1 INTRODUCTION.

at an inn at one of the Forelands, probably the South, in Kent, and asked for eggs,
but was answered by the landlady that she knew no French ; and it then came out
that what he in London called eggs, she in Kent called 'eyreti,' for in that part of
England the old Anglo-Saxon word still lingered. Like traces of Scandinavian influ-

o o o

ence may be found in the form are of the verb substantive, which, in the three persons
of the present plural, has expelled the old Anglo-Saxon ' syndon' a form akin to the
German 'seyn' But perhaps the most remarkable instances of the displacement of old
Anglo-Saxon words by their Scandinavian equivalents are l laivl which, even in the time of
Edgar, had begun to throw out the old Anglo-Saxon 'œw' and 'ctům,' and the two verbs to
''take' and to lcalll which are now in every man's mouth, but which long sounded strange
to English ears. For ages the Anglo-Saxon forms 'clepe' and ' nim held their own, but
now the first is only just understood in archaic poetry, while the last is utterly obsolete.
The same maybe asserted of 'cast,' 'same,' l skill.' 'skin' 'score', and numberless others.

Enough has now been said to shew both the general and particular importance
of the study of Icelandic for English philologists. Mythology, laws, customs, litera-
ture, the names of places, and even the every-clay vocabulary of life cannot be
thoroughly understood except by comparison with those of the North as preserved
in the language and literature of Iceland. For the interest of English therefore the
projection and publication of an Icelandic-English Dictionary on a large scale needs
no justification, for it is simply the greatest help to English philology that has ever
been undertaken and completed. When we possess an Anglo-Saxon Dictionary of
the same proportions and authority we shall be better able to say what the Anglo-
Saxon language really was in its earliest stage, what it afterwards became when
a great infusion of Scandinavian words was thrown into it, and what it was as it
degenerated into semi-Saxon after the Conquest. But while it is so important for
England that she should possess this Icelandic-English Dictionary, it may easily be
shewn that it is no less advantageous for the world at large that English should be
the language into which the Icelandic is rendered and explained. It would, for
instance, be little gain to the literary world if there had been an Icelandic-Danish
or Icelandic-Norse or Icelandic-Swedish Dictionary. In any of those cases the lan-
guage of a small people would have been the exponent of a language and literature
which for its beauty and richness is worthy of being known to the greatest possible
number of readers. From this point of view no language, not even German itself,
could supply the place of English, which is already the mother-tongue of half the
civilised earth, and in days to come will fill a still ampler space on the surface of the
globe. In India, Australia, and, though last not least, America; wherever the English
tongue is spoken and the Anglo-Saxon race has taken its stubborn root, it will be
possible for scholars to avail themselves of this great treasure—a T/icsaurus in every
sense of the word, which, had it been explained and rendered in a Scandinavian
tongue, would have remained to all but a few a sealed book.

Nor let it be for a moment supposed that any of the dialects we have named
lie in reality any closer to the Icelandic than the English itself. No philologer would