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Anglo Saxon Britain Origin of the English

Anglo Saxon Britain Origin of the English

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Published by: hannahofkentucky on Dec 11, 2010
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12/11/2010

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ANGLO-SAXON BRITAIN.
CHAPTER
1.
THE
ORIGIN
OF
THE
ENGLISH
.
AT
a period earlier than the dawn of written historythere lived somewhere among the great table-landsand plains
of
Central Asia a race known to us onlyby the uncertain name of Aryans. These Aryans werea fair-skinned and well-built people, long past thestage of aboriginal savagery, and possessed of a considerable degree
of
primitive culture. Though mainlypastoral in habit, they were acquainted with tillage,and they grew
for
themselves at least one kind
of
cereal grain. They spoke a language whose existenceand nature
we
infer
from
the remnants of it whichsurvive in the tongues
of
their descendants, and fromthese remnants
we
are able to judge, in some measure,of their civilisation and their modes of thought.
The
indications thus preserved
for
us
show the Aryans tohave been a simple and fierce community
of
earlywarriors, farmers, and shepherds, still
in
a partiallynomad condition, living under a patriarchal rule, originally ignorant of all metals save gold,
but
possessing
B
 
2
ANGLO-SAXON
BRITAIN.
weapons
and
implements
of
stone,l
and
worshipping astheir chief god the open heaven. We must
not
regardthemas an idyllic
and
peaceable
people:
on the contrary, they were the fiercest and most conquering tribeeverknown.
In
mental power
and
in plasticity ofmanners, however, they probably rose far su\."erior toany race then living, except only the Semitic nations
of
the Mediterranean coast..From the common Central Asian home, coloniesofwarlike Aryans gradually dispersed themselves, stillin
the
pre-historic period, under pressure
of
populationor hostile invasion, over many districts
of
Europe
and
Asia. Some
of
them moved southward, across thepasses
of
Afghanistan,
and
occupied the fertile plains
of
the
Indus
and the Ganges, where they became theancestors
of
the Brahmans and other modern highcaste Hindoos.
The
language which they took withthem to their new settlements beyond the Himalayas
was
the Sanskrit, which still remains to this
day
thenearest
of
all dialects
that
we
now possess to theprimitive Aryan speech. From it are derived the chiefmodern tongues
of
northern India, from the Vindhyasto the
Hindu
Kush. Other Aryan.tribes settled inthe mountain districts west
of
Hindustan;
and
yetothers found themselves a home
in
the hills
of
Iranor Persia, where they still preserve an allied dialect
of
the ancient mother tongue.
1
Professor Boyd Dawkins has shown
that
the ContinentalCelts were still in their stone age when they invaded
Europe;
whence we must conclude
that
the original Aryans wereunacquainted with the use of bronze.
 
i'HE
OR
IGIN
OF
THE
ENGLISH.
3
But the mass of theemigrantsfrom theCentral Asian fatherland moved further
we
stward in successive waves, and occupied, oneafter another, the midlandplains and mountainous peninsulas
of
Europe. Firstof all, apparently, came the Celts, who spreadslowly across the South
of
Russia and Germany, and
who
arefound
at
the dawn of authentic history extending over the entire western coasts and islands
of
thecontinent, from Spain to Scotland. Mingled in manyplaces with the still earlier non-Aryan
aborigines
perhaps Iberians and Euskarians, a short and swarthyrace, armed only with weapons of polished stone, andrepresented at the present day by the Basques of thePyrenees and the
Asturias-the
Celts held rule inSpain, Gaul, and Britain, up to the date of the severalRoman conquests. A second great
wave
of
Aryanimmigration, that of the Hellenic and Italian races,broke over the shores
of
the lEgean and the Adriatic,where their cognate languages have become familiarto us in the
two
extreme and typical forms of theclassical Greek and Latin. A third
wave
was
that
of
the Teutonic or German people, who followed anddrove out the Celts over a large part of central andwestern
Europe;
while a foureh and final swarm
was
that
of
the Slavonic tribes, which still inhabit only theextreme eastern portion
of
the continent.With the Slavonians
we
shall have nothing to do inthis enquiry; and with the Greek and Italian races
we
need only deal very incidentally. But the Celts,whom the English invaders found in possession
of
allBritain when they began their settlements in the
II
2

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