the laws and structure of Anglo-
Saxon metre.—The arbitrary classifica-
tion of the Anglo-Saxon language ante-
rior to the Conquest, given in the text,
has been adopted from Hickes, an exami-
nation of whose opinions on the subject
will be found in the Preface to this edi-
tion.—EDIT.]
* A.D. 1066.
* See Hickes. Thes, Ling. Vett. Sept.
P. i. cap. xxi. pag. 177. and Praefat.
fol. xiv. The curious reader is also re-
ferred to a Danish Saxon poem, cele-
brating the wars which Beowulf, a noble
Dane descended from the royal stem of
Scyldinge, waged against the kings of
Swedeland. MSS. Cotton. ut supr.
Wirell. A 15. Cod. membran, ix.
fol. 130. Compare, written in the style of
Caedmon, a fragment of an ode in praise
of the exploits of Brithnoth, Offa's eal-
dorman, or general, in a battle fought
against the Danes. Ibid. Oth. A 12.
Cod. membran. 4to. iii. Brithmoth the
hero of this piece, a Northumbrian, died
in the year 991.

[The poem of Beowulf has since been published by the Chevalier Thorkelin, under the title of “De Danorum rebus gestis secul. iii. et iv. Poema Danicum dialecto Anglo-Saxonica: edidit versione Lat. et indicibus auxit Grim Johnson Thorkelin Eques Ord. Danebrogiciauratus &c. Havniae 1815.” An analysis of its contents will be found in the last volume of Mr. Turner's “History of the Anglo-Saxons,” with occasional extracts from the work itself; and an English translation of the specimens. The fragment of Brithnoth has been published by Hearne, but without a translation.— EDIT.

* MSS. Bibl. Bodl. Oxon. Cod. membran, in Pyxid, 4to grand. quadrat. and MSS. Cotton, ut supr. Orino. Nor. D 4. Both these manuscripts were written and ornamented in the Saxon times, and are of the highest curiosity and antiquity.

* Printed by Junius, Amst. 1655. The greatest part of the Bodleian manuscript of this book is believed to have been written about A.D. 1000.-Cod. Jun. xi. membran, fol.

* He died 1189.

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