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Edward William Lane 1801–1876The Life of the Pioneering Egyptologist and Orientalist$

Jason Thompson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9789774162879

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162879.001.0001

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(p.611) 28 Hastings
Edward William Lane 1801–1876

Jason Thompson

American University in Cairo Press

Abstract and Keywords

The family was happy to be back in England, though the boys found their activities curtailed at first “on account of want of Frank clothing”. Lane's precarious health admitted no possibility of living in London again, and with the weather turning colder. He was anxious to return to Hastings, whose climate had benefited him in the past. He and Nefeeseh arrived there on the first day of December, while Sophia and the boys followed a short while later. This may have been one of Lane's few journeys by train, for although the Hastings rail station was not yet open, the one at nearby West Marina had operated for several years. In mid-January 1850, not long after Lane moved to Hastings, another of his nephews, Richard's son Edward (Ned) Theophilus, died at age twenty following a severe case of typhus.

Keywords:   Nefeeseh, England, Hastings, West Marina, typhus

Lane and his entourage settled into his brother's house at 29 Queen's Road in Regent's Park, where Richard was making a portrait of the Dowager Queen Adelaide.1 Despite earlier optimism about being able to stand the approaching winter, Lane promptly succumbed to his customary severe cold.2 Confined to the house, he explained to Bonomi that although he would have enjoyed seeing him and “the Wild man” (James Wild, also in London), his only trip out of doors had been to see an old friend who thought she was dying.3 Good-naturedly he lamented how visitors took up his time. The family was happy to be back in England, though the boys found their activities curtailed at first “on account of want of Frank clothing.” Having spent their adolescence in Egypt, they were “thoroughly disgusted” with England's climate, Lane informed Hay, “& not over well pleased with all the manners & customs of its inhabitants.”4

Lane had to make adjustments too; Britain had changed while he was away. The physical and economic landscape was transformed by railway mania and the ongoing industrialization. The political scene had altered with the Irish Famine and the repeal of the Corn Laws. On the other hand, while the revolutions of 1848 threw Europe into confusion (and foreclosed Prussian support for Lane), the threat of Chartism that had poor Joseph Bonomi imagining himself making a heroic last (p.612) stand on the stairs of the British Museum against the forces of anarchy proved illusory, vanishing like late snow on a sunny afternoon. Order prevailed; improvement was the word often heard. It was a good time to live and work - provided one had money, and Lane had at least some. Regular payments arrived from the Duke of Northumberland with the assurance they would continue for the midterm, though not indefinitely. Under the careful management of Sophia - increasingly in charge of everything - it was just enough to maintain the household and enjoy a modicum of comfort. And to keep Lane immersed in the Arabic-English Lexicon.

The P&O Company provided indirect financial aid by deferring payment for their passages until they reached England and granting what Lane described as a “liberal reduction” in the amount.5 Richard Andrews, a P&O official and an acquaintance of Sophia's, agreed to convey Lane's periodic shipments of transcripts of the Taj al-‘arus from Cairo free of charge. Andrews received the parcels personally and forwarded them to Lane, thereby providing additional assurance that the valuable papers would reach Lane safely and reliably through the monthly steamship service.6 That all amounted to a substantial subsidy for the Lexicon.

While Lane was taking care of business, Nefeeseh, Stanley, and Stuart went to the Egyptian Hall, where the great Belzoni had held the momentous exhibit that helped turn Lane's thoughts to Egypt, to see Joseph Bonomi's latest venture, his Grand Moving Panoramic Picture of the Nile.7 The mid-nineteenth century was the heyday of such panoramas, basically large, translucent canvases, backlit to project a powerful illusion of the famous or exotic scenes painted on their surfaces. Some, like Bonomi's, were designed to move, unrolling the scenery before the dazzled viewers who flocked to see the moving pictures of their day. Taking full advantage of light and shadow, Bonomi's panorama, eight feet wide and eight hundred feet long, displayed some fifty scenes of the length of Egypt and Nubia, beginning and ending with sunrise and sunset. John Bull deemed it “a picturesque voyage up the Nile … very pleasantly, safely, and cheaply enjoyed, in the course of an hour or so, by stepping into the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly.”8 George Gliddon and Frederick Catherwood were also making big splashes with panoramas at about this time; Gliddon later purchased Bonomi's and took it to America, where it attracted (p.613) enormous crowds as Bonomi and his partners moved on to other displays.9 It looked as if Bonomi had finally found a genuinely paying proposition, one that must have been welcome to a married man with a growing family. Three years of marriage had brought three children: Menes, Cautley, and Jessie; another, John, was born in 1851. Did he ever think back to Fatima and his two children in Cairo?

Unfortunately, the grand moving panoramic pictures enterprise turned out to be just another of Bonomi's reckless ventures; his partners were unscrupulous or at best careless businessmen so that he was lucky to extricate himself without serious financial liability or damage to his reputation. By 1852 he was designing and building the Egyptian Court at the Crystal Palace with Owen Jones.10 But for the moment all was going well for Bonomi. Lane told him that Nefeeseh and the boys found the panorama charming, though it was probably just as well that he never saw it, because he would have looked askance at the program describing a scene at Esna “with its exiled Almés, or Dancing-Girls,” having excoriated the popular confusion of awalim with ghawazi in Modern Egyptians.

Lane's precarious health admitted no possibility of living in London again, and with the weather turning colder he was anxious to return to Hastings, whose climate had benefited him in the past. He and Nefeeseh arrived there on the first day of December; Sophia and the boys followed a short while later. This may have been one of Lane's few journeys by train, for although the Hastings rail station was not yet open, the one at nearby West Marina had operated for several years. They settled into a small house at 25 White Rock Place, some distance west of their previous Hastings address, protected from the north wind by the rocky ridge that ran close behind. Still standing, its bay windows look directly across the promenade to the sea. The census of 1851 found all five of them there, including Lane, age forty-nine, occupation “Orientalist and Author.”

He wasted no time. By February 1850 he was writing to Wilkinson: “At this quiet place I am going on with my work like a steam-engine. I am sorry to say that it is not yet near its termination; but my health is better than it was in Egypt, (p.614) & I am not in the least discouraged.” Hastings was also remote; Lane spoke of being “buried as I am here, out of the world.”11 He reported to the Duke of Northumberland in January that “my health has so much improved that I have now a confident hope of my being soon much better than I was in Egypt: & it has not for one day prevented my working with the same energy with which I proceeded in Cairo; where, during my residence of more tha[n] seven years, I can boast of not having allowed myself quite half a week of holidays!”12 He almost never went out of doors, certainly not that first winter, remaining in his study, surrounded by the large volumes of Arabic manuscripts, writing at his desk. Richard's daughter Clara, a blossoming artist in her own right, caught him in that pose.13

“I have met with only one disappointment since my return; but that is a very provoking one,” Lane complained to the duke in March 1850. “I find that the oriental manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum comprise the only two works which I very much want, & which, with the exception of a fragment of one of them, I was unable to procure in Cairo; namely the Asás of Ez-Zamakhsheree, & the Tekmileh of Eṣ-Ṣaghánee.”14 There was no question in Lane's mind of going to London and working in the British Museum, so he requested to borrow them, but William Cureton, the assistant keeper of manuscripts, could not authorize that, despite being a strong partisan of Lane. Undeterred, Lane appealed to the museum's trustees to borrow at least the Asas, of which the museum possessed two copies, “as it so desirable that I should be able to make frequent daily references to it,” but apparently to no avail, and he had to make do with his abridged copy from Cairo.15 His appeal might have found more favor two years later when the duke became an ex officio trustee by virtue of his cabinet post.

As obligated by his corresponding membership in the German Oriental Society, Lane had submitted an article to the society's journal before leaving Egypt, and he sent another soon after arriving in England. The first was a review of classical Arabic lexicographers from al-Khalil to al-Zabidi; the second article was about Arabic pronunciation and accentuation.16 Neither cost him much effort, (p.615) the lexicographical article being a slight adaptation of a letter he had written to Lepsius when he was seeking Prussian support, its material taken in turn almost verbatim from his oft-circulated prospectus. He wrote the second article quickly, and mostly from memory.17 With his mind fixed on the Arabic-English Lexicon, he had little leisure for strolling down scholarly side roads. Since Lane could not read or write German, someone, perhaps Dieterici, translated the articles for him. Acknowledging receipt of the second, Dieterici bemoaned how “my country suffered very much by the storm of past year there is no more the old german truth and cordiality there is no more the old religion and love there is nothing more but enmity and disatisfection. I found the german who boasted once that by the wings of his mind he would soar to the sun of truth is now quit knocked down, yes our mind rose past year but only to commit crime and to shed blood. now we stay quit anxious about future. … Our political horizon is very dark and there are but very few stars of hope.”18 Any lingering thoughts of Prussian support vanished.

Lane was probably less interested in his two German articles than in the publications of his nephew Stuart whose researches into ancient Egyptian chronology had borne fruit in a series of essays about Manetho's dynastic system that appeared in the Literary Gazette. While the family was at Hastings, he gathered and revised them into a book. The Duke of Northumberland paid for its printing (by John Murray, who swings in and out of Lane's life like a pendulum) and for illustrations drawn on stone and wood by Joseph Bonomi. Unasked, Wilkinson sent woodblocks from his own work for Stuart's use. The Lieders were also helpful in many ways, and of course Lane assisted, as Stuart acknowledged, with “valuable advice and criticism.” Thus Stuart's Horæ Ægyptiacæ was published in 1851, much to his uncle's pride.19 It was an impressively precocious performance for the nineteen-year-old boy, and for a time he enjoyed a reputation, at least among some of his uncle's friends, as a scholar of note. Wilkinson had already told Lane in Cairo: “Your Nephew has settled every point of much importance in the chronology of the first seventeen Dynasties, & left nothing for others to do but to fill up details comparatively uninteresting.”20 In the long run, though, Stuart might have done better (p.616) to cut his Egyptological teeth on a subject less fraught with technical difficulties than ancient Egyptian chronology. As A. C. Harris astutely observed: “It really is too early to attempt to apply the Symbolical Astronomy of the Egyptians to Chronological Calculations. We have not learned the signs and their meanings: we have not even looked them up.”21

But triumph was all too often alloyed with tragedy in the lives of the Lanes. In mid-January 1850, not long after Lane moved to Hastings, another of his nephews, Richard's son Edward (Ned) Theophilus, died at age twenty following a severe case of typhus. A promising young man with an artistic bent and a passion for trains that he enjoyed expressing in drawings of high quality, he was serving an apprenticeship on the Great Western Railway.22 The following autumn Richard returned to the springs of Malvern, no doubt needing rest and recovery, but probably also wanting to recapture some sense of the good moments he had enjoyed there several years earlier with his son.23 In November he made a lithographic portrait of “Our beloved Ned.”24 Clara, his eldest daughter, classical in appearance and gracious in bearing, became his constant companion as he went around London while his wife, Sophia, more retiring than her husband, usually preferred to stay home with the younger daughters, Emily and Laura Elizabeth, thirteen and fourteen years younger than Clara. Under Richard's tutelage, Clara continued to develop as an artist and exhibited four times at the Royal Academy during the late 1850s.25

Lane's sanguine expectations for the climate of Hastings proved misplaced; within a few weeks he was coughing heavily and complaining to Hay about the “dreadful weather,” although “I am working as hard as I did in Egypt, hoping soon to be able to work still harder.” Even the following summer was “more like winter.” Nefeeseh also gave cause for concern. “Still my poor Wife suffers a good deal,” he wrote to Hay, with the openness about her that he always showed to the person who had brought her into his life, “& I am far from being easy about her. She has grown very stout of late; & I feared that she was becoming dropsical. Three physicians have treated her; but without success.”26 She was finally diagnosed as (p.617) having no particularly threatening condition and prescribed diet and exercise. In this instance, Victorian medicine may have been on target, for she was better by the end of the year, and subsequently enjoyed four and a half decades of reasonably good health, but after several miscarriages or false pregnancies, Lane had long since given up his hope of having a child and had come to look on his nephews as his posterity, especially Stanley, whose Arabic had reached a high degree of proficiency.

Despite illnesses and disappointment in Hastings’ weather, Lane felt no desire to return to Egypt. “If I had less to do,” he wrote to Hay, “I should like very much to spend a winter occasionally in Egypt, always to make a voyage up the Nile; but I do not desire ever again to spend a summer in that country. The seven summers I have had there, or rather nearly eight, have been more than enough for me.”27 It was the same story to Wilkinson: “I left a good deal of copying of MSS. &c. to be done at Cairo for me, & hope that I shall not be obliged to go there again.”28 Although part of Lane's personality, revealed only to a few of his oldest and closest friends from Egypt, would always be Mansur Effendi, the Eastern bridegroom of a quarter century earlier had matured into a middle-aged married man, firmly wedded not to Egypt but to his Arabic-English Lexicon.

Still, he enjoyed reminiscing when Sir Gardner Wilkinson visited that summer, newly returned to England via northern Italy where he sketched Etruscan ruins and studied the problematic Turin Papyrus. “He passed every evening at my lodgings during his stay here,” Lane informed Hay, “& very pleasant evenings they were, like those of the good old time.”29 Obviously Lane had not yet resumed his working days of twelve hours or more, or perhaps he made a very special exception for his friend. Wilkinson was looking for a house to rent. His private income, sufficient to travel and follow his interests, was insufficient to buy the kind of permanent base he wanted. He was anxious to settle down, and Hastings looked promising, but Lane warned him that the unfurnished house he sought was a “rara avis” in that area, so after a week and a half Wilkinson moved on to look elsewhere, as he followed his practice of rather shamelessly seeking invitations at great houses, trading on his knighthood and literary reputation. Usually a welcome enough guest, the aging bachelor had no true home of his own.

Increasingly adrift in his personal life, Wilkinson's literary career was also slipping its moorings. After a good run at John Murray's, the publisher decided his once-favored author had reached the point of diminishing returns, so when (p.618) Wilkinson came with his latest proposal, a large, illustrated book entitled The Architecture of the Ancient Egyptians, Murray said no, forcing him to publish it bysubion; Murray was willing to do the printing and even subscribed for a copy, but Wilkinson had to raise the money.30 Though he believed he still had much to offer, having tapped only a fraction of the potential in his enormous collection of notebooks and sketchbooks, Wilkinson was running out of ideas. Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians had been a lucky shot that landed in a happyconfluence of form, subject, and popular interest, but it was a one-off performance that could not be repeated. His attempt to take leftover bits from his Ancient Egyptians and serve them up as a new dish in The Egyptians in the Time of the Pharaohs in 1857 was unconvincing.

Part of Wilkinson's problem was a temperamental inability for sustained scholarly or literary effort, astonishing as that might seem, given the quality and quantity of his fieldwork in Egypt; but when it came to composition, his habits were the antithesis of Lane's. It is said that he wrote most of Ancient Egyptians at night, after the dinner parties he so loved and that were a vital component of his survival strategy, while waiting to fall asleep. He could write well enough in small bursts, but to exploit his material fully he needed to organize facts, formulate generalities, develop new modes of presentation, and above all stay with it. Wilkinson could not work that way. He produced articles on various subjects throughout the rest of his life, and even wrote another book, On Colour, that benefited from research by Stuart Poole and a list of Arabic names of colors sent by Lane.31 This dilettantish though occasionally insightful treatise on color and taste drew personal attention from John Ruskin, but there would not be another major work from Wilkinson.32

Things were not going well for Robert Hay either. Hay had been expanding his holdings and investing heavily in their improvement for years. In 1845 he finally acquired the vast estate of Nunraw that he had long coveted. Its enormous but ruinous manor was probably the model for Sir Walter Scott's ‘Ravenswood’ in The Bride of Lammermuir. At last he could live in the state he wanted; he styled himselfthe squire “of Linplum and Nunraw.” But he went too fast, paid excessive prices, and invested too heavily, so that when the economic current shifted against him, he was unable to recover, tangled in a complicated net of interrelated obligations. Hay (p.619) staved off total collapse through a series of stopgap measures, and he still had some ready money, but the abundant cash flow of the past was gone, never to return, and the economic foundation of his holdings was fractured beyond repair, leaving him with his cold, drafty house in Scotland, unsuitable for habitation, without funds to finish it and unable to maintain a fine lifestyle, at least not year round. Like many aristocrats and gentry who found themselves in reduced circumstances but not altogether destitute, Hay sought refuge on the Continent, where he and Kalitza could afford to live in reasonable comfort as they made the rounds of hotels and spas. Announcing his departure to Bonomi, he moaned: “I am sorry to leave my pretty place, & give up the improvements I have been going on with from time to time, but tho' I can live luxuriously in a Tomb in Egypt, In our fair land a Ruin makes but an unsatisfactory abode!”33 Hay eventually settled near Florence, where some of his descendants are still to be found, occasionally returning to Scotland to play the part of the landed gentleman in local affairs. He also continued to help James Burton and his wife, now living in Edinburgh, and kept Lane informed about their mutual friend. “I am sorry that you cannot give me a better account of Yaakoob,” Lane replied.34

Hay's Egyptological spirit never revived. Lane chided him, “I really am half angry with you for forgetting the Egyptian Monuments, while I, with my overwhelming work, am almost more interested in them than ever. I can't understand your going abroad again & not going to Egypt.”35 Bonomi, who had also tried to motivate Hay, and also in vain, was concerned when he saw the prospectus for Wilkinson's Architecture of the Ancient Egyptians. Wilkinson was moving into an area where Hay had once worked extensively, and that would have been heavily featured had Hay published his portfolio. Of course, Wilkinson had a right to publish if Hay did not, but it still sounded like he was up to his old tricks again, poaching in his neighbor's intellectual game park. When Bonomi said as much to Hay, the response was indifference:

I am rather entertained with yr saying, Wilkinson is abt to do wh I ought to have accomplished; having all the materials sleeping in my portefolio for years. The latter part is but too true! But, who's fault is it? Certainly, not mine.

I tried “The Public” with what I thought wd please most - The Picturesque - intending, if they paid to proceede and make them Masters of the whole subject, to the best of (p.620) my abilities. In the attempt to enlighten their dark understandings I let slip more than £2,000, and if £400 found its way back, it is abt the utmost! After that, no great wonder that my “materials” should feel some what drowsy!

If I had the “filthy lucre” back again, I shd be disposed to lay it out at present in another kind of Art wh wd add considerably more to my Comfort than my Publication does, and I believe, the very wonderful “Public” wd be equally happy: - In solid stone & mortar to rebuild & improve my poor tumble-down house!36

Before Hay departed in November 1850, Lane wrote the last of his extant letters to him. There were certainly others, but they were probably lost in Hay's moves. “I again wish you all possible happiness,” Lane closed, “& beg you to give me a line when you are settled in your foreign temporary abode. God bless you.”37

While some of his friends were losing their directions, Lane's sense of purpose grew ever stronger. He was far into composition of the Arabic-English Lexicon. His major strategic decisions are documented: to concentrate on the classical language; to make the Taj al-‘arus the basis for the Lexicon, but to consult other major lexicographical sources and collate from them; to compile the articles initially in rhyme order and then place them in modern dictionary order; to put rare, seldom-used words into a second book to be written after the first was finished. But no such documentation exists for his tactical decisions. Lane never left a memoir describing the nuts and bolts of his compositional method, and references to technical details in his extant correspondence are few; nor - and this is especially regrettable - did he have an apprentice and successor in his work, someone who could have brought it to the level of completion that Lane intended and left a more explicit account of how it was done. The major sources for the composition of the Arabic-English Lexicon are its several manuscript drafts, mostly partial, that show the project at different stages of development.38 Evaluation of these is complicated by the fact that (p.621) each differs significantly in organization and content; just one is complete; and each is held by a different institution under varying conditions of access, hindering examination and comparison. Even so, these manuscripts offer a rich opportunity for expert lexicographical study in the future; meanwhile, several conclusions can be inferred from them.

One of the most obvious is the centrality of the Taj al-‘arus. Lane displayed impeccable judgment in making that huge dictionary the basis for his work. Its plethora of entries, incorporating so much from its great predecessors over the centuries, gave it an unmatched command of the classical lexicographical field. That is why Lane, unable to purchase a copy in Cairo, assigned al-Dasuqi the formidable task of transcribing it in full, a task that the sheikh performed with discernment and judgment, finding his way through a myriad of textual difficulties, working more or less steadily for over a decade, filling 13,063 folia with his clear if somewhat chubby handwriting. As he received the transcription of the Taj al-‘arus bit by bit, Lane made what he sometimes called his ‘translation’ of it, though translation is hardly the word to describe the multi-volume manuscript that resulted and became the framework of the Arabic-English Lexicon.39 He worked at that phase of the project for about ten years, writing an average of eighty careful manuscript pages each week.40

One occasionally hears the Arabic-English Lexicon deprecated as little more than an adaptation of the Taj al-‘arus (something that would have been no small accomplishment), but even a cursory comparison of the Lexicon and the Taj (p.622) al-‘arus shows how wrong that is. Lane routinely drew directly on a number ofother works, especially the Sihah, the Lisan al-‘arab, and the Qamus, each of which had its strong points. For example, the Lisan al-‘arab was “very helpful especially in enabling me to supply syllabical signs, which are too often omitted in the copies of the Táj el-’Aroos.” The definitions in the Lisan al-‘arab are also clearer and its examples from literature more abundant. Lane “very often” composed his articles directly from the Lisan al-‘arab rather than the Taj al-‘arus, more often in fact than his citations indicate, because when the passages in question agreed he usually cited the Taj al-‘arus.41 Even when he extracted quotations or citations of other works from the Taj al-‘arus, Lane verified and corrected them from the originals, drawing on his copious lexicographical resources. He also went to the sources of the Taj al-‘arus to restore material that its compiler omitted as unnecessary for Easternscholars, but that Lane considered essential for Western scholars of the East.42 The Qamus, though diminished in overall importance to the project, remained a majorcomponent of it as Lane generally followed its order of entries, set in rhyme order like the Taj al-‘arus, in the initial phases of composition. The large number of its entries, all from the “genuine language,” and its status as a standard reference work made it an ideal preliminary guide. In the “Indication of Authorities” in the preface to the Arabic-English Lexicon, Lane lists 112 sources. Although he drew on most of them through the Taj al-‘arus and Lisan al-‘arab, forty-three are marked as sources from which he worked directly. “To convey a due idea of the difficulties of my task would be impossible,” Lane wrote. “While mainly composing from the Táj el-’Aroos, I have often had before me, or by my side, eight or ten other lexicons (presenting three different arrangements of the root and all of them differing in the order, or rather disorder, of the words explained,) requiring to be consulted at the same time. And frequently more than a day's study has been necessary to enable me thoroughly to understand a single passage.”43 Nevertheless, the role of the Taj al-‘arus was central; in Lane's words, it was “the medium through which I have drawnmost of the contents of my lexicon.”44

The most striking difference between the Arabic-English Lexicon and the Taj (p.623) al-‘arus is the structure of the articles, because after translating from the Taj al-‘arus and the other sources, Lane reorganized everything and added to it extensively as he composed individual articles according to a format uniquely his own that has served the needs of generations of Arabic scholars. The entries in the classical lexicographical sources are chaotic. Lane had to untangle them, then impose order. While the classical compilers understood the prolific way Arabic words generated forms and meanings, they never developed a systematic way of organizing derivatives under their roots. Lane created new paradigms for doing that. In the opinion of one scholar of Arabic lexicography: “Lane's classification of verbal forms has never been bettered. The scheme used by Europeans, whereby under any root, the verbs come first, in accordance with the number of letters of increase which they contain; then the nouns, beginning with the simplest ones, and ending with the longest ones, especially those beginning with an additional mīm; has been adopted by the Arabs themselves.”45 Lane's contemporary and strong admirer, the renowned French orientalist Julius Mohl, was exaggerating only slightly when he proclaimed, “each article is a perfect monograph, recording all that can be recorded on the subject.”46

To quote a complete article from the Arabic-English Lexicon is impractical, for a major one can easily run for several thousand words in English and Arabic as Lane deftly shows the connectedness of the Arabic language and its inexhaustible capacity for variation. In a relatively simple but representative example, he begins his article about the root

(dragging, pulling, extending, stretching, etc.) by establishing correct orthography, with variations, exceptions, and objections. Then proceeding to the verbal forms of
, he sets forth their manifold meanings, each copiously supported by citations of usage from his lexicographical sources, usually the Taj al-‘arus, the Qamus, and the Sihah, but frequently from others whenever they contain significant pertinent material, while adding definitions and commentary of his own devising. Hence, from the meaning, “He dragged, or drew along the spear,” he moves through “She exceeded the (usual) time of pregnancy,” “He delayed, or deferred, with him, or put him off,” “He pierced him with the spear and left it in him so that he dragged it along,” “It was, or became, dragged, drawn, pulled, tugged, strained, extended by drawing or pulling or tugging, or stretched,” “He [a camel or any cloven-footed animal] ejected the cud from his stomach and ate it again; ruminated; chewed the cud,” “I made him to have authority and power over me,” “He (a stallion-camel) reiterated his voice, (p.624) or cry,” and “The fire of Hell shall produce sounds in his belly like those which a camel makes in his windpipe.”

Coming to the nominal forms of

, we find the definitions: “The foot, bottom, base, or lowest part, of a mountain,” “A vessel made of potters’ clay,” “A small piece of wood, or a piece of wood about a cubit long, having a snare at the head, and a cord at the middle, with which gazelles are caught,” “A mode, or manner, of dragging, drawing, pulling, tugging, straining, or stretching,” “A female that exceeds the (usual) time of pregnancy,” “A rope,” “The art of pottery,” “A crime; a sin; an offence which a man commits, and for which he should be punished,” “A kind of fish,” “The stomach, or triple stomach, or the crop, or craw, of a bird,” “A man who leads a thousand,” “A small, yellow, female scorpion, like a piece of straw,” “The thing (or machine) of iron with which the reaped corn collected together is thrashed,” “The bean; or beans,” “A large, or bulky, camel,” “The herb eruca, or rocket,” “A mill, or mill-stone,” “That [which] drinks much,” “Rain that draws the hyena from its hole by its violence,” “A road to water,” “The jinn, or genii, and mankind,” “The place, or track, along which a thing is, or has been, dragged, or drawn,” and “The Milky Way in the sky.” And this is to list only some of the significations that Lane provides for
, each heading amounting to a small article in itself with yet more examples and significations.47 Altogether, the article “
” covers nine dense columns of text extending across three full pages and containing nearly five hundred citations of classical lexicographical authorities.

Far from being the kind of dry discursi that one might naively but mistakenly expect of a good dictionary, the articles in Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon often make good reading and are fun to peruse at random. This derives in part from the richness of the Arabic language, its shades and shifts of meaning closely documented by Lane, but also from Lane's literary skill, finely honed through composition of three major literary works into a functional conciseness that always speaks directly to the point. Even the humor that suffuses the subtexts of Modern Egyptians and the annotations to the Arabian Nights still colors the prose of the Lexicon. Lane's voice is always present; his opinions are expressed forthrightly. Hedraws implicitly on personal experience, and in a few instances refers explicitly to Modern Egyptians and the Arabian Nights to enhance definitions. References toother modern or to early modern Western scholars, however, are extremely rare, and most of those are to Golius and Freytag, usually to note mistakes or shortcomings in their dictionaries, but occasionally more positively in the case of Golius when it appeared that the Dutch scholar might have derived a significance from (p.625) a variant reading in his manuscript copy of a source that was not to be found in Lane's copy of the same work. Lane was extremely thorough, and he never excluded a possible meaning out of hand.

Otherwise, the Arabic-English Lexicon relies almost exclusively on the classical lexicographical sources, and it quotes from them extensively. Usually this is a matter of terse definitions, but because the lexicographers incorporated a wide variety of material in their works, including selections from the pre-Islamic poets, Lane could in turn use them to provide many examples from literature. Hence, in the article about the root

(cut off ), he was able to cite al-Nabighah through the medium of the Sihah: “Suleymà has turned away, and the bond of her union with me has become severed.”48 Or, writing about the form of
that signifies “A calamity, or misfortune,” he drew on the Taj al-‘arus to quote al-Akhtal:

And I was sound of heart until calamities befell me

From the resplendent females, exhibiting their beauty.49

The Sihah also furnished an example for the article about
of one of the favorite motifs of Bedouin poetry, the abandoned campsite of a beloved, in verses by al-Mukhabbal al-Saadi:
  • And I see a dwelling formerly belonging to her, at the pools of Es-Seedán,
  • The remains of which have not become effaced,
  • And ashes wasted and compacted together, from which three black pieces of stone
  • Whereon the cooking-pot was wont to be placed turned back the winds.50
Much more often than not, however, the quotations are more everyday in nature, with frequent allusions to practical aspects of camels.

In the rarefied heights of lexicography, Lane was at last free from Victorian mores in his choice of words. The Arabic-English Lexicon would be purchased by subion, not sold to the masses, and read by the better classes of people, who were considered immune to moral corruption from literary influences. Whereas he had been constrained to remove passages about sexual activity and intimate bodily parts and functions from Modern Egyptians, despite having discreetly cloaked them in Latin, and could not even consider including them in the Arabian (p.626) Nights, however bawdy the Arabic original, Lane could write almost anything inthe Lexicon. There is, for example, the article

, dealing with a woman's external genital organs, giving that root's several particular forms and significations, including
which means “A man loving, or fond of the pudenda of women.”51 Description could be quite graphic: in writing about the root
, he points out how one of its verbal forms is an epithet for woman because its meaning of “having two ََِ punctures of a seam rent so as to become one” could refer to a woman's
“the meeting together of the vagina and rectum.”52 References to such things as nocturnal seminal emissions, sexual intercourse, menstrual flux, having a large penis, and fine distinctions in farting are sprinkled abundantly and unabashedly throughout the pages of the Lexicon, and usually in plain English. Rarely did Lane resort to Latin in these instances, and then probably because the Latin terms had also passed into English usage, as in the case of pudendum, or because they expressed some things more concisely than the English equivalents available to him.

The conceptual framework of the Arabic-English Lexicon is original and imaginative, yet the work is also Janus-faced, looking behind as well as ahead. Lane's reliance on the great Arabic dictionaries of the past placed him within the tradition of the classical lexicographers, a tradition stretching for almost a millennium from the Kitab al-‘ayn through the Taj al-‘arus, and in some ways culminating in Lane himself. It could even be said that his is a native, classical dictionary - albeit one with highly innovative elements - in an English translation. A dictionary of Arabic and a Western language would not be composed Lane's way today; that would be like taking Samuel Johnson's Dictionary and making it the basis for the Oxford English Dictionary instead of beginning anew with a survey of the languageas a whole. Today's dictionary would be constructed on etymological and historical principles by identifying the initial appearances of words and tracing changes in their morphologies and meanings over time, each step documented with examples from literature. The Arabic lexicographical works would be important sources, but the dictionary would not be constructed almost entirely from their contents. That is the ideal approach, but it exceeds the ability of any individual and stretches far beyond one lifetime, as subsequent and ongoing lexicographical endeavors have demonstrated. Lane's method was the only one with any chance of solitary success. His Arabic-English Lexicon is one of the marvels of orientalist scholarship.53

(p.627) The shape of the final articles was probably far from clear in Lane's mind when he settled to work at Hastings in the winter of 1849–50. His main concern was his ‘translation’ of Taj al-‘arus, of which he had probably completed a little more than one-third.54 Everything depended on a continuing supply of transcriptions from al-Dasuqi, whom Lane had left to copy the work in Cairo under the general supervision of Johann Lieder. According to long-established copyists’ and bookmakers' practice, described by Lane in Modern Egyptians, the sheikh copied Taj al-‘arus onto karrases, a karras consisting of five sheets of paper folded inside each other to form twenty pages.55 Whenever al-Dasuqi accumulated a sufficiently large bundle, he delivered it to Lieder who dispatched it to Lane via the monthly steam-packet service.

The Lane-Lieder-al-Dasuqi triangle generated a prismatic correspondence (p.628) that refracted previously unseen spectra in Lane's and al-Dasuqi's personalities. The first letter in the series is from Lane to al-Dasuqi, in Arabic, written in December 1849. It contains little more than pleasantries about missing Egypt and his friend al-Dasuqi, and news of their move to the seacoast: “So here we are, daily reading al-Qāmūs al-Muh.īt and being grateful to the person but for whom we would be unable to get through it.” Lane closed as “Your affectionate pupil, Mansur al-Inklizi.”56 Al-Dasuqi replied in the same tone and included some lines of poetry.57

Lane's letter to Lieder the following May shows that he discussed business affairs with Lieder, not al-Dasuqi. Lane wrote: “My very dear Friend, I am most deeply grateful to you for the zeal with which you have attended to my affairs since I quitted Cairo: & beg that you will have the goodness to give abundant salutations from me & all of us to the Sheykh, & to tell him that I am very much pleased with the karráses which I have received, & much obliged to him for his kind & beautiful letter. I must beg you to make his Ramadán present ten pounds instead of six: that is, a thousand piastres instead of six hundred.”58 But the second shipment of karrases that should have arrived by the May packet had not come, Lane informed Lieder, although Mr. Andrews at the P&O assured him it had not been lost. Lieder replied that the fault lay with A. C. Harris, who had passed through Cairo and insisted on taking the parcel to Alexandria himself but tarried so long on the way looking at antiquities that he missed the steamer's sailing date.59 This early hitch, made good by the following month's delivery, was an uncomfortable reminder of how much everything depended on a long, segmented supply line.

The next letter from Sheikh al-Dasuqi, dated 26 June 1850, came at the prompting of Lieder, who enclosed it with one of his own a few days later, although al-Dasuqi would have been appalled had he known what Lieder wrote. After thanking Lane for the increased Ramadan gift (“may God preserve you”) - which he stated as 1,200 piasters, not 1,000 - al-Dasuqi proceeded to recount two recent developments that threatened to hinder his copying for Lane. The first, about which Lane had already learned from a letter from Alice Lieder to Sophia, resulted from new policies of Abbas Pasha, who had succeeded his grandfather Muhammad Ali. Abbas dismissed the director of al-Dasuqi's school, a Frenchman named (p.629) Lambert Bey, and replaced him with Ali Mubarak, a young Egyptian who had been educated in France and later became one of his country's leading intellectual figures, but al-Dasuqi had nothing good to say about him:

I will not bore you with his bad qualities, the least of which are treachery, failure to keep his promises and claiming to love truth while being dedicated to the opposite. This director has forced me to attend only to the government books and their editing, and to give lessons in grammar and literature to the pupils of this school. He undertook to give me for the editing work 700 piasters, and for the lessons I give, 20, that is, 10 piasters an hour. This is according to the Viceroy's order re the organization of the school, that lessons should be on contract by the hour. I teach from 9.30 to 11.30. He has forced me to go to school early in the day, i.e. from 1.00 or 11.00 according to the season of the year, and to guarantee that the pupils be taught in 4 years. I gave the guarantee under compulsion, with the appearance of compliance, like the rest of the teaching staff, before Abbas Pasha in Haswa after we had been taken there. Then this director cheated me, did not keep his promise or the written agreement, and changed the 700 into 500, claiming that the Pasha had ordered it. I know the truth, but I could not say more than “God is my sufficiency and goodly support!” I uttered no reply to him, fearing that I might join those sent off to Khartoum and other distant parts. I think you have heard how some other persons have been humiliated and suffered.60

The threat of being sent to “Khartoum and other distant parts” was tantamount to dismissal, for it was assumed that the exiled individual would resign rather than go. At about that same moment, as Lane may have heard, his old friend Linant had received a similar reposting with the same intent; only after the intervention of the French consul-general was the transfer altered to Asyut.61 The obvious effect of all this on al-Dasuqi's lexicon work was the drastic reduction of time that he would be able to devote to it. He also left the impression that he might require more money since he was now working much longer hours at his regular job, but for a smaller salary.

The second difficulty was strictly textual. The portions of the manuscript from which al-Dasuqi was then copying were of abysmal quality. “When the third volume was finished and we changed to the fourth, at the beginning of the ‘ain section of chapter zā’ we found three karrāses in a dreadful hand, full of errors,” he wrote. “Having finished them, we came across two other karrāses with a hand (p.630) worse than the previous one and with more mistakes, ugly to look at, not even primary schoolchildren with no experience of writing would write like that, with its mistakes, its deforming of letters and mixing up words one with another.” It was for Lane's sake, Sheikh al-Dasuqi went on to say, that he was working a large portion of the day to deal with the problem, adding that one of his subcontracting copyists had refused to participate, even at much higher remuneration than usual. That was another non-too-subtle hint for increased pay.

Lieder's letter, dated 3 July 1850, affirmed al-Dasuqi's basic account of events, but denied his claim to be an innocent victim: “It seems to me clear, that the Sheich run with open eyes into this trap in hopes to make a little more money.” According to Lieder, Lambert Bey had indeed offered Sheikh al-Dasuqi additional pay for giving grammar lessons in addition to his editorial duties, but when Mubarak assumed control he refused to give al-Dasuqi the additional pay because he was engaged by the day, not by the task. As far as Lieder was concerned, al-Dasuqi had gambled and lost.62

Despite his lack of sympathy, Lieder sought, if only for Lane's sake, to find some relief for the sheikh. When he heard from Fulgence Fresnel, who was in Cairo at that moment, that one of Lane's Egyptian friends, Abd al-Rahman Effendi, was also close to al-Dasuqi, Lieder turned to him for advice. Abd al-Rahman's attitude toward the sheikh was not at all cordial, Lieder discovered. There was a time, Abd al-Rahman told him, when he had esteemed al-Dasuqi highly and bestowed many favors on him only to find that he maintained the appearances of friendship merely to serve his personal interest. The only way to deal with al-Dasuqi was to pretend indifference, expecting nothing more from him than he accomplished, even if production fell off sharply. “This is the best advice which I can give to you and Mr. Lane in this sad affair,” Abd al-Rahman said, “but I am persuaded that if you act up to it, and the Sheich sees that he cannot press more money out of Mr. Lane's pocket, he will soon know how to arrange matters to procure you more karrases.” He added, “Mr. Lane is not aware how much I have had to do with his great work. Sheich Ibrahim has formerly often complained to me, that he does not consider himself well remunerated, that it is scarcely worth while his labour, and that he intended to give it up, when I generally remonstrated with him and roused him to continue.” Lieder urged Lane to follow Abd al-Rahman's advice.

The problem of the quality of the text from which the sheikh was copying could not be so easily finessed. Fresnel suggested switching to the Lisan al-‘arab, a fine copy of which was available, but Lieder would not authorize such a drastic step. (p.631) As for the difficulty at the school, Lieder offered to find high-level intervention, but the sheikh demurred: it was too dangerous and might provoke retaliation. He would try to find a solution himself. “My own impression is,” Lieder concluded, “that the case before us will, if properly handled, in not a long time assume a more bright and cheerful aspect.” In other words, let it simmer. Fresnel gave al-Dasuqi hisown best pair of spectacles so he could work more efficiently.63

Lane's Arabic reply to al-Dasuqi on 6 August 1850 likened al-Dasuqi's letter to “the blast of the simoom, or even like threat of Hell-fire.” Ignoring the textual difficulty, he addressed the question of al-Dasuqi's situation at the school. He could ask the British consul to intervene on al-Dasuqi's behalf, but feared that such action would anger Abbas Pasha; otherwise they would all just have to make the best of it. What did al-Dasuqi think?64 Not much, apparently, for he did not reply until a year later, and then to say that he did not want intervention unless it were accompanied by an additional guarantee to protect him from Abbas's anger, to keep him from harm or dismissal, an unrealistic stipulation.65 As for the copying problems, they must have dissipated, for on 3 August 1850 Lieder wrote to “cheer again up your mind in regard to the prosecution of your great work. The Sheich brought me a few days ago a considerable number of Karrases, much more than I expected, so that I had not money enough in the house, and had to send it to him the day following. An excellent sign! - which gives us hope, that he has in some way rearranged his business by which he will be enabled to continue with fresh vigour the copying of the materials of your K [Qamus, or dictionary], but I did not consider it wise to ask him by what means he had gained time for it.”66 And Lieder had just dispatched a shipment of fifty-six karrases to Lane three days earlier.

An excellent sign indeed, but all did not continue to go smoothly for, much to Lane's annoyance, al-Dasuqi resumed his agitation for more money. Lane's response to Lieder is not preserved, but it was stern, for on 2 April 1851, after sending sixty-two karrases to Lane and receiving ten more from al-Dasuqi, Lieder replied: “I found it wiser not to act with the Sheich according to your prepositions, as I was persuaded, that I would only make bad worse, but left it to Mr. Fresnel, who was most indignant, and has soundly belaboured him. It appears now to me that every thing goes on as well and quiet as it can be hoped.” Some (p.632) satisfaction showed in Lieder's tone when he added that al-Dasuqi had lost a copying commission from Friedrich Dieterici by demanding an “enormous sum” for it.67

This business altered Lane's opinion of al-Dasuqi's character for the worse, and he expressed the change in a letter to Fresnel. The letter is not extant, but its contents may be inferred from al-Dasuqi's bitter outburst to Lane on 8 August. He had seen the letter: “It looked sweet, but inside it was like the poison of a snake”.

Now I see that only necessity made you seek me out. You implied that I am not doing my work well; actually, I am working much harder than before. When working with you I spent half the time listening, whereas now I spend all of my time at the text. The letter said I was taking too much. You know that I am really poor. This job, for which I am taking 15 piasters per karras, is more hard work and a headache. And I already left a lot of other work to help you because of friendship and compassion for your difficult situation. I do not make you pay more than you can. You promised me you would send me more when you could, yet when I told you the sad story of my misfortunes you were not merciful. Do you not know that my work for you was taken into account at the school so that they would not pay me more because I was being paid enough by you? If I had agreed to your request to resign my government post and work only for you, what would have become of me? But thanks to God we do not look back to that now.

Do not ask the sons of Adam for anything

But ask the One whose doors do not close.

God is angry if you do not ask of him,

And the sons of Adam are angry when you ask of them.

You are not to be blamed; I am,

Because I have asked, but not of the Giver.

But you have to make up what I am missing from the school. If you do that of your own free will, the work will proceed without slowing down.68

Even this did not disrupt the business at hand, for the copying, collation, and shipments continued over the next four years under Lieder's watchful eye. “My opinion of Scheich Ibrahim,” he informed Lane in his next letter, “who is asking again now and then after you, I have not had cause to change for the better, but rather for the worse, yet I treat him as if he was an honest man with uniform politeness, (p.633) though without any confidence, and I believe that I cannot err in doing so.”69 Ensuing events can be followed through Lieder's letters as relatively minor problems - wrong-sized paper, inferior penmanship by a copyist, copying out of order - were met, surmounted, or ignored. In late spring 1852 al-Dasuqi estimated to Lieder that they had reached the halfway point - by which he must have meant halfway through what had been left for him to do when Lane left Egypt in 1849, for he was at least two-thirds of the way through copying the entire Taj al-‘arus by then.

A final hitch came in August 1853 after a disagreement over some karrases that needed to be recopied. Al-Dasuqi had disappeared after collecting his Ramadan present from Lieder, now worth substantially more because of the piaster's declining value against European currencies. Lieder was not worried at first, assuming that the sheikh was busy with the task at hand; at length, however, he sent his servant to al-Dasuqi's house to inquire. Al-Dasuqi was out, his wife informed the servant, and he had too much other work to do to go to Lieder. A follow-up inquiry the next day was dismissed in like manner. Lieder had to threaten to embarrass al-Dasuqi by confronting him at his school in front of his colleagues before he could compel the sheikh to visit him: “When he came in the evening he felt uneasy and made many excuses, which I considered of course as empty, I remonstrated with him, reminding him of the intimate friendship which had existed so many years between him and you, of his solemn promises made to you, and that he was honour-bound to finish this work and to finish it well- he promised to use all in his power to finish it and as speedy as possibly.”70 Thus the work was set in motion again. Abd al-Rahman advised Lieder not to push too hard, else al-Dasuqi might irretrievably sabotage the remaining work by losing some of the original manuscripts.

The last phase of the transcription process was intensely frustrating for Lane. He had once thought he would be able to go to press as early as 1854, though he must have greatly underestimated all that remained to be done - designing the font, having it made, arranging financing, preparing and supervising the printing, and above all completing the work. Nevertheless, in a letter to the Duke of Northumberland he blamed everything on “the dilatoriness of the Sheykh who is employed in superintending the transcription of the Arabic manuscripts from which I compose it: for the portion of these yet to come must be the source from which the first part of my work will occasionally be drawn.” Able to visualize the finished product more clearly, Lane could not resist another comparison to (p.634) Freytag. “Your Grace is aware that Freytag's Arabic Lexicon is the most copious hitherto published in Europe. Its composition occupied him nearly eleven years; although the greater part of it is taken, either verbatim or essentially, from that of Golius. The same period has now elapsed since I commenced my own Lexicon: & though it is incomparably more difficult of execution, & has required me to occupy a very large portion of the period above mentioned in collecting & collating the original Arabic materials, I find that what I have now done is nearly twice as much as the entire contents of the Lexicon of Freytag.”71

Lane's business with al-Dasuqi was winding up in the spring of 1855 when Lieder listed the remaining manuscript tasks and requested additional financial information “for to be able to draw up our final account.”72 Meanwhile, Sheikh al-Dasuqi had suffered a series of severe setbacks. “If I described the state we are in, you would be very sorry for us,” he moaned to Lane. He had lost his spectacles and his two pen-knives. Much worse, however, was the general closure of schools by Said Pasha, who had recently succeeded Abbas, in which al-Dasuqi lost his job. Lieder informed Lane that “the Scheich lives now by giving lessons to travellers in Arabic, especially to Englishmen, and knowes already a good many English expressions.” Al-Dasuqi's last letter to Lane, 26 January 1855, is subdued. Meekly he addressed a question about some missing text and, at Lieder's suggestion, broadly hinted for a new pair of spectacles. It was a much-chastened Sheikh al-Dasuqi who added: “Do not blame me for past shortcomings. People like me are at fault but someone like you is forgiving.”73

It had been a long process with many changes, especially in the attitudes of Lane and al-Dasuqi toward each other. Lane's considered opinion of al-Dasuqi is probably preserved in Stanley Lane-Poole's description of the sheikh as “ill-tempered and avaricious.”74 But if anything, the sheikh's opinion of Lane had altered even more radically. The realization in 1851 that Lane considered him greedy and grasping was just the beginning of a reassessment of the man who once described himself as the sheikh's “affectionate pupil.” Al-Dasuqi came to feel that he had been (p.635) duped, that the close friendship was a sham, that he and Lane had never really had much in common; for example, al-Dasuqi had known all along that Lane was not Muslim, but so convincingly did Lane affect to believe in things such as jinn, the blessings of holy men, and magic, that he thought they had a shared cosmology. It was humiliating to learn that Lane had been detached all along, using him, patronizing him, perhaps even mocking him, just to make him more forthcoming with information.75

As for being “ill-tempered and avaricious,” the sheikh probably was a rogue at times, but Lane's payments to him, though fair according to prevailing rates, were by no means munificent. Al-Dasuqi was an accomplished native scholar striving to obtain what he considered proper compensation for the considerable talents he placed at Lane's disposal. He gave good service. Lane could not have prepared the Arabic-English Lexicon without him. Even Lane-Poole, though hostile to al-Dasuqi, considered the sheikh “still the right man for the work.”76


(1) Lane to Richard Andrews, copy, 1 November 1849, Lane MSS 5.1.5.

(2) Lane to Robert Hay, 14 November 1849, Hay corr., ff. 154–55.

(3) Lane to Joseph Bonomi, 26 November 1849, Neville-Rolfe; also Lane to J. J. Scoles, 9 June 1851, private collection of Kay Pickavance.

(4) Lane to Robert Hay, n.d. [early January 1850], Hay corr., ff. 156–57.

(5) Lane to Richard Andrews, copies, 1 November 1849 and 17 January 1850, Lane MSS 5.1.5–6.

(6) Lane MSS 5.1.49.

(7) Joseph Bonomi (with Henry Warren and James Fahey), Handbook of the Grand Moving Panoramic Picture of the Nile (Liverpool, 184?).

(8) John Bull (28 July 1849).

(9) Frederick Catherwood, Description of a View of the Great Temple of Karnak, and the Surrounding City of Thebes (1839, reprint San Antonio: Van Siclen Books, 1988); George R. Gliddon, Programme of the Grand Moving Panoramic Picture (Above 800 feet in length, by 8 feet in breadth,) of the Nile (London: Bateman and Hardwicke, 1849); George R. Gliddon, Hand-book of the American Panorama of the Nile, Being the original transparent picture exhibited in London at Egyptian hall, Piccadilly, purchased from its painter and proprietors, Messrs H. Warren, J. Bonomi, and J. Fahey (London: J. Madden, 1849).

(10) Owen Jones and Joseph Bonomi, Description of the Egyptian Court (London: Bradbury & Evans, 1854).

(11) Lane to John Gardner Wilkinson, 12 February 1850, MS. Wilkinson dep. a. 20, f. 156.

(12) Lane to the Duke of Northumberland, copy, 3 January 1850, CUL Add. 8843/2/41.

(13) NPG 3099, National Portrait Gallery, London.

(14) Lane to the Duke of Northumberland, copy, 4 March 1850, CUL Add. 8843/2/42.

(15) BL Or. 4187.

(16) Edward William Lane, “Ueber die Lexicographie der arabischen Sprache,” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 3 (1849):90–108; and “Ueber die Ausspracheder arabischen Vocale und die Betonung der arabischen Wörter,” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 4 (1850):171–86.

(17) Lane to Heinrich Leberecht Fleischer, copy, 10 October 1848, Lane MSS, 5.1.14.

(18) Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Dieterici to Lane, 20 November 1849, Lane MSS, 5.1.10.

(19) Reginald Stuart Poole, Horæ Ægyptiacæ: or, the chronology of ancient Egypt discovered from astronomical and hieroglyphic records upon its monuments; including many dates found in coeval inscriptions from the period of the building of the Great Pyramid to the times of the Persians and illustrations of the history of the first nineteen dynasties, shewing the order of their succession, from the monuments (London: John Murray, 1851).

(20) Lane to the Duke of Northumberland, copy, 3 January 1850, CUL Add. 8843/2/41.

(21) A. C. Harris to John Gardner Wilkinson, 6 August 1855, MS. Wilkinson dep. d. 132.

(22) 143 of Edward Theophilus Lane's drawings of trains are in the Word and Image Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

(23) Richard J. Lane, A Month at Malvern under the Water Cure, with the Sequel, etc.. 3rd ed. (London: John Mitchell, 1855).

(24) Account book, vol. 3, Richard J. Lane collection, Heinz Archive and Library, National Portrait Gallery, London.

(25) Graves, vol. 3, p. 375.

(26) Lane to Robert Hay, 12 November 1850, Hay corr., ff. 165–66.

(27) Lane to Robert Hay, n.d. [early January 1850], Hay corr., ff. 156–57.

(28) Lane to John Gardner Wilkinson, 12 February 1850, MS. Wilkinson dep. a. 20.

(29) Lane to Robert Hay, 9 August 1850, Hay corr., ff. 159–60.

(30) The Architecture of the Ancient Egyptians (London: John Murray, 1850); Thompson, Wilkinson, pp. 184–86.

(31) John Gardner Wilkinson, On Colour (London: John Murray, 1858); MS. Wilkinson dep. e. 78; Thompson, Wilkinson, pp. 187–89.

(32) Murray also published Wilkinson's A Popular Account of the Ancient Egyptians (1854).

(33) Robert Hay to Joseph Bonomi, 21 September 1850, CUL Add. 9389/2/H/168 (iii).

(34) Lane to Robert Hay, 13 June 1850, Hay corr., ff. 156–57.

(35) Lane to Robert Hay, 28 August 1850, Hay corr., ff. 162–64.

(36) Robert Hay to Joseph Bonomi, 21 September 1850, CUL Add. 9389/2/H/168 (iii).

(37) Lane to Robert Hay, 12 November 1850, Hay corr., ff. 165–66.

(38) The earliest manifestation of the Arabic-English Lexicon is the specimen Lane prepared near the beginning of the project when he was seeking funding from the government and the East India Company. It is in the Cambridge University Library (CUL Add. 8843/1/27). Eight pages in length, it provides only a hint of what the Lexicon would become. Next is a draft of Lane's ‘translation’ of the Taj al-‘arus in the Archives, Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum (Lane MSS 6.3). Beginning with the letter alif, it proceeds in rhyme order for 545 manuscript pages before breaking off in the entry for

(“He poured out, or forth, water, tears, or the like.”); but it also contains scraps of many other passages that offer insight into various stages of the Lexicon's development, ranging from rough drafts dating from the mid-1840s (one page is written on the back of an announcement for a general meeting of the Egyptian Society of Cairo on 5 December 1845) to highly polished text from much later in the compositional process, and other diverse items. Then comes what is essentially a revision of the ‘translation’ of the Taj al-‘arus in the Oriental Collections of the British Library (BL Or. 14300). The first of its thirteen manuscript volumes (Lane numbered nineteen) has a surprise in the title: “An Arabic and English Thesaurus,” indicating a mid-course change of title, but “Thesaurus” was subsequently crossed out and corrected back to “Lexicon.” At the British Library it enjoys proximity to crucial manuscripts such as Sheikh al-Dasuqi's copy of the Taj al-‘arus and many other key manuscripts that Lane used. Large sections of this manuscript are missing, however, scissored out of their bindings for reasons that will later become clear. By far the largest single manuscript of the Arabic-English Lexicon in forty-eight volumes is in the archives of Alnwick Castle. It is presumably the fair copy, deposited at Alnwick when the printers were done, but I was not permitted to examine the entire set, so I cannot be certain of that. In addition to these, stray manuscript pages from the Lexicon occasionally come to light.

(39) BL Or. 14300. For an analysis of this manuscript, see Peter Stocks, “Edward William Lane and His Arabic-English ‘Thesaurus,’” British Library Journal15 (Spring 1989):23–24.

(40) “200 Karrases each year - 4 each week,” he noted. BL Or. 14300, vol. 6.

(41) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 1, pp. xvi, xix-xx.

(42) Lane to Richard Lepsius, copy, 8 August 1845, CUL Add. 8843/2/25.

(43) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 1, p. xxii.

(44) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 1, p. xix. Stocks, pp. 28–31, provides illustrated examples andcomparisons of the entry for the kite, “a certain noxious bird,” showing how it appeared in 1) Sheikh al-Murtada's fragmentary autograph manuscript in Lane's possession, 2) Sheikh al-Dasuqi's transcription, 3) Lane's ‘translation,’ and 4) the Arabic-English Lexicon.

(45) Haywood, p. 127.

(46) Lane-Poole, Life of Lane, p. 127.

(47) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 2, pp. 399–402.

(48) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 2, p. 397.

(49) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 2, p. 505.

(50) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 1, pp. 77–78.

(51) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 2, p. 543.

(52) Arabic-English Lexicon, vol. 1, p. 13.

(53) This, of course, is an oversimplification of the needs and difficulties that presently confront Arabic lexicography. To take the subject a bit further, the first step in constructing an Arabic-English dictionary today would be to define its corpus, i.e., the body of texts that the dictionary is designed to contain. All the words in those texts would then be recorded and their meanings defined one by one on the basis of original texts, not on earlier dictionaries. Finally, the vocabulary of the given corpus would be treated in its entirety, not selectively. Despite its detail and breadth, Lane's dictionary is not comprehensive. Lane used briefly the term thesaurus in the title of one of the manuscript drafts of his Arabic-English Lexicon, as is mentioned in an earlier note in this chapter, evidently meaning by this a very large dictionary. Also, Lane's dictionary is almost entirely confined to the vocabulary of the classical language, i.e. the literary language of pre-Islamic poetry and the first Islamic centuries. That is an immensely important segment of the vocabulary of the Arabic language, and one that Lane treated with such skill that his dictionary became a basic tool of every Arabist and will long remain so, but it is just one segment of the vocabulary. Today's scholars need a dictionary - or, more likely, several dictionaries - for a much greater period and a much wider diversity of genres and fields. The Wörterbuch der klassischen arabischen Sprache that is being slowly compiled under the auspices of the German Oriental Society, about which more will be said in the Epilogue to this work, is a major step in that direction, but it and important though lesser dictionaries of modern Arabic are mostly concerned with the written, literary language. Spoken Arabic, the language used in everyday conversation, has received relatively little consideration at the highest scholarly levels. And while the literary language is fairly homogeneous across the Arabic-speaking world, the spoken dialects of Arabic vary so widely as to be mutually unintelligible in many instances. Obviously, the need for a dictionary that is exhaustive on the one hand and of manageable size and organization on the other will be difficult to satisfy.

(I must here acknowledge my indebtedness to Ormos Istvan for sharing with me many of his valuable insights into the complex subject of Arabic lexicography.)

(54) Just one notebook in the BL Or. 14300 series is dated (vol. 9, “July 9 1851 - January 20 1852”); on the basis of that, Stocks (p. 26) extrapolates a plausible but conjectural time frame for the rest.

(55) Modern Egyptians, pp. 209–10.

(56) Lane to Ibrahim al-Dasuqi, copy, 5 Safar 1266 (21 December 1849), Lane MSS 5.2.71. Translation by Richards, p. 2.

(57) Ibrahim al-Dasuqi to Lane, 30 Rabia I 1266 (13 February 1850), Lane MSS 5.2. unnumbered.

(58) Lane to Johann Lieder, copy, 17 May 1850, Lane MSS 5.2.49.

(59) Johann Lieder to Lane, 3 July 1850, Lane MSS 5.2.50.

(60) Ibrahim al-Dasuqi to Lane, 15 Sha‘ban 1266 (26 June 1850), Lane MSS 5.1.36. Translation by Richards, pp. 7–8.

(61) Henry Abbott to Joseph Bonomi, 28 June 1850, Neville-Rolfe.

(62) Johann Lieder to Lane, 3 July 1850, Lane MSS 5.2.50.

(63) Johann Lieder to Lane, 3 July 1850, Lane MSS 5.2.20.

(64) Lane to Ibrahim al-Dasuqi, copy, 27 Ramadan 1266 (6 August 1850), Lane MSS 5.2.70.

(65) Ibrahim al-Dasuqi to Lane, 10 Shawwal 1267 (8 August 1851), Lane MSS 5.1.37.

(66) Johann Lieder to Lane, 3 August 1850, Lane MSS 5.2.51.

(67) Johann Lieder to Lane, 2 April 1851, Lane MSS 5.2.52.

(68) Ibrahim al-Dasuqi to Lane, 10 Shawwal 1267 (8 August 1851), Lane MSS 5.1.37.

(69) Johann Lieder to Lane, 17 October 1851, Lane MSS 5.2.53.

(70) Johann Lieder to Lane, 31 August 1853, Lane MSS 5.2.60.

(71) Lane to the Duke of Northumberland, copy, 25 November 1853, CUL Add. 8843/2/47; also Lane to William Cureton, copy, 5 November 1853, CUL Add. 8843/2/44.

(72) Johann Lieder to Lane, 18 April 1855, Lane MSS 5.2.63. This is the last letter from Lieder in the Lane MSS, and it may indeed have been the last of their direct exchange. To stay in touch thereafter, Lane probably relied on his sister Sophia and Alice Lieder because Lieder once described his wife as having a “more epistolar propensity.” Johann Lieder to Lane, 17 October 1851, Lane MSS 5.2.53.

(73) Ibrahim al-Dasuqi to Lane, 7 Jumada I 1271 (26 January 1855), Lane MSS 5.1.38.

(74) Lane-Poole, Life of Lane, p. 118.

(75) Amin, vol. 3, p. 49.

(76) Lane-Poole, Life of Lane, p. 118.