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In this fluctuating state of our national speech, the French predominated *. Even before the Conquest the Saxon language began to fall into contempt, and the French, or Frankish, to be substituted in its stead: a circumstance which at once facilitated and foretold the Norman accession. In the year 652, it was the common practice of the Anglo-Saxons to send their youth to the monasteries of France for education h; and not only the language but the manners of the French were esteemed the most polite accomplishments'. In the reign of Edward the Confessor, the resort of Normans to the English court was so frequent, that the affectation of imitating the Frankish customs became almost universal; and the nobility were ambitious of catching the Frankish idiom. It was no difficult task for the Norman lords to banish that language, of which the natives began to be absurdly ashamed. The new invaders commanded the laws to be administered in French k. Many charters of monasteries were forged in Latin by the Saxon monks, for the present security of their possessions, in consequence of that aversion which the Normans professed to the Saxon tongue! Even children at school were forbidden to
[. This has been controverted by Mr. Par. i. pag. 106. See also Præfat. ibid. Luders in his Tracts, Bath 1810, where p. xv. the subject is ably discussed. The de 1 The Normans, who practised every scription of the French language given specious expedient to plunder the monks, above in the text conveys but an imper- demanded a sight of the written evifect idea of its composition; the Teu- dences of their lands. The monks well tonic and Gaulish bearing a very small knew that it would have been useless proportion to the body of the language, or impolitic to have produced these evi. which is decidedly of Romance or Latin dences, or charters, in the original Saxon; origin. The Francic, or Frankish as as the Normans not only did not unWarton calls it, and which he ought derstand, but would have received with not to have confounded with the French, contempt, instruments written in that existed in France as a perfectly distinct language. Therefore the monks were language among the descendants of the compelled to the pious fraud of forging Franks from their first settlement in them in Latin : and great numbers of Gaul till the eleventh century, and was these forged Latin charters, till lately wholly Teutonic: see Gley, “Langue supposed original, are still extant. See et Literature des anciens Francs,” Paris, Spelman, in Not. ad Concil. Anglic. 1814. and the Preface to this edition.- p. 125. Stillingfl. Orig. Eccles. Britann. Edit.)
p. 14. Marsham, Præfat. ad Dugd. Mo* Dugd. Mon. i. 89.
nast, and Wharton, Angl. Sacr. vol. ii. Ingulph. Hist. p. 62. sub ann. 1043. Præfat. p. ii. iii. iv. See also Ingulph. * But there is a precept in Saxon p. 512. Launoy and Mabillon have treatfrom William the First, to the sheriff ed this subject with great learning and of Somersetshire. Hickes. Thes. i. penetration.
read in their native language, and instructed in a knowledge of the Norman only. In the mean time we should have some regard to the general and political state of the nation. The natives were so universally reduced to the lowest condition of neglect and indigence, that the English name became a term of reproach : and several generations elapsed before one family of Saxon pedigree was raised to any distinguished honours, or could so much as attain the rank of baronage". Among other instances of that absolute and voluntary submission with which our Saxon ancestors received a foreign yoke, it appears that they suffered their hand-writing to fall into discredit and disuse°; which by degrees became so difficult and obsolete, that few beside the oldest men could understand the characters P. In the year 1095, Wolstan bishop of Worcester was deposed by the arbitrary Normans: it was objected against him, that he was “a superannuated English idiot, who could not speak French 9.” It is true, that in some of the monasteries, particularly at Croyland and Tavistocke, founded by Saxon princes, there were regular preceptors in the Saxon language: but this institution was suffered to remain after the Conquest as a matter only of interest and necessity. The religious could not otherwise have understood their original charters. William's successor, Henry the First, gave an instrument of confirmation to William archbishop of Canterbury, which was written in the Saxon language and letters'. Yet this is almost a single example. That monarch's motive was perhaps political: and he seems to have practised this expedient with a view of obliging his queen, who was of Saxon lineage; or with a de
** Ingulph. p. 71. sub ann. 1066. p. 52. The French antiquaries are fond
" See Brompt. Chron. p. 1026. Abb. of this notion. There are Saxon chaRieval. p. 539.
racters in Herbert Losinga's charter for Ingulph. p. 85.
founding the church of Norwich, temp. P Ibid. p. 98. sub ann. 1091.
Will. Ruf. A.D. 1110. See Lambarde's 9 Matt. Paris, sub ann.
Diction. v. Norwich. See also Hickes. 'H. Wharton, Auctar. Histor. Dog- Thesaur. i. Par. i. p. 149. See also mat. p. 388. The learned Mabillon is Præfat. p. xvi. An intermixture of the * mistaken in asserting, that the Saxon Saxon character is common in English way of writing was entirely abolished in and Latin manuscripts, before the reign England at the time of the Norman con of Edward the Third: but of a few types quest. See Mabillon, De Re Diplomat. only.
sign of flattering his English subjects, and of securing his title already strengthened by a Saxon match, in consequence of specious and popular an artifice. It was a common and indeed a very natural practice, for the transcribers of Saxon books to change the Saxon orthography for the Norman, and to substitute in the place of the original Saxon, Norman words and phrases. A remarkable instance of this liberty, which sometimes perplexes and misleads the critics in Anglo-Saxon literature, appears in a voluminous collection of Saxon homilies, preserved in the Bodleian library, and written about the time of Henry the Seconds. It was with the Saxon characters, as with the signature of the cross in public deeds; which were changed into the Norman mode of seals and subscriptions'. The Saxon was probably spoken in the country, yet not without various adulterations from the French: the courtly language was French, yet perhaps with some vestiges of the vernacular Saxon. But the nobles in the reign of Henry the Second constantly sent their children into France, lest they should contract habits of barbarism in their speech, which could not have been avoided in an English education“. Robert Holcot, a learned Dominican friar, confesses, that in the beginning of the reign of Edward the Third there was no institution of children in the old English: he complains that they first learned the French, and from the French the Latin language. This he observes to have been a practice introduced by the Conqueror, and to have remained ever since w. There is a curious passage relating to this subject in Trevisa's translation of Hygden's Polychronicon. “Children in scole, agenst the usage and manir of all other nations, beeth compelled for to leve hire owne langage, and for to construe hir lessons and hire thynges in Frenche; and so they haveth sethe Normans came first into Engelond.
• MSS. Bodl. NE. F 4. 12. Cod. Lect. in Libr. Sapient. Lect. ii. membran. fol.
Paris. 1518. 4to. Yet some Norman charters have the * Lib. i. cap. 59. MSS. Coll. S. Johan. cross.
Cantabr. But I tlónk it is printed by Gervas. Tilbur. de Otiis Imperial. Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde. Robert MSS. Bibl. Bodl. lib. iii. See Du Chesne, of Gloucester,who wrote about 1280, says iii. p. 363.
much the same, edit. Hearne, p. 364.
Also gentilmen children beeth taught to speke Frensche from the tyme that they bith rokked in here cradell, and kunneth speke and play with a childes broche: and uplondissche' men will likne himself to gentylmen, and fondeth 2 with greet be synesse for to speke Frensche to be told of. This maner was moche used to for [the] first deth", and is sith some dele changed. For John Cornewaile a maister of grammer changed the lore in grammer scole, and construction of Frensche into Englische: and Richard Pencriche lernede the manere techynge of him as other men of Pencriche. So that now, the yere of oure Lorde a thousand thre hundred and four score and five, and of the seconde Kyng Richard after the conquest nyne, and [in] alle the grammere scoles of Engelond children lereth Frensche and construeth, and lerneth an Englische, &c." About the same time, or rather before, the students of our universities were ordered to converse in French or Latin The latter was much affected by the Normans. All the Norman accompts were in Latin. The plan of the great royal revenuerolls, now called the pipe-rolls, was of their construction, and in that language. [Among the Records of the Tower, a great revenue-roll, on many sheets of vellum, or Magnus ROTULUS, of the Duchy of Normandy, for the year 1083, is still preserved; indorsed, in a coæval hand, ANNO AB INCARNATIONE DNI M° LXXX°111° APUD CADOMUM(Caen] WILLIELMO FILIO RADULFI SENESCALLO NORMANNIE. This most exactly and minutely
same injunction in the statutes of Exeter delights, tries.
College, Oxford, given about 1950; * time. (The Harleian MS. 1900 where they are ordered to use “ Ro (as cited by Mr. Tyrwhitt) reads, “to mano aut Gallico saltem sermone. fore the first moreyn," before the first Hearne's MSS. Collect. num. 132. plague; and upon this authority the ar pag. 73. Bibl Bodi. But in Merton ticle added in the text has been inserted. College statutes, mention is made of the The passage as it thus stands is free from Latin only. In cap. x. They were given obscurity.-EDIT.]
1271. This was also common in the b In the statutes of Oriel College in greater monasteries. In the register of Oxford, it is ordered, that the scholars, Wykeham bishop of Winchester, the or fellows, “siqua inter se proferant, domicellus of the prior of S. Swythin's colloquio Latino, vel saltem Gallico, at Winchester is ordered to address perfruantur." See Hearne's Trokelowe, the bishop, on a certain occasion, in
These statutes were given French. A.D. 1398. Registr. Par. iii. 23 Maii, A.D. 1328. I find much the fol. 177.
resembles the pipe-rolls of our exchequer belonging to the same age, in form, method, and character *.]—But from the declension of the barons, and prevalence of the commons, most of whom were of English ancestry, the native language of England gradually gained ground: till at length the interest of the commons so far succeeded with Edward the Third, that an act of parliament was passed, appointing all pleas and proceedings of law to be carried on in English“: although the same statute decrees, in the true Norman spirit, that all such pleas and proceedings should be enrolled in Latind. Yet this change did not restore either the Saxon alphabet or language. It abolished a token of subjection and disgrace; and in some de gree contributed to prevent further French innovations in the language then used, which yet remained in a compound state, and retained considerable mixture of foreign phraseology. In the mean time, it must be remembered that this corruption of the Saxon was not only owing to the admission of new words, occasioned by the new alliance, but to changes of its own forms and terminations, arising from reasons which we cannot investigate or explain
Among the manuscripts of Digby in the Bodleian library at Oxford, we find a religious or moral Ode, consisting of one hundred and ninety-one stanzas, which the learned Hickes places just after the Conquest : but as it ontains few Norman
[Ayloffe's Calendar of Ant. Chart. i Ling. Vett. Thes. Part. i. p. 222. Pref. p. xxiv. edit. Lond. 1774. 4to. There is another copy, not mentioned
ADDITIONS.) by Hickes, in Jesus College library at © But the French formularies and Oxford, MSS. 85. infr. citat. This is terms of law, and particularly the French entitled Tractatus quidam in Anglico. feudal phraseology, had taken too deep The Digby manuscript has no title. root to be thus hastily abolished. Hence, (It may be proper to observe here, long after the reign of Edward the Third, that the dates assigned to the several many of our lawyers composed their compositions quoted in this Section are tracts in French. And reports and some extremely arbitrary and uncertain. Judge statutes were made in that language. Seeing from internal evidence-a far more Fortescut. de Laud. Leg. Angl. c. xlviii. satisfactory criterion than Warton's com
& Pulton's Statut. 36 Edw. III. This puted age of his MSS.--there is not was A.D. 1363. The first English instru- one which may not safely be referred to ment in Rymer is dated 1368. Fød. vii. the thirteenth century, and by far the
greater number to the close of that pe. e This subject will be further illus- riod.-Edit.] trated in the next Section.