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«Van Renterghem, Aya (2014) The Anglo-Saxon runic poem: a critical reassessment.MPhil(R) thesis. Copyright and moral ...»

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From this comparison five sections follow, each of which contain points of interest or a detailed examination of certain elements. In the first section, the correspondences between the various alphabets and fuþorcs are identified, and the value of the comparison for the authenticity debate is demonstrated. In the second section the theory of runic standardisation is explained and applied to the runic material. The effect of these findings on Hempl’s theory specifically – and manuscript runology in general – is explained. The two subsequent sections provide some information on the transliteration mistakes and variations in form noted in the various alphabets and fuþorcs. This is followed by a section examining the differences between the Otho B. X and Domitian A. IX fuþorcs and how they were alphabetised by Wanley. The last section focuses on Wanley, considered responsible for providing Hickes with the runic poem, and investigates his runic proficiency by analysing the mistakes made between the copying of the fuþorcs and their alphabetisations in the Tabellae. This section compares a selection of alphabets from Oxford, St John’s College MS 17 and the fuþorc from Cotton Domitian A. IX with their reproductions in the Tabellae. The aim is to note any mistakes Wanley made in the copying process, and explore his knowledge of runes and accuracy in handling the material. The rune-names of the runic poem are then compared with those included in the Thesaurus. The conclusions drawn from this comparison are again measured against the conclusions of the authenticity debate.

The conclusion itself draws upon the preliminary conclusions reached in the course of the preceding discussions. It aims to answer two main questions which have been posed in the authenticity debate: where the additions to the runic poem originate from, and who was responsible for them. It concludes by outlining the significance of this research for manuscript runology and suggests possibilities for future research in this area.

–  –  –

This chapter contains an overview of the historical background of the Thesaurus and a short biography of the author Hickes. It looks at some of the important contributors to this work, and pays special attention to Hickes’s assistant and co-author, Humfrey Wanley. Finally, it investigates the correspondence between Hickes and his contributors in order to determine the sources for the runic material in the Thesaurus; special attention is paid to the extent of the runological knowledge demonstrated in their writings.

1.1 George Hickes and the origins of the Thesaurus

The Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archæologicus is the result of the combined efforts of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Germanic philologists, who were primarily, but not solely, based in Britain. Bennett notes that ‘[f]rom the savants of Europe the work received an enthusiastic reception’ after its publication in 1703 (volume 1) and 1705 (volume 2), and, despite not selling as well as Hickes had hoped, made his name and fame.9 It is important to remember, however, before examining Hickes’s life and influence, that the Thesaurus was to a large extent a collaborative work. Although Hickes was its driving and unifying force, he was not solely responsible for its compilation and editing, a fact which complicates its history.

George Hickes (1642-1715)10 was the Dean of Worcester (1683-1690), and a Germanic scholar and antiquary, who has been described by David Douglas in his study of J. A. W. Bennett, ‘Hickes’s “Thesaurus”: A Study in Oxford Book-Production’, English Studies, n. s., 1 (1948), 28-45 (p. 43) 10 For a more detailed biography, see A Chorus of Grammars: The Correspondence of George Hickes and his Collaborators on the Thesaurus Linguarum septentrionalium, ed. by R. L. Harris (Toronto: Pontificial

Institute for Mediaeval Studies, 1992), pp. 3-126; D. C. Douglas, English Scholars 1660-1730 (London:

Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1951), pp. 77-97; T. Harmsen, ‘Hickes, George (1642-1715)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13203 [Accessed September 2013] English scholars and scholarship between 1660-1730 as ‘probably the most remarkable figure among the English historical scholars of his time’.11 He continues ‘certainly no other member of that very distinguished company exercised a learned influence which was more potent or widely spread’.12 Douglas's habit of adulating the scholars he discusses notwithstanding, it is incontestable that Hickes became famous for his study of septentrional languages, his high position in the nonjuring church, and refusal to make the oath to King William II and III. He was a man who lived two lives simultaneously: he was a historian and philologist in one, a convinced supporter of the Stuart successionand official of the Church of England in the other. Hickes’s work is proof of his widespread interests, and he wrote on such a variety of topics (though mostly related to religion and philology), that Douglas considers that [h]e belonged in a sense to an age earlier than that in which he lived, since his mind, encyclopedic in its range, refused to specialize and so entangled his learning with his life, that it is difficult to regard him solely as an historian or philologist, or solely as a divine.13 Harris also states in his Chorus of Grammars that ‘[h]is several lives were inextricably linked with and dependent upon one another’.14 Hickes originally came from Yorkshire, and was the son of a landowning farmer and a loyalist mother.15 After his school career and a short-lived venture into the trade industry, he was sent to Oxford, where he entered St John’s College as a battler in 1659.

He stayed in Oxford until 1673, during which time he was a member of Magdalen College, Magdalen Hall, and Lincoln College. Through these moves he became acquainted with some of the great names in Germanic philology of that time. At Lincoln College he met the linguistic scholar Thomas Marshall, and Marshall’s teacher Francis Junius, who introduced him to John Fell, a ‘strong university man and renovator of the university press […], [who] was responsible for a revival of patristic, historical, and philological learning’.16 During Douglas, p. 77.


13 Ibid., p. 78.

14 Harris, p. 3.

15 Harmsen, para. 1-2 of 31.

16 Harmsen, para. 3 of 31.

that time the need was felt for a new Old English dictionary and grammar, as Somner’s 1659 Dictionary was hardly available at that time: Marshall took this task upon himself.17 His work, and the revival efforts of the Oxford philologists, influenced Hickes greatly and led to the publication of the Institutiones grammaticae Anglo-Saxonicae et MoesoGoethicae (1689), his first work on philology.

After his studies, Hickes spent some time travelling in Europe, and began an initially successful career in the Church of England. In 1683 Hickes was promoted as Dean of Worcester, and two years later the first of a series of unfortunate events occurred which would greatly impact on his life and scholarship.18 In 1685 Hickes’s elder brother John, who was a known non-conformist, took part in the Monmouth rebellion and was – in spite of Hickes’s efforts – executed later that year.19 Three years later, Hickes witnessed the Glorious Revolution (1688-89) in which William of Orange and Mary of England overthrew King James II, to whom Hickes, despite the execution of his brother, was still loyal. Consequently, after the Revolution, Hickes refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the new king and queen, whom he regarded as usurpers.20 This led to his suspension as Dean of Worcester, and in 1690 he was deprived of his position, although he stayed in possession of the deanery until, in 1691, it was granted to William Talbot by King William.

Hickes refused to accept this deprivation and wrote a claim of right, which he displayed at Worcester Cathedral. This resulted in a warrant for high misdemeanour issued by the second Earl of Nottingham, forcing Hickes to go into hiding in London. He was outlawed in August 1691, and remained a fugitive until May 1699. In that year Chancellor John Somers obtained an act of council for Hickes, which obligated the attorney-general to write a nolle prosequi, ceasing all proceedings against him.21 It was during these restless times that Hickes worked on his two main philological enterprises: the Institutiones and the Thesaurus. Hickes’s contemporary biographer and

friend, Hilkiah Bedford, describes the start of his philological career as follows:

Unfortunately, this work was never published.

Harmsen, para. 4, 9 of 31.

19 Douglas, p. 80. The Monmouth Rebellion or Revolt of the West was a revolt led by the Duke of Monmouth against the Roman Catholic James II/VII in 1685.

20 Douglas, p. 81.

21 Harmsen, para. 11, 15 of 31.

[Hickes] was no sooner settled at Worcester but being then about 45 years of age he apply’d himself to the study of the ancient Septentrional Languages, of which by indefatigable pains he made himself a perfect Master in one year, & at the same time compiled his Anglo-Saxon & Moeso-Gothick Grammar. 22 It appears that Hickes’s interests in English politics and religion peaked at the same time as his historical and linguistic studies, namely in the years leading up to the 1688-89 revolution. John Fell, whom Hickes met at Oxford, had earlier promoted the publication of the Old English-Latin dictionary, based on Junius’s manuscripts, accompanied by Marshall’s Saxon grammar. This task, after the death of Marshall, eventually fell to Hickes. The latter succeeded in this undertaking in 1689, and had his Old English Grammar printed, using Junius’s type. It was published as Institutiones grammaticae Anglo-Saxonicae et Moesto-Gothicae. This work was compiled not only out of philological interest, but also to confirm his religious and political views, a consequence of the rather stormy times. Harmsen comments that [w]ith the confusion among scholars, clergy, and lawyers attending the unprecedented circumstance after the revolution of both a king de facto (William) and a king de jure (James II), several ideological theories on the settlement and kingship were expounded.23 Hickes states himself that he ‘undertook the work at first purely out of a zeale to make known the Language, Customes, Lawes, and manners of our ancestres, and to set English antiquities in a good light’.24 However, this work would prove to be the predecessor of a much more ambitious project: the Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archæologicus.

It seems as if Fell’s wish for revival had been granted, for the Institutiones was well received. Bennett notes that the work managed to boost Anglo-Saxon studies, which had been the aim of many scholars since Sir Joseph Williamson in 1680 established the first H. Bedford, Biography of George Hickes, in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Misc. E. 4, p. 22.

Hilkiah Bedford (1663–1724) was a bishop of the nonjuring Church of England, and friend of George Hickes. He is the author of the Hickes’s contemporary biography. (C. Ehrenstein, ‘Bedford, Hilkiah (1663–1724)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/1929 [Accessed July 2013]) 23 Harmsen, para. 10 of 31.

24 Letter to Parker, 1 June 1704. (Harris, p. 402).

lectureship in the subject at Queen’s College Oxford.25 Soon there was a desire for another, more complete study of Old English.26 Hickes readily agreed to undertake this second edition, and owing to the popularity of the Institutiones found many eager helpers for this

endeavour. Harris describes its inception as follows:

The vast compilation of the Thesaurus began rather humbly, in the early days of Hickes’s fugitive years or a little before. Its design and contents grew over more than a decade, however, and were ultimately the results of the labours of many. The work could be seen as combining the efforts of England’s most talented philologists at the end of the seventeenth century, the unifying collaborative aspects of the endeavour having been in part the subject of several previous studies. Bedford attributes the undertaking of the Thesaurus to the popularity of the Institutiones and a general demand for a second edition.27 Although the Institutiones included Runólfur Jónsson’s Old Icelandic grammar and Edward Bernard’s Etymologicon Britannicum, it dealt primarily with Old English grammar; Hickes, however, decided to work not only on Old English material, but also to expand upon and add to the Institutiones.28 This second edition grew into what Harmsen describes as a full-blown history of the English language and a monumental work of Old English and medieval Germanic culture and history, archaeology, numismatics, philology, and bibliography, for which [Hickes] enlisted the scholarly assistance and expertise of a range of English, Swedish, and Danish scholars. It was to be called Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archaeologicus.29 Hickes compiled and printed most of the Thesaurus while he was a fugitive, which is likely to have influenced his use of sources and limited his ability to study much of the material himself. It is also conceivable that his political ideas prevented some scholars from collaborating with him. As evidenced by some of his correspondence, he could only Bennett, p. 29.

Harris, p. 39.

27 Ibid.

28 Bennett, p. 29.

29 Harmsen, para. 16 of 31.

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