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This certainly agrees best with the foregoing precept, is an
Yours, &c. 1758, Sept.
XXX. Observations on an obsolete Latin Word.
MR. URBAN, I SHOULD hardly have troubled you with the following observations concerning an obsolete and barbarous word, did they not concern a person
great distinction as an a au. thor, namely, the late Bishop Kennet, whose Parochial Antiquities are so generally, and indeed so justly, admired.
The ordinations of the vicarages of Godmersham in Com. Cant. and Dronfield, Com. Derb. the account of the Bedell of Boughton-Aluph, Com. Cant. Anno 9 Hen. V. Mr. Hearne, in his Curious Discourses, p. 77. William Thorne, in his Chronicle, inter decem scriptores, col. 2010, 2038, 2089, et alibi; Glossaria Labbai vv. Auca et xàv; and, lastly, Bede, in his history, p. 255, do all present us with the word Auca, agreeing to write it with the fifth vowel. But Bishop Kennet, in the Parochial Antiquities, p. 455, misreading, as I presume, his original, has printed it Anca*, several times; and in the Glossary to that work he has reported it accordingly, and has deduced it from Anserina, which to me seems very unnatural, and highly improbable; n and u in the MSS. of the later ages are so much alike, that they are very easily mistaken one for another.
You will please to observe, Sir, that the bishop consents so far as to allow that the word signifies a goose; but then he errs again in saying, that it is a generally female in distinction from the gander," for there is no foundation in the world for such a distinction, the word in most cases meaning both sexes, to wit, the entire species.
You see, Sir, that in this one article of his Glossary, there are no less than three errors concerning this word; ist. As to the orthography; 2dly. The etymology; and 3dly. The
* Bishop Gibson also in the Append. to the Codex, p. 35, writes ancis, misled probably by. Dr. Kennet. YOL. II.
interpretation. There are more in the sequel, as to the English words hank, and to hanker after, which I perhaps may notice by and by.
It seems to me that Auca, a term of the base Latinity, is a mere technical word, formed from the sound which the bird makes, when it cries; not so much when it cackles, as when it calls for its companions; and quære, whether the English word auhward be not more rationally deduced from auca, (this animal being both perverse and aukward) than from the Saxon Aword, from whence the Glossographers generally derive it: And possibly the local northern word, to squawk, may have no other original but this, the initial letters squ being nothing but addition, by that figure, which the rhetoricians call Prosthesis. Let the reader judge.
Now, as to the words hank, and to hanker after, which promised to touch upon, Bishop Kennet writes thus, "anca, ancus, was the thigh or hind leg,--affer quatuor panes, affer ancum porci, i. e. a leg of pork. Hence a haunch of venison; up to the haunches in dirt; and hence, with some allusion, to have a hank upon, to hanker after." No doubt but the word hunch comes from the Latin and Italian anca, but mediately perhaps from the French hanche. Anca is probably from the Latin, ancus, which, as Festus says, signifies, qui aduncum brachium habet, ut exporrigi non possit, and M. Dacier upon Festus observes, that Ancus Martius, the third king of Rome, obtained his name from this circumstance. The Greek word 'Ayxwn, signifies cubitus, and Junius inclines to think anca, or hanch, may come from thence “ ab ayxa'ng quod non modo cubitum, sed quemlibet membrorum flexum, Budæo authore, significat.” The reader may take which etymology he pleases; but who can discern any allusion between the words hank, and to hanker after, and a leg of pork or a haunch of venison, as mentioned by the bishop? This surely is fetching things very far, when it is so obvious to deduce the substantive hank, in the phrase to have a hank upon a person, from a hank of thread, which Dr. Lye very plausibly deduces from the Islandic hank, vinculum; as if you should say, “ita vinculis obstrictum aliquem habere, ut pre metu ad omniu, quce volueris, præsto sit.” And so as to a hank of thread, he tells us, that hunk and hiunk in the Islandic language, is, « funiculus in forma circuli colligatus." To hanker after a thing, seems to have a quite different original; this means inhiare, anrie rem appetere, and therefore the same learned author derives it from the Dutch hunkeren, wbich, I suppose, signifies to hunger; insomuch, that to hanker after any thing, means, to huoger after it; a manper of speaking of the same import with that other metaphorical one, of thirsting after a thing.
Yours, &c. 1758, Oct.
XXXI. A Passage in Virgil explained.
MR. URBAN, VIRGIL being the prince of the Latin poets, it would be desirable to liave every single passage in him rightly understood. There is one, however, in the first book, which the interpreters, those at least which I have an opportunity of consulting, do in general, methinks, mistake. The words are these:
Hæc ubi dicta, cavum, conversa cuspide, montem
Æn. i. 85.
He is speaking of Æolus, the king of the winds, who, with his sceptre, say the interpreters, quod celsa arce sedens manu tenebat, v. 60. pierced the side of the mountain, and froin the aperture therein made, the brother winds hastily and impetuously, and as it were in a crowd, rushed out. Thus Servius.“
Cavum] ordo est; conversa cuspide cavum montem in latus impulit. Et alibi:
In latus inque feri curvam compagibus alvum,
" Quasi in rem, quæ facile cedit ictui.” The verse here quoted occurs, Æneid ii. 51. where the poet is writing of the Trojan horse, whose side was perforated by the lance of Laocoon. And, in the same manner, Mons. de la Rue, in his verbal interpretation, “ Concussit cavernosum montem ad latus intorta cuspide;" as likewise Mr. Dryden, in his translation,
He said, and hurl'd against the mountain's side
In short these expositors wanted only a hole or opening for the winds to rush out at, and having found one so readily
in the side of the mountain, they were content. But the author, in my opinion, meant to tell us, that Æolus
tenet ille immánia saxa Vestras, Eure, domos :-) v. 143. pushed the mountain on its side, overturning it so with a blow of his spear, that from the aperture at the root, the struggling winds were enabled to get out. Certainly this interpretation, which the words will perfectly well bear, expresses the power of the god in a much more grand and sublime manner, than the other does, which only represents him as making a hole in the mountain's side: The overturning of a lofty and ponderous mountain creates in us the most magnificent idea imaginable; I would therefore give the
No sooner said, but with his trident couch'd,
He turn'd the hollow mountain on its side. And, if I mistake not, our Milton understood the place in this manner, when he says,
As if on earth
Milton vi. 195. The words, had pushed a mountain from its seat, are a clear imitation of those in the Roman poet, montem impulit in latus. But how nobly has the English poet improved upon the Roman one, by that addition, half-sunk with all its pines ! This is making the thought in a manner his own; and thus it generally fares, whenever any passages of the ancients come into the hands of true geniuses; the jewels are always then set to the best advantage.
Yours, &c. 1758, Dec.
XXXII. A brief account of the various Translations of the Bible
into English. I CANNOT learn that any part of the Holy Scriptures, translated into the ancient British tongue, is now remaining. It is not indeed certain, that they were ever translated into
that language; if they were, it is probable, they were all de stroyed, in that general devastation, which was made under Dioclesian about the year 301, when, as Fox in his Acts and Monuments, page 89, relates, on the credit of ancient authors, “almost all christianity was destroyed in the whole island; the churches subverted; all the books of the scrip". ture burned; and many of the faithful, both men and women, were slain." Yet I may observe, that in Chaucer's time, there was a tradition that the Gospels were extant in the British tongue, when Alla was king of Northumberland, in the sixth century. Chaucer's words, in the Man of Lawe's Tale, are these;
A Breton boke written with Evangeles
But as this might be only a poetical fancy, I shall lay no great stress upon it.
The Saxons made themselves masters of this island some: what before the year 500, and after the Saxon inhabitants of this country (says Mr. Lewis in his history of the Translations of the Bible into English) were converted to Christianity, we are sure they had the whole Bible in their own country character and language. The most ancient version of the gospels, in that language, that I have found mentioned, is that of one Aldred a priest, inserted in the code of Eadfride, Bishop of Lindisfarne, about the year 680, (or as others say 730,) which was near a hundred years after the Abbot Augustine, with forty Benedictine monks, were sent from Rome by Pope Gregory the first, to instruct the Saxons in the Christian religion,
Venerable Bede, who was a Saxon, we are told (See Lewis's Hist. page 6.) translated the whole Bible into the Saxon tongue, and that king Alfred did the same. Yet Bayle tells us, that Alfred translated only part of the Psalms; • Psalterium Davidicum, quod morte preventus non perfeçit.” and Aug. Calmet says, that Cuthbert, Bede's scholar, in the catalogue of his master's works, speaks only of his translation of the Gospels into that language, and says no. thing of the rest of the Bible. Bede died in 735, and Alfred in 901.
It is generally held, that the first translation of the Bible into English was made by John Wicliff, who was born at Wicliff in Yorkshire, and educated at Merton college in Oxford; he translated it from the Latin Bibles then in use, as the Saxon versions had been done before. This translation