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before them an example and model of a pure and correct English prose style. In his dedication of the work, 'To all the Gentlemen and Yeomen of England,' he recommends to him that would write well in any tongue the counsel of Aristotle,-" to speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do." From this we may perceive that Ascham had a true feeling of the regard due to the great fountain-head and oracle of the national language—the vocabulary of the common people. He goes on to reprobate the practice of many English writers, who by introducing into their compositions, in violation of the Aristotelian precept, many words of foreign origin, Latin, French, and Italian, made all things dark and hard. "Once," he says, "I communed with a man which reasoned the English tongue to be enriched and increased thereby, saying, who will not praise that feast where a man shall drink at a dinner both wine, ale, and beer? Truly, quoth I, they be all good, every one taken by himself alone: but if you put malmsey and sack, red wine and white, ale and beer and all, in one pot, you shall make a drink neither easy to be known, nor yet wholesome for the body." The English language, however, it may be observed, had even already become too thoroughly and essentially a mixed tongue for this doctrine of purism to be admitted to the letter; nor, indeed, to take up Ascham's illustration, is it universally true, even in regard to liquids, that a salutary and palatable beverage can never be made by the interfusion of two or more different kinds. Our tongue is now, and was many centuries ago, not to the same extent, but yet in a certain degree, as substantially and constitutionally Norman or French as Saxon or Teutonic; it would be
as completely torn in pieces and left the mere tattered rag of a language, useless for all the purposes of speaking as well as of writing, by having the French as by having the Saxon taken out of it. Ascham, in his own writings, uses many words of French and Latin origin (the latter mostly derived through the medium of the French); nay, the common people themselves of necessity did in his day, as they do still, use many such foreign words, or words not of Saxon etymology, and could scarcely have held communication with one another on the most ordinary occasions without so doing. It is another question whether it might not have been more fortunate if the original Saxon body of the national speech had remained in a state of celibacy and virgin purity; by the course of events the Saxon part of the language has, in point of fact, been married to the French part of it; and what God or nature has thus joined together it is now beyond the competency of man to put asunder. The language, while it subsists, must continue to be the produce of that union, and nothing else. As for Ascham's own style, both in his Toxophilus, and in his Schoolmaster, published in 1571, three years after the author's death, it is not only clear and correct, but idiomatic and muscular. That it is not rich or picturesque, is the consequence of the character of the writer's mind, which was rather rhetorical than poetical. The publication of Ascham's Toxophilus was soon followed by an elaborate treatise expressly dedicated to the subject of English composition-The Art of Rhetorick, for the use of all such as are studious of Eloquence, set forth in English, by 'Thomas Wilson.' Wilson, whose work appeared in
1553, takes pains to impress the same principles that Ascham had laid down before him with regard to purity of style and the general rule of writing well. But the very solicitude thus shown by the ablest and most distinguished of those who now assumed the guardianship of the vernacular tongue to protect it from having its native character overlaid and debased by an intermixture of terms borrowed from other languages, may be taken as evidence that such debasement was actually at this time going on; that our ancient English was beginning to be oppressed and half suffocated by additions from foreign sources brought in upon it faster than it could absorb and assimilate them. Wilson, indeed, proceeds to complain that this was the case. While some 66 pow.
dered their talk with over-sea language," others, whom he designates as "the unlearned or foolish fantastical, that smell but of learning," were wont, he says, "so to Latin their tongues," that simple persons could not but wonder at their talk, and think they surely spake by some revelation from heaven. It may be suspected, however, that this affectation of unnecessary terms, formed from the ancient languages, was not confined to mere pretenders to learning. Another well-known critical writer of this period, Webster Puttenham, in his 'Art of English Poesy,' published in 1582, but believed to have been written a good many years earlier, in like manner advises the avoidance in writing of such words and modes of expression as are used "in the marches and frontiers, or in port towns where strangers haunt for traffic sake, or yet in universities, where scholars use much peevish affectation of words out of the primitive languages;" and he warns his readers that in some books were already
to be found " many inkhorn terms so ill affected, brought in by men of learning, as preachers and schoolmasters, and many strange terms of other languages by secretaries, and merchants, and travellers, and many dark words, and not usual nor well-sounding, though they be daily spoken at court." On the whole, however, Puttenham considers the best standard both for speaking and writing to be "the usual speech of the court, and that of London, and the shires lying about London within sixty miles, and not much above." This judgment is probably correct, although the writer was a gentleman pensioner, and perhaps also a cockney by birth.
SCOTISH PROSE WRITERS.
Before the middle of the sixteenth century a few prose writers had also appeared in the Scotish dialect. A digest of practical theology composed for the use of king James IV. in his native tongue by a priest called John de Irlandia, in the year 1490, still exists in MS. (apparently an autograph of the author), in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh. "This work," says Leyden, who has given an account of it, with some extracts, in the Preliminary Dissertation prefixed to his edition of 'The Complaint of Scotland," "exhibits a curious specimen of the Scotish language at that period; and the style, as well the orthography are more uniform, and approach nearer the modern standard, than those of some writers who lived almost a century later." A moral treatise entitled 'The Porteous [that is, the vade mecum or manual] of Nobleness,' translated from the French by Andrew Cadiou was printed at Edinburgh in 1508.
The conclusion of it, the only portion that is known to have been preserved, is reprinted by Leyden in his Dissertation (pp. 203-208); and also by Mr. David Laing, in his collection entitled 'The Knightly Tale of Golagrus and Gawane, &c.' Edin. 1827. The Scotish History of Hector Boethius, or Boecius (Boece or Boyce), translated from the Latin by John Bellenden, was printed at Edinburgh in 1537; and a translation by the same person of the first Five Books of Livy remained in MS. till it was published at Edinburgh, in 4to. in 1829; a second edition of the translation of Boecius having also been brought out there, in two vols. 4to. the same year. But the most remarkable composition in Scotish prose of this era is 'The Complaynt of Scotland,' printed at St. Andrew's in 1548, which has been variously assigned to Sir James Inglis, knight, a country gentleman of Fife, who died in 1554; to Wedderburn, the supposed author of the Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Sangs and Ballats' (reprinted from the edition of 1621 by Sir John Grahame Dalzell, 8vo. Edinburgh, 1801); and by its modern editor, the late John Leyden, in the elaborate and ingenious Dissertation prefixed to his reprint of the work, 8vo. Edinburgh, 1801, to the famous poet, Sir David Lyndsay. This is a very extraordinary piece of writing, as a short extract or two will show. For the better comparison of the language in all respects with that spoken and written in England at the same date, we shall, in our first specimen, preserve the original spelling. The following is from a long episode which occurs in the middle of the work, entitled' Ane Monolog of the Actor:'*.
* But this appears to be a misprint (either of the original