Графични страници
PDF файл

has any charms for the world, must rank your name among those of its most eminent benefactors. And let me add to this the expression of a wish, that cannot but be ardently felt by all your admirers, that the monument, you have so happily reared to your fame, may soon experience an additional lustre in the completion of the national design, you are known to have contemplated. By a translation of the MABINOGION, avowedly among the most curious of our ancient remains, you will not only impose on your country a lasting obligation, but you will enrich, in an essential degree, the literary treasures of Europe. There may be other departments of learning more useful, but there is none more generally attractive, than that, in which the Genius of Romance has painted the fantastic splendours of her visionary reign. And among the numerous ancient productions of this nature there are few, if any, that excel in interest the Juvenile Romances of Wales.

I will only, in conclusion, observe, that, whatever disappointment may hitherto have attended me in my career, the reflection, that I have been so ably supported in it by your friendship, cannot fail to be at all times consolatory. And I shall feel too, on this account, what a confinement to my own resources might never have taught me that, according to the well known line of an English writer, it

may be possible to deserve success when we cannot command it. I am, and shall ever remain,

Witla great sincerity, Your truly obliged,

LONDON, May 25, 1821,





Cicero de Legibus.



AMONG the singular attributes of the Welsh tongue its extraordinary, and almost illimitable, faculty of giving new beauty and variety to its expression, by the aid of prefixes and other adjuncts, is, perhaps, the most worthy of investigation. This

power springs, undeniably, from that elementary character of the language, which has already been the subject of some inquiry in this work*, and which, as being obviously founded in the most natural principles, serves essentially to prove the purity and antiquity of the Welsh tongue. If, indeed, we were not to come to this conclusion, we should be at a loss to account for these ornamental properties, as belonging to the language of a people, who have never been distinguished by history for their proficiency in arts and sciences, and to whom, consequently, an artificial embellishment of their native speech to any great extent could not reasonably be ascribed. The bards, it is true, may have made some progress in this way; but even the bards, with all their poetical predilections, and with all their traditional lore, could never have raised such an edifice, if Nature herself had not laid the foundationt. These properties, therefore, must not only be considered as

See Vol. I. pp. 81 and 161. † It has been somewhere intimated, in the former part of this work, that the Welsh tongue owed much of its beauty and energy to the cultivation, which it received under the Bardic Institution : and, in a qualified sense, this is certainly correct. The language was, no doubt, essentially improved by the bards and the early poets; but, on the other side, it must always be remembered, that they only wrought on materials, which they found ready to their



the most remarkable, but likewise as among the most simple and primitive, of the various characteristics of the Welsh language.

The ornaments of expression, about to be now considered, may be classed under the following general heads. 1. Qualifying Prefixes : 2. Plural Terminations : 3. Singular Terminations : 4. Comparisons of Adjectives: 5. Pronouns, and Pronominal Prepositions. It will be impossible, w thin the view intended to be here taken of these several classes, to enter into a particular and minute illustration of them, and which the reader will be disposed to admit, when he is informed, that, generally speaking, every primitive word in the language, whether noun, adnoun, or verb, is capable of more than a hundred variations, by means of prefixes and other auxiliary particles.

The first class to be considered are the Qualifying Prefixes, and which may again be divided into Primitive and Compound. A few of these of the most elementary character have already been noticed in the Essays above cited ; and what will now be added are formed upon an extension of the same principle. The number of primitive or simple Prefixes is about fifty, and they are, generally, unlimited in their adaptation to all words, as far as they do not thereby nullify the sense. These are again united, one with another, to the number of about two hundred and fifty combinations, to form the second subdivision of Prefixes. Hence, there are about three hundred of both subdivisions, and universal in their use as far as can possibly be required.

For reasons already mentioned, a particular investigation of the various powers

of these Prefixes cannot be here undertaken: a selection will, therefore, be made from among those, which have no equivalents in English, as most worthy of attention. And, perhaps, the most satisfactory mode of giving the necessary illustration will be by adhering to one primitive word, to which such prefixes may be annexed. The following then, are some of the variations of the word Lled, signifying breadth or expansion :Cyvled, of equal breadth --Gogyuled, partly of equal breadth Diogyvled, not being partly of equal breadth --Amledu, to expand about, -Goamledu, partly to expand about,Diamledu, to cease expanding about, -Goramledu, to expand about extremely,Tryledu, to expand through,—Ymledu, to expand mutually, to

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

hands, and brought no stock of their own. They found their language rich in native, but hidden, stores of energy and harmony; and they deserve the highest praise for having converted them to so noble a use. It was never meant to assert, they had done more than this.

spread one's self,—Ymddyledu, to be mutually expanding, Ymorledu, to overspread one's self,--Dadymledu, to unexpand one's self, Adymledu, to re-expand one's self,-- Arledu, to expand upon,- Arymledu, to spread one's self upon.

In the same manner, from Ciliaw, to recede, we have Enciliaw, to retreat ---Dygilia, be thou receding, Ymgilia, draw thyself back,-Ymgiliant, they will mutually recede,--Goymgiliant, they will mutually recede a little,-Dymciliant, they will cease to re.cede.-Dirgiliant, they will forcibly recede,-Rhygilier hi, she will be made to recede overmuch.

But it may be more interesting to diversify the subject by selecting a few examples from the works of the bards.

Tir Brochwel, hir rhygodded !--Llywarch Hen,
The land of Brochwel, long has it been sorely vexed.

Carav a ddigerais.-Id.
I love what I had refrained from loving.

Gorwyliais nos yn achadw fin

Gorloes rydau dwyr Dygen Vreiddin.-Gwalchmai.
I have overwatched the night, protecting the border
Of the wer-plaintive fords of the water of the Breiddin hill.

Am ardal Caer Dathl
Amdrychion berion buant,

Amgoch bryn, a phenryn, a phant.-Cynddelw.
Around the territory of Caer Dathl
There were mangled ones about of vultures
Reddening around the hill, and promontory, and dale,

Gwyach rudd gorvudd goralwai,

Ar doniar gwyar gonoviai.-Id.
The red cormorant for an overglut did extremely call,
On a wave of gore did flaggingly swim.

Cyvleuer gwawr dydd pan ddwyre hynt

Cycliw eiry gorwyn gorwydd epynt.-Id.
A maiden-
Of equal splendour with the dawn of day, when it ascends its

course, Of the same hue as the cutremely white spow of the front of the

Tòn wèn ôrcuum-
Gydliw ag arien awr yd gynnydd.-Llywel ab Oxuin.

The white wave, mantled with foam-
Of the same hue as the hoar at the time it rises.

Similar examples might be adduced, without number : indeed, very few passages could be selected, and especially from the more ancient bards, which do not exemplify this remarkable and highly poetical quality of the Welsh tongue. The following sublime lines, however, by the poet Casnodyn, describing the Day of Judgment, will, with those already transcribed, be sufficient for the present purpose.

Pan wnel Duw ddangaws ei varan,
Dyddwyre dy daerad arnan,
Dychryn twryv torvoedd yn eban
Dychyrch hynt, dychre gwynt gwaeddvan,
Dychymmriw tòn amliw amlån,
Dychymer uveliar bâr bån

Dychrys gwrys gwres tandde allan.-Casnodyn.
When God shall manifest his presence,
The house of earth shall uplift itself over us,
The terror of the tumultuous noise of legions in conflict
Will be taking its course,-a loudly shouting wind will be howling,
The wave of varied hue will be spraying itself about the shore,
The sulphureous element will be taking to itself high wrath,
The ardency of the heat of fire will be hastening out.

From these examples, inadequate as they may be fully to illustrate the subject, it cannot fail to be inferred, that the language, to which they belong, must possess abundant treasures, whether for augmenting the force and delicacy of its expression or for increasing the harmony and variety of its poetical numbers. Indeed this modification and extension of the meaning of words, by the agency of qualifying prefixes, is amongst the most obvious proofs of that ornamental richness of phraseology, in which the Welsh surpasses most, if not all, other tongues.

With respect to the next class, that of Plural Terminations, some primitive words assume a plural form by a mere mutation of vowels; but, in general, plurals become so hy a variety of terminal adjuncts, in number about twenty, and which are, for the most part, elementary terms, signifying, in an abstract sense, continuity, extension, or succession *. But our present business is only with such as are of an ornamental nature, and which not only

• Among these the most frequent are, au, awr, ed, cdd, i, iau, ion, od, odd, on, wys, ydd. Most of these terminations, in their original and elementary sense, implied the qualities ascribed to them in the text.

« ПредишнаНапред »