Edward Lhuyd (?1660-1709)


Life
[err. Lloyd]; b. nr. Oswestry, Shropshire; entered Jesus Coll., Oxford, 1682; did not complete his degree; under-keeper [var. second Keeper] at Ashmolean Museum, 1684; keeper, after Robert Plot, 1690-1709; catalogue of figured fossils in Ashmolean, 1699; MA 1701; issued Archaeologia Britannica, Vol. I (1707), in which - inter al. - he positively identified that the indigenous language of Ireland was a Celtic language, and as such related to Welsh; elected FRS 1708; appt. Superior Beadle of Divinity, Oxford Univ., 1709; regarded as main link between some of the last traditional custodians of medieval Celtic learning and lore and the world of modern scholarship (Celtica, 1967); contrary to contemporaries, he postulated a native origin for Irish archaeological remains. ODNB OCIL

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Works
Archaelogia Britannica¸ giving some account … of the Languages, Histories and Customs of the Original Inhabitants of Great Britain from Collections and Observatios in Travels through Wales, Cornwal
[sic], Bas-Bretagne, Ireland and Scotland, Vol. 1., Glossography (Oxford: Printed at the Theatre for the Author, 1707), Folio; the only volume ever published [copy in Nat. Library of Scotland; Catalogue Celtica 1967]; A copy presented by the author to Marsh’s Library (see 1994 Catalogue, p.35).

Reprint, Archaeologica Britannica (1707; IAP rep. ?1970).

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Commentary
William Nicholson [Archbishop of Derry] The Irish Historical Library (1724), APPENDIX II, A Translation of the Irish Preface, to Mr Lhuyd’s Irish Dictionary’ [191-215]. Lhuyd apologises for writing in a language which he never learnt from a speaker, though he travelled in Ireland, and explains that he compiled his dictionary from Keating’s History, have set out to make a dictionary of the British language. He marks the words from Keating with K. He has taken words from Bedell and O’Donnell’s biblical translations and inserted the entire of Michael Ó Clery’s Seanasan Nuadh (‘Glossary of difficult words’) into his own dictionary, marking the obsolete and unintelligible with a dagger. Cites a dictionary completed by Richard Plunket, Trim, 1662. Long discussion of orthography, proposing an alphabet made up of Latin and Irish characters, and Greek chars. as alternatives where the presses will not support the Irish ones; prints CREED in Irish, roman letters, using K [Kreidim]; VI, Molloy’s grammar ‘defective’; Lhuyd’s book sold by Jeremiah Pepyat in Dublin. He ends with 6 reasons for the preservation of Irish, following the statement, ‘I have already declared that it was through Ignorance that many Persons would have Language and ours buried in Oblivion; and I have no reason upon any account to recal [sic] my words, but rather to make this additional Remark, that it argues so great a want of Judgement, that any Man, who would pretend to Learning, ought to be ashamed. (Ded. To the gentlemen and other learned persons of the Irish Nation, whether Irish, Scots, or other Foreigners, Long Health and happiness. 1 May 1706, Oxford). APPENDIX III [216-242], ‘Translation of the Welsh Preface to Mr Lhuyd’s Glossagraphy’ [Ded. to the Welsh] This includes a list, p.225-27, of old Spanish and present Irish words, displaying their supposed affinity. As for Wales, ‘the Irish must have been the inhabitants where those names were imposed on them [rivers]’ [228] A further list, 230-232, adduced to show that Welsh and Irish are related to the Galli whom the Romans called Celtae. In the following para., he asserts that Vergobretus, called a magistrate by Caesar, was Ir. fear go breath, a judge, verbatim, ‘man who judges’. [232] Belgae [Teutons] are fir bolg ‘as it seemed probable also to the learned Irish antiquary Mr Roderic Ó Flaherty [233; …] the Irish is one of the Teutonic Languages, though it has antiently borrowed some words from the British, and the latter ages a great number for the Latin and French [233].

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Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986): Lhuyd’s main achievement the recognition of linguistic connection between the Gaelic and Brythonic languages. Possibly introduced to Roderic O’Flaherty by Molyneux, and collected also from Duald Mac Firbis, ‘I have in divers parts of the kingdom picked up about 20 or 30 Irish manuscripts on parchment; but the ignorance of their criticks is such, that tho’ I consulted the chiefest of them, as O’Flaherty (author of Ogygia) and several others, they could scarce interpret one page of all my manuscripts; and this is occasioned by want of a Dictionary …’ (Letter of 25 Aug. 1700). Among other linguistic essays, Archaeologia contains a Gaelic dictionary and grammar, the first printed since those of O’Clerigh and O’Molloy respectively. [337] O’Flaherty wrote an ode to Lhuyd, ‘Arbiter hinc veterem renovandi Camber honorem arripit.’ The ode is printed in Lhuyd’s Archaeologica Britannica, giving some account additional to what has hitherto been publish’d, of the languages, histories and customs of the original inhabitants of Great Britain (Oxford 1707), and subtitled ‘Glossography’. [336ff]. In 1718 Toland was to claim that he pointed out to Lhuyd the parallels of Irish and Welsh, ‘the illustrious Mr. Edward Lhyud, late keeper of the Museum at Oxford, perceiv’d this affinity between the same [i.e. Welsh] words and the Irish, by demonstration I gave him of the same in all said instances’; Toland 1726, p.31) [335]. [page refs. to Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish and Fíor Ghael, 1986.] Bibl., J. L. Campbell, ‘The Tour of Edward Lhuyd in Ireland in 1699 and 1700’, in Celtica 5 (1960), pp.218-228; A. O’Sullivan and W. O’Sullivan, ‘Edward Lhuyd’s collection of Irish manuscripts’, in Transactions of the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion, session 1962, pp.57-71. NOTE, An anonymous manuscript grammar compiled in Louvain in 1669, copied by the Dublin scribe Sean Ó Suilleabhain for the bookseller Jeremiah Pepyat (the Dublin outlet for Arch. Britannica, and transmitted to Lhuyd. Vide Lhuyd, 1707, p.299 (Ftn. 316) [Ibid. 480].

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Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody (1992), Burke all his life retained an interest in the Irish language and its literature. He played an important part in the preservation of its monuments, and in rendering them accessible to scholars. In 1765 he discovered in the library of his friend Sir John Sebright at Beechwood, in Hertfordshire, some important early manuscripts in Irish. Realising their value, he borrowed them and sent them for evaluation to the Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin. Sebright later presented them to the college library. They are recognised as being the main foundation of the Library’s collection of Irish manuscripts. Catalogue of Irish MSS in the British Museum, intro. to Vol. III. See WD Love, ‘Edmund Burke and the Irish Historiographical controversy, in History and Theory, II, pp.180-198; and Love, ‘Edmund Burke, Charles Vallancey, and the Sebright MSS’, in Hermathena XCV (1961), pp.33-35.

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Muriel McCarthy & Caroline Sherwood-Smith, eds., Hibernia Resurgens: Catalogue of Marsh’s Library (1994): biog. as supra;] scientist in many fields; is work acknowledged by John Ray in Synopsis methodica stirpium Britannicarum (1690), from which he turned to fossils in Lithophyacii Britannici ichnographia (1698), a catalogue of fossils in the Ashmolean’ raised money to undertake ‘parochial queries in order to [?…; hiatus sic] a Geographical Dictionary and natural History of Wales; visited other Celtic countries, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany, on decision to include other Celtic languages; arrested as thief in Cornwall and Brittany, being deported on suspicion of spying in the latter; Arch. Brit., Vol. 1 appeared by subscription in 1707; disappointment at philological contents led to withdrawal of support; consulted MS copy of Risteard Pluincéad’s Irish/Latin Dictionary in Marsh’s Library; acknowledged his debt to Francis O’Molloy’s grammar of Irish, while commenting ‘the writer no doubt had the help of some native in writing it, but certainly not of a scholar’; a manuscript dictionary by Lhuyd published by David Malcolme in 1738; died of asthma and pleurisy, summer 1709.

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Nikolai Tolstoy, letter to Times Literary Supplement (27 Oct. 2000, p.17): So far from representing a proto-Common Market, Celtica reflects a restricted linguistic and […] cultural phenomenon, but in no sense an ethnic or political unity. The term “Celt” was not applied by any ancient or medieval author to Britain or Ireland and the concept of “Celtic languages” was introduced by antiquaries such as Edward Lhuyd in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’. Further, ‘While it would be absurd to pretend that these islands do not represent a compound of different races and polities, whose histories and interests frequently diverged or collided, the concept of Britain as a recognised (if partially ideal) political entitut is of an antiquity whose origina are lost in the mists of prehistory.’

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Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (Cork UP 2000): ‘An appreciation of the Celticness of Ireland - and all that it entailed - only became possible with the development of comparative philology, when it could be shown that the language indigenous to Ireland was a Celtic language. This was generally established with the work of Edward Lhuyd, Archaeologia Britannica (1707). Lhuyd definitively demonstrated the affinity of Welsh and Irish and thus that of Irish and the European languages. With Romanticism the ancient Celts were idealized as were the landscapes inhabited by the modern speakers of Celtic languages: [James] Macpherson takes much credit here. The Celts were thus seen as bearing the virtues so prized by the Romantics.’ (p.25; reference to Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael […; &c.], Cork UP 1996 [2nd edn.] (p.289ff., and Malcolm Chapman, The Celts: The Construction of a Myth, NY: St. Martin's Press 1992, pp.205-07.)

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Notes
Seán Ó Gadhra wrote to Lhuyd from Sligo asserting that that Tadhg Ó Rodaighe [q.v.], along with Roderic O’Flaherty, were the last remaining scholars who could interpret the old sources in Latin, Irish (‘Scoitic’), or English (letter of May, 1700).

Keating’s History: A translation of Geoffrey Keating’s Foras feasa ar Eirinn is noted in T. K. Abbot & E. J. Gwynn, Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, as No. 1443, H. 2. 14, p.322: ‘Keatings History of Ireland translated into English. Transcribed by Humphrey Moynihan and Thomas Moynihan. Purchased from Thomas Moynihan nr. Killarney, by Edward Llwyd, A.D. 1700.’ (Cited in Russell K. Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798, 1959, p.82.)

Sir John Seabright: In 1786, the TCD Library acquired from Sir John Seabright a collection of Irish MSS bequeathed to his father by Edward Lhuyd, the philologist [corrig. sold to him by Oxford Univ.] Note, Edward Lhuyd’s collection acquired on a tour of 1700 were presented by Sir John Sebright in 1786, and include the Yellow Book of Lecan and the Book of Leinster (See also under Burke, supra.).

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