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design of founding a vernacular literature, and by his personal exertions he realized very considerably that wise and generous intention. He rendered, from Latin into Anglo-Saxon, Bede's Ecclesiastical History, the Geography of Orosius, Boethius on the Consolation of Philosophy, Pope Gregory's Pastoral, and a selection from the Confessions of Augustine. There is reason also to believe that he made translations from the Fables of Æsop, compiled a book of Proverbs and wrote a treatise on falconry. His versions of Scripture did not, probably, extend beyond such portions as appeared, from time to time, peculiarly suited to his own comfort and instruction. He seems, however, to have been employed on a regular translation of the Psalms when overtaken by a summons to eternity. He died in his 52d year, in A. D. 901.
After Alfred, we may consider Alfric, the abbot, but better known as the grammarian, as the principal creator of Saxon literature. Among his works are treatises on the Trinity and on the Old and New Testaments, a Latin Grammar, a LatinSaxon Glossary, a translation of the Latin Grammar into Anglo-Saxon, a portion of the Saxon Chronicle, etc.
The language, up to the time of the Conquest, was AngloSaxon. From that period to the middle of the 13th century, it has acquired, with doubtful propriety, the name of Semi-Saxon; and from that period to the Reformation, the name of MiddleEnglish. The Norman language was by no means unknown before the times of the Conqueror. Many of the youth of England, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, were sent to the schools of France; and a continued intercourse between the two countries was carried on long before this period. Now, however, Norman-French became the language of the court, and various causes conspired gradually to change the ancient forms of speech. This was especially true in the large commercial towns, and in the great thoroughfares of business. In the agricultural population of the remoter counties, the relics of ancient times are still visible. Thus it is, that the same names of agricultural implements, their uses, the occupations of agriculture, the names and boundaries of fields, the streams which divide one possession from another, and the names of villages, hamlets and towns remain as they were before the Conquest. In the west of England, a language is still spoken in many places which bears no strict, definite relation to any written composition that we find in books. Many of the words are now obsolete in written compositions. On referring to the Anglo-Saxon writings, we find them. They are seen in the SemiSaxon pages of Layamon, and in those of Robert of Gloucester. There are many reasons for believing that the Saxon language was never extinct in England. Camden tells us that in the Abbey of Tavistock, which had a Saxon founder about 961,“ there were solemn lectures in the Saxon tongue, even to the time of our fathers, that the knowledge of the language might not fail as it has since well nigh done.” William L'Isle, in his preface to the Saxon Monuments, published by him in 1623, thus alludes to the subject: “Thanks be to God, that he that conquered the land, could not so conquer the language, but that, in memory of our fathers, it hath been preserved with common lectures,” etc.
Before the year 1525, we find a printing press already erected in the monastery of Tavistock. John Leland, the antiquary of Henry VIII., appears to have been the first individual of the reformed faith who possessed a knowledge of the Saxon language, and collected Saxon MSS. Archbishop Parker, three years after the publication of his book on “ priests' marriages," and when the great Bible, which came out in 1572, was in preparation, distributed parts of the Old Testament to different bishops for the purpose of translation, and sent at the same time to all of them, severally, a request, that while making a visitation in their dioceses, they would examine the books in their churches and inform him what they were, and whether there were among them any Saxon authors. The Archbishop also sent out a circular letter, for the same purpose, under the Queen's authority. John Batman incidentally states, that in the space of four years, he procured 6,700 books for Parker. Persons were kept in his family who could imitate any of the old characters to be found in MSS. John Joscelin, his secretary and amanuensis, collected, it is supposed, the materials for Parker's Antiquitates at Britannicæ, published in 1572. Joscelin edited and published the first entire work in the Anglo-Saxon, which ever came from the press. This was a “ Testimony of Antiquitie respecting the body and blood of the Lord.” Among his works (he was assisted by John, son of the Archbishop) was a Saxon-Latin Dictionary. He also prepared a grammar which has been lost. The third publication in Anglo-Saxon literature, which issued from the press of John Day, was the Gospels, by Fox the Martyrologist.
At the opening of the 17th century, we find almost a blank in
regard to the Saxon language. One individual, William Camden, appears as a promoter of the Saxon tongue. In his “Britanniæ" we have many details of Saxon history; and in the “Remaines concerning Britaine,” first published in 1605, we have some chapters which treat of the Saxon tongue, and of the derivation of our names and surnames, as well as names of places, from it. “The ground of our own tongue,” he remarks, 56 appertaineth to the old Saxon. The Italian is pleasant but without sinews, as a still fleeting water. The French delicate, but even nice as a woman, scarce daring to open her lips for fear of marring her countenance. The Spanish majestical, but fulsome, running too much on the 0, and terrible like the divell in a play. The Dutch manlike, but withal very harsh, as one ready at every word to pick a quarrel. Now we, in borrowing from them, give the strength of consonants to the Italian, the full sound of words to the French, the varieties of termination to the Spanish, and the mollifying of more vowels to the Dutch, and so, like bees, gather the honey of their good qualities, and leave the dregs to themselves. How then can the language, which consisteth of all these, sound other than most full of sweetness ?”
In 1623, William L'Isle published “a Saxon treatise on the Old and New Testament, written about the time of King Edgar, 700 years ago, by Alfricus Abbas,” etc. Various Saxon treatises were appended. He also prepared for publication various portions of Alfric's Saxon translation from the Old Testament, accompanied by an English version. His labors seem to have awakened a new interest in Saxon studies. Sir Henry Spelman settled a Saxon lecture in the university of Cambridge, allowing £20 per annum to Mr. Abraham Whelock, the first incumbent. Spelman published a Glossary of the Saxon tongue, at his own cost. By various other labors, he is entitled to a high rank among the promoters of Anglo-Saxon literature in England. In 1640, Sir John Spelman published the Anglo-Saxon version of the Psalter, with an interlinear Latin translation, and dedicated it to Laud, whom he praises as a preserver of ancient MSS. and a patron of the Saxon tongue. Usher was another promoter of this study. In 1655, Francis Junius, professor at Heidelberg, but for a long time resident in England, where he died, published Caedmon's Metrical Paraphrase, and the Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels. He had apparently intended, as early as 1654, to publish an Anglo-Saxon
Glossary. Many of his works are in MS. in the Bodleian library. His Etymologicon Anglicanum was published by Lye, in two volumes folio, 1750. His great work, the Glossary of five Northern languages, Dr. Fell caused to be transcribed for the press in nine folio volumes, but which has never been published. The number and variety of his works display the unwearied industry of his character.
On the death of Whelock, in 1657, he was succeeded by William Somner, who brought out, in 1659, the first AngloSaxon Dictionary ever printed. It is a Saxon-Latin-English Dictionary. Many of the notes are also in English. At the end are the Latin-Saxon Grammar and Glossary of Alfric. In 1660, he published the “ History of Gavelkind,” to which is added an appendix of charters and other instruments in Saxon, some of which are accompanied with Latin, and others with interlinear English translations. Many of his books and papers were ac. cidentally burned. From the publication of his Dictionary, a new path was opened to the English philologist. The English language, also, began to receive the attention of continental and of English scholars. In 1689, the Anglo-Saxon Grammar of Dr. George Hickes, the first ever compiled, was published. In 1692, Gibson edited an improved text of the Saxon Chronicle. The types which Junius had presented to Oxford were employed in 1698 to print Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of De Consolatione Philosophiæ. As early as 1698, Edward Thwaites became a preceptor in Saxon at Queen's College, Oxford. On the 24th of March of that year, he observes, “we want Saxon Lexicons. I have fifteen young students in that language, and but one Somner for them all.” He was subsequently engaged by Hickes to superintend the “ Thesaurus Linguarum veterum Septentrionalium” through the press. Other important works were published by Thwaites. He died at the age of 44, leaving a high character for learning and talents. Hickes's Thesaurus came out in 1705, in three folio volumes. Of this work, Mr. J. M. Kemble says: “Though modern attention has detected so many errors as to render Hickes's Grammars rather dangerous than useful, we owe him great and hearty thanks for his labors. The enthusiasm which he brought with him to his task spread far beyond himself; a host of Saxon students rose around him; and his Grammar answered all the wants of which they were conscious.” Humphrey Wanley, born in March 1671-2, and bred a limner, drew up the catalogue of Anglo-Saxon MSS.,
which forms a part of Hickes's Thesaurus. Many of Wanley's MS. works are in the British Museum. William Elstob and his sister Elizabeth, relatives of Dr. Hickes, were very zealous promoters of Anglo-Saxon literature. Elizabeth published an Anglo-Saxon Homily and a Grammar; she also assisted her brother in various undertakings. She, likewise, made a col. lection of above eighty Sermons and Tracts, of which nine sheets only were printed. From the cynical account of a contemporary, we learn that “ she was of an ancient family and genteel fortune; but pursuing too much the drug called learning, and in that respect failed of being careful of the one thing necessary.”
An edition of the Anglo-Saxon Laws by Dr. Wilkins appeared in 1721. Some of the English prelates, particularly Gibson bishop of London, and Nicolson bishop of Gloucester, afforded a constant and generous patronage to Anglo-Saxon scholars. The latter wrote a dissertation on the Feudal Law of the Saxons. In 1722, appeared a valuable edition of Bede's Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge, with the Latin text, Alfred's Saxon translation, followed by a few charters, etc. A new impulse was given to the Saxon learning in 1750 by the establishment of a lecture in the university of Oxford, by Dr. Richard Rawlinson. Edward Lye superintended the publication of Junius's Etymologicon Anglicanum, prefixing to it an AngloSaxon Grammar of his own. In 1750, he printed an edition of the Gothic Gospels, and prefixed to it a Gothic Grammar. He died in 1767, after he had printed about 30 sheets of his Anglo-Saxon and Gothic Dictionary. His friend, the Rev. Owen Manning, published it in 1772, in 2 vols. folio, adding a valuable preface and appendix. “We owe a thousand thanks," says the Rev. Mr. Halbertsma of Holland, “ to Lye, who gives us the Anglo-Saxon words as he found them, and never alters the orthography to suit his own views.?* . .
In 1795, a Saxon professor, the Rev. James Ingram, was chosen in the university of Oxford, Rawlinson's design not having been before carried into execution. With the 19th century, began a new era in Saxon literature. The publication of the first edition of Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons in successive volumes, between the years 1799 and 1805, appears to have excited attention, not only towards their history, but by the addition to it of an account of their language and liter
* Preface to Bosworth's Dictionary, p. 38.