lii - INTRODUCTION.

publishing this sure guide. The history of the book, for books have histories just as
much as men, has already been partly told in the Preface. Projected by Richard Cleasby,
whose name should never be mentioned by Icelandic scholars without pious respect,
it was supposed to be about to be published, when death cut short his days and arrested
the progress of the work, which scholars like Grimm and Schmeller anxiously expected.
No one perhaps, both by his knowledge of the Teutonic dialects and by his inde-
fatigable love of his subject, was better fitted than Richard Cleasby to carry out his
great plan of printing a Dictionary of the Icelandic language, as exhibited by quota-
tions drawn from the prose literature of Iceland in that golden age which ended with
the 14th century. At the same time Dr. Egilsson was busy with his Dictionary of the
Poetic Diction of Iceland, so that between these two works no want or desire of the
philologist would have been left unsuppliecl. Dr. Egilsson's work has been published
for many years, but the Dictionary which Cleasby projected has only just seen the light.
It is due in this place to declare that the heirs of the deceased, when the hand and head
which should have superintended the completion of his work were cold in death, were
equal to the emergency. They determined that the work should not be abandoned, and
advanced a large sum of money for its completion. It has already been mentioned
in the Preface that when the MS. was transmitted to England it was found to be in
such an unsatisfactory condition that in the end it had to be entirely rewritten and
remodelled. This most responsible duty was ultimately undertaken in the year 1866
by Mr. Gudbrancl Vigfusson, then one of the first, as he is now undoubtedly the first,
of Icelandic philologers.

Man)' years after the transmission of the MS., and when the first part of the
Dictionary had been published and the second and third were far advanced towards
completion, Mr. Cleasby's own materials were returned from Copenhagen and handed
over to the writer. Acting on his own discretion, he determined that it would be
most unfair to Mr. Vigfusson to interrupt him by new matter, which might have
been of great assistance at an earlier period, but which could only have been an
encumbrance to him when his labours were drawing to an end. Two boxes, which
contained what may be called Mr. Cleasby's literary remains, were left unopened till the
Dictionary was completed and the last sheet had gone to press. On the 25th of
August last they were opened by Dr. Dasent and Mr. Vigfusson, and were found to
contain three volumes in folio; in one of which were entered, in Mr. Cleasby's own
hand, the principal verbs of the language, 112 in number, and filling 500 written
pages"'". In a second volume, 84 nouns, particles, and pronouns are contained, filling

* These verbs are auka, tla, bei^a, beita, bera, bi$ja, binda, bta, bjSa, blanda, blsa, bta, breg^a,
brjta, byggja, boa, deila, draga, drepa, dvelja, eiga, ey^a, falla, fara, fa, fela, fella, festa, fra, ganga, gra, gefa, geta,
grefa, greina, hafa, halda, hefja, hefna, hrifa, kalla, kaupa, kenna, kjsa, koma, kunna, kveSa, kveja, lta, leggja,
lei^a, leika, leita, Ir5a, lta, Ijsta, lka, lsa, mla, mega, munu, nema, nvSa, refa, reka, rekja, renna, renna
(trans.), reyna, rfa, ra, rySja, segja, selja, semja, setja, sitja, sj, skera, skilja, skipa, skipta, skjta, skora, sla,
slta, sna, skja, spenna, spretta, standa, stilla, stinga, stga, taka, tala, tj (tja, tja), ykkja, varSa, vaxa, vega,
veita, vera, verSa, verja, verpa, vilja, vinna, vita, vikja.