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park. We, however, prefer the taste and feeling of the man who eaves an open paling.
This niggardly spirit is not confined to small literary coteries. One of the German editors of the Nibelungen Lied 'congratulates his readers that the oldest and best manuscript of that noble poem was saved from the fate of being transferred to England there to lie useless and unknown of in some private collection.' This sarcasm does not apply to all English owners of collections ;* but more than one instance has come to our knowledge where permission to consult documents essential to the integrity of a published series, was pointedly refused-though they are of high interest to the European literary public, and not of the smallest personal consequence to the proprietor. Sometimes the existence, or, what amounts to the same thing, the locality of a literary treasure is studiously concealed. The York Mysteries—the most curious and important collection of the kind after the Townley--have disappeared for the third time to an unknown limbus librorum,' where they will probably slumber as un profitably as they did at Strawberry Hill and at Bristol. Our next account of them may possibly be that they are for ever Jost, having been subjected to the same fate which befel the Sebright, the Hafod, and so many other private collections.
Our readers will not expect a detailed critique of all the publications comprehended in our list. We say nothing of many of the Roxburghe books, for reasons already intimated. There are however good ones, as well as bad and indifferent. * Havelok the Dane,' William and the Were Wolf,' the Early English Gesta Romanorum,' and several others, are valuable monuments of our early language and literature, and ought to be rendered more generally accessible. Things which have only a conventional worth might lose a portion of it if placed within everybody's reach; but we cannot conceive that either natural or intellectual products, if intrinsically good, are depreciated by their abundance. Who would now lay a heavy importduty on oranges and pine-apples, or venture to talk of editions of Don Quixote strictly limited to twenty-five copies '? Havelok the Dane would not in any case command so many readers as Guy Mannering; but there is no doubt that an edition of a few hundred copies would have been willingly received, and might have directed towards this branch of study the minds of many who only wanted an accidental impulse.
We have great pleasure in bearing our testimony not only to the superior liberality of the English Historical Society, but to the judicious choice and careful execution of their works them* The liberality of Sir Thomas Phillips is especially worthy of praise.
selves. Mr. Kemble's Anglo-Saxon Charters-equally important to the philologist and to the legal and constitutional antiquary -Mr. Stevenson's Ecclesiastical History and Opera Minora of Bede-Mr. Hardy's William of Malmsbury-Mr. Coxe's handsome and complete Roger of Wendover-in short, the Society's publications in general-form a series which any man may be glad to place in his library as satisfactory editions of intrinsically valuable books. Nennius would admit of further elucidation by a good Celtic scholar; but the text is a decided improvement, and the notes are sensible and useful as far as they go.
Next to the English Historical we feel disposed to rank the Surtees, both on account of the liberality of its constitution and the general value of its books. If a portion of these possess only a local interest, we must remember that the society was organized for local purposes and with a restricted sphere of action ; and we are willing to connive at a few Wills,' Inventories,' and similar dry bones of ancient literature, in consideration of the sterling value of other publications. Not to dwell upon Reginald's account of St. Cuthbert, the collection of Durham historians, and other works the importance of which is obvious at once, we would specify the Townley Mysteries, the Durham Ritual, and the Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian Psalters, as monuments, each unique in its kind, and furnishing materials for the elucidation of our northern dialects, both of the Saxon and mediæval period, which it would be vain to search for elsewhere. Even the Liber Vitæ, or list of benefactors to the shrine of St. Cuthbert,' possesses an interest far beyond what might have been expected from a mere catalogue of names. The initiated may there distinctly trace the changes of the original stock of Northern Angles caused by successive infusions of Scandinavian, West Saxon, and Norman blood, till all become blended in that current English nomenclature which to this very day bears the plain impress of all. On many accounts therefore we are wellwishers of the ‘Surtees,' and would gladly see it organised on a broad basis and in the receipt of an income adequate to more extensive operations.
The Camden Society is undoubtedly the one which, from its numbers, the professed comprehensiveness of its plan, and the high literary character of many of its members, bid the fairest to supply a notorious deficiency in our literature, namely, in the departments of our early national history and the illustration of the early petiod of our language. With all our wealth and all our affectation of public spirit, not only the Germans, Danes, and Swedes, but even the Bohemians, have surpassed us in their well-directed, systematic, and successful cultivation of those fields.
What have we to put in competition with the Monumenta Germanica of Pertz, the Scriptores Rerum Danicarum of Subm and Langebek, the similar Swedish collection of Geijer and Afzelius, the long list of Icelandic Sagas, the Wybor Literatura Ceskè, and the numerous lexicographical, antiquarian, and historical labours of Jungmann, Schaffarik, Hanka, and Pa. lacky? Conscious of this unsatisfactory state of affairs, we could not but rejoice when twelve hundred men banded themselves together with the avowed purpose of perpetuating and rendering accessible whatever is valuable, but at present little known, amongst the materials for the civil, ecclesiastical, or literary history of the United Kingdom.' After a trial of nine years, we are constrained to say that the results do not precisely correspond with our expectations. Much of what has appeared is of comparatively limited interest, belonging rather to private biography than to general history, and being, moreover, of a period requiring little additional illustration. If works of this kind are to form the staple, it is impossible to foresee any end of them, since they may be found in our libraries by hundreds and thousands, quite equal in intrinsic merit to those that have already appeared. Among the few publications strictly historical, the value of the Chronicle of Joceline de Brakelonde is cheerfully acknowledged. We would also recommend the translation of Polydore Virgil to the careful study of the present race of tourists and travellers, in order that they may learn, if possible, to tell a plain story in plain words. Some of the purely historical works appear to us undeserving of the Society's patronage; others have been marred in the execution, of which more anon. What we are most dissatisfied with is the little that has been contributed towards the illustration of the progress vernacular language. It was understood at the commencement that this was to form one of the Society's chief objects; and the most rational method of promoting it would seem to be the publication of the remains of our early national writers—if not of the Anglo-Saxon period, yet at all events of those from the twelfth century to the end of the fourteenth. Hitherto, however, works of this class have hardly constituted one in ten of the Society's publications; and we have reason to believe that proposals to edit very valuable ones have been absolutely discouraged by leading members of the Council, on the ground that they would not suit the taste of the generality of readers. We thought that societies calling themselves learned were not organized to pander to the corrupt taste of a frivolous and novel-reading generation, but to try to direct it into better channels. Something, however, has been done in this department, and a portion of it well. Mr. Albert
Way's Promptorium Parvulorum is a truly valuable contribution, and we sincerely hope that he will shortly find leisure to give us the remaining portion of the work. Dr. Todd's Apology for the Lollards, and Mr. Robson's Three Metrical Romances, are also creditable to the editors. The Romances have a special value, as being almost the only known specimens of the ancient North Lancashire dialect. The Poems on Richard II., edited by Mr. T. Wright, and the Thornton Romances, by Mr. J. O. Halliwell, would also come within the category—but we have not had the means of testing their accuracy, and we have our reasons for distrusting everything done under the superintendence of those two gentlemen, if the task demand the smallest possible amount of critical skill or acumen.
Mr. Halliwell has been known some time as a dilettante in the literature of the middle ages, and seems to possess a pretty good opinion of his own qualifications. In this we are sorry that we cannot agree with him. We are not going to wade through the whole series of his publications, but shall select one, which, as it was undertaken on the voluntary principle,' may be fairly taken as a criterion. Some five or six years ago Mr. Halliwell and Mr. Wright edited, conjunctis curis, a miscellany entitled * Reliquiæ Antiquæ; or, Scraps from Ancient Manuscripts. It did little credit to their discrimination in selecting materials, or their skill in editing them; but as they were under no obligation to attempt matters which they felt themselves unable to grapple with, it is at least an unobjectionable test of their capabilities. No one can cast a cursory glance over Mr. Halliwell's contributions without stumbling on many passages which have neither sense nur grammar; but as it might be alleged that he had faithfully copied his authorities, we will examine how far this is the case. In vol. i. pp. 287–291, he produces a Latin poem from a Lansdowne MS. of the fifteenth century, worthless enough at the best, but so full of stumbling-blocks of all sorts that we felt curious to ascertain who had actually perpetrated such nonsense, Our collation with the MS., which is not more difficult to read than the generality of the same period, gave a result of more than thirty gross errors of transcription, with as many false punctuations, in the course of two pages—many of them subversive of every shadow of meaning. If any reader has the courage to encounter pages 289 and 290 in their published form, we request that he will not impute to the scribe such grammar as 'vox iste (est) jocunda,' or such grammar' and prosody united as 'nulla premia sequitur,' or 'aguis' for ' ignis,' or male perire famæ' for ‘malo perire fame.' We also counsel him not to puzzle himself with 'me retro pingere querit,' • Jhesus calamabat Pe.
trum,' or Emerunt vagam.' These and many similar readings are entirely due to the editor, who might have found in his MS. pungere, clamabat, and vaccam, if he had known how to look for them. Stermito' and “streo' are blunders which an ounce of scholarship would enable any man to correct to sternuto and screo, particularly as the vernacular 'snese' and 'spitte' happen to be in their company.
But • Arbor Lencester' and 'cimliæ quæ vendit omasum’are awful bugbears, and calculated to cause deep musings. We therefore beg, in all charity, to inform the reader that · Lencester' is neither the upas-tree nor the deadly nightshade, but lentè stet; and cimlia,'—incredible as it may appear -nothing worse than mulier.
We think it will hardly be denied that an editor of this calibre miscalculated his powers when he undertook such a work as the • Chronicle of William de Rishanger.' The only known copy was obviously made by an ignorant scribe, and swarms with corruptions of every kind and degree. This was a tolerable reason why it should not be undertaken by an editor morally certain to add as many more of his own.
That he has done so will become speedily evident to any one who is able to compare the printed text with the MS., and, consequently, the edition is totally worthless in a critical and historical point of view. However, he had the prudence to avoid a rock upon which his coadjutor Mr. Wright sustained a most grievous wreck :- he refrained from giving a translation of his author. Indeed, that would have been a task beyond the powers of the best scholar in Europe.
be said that blunders of this sort are simply the fruits of ignorance and carelessness, such as a little experience might enable a man to avoid. We fear that in the case of Mr. Halliwell they are associated with a more incurable deficiency, namely, a total inability to enter into the true spirit of this species of study. There is sometimes as great a difference between persons enrolled in the nomenclature of the same erudite class, as there was between the author of the · Antiquary,' who could enjoy the racy qualities and appreciate the knowledge of a Monkbarns, and the barber Caxon, whose business was with the outside of his honour's head. For example,-Percy, Warton, Ellis, and Price were something more than mere mechanical transcribers of ancient poetry. They had enlightened views of the true functions of an editor in this department of literature, and we overlook their occasional inaccuracies and errors in consideration of the learning, the elegance, and good taste of their illustrations, and the originality of their remarks. Any one who is desirous to see a direct contrast to all this may find it in Mr.