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Sir Walter Scott.
We are seven
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
the emergency, but their efforts proved unavailing, and after a bloody and protracted struggle, the Celtic population were either forced to seek a refuge in the mountainous districts, or to emigrate to the coast of France, and seek a new home in what is now known as the province of Brittany. In this way the whole level country fell into the hands of the Saxons, as they are commonly, but somewhat incorrectly called-the ancestors of the present English race-and it is their language which, in spite of numerous modifications, and large accessions of Romanic words, we may still recognise in the English tongue of the present day.
It is well known to every student of general history, that when Julius Cæsar invaded Britain, 55 years before Christ, he found the island inhabited by a branch of the great Celtic family to which the Gauls and the Helvetians on the continent belonged. The Celts of southern Britain offered an obstinate resistance to the intruders, and more than a century elapsed before they were finally subdued; but as the conquerors adopted the precaution of disarming their vanquished foes, they held them in easy subjection for the long space of 400 years. It is therefore not surprising Of the Celtic of this early period we that the Britons gradually lost not only their skill in wielding warlike weapons, but even their pristine valour, and when the still find a few common nouns, such as necessities of the Empire compelled the glen, mattock, and the syllable don or dun Roman Emperor to recall his legions in the (fortified rock) in the names of various lobeginning of the fifth century, the enervated calities (London, Dunluce), but many other islanders found themselves unable to protect Celtic words were subsequently introduced, their homes against the predatory attacks either indirectly through the Norman-French, or directly through intercourse with the of the unsubdued and ferocious Celtic tribes of northern Britain. In their distress they natives of Wales, Cornwall and the Scotch appealed to the Saxons, then hovering about Highlands. Still fainter are the traces of detect them in Chester the coast, a people as renowned for valour the language of the Roman conquerors, as for love of adventure, and the aid so though we can humbly solicited was promptly given. The (castrum), Lincoln (colonia), and some other soon freed from the words. The extensive Latin element in later South-Britons were northern robbers, but for nearly a hundred English was introduced, 1) by Christian years new bands of their continental allies missionaries; 2) indirectly by the adoption were continually arriving with the intention of Norman-French words; 3) by the proof settling in Britain, and as the encroach-gress of art and science, and the cultivation ments of the new-comers became at length of literature. altogether intolerable, the unfortunate islanders saw themselves obliged to take up arms against a worse enemy than that from whom they had been delivered. Able and valorous British chiefs were called forth by
We have objected to the popular name, Saxons, as a suitable designation for the Germanic hordes who wrested Britain from its Celtic population. Bede informs us that they belonged to three distinct tribes, the