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**ho distinguish desert; who will consider that no dictionary of a living tongue * * be perfect, since while it is hastening to publication, some words are budding, and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be spent upon syntax and ology, and that even a whole life would not be sufficient; that he whose de*So includes whatever language can express, must often speak of what he does not *nd; that a writer will sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the end, and *mes faint with weariness under a task, which Scaliger compares to the la* of the anvil and the mine; that what is obvious is not always known, and *is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surPrise vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need, for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, *Which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow. "his work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten * much likewise is performed; and though no book was ever spared out of tendestess to the author, and the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded *saults of that which it condemns; yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it, that the English Dictionary was written with little assistance of the learled, and without * Patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academick bowers, but amid inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may repress the triumph of malignaut criticism to observe, that if our language is not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an attempt which no "man powers have hitherto completed. If the lexicons of ancient tongues, now immutably fixed, and comprised in a few volumes, be yet, after the toil of successive ages, inadequate and delusive; if the aggregated knowledge, and co-operating diligence of the Italian academicians, did not secure them from the censure of Beni; *tie embodied criticks of France, when fifty years had been spent upon their work, were obliged to change its economy, and give their second edition another form, I may surely be contented without the praise of perfection, which, if I could *in, in this gloom of solitude, what would it avail me? I have protracted my "ork till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave, and suc** and miscarriage are empty sounds; I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquil*}, having little w lear or hope from censure or from praise.

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THE

H IS T O R Y

OF THE

ENGLISH LANGUAGE.

Though the Britains or Welsh were the first possessors of this island whose names are recorded, and are therefore in civil history always considered as the preSecessors of the present inhabitants; yet the deduction of-the English language, from the earliest times of which we have any knowledge to its present state, re§uires no mention of them : for we have so few words which can with any probability be referred to British roots that we justly regard the Sarons and Welsh as nations totally distinct. It has been conjectured, that when the Sarons seized this country, they suffered the Britains to live among them in a state of vassalage, emPloyed in the culture of the ground, and other laborious and ignoble services. But It is scarcely possible, that a nation, however depressed, should have been mixed with another in considerable numbers, without some communication of their tongue, and therefore, it may, with great reason, be imagined, that those, who were not sheltered in the mountains, perished by the sword.

... The whole fabrick and scheme of the English language is Gothick or Teutonick: it is a dialect of that tongue, which prevails over all the northern countries of Hurope,

*Pt those where the Sclavonian is spoken. Of these languages Dr. Hicks has thus exhibited the genealo s spo 3u88 C

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of the Gothics, he only monument remaining is a copy of the gospels somewhat ***, which, from the silver with which the characters are adorned, is called the silver book. It is now preserved at Upsal, and having been twice published before, has been lately reprinted at Orford, under the inspection of Mr. Lye, the editor of Junius. Whether the diction of this venerable manuscript be purely Gothick, has been doubted: it seems however to exhibit the most ancient dialect now to be found in the Teutonick race; and the Savon, which is the original of the present English, was either derived from it, or both have descended from some common parent. What was the form of the Saron language, when, about the year 450, they first entered Britain, cannot now be known. They seem to have been a people without learning, and very probably without an alphabet; their speech, therefore, having been always cursory and extemporaneous, must have been artless and unconnected, without any modes of transition or involution of clauses; which abruptness and inconnection may be observed even in their later writings. This barbarity may be supposed to have continued during their wars with the Britains, which for a time left then no leisure for softer studies; nor is there any reason for supposing it abated till the year $70, when Augustine came from Rome to convert them to christianity, The christian religion always implies or produces a certain degree of civility and learning; they then became by degrees acquainted with the Roman language, and so gained, from time to time, some knowledge and elegance, till in three centuries they had formed a language capable of expressing all the sentiments of a civilised people, as appears by king Alfred's paraphrase or imitation of Boethius, and his short preface, which I have selected as the first specimen of ancient English.

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This may perhaps be considered as a specimen of the Saron in its highest state of purity, for here are seareely any words borrowed from the Roman dialects.

Of the following version of the gospels the age is not certainly known, but it was probably written between the time of oilfred and that of the Norman conquest, and therefore may properly be inserted here.

Translations seldom afford just specimens of a language, and least of all those in which a scrupulous and verbal interpretation is endeavoured, because they retain the phraseology and structure of the original tongue; yet they have often this convenience, that the same book, being translated in different ages, affords opportunity of marking the gradations of change, and bringing one age into comparison with another. For this purpose I have placed the Saron version and that of Wickliffe. written about the year 1380, in opposite columns, because the convenience of easy collation seems greater than that of regular chronology.

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