"Same old Bill, eh Mable!" eBook

Edward Streeter
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 96 pages of information about "Same old Bill, eh Mable!".

  O reverend Chaucere, rose of rethoris{8} all,
  As in oure tong ane flour{9} imperiall,
    That raise{10} in Britane evir, quho redis rycht,
  Thou beris of makaris{11} the try{’u}mph riall;
  Thy fresch anamalit term{e}s celicall{12}
    This mater coud illumynit have full brycht;
    Was thou noucht of oure Inglisch all the lycht,
  Surmounting eviry tong terrestriall
    Als fer as Mayis morow dois mydnycht?

  O morall Gower, and Ludgate laureate,
  Your sugurit lippis and tongis aureate{13}
    Bene to oure eris cause of grete delyte;
  Your angel mouthis most mellifluate{14}
  Oure rude langage has clere illumynate,
    And faire our-gilt{15} oure speche, that imperf{’y}te
    Stude, or{16} your goldyn pennis schupe{17} to wryte;
  This ile before was bare, and desolate
    Of rethorike, or lusty{18} fresch endyte{19}.

  {Footnotes: 
    1:  dream
    2:  bright
    3:  morn
    4:  young
    5:  pleasant
    6:  arrayed
    7:  enamelling
    8:  orators
    9:  flower
   10:  didst rise
   11:  poets
   12:  heavenly
   13:  golden
   14:  honeyed
   15:  overgilt
   16:  ere
   17:  undertook
   18:  pleasant
   19:  composition}

CHAPTER VI

THE SOUTHERN DIALECT

We have seen that the earliest dialect to assume literary supremacy was the Northern, and that at a very early date, namely, in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries; but its early documents have nearly all perished.  If, with the exception of one short fragment, any of C{ae}dmon’s poems have survived, they only exist in Southern versions of a much later date.

The chief fosterer of our rather extensive Wessex (or Southern) literature, commonly called Anglo-Saxon, was the great Alfred, born at Wantage in Berkshire, to the south of the Thames.  We may roughly define the limits of the Old Southern dialect by saying that it formerly included all the counties to the south of the Thames and to the west and south-west of Berkshire, including Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, and Devonshire, but excluding Cornwall, in which the Cornish dialect of Celtic prevailed.  It was at Athelney in Somersetshire, near the junction of the rivers Tone and Parrett, that Alfred, in the memorable year 878, when his dominions were reduced to a precarious sway over two or three counties, established his famous stronghold; from which he issued to inflict upon the foes of the future British empire a crushing and decisive defeat.  And it was near Athelney, in the year 1693, that the ornament of gold and enamel was found, with its famous legend—­{AE}LFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN—­“{AE}lfred commanded (men) to make me.”

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