deny for an instant the importance of the labours of scholars in both the modern
Danish and Norwegian; but those languages as vehicles of expression have suffered
so much from the infusion of German words and from the adoption and assimilation
of German forms and phrases, that it is often far more difficult to give the meaning
of an Icelandic word or phrase in them than in English. The Swedish has remained
more faithful to her old form of speech so far as the vocabulary is concerned, and her
literature is the noblest of all the sister languages. Tegner and Geijer are names in
poetry and history of European importance; but with all the richness of her store of
words, from immemorial time Sweden has held herself aloof from the rest of the Scan-
dinavian tongues and has remained distant, though closely cognate. Of all the kindred
tongues, English, and that form of English which is called Lowland Scotch, has remained
nearest in form, feeling, and often in vocabulary to the Icelandic. As for German and
French, with all their richness and facility, they cannot dispute the claims of English in
this particular respect; and this no doubt is owing, besides the natural and spiritual
affinity existing between English and Icelandic, to the flexibility of the former tongue,
which enables her to make foreign words more thoroughly her own than any other
language. The Danish, the Swedish, and the German, if we may be allowed the expres-
sion, swallow many foreign words, but they seem to want the power to digest and
assimilate them. They remain, so to speak, sticking in their throats for ages, while the
English has long since made them part and parcel of her own flesh and blood. The
courage of the Delegates of the Oxford Press in undertaking this work, and the care
and time bestowed on printing it, will meet with their reward in the undoubted fact that
they have not only given to the world one of the greatest helps to comparative philology
that has ever appeared, but that this Dictionary is peculiarly a work to be published
in England and by a great English University. Oxford now possesses a work on
Northern philology which may be matched with the labours of Rask and Petersen in
Denmark, with those of Munch and Keyser and Unger and Aasen in Norway, with
those of Schlyter, the Nestor of Early Northern Jurisprudence, and Klemming in
Sweden, and with those of Maurer, Juris Islandici peritissinms, in Germany; and in
this Dictionary she holds out a sure light to every student of Northern literature.

After these general remarks we proceed to consider this particular Dictionary, and
to shew that it is worthy of being the interpreter of a language so rich, and of a literature
so noble. It is no less strange than true that, till very recent times, never was language
worse off for helps and appliances by which it might be learnt than this very Icelandic.
The works of earlier scholars, among the chief of which are the Glossary of Junius, the
Thesaurus of Hickes, and Hire's Lexicon Suio-Gothicum, were so antiquated and imperfect
as rather to mislead than assist the student. As to more modern works, any one who
has had to learn Icelandic by the feeble light afforded by Björn Halldorsson's Lexicon,
published in two volumes at Copenhagen in 1814, or aided by the various Glossaries
annexed to Editions of the Sagas, will feel, when he consults this Oxford Dictionary,
that the days before its appearance were indeed the dark ages of Icelandic philology,
and be ever grateful to the Delegates of the University Press for undertaking and