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minor ideas and events with the central, leading circumstances or character. Thus, Milton's dates are 1608-1674. The great events of this time are the Civil War, the execution of Charles I., etc. Learning the position which Milton assumed in the struggle for liberty, his unceasing labors in behalf of his country, that his friends were the friends of Cromwell, of the Commonwealth, of Parliament, of Liberty, and Puritanism-against these the pupil will mentally array the King and his friends, the Royalists, the Church of England, and the writers who represented that party. He will recall, also, contemporary events in American history, how this same struggle for freedom of conscience in England planted the seeds of Liberty in New England. Identifying the writers with the events of the time, it would be but insignificant study to attempt to memorize individual dates. If a pupil is required to dwell too minutely on these smaller facts, the grander objects of the study will be sacrificed, and the power of generalizing will be left uncultivated.

8. After pupils have gained a respectable knowledge of several authors, it is a good exercise to let them bring in brief extracts from these authors-a striking sentence in prose, or a line or stanza of poetry-selecting judiciously—and recite them in class, letting the class recognize the author, either from memory of the lines quoted or from a knowledge of the general style of the writer. They should also know from what work the lines are extracted, and all that it is possible to know about them. Encourage pupils to make their own criticisms of an author's style.

In the first conception of this volume, the intention was to give more copious illustrations of the literature of each period; but the present limits of the work precluding this, if I have succeeded, by giving a taste, to cause the student to wish for more, and to send him to the author's own works, and not to text-books about then, one aim has been accomplished.






Sanscrit and other
| languages of India.

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Russian, Polish,
( Bohemian, Bulgarian, etc.

| Icelandic, Norwegian,

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First Period of English History and Literature.

Origin of the English Language.

INTRODUCTORY. ITERATURE is the recorded expression of knowledge and

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thoughts of mankind ; in its more restricted sense, it excludes all technical works and embraces only those departments of thought in which all mankind have a common interest. The study of literature, therefore, implies the study of the works of poets, dramatists, novelists, philosophers, theologians, historians, essayists, and critics.

A history of literature consists of a chronological, systematic review of the literary productions of a nation, with the causes which mould the thoughts, feelings, and expressions of each successive period of time.

The history of English literature begins in the seventh century after Christ. The history of the English language begins ages before the Cbristian era, when our ancestors tilled their lands and fed their flocks in the heart of Asia.

The English language, a branch of the Teutonic, is one of the numerous offsprings of the great Aryan family, whose descendants reach from India in the east to the remotest portions of Europe in the west.* India, Persia, and the borders of the Caspian and Aral Seas formed the original seat of the Aryan race, and from this oriental home the tidal wave of immigration began; but what were the countless causes to create out of the common parent language all the various tongues of the Aryan family, we must leave to the philologist, remembering that languages flourish or decay in proportion as they are well or carelessly used.

We can gain an idea of the verbal changes that centuries may produce, when we notice the changes in our own language. In the speech of the old-fashioned, we hear the faint echoes of a departing language. The possessive its was not in use until the latter part of the seventeenth century. It seldom occurs in the earliest editions of Shakespeare, not once in the Bible, translated in 1611, and is rarely used by Milton. He says:

"His form had yet not lost

All her original brightness.” The pronunciation and signification of words likewise undergo changes. The word let, which now means permit, once signified hinder.

"I will let that hunting gift that I may."I

I will hinder that hunting is that I may. So, likewise, the word prevent has lost its original meaning of anticipate. We find :

"Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.” ? The regeneration of a language or its decay depends upon the influences brought to bear upon it. If the speech of the educated prevail, the language will grow in strength and symmetry. In no way is corruption or decay more hastened than by the dropping of consonant sounds in words. In the course of time the English language, if learned from the uneducated or careless, and by the ear alone, would contain such words as a chile,” mounh'n,” “ weel," instead of child, mountain, wheel.

The seven great branches of the Aryan family are : 1. The Indic, or the language of India (its most ancient form the San

* From the names of these two extremities the Aryan language is sometimes called Indo-European. It is also called Indo-Germanic, because the German or Teutonic element forms so large a portion of the family. Gif was the old form of if. From the Ballad of Chevy Chase.

Psalm exix. 148.

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