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grammars in general use, nay more, may
know them perfectly, and yet be unable to answer many of the questions, and possibly at an examination receive bad marks for his grammar. Not that the questions are unreasonably difficult, as some persons have imagined, but rather because the existing text-books on this subject do not contain suitable information to enable the student to swer them.
With regard to the title, it may perhaps be well to observe, that as the work exhibits the various systems enunciated by different grammarians, and contains a chronological list of upwards of two hundred and fifty works on English Grammar, with quotations from nearly every English grammar of repute, a more appropriate title could not be given than that which has been selected—a Grammar of English Grammars.'
LONDON : March 1863.
GRAMMAR OF ENGLISH GRAMMARS.
I. THE VARIOUS STAGES AND PRINCIPAL WRITERS
OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.
Man can make known his thoughts to his fellow-man by means of certain articulate sounds called speech, or by means of written characters called letters; hence language is either spoken or written.
The English language is chiefly of Saxon origin, but it differs in many important points from the language spoken in the island a thousand years ago under the Saxon dynasty.
The great changes in the language were not made suddenly at any one particular time and place -- they are the work of centuries; and in arriving at its present state of perfection, the language passed through various stages, each marked by a particular name and period, and adorned by eminent writers.
The successive stages through which the language has passed since the time of the Anglo-Saxons, the periods of each stage, and the principal writers of each period, are exhibited at one view in the following tabular form:
PERIODS OF EACH STAGR
From Heptarchy to Conquest Eadfride, Caedmon, Bede, Al
Wickliffe, Langland, Chau.
cer, Gower. From Rich. II. to Elizabeth Caxton, Sir T. More, Tindall,
Coverdale, Cranmer, Earl of
Raleigh, Bacon, Jonson, Mil.
A Synopsis of the principal Writers of English Literature, with the
chief Works of each, arranged under the respective Reigns and Periods to which they belong.
PRINCIPAL WORKS, REMARKS, ETC.
HEPTARCHY Eadfride, bishop of Holy Isle,
was one of the earliest writers in Saxon literature. His principal work was a Gloss or comment on the Evangelists, said to be the oldest Saxon writing extant of any considerable merit,
An ancient Saxon monk, to whom is attributed a' Metrical Paraphrase' of certain parts of Scripture, besides many hymns and devotional poems. Of this author Bede says, “Never did Caedmon compose an idle verse.'
A learned monk, born at Wearmouth, author of a Trans. lation of the Gospels and Psalms into Saxon. He also wrote an Ecclesiastical History of Britain in Latin, commencing at the invasion of Julius Cæsar, and end.
ing A.D. 723. ALFRED An illustrious king, and such a
lover of learning that no unlearned person bore office in his reign. Author of a Code of Laws,' and a Commentary of his own Actions. He also translated the Psalms and Bede's History into Saxon, with various
other works. ETHELRED II. Archbishop of Canterbury,
and one of the most learned men of his day. He translated a great number of Homilies from the Latin into the Saxon language. He has also left a kind of episcopal charge in 37 canons, com. monly called Aelfric's Canons.'
A priest of Ernley upon Severn; his principal work is a translation of Wace's French • Brut.' In this author's writings there is all the appearance of a language thrown into confusion, and struggling to adapt itself to the new state of things. It is truly neither Saxon nor English.
The oldest of our English poets, author of a Metrical Chronicle,' a narrative of British and English affairs in rhyme. His language is a kind of inter. mediate diction, neither Saxon nor English, further obscured by the Western dialect in which he was educated.
Sometimes called Robert de Brunne. A learned monk, author of some' Rhyming Translations from the French.' His writings exhibit the language in a considerably more advanced state than that of the monk of Glo'ster.
Robert Manning EDWARD I.