ページの画像
PDF
ePub

haps, with too much of a lover's eye, but as the purchase of an obscure dissenting teacher they are contemptible neither as it respects their number nor their quality. They have been procured under the pressure of a very limited income, studied under long continued and painful afflictions, and have been the mind's solace in many a season of gloom and solitude. The mere readers of magazines and newspapers will be at a loss to understand our feelings of bibliopathy: the trifles wherewith they beguile an idle hour never elicit such an enthusiasm of affection. With us a book is altogether a different genus of living creatures from the thing to which that term is often applied : from our sense of the word we utterly exclude all those monsters of equivocal generation, which under the name of guides, selections, beauties, and introductions (especially to botany), annuals, calendars, and birthday souvenirs, are permitted to creep into ladies' drawing-rooms, and lie on mahogany tables with studied negligence, to give a supererogatory penance to the friend already sufficiently punished by your absence from home at the time of his visit. Misery can go no farther! It is bad enough to listen to the musical alliterations of an urchin who vociferously instructs you that he can spell, it is perhaps worse to enterprise the deciphering of the mazy labyrinths of a blundering perpetrator of letters, who convinces you that he cannot spell; but of all the miseries to which a poor bookworm can be exposed, no combination of circumstances in the utmost stretch of imagination can be feigned which leaves him in so hopeless a condition as that of being exposed defenceless and alone in the richly furnished drawing-room of some London merchant, to the relentless persecution of one of these unreal phantoms of a disturbed brain, these red morocco and gilt-edged spectres. We have some doubt also as to the propriety of admitting into the number of real books the members of the numerous family of half-printed, half-bound, and less than half-read systems of geography and natural history, the outlines of that execrable and degrading nonsense miscalled the science of phrenology, or any of the almost innumerable tribe of cyclopædias excepting perhaps the Metropolitan, and that on the alone ground of its prefatory essay on method by the myriad-minded Coleridge. Society Reports, Histories of Provincial Towns, Scotch Metaphysics, Hervey's Meditations, Young's Night Thoughts, and all the other kindred pieces of household furniture which every man has, and no man thinks of reading, except by proxy, are of course not included within this catalogue, any more than Court guides, memoranda books, or odd volumes of the old Town and Country Magazine. No-our books are of a totally different family, all good men and true, dressed in that sober uniform of rusty brown which, in connexion with their orthodoxy of dimensions, would act so powerfully on the collecting propensities of the disciples of Oldys,

Thomas Hearne, or Miles Davies, the illustrious author of the

Icon Libellorum. With scarcely one of all the company who shows not a paternal coat of three generations, our volumes might well be esteemed a Battle Abbey Roll of English gentility, within whose ranks are included all upon whose merit time has stamped her seal. To this select number we occasionally add one and another when emerging from our suburban retreat, we visit the deep recesses, and prowl among the populous solitudes of the great metropolis. Often in one of those time corroded passages which pierce to the very heart of this beehive of the nations, may we be seen surveying with eager glance the title page of some long pursued and antique fashioned volume, and after a hasty preliminary examination well understood by the brethren of the book craft, conveying the newly acquired treasure to the communion of kindred minds. Such occurrences have been rare of late, partly owing to the fact that our trans-atlantic brethren have recently made so many demands on our stock of ancient literature and particularly in the department of theology, and partly--but we have no right to obtrude these facts on our readers' attention. In the dearth of these gems of ancient time to which we have now referred, a dearth which must sensibly increase with every fresh year, and under the painful sensation that the births of the current time will not compensate, at least in the opinion of the illuminati, for the death and the oblivion into which so many of the books of older times are daily falling, we rejoiced to hear of an attempt on the part of some respectable brethren of the craft, to bring into the field a reinforcement to our present army under the auspicious name of the Camden Society.

It is the laudable design of this very excellent brotherhood to procure such manuscripts as illustrate any portion of our ancient history, and print them in such numbers as to supply each of their members with a copy, and in that size and manner as shall be equally removed from the poverty-stricken baldness of the trade reprints, and the princely magnificence which has characterized some previously originated societies. The works which have been already printed by the Camden Society are, ' A Contemporary Narrative of the arrival of Edward IV., 1471-King John, an English play by John Bull, Bishop of Ossory-A Contemporary alliterative poem on the deposition of Richard II., with a Latin poem on the same subject, by Richard de MaydestoneThe Plumpton Correspondence-a Series of Letters tempore Edward IV.--Henry VIII.

It will be evident to our readers from such a commencement of their labours, that this society is properly denominated from the great father of English history, and we earnestly hope that, redeeming the pledge they have offered in the distinctive appellation they have chosen, they will be successful in rescuing from oblivion

many interesting facts relating to both our general national history, and to the particular records of our more ancient private families which are yearly diminishing in so fearful a rate, that excepting in a few instances occurring in the more northern counties, we may vainly inquire in any of our provincial districts for the descendants of the genuine English nobility, the men whose names are identified with the village which their mansions dignified, and whose hospitality to the cottagers of their immediate neighbourhood in health, and attention to their wants in sickness, was the bond that once united the extremes of elevated rank and dependent poverty in this land. This society has already given publicity to one document of this nature in the correspondence of the Plumpton family, a volume replete with information on the history of many of the old Yorkshire families, and rich with touches of rude but faithful pencilling in fire-side scenes and domestic anecdote, and many more records of a similar character we shall expect from their zeal and assiduity in illustrating the antiquities of their fatherland.

Of a kindred spirit to the articles of the Camden Society is the tract whose title stands at the head of this paper. It is truly one of the richest specimens of racy and vigorous English this particular school of our national literature has produced. Without, perhaps, the professional accuracy of Camden, or the universal scholarship of Selden, or the minute circumstantiality of Lambarde, or the technical research of Somner, master Richard Verstegan is entitled to the praise of having treated even the driest subjects with a felicity of style and language which perhaps has never been exhibited on similar topics, of having made even etymology interesting, antiquity fresh with novelty, and of giving importance and intelligibility to those generally imagined unmeaning particles which so uniformly conclude the names of our towns and villages, and of the persons designated from them. The following analysis of his treatise will satisfy the reader that there is much in it which an Englishman ought to know. Chap. I. treats of the origin of nations, and especially as it regards the nation from which Englishmen descend. Chap. II. Of the Germanic descent of our countrymen. III. Of the manners and idolatrous usages of the Saxons. IV. Of the isle of Albion. V. Of the arrival of the Saxons here. VI. Of the Danish and Norman invasions. VII. Of the antiquity, amplitude, and worthiness of the English tongue. VIII. The Etymology of Saxon proper names.

IX. That from the surnames of English families it may be determined from what people they descend. X. Of English titles of honour.

Having walked some distance ourselves in the forest of etymology, and being, therefore, well convinced how difficult it is to find the road amidst the perplexing underwood with which that journey is encumbered, we will not pretend to decide in the question to

which our author refers in the following extract : we give it rather to show Master Verstegan's lively spirit of narration than as any thing decisive on the controverted point.

• This name, then, of Sarons they undoubtedly have of their use and wearing of a certain kind of sword or weapon invented and made bowing crooked, much after the fashion of a sithe, in imitation whereof it should seem to have first been made. And when of late I conferred with the excellent learned man M. Iustus Lipsuis, about the Saxons' true appellation (who also I found to concur with me in opinion), he could presently put me in mind

that a sithe is yet at this present in the Netherlands called a Saisen. Now the swords of our ancestors being made somewhat after that manner (the edge being on the contrary side) they might well carry a like name unto such an edge-tool as they were made after ; and albeit we find these kind of swords anciently written Seaxen or Seaxes, yet it is like enough that our ancestors sounded the x as s, for the Welshmen wrote them Saison, as they yet write us, which it is like they wrote, according as they beard them pronounce their own appellation. Of this kind of weapon they had two sorts, the one whereof being long were worn for swords, and the other being short, as hangers or wood-knives, and these they called hand-seares; and such they were which after their coming into Britain they had still in use, and did wear privately hanging under their long-skirted coats ; wherewith at a banquet on Salisbury Plain where Kengestus had invited king Vortigern, about three hundred of his nobles, the watchword Take your seaxes being given, were all of them suddenly slain. And as their long seaxes or swords were as is said before made after the form of a sithe, so might their hand-seures as well in fashion and bigness as somewhat in name, agree unto their then used manner of sicles. Of this kind of hand-seax, Erhwinwine king of the East Saxons did bear for his arms three argent, in a field gules. And the learned Englehusus of this kind of seaxe and of the name of the Saxons hath this ensuing Latine rhythme,

Quippe brevis gladius apud illos Saxa vocatur

Unde sibi Saxo nomen traxisse putatur. Which may be Englished

be Englished thus

Because a Saxa termed is

The short sword which they wear,
There of the name of Saxons they

May well be thought to bear,

* Now then it being manifest that our ancestors did affect and usually bear this kind of weapon called a seax, and that we find it not to have been used among the other Germans, unless of such as have afterward may have followed them in that fashion, why may not the peculiar bearers of that kind of weapon have gotten after the same their appellation? for seeing the name of the weapon, and the name of the bear

ers thereof is all one, either the weapon is so called of the men, or the men of the weapon : but that men are usually called according to the weapons which they bear, daily experience doth show us, especially in war, where by the names of Lances, Carabines, Pykes, Muskets, &c. the bearers of such weapons rather than the weapons are understood.

* And albeit such names do commonly remain unto their bearers only during the war, yet if they should still use those weapons, then doubtless would the names still remain unto them even from one posterity to another. For the Scythians as divers learned authors and of good judgment do report, gat and remained with that name because of their great use of shooting; for shooting in the Teutonick is called Schieten, and anciently cometh of the verb scytan, which signifieth to shoot. Moreover the Picards or people of Picardy are said first to have gotten that name of their great and most accustomed use of pikes. And as some affirm, the Galliglasses in Ireland do retain that name of the kind of polax which they are accustomed to use. And not only of the weapons or arms which they have born, have sundry people gotten their denominations, but others even of the fashion of apparel which they have been accustomed to wear, as the people inhabiting in Cisalpina were sometimes called Togatæ because they went in gowns. And the old inhabitants of the south parts of France were called Bracate of a short kind of coat wherewith they were usually clad. And he that will best consider the alterations of the names of many other people of Germany (which always have proceeded of one cause or other) will find it nothing strange that our ancestors having before had some other name, should afterwards come to leave the same, and to be called by the name of Saxons ; for where for example sake (among others) are the names now vulgarly known in Germany of the Catti, the Udi, the Quadi, the Marcomanni, the Bucoteri, and the Sicambri ? are they not all changed into other appellation ? And the latter, to wit the famous Sicambri long since even in Germany itself grown into two several names and people which are now called the Geldres, and yet remain in their ancient residence, and the Franks that have made their habitation more higher into the land as before hath been noted, whose country now beareth the name of Franconia ; part of them under prince Pharamund, entering afterwards into Gallia, left in fine unto that country the yet retained name of France, of some called Francia Occidentalis, because Franconia in Germany hath the name of Francia Orientalis.'-pp. 23—26.

Continuing the same subject, our author adds in a following chapter,

* And whereas some to make an ancient difference between the Saxons and the Germans, as if they were several nations, and came severally into Germany, will confirm an opinion that the Germans came from Persia, because (as is aforesaid) of the affinity of their language with the Persian ; surely it is an opinion of a very slender confirmation, for that indeed there is no affinity at all between those two

« 前へ次へ »