INTRODUCTION. lix

though the wealth of the language lies in the early Sagas, is it to be supposed that the
Icelandic of later days is not worthy of being known. In no portion of the world,
in proportion to its population, has there been such continuous literary life as in that
distant isle. Still more would he feel himself rewarded if his labours should be the
means of restoring her Old Bible to Iceland. It would be for the good of all, and
even for the beginner in Icelandic if he could find a sure stay to his first footsteps
in the grand old Icelandic translation of the Bible by Bishop Gudbrand of the year
1584, which may compare with our own Authorised Version for purity and strength;
but this version has, most unhappily for Iceland, been replaced in recent years by
a paraphrastic translation, which it should be the aim of all true friends of piety and
learning to discourage and disclaim. Were that pure and faithful version restored
to its rightful position, the first footsteps of the student would be far more sure, and,
strengthened by that literal translation, he might proceed to the Sagas and the Eddas,
when he will certainly not regret the time and trouble spent in learning the language,
especially when the time has been shortened and the labour lightened by the help of
this Dictionary.

Nor, finally, should it be forgotten that even without its aid many Englishmen
have become students of Icelandic. The late Sir Edmund Head, too early lost to these
and other studies, Mr. Garnett of the British Museum, and Principal Barclay of Glasgow,
were all of them in their day sound scholars in the language; Dr. Carlyle, in Edinburgh,
is also well acquainted with Icelandic; and here in Oxford it will be enough to mention
one living instance in the Right Hon. Robert Lowe, who, instead of burning his books,
like too many of his contemporaries, when he turned his mind to politics, found time
to enter into new fields of learning, and to possess them. To few Englishmen has it
been granted to attain to such mastery both over the language of Iceland and the spirit
of her people and literature. Nor can this Introduction be more fitly closed than by
quoting an epigram by that skilful hand, and repeating in this University the greeting
with which he addresses that island so smitten with snow-storms, so veiled in mist, so
seamed with volcanic fire, so shaken by earthquakes as never Delos was shaken ;
and yet, in spite of all this, so mighty in the indomitable spirit of her sons, so subtle
and far-sighted in her laws, and so free and independent for centuries against the tyranny
of Norwegian kings :—

Xape KOL tv vtttXrjai, KOL fv vi(8eo-(ri /Sape/cus

KCU TTVpl Koi (reicr/io?? vfjcre craeuo/i/T?'
/÷e yp /Sa-r/o? vTreppiov v(3pv Xvgas

Srjpos e yVep/ope/, irvrov TT fo")^arifjy
avrpKrj fiorov
÷aW T kpf.QtafJ.ara Movafov

KCU 6t(Tfj.ov$ yvri'i eSpei/ eXevoepit;?.

GEORGE WEBBE DASENT.

OCTOBER 15, 18*73.