Early Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 175 pages of information about Early Britain.
The Authorised Version of the Bible, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” and such poems as Tennyson’s “Dora,” consist almost entirely of Teutonic elements.  Even when the vocabulary is largely classical, as in Johnson’s “Rasselas” and some parts of “Paradise Lost,” the grammatical structure, the prepositions, the pronouns, the auxiliary verbs, and the connecting particles, are all necessarily and purely English.  Two examples will suffice to make this principle perfectly clear.  In the first, which is the most familiar quotation from Shakespeare, all the words of foreign origin have been printed in italics:—­

To be, or not to be,—­that is the question:  Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?  To die,—­to sleep,—­ No more; and, by a sleep, to say we end The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to,—­’tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished.  To die,—­to sleep;—­ To sleep! perchance to dream:  ay, there’s the rub For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause:  there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin?

Here, out of 167 words, we find only 28 of foreign origin; and even these are Englished in their terminations or adjuncts. Noble is Norman-French; but the comparative nobler stamps it with the Teutonic mark. Oppose is Latin; but the participle opposing is true English. Devout is naturalised by the native adverbial termination, devoutly. Oppressor’s and despised take English inflexions.  The formative elements, or, not, that, the, in, and, by, we, and the rest, are all English.  The only complete sentence which we could frame of wholly Latin words would be an imperative standing alone, as, “Observe,” and even this would be English in form.

On the other hand, we may take the following passage from Mr. Herbert Spencer as a specimen of the largely Latinised vocabulary needed for expressing the exact ideas of science or philosophy.  Here also borrowed words are printed in italics:—­

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Early Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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