The True Born Englishman
By Daniel Defoe (1660–1731)
What e’er they were they’re true-born English now. Thus from a mixture of all kinds began,
That het’rogeneous thing, an Englishman:
In eager rapes, and furious lust begot, The wonder which remains is at our pride, Betwixt a painted Britain and a Scot. To value that which all wise men deride. Whose gend’ring off-spring quickly learn’d to bow, For Englishmen to boast of generation, And yoke their heifers to the Roman plough: Cancels their knowledge, and lampoons the nation.
A true-born Englishman’s a contradiction, From whence a mongrel half-bred race there came,
With neither name, nor nation, speech nor fame. In speech an irony, in fact a fiction. In whose hot veins new mixtures quickly ran, A banter made to be a test of fools, Infus’d betwixt a Saxon and a Dane. Which those that use it justly ridicules. While their rank daughters, to their parents just, A metaphor invented to express Receiv’d all nations with promiscuous lust. A man a-kin to all the universe. This nauseous brood directly did contain
For as the Scots, as learned men ha’ said, The well-extracted blood of Englishmen.
Throughout the world their wand’ring seed ha’ spread;
Which medly canton’d in a heptarchy, So open-handed England, ’tis believ’d,
Has all the gleanings of the world receiv’d. A rhapsody of nations to supply,
Among themselves maintain’d eternal wars,
And still the ladies lov’d the conquerors. Some think of England ’twas our Saviour meant,
The Gospel should to all the world be sent: The western Angles all the rest subdu’d; Since, when the blessed sound did hither reach, A bloody nation, barbarous and rude: They to all nations might be said to preach. Who by the tenure of the sword possest
One part of Britain, and subdu’d the rest ’Tis well that virtue gives nobility, And as great things denominate the small, How shall we else the want of birth and blood supply? The conqu’ring part gave title to the whole. Since scarce one family is left alive, The Scot, Pict, Britain, Roman, Dane, submit, Which does not from some foreigner derive. And with the English-Saxon all unite:
And these the mixture have so close pursu’d, ******************************************** The very name and memory’s subdu’d: Questions:
No Roman now, no Britain does remain; 1. Who is Daniel Defoe and what is his major work? Wales strove to separate, but strove in vain: Say something about him.
The silent nations undistinguish’d fall, 2. What did Defoe try to express? And Englishman’s the common name for all.
Fate jumbled them together, God knows how;
het’rogeneous: heterogeneous, consisting of elements that are not of the same kind or nature; the opposite word is
rhapsody: an epic poem adapted for recitation
mongrel: mixed blood, not genuine
jumble: a confused multitude of things
deride: treat or speak of with contempt, mock
lampoon: ridicule with satire
Preview Questions for "Old and Middle English Literature":
1. Give an account of the history of England from the Celtic settlements to the Norman Conquest.
2. How did Chrisianity came to England? Name the most important monasteries of this period.
3. Name some representative pieces of the Old English poetry.
4. Name the two most important Christian poets of this period. 5. Analyse the artistic features of Beowulf.
6. What was the social and class reality of the Anglo Norman Period? 7. Tell the three divisions of romances according to subject matter. 8. Name two more well-known writers of this period and their achievements besides Chaucer and his literary works.
9. Say as much as you know about Chaucer's life and works. 10. Comment on the artistic features of The Canterbury Tales.
11. Sum up Chaucer's achievements and contributions.
12. Please know some literary terms which will be used in the future studies.