english southern dialect middle language century northern modern midland south
VILE. - so close of the period has been brought down to 1250; but very shortly after 1200 in the south, and considerably before it in the north, the levelling of inflexions was complete, and the language possessed of a tolerably settled system of new grammatical forms, the use of which marks Middle English.
Although the written remains of the TRANSITION OLD ENGLISH are few, sufficient exist to enable us to trace the course of linguistic change. Within two generations after the Conquest, faithful pens were at work transliterating the old homilies of )Elfric, and other lights of the Anglo-Saxon Church, into the neglected idiom of their posterity. Twice during the period, in the reigns of Stephen and Henry II., /Elfric's gospels were similarly modernized so as to be " understanded of the people." And shortly after 1100 appeared the great work of the age, the versified Chronicle of Layamon, or Lawiman, a priest of Ernely, on the Severn, who, using as his basis the French Brut of Wace, expanded it by additions of his own to more than twice the extent; his work of 32,250 lines is a mine of illustration for the language of the period. While these southern remains carry on in unbroken sequence the history of the Old English of Alfred and IElfric, the history of the northern English is an entire blank from the 11th to the 13th century. The stubborn resistance of the north, and the terrible retaliation inflicted by William, apparently effaced northern English culture for centuries. If anything was written in the vernacular in the kingdom of Scotland during the same period, it probably perished during the calamities to which that country was subjected during the half century of struggle for independence. In reality, however, the northern English had entered its Transition or " Semi-Saxon" stage two centuries earlier ; the glosses of the 10th century show that the Danish inroads had there anticipated the results hastened by the Norman Conquest in the south. Meanwhile a dialect was making its appearance in another quarter of England, destined to overshadow the old literary dialects of north and south alike, and become the English of the future. The Mercian kingdom, which, as its name imports, lay along the marches of the earlier states, and was really a congeries of the outlying members of many tribes, must have presented from the beginning a linguistic mixture and transition ; and it is probable that more than one intermediate form of speech arose within its confines, between Lancashire and the Thames. But the only specimen of such we can with some degree of certainty produce comes towards the close of the Old English period, in the gloss to the Rushworth Gospels, which, so far as concerns St Matthew, and a few verses of St John xviii., is probably in a Mercian dialect. At least it presents a phase of the language which in inflexional decay stands about midway between the West-Saxon and the Northumbrian glosses, to which it is yet posterior in time. But soon after the Conquest we find an undoubted midland dialect in the Transition stage from Old to Middle English, in the south-eastern part of ancient Marcia, in a district bounded on the south and south-east by the Saxon Middlesex and Essex, and on the east and north by the East Anglian Norfolk and Suffolk and the Danish settlements on the Trent and Humber. In this district, and in the monastery of Peterborough, one of the copies of the Old English Chronicle, transcribed about 1120, was written up by two succeeding hands to the death of Stephen iu 1154. The section from 1122 to 1131, written in the latter year, shows the same confusion as in Layamon between Old English forms and those of a still simpler Middle English, impatient to rid itself of the inflexional trammels which were still, though in weakened forms, so tightly hugged south of the Thames. And in the concluding section written in 1154 we find Middle English fairly started on its career. A specimen of this new tongue will best show the change that had taken place.
With this may be contrasted a specimen of southern English, at least 25 years later (Hatton Gospels, Luke i. 46).2 Da cwEeb Maria : Min smile mersed driliten, and min gist ge-blissode on gode minen hwlende. For pam pe he geseals his pinene eachnoduysse. Sallee kenen-for6 me eadige segg0 alle cneornesse ; for pam pe me mychele ping dyde se lie mihtyg ys ; and his name is halig. And his mildheortuysse of cueornisse on cneornesse hire ondraedende. He worhte niaegne on hys earme; lie to-daelde pa ofermode, on mods, heora. heortan. He warp pa rice of setlle, and jai eadmode he up-an-hof. Hyngriende he mid gode ge-felde, and pa ofermode ydele for-let. He afeng israel his cult, and geniynde his mildheortuysse ; Swa he sprite to ure fEederen Abrahame, and his sale on a weorlde, The MIDDLE ENGLISII stage was pre-eminently the Dialectal period of the language. It was not till after the middle of the 14t11 century that English obtained official recognition as a language. For three centuries, therefore, there was no standard form of speech which claimed any pre-eminence over the others. The writers of each district wrote in the dialect familiar to them ; and between extreme forms the difference was so great as to amount to unintelligibility ; works written for southern Englishmen had to be translated for the benefit of the men of the north :- " In sotherin Inglis was it drawin, And turnid is haue it till ur awiu Langage of pe northin lede That can na nothir Inglis redo."
Cursor Ilfundr, 20,064.
Three main dialects were distinguished by contemporary writers, as in the often-quoted passage from Trevisa's translation of Higden's Polychronicon completed in 1387: "Also Englysche men hadde fram pe bygynnynge pre mailer speche, Souperon, Norperon, and Myddel speche (in pe myddel of pc lond) as by come of pre maner people of Germania Also of pe furseyde Saxon tonge, pat ys deled a pre, and ys abyde searslyehe wip feaw uplondysche men and ys gret wondur, few men of pe est wip men of pe west, as hyt were under pe same part of heyvene, acordep more in sounynge of speche pan men of pe norp wip men of pe soup ; perfore hyt ys pat Mercii, pat bup men of myddel Engelond, as hyt were parteners of pe endes, undurstondep betre pe syde longages Norperon and Souperon, pan Norpern and Soupern unduistondep oyper open" The modern study of these Middle English dialects, initiated by Mr Garnett, and elaborated by Dr Richard _Morris,8 has shown that they were readily distinguished by the conjugation of the present tense of the verb, which in typical specimens was as follows : - Southern.
Jeh singe. We singep.
pun singest. 3e singer.
He singer. 14 singer.
Ich, I, singe. We singen.
you singest. ;e singen.
He singer. Hy, thei, singen.
Ic, I, syng(e). We syng(e), We pat synges.
pu synges. 30 syng(e), foules synges.
He synges. Thay syng(e), Men synges.
Of these the southern is simply the old West-Saxon, with the vowels levelled to e. The northern second person in -es is older than the southern and West Saxon -est ; but the -es of the third person and plural is derived from an older -eth, the change of -th into -s being found in progress in the Durham glosses of the 10th century. In the plural, when accompanied by the pronoun subject, the verb had already dropped the inflexions entirely as in Modern English. The origin of the -en plural in the midland dialect, unknown to Old English, has been a matter of conjecture ; most probably it is an instance of form-km/Hug, the inflexion of the present indicative being assimilated to that of the past, and the present and past subjunctive, in all of which -en was the plural termination. In the declension of nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, the northern dialect had attained before the end of the 13th century to the simplicity of Modern English, while the southern dialect still retained a large number of inflexions, and the midland a considerable number. The dialects differed also in phonology, for while the northern generally retained the hard or guttural values of k, g, sc, these were in the two other dialects palatalized before front vowels into ch, j, and sh. Kyrk, chirche or church; bryg, bridge; scryke, shriek, are examples. The original a in stein, nuir, preserved in the northern stone, mare, became o elsewhere, as in stone, more. So that the north presented the general aspect of conservation of old sounds with the most thorough-going dissolution of old inflexions ; the south, a tenacious retention of the inflexions, with an extensive revolution in the sounds. In one important respect, however, phonetic decay was far ahead in the north : the final e to which all the old vowels had been levelled during the Transition period, and which is a distinguishing feature of Middle English in the midland and southern dialects, became mute, i.e., disappeared, in the northern dialect before the latter emerged from its three centuries of obscuration, shortly before 1300: So thoroughly modern did its form consequently become that we might almost call it Modern English, and say that the Middle English stage of the northern dialect is lost. For comparison with the other dialects, however, the same nomenclature may be used, and we may class as Middle English the extensive literature which northern England produced during the 14th century. The earliest specimen is probably the Metrical Psalter in the Cotton Library,' copied during the reign of Edward II, from an original of the previous century. This is followed by the gigantic versified paraphrase of Scripture history called the Cursor Milndi,2 also composed before 1300. The dates of the numerous alliterative romances in this dialect cannot be determined with exactness, as all survive in later copies, but it is probable that many of them are not later than 1300. In the 14th century appeared the theological and devotional works of Richard Rolle the anchorite of Hampole, Dan Jon Caytrigg, William of Nassington, and other writers whose names are unknown; and towards the close of the century, specimens of the language also appear from Scotland both in public documents and the poetical works of Juhn harbour, whose language, barring minute points of orthography, is identical with that of the contemporary northern English writers.
In the southern dialect, the work of Layamon was succeeded at an interval estimated at from 15 to 25 years by the A ncren Iliwle or "Rule of Nuns," written for a small sisterhood at Tarrant-Kaines, in Dorsetshire, in which we find the Middle English stage fully developed, and also recognize a dialectal characteristic which had probably long prevailed in the south, though concealed by the spelling, in the use of v for f, as vane, fall, vordonne, fordo, vorto, for to, veder, father, 'mom, from. Not till later do we find a recognition of the parallel use of z for s. Among the writings which succeed, The Owl and the Nightingale of Nicholas de Guildford, of Portesham in Dorsetshire, about 1250, the Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester, 1298, and Trevisa's translation of Higdon, 1387, are of chief importance in illustrating the history of southern English. The earliest form of Langland's Piers Ploughman, 1362, as preserved in the Vernon MS., appears to be in an intermediate dialect between southern and midland.3 The Kentish form of southern English seems to have retained specially archaic features; five short sermons in it of the middle of the 13th century have been published by Rev. Dr Morris ; but the great work illustrating it is the Ayenbite of Inwyt (Remorse of Conscience), 1340,4 of which we are told by its author Dan Michel of Northgate, Kent" pet pis boc is y-write mid engliss of Kent ; is boo is y-mad uor lewede men, Vor under, and uor moder, and uor ()per ken, Ham nor to bet-3e uram alle manyere zen, pet ine hare inwytte ne bleue no uoul wen."
In its use of v (u) and z for/ and s, and its grammatical inflexions, it presents an extreme type of southern speech, with vowel peculiarities specially Kentish ; and in comparison with contemporary midland English works, it looks like a fossil of two centuries earlier.
Turning from the dialectal extremes of the Middle English to the midland speech, which we left at the closing leaves of the Peterborough Chronicle of 1154, we find a rapid development of this dialect, which was before long to become the national literary language. As was natural in a tract of country which stretched from Lancaster to Essex, a very considerable variety is found in the documents which agree in presenting the leading midland features, those of Lancashire and Lincolnshire approaching the northern dialect both in vocabulary, phonetic character, and greater neglect of inflexions. But this diversity diminishes as we advance. The first groat work is the Ormulum, or metrical Scripture paraphase of Orin or Ormin, written about 1200, it is generally assumed, in Lincolnshire or Notts, though there is much to be said fcr the neighbourhood of Ormskirk in Lancashire. Anyhow the dialect has a decided smack of the north, and shows for the first time in English literature a large percentage of Scandinavian words, derived from the Danish settlers, who, in adopting English, lied preserved a vast number of their ancestral forms of speech, which were in time to pass into the common language, of which they now constitute some of the most familiar words. Blunt, bull, die, dwell, ill, kid, raise, same, thrive, wand, winy,5 The Vision of William concerning Piers the Ploughman exists in three different recensions by the author, all of which have been edited for the Early English Text Society by Rev. W. W. Skeat.
are words from this source, which appear first in the work of Orm, of which the following lineg may be quoted : - " pe Judewisshe folkess bee hem= se33de,patt henim birrde Twa bukkes samenn to pe preost att kirrke-dure brinngenn ; And te33 pa didenn blipeli3, swa summ pe boc hemm tahhte, And brohhtenn twe;;enn bukkess par Drihhtin Ix-Erwin to lakenn.
And att to kirrke-dure toe pe preost to twe33enn bukkess, And o patt an he lemde purr all pe3ye sake and sinne, And let itt eornenn forpwipp all tit inntill wilde wesste ; And toe awl snap patt open bucc Drihhtin pmrwipp to lakenn.
All piss wass don forr here ned, And ec forr ure nede ; For hemm itt hallp biforenn Godd to clennssenn hemm of sinne ; And all swa ma;; itt hellpenn pe 3iff jtatt tu willt [itt] forpenn.
3iff patt tu willt full innwarrdli; wipp fulle trowwpe lefenn All patt tatt wass bitacnedd tmr, to lefenn and to trowwenn."
White's Ormulum, 1. 1324.
The author of the Ormulum was a phonetist, and employed a special spelling of his own to represent not only the quality but the quantities of vowels and consonants, - a circumstance which gives his work a peculiar value to the investigator.
Thirty years after the OM 11121212, the east midland rhymed Story of Genesis and Exodusl shows us the dialect in a more southern form, with the vowels of modern English. In 1258 was issued the celebrated English proclamation of Henry III., or rather of Simon de Montfort in his name, which, as the only public recognition of the native tongue between William the Conqueror and Edward has been spoken of as the first specimen of English. It runs" Henri par; godes fultume king on Engleneloande. Lhoauerd. on Yrloande. Duk on Normandie on Aquitaine and eorl on Aniow Send igretinge to alle hire holde ilrde and ileawede on Hunteudoneschire. pmt witen 3e wel alle pmt we willen and vnnen pant pant vre rtedesmen alle oper pe moare dml of heom pint beep ichosen pnr3 us and ptir3 pant loandes folk on vre kuneriche. habbep idon and schullen don in pe worpnesse of gode and on vre treowpe. for pa freme of pe loande. pur3 pe besi;te of pan to-foren-iseide redesmen. beo stedefrest and ilestinde in elle pinge a buten tende. And we hoaten elle vre treowe in pe. treowpe pant heo vs o3en. pet heo stedeftestliche healden and swerien to bealden and to werien po isetnesses ptet been imakede and beon to makien pur3 pan to-foren iseide rmdesmen.. oper pur3 pe moare dm1 of heom alswo aloe hit is biforen iseid. And paq, mhc oper helpe Net for to done hi an ilche ope ernes elle men. Ri;t for to done and to foangen. And noon ne nime of loande no of e3te. wherpu13 pis besi;te mute been ilet oper iwersed on onie wise. And 3if oni oper onie eumen her on3eues ; we willen and hoaten pint alle vre treowe heom healden deadliche ifoan. And for pant we willen pmt is beo stedefmst and lestinde ; we senden ;ew pis writ open iseined wip vre seel. to halden amanges 3ew inn hord. Witness° vs semen act Lundene. pane E3tetenpe day. on pe. Monpo of Octobre In pe Two-and' Edited for the Early English Text Society by Dr Morris, 1865.
fowerti3pe pare of vre cruninge. And pis wee idon retforen vre isworene redesmen " And al on po ilche worden is isend in to murihce opre shcire ouer al pmre kuneriche on Eugleneloande. and ek in tel Irelonde."
As to the dialect of this document, it is more southern than anything else, with a slight midland admixture, and represents no doubt the London speech of the day. London being in a Saxon county, and contiguous to the Saxon Kent and Surrey, had certainly at first a southern dialect ; but its position as the capital, as well as its proximity to the midland district, made its dialect more and more midland. Even in Chaucer, however, it has still southern features, for Chaucer's language is well known to be more southern than standard English eventually became. Inflexionally, the proclamation is much more archaic than the Genesis and Exodus or Ormulum ; but it closely resembles the old Kentish Sermons and Proverbs of Alfred in the southern dialect of 1250.
In the writings of the second half of this century, the language becomes rapidly more modern in aspect, till we arrive about 1300 at the name of Robert of Brunne in south Lincolnshire, with whom we pass from the Early to the Later Middle English. Different tests and different dates have indeed been proposed for subdividing the Middle English, but the most important is that of Mr Henry Nicol, based on the discovery that in the 13th century, as in Ormin, the Old English short vowels in an open syllable still retained their short quantity, as ndma, over, mete ; but by the beginning of the 14th century they were lengthened to nii-me, 5-ver, mete, a change which has also taken place at a particular period in all the Teutonic, and even the Romance languages, as in bug-no for bo-nunt, ea-ne for ed-nem, 3,:c. The lengthening of the penult left the final syllable by contrast shortened or weakened, and paved the way for the disappearance of final e in the century following, through the stages na-me, azduz, the one long syllable in nant(e) being the quantitative equivalent of the two short syllables in /id-W.; and thus came the idea that mute e makes a preceding vowel long, the truth being that the lengthening of the vowel made the e mute. The late Middle English produced the prose of Mandeville and Wycliffe, and the poetry of Chaucer, with whom it may be said to have culminated, and in whose writings its main characteristics as distinct from Old and Modern English may be studied. Thus, we find final e in full use representing numerous original vowels and terminations as Him thonghtb that his hert° wold6 brek6, in Old English - Him puhte pia his heorte wolde brocan, which may be compared with the modern GermanIhm chiuchte dasz sein Herze wollte brechen.
In nouns the -es of the plural and genitive case is still syllabicHeade as the berstl-es of a sow-es eer-es.
Several old genitives and plural forms continued to exist, and the dative or prepositional case often has a final e. Adjectives retain so much of the old declension as to have -e in the definite form and in the plural - The tend-re cropp-es and the yong-e Bonne. And smal-e fowl-es waken melodic.
Numerous old forms of comparison were in use, which have not come down to Modern English, as herre, Jerre, longer, next = higher, farther, longer, highest. In the pronouns, ich lingered alongside of I; ye was only nominative, and you objective ; the northern thei had dispossessed the southern hy, but her and hens (the modern 'ern) stood their ground against their and them. The verb is I boy-e, thou lov-est, he lov-eth ; but in the plural lov-en is interchanged with lov-e, as rhyme or euphony requires. So in the plural of the past we love-den or love-de. The infinitive also ends in en, often e, always syllabic. The present participle, in Old English -en*, passing through -made, has been confounded with the verbal noun in -Page, -yng, as in Modern English. The past participle largely retains the prefix y-or i-, representing the Old English ge-, as in i-ronne, y-don, run, done. Many old verb forms still continued in existence. The adoption of French words, not only those of Norman introduction, but those subsequently introduced under the Angevin kings, to supply obsolete and obsolescent English ones, which had kept pace with the growth of literature since the beginning of the Middle English period, had now reached its climax ; later times added many more, hut they also dropped many that were in regular use with Chaucer and his contemporaries.
Chaucer's great contemporary, William Langland, in his Vision of William concerning Piers the Ploughman, and his imitator the author of Pierce the Ploughman's Crede (about 1400) used the Old English alliterative versification for the last time in the south. Rhyme bad made its appearance in the language shortly after the Conquest - if not already known before; and in the south and midlands it became decidedly more popular than alliteration ; the latter retained its hold much longer in the north, where it was written even after 1600: many of the northern romances are either simply alliterative, or have both alliteration and rhyme. To these characteristics of northern and southern verse respectively Chaucer alludes in the prologue of the "Persone," who, when called upon for his tale, said" But trusteth wel ; I am a sotherne man, I cannot geste rom, ram, rzzl, by my letter, And, God wote, rime hold I but litel better : And therfore, if you list, I wol not glose, I wol you tell a litel talc in prose."
The changes from Old to Middle English may be summed up thus : - Loss of a large part of the native vocabulary, and adoption of French words to supply the blank ; not infrequent adoption of French words as synonyms of existing native ones ; modernization of the English words preserved, by vowel change in a definite direction from back to front., and from open to close, a becoming o, o tending to oo, a to on, ea to e, e to ee, ee to a, and by advance of consonants from guttural to palatal; obscuration of vowels after the accent, and especially of final a, o, a to ê; consequent confusion and loss of old inflexions, and their replacement by prepositions, auxiliary verbs, and rules of position ; aban- donment of alliteration for rhyme; and great development of dialects, in consequence of there being no standard or recognized type of English.
But the recognition came at length. By the reign of Edward III., French was so little known in England, even in the families of the great, that about 1350 "John Cornwal, a maystere of gramere, chaungede pe lore in gramere stole and construction of [i.e., from] Freynscb into Englysch;" and in 1362-3 English by statute took the place of French in the pleadings in courts of law. Every reason conspired that this " English " should be the midland dialect. It was the intermediate dialect, intelligible, as Treviso has told us, to both extremes, even when these failed to be intelligible to each other ; in its south-eastern form, it was the language of London, where the supreme law courts were, the centre of political and commercial life ; it was the language in which the Wycliffite versions had given the Holy Scriptures to the people ; the language in which Chaucer had raised English poetry to a height of excellence admired and imitated by contemporaries and followers. And accordingly after the end of the 14th century, all Englishmen who thought they had anything to say worth listening to said it in the midland speech. Trevisa's own work was almost the last literary effort of the southern dialect ; henceforth it was but a rustic patois, which the dramatist might use to give local colouring to his creations, as Shakespeare uses it to complete Edgar's peasant disguise in Lear, or which 19th century research might disinter to illustrate obscure chapters in the history of language. And though the northern English proved a little more stubborn, it disappeared also from literature in England ; but in Scotland, which had now become politically and socially estranged from England, it continued its course as the national language of the country, attaining in the 15th and 16th centuries a distinct development and high literary culture, for the details of which readers are referred to the article on SCOTTISH LANGUAGE.
The 15th century of English history, with its bloody French war abroad, and Wars of the Roses at home, was a barren period in literature, and a transition one in language, witnessing the decay and disappearance of the final e, and most of the syllabic inflexions of Middle English. Already by 1420, in Chaucer's disciple Hoccleve, final e was quite uncertain ; in Lydgate it was practically gone. In 1450 the writings of Pecocke against the Wycliffites show the verbal inflexions in -en in a state of obsolescence ; he has still the southern pronouns her and hem for the northern their, them:- " And here-a3ens hob scripture wole pat men sehulden lacke pe coueryng which vrommen schulden haue, & thei schulden so lacke bi pat pe heeris of her heedis schulden be schorne, & schulde not grove in lengpe doun as wommanys heer schulde groove. . . . .
The change of the language during the second period of Transition, as well as the extent of dialectal differences, is quaintly expressed a generation later by Caxton, who in the prologue to oue of the last of his works, his translation of Virgil's Enegdos (1490), speaks of the difficulty lie had in pleasing all readers :- " I doubted that it sholde not please some gentylmen, whiche late blamed me, sayeng, y' in my translacyons I had oiler curyous termes, whiche coud not be vnderstande of cozily') peple, and desired me to vse olde and homely termes in my trauslacyous. And fayn wolde I satysfy euery man ; and so to doo, toke an olde boke and redde therin ; and certaynly- the englysshe was so rude and brood that I coude not wele vnderstande it. And also my lorde abbot of Westinynster ded do sheave to me late certayn euydences wryton in olde englysshe for to reduce it in to our englysshe now vsid. And certaynly it was wreton in suche Wyse that it was more Tyke to dutehe than englysshe ; I coude not reduce ne brynge it to be vnderstonden. And certaynly, our langage now used varyeth Terre from that whiche was used and spoken whan I was borne. For we englysshemen ben borne vnder the domynacyon of the mane, whiche is neuer stedfaste, but ever wauerynge, wexynge one season, and waneth and dyereaseth another season, And that comyn englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from a nother. In so much that in my days happened that certayn marchauntes were in a shipe in tamyse, for to haue sayled ouer the sea into zelande, and for lacke of wynde thei tarred atte forlond, and wente to lande for to refreshe them. And one of theym named sheffelde, a mercer, cam in to an hows and axed for mete, and specyally he axyd after eggys, And the goode wyf answerde, that she condo spoke no frenshe. And the marchannt was angry, for he also coude speke no frenshe, but wolde hone hadde egges ; and she vnderstode hym not. And thenne at Taste a nothcr sayd that he wolde home eyren then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel. Loo ! what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, egges or eyren 1 certaynly, it is harde to playse euery man, by cause of dyuersite k chaunge of langage. For in these dayes, every man that is in ony reputacyon in his countre wyll vtter his comynycacyon and maters in such mailers termes that fewe men shall vnderstonde theym. And som honest and grete clerkes hone ben wyth me, and desired me to wryte the moste curyous termes that I coude fynde. And thus bytwene playn, rude, and curyous, I stanch abasshed ; but in my Judgemente, the comyn termes that be dayli vsed ben lyghter to be vnderstonde than the olde and auncyent en glysshe."
In the productions of Caxton's press, we see the passage from Middle to Modern English completed. The earlier of these have still an occasional verbal plural in -a, especially in the word they ben; the southern her and hem of Middle English vary with the northern and Modern English their, them. In the late works, the older forms have been practically ousted, and the year 1185, which witnessed the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, may be conveniently put as that which closed the Middle English transition, and introduced Modern English. Both in the completion of this result, and in its comparative permanence, the printing press had an important share. By its exclusive patronage of the midland speech, it raised it still higher above the sister dialects, and secured its abiding victory. As books were multiplied and found their way into every corner of the land, and the art of reading became a more common acquirement, the man of Northumberland or of Somerset-shire had forced upon his attention the book-English in which alone these were printed. This became in turn the model for his own writings, and by and by, if he made any pretensions to education, of his own speech. The written form of the language also tended to uniformity. In previous periods the scribe made his own spelling with a primary aim at expressing his own speech, according to the particular values attached by himself or his contemporaries to the letters and combinations of the alphabet, though liable to disturbance in the most common words and combinations by his ocular recollections of the spelling of others. But after the introduction of printing, this ocular recognition of words became ever more and more an aim ; the book addressed the mind directly through the eye, instead of circuitously through eye and ear ; and thus there was a continuous tendency for written words and parts of words to be reduced to a single form, and that the most usual, or through some accident the best known, but not necessarily that which would have been chosen had the ear been called in as umpire. Modern English spelling, with its rigid uniformity as to individual results and whimsical caprice as to principles, is the creation of the printing-office, the victory which, after a Century and a half of struggle, mechanical convenience won over natural habits. Besides eventually creating a uniformity in writing, the introduction of printing made or at least ratified some important changes. The British and Old English form of the Roman alphabet has already been referred to. This at the Norman Conquest was superseded by an alphabet with the French forms and values of the letters. Thus k took the place of the older c before e and i ; gu replaced c/o ; the Norman w took the place of the toga (p), Elm But there were certain sounds in English for which Norman writing had no provision ; and for these, in writing English, the native characters were retained. Thus the Old English g (s), beside the sound in go, had a guttural sound as in German tag, Irish magh, and in certain positions a palatalized form of this approaching y as in you (if pronounced with aspiration hyou or ghyou). These sounds continued to be written with the native form of the letter as bui3, while the French form was used for the sounds in go, aye, - one original letter being thus split into two. So for the sounds of th, especially the sound in that, the Old English thorn (p) continued to be used. But as these characters were not used for French and Latin, their use even in English became disturbed towards the 15th century, and when printing was introduced, the founts, cast for Continental languages, had no characters for them, so that they disappeared entirely, being replaced, 3 by gh, yh, y, and p by th. This was a real loss to the English alphabet. In the north it is curious that the printers tried to express the forms rather than the powers of these letters, and consequently 3 was represented by z, the black letter form of which was confounded with it, while the p was expressed by y, which its MS. form had come to approach or in some cases simulate. So in early Scotch books we find zellow, ze, yat, yent,= yellow, ye, that, them.