Item 1 - Letter from Robert H. Groome to W. Aldis Wright

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Add. MS b/74/5/1


Letter from Robert H. Groome to W. Aldis Wright


  • 9 Mar. 1866 (Creation)

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1 folded sheet, 1 single sheet, 1 slip

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Monk Soham.—Thanks him for a copy of his book (the Bible Word Book), and reflects on the death of William Whewell. Invites him to stay, to give him an opportunity of consulting manuscripts at Helmingham. Discusses connections between English dialects and East Frisian.



Monk Soham
March 9. 1866.

Dear Mr Wright,

Many thanks for your book {1} which I have looked over with very great interest, and shall hope to have an early notice of in the Christian Advocate.

You have lost a Great Man at Cambridge {2}. I thought him looking so handsome, when I saw him a month ago. Age had given dignity to the hard features, and his white hair gave him a venerable look.

All his foibles and failings will be buried in his grave and forgotten: but he will live, specially among you at Trinity.

As regards any Chaucer M.SS. at Helmingham, I only know of one a fragment on paper, and I cannot trust my recollection as to what it is.

The books and M.S.S are not accessible save when Mr Tollemache is there.

Perhaps he may come down during the Whitsun Holydays.

Can you come and stay a few days with me, in case the Library is then accessible.

I will ask Bradshaw to come down with you, and you shall rummage one or two closets &c, which I don’t think have been sufficiently gone over.

I quite hold to your project about the General Dialecticon—to coin a word—and will gladly help in it.

I think I can furnish some good specimens of old Harvest-songs, and such old songs as go to tuneless tunes.

Did you ever hear a true Suffolk tune—“never ending, still beginning.”

Do you know a book—of which I carried off Vol. 1. the other day from the P.L.—which mightily amuses me.

“Firmenich, J. W. “Germaniens Völkerstimmen.”

I cannot make out much system in it, except that the series of dialects are topographically arranged. Perhaps the third Volume contains results.

I have gathered some very curious illustrations and Bremen dialects.

Perhaps things all known before, only having the special flavour to me of game taken by my own hunting.


Do you know the Dorset Dialect? How constantly the words “I low” recur: “I low, twill rain tomorrow.”—I used to think this meant “I allow” by the figure of Tmesis—so convenient for amateur philologists.

But, lo ye {3}, in East Frisian. | (p. 18. Fermenich)

“De Dokter Liefpien het mi dar’n Dings an mien Schürdöer schreven, ich lör, ’t is Kremerlatien”

“Docter Liefpien had written me something about it on the — {4} door, I low, it is Kremer-(?) Latin.

(Elsewhere it is called “Dews-latien” = Dog-latin!!!

Then p. 42. Mundart Kiels.

Ich glöw, et sull en Amtsverwalter sien.”

I low, it was an Official.”

So here we have “Ich glaube”. and Dorsetshire “I low” = I believe.

Tög = heng {5} = Dress = Toggery.

Noch ein Wortchen!

Moor = Mother | = Mor, Suffolk.

Yours sincerely,
Robert. W. Groome

I know so little of your Cambridge politics; but who will be your new master.
Mathison, Vaughan, Thompson? {6}

Has W.H.T. any chance?

Have you read E.F.G. “Mighty Magician” yet? {7}

[Second postscript:]

I open my letter to obtrude some advice.

In your list of books appended to your W.B. {8} I miss one book, which may be after all well known to you, but if not a book of great value for your Shakspere Glossary, if you are meditating such a Magnum opus.

“The Courtier of Count Baldesar Castilio – – – – done into English by Thomas Hobby. | London Printed by John Wolfe | 1588.

I meant to have excerpt† it for the Big Dic {9}, during poor H. Coleridge’s Life, but since then “fresh fields”—I cannot “pastures gay”—for they are sad at times—have occupied me.


The first postscript was added at the head of the first sheet, the second on a separate slip. There are a few irregularities of punctuation, which have not been corrected. The letter was sent with two lists of notable words in Hoby’s translation of Castiglione’s Courtier (Add. MS b. 74/5/2).

{1} Wright’s Bible Word Book, first published this year.

{2} William Whewell, who died on 6 March.

{3} ‘lo ye’: reading uncertain.

{4} A question mark has been added above the dash.

{5} Reading uncertain.

{6} W. C. Mathison, C. J. Vaughan, W. H. Thompson, all Fellows of Trinity.

{7} Edward FitzGerald’s translation of Calderón’s play El mágico prodigioso, privately printed in 1865. There are six copies in Trinity College Library.

{8} i.e. the Bible Word Book.

{9} This is the apparent reading—perhaps short for ‘Big Dictionary’; but the reference is unclear.

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      Sent with Add. MS b. 74/5/2.

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      This description was created by A. C. Green in 2022.




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