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How much valuable literature has been lost to the world by war, by vandalism, by accident, and by ignorance, will, of course, never be known ; but we have historical data sufficient to show that treasures almost innumerable have disappeared from the face of the earth beyond reasonable hope of recovery.
It is well known, as shown by Mr. William Shepard in a recent article, that “the dramatic literature of Greece was one of its greatest glories. At the time of Aristophanes it is estimated that fully two thousand dramas had been produced : only forty-two have come down to us. From Æschylus we have only seven, out of a total of seventy ; seven also of Sophocles, out of a hundred or more ; and nineteen of Euripides, out of a possible ninety-two. The comic writers have suffered the most, and of the greatest of them, Menander, hardly a vestige remains. Goethe said that he would gladly have given onehalf of Roman poetry for a single play of that master. In the few lines that have come down to us he recognized the touch of a supreme genius.
“But this is not the worst. The greatest lyric poetess of all times was Sappho. Only two odes and a few fragmentary lines are left to tantalize us with a sense of our loss. From Pindar we have some odes, indeed, but not the hymns and dirges and dithyrambs which the ancient critics considered his real masterpieces.
“ Many of these treasures perished in the invasions of the Goths and Vandals, many were destroyed by the ignorant or the superstitious in the Dark Ages.
“The library of four hundred thousand manuscripts collected by the Ptolemys was burned during the siege of Alexandria by Julius Cæsar. The famous library in the same city known as the Serapeum which had been enriched by Pergamon and given to Cleopatra by Mark Antony, was partly burned, partly dispersed, at the storming of the temple of Jupiter by the Christians during the reign of Theodosius the Great.
“ The shells of the German army in 1870 fired the great Strasburg library, when many manuscripts and printed books of great value were destroyed, among others the earliest-printed Bible and the records of the famous law-suits between Gutenberg, the first printer, and his partners, upon which depended the claim of Gutenberg, to the invention of the art of printing.
“Frightful losses were also sustained when the great monastic libraries were plundered in the time of the Reformation. The books and manuscripts were scattered to stuff broken windows, clean boots, and light fires, or were sold to grocers and soap-sellers as wrapping paper. One merchant for forty shillings bought two noble libraries which supplied him with paper stock enough to last for ten years. No doubt many of the most precious ancient manuscripts perished in this way as well as works more or less valuable of mediæval writers.
"A curious heap of scorched leaves, looking like a monster wasps'. nest may be seen in a glass case in the British Museum. It is a relic of a fire that occurred in 1731 at Ashburnam House, Westminster, and partly destroyed the Cotton manuscripts. By the exercise of much skill a portion was restored, though apparently charred past recognition. The remnants were carefully separated, leaf by leaf, soaked in a chemical solution, and then pressed between leaves of transparent paper.
“ Ignorance has cost the world priceless treasures in books and manuscripts. Just before the French Revolution a fine copy of the first edition of the Golden Legend was used leaf by leaf to light the librarian's fires. A copy of Caxton's Canterbury Tales, with woodcuts, worth at least two thousand dollars, was used to light the vestry fire of the French Protestant Church in St. Martin's le Grand in London some thirty years ago."
FRANCISCUS JUNIUS AD LECTOREM.
Supervacuum esset, Lector benevole, pluribus verbis hoc in loco repetere, quæ non ita pridem de Paraphrasios hujus Authore attigi p. 248 Observationum nostrarum in Willeramum ; ubi quoque præclarum hunc reconditæ antiquitatis thesaurum acceptum fero summo Præsuli et nunquam non infra merita sua laudato, Jacobo Usserio, Archiepiscopo Armachano et totius Hiberniæ Primati. Per velim interim, mi Lector, abs te mihi ignosci quod editio hæc, ex uno tantum exemplari concinnata, prodit inemendatior ; futura forte correctior, si plures antiqua manu exaratos codices videre contigisset. Ne quis tamen ulla in re operam nostram desideraret, paginas ipsius Manuscripti adversis ubique virgulis inclusi, quo facilius hanc nostram editionem cum ipsis reverendi Antistitis vett, membranis conferant, quibus pretium operæ videbitur. Singulas quoque editionis hujus paginas in lineas distinxi, quo expeditius inveniri possint loca quæ posthac a nobis ex hoc Authore citabuntur, et nostras quoque in eum observationes, Deo Opt. Max. vitam viresque largiente, suis ubique paginis lineisque commodius adaptem. Vale, mi Lector, atque hac interim qualicunque opera nostra propitius fruere.
Elizabeth Elstob, the author of this work, and one of the most remarkable of the literary characters of the first half of the eighteenth century, was the daughter of Ralph Elstob, a merchant living at Newcastle. Her mother, to whom she owed the first steps in her strange and extraordinary education, died when her child was scarcely nine years of age, and her guardians, on the death of the mother, strongly discouraged the young girl in her passion for literary studies, insisting that literature was not a proper vocation for one of her sex! In spite of all opposition, however, she persistently held to her self-chosen course in life, and attained eminence as linguist, Saxonist, and littéra. teur. But after the death of her brother, she met with so little patronage and so many disappointments that she migrated to Worces. tershire, where for some time she supported herself by teaching. Subsequently, she became acquainted with Mr. George Ballard and the Rev. Mr. Capon, the latter of whom kept a boarding-school in Gloucestershire, and through the kind offices of these two gentlemen, an annuity of £21.0.0 was raised among Miss Elstob's friends, in order to enable her to pursue her literary work. This annuity was assumed by Queen Caroline, who was pleased to continue it until her own death. After this, Elizabeth Elstob, mistress of eight languages besides her own, was received into the family of the Dowager Duchess of Portland (1739) as governess to her children, and remained in this position till her death, May 30, 1756.
There is a quaint note on the title-page of the Rudiments of Gram. mar for the English-Saxon Tongue that will well bear to be reproduced in this connection :
“Our earthly possessions are truly enough called a Patrimony, as derived to us by the industry of our Fathers; but the language that we speak is our Mother-tongue, and who so proper to play the critics in this as the Females.
'In a letter from a Right Reverend Prelate to the author." The full title of Elizabeth Elstob's translation of the Homily on the birthday of St. Gregory is as follows : An English-Saxon Homily on the Birthday of St. Gregory, anciently used in the English-Saxon Church, giving an account of the conversion of the English from paganism to Christianity. Translated into modern English with notes, etc. By Eliz. Elstob, London, Printed by W. Bowyer, MDCCIX.
We have given this title in full because it is chiefly from Nichol's Life of Bowyer, Elizabeth Elstob's publisher, that we have taken the brief story of her life as given above.
There is no full description in Anglo-Saxon literature of the Meadhall, -the building rendered famous by the death-struggle between the Grendel and Beowulf; but from the many allusions to such a kingly and warrior resort, which occur in the poem of the Beowulf itself, no less than from the many hints and suggestions that we find scattered throughout Scandinavian and Teutonic literature, we can form a