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PREFACE

TO

THE THIRD EDITION.

The first edition of this work was published, in successive parts, between the years 1799 and 1805. When the first volume appeared, the subject of the Anglo-Saxon antiquities had been nearly forgotten by the British public; although a large part of what we most love and venerate in our customs, laws, and institutions, originated among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. A few scholars in a former century had cultivated the study, and left

grammars, dictionaries, and catalogues for our use; but their labours had been little heeded, and no one had added to the information which they had communicated. The Anglo-Saxon MSS. lay still unexamined, and neither their contents, nor the important facts which the ancient writers and records of other nations had preserved of the transactions and fortunes of our ancestors, had been ever made a part of our general history. The Quida, or death-song, of Ragnar Lodbrog first led the present author to perceive the deficiency, and excited his wish to supply it. A series of careful re

searches into every original document that he had the opportunity of examining was immediately begun, and steadily pursued, till all that was most worth preserving was collected from the AngloSaxon MSS. and other ancient books. The valuable information thus obtained the author endeavoured to give to the public, in a readable form, in this work, of which two thirds have not appeared in English history before. His favourite desire has been fulfilled — a taste for the history and remains of our Great Ancestors has revived, and is visibly increasing

Many writers have since followed in the same path. Their publications have spread the useful taste, and contributed to obtain for our venerable forefathers the attention of their enlightened posterity. To gratify more fully this patriotic curiosity, some additional portions of original matter, from the Anglo-Saxon remains, have been inserted in the present edition. The most important of these consist of the following additions :

On reading our Alfred's Anglo-Saxon translation of Boetius, the author observed passages which were not in the original. Struck with this curious fact, he compared the king's work carefully with the Latin of Boetius, and found that Alfred had frequently taken occasion to insert his own thoughts and reasonings in various parts, forming so many little essays, dialogues, and imitated tales of our venerable sovereign's own composition. Some of the most important of these have been selected and

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