RHYS, John David
Cambrobrytannicæ Cymraecæue linguæ institutiones et rudimenta accuratè, & (quantùm fieri potuit) succinctè & compendiosè conscriptaLondon, Excudebat Thomas Orwinus, 1592
FIRST EDITION. Folio pp. [xxiv], 70, 73-304, [ii].  folding tables. Roman and Italic letter. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque woodcut head-pieces, near contemporary inscription in Welsh (purchase note?) at head of title page. Light age yellowing, the occasional mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in early C18th speckled calf over boards, rebacked with spine laid down, raised bands gilt ruled in compartments, with gilt fleurons, a little rubbed and scratched.
The first edition of this most important and famous Welsh grammar, the first scientific grammar of the Welsh language; amongst the complimentary verses prefixed to the volume are a set by William Camden. Rhys states, in his lengthy preface in Welsh, that he had written the work in Latin, as he felt it was easier to explain Welsh in Latin than in English. The work contains a dedication to Sir Edward Stradling who urged Rhys to undertake the work and who financed its printing. The work is important as one of the first studies of the Welsh language and for the anthology of early Welsh poetry which it contains.
“John David Rhys. (or ‘ Siôn Dafydd Rhys ’), physician and grammarian of a humble family … After spending some time at Christ Church College , Oxford , he departed for the Continent about 1555 and travelled extensively — he himself states that he visited Venice , Crete , and Cyprus — finally becoming a member of the University of Siena , where he graduated as a doctor of medicine. He was also a teacher at a school in Pistoia. It is not known for how long he remained on the Continent, but he was back in Wales by 1579 , and in 1583 he was practising as a physician at Cardiff . .. Two books by him appeared during his stay on the Continent. One was De Italica Pronunciatione ( Padua , 1569 ), which was probably intended for the use of Welshmen visiting Italy, and which proves the author’s familiarity with all the principal European languages. The other work was a Latin grammar published at Venice, and said to have been very popular with students, but no copy seems to have survived. After returning to Wales and devoting some years to the collection of material Rhys published, in 1592, his famous Welsh grammar, Cambrobrytannicae Cymraecaeve Linguae Institutions et Rudimenta. The book was dedicated to Sir Edward Stradling of S. Donats, Glam., who had defrayed the cost of printing. It consists of a grammar of the Welsh language together with a lengthy and laborious discussion of Welsh prosody. As a work of scholarship it has very little merit, because the author , who had none of the gifts of Gruffydd Robert or Dr. John Davies for analysing the structure of language, adopted the grammatical framework of Latin and forced the Welsh language into that. … It should be observed however that the book contains items of knowledge which are not found elsewhere. The author’s aim was to make known outside Wales the peculiarities of the Welsh language and the main features of the bardic tradition, and this is the reason why the book was written in Latin.” Dictionary of Welsh Biography. A very good copy of this most important and rare Welsh Grammar.ESTC S115912. STC 20966.