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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 answer 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.'

J. L.

LONDON : March 1863,

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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:




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Anglo-Saxon From Heptarchy to Conquest Eadfride, Caedmon, Bede, Al.

fred, Aelfric. Semi-Saxon. From Conquest to Edward I. Layamon, Robert of Glo'ster,

Robert Manning; Early English , . From Edw. I. to Richard II. Sir J. Mandeville, Trevisa,

Wickliffe, Langland, Chau.

cer, Gower. Middle English. From Rich. II. to Elizabeth Caxton, Sir T. More, Tindall,

Coverdale, Cranmer, Earl of

Surrey, Sackville. Modern English From Elizabeth to Victoria Sidney, Spenser, Shakspeare,

Raleigh, Bacon, Jonson, Mil. ton, Dryden, &c.

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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.






Eadfride HEPTARCHY Eadfride, bishop of Holy Isle,

was one of the earliest writers in Flourished towards end

Saxon literature. His principal of 7th century

work was a Gloss or comment on the Evangelists, said to be the oldest Saxon writing extant of

any considerable merit. Caedmon

An ancient Saxon monk, to

whom is attributed a' Metrical Flourished about A.D. 680

Paraphrase' of certain parts of Scripture, besides many hymns and devotional poems. Of this author Bede says, “Never did

Caedmon compose an idle verse.' Bede

A learned monk, born at

Wearmouth, author of a TransBorn 672 ; Died 735

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

ALFRED An illustrious king, and such a

lover of learning that no unBorn 848; Died 901

learned 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. Aelfric ETHELRED II. Archbishop of


and one of the most learned men Died A.D. 1005

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.' Lapamon

HENRY II. A priest of Ernley upon SeFlour, about A.D. 1180

vern; 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. Fobert of Glo'ster HENRY III. The oldest of our English Flour, about A.D. 1260

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. Robert Manning EDWARD I. Sometimes called Robert de Flour. about A.D. 1300

Brunne. A learned monk, au. thor 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.


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