Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/384

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Celtic Myth and Saga.

regrettable practice, nor would I have mentioned this one were it not that important questions of Irish literary history are concerned. Some of Mr. O'Grady's omissions seem due to a mistaken standard of delicacy. The few naturalistic touches of the original might well have been left entire, considering the cost and bulk of Mr. O'Grady's work.

For the student not the least important section of Silva Gadelica consists of the illustrative extracts, occupying, in English, forty-eight closely printed pages. An immense amount of valuable matter is here brought together and for the first time rendered accessible to the non-Irishspeaking student. But here, even more than in the body of the work, there are grave defects of editing, the effect of which is to seriously diminish the value and utility of this section to the mass of readers. How is the non-specialist to know that MD at the end of an extract means that it is from the Martyrology of Donegal? A number of passages are quoted from the Kilbride MSS. 3 and 16, in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, but no information is given as to the date of these MSS.; nor, more important still, is one told from what tracts the passages are taken. Now both of these, like nearly every other early Irish MS., are libraries in themselves, made up of pieces of various date and provenance. To refer simply to the MS. is much as if an English editor should refer to Parl. Deb. or Stat. at Large., without vouchsafing a hint as to the date and nature of the passages referred to. The same remark applies to the citation from the Books of Leinster, Lecan, and Ballymote; but of these MSS. facsimile editions exist, and it is possible by an expenditure of £15 and several hours' work to trace the passages quoted by Mr. O'Grady and to form some idea as to their nature and value. One class of references to the Books of Leinster and Ballymote requires special mention. Mr. O'Grady has—and one cannot be too thankful to him for it—translated a considerable portion of Dinnshenchas, but this is a fact the ordinary reader would never find out,