Page images

dominion of the Danes over the former. Some of these, which have struck our observation, cannot, however, be traced southward of Leicester.

With our renewed wish that Messrs. Lysons may see the propriety of adopting our suggestion concerning the manner of publishing their valuable work, we subjoin our recommendation of the present voluine, as comprising a copious store of useful information, compressed within convenient limits, and well arranged for the purpose of occasional reference.

Art. III. A Supplement to Dr. Johnson's Dictionary of the English

Language ; or, a Glossary of Obsolete and Provincial Words. By the late Rev. Jonathan Boucher, A. M. Vicar of Epsom. Part the First.

4to. pp. 80. Price 7s.6d. Longman and Co. 1807. A MONG the paradoxes that have been advanced by fanci

ful writers, we remember one which denied the utility of dictionaries to living languages. A work like that of Mr. Boucher, might, notwithstanding, have escaped censure, even from the author of Lexiphanes. Languages indeed, like those who use them, are dying while they live; and one of the numerous difficulties that must occur to a Lexicographer, is that of admitting, or rejecting, terms that are partially obsolete. Such are those, which, though never used by modern writers, abound in works that are still generally read. The poetical beauties of a Spenser, and a Shakespeare, are likely to secure the attention of ages yet unborn ; although so many of their terms have already become unintelligible to common readers, that the explanation of them would be no small incumbrance on a Dictionary, intended for general use. For this reason, and for others of greater, though less obvious importance, we have long considered a separate dictionary of obsolete terms as a desideratum in the English language; and we are glad to see the undertaking commenced in a respectable and interesting manner.

Terms strictly “ obsolete” were not indeed the sole, or the chief object of the author. He began with a provincial Glossary, treated of obsolete words only in a subordinate view, and distributed these two classes of terms into two distinct alphabets; but having found this method inconvenient, after proceeding in it to the letter T, he renewed his task by digesting the whole into one alphabet. In this, he had arrived at the letter G, when the public was deprived of his labours. His fainily has exhibited the present specimen of them, in order to decide on the propriety of publishing the whole. If the first part obtains the degree of attention which it seems to us to deserve, we sball hope, not only that the remainder of Mr. B.'s work will appear in due time, but likewise that it will not be left incomplete for want of an adequate continuator.

The unassuming temper of the author, is indicated by the title which he has assigned to his performance, by his arrangement of it with reference to Dr. Johnson's valuable work, and by the manner in which he usually mentions his grammatical precursors, even when he judges it necessary to differ from them. We are not surprised to discover, under so modest a garb, more philological information, more extensive resea

search, and more critical taste, than several modern writers, who have treated their predecessors with the most sovereign contempt, can plausibly pretend to. That a Supplement of this kind should be requisite to Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, implies by no means a censure on that work. Its proper department was different. Instead of blaming him for omitting many provincial and obsolete terms which Bailey had inserted, we conceive that he might with advantage have excluded more. We think that the faults of Lexicographers are usually those of redundancy, rather than deficiency. Even in our smallest manuals, we find numerous words which are by no means appropriate to the English tongue. The technical terms with which they are commonly burdened, can only be duly explained by a Cyclopædia. We hope that the present work will contribute to relieve them from those which are really obsolete.

To collect into one view the most striking variations of dialect that prevail in the several districts of our island, is a very desirable purpose of Mr. Boucher's performance. Not only does it tend to explain the phraseology of many valuable authors of ancient times, but it assists to discover the sources, and to elucidate the history, of our very complicated and mutable language. For this undertaking, the author appears to have been well qualified. Himself a native of one of our remotest counties, he was excited to compare the peculiarities of its dialect with those of other provincial districts, as well as with the ancient and modern standards of our language, which are formed by the best literary productions of different ages.

Terms of these descriptions, which either were not inserted by Dr. Johnson, or require farther explanation than he gave, are the subjects of Mr. B.'s investigation. The part now published, comprizes only such as begin with the letter A, which, in the judgement of the Editor, are less attractive than many other articles. A few extracts will afford some ground for judging of the present specimen.

Our glossological readers will naturally expect an account of the term abash, the derivation of which, with its dependent terms, has been a stumbling block to grammarians.

. TO ABASH, V. a. To dishearten, dismay, overawe. • Such was his valiauncie and most excellent fortitude of mynde and courage, that

no injurious mischance of forwarde adversitie could abashe his invincible heart, and manlyke stomach. Holinshed (Ed. 1571) Hist. of Scotl. fol. 312.col. 2. and fol. 290.

col. 1. "The Britaynes were marvelously abashed herewyth. Molinshed Hist. of Eng. fol.

p. 231.


King Henry the Vthe noted in our history for the licentiousness of his early years, having: when he was Prince of Wales, a favourite servant arraigned for felony, ran-furiously into court, whilst the servant stood at the bar on his trial, and commanded him to be un-gyved, and sette at liberty, whereof all men were abashed, reserved (i. e. except) the Chief Justice," who with a spirit, and a prudent and steady firmness, worthy of a British judge, commanded the Prince, at his peril, not to, dare to obstruct the course of public justice, and at length committed him to the King's Bench. • Sir Thomas Eliot's Governor, p. 102.

“ declares, that upon a time when the people would have received the sacrament under both kinds, there was sodenly before them a platter full of blood, Whereof the good devout people being meruelously abashed, were glad to content themselves with the one.

Romish Bee Hive, book 2. c.7. p. 121. (Wicliffe renders ižotnO® {xSaloeb jeyango (which, in the English translation, is « they were astonished with a great astonishment;" and in the vulgate, “ obstupuerunt stupore magno;") by “ they weren abayschid with a greet stoneying.”. Mark v. 42. .

« The verb abash, it may be presumed, is derived from the French abaisser; the Italian abassare; or the Spanish abaxar. # In the following passage, abase signifies to lower, to place en bas.

“ That down they let their cruel weapons fall,
And lowly did abase their lofty crests,
In her fair presence, and discreet behests.

Faerie Queen, b. 2. c. 2. s. 32."
The next article is a necessary supplement to the pre-
TO ABAW, V. a. To astonish, to confound, used only by Chaucer,

*For, soche another, as I gesse,
Aforne ne 'was, ne more vermaile,
I was abawed for merveile.

Romaunt of the Rose, Urry, p, 240, 1. 3644.
‘My mirth and melis is fasting

My countenance is niceté

And al abatoed where so I be
My peace is pleding.

The Dreme of Chaucer, Urry, p. 408. 1. 614 Junius supposed abaw to be purely English, and to be formed of the Şaxon beap a wasp ; as signifying being teazed or troubled. But as its meaning corresponds very nearly with that of abash, it may be only a variety or corruption of that word, and referable to the same origin, to which we probably owe our English words, base, abase, and bashful. There is no very distant resemblance between them and the Hebrew 03 to: trample upon, or tread under foot ; or, perhaps, between them and another Hebrew term, viz. v. to shame, abash. This word, however, may VOL. III,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

most fairly be referred to the French ebaihir, anciently spelled esbahir, or to confound. See, passim, the Tales of the Queen of Navarre. Chaucer 2. spells the præter-participle of abuw, abote.

Of whiche sight glad, God it wot,
She was abashid, and abute.

Chuucer's Dreme, p. 581, 1. 12$9. Mr. B.'s remarks, usually approximate, toward the explana, tion of a term, if they do not absolutely attain to it; and they inay be useful to the reader, even when he forms a different conclusion from that of the author. We suspect the words abash, and abase, to come from different sources. The former, with its derivatives, bushful, bashfully, and bashfulness, are so uplike -consignificant terms of any other language with which we are acquainted, that we are compelled to refer them to the Hebrew wia, although we are unable to trace its progress to us through intermediate languages. The word abase, which evidently has the adjective base for its primitive, appears, notwithstanding its seeming affinity to the Greek term Becors, to be of Iberian (vulgò Celtic) extraction. Bas, both in the Welch and Irish dialects, signifies low; and it appears to have that meaning, likewise, in the Biscayan branch of the same original language; for the term bas-turd (base-sprung) is common to Fäll the three dialects, and to the several nodern languages which are derived from them. The etymology of Basis from Bawvw (to go) seems also less probable, than that the Greeks, as well as the Iberians, received the former word from the Phenicians'; the Chaldee term oba having precisely the same meaning.

As a specimen of the manner in which provincial words are illustrated, we cite the following curious article :


A spider.

• She says, thy sonnet smoothly sings,
Sae ye may craw, and clap your wings,
And smile at etter-capit stings
With careless pride.

Allan Ramsay, vol. ii. p. 109. "The third was an auld, wizen'd, haave coloured carlen, a sad gysard indeed, and as bawl as ony eltercap, &c. A Journey from London to Portsmouth, p. 8. See Poems in the broad Buchan Dialect : by the Rev. Mr. David Ferguson.

• Curst conspiratrice, cockatrice, hell's ka, 9.1?

Turk, trumper, traytor, tyranue, intemprate;
Thou yreful attercap, pylat, apostata,
Judas, jews, jaglor, lollard lawreat.

Ever Green, vol. ii. p. 74.
C: ,

• Quhen the Kyng Edward of Ingland 57:11

Had herd of this deid full tythaud,
All breme he belyd in-to Berth,

And brytbyd all in wed and werth,

n. S.

Ni 25


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Al sa kobby'd in his crope,
As he had ettyn an attyrcope.

Wyjnto-onis Cronykil, vol. ii. P. 81. “Therein (i. e. in Crete) ben no foxis, ue wolres, ne addres, ne suche wenemous bestes : and that londe hateth so venym, y' ýt men brynge one venemous beestes or wormes of other londes, they deyen anone, and though there be vo gret venemous beestes in that londe, yet ben there atlercup es ven mous that ben called spalangla in that londe. Treviso, lib. 1. cap. 20. fol. 32. col. 1.

In the towne Schrowysbury, setan thre men togedur, and as they setan talkyng, an alturcoppe com owte of the wowg, and buté hem by the nék kus alle thre, and thowg hit greuyd hem at that tyme but lyttule, soire atterr frit renco?ed, and so swalle ther throtas and forset theţr breythe, that tuo of hein wèron deid, and the third was miraculously healed by the bones of St. Wenefrid. see an Account of St. Wenefriile, in the Profuce to Lungtoft's Chronicle, vol. i. p. CC.

| The following characteristical anecdote is still preserved among the highlanders of Argyleshire. While Robert Bruce, with a few followers, was in 'hiding among the mountains of Argyleshire, after his disastrous rencontre with Lorn and his party near Loch Tay, they happened one night to have taken up their lodging in a deserted shealing, or hunter'o bothie : fatigued and worn out as they were, towards morning the whole of the party were overpowered by sleep, the king alone excepted. He, without resource; and almost without hope, sat musing on his mischance. During his reverie, an attercop had caught his attention: it was busy in an unwearied endeavour to fix one of the principal lines of its web; and the monarch eleven times saw it fail, in its laudable and well directed efforts ; and when it failed it always fell from a considerable height. These animals are almost proverbial for their patient perseverance; defeat seemed to animate it to fresh attempts ; and at the twelfth, ii succeeded. And now having seen this instructive emblem, Bruce sprung up'; and, striking his thigh, exclaimedI too will try once more

- sae God prosper me! His alarmed companions, supposing that they were beset, started from their sleep, and drew their swords. On Bruce's relating the circumstance that had just occurred to him, they applauded his resolution, accepted the omten, and immediately set out with him

" To raise the valiant of the isles

To combat on his side, ‘Also been sytten upon the hives, and sucke tite superflititee that is in lieneva combes: and it is sayde if they dyde not soo, therot shulde allercoppes bye yendryd, &c. Bartholomæus, by Treviso, lib. xii. fol. 355; & 396.

• This same old writer also, in one and the same column, spells coba webs both with a b and a


Thus Cobbe webbe ben made with traveyle and besyuesse: • And again

• The coppe-webbe that is whyte and cleve, and is not defoyllyd wyth fythe, nother with powder, hath power to constreyne:, &c. Id. lib. xviii. fol. 755. • This word is curious, as being still unaltered Saxon.

Arrer coppa is a spider in Saxon, útten in Saxon, etter, eitir, and eyter, in German, Swedish, and Dutch, all mean filth, pus, venom. Deuteron. xxxii. and 33, “ their wine is the poyson of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps," stands thus in the Saxon pina baner opicenazealle, Ineodrena uit n uşhaipetd'ice; and thus in the Swedish theras wijn ár drakaetter, och grymma huggormars ga le.

« PreviousContinue »