Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

3 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

CONCERNING WELSH TEXTS.

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Dyfynnu
Rhannu

CONCERNING WELSH TEXTS. The South Wales Daily News publishes a most interesting conversation, its London Welsh correspondent (whom we understand to be Mr. Vincent Evans), had with Dr. Gwenogfryn Evans, who, in 1894, was appointed to examine and calendar Welsh manuscripts at the British Museum, the Record Office, Oxford and else- where, and who has just published two further reports. From that conversation we take the following extracts The collections at Mostyn Hall, Peniarth, Jesus College (Oxford), Llanstephan, Cardiff, Cwrtmawr, Llanwrin, Merthyr and Aberdare, as well as the Panton' and Havod' collections, have," said Dr. Evans, been inspected and published in six parts, with an aggregate of 2,160 pages." "But what about' the Welsh MSS. at the British Museum, Brogyntyn, Dingestow Court, and Llanover—I suppose you are reporting on these also ? You are now asking questions which I cannot answer." Very well, I will not anticipate events. Let me ask you instead if you did not begin your work of inspection in 1894, over ten years ago?" Yes, and no. It all depends on what you mean by 'over ten years.' It is perfectly true that I began my work of inspection in Septem- ber, 1894, and that I have been doing that work off and on ever since. But it is not true that I have, as is commonly supposed, given all my time to the work of calendaring. I have been engaged on the work of inspection 1,602 days- or 5 years 5 weeks and 2 days, which is less than half the time put to my credit, and diminishes my imaginary salary in the like proportion." "What about the work itself? Shall I be wrong if I assume that it has been a source of immense pleasure to you ? Not, perhaps, altogether. You must remem- ber that nine-tenths of most work is sheer drudgery, while the remaining tenth reminds you of the fabled carrot at the far end of the stick- you get no nearer to it. Still, every journey has its surprises and pleasurable moments. Mine has been no exception. Many riddles have been solved, much fresh matter has come to light, and there is the immense gain of knowing exactly what the different collections contain, and where the oldest text is to be found on every subject. When any literary work is undertaken it is an immense saving of labour to know definitely at the start where the materials are, and which MS. should be first copied or examined. "Take, for instance, my own experience of the works of David ap Gwilym. Nineteen years ago 1 found a MS. containing almost a complete collection of his poems. I copied it carefully. Three years later I found another MS. and copied that. Then I came upon the original of my first transcript, and found it advisable to copy that. After some time I came upon a MS. far more important than the others put together, and I copied that. Until then I had been working in the dark and to very little purpose. If I may interrupt you, I should like to ask if we are likely to have your edition of David ap Gwilym soon ? All that I can say to-day is this I have copied or collated the text in about 127 different MSS., containing from two or three to 200 poems, so that the material is ready. Had some predecessor published his reports on Welsh MSS., I should have been saved years of wasted labour on David ap Gwilym alone. To edit his poems is an exceedingly difficult piece of work, by far the toughest I have attempted. The text is manifestly so corrupt, and MSS. differ so widely, that it will be necessary to print three or four independent versions of some poems, and even then the variants will be legion." What is the value of the Llewelyn Ddu col- lection of the poems ? That collection was owned by, not written by, Lewis Morris. It is one of the most corrupt that I have ever seen, and it is a pity David ap Gwilym should be judged by that text, the one used by W. Owen Pughe." I am glad that there is a prospect of getting the best available text. A good edition of Dafydd is being impatiently waited for. I think you promised it in 1896, but I believe you have not published a text since the Book of Llan Dav, and that was in 1893. It seems a long time ago." "Yes, it is a long time ago, and since you've had the straightforwardness to say so to my face, not behind my back as the manner of some is, I wish to give you an explanation. As you have already pointed out, I wa.s voted a pension from the Civil List in 1894, and since that date no addition has been made to the Welsh texts. I asked for it to enable me to do a certain specified work. The moment it was granted I set about accomplishing the task I had set myseif. If nothing has been issued, more has been done than I promised. In manuscript work much, very much, depends on eyesight. It is a matter of common knowledge that after the age of 45 the eye grows less and less reliable. Moreover, a paleographer of the highest stand- ing, had observed in my hearing that no man should attempt difficult MS. work after 50. I knew that the MSS. I wished to edit were in parts most difficult, and that I should be 50 long before I could publish them. What was I to do ? In order to anticipate the consequences of growing old I resolved to copy forthwith (making careful paleographical notes as I went along), and to pass through the press as many of them as possible while my sight was still at its best. By postponing the work of indexing and the writing of general notes and introductions to a more garrulous age, I have edited twice as many texts as I could otherwise have done if I completed each volume as I went along." "I see. You resolved to do the most im- portant part of your work first, trusting to provi- dence to, prolong your life to complete each volume later on. Do you regard your resolution as a wise one ? From the work point of view, yes from the personal point of view, no. I have been judged and misjudged by 'friends,' and my life latterly has been embittered in consequence. But while my health remains fairly good I am content to labour steadily on. I am only 53 yet, and as my sight continues abnormally good' for my age I hope to see through the press all the transcripts which I made many years ago." Do I understand you to say that you have already actually printed six volumes of texts, and that you have materials for five or six volumes more ? You are correct in both particulars. With the work of inspection came fresh opportunities -opportunities which may not recur again to the same extent. This consideration induced me to attempt a corpus of Welsh poetry from the earliest fragments down to 1500. The owners of the different MSS. gave a ready assent to copy what I wanted, and with the help of paid assist- ance I have covered most of the ground. The time spent on this undertaking has proved a serious item"and contributed to delay the appear- ance of works which have passed through the press." By the way, is it true that you have a private press, and that you actually take part in the printing yourself?" Yes, it is quite true. My method of repro ducing MSS. could not be successfully done with out direct personal relation with a first class compositor with complete control over his time and daily supervision of his work. I therefore turned my study at Oxford into a press room, and secured the services of a young Cardi' who had been for seven years in one of the best print- ing houses in England." Surely it must be a very expensive hobby ? Hobby it neither was nor is, because a very considerable part of the work had to be done by myself. No press in the kingdom could or would do what I wanted. Expensive it certainly has been. The cost of machinery, of fresh founts for every book, of special characters in various sizes, of large facsimile initials in great number, of a great variety of sorts '—these and the wages of the compositor and assistant machinist have swallowed every penny of my pension from the first to the last payment. No one envies me my laborious days and nights, and if the truth were known no artisan would envy me my wages." As to the Red Book of Hergest, have you done more of that than the firat and second volumes published in 1887 and 1890?" Yes; I have edited a third volume, con- taining all the poetry. When that is completed, bound, and issued, and I shall have received the subscriptions in respect of it, I estimate to lose on the Red Book a sum not less than £ 43° of my private funds after devoting eight years and two months of gratuitous labour upon it." And with that remark, says the correspondent, Dr. Gwenogfryn Evans placed before me the printed sheets and the facsimiles of eight different works. The old Welsh texts already printed and awaiting issue are the following (I) '1 he Mabinogion from the White Book of Roderick t (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch), including variant versions and fragments from other old vellurj1 manuscripts at Peniarth; (2) The Black Book of Carmarthen (3) The Book of Aneirin, with collotype facsimile of the whole (4) The Book of Taliessin, with full collotype facsimile; (5/ The Poetry in the Red Book of Hergest; (6) Facsimile of the Black Book of Chirk) including a considerable part of British Museum Addl. MS. 14931, this work contains the oldest Welsh version of the Laws of Howel; (7/ Facsimile of the oldest Latin version of the Welsh Laws, which will be accompanied by a printed text by the editor, and a translation by Dr. Henry Owen, F.S.A., editor of Owens Pembrokeshire" and (8) The Story 0 Amlyn and Amie, in the series of Welsh clasSICS. The works which Dr. Gwenogfryn Evans has ready for the printer are the following (I) The ql oldest Text of the Welsh Laws (2) The Poetica Works of (a) David ap Gwilym and Griffith Gry& (b) David ap Edmwnt and Meredydd ap (c) Gutto'r Glyn and Guttyn Owen (d) -^e^\ Glynn Cothi, with much fresh matter; Transcripts of the works of Hugh Davi, ddan, Iorwerth Vynglwyd, and many ot^erSn|^ longing to the 15th century; (4) A concise O and Middle Welsh Dictionary (in progress)-

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