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                    Notes          right explanation or not, it is certainly true that in its first efforts English prose is uncertain and
                                   faltering, that it often engages our sympathies more by what it attempts to do than by what it
                                   actually accomplishes.
                                   The study of the origins of English prose is consequently concerned not only with the growth of
                                   the English mind, but, in the broadest sense, with the development of the English language.
                                   Since literary prose is very largely the speech of every-day discourse applied to special purposes,
                                   it is in a way true that the origins of English prose are to be sought in the origins of English speech.
                                   No student of the speech would be content to pause short of the earliest English records in the four
                                   centuries which preceded the Norman Conquest. From the days of the first Teutonic conquerors of
                                   Celtic Britain, the English speech has continued in an un-broken oral tradition to the present time.
                                   But obviously English literary prose in its various stages has not been merely the written form, the
                                   echo, of this colloquial speech.
                                   The bonds which unite the two are close, but their courses are not parallel. English literary prose
                                   has had no such continuous history as the language, and there are sufficient reasons for regarding
                                   the prose of Alfred and his few contemporaries and successors as a chapter in the life of the
                                   English people which begins and ends with itself. For its antiquity and for its importance in
                                   preserving so abundantly the early records of the language, Old English prose is to be respected;
                                   but it was never highly developed as an art, nor was its vitality great enough to withstand the
                                   shock of the several conquests which brought about a general confusion of English ideals and
                                   traditions in the tenth and eleventh centuries. It is consequently in no sense the source from which
                                   modern English prose has sprung. It has a separate story, and when writers of the early modern
                                   period again turned to prose, they did so in utter disregard and ignorance of the fact that Alfred
                                   and Elfric had preceded them by several centuries in the use of English for purposes of prose
                                   expression. Nor did the later writers unwittingly benefit by the inheritance of a previous discipline
                                   of the language in the writing of prose. In the general political and social cataclysm of the eleventh
                                   century, the literary speech of the Old English period went down forever, leaving for succeeding
                                   generations nothing but the popular speech upon which to build anew the foundations of a
                                   literary culture.
                                   After the Conquest came the slow process of establishing social order. Laws must first be formulated,
                                   Normans, Scandinavians, and Saxons must learn to live in harmony with one another, above all
                                   must learn to communicate with one another in a commonly accepted speech, before literature
                                   could again lift its head. During all this period of the making of the new England, verse remained
                                   the standard form for literary expression.  Such prose as was written was mainly of a documentary
                                   character, wills, deeds of transfer and gift, rules for the government of religious houses, and
                                   similar writings of limited appeal. In the lack of a standard vernacular idiom, more serious efforts,
                                   such as histories and theological treatises, were composed in Latin, and to a less extent, in French.
                                   It was not until towards the middle of the fourteenth century that the various elements of English
                                   life were fused into what came to be felt more and more as a national unity. A wave of popular
                                   patriotism swept over the country at this time, clearing away the encumbering foreign traditions
                                   by which the English had permitted themselves to become burdened. This new national feeling
                                   showed itself in various ways, in a renewed interest in English history, in the special respect now
                                   shown to English saints, and above all in the rejection of French and in the cultivation of the
                                   English language as the proper expression of the English people. At the same time men of riper
                                   and broader culture made their appearance in the intellectual life of the people. An age which
                                   produced three such personalities as those of Chaucer, Langland, and Wiclif cannot be regarded
                                   as anticipatory and uncertain of itself. Economic conditions also forced upon the humbler classes
                                   of people the necessity of thinking for themselves and of setting forth and defending their interests.
                                   In the larger world of international affairs the dissensions and corruptions of the church, culminating
                                   in the great schism of the last quarter of the century, compelled account to be taken of that whole

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