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An' so on the words, width the chain in his hand,
And, ketching the baste, although slippery as glass,
And a sort of a thrimble come over his frame,
nurs'd On the best of good milk, besides fine wheaten bread." Thin an onld man's voice answered, " I'd rather ba
dead. At wanst thin to go there—yeh! what would I get Bat a dhrop of blue white-wash I never liked yet?
"Oaten bread sence my teeth worbeginning to fail,
Egora! my father ran for the bare life,
Bat he sat be the fire, and never shet eye
And the more it was fed, faith 1 the more it would
And so when the girls from milking come in,
"Put some down for brekfist, and do not delay:
"Oh, no matter," ses he, "Cauthe, $ I like the hot
Well, Peg made the grewel, hot, plinty, and thick;
"That's right, Peg," ses my father, "but run away
now, And bring me a piggin* of milk from the cow." And whiu all was ready he called loud and clear: "Your breakfist is cooling, Jack Brien—come here!"
The child near my mother she felt gev a stretch,
"Come, Jack Brien, I tell you the male will be gone," "Sure, I can't," ses the child, "till I get my clothes
on." "Where are your clothes, man?" my father then
cried." "Rowled up there," ses he, "underneath the bedside."
"Oh, Jinsl" screeched my mother, "what's this
thing at all?" As thrimbling and crying she clung near the wall. "Whisht! whisht I" ses my father, "shet your eyes,
take a doze," And from ondther the bed, faith I he dhrew the old
"Now," ses he, "what delays you P come an' sure you're
dressed Hand me over my crutches; I'm wake, I must rest"— Ses my ould boy quite stiff—"there! they're be the
post," And up, faith! he hopped on thim light as a ghost!
Well, he ate every bit of the stir-about clane,
And, when finished, my father spoke up to him plain:
"Now, Jack Brien," ses he "who the dickuns yon
are— I don't know nor don't care if you come near or far.
"But a brekfist like that every day for a year
In the bed near my mother—poor 'oman, how glad—
Ye know that we always must believe what we see.
* A wooden vessel out of which milk is drank.
+ A fort: the Danish monnds, so frequently met with throughout Ireland, are called forts, and are always held in superstitious veneration by the peasantry, as the homes of the "good people" or fairies. To open one of them is considered very unlucky.
ELIZABETH ELSTOB, THE SAXONIST.
Outlines of the Life of a Learned Lady, in the (so-alled) Augustan Age of English Literature.
BY MRS. CAROLINE A. WHITE.
The breaking-up of the home in Bash Lane, endeared to Elizabeth Elstob by so many sympathetic associations, appears to have followed close upon the Rector's death, and the scattering of her household treasures, and books, and papers (as we gather indirectly from her subsequent letters to the Rev. George Ballard), suggests the sufferance of other sorrows, besides the irreparable one of her brother's loss. Some were deposited for safekeeping with friends; but the majority, we fear, were parted with to pay outstanding debts, or to realize money for her present support.
As on former occasions of disappointment and trial, instead of yielding to despondency, we find Elizabeth resorting at once to literary labour. Some time previous to the death of her brother, she had been engaged in the preparation of an Anglo-Saxon Grammar, the idea of which, as she tells us in her preface to it, had occurred to her upon the occasion of her visit to Canterbury, immediately upon the publication of the Homily on the Birthday of St. Gregory, where she had gone on importunity, "as well for the pleasure of the conversation of her friends and relatives as for the benefit she hoped to receive from change of air."
Amongst the compliments and visits she received on this occasion of her first attempt in Saxon, and which, curiously enough, converted the best parlour of Uncle Charles the Canon's house, into a little court in honour of the learning the acquirement of which he bad so strenuously objected to in his niece, she was particularly gratified by the "new friendship and conversation of a young lady, whose ingenuity and love of learning" was not only well-known in the neighbourhood, but also to her revered friend, the Dean of Worcester (Dr. Hicks).
This young lady, whose name does not transpire and which we have not at hand any means of discovering, became desirous of acquiring the Saxon language, and proposed to become Mrs. Elstob's scholar—a proposition that immediately set Elizabeth upon composing an English grammar of the language, to facilitate her prospective pupil's progress. "But that lady's fortune hath so disposed her since" (observes Mrs. Elstob in her dedicatory letter to Dr. Hicks), "and hath placed her at so great a distance, as that we have had no opportunity of treating farther in the matter,
either by discourse or correspondence." But though, as she reminds the Dean, "a work of larger extent" (the Homilarium), which had received his ample encouragement, had made her lay aside the grammar for a time. She had not wholly neglected it; and now, having resumed and finished the work, she sends it to him. Dr. Hicks had himself published a Saxon grammar, and this and his Thesaurus, and other works, the result of his study of the old northern tongues, had brought upon him the animadversions of Dean Swift and Dr' Felton,* whose political hate of the non-juring Doctor added rancour to their criticisms, which overshot the mark at which they aimed, and in the light hands of the first lady-Saxonist, fell back upon themselves in a keen shower of barbed wit, leaded with sound logic.
In the letter with which she prefaces the Anglo-Saxon Grammar, she alludes to the sneering remarks of those gentlemen, who had observed that, "though Dr. Hicks must be allowed to have been a very curious inquirer into those obsolete tongues now out of use, and containing nothing valuable, yet it does by no means follow that we are obliged to derive the sense, construction, or nature of our present language from his discoveries." They had also remarked, "that the essential difference between the old Saxon and modern English was so great that the Saxon could be no rule to them." With quick mother-wit, she remarks of this unfortunate expression, " What they say" (that it cannot be a rule to them) " is true, for nothing can be a rule of direction to any man, the use whereof he does not understand. But if to understand the original and etymology of the words of a language be needful towards knowing the propriety of any language, a thing which I have never heard hath yet been denied, then do those gentlemen stand sell-condemned; there being no less than four
* It is stated in "Notes and Queries," 4 S. II, August 1st, 1868, that the principal writer noticed by Elizabeth Elstob in the preface of "A Grammar for the A. S. tongue," is John Brightland, the author of "A Grammar of the English Tongue for the use of the Schools of Great Britain and Ireland," the third edition, 1714, 8vo. The quotations given by Mrs. Elstob at p. v., are from the preface of this work." But their substance was probably furnished to John Brightland by the above gentlemen, or used by him at second hand, proof of which we shall hereafter adduce.
words in the scheme of declensions they have borrowed from Dr. Hicks, now in use, which are of pure Saxon original, and consequently essential to modern English. I need not tell any English reader at this day the meaning of smith, word, son, and good; but if I tell them that these are Saxon words, I believe they will hardly deny them to be essential to modern English, or that they will conclude that the difference between the old English and the modern is so great, or the distance between them so remote, as that the former deserves not toberemembered except by such "upstarts who, having no title to a laudable pedigree, are backward in all due respect and veneration towards a noble ancestry." Their great condescension to Dr. Hicks in allowing him to be the curious inquirer into those obsolete tongues now out of use, and containing nothing valuable in them, is a compliment for which she thinks Dr. Hicks will be obliged, as the greatest divines, lawyers, and historians are of another opinion; and she advises his critics to consult the libraries of the two universities, the Cottonian, and my Lord Treasurer, to study the whole of Dr. Hicks's, Thesaurus, and to look into Mr. Wanley's Catalogue of Saxon MSS.," &c, &c. In clearness, common-sense, and sound argument, this preface to the Saxon Grammar is an admirable specimen of Elizabeth Elstob's original—writing simple, honest, strong, reflecting, as it were, the characteristics of the quaint old Saxon tongue she had so long made her study. There is, too, a pretty touch of womanhood: in her relentings for the severity she had used towards the detractors of her venerable friend andof her "mother-tongue," which is neither so barren or barbarous as they affirm, and regrets that "their treatment of it has led her into a style not so agreeable to the mildness of her sex, nor the usual manner of her behaviour." She quotes in proof of the use of Saxon by the best writers, Parker, Laud, Lambard, Selden, Leland, Camden, Chief Justices Hales and Parker; and amongst poets, Shakespeare, Milton,Dryden (whose portrait, by-theway, she had painted), Addison, and Pope, the first volume of whose Iliad was just now in course of publication, and whom she calls as exact a master of criticism as he is an accomplished and excellent poet.
Her comments on the necessity of improving the English language, and the best means of doing it, exhibit so much earnest thought that they deserve to be quoted, if only to prove that she anticipated, I may say projected, the principles which all modern pbylological students and writers on the subject have pursued:
"I cannot but think it a great pity," she observes, "that in our considerations for refinement of the English tongue, so little regard is had to antiquity and the original of our present language, which is Saxon. This is indeed allowed by an ingenious person, who hath lately made some proposals for the refinement of the
English tongue,* that the old Saxon, except in some few, variations in the orthography, is the same in most original words with our present English, as well as with the German and other northern dialects, which makes it a little surprising to me to find the same gentleman, not long after, say, 'The other languages of Europe I know nothing of, neither is there any occasion to consider them ;' because, as I have before observed, it must be very difficult to imagine how a man can judge of a thing he knoweth nothing of, whether there can be occasional or no to consider. I must confess, I hope whenever such a project is taken in hand for correcting, enlarging, and ascertaining our language, a competent number of such persons will be advised with, as are knowing, not only in Saxon, but in the other languages of Europe, and so be capable of judging how far these languages may be useful in such a project. The want of understanding this aright, would very much injure the success of such an undertaking and the bringing of it to perfection, in denying that assistance towards adjusting the propriety of words, which can only be had from the knowledge of the original, and likewise in depriving us of the benefit of many useful and significant words, which might be revived and recalled, to the increase and ornament of our language, which would be the more beautiful as being more genuine and natural, by confessing a Saxon original for their native stock, or an affinity with those branches of the other northern tongues which own the same original."
She affirms that it is the want of knowing them that has occasioned an unkind prejudice against them. She can herself speak for the variety and aptness of compounding and wellsounding "words.in the Saxon, Gothic, Scandinavian Francick, or old Teutonick. She "never perceived the harshness of those languages, which grate so much in the ears of those who never heard them, nor perceived hardness in the consonants, but such as was necessary to afford strength; like the bones in a human body, which yield it firmness and support; so that the worst that can be said on this occasion of our forefathers is, that they spoke as they fought, like
* *' Swift published a letter on the subject to the Lord Treasurer, 1712. The Society of Brothers, to which Swift belonged, consisted of men of the first rank and most eminent talent among the Tories. Swift meditated, with their assistance, a task so gigantic, as to limit and fix the English tongue by a general standard, to be ascertained by a society resembling the French Academy. But, says his biographer, "the antiquities of our language had been no part of his studies, and he obviously shows an ignorance of the leading fact, that the present speech of England did not, properly speaking, exist at a language until about the time of Edward Ill., when mutual convenience had accomplished a compounded betwixt the French, which was the exclusive dialect of the nobles, and the Saxon, which continued to be the language of the people.'—Sir Walter Scott's " Life of Swift."
men." The satire which barbs her remarks is borne out by the subsequent opinion of Dr. Johnson, who observes that "the Dean of St. Patrick's proposal for correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English tongue," was written without much knowledge of the general nature of language, and withont any accurate inquiry into the history of other tongues. But then, according to the same authority, the Dean "talked big when he said nothing,' and when he did not understand to subject, misrepresented it; and this is exactly what appears to have been done in the strictures on Dr. Hick's grammar.
But to return to our story. There had been difficulties in the way of the publication of Mrs. Elstob's Anglo-Saxon Grammar, which, perhaps, to the earnest mind of the author, gave additional interest to the work. The destruction of the Anglo-Saxon type in the fire at Bowyer's made it necessary to have new type cut expressly to print it, and by a singular coincidence (for the first fount of Saxon characters used by Day, the printer, in his shop over St. John's Gate, had been cut in brass, at the expense of his employer, Bishop Parker). The Lord Chief Justice Parker (who probably remembered his broken promises to her brother, or, it may be, to oblige Bowyer, whose benefactor he had proved himself upon the recent occasion of his greatness, as well as for the appearance of patronizing learning; although the only branch of literature which interested him most, was the political pamphlets of the W higs, for which he kept a very keen look-out, ordered a fount of Saxon type to be cut at his expense, the drawing of which, from Saxon manuscripts, Elizabeth herself undertook.
Looking at the beautiful specimens extant of her copying, they were no doubt exactly delineated; but, according to the younger Bowyer's account, the artist (Mr. Robert Andrews), failed in cutting them accurately: "they were not equal to the noble donor's intention," and were only used in printing the grammar. The little history attached to them may as well be told here. They were presented by Bowyer the younger, at the hands of Edward Rowe Mores, Esq.,* to the Univei sity of Oxford where they are preserved under the following title : " Characteres Anglo-SaxoDici per cruditam fceminam Eliz. Elstob, ad fidem codd MSS. delineati, quorum tarn instruments ensorus quam Matricularis Univ. donari curavit E. R. M. e Collegio, Regin 1753.
A letter from William Bishop to Dr. Cbarlett, dated May 11th of this year (1715) fixes the period of the printing of the Grammar as anterior to this date. *' Dr. Hicks," he says. "is much concerned that Dr. Charlett should own he has a copy of the A. S. Grammar before it is presented to the Princess of Wales, as that may prove a great diskindnesB to Mrs. Elstob. He presented one to you, out of regard to you, and so I hope you will not let anyone see it at present."
* Author of a Dissertation on Typographical Founders.
Elizabeth had dedicated the Anglo-Saxon Grammar to the Princess of Wales—a dedication as distasteful to the Oxford Jacobites as the dedication of her Anglo-Saxon Homily to Queen Anne. But Dr. Charlett was too earnest a Saxonist not to have felt immense interest in this attempt to bring the language he loved into popular notice, and evidently had had the indiscreetness to buzz abroad his early possession of a copy. The incident gives us a pleasant glimpse of the keen interest the veteran Dean felt in all that affected the welfare of his friend and alrnost-pupil, and the nice sense he entertained, despite his political prejudices, of what was due to the great lady to whose patronage Elizabeth Elstob had appealed.
Singularly enough, the copy of the Grammar to which we have referred, in the British Museum, is the very copy in question, and has written on the title page, in a clear, neat hand, in red ink, fresh as if traced but a day or two: "To the Rev. Dr. Charlett." The book is printed by W. Bowyer, who at this time had set up his printing-press in Whitefriars, and was sold by J. Bowyer, at the sign of the Rose, in Ludgate-street, 1715. Passing over the dedication, and prefacial letter to Dr. Hicks, we find the portrait of the author gracing the initial letter of the Grammar, a small square portrait, not more than an inch in length, and not so much in breadth; and I learn, through the courtesy of the keeper of the Hope collection of engraved portraits in the Museum at Oxford, that a copy of this portrait, engraved by Reading, is preserved there.
The original print was most likely copied from a miniature. It is precisely similar in details to the small head in the Saxon G in the Homily on the Birthday of St. Gregory.
We have seen that the Grammar was dedicated to the Princess of Wales; but whether the author received the dedication-fee with which it was usual in those days to acknowledge the compliment implied to the learning or love of learning of the personage receiving such dedication, we know not. This fee appears not to have varied so much according to the rank as to the disposition of the patron. An ordinary gentleman occasionally thought twenty guineas a fair equivalent for the honour, and many titled persons did not give more; Thomson received twenty guineas from Sir Spencer Compton for the dedication of " Winter" to him; and there is a story connected with Pope and a similar sum, which suggests that in the early days of his literary life, he was not above accepting the emoluments of his tribe. In Mrs. Elstob's instance we can only hope that the royal lady did not evade the rule on the plea of privilege, but we find no note, or any mention made of any monetary or other compliment being offered to her on the occasion. That she needed the fee is very certain.
For some time after her brother's death, and the breaking-up of her home, it would seem that Elizabeth accepted the sympathetic attentions of her friends, and visited amongst them, a welcome guest while the newness of her distress and the echiit of her attainments interested them. But in the meanwhile, having no home of her own, she had entrusted her books and papers, and several other things (as we learn from a letter to Ballard, written long afterwards in 1739-'40), to a friend with whom she thought they would be safe, but who, without giving her any notice, presently trailed off to the West Indies, where she had a daughter married, and Mrs. Elstob never received tidings of her books or manuscripts. In all probability the missing manuscripts of her brother were with her own, and shared their fate. The gregarious character of trouble appears to have been fully borne out in her experience of this sad year. The loss of books and papers is, to a literary person, under any circumstances, a severe one, but doubly so when straitened means forbid the hope of replacing the first, and the unusual character of the others rendered their loss irreparable.
But in this case, as in others, the hardy little northern woman, knowing the uselessness of regret, submits, as she seems to have done in all the trying circumstances of her life, patiently and without complaint—that necessary safety-valve to weaker natures.
In the autumn of this year another heavy grief assailed her in the death of her revered patron and oldest friend, Dr. Hicks, who died as he had lived, unwavering in the strength of his religious and political opinions, Oct. 15th, 1715.
Macaulay has drawn his character. His faith in the divine right of kings had been put to a severe test by the execution of his brother, John Hicks, who had been " out," as the phrase went, with the Duke of Monmouth, and had sought shelter at the house of Alice, or Lady Lisle—as she was commonly called. She was the widow of one of the regicides, one of Cromwell's lords (a fact that sealed her fate at the merciless hands of James II.). In the London Gazette of September, 1685, "published by authority," the foling paragraph appears :—" Winchester, September 3rd: Alicia Lisle, being convicted of high treason at the Sessions of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery held here, for harbouring of John Hicks, a rebel (he had been found hidden in a malthouse on her premises), received sentence of death accordingly, and yesterday she was executed." Burnet tells us that great efforts were made to save her life, but the King was inexorable, and the only grace allowed her was the commutation of her sentence from burning to beheading. She was so old (nearly 70), that, during her trial she had fallen asleep. She suffered her sentence with great firmness, thanking God that she died for an act of pious charity. John Hicks was hanged.
Although Dr. Hicks, for the sake of his principles from which he never swerved, may have borne his brother's fate uucomplainingly, he may not have felt it the less severely, and such a domestic catastrophe, silently endured, would
account in the degree for the severe countenance, and the ill-temper of which Burnet accuses him; but there were times when his countenance brightened, and then, as Broome wrote of him, it had great sweetness. Even Swift, his mortal enemy, politically speaking, allows that he was a pious and learned man. But Burnet, who could see no good in any of the high-church party, avers that he had popish proclivities, had argued that there was a proper sacrifice in the Eucharist, and openly condemned the way in which the Reformation had been brought about —an opinion concurred in by many others who have no sympathy with the Church of Rome.
It will scarcely be possible to assoil him of the charge of servility to great men and persons in power, a prevailing meanness of the day. His "Ravaillac Redivivus," written on the attempted murder of Bishop Sharpe, is said to be a partial and even false account of the affair, in order to screen Lord Lauderdale, in whose house he was tutor at the time, from deserved infamy for his share in the execution of Mitchell, who, being promised his life on condition of confessing that he had fired at the bishop, was subsequently left, in the profanelyribald language of Lord Rothes, to "glorify God in the grass-market of Edinburgh, where he was hanged."# In receiving Burnet's testimony we must remember that the Dean of Worcester was the author of "Discourses on Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tillotson," and that the former, according to his contemporaries, was not free from the complacency to those in power, of which he accuses Hicks. But, whatever his faults, he retained to the last the confidence and respect of his own party. He had been deprived of all his benefices for refusing to take the oaths to the "hook-nosed fellow," as the Oxford men irreverently called King William; but he undertook the risk of a journey to St. Germains to present a list of the non-juring clergy to the exiled King, and was in the next year consecrated at the hands of a prelate of his own party, Suffragan-Bishop of Thetford.f Protected by the head of the Whig party—the learned and accomplished Somers—he was permitted to study Teutonic antiquities in peace and freedom. From her girlhood upwards this the most learned of the septentrionalists had, as we have seen, taken the most lively interest in Elizabeth Elstob. He had been her greatest encourager to the then unique study of the northern languages (in one of her sex).J He had watched her progress, and had suggested and overlooked her literary undertakings, and
* Bishop Burnet's "History of his own Times." + The non-juring clergy (says Dyche, under the head of Thetford) have gone so far as to have some of their members confirmed Bishops of Thetford, by the late King James the Second and the Pretender,
t Her successor in this generation, I am reminded by a literary friend, was Miss Gurney, a very accomplished Northern scholar, now dead.