Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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cxxvii
a trifling exception) is selected from a very large number of carols procured in this county, fre­quently from the singers themselves, and some­times from aged persons who had been once famed in such capacity ; occasionally from private sources, where they had long been preserved in old families; and to one collection of this description I am parti­cularly indebted. I was unable to discover any carol in the old Cornish dialect, nor did I expect to do so, it having been so long obsolete as a spoken language, and leaving such few records either printed or in manuscript. Of these the best are preserved by Lluyd, Price, Borlase, and D. Gil­bert in his recent publications on the subject. Like the other Celtic dialects, it was no doubt favourable for poetry, possessing the same facility of being converted into rhyme or metre, of which the Welsh is still an example. But when the lan­guage was discarded gradually from common usage, it appears to have met with unmerited neglect; for although it is inconvenient as a matter of policy to have a dialect in any country unknown to the greater part of the inhabitants, yet the Cornish language, as a subject of philological research, is one of great interest, being a remnant of Celtic literature differing in some respects from those still existing. A comparison therefore of the whole, ob­serving the variations between them, and noting wherein they agree, would tend to give some in­sight into the original and primitive language from which they are all derived; one of the earliest pro­bably in the annals of mankind. But a dissertation on this subject is not compatible with the nature of the present Introduction.
A few of the carols yet popular in Cornwall may be as old perhaps as the Reformation; for, accord­ing to their traditionary history, they arc nearly

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