Billeder på siden

regard is had to it? Is it not admitted, also, that this bearing is always especially considered in selecting the subjects and mode of taxation, though the object be merely to raise revenue? This supposes, that something can be known and understood of the effects of laws in this respect; and this is, in reality, assuming, that the subject may be reduced to scientific analysis and deduction, and that many questions can be settled and put to rest, and many rules clearly established. Upon this subject we shall find the British economists most meagre and unsatisfactory. Only the newest and greenest legislators think of looking into their works for principles. The invocation of their authority excites the smile of men experienced in affairs.

Education is the nursery of national greatness and littleness, in wealth, as well as in other things. It is touched upon by Smith, in treating of regular apprenticeships; but nowhere presented in its full proportions, by him or any other writer

on economy.

Such are the general topics belonging to this subject, and such the deficiencies, as it seems to us, in the writers upon it. But we do not despair of seeing it raised from its degradation, and made more worthy to rank as a science.

ART. IV.-1. A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon 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 AngloSaxon, as well as of Latin and Anglo-Saxon. With a Preface on the Germanic Tongues; a Map of Languages, and the Essentials of Anglo-Saxon Grammar. By the Rev. J. BOSWORTH. London: 1837. 8vo. pp. 868.

2. King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon Version of Boëthius, “De Consolatione Philosophia"; with an English Translation, and Notes. By J. S. CARDALE. London: 1829. 8vo. pp. 425.

3. Analecta Anglo-Saxonica. A Selection, in Prose and Verse, from Anglo-Saxon Authors of various Ages, with a Glossary. Designed chiefly as a First Book for Students. By BENJAMIN THORPE. London: 1834. 8vo. pp. 268.

4. Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. By JOHN JOSIAS CONYBEARE. London: 1826. 8vo. pp. 286. 5. The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Traveller's Song, and the Battle of Finnesburgh, edited, together with a Glossary of the more Difficult Words, and an Historical Preface, by JOHN M. KEMBLE, Esq., M. A. London 1833. 12mo. pp. 260.

WE read in history, that it was the beauty of an ancient manuscript, which tempted King Alfred, when a boy at his mother's knee, to learn the letters of the Saxon tongue. A volume, which that monarch minstrel wrote in after years, now lies before us, so beautifully printed, that it might tempt any one to learn not only the letters of the Saxon language, but the language also. The monarch himself is looking from the ornamented initial letter of the first chapter. He is crowned and care-worn; having a beard, and long, flowing locks, and a face of majesty. He seems to have just uttered those remarkable words, with which his Preface closes ; "And now he prays, and for God's name implores, every one of those whom it lists to read this book, that he would pray for him, and not blame him, if he more rightly understand it than he could; for every man must, according to the measure of his understanding, and according to his leisure, speak that which he speaks, and do that which he does."

We would fain hope, that the beauty of this and other Anglo-Saxon books may lead many to the study of that excellent language. Through such gate-ways will they pass, it is true, into no gay palace of song; but among the dark chambers and mouldering walls of an old national literature, all weather-stained and in ruins. They will find, however, venerable names recorded on those walls; and inscriptions, worth the trouble of decyphering. To point out the most curious and important of these, is our present purpose; and according to the measure of our understanding, and according to our leisure, we speak that which we speak.

If any of our readers are predestined to study the AngloSaxon tongue, they may thank their stars that they have been

born thus late in the world. They will find their appointed task much easier now, than it would have been some three centuries ago, when Elfric's Homily on the Paschal Lamb, was, for the first time, "imprinted at London, by John Day, dwelling over Aldersgate, beneath St. Martyns"; or even two centuries ago, when the same book was reprinted "by John Haviland, for Henrie Seile, dwelling in Paul's Churchyard, at the signe of the Tyger's head. " Since those days the publication of Anglo-Saxon books has been constantly increasing; and, without any disparagement to Junius, Hickes, Somner, Lye, Wilkins, and other early Saxonists, we can truly say, that more has been done by Bosworth, Cardale, Kemble, Thorpe, and others within the present century, nay, within the last fifteen years, to excite an interest in the Anglo-Saxon language and literature, and to facilitate their study, than had been before accomplished in all the many years which have elapsed since the days of John Day. We are far, however, from maintaining, that this would or could have been the case without the previous labors, the incessant toil, yes, we may well say, incessant toil, when we look at their huge folios !-of those most diligent and worthy scholars. * Long may the good they have done live after them; their errors only be interred with their bones. We bear in grateful memory their labors for the restoration of the Saxon speech; the study of which is profitable for doctrine and for reproof to those, who, having travelled in France and Italy, "lisp, and wear strange suits, and disable all the benefits of their native tongue."

At the head of this article, we have placed the titles of those works, which we deem most necessary for a student of the Anglo-Saxon. The publication of Dr. Bosworth's Dictionary is likely to form an era in this study. In all dictionaries hitherto, Latin has been used to interpret Anglo-Saxon; these works being intended for continental scholars also, and not for English alone. Doubtless, too, there was a little scholastic pride at the bottom of this. But, at length, we have the long-desired labor, well accomplished, -an Anglo-Saxon and English Dictionary; a book which, we venture to say, will do more to advance the study of the Anglo-Saxon language, and, consequently, the full and per

*For a chronological list of the chief works printed in Anglo-Saxon with a notice of Grammars and Dictionaries, see Bosworth's Dictionary, Preface, p. xviii.

fect understanding of our own, than any work which has yet appeared. A most laborious task! A volume, upon which we lay our hands with great respect; for it contains more than seven years of a scholar's life, dissolved, sublimated, over a slow fire, into words; or, as Baro Ubigerus, that servant of God in the kingdom of nature, would say, "driven nine or ten times through the combustible fire into the elementary air." The title-page of the work, which we have copied out fully, sufficiently explains the plan followed by the author, in this noble contribution to the history of his native tongue. The long Preface gives a sketch of all the Teutonic and Scandinavian languages, with abundant illustrations. It is full of very valuable learning; and shows great diligence, and patient, long research. The "Essentials of Anglo-Saxon Grammar," and the abstract of Rask and Grimm, afford the student all the knowledge of forms and inflections, which he will need at the outset. For more thorough study of grammar, he may be referred to a former work of Dr. Bosworth, and to Thorpe's translation of Rask. * Much praise is due, likewise, to the other Anglo-Saxon scholars, whose works we have cited above. We shall have occasion to refer to them frequently, in the course of this article; and always, with just praise. Our object, however, is not to review their books, properly speaking; but to make the best use of them we can, in drawing up a sketch of Anglo-Saxon literature. The best service we can render these scholars is, to show the Anglo-Saxon student on this side of the Atlantic, how much he stands in need of their works.

The Anglo-Saxon language was the language of our Saxon forefathers in England, though they never gave it that name. They called it English. Thus King Alfred speaks of translating "from book-latin into English" (of bec Ledene on Englisc;) Abbot Elfric was requested by Ethelward "to translate the book of Genesis from Latin into English" (anwendan of Ledene on Englisc tha boc Genesis); and Bishop Leofric, speaking of the manuscript he gave to the Exeter Cathedral, calls it, "a great English book" (mycel Englisc boc.) In other words, it is the old Saxon, a Gothic tongue, as spoken and developed in England. That it was spoken and written

The Elements of Anglo-Saxon Grammar, with copious Notes, &c.; and a Grammatical Praxis. By the Rev. J. BoswORTH. London. 1823. 8vo. A Grammar of the Anglo-Saxon Tongue, with a Praxis. By ERASMUS RASK. Translated from the Danish, by B. THORPE. Copenhagen. 1830. 8vo.

uniformly throughout the land, is not to be imagined, when we know that Jutes and Angles were in the country as well as Saxons. But that it was essentially the same language everywhere is not to be doubted, when we compare pure West Saxon texts with Northumbrian Glosses and Books of Durham. In Hickes's Dano-Saxon Period we have no faith whatever, nor do we think any scholar has, at the present day. The Saxon kings reigned six hundred years; the Danish dynasty, twenty only. And we have not imagination enough to believe, that either the Danish boors, who were earthlings (yrthlingas) in the country, or the Danish soldiers, who, as history tells us, were dandies at the court of King Canute, could, in the brief space of twenty years, have so overlaid or interlarded the pure Anglo-Saxon with their provincialisms, as to give it a new character, and thus form a new period in its history, as was afterwards done by the Normans.

The truth is, the Dano-Saxon is a dialect of the language, not a period which was passed through in its history. We can lean upon old manuscripts and argue the point for hours together; but not at present. It will be sufficient to say, that, down to the time of the Norman Conquest, the language existed in the form of two principal dialects; namely, the Anglo-Saxon in the South; and the Dano-Saxon, or Northumbrian, in the North. After the Norman Conquest, the language assumed a new form, which has been called, properly enough, Norman-Saxon and Semi-Saxon.

This form of the language, ever flowing and filtering through the roots of national feeling, custom, and prejudice, prevailed about two hundred years; that is, from the middle of the eleventh to the middle of the thirteenth century; when the people woke up one morning and found themselves speaking English, as the word English is now understood. We may as well speak thus lightly, as more seriously. It is impossible to fix the landmarks of a language with any great precision; but only floating beacons, here and there. Perhaps, however, it may be well, while upon this subject, to say more than we have yet said. We therefore subjoin, in a note, a very lucid and brief account of the language; perhaps the clearest and briefest that can be given. It is by Mr. Cardale. *


HICKES, in c. 19. of the Anglo-Saxon Grammar in his Thesaurus, states, that there are three dialects of the Saxon language, distinguishable from

« ForrigeFortsæt »