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the declaration of the Latin version (King's MS. 15. A. vii.), that the same fables “were rendered into English by the orders of king Alfred,” is more than sufficient to outweigh the testimony of the Harleian MS. 4333, which ascribes Marie's original to a king Henry. It also seems to have escaped the same diligent antiquaries, that the English language of Henry the First could not have differed materially from the AngloSaxon of Alfred; that any person, whether native or foreigner, who could master the one, would find no difficulty in comprehending the other; and consequently, that the argument raised on the imagined obscurities of the earlier copy is perfectly groundless. As to “the uncouth language of Robert of Gloucester,” which is supposed to have cost Marie so much labour in acquiring, we must remember, that however horrific this dialect may appear to modern Frenchmen, printed as it is with a chevaux-de-frise of Saxon consonants, its rude orthography only slightly varied from the language of general conversation in the Chronicler’s age. There could be no greater difficulty in learning to read or speak it, than is felt by a foreigner in modern English. In addition, there is reason to believe, that in Marie's time, some popular Anglo-Saxon subjects were rendered accessible to the modern reader, by the same process which fitted the early poetry of Italy for general circulation at the present day. We know, from certain testimony, that at a subsequent period the Brut of Layamon was made intelligible by a more recent version; and probability seems to favour the belief, that such was the case with the “Sayings of Alfred,” formerly in the Cotton Library. If these “Sayings” were registered by one of Alfred's contemporaries, or in the Anglo-Saxon language, they were doubtlessly written in the same metre as the translation appended to the edition of his Boethius, and would only have received the dress in which they are exhibited by Wanley, about the time of Richard I., or John. Mr. Sharon Turner has produced this collection of apophthegms, as the first specimen of English prose; but they are evidently written in the same mixed style of rhyme and alli
terative metre, which we find in Layamon. It is this circumstance which has suggested the possibility of their being recorded at an earlier date than the language in which they are written seems to indicate: but of course neither this, nor the claim of Alfred to the English version of Æsop, is insisted upon as demonstrable. The only object of these remarks is to impugn the evidence which MM. de la Rue and Roquefort consider as conclusive in favour of Henry I. In closing this excursive note it may not be amiss to observe, that the Harl. MS. calls Marie's collection of fables L'Ysopet or the little AEsop, of which a Dutch translation is said to have been made in the 13th century. (See Van Wyn, Historische Avondstonden, p. 263.) This title appears to have been given it by way of distinction from another collection of fables, probably made at an earlier period, and derived from a purer source. The latter is mentioned in the prologue to Merlant's Spiegel Historiael.
In Cyrus tiden was Esopus
i. e. We read that Esop, the fabler, who made fables how the birds and beasts converse, lived in the time of Cyrus. No doubt Aviaen (Avienus?) drew from it, and other books which people call Esopus. Calfstaf and Noydekyn put into fair rhymes those which they took pleasure in.
Note ON THE SAXON ODE ON THE VICTORY OF ATHELSTAN. [See DissERTATION I. page xl.]
THE text of his poem has been formed from a collation of the Cotton MSS. Tiberius A. vi. B. i. B. iv. In the translation an attempt has been made, to preserve the original idiom as nearly as possible without producing obscurity; and in every deviation from this rule, the literal meaning has been inserted within brackets. The words in parentheses are supplied for the purpose of making the narrative more connected, and have thus been separated from the context, that one of the leading features in the style of Anglo-Saxon poetry might be more apparent to the English reader. For the benefit of the Anglo-Saxon student, a close attention has been paid in rendering the grammatical inflections of the text, a practice almost wholly disused since the days of Hickes; but which cannot be too strongly recommended to every future translator from this language, whether of prose or verse. The extracts from Mr. Turner's and Mr. Ingram's versions cited in the notes, have been taken from the History of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. ii. and the recent edition of the Saxon Chronicle. But those variations alone have been noticed which differed in common from the present translation. -
AEthelstan (the) king,
* Thereader must becautioned against
in .#. poetry; and though receiving this literal interpretation of
generally applied to persons of eminent
the text, in the same literal spirit. The terms eorl and beorn—man and bairn— are used with great latitude of meaning
rank or exalted courage, we have no proof of their appropriation as hereditary titles of distinction at the early period
when this ode was composed. The word “AEtheling”—strictly speaking The son of the aethel or noble—appears to have gained an import in England, nearly corresponding to our modern prince. In the Saxon Chronicle it is almost always, if not exclusively, confined to personages of the blood royal. Perhaps there is neither of these terms whose modern representative differs so essentially from its original as “ealdor.” At the present day no idea of rank is attached to the word “elder,” and none of authority except among some religious sects, and a few incorporated societies. In Anglo-Saxon poetry it rarely, if ever, occurs as marking seniority in point of age. Even the infant Edward is called an “elder of earls.”
* Elder! a lasting glory, T. Elder, of ancient race, I. But “tir” is not used substantively in the present instance. “Ealdor langne-tir,” or “Langne-tir ealdor”—exhibits the same inverted construction as “flota fami-heals,” ship foamy-necked; “aetheling aer-god,” noble exceeding-good, &c. The present translation of “tir” is founded upon an etymology pointed out in the glossary to Siemund's Edda, where it is declared to be synonymous with the Danish “zyr,” and the German “zier.” In the Low German dialects, the z of the upper circles (which is compounded of t, s, like the Greek & of d, s) is almost always represented by t, and splendour, brightness, glory, &c. are certainly among the most prevalent ideas attached to “tir” when used as a substantive. If this interpretation be correct,-power, dominion, or victory, must be considered as only secondary meanings; and the com
very illustrious chieftain, combated in [at] battle,
And I will also order my fellow-thanes, against every foe, your vessel deep (and) exceeding wide, boat on the sand, carefully to hold. “Niwe” is here equivalent to niwel; as in the expression, “niwe be na'sse” low by the nose or promontory. “Tyrwydne nacan" is clearly synonymous with “sid-faethmed scip,” the wide-bosomedship, occurring shortly afterwards. The learned editor's version, pice obductam, is founded on an expression still preserved in his native language (Icelandic), and of which Ihre has recorded the following example: “Lethan leggia eldi tyrwid oc gora balascipino;” Jussit ignem taedae subjiciendum, pyramque in nave struendam. “Arum,” which the Latin version renders “remis,” is used adverbially, like hwilum, gyddum, &c. The vessel lay upon the beach, and was afterwards moored : there could therefore be no use for her oars. The present version of “arum” is founded on the following passage, where Waltheow says she has no doubt but Hrothulf will prove a kind protector to her children:
That he tha geogothe wile, arum healdan, That he the youths will, carefully protect (hold). p. 90.
Arum (lit. with cares, attentions,) is in the dative case plural. See note 34.