vi PREFACE.

autumn of the same year he was taken ill, but was in a fair way to recovery, when,
by resuming work too soon, he suffered a relapse. His illness took the form of typhus
fever, and he died insensible, without being able to make arrangements respecting his
papers and collections.

Desirous to continue the work which he had begun, and in which he was so deeply
interested, Cleasby's heirs decided to bear the expense of continuing it. The task of
doing this was entrusted to Konrad Gislason, a son of Gisli Konradsson who for half a
century was a prolific and popular Icelandic author. Konrad had assisted Cleasby in
his study of Icelandic from November 1839, and had, along with other Icelanders, been
employed on the dictionary from April 1840. From 1846 onwards he made many
important contributions to Icelandic studies, and was professor of Icelandic in the Uni-
versity of Copenhagen from 1853 to 1886. With so eminent a scholar, whose special
studies were in the early Icelandic language and literature, the dictionary was in good
hands, all the more as he also had capable assistants, among whom were Gisli Magnusson,
Benedikt Gröndal, Eirikur Jonsson, and Gunnlaugur Ţordarson. By their combined
work the material collected for the dictionary had been so far dealt writh that by 1854 it
had been put into dictionary form for the whole alphabet and made available for general
use by the meaning of the words being correctly rendered in English, although for the
editor and his colleagues this was an acquired language. At this stage, however,
Cleasby's heirs had misgivings as to the time that might still be required to complete
the work, and decided to have the manuscript immediately sent to England, where it
was placed at the disposal of Mr. (afterwards Sir) G. Webbe Dasent, who had shown his
interest in, and knowledge of, Icelandic by his translations of the Prose Edda (1842) and
Rask's grammar (1843).

In the year 1855 Dasent proposed to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press to under-
take the publication of the dictionary. The matter, however, remained in abeyance till
1864, when Dasent again brought it before the Delegates. They were persuaded to
renew their engagement with him to undertake the publication of the work. He stated,
however, to the Delegates that the papers were left in an imperfect state, and asked them
to grant a sum of money for the purpose of securing the services of an Icelandic scholar
in completing the work. This was also agreed to; and Dasent, in the course of the same
year, secured the services of Gudbrand Vigfusson, an Icelander born, already well known
for his learning, and for his labours in the field of his native literature.

Vigfusson, like Gislason, had been a student in Copenhagen, and from 1860 on-
wards had established his reputation as an Icelandic scholar by editing some important
sagas and other works as well as by his articles on various subjects. In entering the
field of lexicography he was undertaking something new, for which, however, the way
had already been prepared for him. The manuscript dictionary compiled in Copen-
hagen has fortunately been preserved, so that Vigfusson's share in producing the
printed work can readily be made out. For many of the words it was only necessary