"Same old Bill, eh Mable!" eBook

Edward Streeter
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 124 pages of information about "Same old Bill, eh Mable!".
through the aforesaid councillors, or through the more deal of them, even as it is before said; and that each help other that for to do, by the same oath, against all men, right for to do and to receive.  And (let) none take of land nor of property, wherethrough this provision may be let or worsened in any wise.  And if any-man or any-men come here-against, we will and command that all our true-men hold them (as) deadly foes.  And for that we will that thi bes steadfast and lasting, we send you this writ open, signed with our seal, to hold amongst you in hoard.  Witness us-selves at London, the eighteenth day in the month of October, in the two and fortieth year of our crowning.  And this was done before our sworen councillors, Boneface, archbishop of Canterbury, Walter of Cantelow, bishop of Worcester, Simon of Muntfort, earl of Leicester, ... and before others enough.

  {P} And all in the same words is sent into every other shire over all
  the kingdom in England, and eke into Ireland.

In the year 1303, Robert Manning, of Bourn in Lincolnshire, translated a French poem entitled Manuel des Pechiez (Manual of Sins) into very fair East Midland verse, giving to his translation the title of Handling Synne.  Many of the verses are easy and smooth, and the poem clearly shows us that the East Midland dialect was by this time at least the equal of the others, and that the language was good enough to be largely permanent.  When we read such lines as: 

  Than seyd echone that sate and stode,
  Here comth Pers, that never dyd gode—­

we have merely to modernise the spelling, and we at once have: 

  Then said each one that sat and stood,
  Here cometh Pierce, that never did good,

These are lines that could be written now.

An extract from Manning’s Handlyng Synne is given in Specimens of Early English, Part II, most of which can be read with ease.  The obsolete words are not very numerous, and we meet now and then with half a dozen consecutive lines that would puzzle no one.  It is needless to pursue the history of this dialect further.  It had, by this time, become almost the standard language, differing from Modern English chiefly in date, and consequently in pronunciation.  We pass on from Manning to Chaucer, from Chaucer to Lydgate and Caxton, and from Caxton to Lord Surrey and Sackville and Spenser, without any real change in the actual dialect employed, but only in the form of it.


We have seen that there are two divisions of the Mercian dialect, into East and West Midland.

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"Same old Bill, eh Mable!" from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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