Page images

Anglo-Saxon a brief account of the books of the Old and New Testament'; and lastly, by the texts and quotations used in his numerous homilies, he added greatly to the knowledge of the sacred volume".

"The writings which are still exstant shew that the Anglo-Saxon church must have had in her own tongue a considerable amount of scriptural instruction. But these cannot be the full measure of what our forefathers possessed. Much, it cannot be doubted, perished in the troubles and confusion attending the incursions and pillages of the Danes; and much, subsequently, through the disfavour shewn by the Normans to the Anglo-Saxon language and literature3."

The arrangement of matter in the present edition is exactly the same as in Mr Kemble's, from which I see no cause to deviate. The plan of it is best understood from the following scheme of the contents of any two opposite pages.

[blocks in formation]

The rubrics in the left margin of the left-hand pages are entirely from MS. A. Some of them occur in B., but these are merely copied from A. in a late hand, and are of no authority.

The rubrics in the right margin of the same pages are from the Hatton MS.. but they occur also in the Royal MS. with scarcely a single variation.

The numbers in the right margin of the right-hand pages are from the Lindisfarne MS., and will presently be explained in full.

The Latin text of the Rushworth MS., which differs but very slightly from that of the Lindisfarne MS., is omitted to save space. But the results of a collation of these texts will be found in an Appendix at the end of the volume.

The object of this arrangement is easily perceived. The Corpus MS. represents the text nearly in its earliest, the Hatton MS. in its latest form. These are put side by side. The Lindisfarne and Rushworth glosses are in the Northumbrian dialect; and therefore occupy the opposite pages, apart from the rest. Wherever the book is opened, all the readings of all the MSS. are exhibited at once.

Nicodemi, Anglo-Saxonice. Historia Judith fragmentum, Dano-Saxonice. 4to. Oxon. 1698. Another MS. occurs in the Cotton collection, Nero B. 4."

1 "Edited by Will. L'Isle, with the Title, A Saxon Treatise concerning the Old and New Testament. 4to, Lond. 1623."

2 "His homilies, eighty in number, have been edited for the Elfric Society, by Mr Benj. Thorpe, 2 vols. 8vo. 1843-1846."

"See the remarkable verses of a writer of the 12th century, quoted in Wright's Biogr. Brit. Lit. (Anglo-Saxon Period), p. 60."


The following description of the MSS. is partly compiled from the accounts by
Wanley' and by Dr Bosworth', and partly from the results of my own observation.
I. THE CORPUS MS.-MS. No. CXL. (formerly S. 4) in the library of Corpus
Christi College, Cambridge; described by Wanley, p. 116. Its contents are—
(a) The four Gospels in Anglo-Saxon.

(b) At the beginning of the MS. (but added afterwards) are certain forms of manumissions, several of which make mention of Elfsige, abbot of Bathʻ. These are enumerated by Wanley, who in another place (p. 149) calls attention to the fact that a leaf has been here extracted from the MS., but is still preserved by being placed in another MS., so as now to be found at p. 7 of MS., Miscell. G. (now No. 111) in the same library. The forms are printed in Madox, Formul. Angl. p. 416; Dugdale's Monasticon, ii. 265; and Thorpe, Dipl. Angl. Evi Saxon. pp. 640-642; cf. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. Ævi Sax. iv. 270, and vi. 209. All of them are connected with St Peter's Abbey-church at Bath. Amongst them is a document which is printed separately (from the MS. now being described) in Thorpe's Dipl. Angl. Evi Sax. p. 436, with the title-"The Prior and Brotherhood of Bath. Agreement with Sawi and Theodgyfu."

(c) At the end of the Gospel of St Mark is a piece entitled "Scriptum de Cœlo Delapsum,” which is really a homily concerning the observation of the Lord's day. Begins-Men pa leofestan. Her onginð þæt halie gewrit pe com fram heofenan into hierusalem. Ends-and se pe underfeh witigan on pas witigan naman he underfehð þæs witigan mede.

(d) At the end of the Gospel of St Luke are lists of popes and of English archbishops and bishops. The last pope mentioned is Alexander II., elected A.D. 1061; many of the lists end long before that date. At the end of the Gospel of St John are two Latin documents of later date, both referring to Bath; see Nasmith's catalogue of the Corpus MSS. It deserves to be mentioned that the scribe Elfric did not write the whole of the Gospels himself; for in the Gospel of St Mark, from the word gorst-beam (xii. 26) to he (xii. 38), there is a single page written in a different and inferior hand.

At the end of the Gospel of St Matthew is this note-Ego Elfricus scripsi hunc librum in Monasterio Baponio et dedi Brihtwoldo preposito—I, Ælfric, wrote this book in the monastery at Bath, and gave it to Brihtwold the prior. It is

1 Antiquæ Literaturæ Septentrionalis liber alter, seu Humphredi Wanleii Librorum Vett. Septentrionalium Catalogus; Oxoniæ, 1705. It forms the second volume of Hickes's Thesaurus Antiq. Lit. Septentrionalis.

The Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels, pref. p. xiii.
and p. 574.

3 This MS. forms the basis of Dr Bosworth's text.
Died A.D. 1087; Dugdale's Monast. ii. 257.

[ocr errors]

some satisfaction to know the original locality of this MS.: it would be a still greater satisfaction if more could be ascertained about Brithwold. If we suppose him to be the same Brithwold who was bishop of Sherborne from A.D. 1006 to 10461, we might conclude that the MS. was written before A. D. 1006. Wanley dates it a little before the conquest; Dr Bosworth puts it about A.D. 995, or between A. D. 990 and 1030. We may very safely date it, in round numbers, about A.D. 1000. Wanley suggests that it was copied from one a little older. Whence he derived the notion is not apparent, yet it is almost certain that the Corpus, Bodley, and Cotton MSS. had all a common origin.

II. THE CAMBRIDGE MS.-MS. Ii. 2. 11 in the Cambridge University Library, described by Wanley, p. 152, and in the Catalogue of Cambridge University Library MSS. Vol. I. p. 384. It is a folio volume, on vellum, containing 402 pages of about 23 lines each. Its contents are:

(a) The four Gospels in Anglo-Saxon, with numerous rubrics, directing when certain portions are to be read.

(b) An Anglo-Saxon translation of the Pseudo-Gospel of Nicodemus. Printed by Thwaites, at the end of his Heptateuchus, published in 1698'. There is another copy of this in MS. Cotton Vitellius A. XV. hom. III. (Wanley, p. 218) which is imperfect at the beginning. Junius made a transcript of the Cambridge copy, and collated it with the Cotton MS. The results of the collation are printed by Thwaites, on the last page of his volume. Junius's transcript is now in the Bodleian Library, marked Jun. 74, and is described by Wanley, p. 96. There is also an abbreviated copy of the same story in MS. Cott. Vespasian D. XIV. hom. XXXIII. (Wanley, p. 204). It may perhaps here be worth while to remark a circumstance which seems to have escaped the observation of the editor, viz. that there is a considerable hiatus in the story in the MSS. between the words "nan oder ne dorste" and "Da wæs hym Cær neh sum wer standende," 1. 5, p. 6, in Thwaites. The whole account of Christ's crucifixion is omitted. A note to this effect has, at my suggestion, been made in the Cambridge MS. As the omission there occurs in the middle of a page, it is very probable that the narrative was copied from an older MS. which had lost a few leaves.

(c) The embassy of Nathan the Jew to Tiberius Cæsar, together with the legend of St Veronica; also in Anglo-Saxon. Printed among the Publications of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society; edited by C. W. Goodwin, M.A. Cambridge, 1851; entitled " Anglo-Saxon legends of St Andrew and St Veronica." A fragment of the same story is contained in six leaves at the end of MS. C. C. C.

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. Thorpe, ii. 253. But this Brihtwold is said to have been a monk of Glastonbury; Godwin, de Præsul. Ang. Comment. p. 335.

This MS. forms the basis of the text edited by Thorpe, whose account of the MSS. is inaccurate.

Or early in 1699. The date is printed An. Dom. MDCXCVIII.' I have a copy in which the owner's name and the date 1698 are written on the fly-leaf. Dr. Bosworth's copy has-'Imprimatur, Joh. Meare, Vice-Can. Oxon. Dec. 27, 1697.'

D. 5 (now No. 196) described in Wanley, p. 109; and the former part of it, concerning Nathan's embassy, is also found in MS. Cott. Vesp. D. 14. hom. XXXV. ; Wanley, p. 204.

At the back of the leaf containing the last few words of this text is the manumission of a certain Reinold, consisting of only a few lines. Wanley prints the whole of it. See also Thorpe's Diplom. Angl. Ævi Sax. p. 622.

[ocr errors]

It once

Various notes in the MS.-printed by Wanley-tell us its history. belonged to Bishop Leofric, and was given by him to the Church of St Peter the Apostle in Exeter. In 1566, it was given by Gregory Dodde, dean of Exeter, with the consent of his brethren, to Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, who afterwards gave it to the University of Cambridge in 1574. There can hardly be a doubt that this is the identical volume which is mentioned in the catalogue of Leofric's gifts to St Peter's church in the terms: "I. Englisc Cristes boc;" i. e. one copy of the Gospels in English'. Leofric was bishop of Devonshire and Cornwall from about 1046 to 1073'. Wanley puts the date of the MS. at about the time of the Norman conquest, but it is probably a little earlier; and we safely assign to it the locality Exeter, and the date about A.D. 1050. It appears to be very accurately written throughout. In the footnotes to the first column it is denoted by the letter A.

[ocr errors]

III. THE BODLEY MS.-MS. Bodley NE. F. 3. 15, now Bodley 441; described by Wanley, p. 643. It is a folio volume, on vellum, containing 194 leaves. But it must be particularly noted that some of these must have been supplied from the Corpus MS. by Parker's direction in imitation of the old writing, and are valueless. I may mention in particular leaves 57-62, containing Mark i. 1 to iv. 37; leaf 90, containing the last three verses of St Luke; and leaves 192-194, John xx. 9 to the end. Accordingly it will be found that the various readings marked B. in the footnotes to the first 32 pages of this volume are mostly records of blunders. Nothing seems to be known of its history except that it was once in all probability in the possession of Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury. This is rendered probable by the way in which several rubrics have been copied into it from the Cambridge MS. But internal evidence proves its extremely close connection with the Corpus and Cotton MSS., and renders it absolutely certain that these three MSS. are copies from a common original. The Bodley MS. e. g. frequently uses the same contractions as the Corpus MS. in the same places. Throughout page 112 (ch. xiv. 13-22) it only has one different reading, viz. pas for pa in v. 13. The only other variations of any kind on this page are, that it has "him" for the contracted form "hi" four times; also "sittendum" and "twelfum" for "sittendū❞

1 Wanley, p. 80; Thorpe, Dipl. Angl. Ævi Saxon, p. 430. 2 Anglo-Saxon Chron. ed. Thorpe, ii. 287; Conybeare's Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry, p. 198.

3 This MS. forms the basis of the text edited by Junius and Marshall. Parker's edition follows it closely throughout.

and "twelfũ”, and, conversely, "su" for "sum"; also "Soplice", "ge-sylp", "cwedan”, "Da", for "Soðlice", "gesyld", "cwepan", and "pa"; it accents "án” in v. 18, and puts a stop after "bræc" in v. 22.

The connection between the Bodley and Cotton MSS. is closer still, the former being a mere duplicate of the latter; and hence, in the various readings towards the end of the volume, the letters B. and C. are almost always found together. It follows that the text of the Bodley MS. is as good as that of the Cotton MS., and the remarks of Mr Thorpe in his short preface to his "Anglo-Saxon version of the Holy Gospels" are made at random. He was probably misled by observing some of the mistakes which are to be found in those pages of the Bodley MS. which are written in a modern hand. For example, in i. 43, the word bead (bade) is written bend in the spurious page of the Bodley MS., and is so printed in Parker's edition. Another error, mine modor for min modor, occurs in iii. 34, both in the spurious page of the MS. and in Parker's edition. But such errors must not be allowed to depreciate overmuch the value of such pages of the MS. as are genuine.

In the Bodley MS. the words are commonly written very closely together, and some few words are retained which the Corpus MS. omits. Yet it does not appear that this MS. is really older than the Corpus; on the contrary, it is generally regarded as of later date. The handwriting is certainly not that of Ælfric, the scribe of the Corpus MS. In the footnotes to the first column it is denoted by the letter B.

IV. THE COTTON MS.-MS. Cotton Otho C. 1, in the British Museum; described by Wanley, pp. 211, 212. Very little use seems to have been made of this MS.: it was not consulted by Marshall, and Dr Bosworth gives only one or two readings from it, yet it might be of service for the correction of the texts of St Luke and St John. I quote at length Dr Bosworth's excellent description'.

"A minute description is given of it by Wanley in 1704 [1705], when it was in a perfect state from Mat. xxvii. 6. It was so much injured by the fire, which destroyed many of Sir Robert Cotton's MSS. on the 23rd of Oct. 1731, that what was defective only as far as Matt. xxvii. 6 before that calamity, afterwards looked like a charred mass. Planta, in his Catalogue of the Cotton MSS., describes it as 'once consisting of 290 leaves, but now (1802) so much burnt and contracted as to render the binding of it impracticable.' It was fortunately kept in a case; and what was found impracticable by Mr Planta, has been effected under the careful superintendence of Sir Frederic Madden, by whose judicious arrangements many MSS. have been restored, and made accessible to the public. The smallest part of this burnt mass has been carefully mounted on thick folio paper, which is cut away in

1 The Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels; pref. p. xiv.

« PreviousContinue »