Page images
PDF
EPUB

ature, a slow but gradually increasing attention has been awakened. “The Anglo-Saxon MSS.,” says Mr. Turner, “lay still unexamined, and neither their contents, nor the important facts, which the ancient writers and records of other nations had preserved of the transactions and fortunes of our ancestors, had ever been made a part of our general history. The Quida, or Death Song of Lodbrog, first led the present author to perceive the deficiency, and excited his wish to supply it. A series of careful researches into every original document, that he had the opportunity of examining, was immediately begun and steadily pursued, till all that was most worth preserving was collected from the Anglo-Saxon MSS. and other ancient books. The valuable information thus obtained, the author endeavored to give the public in a readable form in this work, of which two thirds have not before appeared in English.” Successive editions, in 1807, 1818, 1823, 1828 and 1838, show the estimation in which this great history has been held by the public in England and the United States. In 1807, Prof. Ingram published an inaugural lecture on the utility of AngloSaxon Literature, to which he added Alfred's Geography of Europe. In 1819, Miss Gurney of Keswick, Norfolk, edited the first English version of the Saxon Chronicle. In 1823, it was published, with large additions, by Mr. Ingram. In the same year, appeared the Rev. J. Bosworth's Elements of Anglo-Saxon Grammar, in 332 pages octavo. It was a very seasonable and valuable production, though encumbered with many matters which do not strictly belong to a grainmar. An Epitome of it was published in 1826. A new edition of Warton's History of English Poetry, much enlarged by Mr. Richard Price, came out in 4 vols. 8vo, in 1824. The editor, in a preface of 120 pages, as well as in the notes, has ably discussed several interesting points connected with Anglo-Saxon poetry and romances. The Illustration of Anglo-Saxon Poetry, by J. J. Coneybeare, edited, together with additional notes, by his brother, W. D. Coneybeare, 1826, is a work of very considerable merit. In 1828, Mr. Cardale of Leicester, published the Will of King Alfred, with notes; and in 1829, an edition of Alfred's Boethius, with an English translation, which, being as literal as possible, preserves the idiom of the original. In 1830, the Rev. Henry Soames published an “ Inquiry into the Doctrines of the Anglo-Saxon Church, in eight sermons preached before the University of Cambridge,” at the Bampton SECOND SERIES, VOL. VI. NO. I.

18

and Progretaining the Anges which

lecture. In 1832, Mr. Benjamin Thorpe published Caedmon's Metrical Paraphrase, under the auspices of a Committee of the Society of Antiquarians in London. It is said that that poem bears à considerable similarity to the Paradise Lost of Milton. The translation is exceedingly spirited. Fifty-three engravings accompany the work. In 1831-2, appeared the great work of Sir. Francis Palgrave, in 2 vols. quarto, entitled : “The Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth, Anglo-Saxon Period, containing the Anglo-Saxon Polity, and the institutions arising out of laws and usages which prevailed before the Conquest.” To those who take a deep interest in the origin and progress of the English language and the English constitution, it is a mine of wealth. No office, however minute, no station however high, has been passed over without its several bearings having been pointed out, and its importance carefully marked.* A volume which should always accompany it is “ Allen's Inquiry into the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England,” which contains sounder views on this subject than are to be met with in any volume of its size published within the last century. About this time, the Grammars of Hunter and Gwilt appeared, which are not considered of great value. In 1833, John M. Kemble, Esq. of Trinity College, Cambridge, published the poem of Beowulf, the most remarkable composition which exists in the Anglo-Saxon tongue. The publication of this venerable poem excited great interest, and the limited number of copies which were printed, were sold in three months.

In 1834, Mr. Thorpe published a work of the highest value to all students of the Anglo-Saxon—" Analecta Anglo-Saxonica; a selection in prose and verse from Anglo-Saxon authors of various ages, with a Glossary.” One chapter of the gospels is given in the Saxon character, that the student may have no difficulty when he meets with any work in that character, either printed or in MS. With this exception, and the use of the characters for th and dh, the entire text of the Analecta is in Roman letter. In 1834, Mr. Thorpe published “ The Anglo-Saxon Translation of the Romance of Apollonius of Tyre.” “The Anglo-Saxon Church, its history, revenues and general character, by the Rev. Henry Soames, M. A., London, 1835,” is

* Petheram's Anglo-Saxon Literature, p. 146.

another valuable addition to our previous knowledge of the early English church.

The work so long and so anxiously expected by the Saxon students of England-an Anglo-Saxon and English Dictionary -was at length published in the year 1838, in a thick octavo volume, with the following title: “A Dictionary of the AngloSaxon Language, containing the accentuation, the grammatical inflections, the irregular words referred to, their themes, the parallel terms from the other Gothic languages, the meaning of the Anglo-Saxon in English and Latin, and copious English and Latin Indexes, serving as a Dictionary of English and Anglo-Saxon, as well as of Latin and Anglo-Saxon; with a Preface on the Origin and Connection of the Germanic tongues, a map of languages, and the essentials of Anglo-Saxon Grammar; by the Rev. J. Bosworth, LL. D., English Chaplain at Rotterdam ; London, 1838.” The matter in the introduction is of the most interesting kind. With the view of illustrating the Anglo-Saxon, nearly all the radical words, and a few important compounds are followed by the parallel terms, from the cognate dialects. For this portion of the work, the author was indebted to a zealous and learned friend, a native of Holstein, who used his utmost efforts to verify every word introduced among the parallels, and to give the orthography correctly, In order to show more clearly the analogy of the cognate languages, they have been arranged in the order of their affinity, which was considered most natural. The explanation of the Anglo-Saxon is in English, one word of which is often identical with the Saxon, by which the necessity of a long paraphrastic Latin rendering is superseded, and the definition shortened. To ensure the authority of Somner and Lye, and the sanction of Saxon scholars, the Latin significations are added. By a proper attention to the economy of space in printing, without interfering with typographical neatness, more practical information is comprised in this octavo volume than in the two ponderous folios of Lye and Manning. *

* We are glad to learn that a considerable number of copies of Dr. Bosworth's Dictionary have been sold in the United States. For the sake of the excellent author, as well as for other reasons, we wish that this number were many fold what it is. The first edition is now sold. We hope the author may, in a second, reap from the public at large, that solid remuner.

Among the Saxon works which appeared in England in 1839 and 1840, were a History of English Rhythms, by Edwin Guest; Music and the Anglo-Saxons, by F. D. Wackerbarth; Principia Saxonica, or an Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Reading, by L. Langley ; Reliquiæ Antiquæ, a work published in numbers, and designed to collect together such pieces from ancient inedited MSS., illustrative of the literature and language of the Middle Ages, as are not of sufficient extent to form books by themselves; and, lastly, the work of Mr. Petheram, to which we are indebted for many of the facts in this brief sketch, and which we cordially recommend to our readers for its research, impartiality, copiousness and accuracy.

The formation of the Camden and British Historical Societies may be looked upon as animating signs of the times. The Royal Society of Literature has determined on the publication of a Biographia Britannica Literaria, in chronological order. An introduction to the first section has appeared, under the title of “ An Essay on the State of Literature and Learning under the Anglo-Saxons, by Thomas Wright.” The Historical Society have recently issued a volume of Charters relating to the Anglo-Saxon period, edited by Mr. Kemble, who has prefixed an introduction of great interest and value, in which he has discussed the question respecting the authenticity of the AngloSaxon charters. An edition of the Anglo-Saxon Laws, under the care of Mr. Thorpe, will soon be published. An elaborate work by Mr. Petrie, entitled, “Materials for the History of Great Britain,” is in a course of preparation.

On the continent a gradually increasing attention has been given to Anglo-Saxon literature. The first edition of Grimm's "Deutsche Grammatik” was published in a single volume, in 1812. The first volume of a second edition was published in 1822, at Göttingen; the second volume followed in 1826, the third, in 1831, and the last in 1837.* “ The system of this

ation which his laborious, learned and accurate work so amply deserves. The spirit which reigns throughout is eminently such as becomes a scholar and a Christian.

* We have several volumes of this edition. It is printed, particularly the first volume, on most wretched paper, hardly fit for spelling-books or wrapping-paper. It is a shame that such a noble work should not come out in an attractive form. Other important works on the general subject of the German scholar," says Mr. Kemble, “which can henceforth alone form the basis of any philosophical study of the Teutonic tongues, rests upon two propositions. 1. That the roots of these languages, their methods of declension, conjugation and derivation are common to them all. Time may have rendered some of them obsolete ; but still there they are, under some form or other, in some one or other of their derivatives. 2. That each language, according to fixed laws of its own, differences the common element. The knowledge of the roots themselves, their modifications and gradual restrictions of meaning, must be sought in all the languages combined. The nature of each tongue determines the particular form that each root shall have in that tongue; hence we may sometimes, when at a loss for the meaning of a word, gain light upon the subject, by transferring the form in Anglo-Saxon to its equivalent in Gothic, Old Norse, or Old High Dutch. The only evil attendant on this work is its vast extent; but however it may terrify the idle, or baffle the dull, it is the most magnificent present ever made to Teutonic scholars; and as I have good reason to know, the AngloSaxon Grammar is beyond comparison the most philosophical and complete that has ever yet appeared in Europe.” In 1815, Prof. Thorlekin of Copenhagen printed the poem of Beowulf with a Latin translation. In 1817, an Anglo-Saxon Grammar was printed at Stockholm by Prof. Rask of Copenhagen. The second edition, enlarged and improved by the author, was translated from the Danish by Benjamin Thorpe, and published at Copenhagen in 1830. The grammar is preceded by a preface of 60 pages, which is chiefly occupied by a comparison of the Anglo-Saxon with the Icelandic. The last part contains a clear account of Anglo-Saxon versification, and a selection of reading lessons.* In 1820, Dr. Grundtvig published at Copenand its cognate languages, are Bopp's Vocalismus oder Sprachvergleichende Kritiken über J. Grimm's Deutsche Grammatik, etc. ; Schmitthenner's kurzes Deutsches Wörterbuch, 1834 ; and Dr. Becker's Die Deutsche Wortbildung, 1826. See Boʻworth's Dictionary, Preface p. 167.

* “Mr. Turner's and Sir F. Palgrave's important works must be carefully read by every Anglo-Saxon student. These for history, and Rask and Grimm for philosophy are rich sources of information for those who are interested in the Anglo-Saxon language and literature." Bosworth. To these we ought now to add Dr. Bosworth's Dictionary.

« PreviousContinue »