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VII. ON THE TRINITY, CREATION, THE EXISTENCE OF Evil,
DEVILS, ADAM AND Eve, ETC. ... ... ...
The work which I now bring before the public has been long in preparation. Several circumstances, which it is no use specifying here, have combined to delay its appearance. I am not quite certain whether it has got any better for having been “pressed” ever so much longer than old Horace recommended; but I do believe that nobody has been the worse for the delay, except, perhaps, myself.
In editing the text I have adhered as closely as possible to the MS. The punctuation is mine, and so is the expansion of the usual contractions. The MS. has no punctuation ; only a dot is sometimes put after a word, which generally serves as a mark of separation. Several letters, especially g, h, d, t, h, often have a flourish attached to them, which Thomas Wright in his edition has either disregarded or replaced by an e. I have thought it best simply to retain the flourish, though in some cases metre and ryme seem indeed to require the expansion of it into a sounded vowel, generally weak e. Missing letters, or words to be supplied, I have put within square brackets ; such as are to be omitted, within parentheses. The bracketed numbers in the right margin refer to the pages of Mr. Wright's edition
It has not been my aim to give what they call a critical text. The dialect of the scribe of the MS., it is true, is different from that of the author. But then, what is the dialect of the author ? How shall we know exactly, when he rymes, for instance, le : charite : tre: Noe ; me : he : þe; and, on the other hand, by: leuedy : why : hy, etc. ? was ? glas : pas : solas : Sathanas ; and wes : sugges? when 0.E. āw is represented by aw as well as ou, even in ryme ?—The standard M.Kt. document, the · Ayenbite,' representing as it does the language ✓ of an East-Kentish author, cannot teach us any particulars about the West-Kentish dialect of Shorehanı, which, although preserving some common Kentish peculiarities, may, moreover, have been to some extent influenced by the speech of the neighbouring capital. Considering this, I have been careful not to normalize the language of the MS. on the basis of that of the 'Ayen bite. I have substituted
Kentish forms for non-Kentish ones when the former were demanded by the ryme; but in the interior of verses I have left the nonKentish forms untouched. There is, of course, no consistency in the spelling of the MS.; but I have not thought myself entitled to make it uniform. Accordingly, I have not altered the spelling, for instance, in such cases as eyen : drezen, the sign 3 being also used by the scribe for consonantal y; or-draweb : gnazeb; sorze : morwe (lawe, owe, sorwe, folwen, etc., by the side of laze, oze, sorze, fotzen, etc.); dryt(t)e, ryt(t)e, myt(t)e, by the side of dryzte, ryzte, myzte, etc.; caut : nauzt ; ouzte : broute ; wroute, etc.
In all these cases the · Ayenbite' has preserved the old spirantic (front or back) 3 (h), as in laze, oze, 8orze, -izt, -azt, -ozt; and it is even probable that Shoreham, too, may, as a rule, have used the same spellings. But I am not sure that he did so consistently; for I do not know to what extent the labialisation or fronting of 3, or the reduction of h to a mere breath-glide may have been carried out in his pronunciation; though it should be mentioned that there are no ! unquestionable rymes suggestive of such changes to be met with in these poems. In the pronunciation of the scribe, the spirantic 3 before t was certainly silent; for he is particularly fond of writing 3t for simple t.
When a spelling is merely graphic, as when ou is written for o, I have left it unaltered. There is still another case in which I have not thought it safe enough to interfere with the spelling of the MS. It concerns the M.Kt. representatives of the O.E. diphthongs, especially ēd and group-lengthened êa, which are represented in M.Kt. by ea, yea, ya, ia, ye, e. The usual spellings in the Shoreham MS. are eu, e, ee, rarely eza, ya, ye. Now, for my part, I am almost convinced that those digraphs, at least in Shoreham's pronunciation, simply meant an e-sound, except, perhaps, initially. This is proved by rymes. In order, however, not to seem to prejudge a matter still in controversy, I have thought it best to let alone such rymes as dead : queed ; deaue : by . . leue ; ezaße : debe; -leas, -lyas : was ; quead : glad; yhalde : tealde : felde : ealde; spak : on-leak, etc.
All such particulars I meant to have dealt with in the Introduction, where I intended to give a synopsis of Shoreham's language. Seeing, however, that for an adequate treatment of Shoreham's language it was absolutely necessary to study it in connexion with the other M.Kt. texts; and that a full analysis of their phonetic and inflexional systems, for which I have already collected the materials,