« السابقةمتابعة »
the same words, are counted. Thus, in the passage extending from the end of the period in verse 362 of the sixth book of Paradise Lost, to the end of the period in verse 372, there are seventy-two words. Eight of these are proper names and are rejected, but all the other words are counted, though several of them are repetitions of particles and pronouns. In the comparison of the total vocabularies, every part of speech is counted as a distinct word, but all the inflected forms of a given verb or adjective are treated as composing a single word. Thus, safe, safely, safety, and save, I make four words, but save, saved, and saving, one, as also safe, safer, safest, one.
I have made no attempt to assign words not of AngloSaxon origin to their respective sources, but it may be assumed in general that Greek words, excepting the modern scientific compounds, have come to us through the Latin, and both in this case and where they have been formed directly from Greek roots, their orthography is usually conformed to the Latin standard for similar words. Words of original Latin etymology have been, as will be more fully shown in a future lecture, in the great majority of instances, borrowed by us from the French, and are still used in forms more in accordance with the French than with the Latin orthography. The proportion, five per cent., allowed by Trench to Greek words, I think too great, as is also that for other miscellaneous etymologies, unless we follow the Celtic school in referring to a Celtic origin all roots common to that and the Gothic dialects.
Taking the authors I have examined chronologically, I find, with respect to their total vocabularies, that in that of the Ormulum, which, in opposition to the opinion of most philologists, I consider English rather than semi-Saxon,
though written probably not far from the year 1225, nearly ninety-seven per cent. of the words are Anglo-Saxon.* In the vocabulary of the English Bible, sixty per cent. are native; in that of Shakespeare the proportion is very nearly the
* With the exception of a very few Latin terms, such as quadriga, vipera, &c., I have observed in the Ormulum no word of foreign etymology which had not been employed by Anglo-Saxon writers, and thus naturalized, while Anglo-Saxon was still a living speech. There is a considerable class of Saxon words, some of them very important with reference to the question of the moral culture of the people, the source and etymology of which it is difficult to determine. Law and right, for example, are by many etymologists derived respectively from the Latin lex and rectus. It is said that lagu and lah do not occur in Anglo-Saxon before the reign of Edgar, A. D. 959–975. But lagu bears the same relation to the Saxon verb lecgan, to lay, to set down, that the German Gesetz does to the verb setzen. The Mæso-Gothic lagjan is the equivalent of lecgan, and though no noun etymologically corresponding to law occurs the slender remains we possess of that literature, yet a similar word is found in Old-Northern as well as in Swedish and Danish. We have in the eighteenth stanza of the Völo-spá, one of the oldest poems of the Edda, þær lavg lavgdo, they enacted statutes, laid down the law. We cannot well doubt that la vg and lavgdo are related words, and it is not denied that the verb, as well as its cognates in the sister tongues, is of primitive Gothic origin. Jornandes, who wrote in the sixth century, has a word apparently from the same root, and even approximating to our by-law: Nam ethicam eas erudivit, ut barbaricos mores ab eis compesceret; physicam tradens naturaliter propriis legibus vivere fecit, quas usque nunc conscriptas bellagines (Ihre, and some others, read, bilagines) nuncupant.—De Reb. Get. cap. xi. See App. 15.
Right is found not only in Anglo-Saxon (riht), but in all the cognate languages, and it is certainly improbable that the Mæso-Goths of the fourth century borrowed from the Latin rectus their raihts, right, just, ard gara ihts, righteous, which, with several derivatives from them, are used by Ulphilas.
therefore, entitled to consider law and right, and all their derivatives, as at least prima facie English and not Latin words. At the same time, it must be remembered that history has taught us almost nothing of the moral and lin. guistic relations between the Romans and the progenitors of the modern Gothic and Celtic tribes, except that in culture and civilization, as well as in material power, the Latin was the superior race, and that Rome was in a position to exercise an immense moral as well as social influence over those rude populations. With respect, therefore, to the vocabulary of law, of political life, and of intellectual action, we are treading on uncertain ground, when we positively affirm the domestic origin of a Gothic or Celtic root resembling a Latin one, and we can seldom be sure that such words have not passed directly from the latter to the former, instead of descending from a common but remote source.
same; while of the stock of words employed in the poetical works of Milton, less than thirty-three per cent. are AngloSaxon.
But when we examine the proportions in which authors actually employ the words at their command, we find that even in those whose total vocabulary embraces the greatest number of Latin and other foreign vocables, the Anglo-Saxon still largely predominates. Thus:
Robert of Gloucester, narrative of Conquest, pp.
354, 364, employs of Anglo-Saxon words, Ninety-six per cent. Piers Ploughman, Introduction, entire,
Eighty-eight per cent. Passus Decimus-Quartus, entire,
Eighty-four per cent. Decimus-nonus and vicesimus, entire, Eighty-nine per cent. " Creed, entire.
Ninety-four per cent. Chaucer, Prologue to Canterbury Tales, first 420 verses,
Eighty-eight per cent. Nonnes Preestes Tale, entire,
Ninety-three per cent. Squiers Tale, entire,
Ninety-one per cent. Prose Tale of Melibæus, in about 3,000 words,
Eighty-nine per cent. Sir Thomas More, coronation of Richard III. &c., † seven folio pages,
Eighty-four per cent.
* For the purpose of determining more satisfactorily the true character of the diction of Langland and of Chaucer, I have counted both the different words of-foreign derivation, and the repetitions of them, in the Passus Decimus-Quartus of Piers Plougiiman, and in an equal amount of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Exclusive of quotations and proper names, the Passus Decimus-Quartus contains somewhat less than 3,200 words. Of these, including repetitions, 500, or sixteen per cent., are of Latin or French origin, and as there are about 180 repetitions, the number of different foreign words is about 320, or ten per cent. In the first 420 verses of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, the number of words is the same, or about 3,200, of which, including repetitions, about 370, or rather less than twelve per cent., are Romance. The repetitions are but 70, and there remain 300, or rather more than nine per cent. of different foreign words. In either point of view, then, Chaucer's vocabulary is more purely Anglo-Saxon than that of Langland. It must be remembered, however, that there are few Romance words in Piers Ploughman which are not found in other English writers of as early a date, while Chaucer has many which occur for the first time in his verses, and were doubtless introduced by him.
+ Ellis (Preface to reprint of Hardynge) doubts whether the life of Richard Eighty-two per cent. Pope, First Epistle, and Essay on Man.,
Spenser, Faerie Queene, Book II. Canto VII., Eighty-six per cent.
Ninety-six per cent.
Ninety-two per cent. Romans, chap. II. VII. XI. XV.,
Ninety per cent. Shakespeare, Henry IV., Part I., Act II., Ninety-one per cent. Othello, Act V.,
Eighty-nine per cent. Tempest, Act I.,
Eighty-eight per cent. Milton, L'Allegro,
Ninety per cent.
Eighty-three per cent.
Eighty per cent. Addison, several numbers of Spectator,
Eighty per cent. Swift, Political Lying,
Sixty-eight per cent. John Bull, several chapters,
Eighty-five per cent. Four last years of Queen Anne, to end of sketch of Lord Cowper,
Seventy-two per cent. Johnson, preface to Dictionary, entire,
Seventy-two per cent. Junius, Letters XII. & XXIII.,
Seventy-six per cent. Hume, History of England, general sketch of Com
monwealth, forming conclusion of chap. LX., Seventy-threeper cent. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, vol. I. chap. VII., Seventy per cent. Webster, Second Speech on Foot's Resolution, entire,*
Seventy-five per cent.
III., commonly ascribed to Sir T. More, was really written by him, but Ascham treats it as his, and in the edition of More's works prepared by his nephew, and printed in 1557, the preliminary note to the Life of Richard states expressly that it was composed by Sir Thomas about the year 1513, when he was sheriff of London, and that it is now printed from "a copie of his own hand." The internal evidence is, indeed, with Ellis ; for, in point of style, this work is much superior to any of More's undisputed productions, and in fact, deserves the high praise which Hallam has bestowed upon it. Still, I think there is hardly sufficient ground for denying the authorship to More, and I have selected it as the best example of original English of that period.
* The apparently large proportion of words of Latin origin in this great speech, popularly known as the Reply to Hayne, is chiefly due to the frequent recurrence of Congress,' 'constitution,' and other technical terms of American political law. Wherever it was not necessary to employ these expressions, the style is much more Saxon. Thus, in the eulogy on Massachusetts containing more than two hundred words, eighty-four per cent. are native, and in the peroration, beginning 'God grant,' &c., the Anglo-Saxon words are in the proportion of eighty per cent.
INCREASING IMPORTANCE OF SAXON ELEMENT.
Irving, Stout Gentleman,
Eighty-five per cent. Westminster Abbey,
Seventy-seven per cent Macaulay, Essay on Lord Bacon,
Seventy-five per cent. Channing, Essay on Milton,
Seventy-five per cent. Cobbett, on Indian Corn, chap XI.,
Eighty per cent. Prescott, Philip II. B. I. c. IX.,
Seventy-seven per cent. Bancroft, History, vol. VII. Battle of Bunker hill, Seventy-eight per cent. Bryant, Death of the Flower,
Ninety-two per cent. Thanatopsis,
Eighty-four per cent. Mrs. Browning, Cry of the Children,
Ninety-two per cent. Crowned and Buried,
Eighty-three per cent. Lost Bower,
Seventy-seven per cent. Robert Browning Blougram's Apology,
Eighty-four per cent. Everett, Eulogy on J. Q. Adams, last twenty pages,
Seventy-six per cent. Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature, Period II., chap. I.,
Seventy-three per cent. Tennyson, The Lotus Eaters,
Eighty-seven per cent. In Memoriam, first twenty poems, Eighty-nine per cent. Ruskin, Modern Painters, vol. II., Part III., Sec. II., Chap. V. Of the Superhuman Ideal, Seventy-three per cent.
Elements of Drawing, first six exercises, Eighty-four per cent. Longfellow, Miles Standish, entire,
Eighty-seven per cent. Martineau, Endeavors after the Christian Life, III. Discourse.
Seventy-four per cent.
The most interesting result of these comparisons, perhaps the only one which they can be said to establish, is the fact, that the best writers of the present day habitually employ, in both poetry and prose, a larger proportion of Anglo-Saxon words than the best writers of the last century. This conclusion is not deduced from the numerical computations just given alone, for in estimating the relative prominence of a particular element in the vocabulary, we must take into view the whole extent of that vocabulary. Now, in this latter particular, there has been a great change since the time of Johnson, for while the number of Saxon words remains the same, there has been, within a hundred years, a large increase