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Title: English Past and Present
Author: Trench, Richard Chevenix
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *




_Edited with Emendations_



_Author of ‘The Folk and their Word-lore,’ ‘Folk-Etymology,’
‘Babylonian Influence on the Bible,’ etc._

{Illustration: Printer’s Mark}






In editing the present volume I have thought it well to follow the same
rule which I laid down for myself in editing _The Study of Words_, and
have made no alteration in the text of Dr. Trench’s work (the fifth
edition). Any corrections or additions that seemed to be demanded owing
to the progress of lexicographical knowledge have been reserved for the
foot-notes, and these can always be distinguished from those in the
original by the square brackets [thus] within which they are placed.

On the whole more corrections have been required in _English Past and
Present_ than in _The Study of Words_ owing to the sweeping statements
which involve universal negatives--statements, e.g. that certain words
either first came into use, or ceased to be employed, at a specific date.
Nothing short of the combined researches of an army of co-operative
workers, such as the _New English Dictionary_ commanded, could warrant
the correctness of assertions of this kind, which imply an exhaustive
acquaintance with a subject so immense as the entire range of English

Even the mistakes of a learned man are instructive to those who essay to
follow in his steps, and it is not without use to point them out instead
of ignoring or expunging them. Thus, when the Archbishop falls into the
error (venial when he wrote) of assuming an etymological connexion
between certain words which have a specious air of kinship--such as
‘care’ and ‘cura,’ ‘bloom’ and ‘blossom,’ ‘ghastly’ and ‘ghostly,’
‘brat’ and ‘brood,’ ‘slow’ and ‘slough’--he makes just the mistakes
which we would be tempted to make ourselves had not Professor Skeat and
Dr. Murray and the great German School of philologists taught us to know
better. Our plan, therefore, has been to leave such errors in the text
and point out the better way in the notes. In other words, we have
treated the Archbishop’s work as a classic, and the occasional
emendations in the notes serve to mark the progress of half a century of
etymological investigation. It is hardly necessary to point out that the
chronological landmarks occurring here and there need an obvious
equation of time to make them correct for the present year of grace,
e.g. ‘lately,’ when it occurs, must be understood to mean at least fifty
years ago, and a similar addition must be made to other time-points when
they present themselves.

                                          A. SMYTHE PALMER.


A series of four lectures which I delivered last spring to the pupils of
the King’s College School, London, supplied the foundation to this
present volume. These lectures, which I was obliged to prepare in haste,
on a brief invitation, and under the pressure of other engagements,
being subsequently enlarged and recast, were delivered in the autumn
somewhat more nearly in their present shape to the pupils of the
Training School, Winchester; with only those alterations, omissions and
additions, which the difference in my hearers suggested as necessary or
desirable. I have found it convenient to keep the lectures, as regards
the persons presumed to be addressed, in that earlier form which I had
sketched out at the first; and, inasmuch as it helps much to keep
lectures vivid and real that one should have some well defined audience,
if not actually before one, yet before the mind’s eye, to suppose myself
throughout addressing my first hearers. I have supposed myself, that is,
addressing a body of young Englishmen, all with a fair amount of
classical knowledge (in my explanations I have sometimes had others with
less than theirs in my eye), not wholly unacquainted with modern
languages; but not yet with any special designation as to their future
work; having only as yet marked out to them the duty in general of
living lives worthy of those who have England for their native country,
and English for their native tongue. To lead such through a more
intimate knowledge of this into a greater love of that, has been a
principal aim which I have set before myself throughout.

In a few places I have been obliged again to go over ground which I had
before gone over in a little book, _On the Study of Words_; but I
believe that I have never merely repeated myself, nor given to the
readers of my former work and now of this any right to complain that I
am compelling them to travel a second time by the same paths. At least
it has been my endeavour, whenever I have found myself at points where
the two books come necessarily into contact, that what was treated with
any fulness before, should be here touched on more lightly; and only
what there was slightly handled, should here be entered on at large.


    LECTURE I                                  PAGE
    ENGLISH A COMPOSITE LANGUAGE                  1

    GAINS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE                40




    INDEX                                       257




“A very slight acquaintance with the history of our own language will
teach us that the speech of Chaucer’s age is not the speech of
Skelton’s, that there is a great difference between the language under
Elizabeth and that under Charles the First, between that under Charles
the First and Charles the Second, between that under Charles the Second
and Queen Anne; that considerable changes had taken place between the
beginning and the middle of the last century, and that Johnson and
Fielding did not write altogether as we do now. For in the course of a
nation’s progress new ideas are evermore mounting above the horizon,
while others are lost sight of and sink below it: others again change
their form and aspect: others which seemed united, split into parts. And
as it is with ideas, so it is with their symbols, words. New ones are
perpetually coined to meet the demand of an advanced understanding, of
new feelings that have sprung out of the decay of old ones, of ideas
that have shot forth from the summit of the tree of our knowledge; old
words meanwhile fall into disuse and become obsolete; others have their
meaning narrowed and defined; synonyms diverge from each other and their
property is parted between them; nay, whole classes of words will now
and then be thrown overboard, as new feelings or perceptions of analogy
gain ground. A history of the language in which all these vicissitudes
should be pointed out, in which the introduction of every new word
should be noted, so far as it is possible--and much may be done in this
way by laborious and diligent and judicious research--in which such
words as have become obsolete should be followed down to their final
extinction, in which all the most remarkable words should be traced
through their successive phases of meaning, and in which moreover the
causes and occasions of these changes should be explained, such a work
would not only abound in entertainment, but would throw more light on
the development of the human mind than all the brainspun systems of
metaphysics that ever were written”.

       *       *       *       *       *

These words, which thus far are not my own, but the words of a greatly
honoured friend and teacher, who, though we behold him now no more,
still teaches, and will teach, by the wisdom of his writings, and the
nobleness of his life (they are words of Archdeacon Hare), I have put in
the forefront of my lectures; seeing that they anticipate in the way of
masterly sketch all which I shall attempt to accomplish, and indeed draw
out the lines of much more, to which I shall not venture so much as to
put my hand. They are the more welcome to me, because they encourage me
to believe that if, in choosing the English language, its past and its
present, as the subject of that brief course of lectures which I am to
deliver in this place, I have chosen a subject which in many ways
transcends my powers, and lies beyond the range of my knowledge, it is
yet one in itself of deepest interest, and of fully recognized value.
Nor can I refrain from hoping that even with my imperfect handling, it
is an argument which will find an answer and an echo in the hearts of
all who hear me; which would have found this at any time; which will do
so especially at the present. For these are times which naturally rouse
into liveliest activity all our latent affections for the land of our
birth. It is one of the compensations, indeed the greatest of all, for
the wastefulness, the woe, the cruel losses of war{1}, that it causes
and indeed compels a people to know itself a people; leading each one to
esteem and prize most that which he has in common with his fellow
countrymen, and not now any longer those things which separate and
divide him from them.

{Sidenote: _Love of our own Tongue_}

And the love of our own language, what is it in fact, but the love of
our country expressing itself in one particular direction? If the great
acts of that nation to which we belong are precious to us, if we feel
ourselves made greater by their greatness, summoned to a nobler life by
the nobleness of Englishmen who have already lived and died, and have
bequeathed to us a name which must not by us be made less, what exploits
of theirs can well be nobler, what can more clearly point out their
native land and ours as having fulfilled a glorious past, as being
destined for a glorious future, than that they should have acquired for
themselves and for those who come after them a clear, a strong, an
harmonious, a noble language? For all this bears witness to
corresponding merits in those that speak it, to clearness of mental
vision, to strength, to harmony, to nobleness in them that have
gradually formed and shaped it to be the utterance of their inmost life
and being.

To know of this language, the stages which it has gone through, the
sources from which its riches have been derived, the gains which it is
now making, the perils which have threatened or are threatening it, the
losses which it has sustained, the capacities which may be yet latent in
it, waiting to be evoked, the points in which it transcends other
tongues, in which it comes short of them, all this may well be the
object of worthy ambition to every one of us. So may we hope to be
ourselves guardians of its purity, and not corrupters of it; to
introduce, it may be, others into an intelligent knowledge of that, with
which we shall have ourselves more than a merely superficial
acquaintance; to bequeath it to those who come after us not worse than
we received it ourselves. “Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna”,--this
should be our motto in respect at once of our country, and of our
country’s tongue.

{Sidenote: _Duty to our own Tongue_}

Nor shall we, I trust, any of us feel this subject to be alien or remote
from the purposes which have brought us to study within these walls. It
is true that we are mainly occupied here in studying other tongues than
our own. The time we bestow upon it is small as compared with that
bestowed on those others. And yet one of our main purposes in learning
them is that we may better understand this. Nor ought any other to
dispute with it the first and foremost place in our reverence, our
gratitude, and our love. It has been well and worthily said by an
illustrious German scholar: “The care of the national language I
consider as at all times a sacred trust and a most important privilege
of the higher orders of society. Every man of education should make it
the object of his unceasing concern, to preserve his language pure and
entire, to speak it, so far as is in his power, in all its beauty and
perfection.... A nation whose language becomes rude and barbarous, must
be on the brink of barbarism in regard to everything else. A nation
which allows her language to go to ruin, is parting with the last half
of her intellectual independence, and testifies her willingness to cease
to exist”{2}.

But this knowledge, like all other knowledge which is worth attaining,
is only to be attained at the price of labour and pains. The language
which at this day we speak is the result of processes which have been
going forward for hundreds and for thousands of years. Nay more, it is
not too much to affirm that processes modifying the English which at the
present day we write and speak have been at work from the first day that
man, being gifted with discourse of reason, projected his thought from
out himself, and embodied and contemplated it in his word. Which things
being so, if we would understand this language as it now is, we must
know something of it as it has been; we must be able to measure, however
roughly, the forces, which have been at work upon it, moulding and
shaping it into the forms which it now wears.

At the same time various prudential considerations must determine for us
how far up we will endeavour to trace the course of its history. There
are those who may seek to trace our language to the forests of Germany
and Scandinavia, to investigate its relation to all the kindred tongues
that were there spoken; again, to follow it up, till it and they are
seen descending from an elder stock; nor once to pause, till they have
assigned to it its place not merely in respect of that small group of
languages which are immediately round it, but in respect of all the
tongues and languages of the earth. I can imagine few studies of a more
surpassing interest than this. Others, however, must be content with
seeking such insight into their native language as may be within the
reach of all who, unable to make this the subject of especial research,
possessing neither that vast compass of knowledge, nor that immense
apparatus of books, not being at liberty to dedicate to it that
devotion almost of a life which, followed out to the full, it would
require, have yet an intelligent interest in their mother tongue, and
desire to learn as much of its growth and history and construction as
may be reasonably deemed within their reach. To such as these I shall
suppose myself to be speaking. It would be a piece of great presumption
in me to undertake to speak to any other, or to assume any other ground
than this for myself.

{Sidenote: _The Past explains the Present_}

I know there are some, who, when they are invited to enter at all upon
the past history of the language, are inclined to make answer--“To what
end such studies to us? Why cannot we leave them to a few antiquaries
and grammarians? Sufficient to us to know the laws of our present
English, to obtain an accurate acquaintance with the language as we now
find it, without concerning ourselves with the phases through which it
has previously past”. This may sound plausible enough; and I can quite
understand a real lover of his native tongue, who has not bestowed much
thought upon the subject, arguing in this manner. And yet indeed such
argument proceeds altogether on a mistake. One sufficient reason why we
should occupy ourselves with the past of our language is, because the
present is only intelligible in the light of the past, often of a very
remote past indeed. There are anomalies out of number now existing in
our language, which the pure logic of grammar is quite incapable of
explaining; which nothing but a knowledge of its historic evolutions,
and of the disturbing forces which have made themselves felt therein,
will ever enable us to understand. Even as, again, unless we possess
some knowledge of the past, it is impossible that we can ourselves
advance a single step in the unfolding of the latent capabilities of the
language, without the danger of committing some barbarous violation of
its very primary laws.

       *       *       *       *       *

The plan which I have laid down for myself, and to which I shall adhere,
in this lecture and in those which will succeed it, is as follows. In
this my first lecture I will ask you to consider the language as now it
is, to decompose with me some specimens of it, to prove by these means,
of what elements it is compact, and what functions in it these elements
or component parts severally fulfil; nor shall I leave this subject
without asking you to admire the happy marriage in our tongue of the
languages of the north and south, an advantage which it alone among all
the languages of Europe enjoys. Having thus presented to ourselves the
body which we wish to submit to scrutiny, and having become acquainted,
however slightly, with its composition, I shall invite you to go back
with me, and trace some of the leading changes to which in time past it
has been submitted, and through which it has arrived at what it now is;
and these changes I shall contemplate under four aspects, dedicating a
lecture to each;--changes which have resulted from the birth of new, or
the reception of foreign, words;--changes consequent on the rejection or
extinction of words or powers once possessed by the language;--changes
through the altered meaning of words;--and lastly, as not unworthy of
our attention, but often growing out of very deep roots, changes in the
orthography of words.

{Sidenote: _Alterations unobserved_}

I shall everywhere seek to bring the subject down to our present time,
and not merely call your attention to the changes which have been, but
to those also which are now being, effected. I shall not account the
fact that some are going on, so to speak, before our own eyes, a
sufficient ground to excuse me from noticing them, but rather an
additional reason for doing this. For indeed changes which are actually
proceeding in our own time, and which we are ourselves helping to bring
about, are the very ones which we are most likely to fail in observing.
There is so much to hide the nature of them, and indeed their very
existence, that, except it may be by a very few, they will often pass
wholly unobserved. Loud and sudden revolutions attract and compel
notice; but silent and gradual, although with issues far vaster in
store, run their course, and it is only when their cycle is completed or
nearly so, that men perceive what mighty transforming forces have been
at work unnoticed in the very midst of themselves.

Thus, to apply what I have just affirmed to this matter of language--how
few aged persons, let them retain the fullest possession of their
faculties, are conscious of any difference between the spoken language
of their early youth, and that of their old age; that words and ways of
using words are obsolete now, which were usual then; that many words are
current now, which had no existence at that time. And yet it is certain
that so it must be. A man may fairly be supposed to remember clearly and
well for sixty years back; and it needs less than five of these sixties
to bring us to the period of Spenser, and not more than eight to set us
in the time of Chaucer and Wiclif. How great a change, what vast
modifications in our language, within eight memories. No one,
contemplating this whole term, will deny the immensity of the change.
For all this, we may be tolerably sure that, had it been possible to
interrogate a series of eight persons, such as together had filled up
this time, intelligent men, but men whose attention had not been
especially roused to this subject, each in his turn would have denied
that there had been any change worth speaking of, perhaps any change at
all, during his lifetime. And yet, having regard to the multitude of
words which have fallen into disuse during these four or five hundred
years, we are sure that there must have been some lives in this chain
which saw those words in use at their commencement, and out of use
before their close. And so too, of the multitude of words which have
sprung up in this period, some, nay, a vast number, must have come into
being within the limits of each of these lives. It cannot then be
superfluous to direct attention to that which is actually going forward
in our language. It is indeed that, which of all is most likely to be
unobserved by us.

       *       *       *       *       *

With these preliminary remarks I proceed at once to the special subject
of my lecture of to-day. And first, starting from the recognized fact
that the English is not a simple but a composite language, made up of
several elements, as are the people who speak it, I would suggest to you
the profit and instruction which we might derive from seeking to
resolve it into its component parts--from taking, that is, any passage
of an English author, distributing the words of which it is made up
according to the languages from which they are drawn; estimating the
relative numbers and proportions, which these languages have severally
lent us; as well as the character of the words which they have thrown
into the common stock of our tongue.

{Sidenote: _Proportions in English_}

Thus, suppose the English language to be divided into a hundred parts;
of these, to make a rough distribution, sixty would be Saxon; thirty
would be Latin (including of course the Latin which has come to us
through the French); five would be Greek. We should thus have assigned
ninety-five parts, leaving the other five, perhaps too large a residue,
to be divided among all the other languages from which we have adopted
isolated words{3}. And yet these are not few; from our wide extended
colonial empire we come in contact with half the world; we have picked
up words in every quarter, and, the English language possessing a
singular power of incorporating foreign elements into itself, have not
scrupled to make many of these our own{4}.

{Sidenote: _Oriental Words_}

Thus we have a certain number of Hebrew words, mostly, if not entirely,
belonging to religious matters, as ‘amen’, ‘cabala’, ‘cherub’, ‘ephod’,
‘gehenna’, ‘hallelujah’, ‘hosanna’, ‘jubilee’, ‘leviathan’, ‘manna’,
‘Messiah’, ‘sabbath’, ‘Satan’, ‘seraph’, ‘shibboleth’, ‘talmud’. The
Arabic words in our language are more numerous; we have several
arithmetical and astronomical terms, as ‘algebra’, ‘almanack’,
‘azimuth’, ‘cypher’{5}, ‘nadir’, ‘talisman’, ‘zenith’, ‘zero’; and
chemical, for the Arabs were the chemists, no less than the astronomers
and arithmeticians of the middle ages; as ‘alcohol’, ‘alembic’,
‘alkali’, ‘elixir’. Add to these the names of animals, plants, fruits,
or articles of merchandize first introduced by them to the notice of
Western Europe; as ‘amber’, ‘artichoke’, ‘barragan’, ‘camphor’,
‘coffee’, ‘cotton’, ‘crimson’, ‘gazelle’, ‘giraffe’, ‘jar’, ‘jasmin’,
‘lake’ (lacca), ‘lemon’, ‘lime’, ‘lute’, ‘mattress’, ‘mummy’, ‘saffron’,
‘sherbet’, ‘shrub’, ‘sofa’, ‘sugar’, ‘syrup’, ‘tamarind’; and some
further terms, ‘admiral’, ‘amulet’, ‘arsenal’, ‘assassin’, ‘barbican’,
‘caliph’, ‘caffre’, ‘carat’, ‘divan’, ‘dragoman’{6}, ‘emir’, ‘fakir’,
‘firman’, ‘harem’, ‘hazard’, ‘houri’, ‘magazine’, ‘mamaluke’,
‘minaret’, ‘monsoon’, ‘mosque’, ‘nabob’, ‘razzia’, ‘sahara’, ‘simoom’,
‘sirocco’, ‘sultan’, ‘tarif’, ‘vizier’; and I believe we shall have
nearly completed the list. We have moreover a few Persian words, as
‘azure’, ‘bazaar’, ‘bezoar’, ‘caravan’, ‘caravanserai’, ‘chess’,
‘dervish’, ‘lilac’, ‘orange’, ‘saraband’, ‘taffeta’, ‘tambour’,
‘turban’; this last appearing in strange forms at its first introduction
into the language, thus ‘tolibant’ (Puttenham), ‘tulipant’ (Herbert’s
_Travels_), ‘turribant’ (Spenser), ‘turbat’, ‘turbant’, and at length
‘turban’. We have also a few Turkish, such as ‘chouse’, ‘janisary’,
‘odalisque’, ‘sash’, ‘tulip’{7}. Of ‘civet’{8} and ‘scimitar’{9} I
believe it can only be asserted that they are Eastern. The following are
Hindostanee, ‘avatar’, ‘bungalow’, ‘calico’, ‘chintz’, ‘cowrie’, ‘lac’,
‘muslin’, ‘punch’, ‘rupee’, ‘toddy’. ‘Tea’, or ‘tcha’, as it was spelt
at first, of course is Chinese, so too are ‘junk’ and ‘satin’{10}.

The New World has given us a certain number of words, Indian and
other--‘cacique’ (‘cassique’, in Ralegh’s _Guiana_), ‘canoo’,
‘chocolate’, ‘cocoa’{11}, ‘condor’, ‘hamoc’ (‘hamaca’ in Ralegh),
‘jalap’, ‘lama’, ‘maize’ (Haytian), ‘pampas’, ‘pemmican’, ‘potato’
(‘batata’ in our earlier voyagers), ‘raccoon’, ‘sachem’, ‘squaw’,
‘tobacco’, ‘tomahawk’, ‘tomata’ (Mexican), ‘wigwam’. If ‘hurricane’ is a
word which Europe originally obtained from the Caribbean islanders{12},
it should of course be included in this list{13}. A certain number of
words also we have received, one by one, from various languages, which
sometimes have not bestowed on us more than this single one. Thus
‘hussar’ is Hungarian; ‘caloyer’, Romaic; ‘mammoth’, of some Siberian
language;{14} ‘tattoo’, Polynesian; ‘steppe’, Tartarian; ‘sago’,
‘bamboo’, ‘rattan’, ‘ourang outang’, are all, I believe, Malay words;
‘assegai’{15} ‘zebra’, ‘chimpanzee’, ‘fetisch’, belong to different
African dialects; the last, however, having reached Europe through the
channel of the Portuguese{16}.

{Sidenote: _Italian Words_}

{Sidenote: _Spanish, Dutch and Celtic Words_}

To come nearer home--we have a certain number of Italian words, as
‘balcony’, ‘baldachin’, ‘balustrade’, ‘bandit’, ‘bravo’, ‘bust’ (it
was ‘busto’ as first used in English, and therefore from the Italian,
not from the French), ‘cameo’, ‘canto’, ‘caricature’, ‘carnival’,
‘cartoon’, ‘charlatan’, ‘concert’, ‘conversazione’, ‘cupola’, ‘ditto’,
‘doge’, ‘domino’{17}, ‘felucca’, ‘fresco’, ‘gazette’, ‘generalissimo’,
‘gondola’, ‘gonfalon’, ‘grotto’, (‘grotta’ is the earliest form in
which we have it in English), ‘gusto’, ‘harlequin’{18}, ‘imbroglio’,
‘inamorato’, ‘influenza’, ‘lava’, ‘malaria’, ‘manifesto’, ‘masquerade’
(‘mascarata’ in Hacket), ‘motto’, ‘nuncio’, ‘opera’, ‘oratorio’,
‘pantaloon’, ‘parapet’, ‘pedantry’, ‘pianoforte’, ‘piazza’, ‘portico’,
‘proviso’, ‘regatta’, ‘ruffian’, ‘scaramouch’, ‘sequin’, ‘seraglio’,
‘sirocco’, ‘sonnet’, ‘stanza’, ‘stiletto’, ‘stucco’, ‘studio’,
‘terra-cotta’, ‘umbrella’, ‘virtuoso’, ‘vista’, ‘volcano’, ‘zany’.
‘Becco’, and ‘cornuto’, ‘fantastico’, ‘magnifico’, ‘impress’ (the
armorial device upon shields, and appearing constantly in its Italian
form ‘impresa’), ‘saltimbanco’ (=mountebank), all once common enough,
are now obsolete. Sylvester uses often ‘farfalla’ for butterfly, but,
as far as I know, this use is peculiar to him. If these are at all the
whole number of our Italian words, and I cannot call to mind any
other, the Spanish in the language are nearly as numerous; nor indeed
would it be wonderful if they were more so; our points of contact with
Spain, friendly and hostile, have been much more real than with Italy.
Thus we have from the Spanish ‘albino’, ‘alligator’ (el lagarto),
‘alcove’{19}, ‘armada’, ‘armadillo’, ‘barricade’, ‘bastinado’,
‘bravado’, ‘caiman’, ‘cambist’, ‘camisado’, ‘carbonado’, ‘cargo’,
‘cigar’, ‘cochineal’, ‘Creole’, ‘desperado’, ‘don’, ‘duenna’,
‘eldorado’, ‘embargo’, ‘flotilla’, ‘gala’, ‘grandee’, ‘grenade’,
‘guerilla’, ‘hooker’{20}, ‘infanta’, ‘jennet’, ‘junto’, ‘merino’,
‘mosquito’, ‘mulatto’, ‘negro’, ‘olio’, ‘ombre’, ‘palaver’, ‘parade’,
‘parasol’, ‘parroquet’, ‘peccadillo’, ‘picaroon’, ‘platina’, ‘poncho’,
‘punctilio’, (for a long time spelt ‘puntillo’, in English books),
‘quinine’, ‘reformado’, ‘savannah’, ‘serenade’, ‘sherry’, ‘stampede’,
‘stoccado’, ‘strappado’, ‘tornado’, ‘vanilla’, ‘verandah’. ‘Buffalo’
also is Spanish; ‘buff’ or ‘buffle’ being the proper English word;
‘caprice’ too we probably obtained rather from Spain than Italy, as we
find it written ‘capricho’ by those who used it first. Other Spanish
words, once familiar, are now extinct. ‘Punctilio’ lives on, but not
‘punto’, which occurs in Bacon. ‘Privado’, signifying a prince’s
favourite, one admitted to his _privacy_ (no uncommon word in Jeremy
Taylor and Fuller), has quite disappeared; so too has ‘quirpo’
(cuerpo), the name given to a jacket fitting close to the _body_;
‘quellio’ (cuello), a ruff or _neck_-collar; and ‘matachin’, the title
of a sword-dance; these are all frequent in our early dramatists; and
‘flota’ was the constant name of the treasure-fleet from the Indies.
‘Intermess’ is employed by Evelyn, and is the Spanish ‘entremes’,
though not recognized as such in our dictionaries. ‘Mandarin’ and
‘marmalade’ are our only Portuguese words I can call to mind. A good
many of our sea-terms are Dutch, as ‘sloop’, ‘schooner’, ‘yacht’,
‘boom’, ‘skipper’, ‘tafferel’, ‘to smuggle’; ‘to wear’, in the sense
of veer, as when we say ‘_to wear_ a ship’; ‘skates’, too, and
‘stiver’, are Dutch. Celtic _things_ are for the most part designated
among us by Celtic words; such as ‘bard’, ‘kilt’, ‘clan’, ‘pibroch’,
‘plaid’, ‘reel’. Nor only such as these, which are all of them
comparatively of modern introduction, but a considerable number, how
large a number is yet a very unsettled question, of words which at a
much earlier date found admission into our tongue, are derived from
this quarter.

Now, of course, I have no right to presume that any among us are
equipped with that knowledge of other tongues, which shall enable us to
detect of ourselves and at once the nationality of all or most of the
words which we may meet--some of them greatly disguised, and having
undergone manifold transformations in the process of their adoption
among us; but only that we have such helps at command in the shape of
dictionaries and the like, and so much diligence in their use, as will
enable us to discover the quarter from which the words we may encounter
have reached us; and I will confidently say that few studies of the
kind will be more fruitful, will suggest more various matter of
reflection, will more lead you into the secrets of the English tongue,
than an analysis of a certain number of passages drawn from different
authors, such as I have just now proposed. For this analysis you will
take some passage of English verse or prose--say the first ten lines of
_Paradise Lost_--or the Lord’s Prayer--or the 23rd Psalm; you will
distribute the whole body of words contained in that passage, of course
not omitting the smallest, according to their nationalities--writing, it
may be, A over every Anglo-Saxon word, L over every Latin, and so on
with the others, if any other should occur in the portion which you have
submitted to this examination. When this is done, you will count up the
_number_ of those which each language contributes; again, you will note
the _character_ of the words derived from each quarter.

{Sidenote: _Two Shapes of Words_}

Yet here, before I pass further, I would observe in respect of those
which come from the Latin, that it will be desirable further to mark
whether they are directly from it, and such might be marked L¹, or only
mediately from it, and to us directly from the French, which would be
L², or L at second hand--our English word being only in the second
generation descended from the Latin, not the child, but the child’s
child. There is a rule that holds pretty constantly good, by which you
may determine this point. It is this,--that if a word be directly from
the Latin, it will not have undergone any alteration or modification in
its form and shape, save only in the termination--‘innocentia’ will
have become ‘innocency’, ‘natio’ will have become ‘nation’,
‘firmamentum’ ‘firmament’, but nothing more. On the other hand, if it
comes _through_ the French, it will generally be considerably altered in
its passage. It will have undergone a process of lubrication; its
sharply defined Latin outline will in good part have departed from it;
thus ‘crown’ is from ‘corona’, but though ‘couronne’, and itself a
dissyllable, ‘coroune’, in our earlier English; ‘treasure’ is from
‘thesaurus’, but through ‘trésor’; ‘emperor’ is the Latin ‘imperator’,
but it was first ‘empereur’. It will often happen that the substantive
has past through this process, having reached us through the
intervention of the French; while we have only felt at a later period
our want of the adjective also, which we have proceeded to borrow direct
from the Latin. Thus, ‘people’ is indeed ‘populus’, but it was ‘peuple’
first, while ‘popular’ is a direct transfer of a Latin vocable into our
English glossary. So too ‘enemy’ is ‘inimicus’, but it was first
softened in the French, and had its Latin physiognomy to a great degree
obliterated, while ‘inimical’ is Latin throughout; ‘parish’ is
‘paroisse’, but ‘parochial’ is ‘parochialis’; ‘chapter’ is ‘chapitre’,
but ‘capitular’ is ‘capitularis’.

{Sidenote: _Doublets_}

Sometimes you will find in English what I may call the double adoption
of a Latin word; which now makes part of our vocabulary in two shapes;
‘doppelgängers’ the Germans would call such words{21}. There is first
the elder word, which the French has given us; but which, before it
gave, it had fashioned and moulded, cutting it short, it may be, by a
syllable or more, for the French devours letters and syllables; and
there is the later word which we borrowed immediately from the Latin. I
will mention a few examples; ‘secure’ and ‘sure’, both from ‘securus’,
but one directly, the other through the French; ‘fidelity’ and ‘fealty’,
both from ‘fidelitas’, but one directly, the other at second-hand;
‘species’ and ‘spice’, both from ‘species’, spices being properly only
_kinds_ of aromatic drugs; ‘blaspheme’ and ‘blame’, both from
‘blasphemare’{22}, but ‘blame’ immediately from ‘blâmer’. Add to these
‘granary’ and ‘garner’; ‘captain’ (capitaneus) and ‘chieftain’;
‘tradition’ and ‘treason’; ‘abyss’ and ‘abysm’; ‘regal’ and ‘royal’;
‘legal’ and ‘loyal’; ‘cadence’ and ‘chance’; ‘balsam’ and ‘balm’;
‘hospital’ and ‘hotel’; ‘digit’ and ‘doit’{23}; ‘pagan’ and ‘paynim’;
‘captive’ and ‘caitiff’; ‘persecute’ and ‘pursue’; ‘superficies’ and
‘surface’; ‘faction’ and ‘fashion’; ‘particle’ and ‘parcel’;
‘redemption’ and ‘ransom’; ‘probe’ and ‘prove’; ‘abbreviate’ and
‘abridge’; ‘dormitory’ and ‘dortoir’ or ‘dorter’ (this last now
obsolete, but not uncommon in Jeremy Taylor); ‘desiderate’ and ‘desire’;
‘fact’ and ‘feat’; ‘major’ and ‘mayor’; ‘radius’ and ‘ray’; ‘pauper’
and ‘poor’; ‘potion’ and ‘poison’; ‘ration’ and ‘reason’; ‘oration’ and
‘orison’{24}. I have, in the instancing of these named always the Latin
form before the French; but the reverse I suppose in every instance is
the order in which the words were adopted by us; we had ‘pursue’ before
‘persecute’, ‘spice’ before ‘species’, ‘royalty’ before ‘regality’, and
so with the others{25}.

The explanation of this greater change which the earlier form of the
word has undergone, is not far to seek. Words which have been introduced
into a language at an early period, when as yet writing is rare, and
books are few or none, when therefore orthography is unfixed, or being
purely phonetic, cannot properly be said to exist at all, such words for
a long while live orally on the lips of men, before they are set down in
writing; and out of this fact it is that we shall for the most part find
them reshaped and remoulded by the people who have adopted them,
entirely assimilated to _their_ language in form and termination, so as
in a little while to be almost or quite indistinguishable from natives.
On the other hand a most effectual check to this process, a process
sometimes barbarizing and defacing, however it may be the only one which
will make the newly brought in entirely homogeneous with the old and
already existing, is imposed by the existence of a much written language
and a full formed literature. The foreign word, being once adopted into
these, can no longer undergo a thorough transformation. For the most
part the utmost which use and familiarity can do with it now, is to
cause the gradual dropping of the foreign termination. Yet this too is
not unimportant; it often goes far to making a home for a word, and
hindering it from wearing the appearance of a foreigner and

{Sidenote: _Analysis of English_}

But to return from this digression--I said just now that you would learn
very much from observing and calculating the proportions in which the
words of one descent and those of another occur in any passage which you
analyse. Thus examine the Lord’s Prayer. It consists of exactly seventy
words. You will find that only the following six claim the rights of
Latin citizenship--‘trespasses’, ‘trespass’, ‘temptation’, ‘deliver’,
‘power’, ‘glory’. Nor would it be very difficult to substitute for any
one of these a Saxon word. Thus for ‘trespasses’ might be substituted
‘sins’; for ‘deliver’ ‘free’; for ‘power’ ‘might’; for ‘glory’
‘brightness’; which would only leave ‘temptation’, about which there
could be the slightest difficulty, and ‘trials’, though we now ascribe
to the word a somewhat different sense, would in fact exactly correspond
to it. This is but a small percentage, six words in seventy, or less
than ten in the hundred; and we often light upon a still smaller
proportion. Thus take the first three verses of the 23rd Psalm:--“The
Lord is my Shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing; He shall feed me in a
green _pasture_, and lead me forth beside the waters of _comfort_; He
shall _convert_ my soul, and bring me forth in the paths of
righteousness for his Name’s sake”. Here are forty-five words, and only
the three in italics are Latin; and for every one of these too it would
be easy to substitute a word of Saxon origin; little more, that is, than
the proportion of seven in the hundred; while, still stronger than this,
in five verses out of Genesis, containing one hundred and thirty words,
there are only five not Saxon, less, that is, than four in the hundred.

Shall we therefore conclude that these are the proportions in which the
Anglo-Saxon and Latin elements of the language stand to one another? If
they are so, then my former proposal to express their relations by sixty
and thirty was greatly at fault; and seventy and twenty, or even eighty
and ten, would fall short of adequately representing the real
predominance of the Saxon over the Latin element of the language. But it
is not so; the Anglo-Saxon words by no means outnumber the Latin in the
degree which the analysis of those passages would seem to imply. It is
not that there are so many more Anglo-Saxon words, but that the words
which there are, being words of more primary necessity, do therefore so
much more frequently recur. The proportions which the analysis of the
_dictionary_ that is, of the language _at rest_, would furnish, are very
different from these which I have just instanced, and which the analysis
of _sentences_, or of the language _in motion_, gives. Thus if we
examine the total vocabulary of the English Bible, not more than sixty
per cent. of the words are native; such are the results which the
Concordance gives; but in the actual translation the native words are
from ninety in some passages to ninety-six in others per cent{27}.

{Sidenote: _Anglo-Saxon the Base of English_}

The notice of this fact will lead us to some very important conclusions
as to the _character_ of the words which the Saxon and the Latin
severally furnish; and principally to this:--that while the English
language is thus compact in the main of these two elements, we must not
for all this regard these two as making, one and the other, exactly the
same _kind_ of contributions to it. On the contrary their contributions
are of very different character. The Anglo-Saxon is not so much, as I
have just called it, one element of the English language, as the
foundation of it, the basis. All its joints, its whole _articulation_,
its sinews and its ligaments, the great body of articles, pronouns,
conjunctions, prepositions, numerals, auxiliary verbs, all smaller words
which serve to knit together and bind the larger into sentences, these,
not to speak of the grammatical structure of the language, are
exclusively Saxon. The Latin may contribute its tale of bricks, yea, of
goodly and polished hewn stones, to the spiritual building; but the
mortar, with all that holds and binds the different parts of it
together, and constitutes them into a house, is Saxon throughout. I
remember Selden in his _Table Talk_ using another comparison; but to the
same effect: “If you look upon the language spoken in the Saxon time,
and the language spoken now, you will find the difference to be just as
if a man had a cloak which he wore plain in Queen Elizabeth’s days, and
since, here has put in a piece of red, and there a piece of blue, and
here a piece of green, and there a piece of orange-tawny. We borrow
words from the French, Italian, Latin, as every pedantic man pleases”.

{Sidenote: _Composite Languages_}

I believe this to be the law which holds good in respect of all
composite languages. However composite they may be, yet they are only so
in regard of their words. There may be a medley in respect of these,
some coming from one quarter, some from another; but there is never a
mixture of grammatical forms and inflections. One or other language
entirely predominates here, and everything has to conform and
subordinate itself to the laws of this ruling and ascendant language.
The Anglo-Saxon is the ruling language in our present English. Thus
while it has thought good to drop its genders, even so the French
substantives which come among us, must also leave theirs behind them; as
in like manner the French verbs must renounce their own conjugations,
and adapt themselves to ours{28}. I believe that a remarkable parallel
to this might be found in the language of Persia, since the conquest of
that country by the Arabs. The ancient Persian religion fell with the
government, but the language remained totally unaffected by the
revolution, in its grammatical structure and character. Arabic vocables,
the only exotic words in Persian, are found in numbers varying with the
object and quality, style and taste of the writers, but pages of pure
idiomatic Persian may be written without employing a single word from
the Arabic.

At the same time the secondary or superinduced language, even while it
is quite unable to force any of its forms on the language which receives
its words, may yet compel that to renounce a portion of its own forms,
by the impossibility which is practically found to exist of making them
fit the new comers; and thus it may exert although not a positive, yet a
negative, influence on the grammar of the other tongue. It has been so,
as is generally admitted, in the instance of our own. “When the English
language was inundated by a vast influx of French words, few, if any,
French forms were received into its grammar; but the Saxon forms soon
dropped away, because they did not suit the new roots; and the genius of
the language, from having to deal with the newly imported words in a
rude state, was induced to neglect the inflections of the native ones.
This for instance led to the introduction of the _s_ as the universal
termination of all plural nouns, which agreed with the usage of the
French language, and was not alien from that of the Saxon, but was
merely an extension of the termination of the ancient masculine to other
classes of nouns”{29}.

{Sidenote: _The Anglo-Saxon Element_}

If you wish to convince yourselves by actual experience, of the fact
which I just now asserted, namely, that the radical constitution of the
language is Saxon, I would say, Try to compose a sentence, let it be
only of ten or a dozen words, and the subject entirely of your choice,
employing therein only words which are of a Latin derivation. I venture
to say you will find it impossible, or next to impossible to do it;
whichever way you turn, some obstacle will meet you in the face. And
while it is thus with the Latin, whole pages might be written, I do not
say in philosophy or theology or upon any abstruser subject, but on
familiar matters of common everyday life, in which every word should be
of Saxon extraction, not one of Latin; and these, pages in which, with
the exercise of a little patience and ingenuity, all appearance of
awkwardness and constraint should be avoided, so that it should never
occur to the reader, unless otherwise informed, that the writer had
submitted himself to this restraint and limitation in the words which he
employed, and was only drawing them from one section of the English
language. Sir Thomas Browne has given several long paragraphs so
constructed. Take for instance the following, which is only a little
fragment of one of them: “The first and foremost step to all good works
is the dread and fear of the Lord of heaven and earth, which through
the Holy Ghost enlighteneth the blindness of our sinful hearts to tread
the ways of wisdom, and lead our feet into the land of blessing”{30}.
This is not stiffer than the ordinary English of his time. I would
suggest to you at your leisure to make these two experiments; you will
find it, I think, exactly as I have here affirmed.

While thus I bring before you the fact that it would be quite possible
to write English, forgoing altogether the use of the Latin portion of
the language, I would not have you therefore to conclude that this
portion of the language is of little value, or that we could draw from
the resources of our Teutonic tongue efficient substitutes for all the
words which it has contributed to our glossary. I am persuaded that we
could not; and, if we could, that it would not be desirable. I mention
this, because there is sometimes a regret expressed that we have not
kept our language more free from the admixture of Latin, a suggestion
made that we should even now endeavour to keep under the Latin element
of it, and as little as possible avail ourselves of it. I remember Lord
Brougham urging upon the students at Glasgow as a help to writing good
English, that they should do their best to rid their diction of
long-tailed words in ‘osity’ and ‘ation’{31}. He plainly intended to
indicate by this phrase all learned Latin words, or words derived from
the Latin. This exhortation is by no means superfluous; for doubtless
there were writers of a former age, Samuel Johnson in the last century,
Henry More and Sir Thomas Browne in the century preceding, who gave
undue preponderance to the learned, or Latin, portion in our language;
and very much of its charm, of its homely strength and beauty, of its
most popular and truest idioms, would have perished from it, had they
succeeded in persuading others to write as they had written.

{Sidenote: _Anglo-Saxon Aboriginal_}

But for all this we could _almost_ as ill spare this side of the
language as the other. It represents and supplies needs not less real
than the other does. Philosophy and science and the arts of a high
civilization find their utterance in the Latin words of our language,
or, if not in the Latin, in the Greek, which for present purposes may be
grouped with them. How they should have found utterance in the speech of
rude tribes, which, never having cultivated the things, must needs have
been without the words which should express those things. Granting too
that, _cœteris paribus_, when a Latin and a Saxon word offer themselves
to our choice, we shall generally do best to employ the Saxon, to speak
of ‘happiness’ rather than ‘felicity’, ‘almighty’ rather than
‘omnipotent’, a ‘forerunner’ rather than a ‘precursor’, still these
latter must be regarded as much denizens in the language as the former,
no alien interlopers, but possessing the rights of citizenship as fully
as the most Saxon word of them all. One part of the language is not to
be favoured at the expense of the other; the Saxon at the cost of the
Latin, as little as the Latin at the cost of the Saxon. “Both are
indispensable; and speaking generally without stopping to distinguish as
to subject, both are _equally_ indispensable. Pathos, in situations
which are homely, or at all connected with domestic affections,
naturally moves by Saxon words. Lyrical emotion of every kind, which (to
merit the name of _lyrical_) must be in the state of flux and reflux,
or, generally, of agitation, also requires the Saxon element of our
language. And why? Because the Saxon is the aboriginal element; the
basis and not the superstructure: consequently it comprehends all the
ideas which are natural to the heart of man and to the elementary
situations of life. And although the Latin often furnishes us with
duplicates of these ideas, yet the Saxon, or monosyllabic part, has the
advantage of precedency in our use and knowledge; for it is the language
of the nursery whether for rich or poor, in which great philological
academy no toleration is given to words in ‘osity’ or ‘ation’. There is
therefore a great advantage, as regards the consecration to our
feelings, settled by usage and custom upon the Saxon strands in the
mixed yarn of our native tongue. And universally, this may be
remarked--that wherever the passion of a poem is of that sort which
_uses_, _presumes_, or _postulates_ the ideas, without seeking to extend
them, Saxon will be the ‘cocoon’ (to speak by the language applied to
silk-worms), which the poem spins for itself. But on the other hand,
where the motion of the feeling is _by_ and _through_ the ideas, where
(as in religious or meditative poetry--Young’s, for instance, or
Cowper’s), the pathos creeps and kindles underneath the very tissues of
the thinking, there the Latin will predominate; and so much so that,
whilst the flesh, the blood, and the muscle, will be often almost
exclusively Latin, the articulations only, or hinges of connection, will
be the Anglo-Saxon”.

These words which I have just quoted are De Quincey’s--whom I must needs
esteem the greatest living master of our English tongue. And on the same
matter Sir Francis Palgrave has expressed himself thus: “Upon the
languages of Teutonic origin the Latin has exercised great influence,
but most energetically on our own. The very early admixture of the
_Langue d’Oil_, the never interrupted employment of the French as the
language of education, and the nomenclature created by the scientific
and literary cultivation of advancing and civilized society, have
Romanized our speech; the warp may be Anglo-Saxon, but the woof is Roman
as well as the embroidery, and these foreign materials have so entered
into the texture, that were they plucked out, the web would be torn to
rags, unravelled and destroyed”{32}.

{Sidenote: _The English Bible_}

I do not know where we could find a happier example of the preservation
of the golden mean in this matter than in our Authorized Version of the
Bible. One of the chief among the minor and secondary blessings which
that Version has conferred on the nation or nations drawing spiritual
life from it,--a blessing not small in itself, but only small by
comparison with the infinitely higher blessings whereof it is the
vehicle to them,--is the happy wisdom, the instinctive tact, with which
its authors have steered between any futile mischievous attempt to
ignore the full rights of the Latin part of the language on the one
side, and on the other any burdening of their Version with such a
multitude of learned Latin terms as should cause it to forfeit its
homely character, and shut up large portions of it from the
understanding of plain and unlearned men. There is a remarkable
confession to this effect, to the wisdom, in fact, which guided them
from above, to the providence that overruled their work, an honourable
acknowledgement of the immense superiority in this respect of our
English Version over the Romish, made by one now, unhappily, familiar
with the latter, as once he was with our own. Among those who have
recently abandoned the communion of the English Church one has exprest
himself in deeply touching tones of lamentation over all, which in
renouncing our translation, he feels himself to have forgone and lost.
These are his words: “Who will not say that the uncommon beauty and
marvellous English of the Protestant Bible is not one of the great
strongholds of heresy in this country? It lives on the ear, like a music
that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells, which the
convert hardly knows how he can forgo. Its felicities often seem to be
almost things rather than mere words. It is part of the national mind,
and the anchor of national seriousness.... The memory of the dead passes
into it. The potent traditions of childhood are stereotyped in its
verses. The power of all the griefs and trials of a man is hidden
beneath its words. It is the representative of his best moments, and
all that there has been about him of soft and gentle and pure and
penitent and good speaks to him for ever out of his English Bible.... It
is his sacred thing, which doubt has never dimmed, and controversy never
soiled. In the length and breadth of the land there is not a Protestant
with one spark of religiousness about him, whose spiritual biography is
not in his Saxon Bible”{33}.

{Sidenote: _The Rhemish Bible_}

Such are his touching words; and certainly one has only to compare this
version of ours with the Rhemish, and the transcendent excellence of our
own reveals itself at once. I am not extolling now its superior
scholarship; its greater freedom from by-ends; as little would I urge
the fact that one translation is from the original Greek, the other from
the Latin Vulgate, and thus the translation of a translation, often
reproducing the mistakes of that translation; but, putting aside all
considerations such as these, I speak only here of the superiority of
the diction in which the meaning, be it correct or incorrect, is
conveyed to English readers. Thus I open the Rhemish version at
Galatians v. 19, where the long list of the “works of the flesh”, and of
the “fruit of the Spirit”, is given. But what could a mere English
reader make of words such as these--‘impudicity’, ‘ebrieties’,
‘comessations’, ‘longanimity’, all which occur in that passage? while
our Version for ‘ebrieties’ has ‘drunkenness’, for ‘comessations’ has
‘revellings’, and so also for ‘longanimity’ ‘longsuffering’. Or set over
against one another such phrases as these,--in the Rhemish, “the
exemplars of the celestials” (Heb. ix. 23), but in ours, “the patterns
of things in the heavens”. Or suppose if, instead of the words _we_ read
at Heb. xiii. 16, namely “To do good and to communicate forget not; for
with such sacrifices God is well pleased”, we read as follows, which are
the words of the Rhemish, “Beneficence and communication do not forget;
for with such hosts God is promerited”!--Who does not feel that if our
Version had been composed in such Latin-English as this, had abounded in
words like ‘odible’, ‘suasible’, ‘exinanite’, ‘contristate’,
‘postulations’, ‘coinquinations’, ‘agnition’, ‘zealatour’, all, with
many more of the same mint, in the Rhemish Version, our loss would have
been great and enduring, one which would have searched into the whole
religious life of our people, and been felt in the very depths of the
national mind{34}?

There was indeed something still deeper than love of sound and genuine
English at work in our Translators, whether they were conscious of it or
not, which hindered them from presenting the Scriptures to their
fellow-countrymen dressed out in such a semi-Latin garb as this. The
Reformation, which they were in this translation so mightily
strengthening and confirming, was just a throwing off, on the part of
the Teutonic nations, of that everlasting pupilage in which Rome would
have held them; an assertion at length that they were come to full age,
and that not through her, but directly through Christ, they would
address themselves unto God. The use of the Latin language as the
language of worship, as the language in which the Scriptures might alone
be read, had been the great badge of servitude, even as the Latin habits
of thought and feeling which it promoted had been the great helps to the
continuance of this servitude, through long ages. It lay deep then in
the very nature of their cause that the Reformers should develop the
Saxon, or essentially national, element in the language; while it was
just as natural that the Roman Catholic translators, if they must
translate the Scriptures into English at all, should yet translate them
into such English as should bear the nearest possible resemblance to the
Latin Vulgate, which Rome with a very deep wisdom of this world would
gladly have seen as the only one in the hands of the faithful.

{Sidenote: _Future of the English Language_}

Let me again, however, recur to the fact that what our Reformers did in
this matter, they did without exaggeration; even as they had shown the
same wise moderation in still higher matters. They gave to the Latin
side of the language its rights, though they would not suffer it to
encroach upon and usurp those of the Teutonic part of the language. It
would be difficult not to believe, even if many outward signs said not
the same, that great things are in store for the one language of Europe
which thus serves as connecting link between the North and the South,
between the languages spoken by the Teutonic nations of the North and by
the Romance nations of the South; which holds on to and partakes of
both; which is as a middle term between them{35}. There are who venture
to hope that the English Church, being in like manner double-fronted,
looking on the one side toward Rome, being herself truly Catholic,
looking on the other towards the Protestant communions, being herself
also protesting and reforming, may yet in the providence of God have an
important part to play for the reconciling of a divided Christendom. And
if this ever should be so, if, notwithstanding our sins and unworthiness,
so blessed a task should be in store for her, it will not be a small
help and assistance thereunto, that the language in which her mediation
will be effected is one wherein both parties may claim their own, in
which neither will feel that it is receiving the adjudication of a
stranger, of one who must be an alien from its deeper thoughts and
habits, because an alien from its words, but a language in which both
must recognize very much of that which is deepest and most precious of
their own.

{Sidenote: _Jacob Grimm on English_}

Nor is this prerogative which I have just claimed for our English the
mere dream and fancy of patriotic vanity. The scholar who in our days is
most profoundly acquainted with the great group of the Gothic languages
in Europe, and a devoted lover, if ever there was such, of his native
German, I mean Jacob Grimm, has expressed himself very nearly to the
same effect, and given the palm over all to our English in words which
you will not grudge to hear quoted, and with which I shall bring this
lecture to a close. After ascribing to our language “a veritable power
of expression, such as perhaps never stood at the command of any other
language of men”, he goes on to say, “Its highly spiritual genius, and
wonderfully happy development and condition, have been the result of a
surprisingly intimate union of the two noblest languages in modern
Europe, the Teutonic and the Romance--It is well known in what relation
these two stand to one another in the English tongue; the former
supplying in far larger proportion the material groundwork, the latter
the spiritual conceptions. In truth the English language, which by no
mere accident has produced and upborne the greatest and most predominant
poet of modern times, as distinguished from the ancient classical poetry
(I can, of course, only mean Shakespeare), may with all right be called
a world-language; and like the English people, appears destined
hereafter to prevail with a sway more extensive even than its present
over all the portions of the globe{36}. For in wealth, good sense, and
closeness of structure no other of the languages at this day spoken
deserves to be compared with it--not even our German, which is torn,
even as we are torn, and must first rid itself of many defects, before
it can enter boldly into the lists, as a competitor with the


{1} These lectures were first delivered during the Russian War. [See De
    Quincey to the same effect, _Works_, 1862, vol. iv. pp. vii, 286.]

{2} F. Schlegel, _History of Literature, Lecture 10_.

{3} [If dictionary words be counted as apart from the spoken language,
    the proportion of the component elements of English is very
    different. M. Müller quotes a calculation which makes the classical
    element about 68 per cent, the Teutonic about 30, and miscellaneous
    about 2 (_Science of Language_, 8th ed. i, 89). See Skeat,
    _Principles of Eng. Etymology_, ii, 15 _seq._, and _infra_ p. 25.]

{4} [What here follows should be compared with the fuller and more
    accurate lists of words borrowed from foreign sources given by Prof.
    Skeat in his larger _Etymolog. Dictionary_, 759 _seq._; and more
    completely in his _Principles of Eng. Etymology_, 2nd ser. 294-440.]

{5} Yet see J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_, p. 985.

{6} The word hardly deserves to be called English, yet in Pope’s time it
    had made some progress toward naturalization. Of a real or pretended
    polyglottist, who might thus have served as an universal
    _interpreter_, he says:

        “Pity you was not _druggerman_ at Babel”.

    ‘Truckman’, or more commonly ‘truchman’, familiar to all readers of
    our early literature, is only another form of this, one which
    probably has come to us through ‘turcimanno’, the Italian form of
    the word. [See my _Folk and their Word-Lore_, p. 19].

{7} [‘Tulip’, at first spelt _tulipan_, is really the same word as
    _turban_ (_tulipant_ just above), which the flower was thought to
    resemble (Persian _dulband_).]

{8} [Ultimately from the Arabic _zabād_ (N.E.D.).]

{9} [Apparently to be traced to the Persian _shim-shír_ or _sham-shír_
    (“lion’s-nail”), a crooked sword (Skeat).]

{10} [Rather through the French from low Latin _satinus_ or _setinus_, a
     fabric made of _seta_, silk. But Yule holds that it may be from
     Zayton or Zaitun (in Fokien, China), an important emporium of
     Western trade in the Middle Ages (_Hobson-Jobson_, 602).]

{11} [Probably intended for _cacao_, which is Mexican. _Cocoa_, the nut,
     is from Portuguese _coco_.]

{12} See Washington Irving, _Life and Voyages of Columbus_, b. 8, c. 9.

{13} [It is from the Haytian _Hurakan_, the storm-god (_The Folk and
     their Word-Lore_, 90).]

{14} [From old Russian _mammot_, whence modern Russian _mamant_.]

{15} [‘Assagai’ is from the Arabic _az-_ (_al-_) _zaghāyah_, ‘the
     _zagāyah_’, a Berber name for a lance (N.E.D.).]

{16} [This puts the cart before the horse. ‘Fetish’ is really the
     Portuguese word _feitiço_, artificial, made-up, factitious (Latin
     _factitius_), applied to African amulets or idols.]

{17} [‘Domino’ is Spanish rather than Italian (Skeat, _Principles_, ii,

{18} [‘Harlequin’ appears to be an older word in French than in Italian

{19} On the question whether this ought to have been included among the
     Arabic, see Diez, _Wörterbuch d. Roman. Sprachen_, p. 10.

{20} Not in our dictionaries; but a kind of coasting vessel well known
     to seafaring men, the Spanish ‘urca’; thus in Oldys’ _Life of
     Raleigh_: “Their galleons, galleasses, gallies, _urcas_, and zabras
     were miserably shattered”.

{21} [A valuable list of such doublets is given by Prof. Skeat in his
     large _Etymological Dictionary_, p. 772 _seq._]

{22} This particular instance of double adoption, of ‘dimorphism’ as
     Latham calls it, ‘dittology’ as Heyse, recurs in Italian,
     ‘bestemmiare’ and ‘biasimare’; and in Spanish, ‘blasfemar’ and

{23} [‘Doit’, a small coin (Dutch _duit_) has no relation to, ‘digit’.
     Was the author thinking of old French _doit_, a finger, from Latin

{24} Somewhat different from this, yet itself also curious, is the
     passing of an Anglo-Saxon word in two different forms into English,
     and continuing in both; thus ‘desk’ and ‘dish’, both the
     Anglo-Saxon ‘disc’ [a loan-word from Latin _discus_, Greek
     _diskos_] the German ‘tisch’; ‘beech’ and ‘book’, both the
     Anglo-Saxon ‘boc’, our first books being _beechen_ tablets (see
     Grimm, _Wörterbuch_, s. vv. ‘Buch’, ‘Buche’); ‘girdle’ and
     ‘kirtle’; both of them corresponding to the German ‘gürtel’;
     already in Anglo-Saxon a double spelling, ‘gyrdel’, ‘cyrtel’, had
     prepared for the double words; so too ‘haunch’ and ‘hinge’; ‘lady’
     and ‘lofty’ [these last three instances are not doublets at all,
     being quite unrelated; see Skeat, s. vv.]; ‘shirt’, and ‘skirt’;
     ‘black’ and ‘bleak’; ‘pond’ and ‘pound’; ‘deck’ and ‘thatch’;
     ‘deal’ and ‘dole’; ‘weald’ and ‘wood’†; ‘dew’ and ‘thaw’†;
     ‘wayward’ and ‘awkward’†; ‘dune’ and ‘down’; ‘hood’ and ‘hat’†;
     ‘ghost’ and ‘gust’†; ‘evil’ and ‘ill’†; ‘mouth’ and ‘moth’†;
     ‘hedge’ and ‘hay’.

     [All these suggested doublets which I have obelized must be
     dismissed as untenable.]

{25} We have in the same way double adoptions from the Greek, one
     direct, at least as regards the forms; one modified by its passage
     through some other language; thus, ‘adamant’ and ‘diamond’;
     ‘monastery’ and ‘minster’; ‘scandal’ and ‘slander’; ‘theriac’ and
     ‘treacle’; ‘asphodel’ and ‘daffodil’; ‘presbyter’ and ‘priest’.

{26} The French itself has also a double adoption, or as perhaps we
     should more accurately call it there, a double formation, from the
     Latin, and such as quite bears out what has been said above: one
     going far back in the history of the language, the other belonging
     to a later and more literary period; on which subject there are
     some admirable remarks by Génin, _Récréations Philologiques_, vol.
     i. pp. 162-66; and see Fuchs, _Die Roman. Sprachen_, p. 125. Thus
     from ‘separare’ is derived ‘sevrer’, to separate the child from its
     mother’s breast, to wean, but also ‘séparer’, without this special
     sense; from ‘pastor’, ‘pâtre’, a shepherd in the literal, and
     ‘pasteur’ the same in a tropical, sense; from ‘catena’, ‘chaîne’
     and ‘cadène’; from ‘fragilis’, ‘frêle’ and ‘fragile’; from
     ‘pensare’, ‘peser’ and ‘penser’; from ‘gehenna’, ‘gêne’ and
     ‘géhenne’; from ‘captivus’, ‘chétif’ and ‘captif’; from ‘nativus’,
     ‘naïf’ and ‘natif’; from ‘designare’, ‘dessiner’ and ‘designer’;
     from ‘decimare’, ‘dîmer’ and ‘décimer’; from ‘consumere’,
     ‘consommer’ and ‘consumer’; from ‘simulare’, ‘sembler’ and
     ‘simuler’; from the low Latin, ‘disjejunare’, ‘dîner’ and
     ‘déjeûner’; from ‘acceptare’, ‘acheter’ and ‘accepter’; from
     ‘homo’, ‘on’ and ‘homme’; from ‘paganus’, ‘payen’ and ‘paysan’ [the
     latter from ‘pagensis’]; from ‘obedientia’, ‘obéissance’ and
     ‘obédience’; from ‘strictus’, ‘étroit’ and ‘strict’; from
     ‘sacramentum’, ‘serment’ and ‘sacrement’; from ‘ministerium’,
     ‘métier’ and ‘ministère’; from ‘parabola’, ‘parole’ and ‘parabole’;
     from ‘peregrinus’, ‘pélerin’ and ‘pérégrin’; from ‘factio’, ‘façon’
     and ‘faction’, and it has now adopted ‘factio’ in a third shape,
     that is, in our English ‘fashion’; from ‘pietas’, ‘pitié’ and
     ‘piété’; from ‘capitulum’, ‘chapitre’ and ‘capitule’, a botanical
     term. So, too, in Italian, ‘manco’, maimed, and ‘monco’, maimed _of
     a hand_; ‘rifutáre’, to refute, and ‘rifiutáre’, to refuse; ‘dama’
     and ‘donna’, both forms of ‘domina’.

{27} See Marsh, _Manual of the English Language_, Engl. Ed. p. 88 _seq._

{28} W. Schlegel (_Indische Bibliothek_, vol. i. p. 284): Coeunt quidem
     paullatim in novum corpus peregrina vocabula, sed grammatica
     linguarum, unde petitæ sunt, ratio perit.

{29} J. Grimm, quoted in _The Philological Museum_ vol. i. p. 667.

{30} _Works_, vol. iv. p. 202.

{31} [These words are taken from the ‘Whistlecraft’ of John Hookham

         “Don’t confound the language of the nation
         With long-tail’d words in _osity_ and _ation_”.

                                 (_Works_, 1872, vol. 1, p. 206).]

{32} _History of Normandy and England_, vol. i, p. 78.

{33} [F. W. Faber,] _Dublin Review_, June, 1853.

{34} There is more on this matter in my book _On the Authorized Version
     of the New Testament_, pp. 33-35.

{35} See a paper _On the Probable Future Position of the English
     Language_, by T. Watts, Esq., in the _Proceedings of the
     Philological Society_, vol. iv, p. 207.

{36} A little more than two centuries ago a poet, himself abundantly
     deserving the title of ‘well-languaged’; which a cotemporary or
     near successor gave him, ventured in some remarkable lines timidly
     to anticipate this. Speaking of his native tongue, which he himself
     wrote with such vigour and purity, though wanting in the fiery
     impulses which go to the making of a first-rate poet, Daniel

         “And who, in time, knows whither we may vent
         The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
         This gain of our best glory shall be sent,
         To enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
         What worlds in the yet unformèd Occident
         May come refined with the accents that are ours?
         Or who can tell for what great work in hand
         The greatness of our style is now ordained?
         What powers it shall bring in, what spirits command,
         What thoughts let out, what humours keep restrained,
         What mischief it may powerfully withstand,
         And what fair ends may thereby be attained”?

{37} _Ueber den Ursprung der Sprache_, Berlin, 1832, p. 5.



It is not for nothing that we speak of some languages as _living_, of
others as _dead_. All spoken languages may be ranged in the first class;
for as men will never consent to use a language without more or less
modifying it in their use, will never so far forgo their own activity as
to leave it exactly where they found it, it will therefore, so long as
it is thus the utterance of human thought and feeling, inevitably show
itself alive by many infallible proofs, by motion, growth, acquisition,
loss, progress, and decay. A living language therefore is one which
abundantly deserves this name; for it is one in which, spoken as it is
by living men, a _vital_ formative energy is still at work. It is one
which is in course of actual evolution, which, if the life that animates
it be a healthy one, is appropriating and assimilating to itself what it
anywhere finds congenial to its own life, multiplying its resources,
increasing its wealth; while at the same time it is casting off useless
and cumbersome forms, dismissing from its vocabulary words of which it
finds no use, rejecting from itself by a re-active energy the foreign
and heterogeneous, which may for a while have been forced upon it. I
would not assert that in the process of all this it does not make
mistakes; in the desire to simplify it may let go distinctions which
were not useless, and which it would have been better to retain; the
acquisitions which it makes are very far from being all gains; it
sometimes rejects words as worthless, or suffers words to die out, which
were most worthy to have lived. So far as it does this its life is not
perfectly healthy; there are here signs, however remote, of
disorganization, decay, and ultimate death; but still it lives, and even
these misgrowths and malformations, the rejection of this good, the
taking up into itself of that ill, all these errors are themselves the
utterances and evidences of life. A dead language is the contrary of all
this. It is dead, because books, and not now any generation of living
men, are the guardians of it, and what they guard, they guard without
change. Its course has been completely run, and it is now equally
incapable of gaining and of losing. We may come to know it better; but
in itself it is not, and never can be, other than it was when it ceased
from the lips of men.

{Sidenote: _English a Living Language_}

Our own is, of course, a living language still. It is therefore gaining
and losing. It is a tree in which the vital sap is circulating yet,
ascending from the roots into the branches; and as this works, new
leaves are continually being put forth by it, old are dying and dropping
away. I propose for the subject of my present lecture to consider some
of the evidences of this life at work in it still. As I took for the
subject of my first lecture the actual proportions in which the several
elements of our composite English are now found in it, and the service
which they were severally called on to perform, so I shall consider in
this the _sources_ from which the English language has enriched its
vocabulary, the _periods_ at which it has made the chief additions to
this, the _character_ of the additions which at different periods it has
made, and the _motives_ which induced it to seek them.

I had occasion to mention in that lecture and indeed I dwelt with some
emphasis on the fact, that the core, the radical constitution of our
language, is Anglo-Saxon; so that, composite or mingled as it must be
freely allowed to be, it is only such in respect to words, not in
respect of construction, inflexions, or generally its grammatical forms.
These are all of one piece; and whatever of new has come in has been
compelled to conform itself to these. The framework is English; only a
part of the filling in is otherwise; and of this filling in, of these
its comparatively more recent accessions, I now propose to speak.

{Sidenote: _The Norman Conquest_}

The first great augmentation by foreign words of our Saxon vocabulary,
setting aside those which the Danes brought us, was a consequence,
although not an immediate one, of the battle of Hastings, and of the
Norman domination which Duke William’s victory established in our land.
And here let me say in respect of that victory, in contradiction to the
sentimental regrets of Thierry and others, and with the fullest
acknowledgement of the immediate miseries which it entailed on the Saxon
race, that it was really the making of England; a judgment, it is true,
but a judgment and mercy in one. God never showed more plainly that He
had great things in store for the people which should occupy this
English soil, than when He brought hither that aspiring Norman race. At
the same time the actual interpenetration of our Anglo-Saxon with any
large amount of French words did not find place till very considerably
later than this event, however it was a consequence of it. Some French
words we find very soon after; but in the main the two streams of
language continued for a long while separate and apart, even as the two
nations remained aloof, a conquering and a conquered, and neither
forgetting the fact.

Time however softened the mutual antipathies. The Norman, after a while
shut out from France, began more and more to feel that England was his
home and sphere. The Saxon, recovering little by little from the extreme
depression which had ensued on his defeat, became every day a more
important element of the new English nation which was gradually forming
from the coalition of the two races. His language partook of his
elevation. It was no longer the badge of inferiority. French was no
longer the only language in which a gentleman could speak, or a poet
sing. At the same time the Saxon, now passing into the English language,
required a vast addition to its vocabulary, if it were to serve all the
needs of those who were willing to employ it now. How much was there of
high culture, how many of the arts of life, of its refined pleasures,
which had been strange to Saxon men, and had therefore found no
utterance in Saxon words. All this it was sought to supply from the

We shall not err, I think, if we assume the great period of the
incoming of French words into the English language to have been when the
Norman nobility were exchanging their own language for the English; and
I should be disposed with Tyrwhitt to believe that there is much
exaggeration in attributing the large influx of these into English to
one man’s influence, namely to Chaucer’s{38}. Doubtless he did much; he
fell in with and furthered a tendency which already prevailed. But to
suppose that the majority of French vocables which he employed in his
poems had never been employed before, had been hitherto unfamiliar to
English ears, is to suppose that his poems must have presented to his
contemporaries an absurd patchwork of two languages, and leaves it
impossible to explain how he should at once have become the popular poet
of our nation.

{Sidenote: _Influence of Chaucer_}

That Chaucer largely developed the language in this direction is indeed
plain. We have only to compare his English with that of another great
master of the tongue, his contemporary Wiclif, to perceive how much more
his diction is saturated with French words than is that of the Reformer.
We may note too that many which he and others employed, and as it were
proposed for admission, were not finally allowed and received; so that
no doubt they went beyond the needs of the language, and were here in
excess{39}. At the same time this can be regarded as no condemnation of
their attempt. It was only by actual experience that it could be proved
whether the language wanted those words or not, whether it could absorb
them into itself, and assimilate them with all that it already was and
had; or did not require, and would therefore in due time reject and put
them away. And what happened then will happen in every attempt to
transplant on a large scale the words of one language into another. Some
will take root; others will not, but after a longer or briefer period
will wither and die. Thus I observe in Chaucer such French words as
these, ‘misericorde’, ‘malure’ (malheur), ‘penible’, ‘ayel’ (aieul),
‘tas’, ‘gipon’, ‘pierrie’ (precious stones); none of which, and Wiclif’s
‘creansur’ (2 Kings iv. 1) as little, have permanently won a place in
our tongue. For a long time ‘mel’, used often by Sylvester, struggled
hard for a place in the language side by side with honey; ‘roy’ side by
side with king; this last quite obtained one in Scotch. It is curious to
mark some of these French adoptions keeping their ground to a
comparatively late day, and yet finally extruded: seeming to have taken
firm root, they have yet withered away in the end. Thus it has been, for
example, with ‘egal’ (Puttenham); with ‘ouvert’, ‘mot’, ‘ecurie’,
‘baston’, ‘gite’ (Holland); with ‘rivage’, ‘jouissance’, ‘noblesse’,
‘tort’ (=wrong), ‘accoil’ (accuellir), ‘sell’ (=saddle), all occurring
in Spenser; with ‘to serr’ (serrer), ‘vive’, ‘reglement’, used all by
Bacon; and so with ‘esperance’, ‘orgillous’ (orgueilleux), ‘rondeur’,
‘scrimer’ (=fencer), all in Shakespeare; with ‘amort’ (this also in
Shakespeare){40}, and ‘avie’ (Holland). ‘Maugre’, ‘congie’, ‘devoir’,
‘dimes’, ‘sans’, and ‘bruit’, used often in our Bible, were English
once{41}; when we employ them now, it is with the sense that we are
using foreign words. The same is true of ‘dulce’, ‘aigredoulce’
(=soursweet), of ‘mur’ for wall, of ‘baine’ for bath, of the verb ‘to
cass’ (all in Holland), of ‘volupty’ (Sir Thomas Elyot), ‘volunty’
(Evelyn), ‘medisance’ (Montagu), ‘petit’ (South), ‘aveugle’, ‘colline’
(both in _State Papers_), and ‘eloign’ (Hacket){42}.

We have seen when the great influx of French words took place--that is,
from the time of the Conquest, although scantily and feebly at the
first, to that of Chaucer. But with him our literature and language had
made a burst, which they were not able to maintain. He has by Warton
been well compared to some warm bright day in the very early spring,
which seems to say that the winter is over and gone; but its promise is
deceitful; the full bursting and blossoming of the springtime are yet
far off. That struggle with France which began so gloriously, but ended
so disastrously, even with the loss of our whole ill-won dominion there,
the savagery of our wars of the Roses, wars which were a legacy
bequeathed to us by that unrighteous conquest, leave a huge gap in our
literary history, nearly a century during which very little was done for
the cultivation of our native tongue, during which it could have made
few important accessions to its wealth.

{Sidenote: _Latin Importation_}

The period however is notable as being that during which for the first
time we received a large accession of Latin words. There was indeed
already a small settlement of these, for the most part ecclesiastical,
which had long since found their home in the bosom of the Anglo-Saxon
itself, and had been entirely incorporated into it. The fact that we had
received our Christianity from Rome, and that Latin was the constant
language of the Church, sufficiently explains the incoming of these.
Such were ‘monk’, ‘bishop’ (I put them in their present shapes, and do
not concern myself whether they were originally Greek or no; they
reached _us_ as Latin); ‘provost’, ‘minster’, ‘cloister’, ‘candle’,
‘psalter’, ‘mass’, and the names of certain foreign animals, as
‘camel’, or plants or other productions, as ‘pepper’, ‘fig’; which are
all, with slightly different orthography, Anglo-Saxon words. These,
however, were entirely exceptional, and stood to the main body of the
language not as the Romance element of it does now to the Gothic, one
power over against another, but as the Spanish or Italian or Arabic
words in it now stand to the whole present body of the language--and
could not be affirmed to affect it more.

So soon however as French words were imported largely, as I have just
observed, into the language, and were found to coalesce kindly with the
native growths, this very speedily suggested, as indeed it alone
rendered possible, the going straight to the Latin, and drawing directly
from it; and thus in the hundred years which followed Chaucer a large
amount of Latin found its way, if not into our speech, yet at all events
into our books--words which were not brought _through_ the French, for
they are not, and have not at any time been, French, but yet words which
would never have been introduced into English, if their way had not been
prepared, if the French already domesticated among us had not bridged
over, as it were, the gulf, that would have otherwise been too wide
between them and the Saxon vocables of our tongue.

In this period, a period of great depression of the national spirit, we
may trace the attempt at a pedantic latinization of English quite as
clearly at work as at later periods, subsequent to the revival of
learning. It was now that a crop of such words as ‘facundious’,
‘tenebrous’, ‘solacious’, ‘pulcritude’, ‘consuetude’ (all these occur in
Hawes), with many more, long since rejected by the language, sprung up;
while other words, good in themselves, and which have been since
allowed, were yet employed in numbers quite out of proportion with the
Saxon vocables with which they were mingled, and which they altogether
overtopped and shadowed. Chaucer’s hearty English feeling, his thorough
sympathy with the people, the fact that, scholar as he was, he was yet
the poet not of books but of life, and drew his best inspiration from
life, all this had kept him, in the main, clear of this fault. But in
others it is very manifest. Thus I must esteem the diction of Lydgate,
Hawes, and the other versifiers who filled up the period between Chaucer
and Surrey, immensely inferior to Chaucer’s; being all stuck over with
long and often ill-selected Latin words. The worst offenders in this
line, as Campbell himself admits, were the Scotch poets of the fifteenth
century. “The prevailing fault”, he says, “of English diction, in the
fifteenth century, is redundant ornament, and an affectation of
anglicising Latin words. In this pedantry and use of “aureate terms” the
Scottish versifiers went even beyond their brethren of the south....
When they meant to be eloquent, they tore up words from the Latin, which
never took root in the language, like children making a mock garden with
flowers and branches stuck in the ground, which speedily wither”{43}.

To few indeed is the wisdom and discretion given, certainly it was
given to none of those, to bear themselves in this hazardous enterprise
according to the rules laid down by Dryden; who in the following
admirable passage declares the motives that induced him to seek for
foreign words, and the considerations that guided him in their
selection: “If sounding words are not of our growth and manufacture, who
shall hinder me to import them from a foreign country? I carry not out
the treasure of the nation which is never to return, but what I bring
from Italy I spend in England. Here it remains and here it circulates,
for, if the coin be good, it will pass from one hand to another. I trade
both with the living and the dead, for the enrichment of our native
language. We have enough in England to supply our necessity, but if we
will have things of magnificence and splendour, we must get them by
commerce. Poetry requires adornment, and that is not to be had from our
old Teuton monosyllables; therefore if I find any elegant word in a
classic author, I propose it to be naturalized by using it myself; and
if the public approves of it, the bill passes. But every man cannot
distinguish betwixt pedantry and poetry: every man therefore is not fit
to innovate. Upon the whole matter a poet must first be certain that the
word he would introduce is beautiful in the Latin; and is to consider in
the next place whether it will agree with the English idiom: after this,
he ought to take the opinion of judicious friends, such as are learned
in both languages; and lastly, since no man is infallible, let him use
this licence very sparingly; for if too many foreign words are poured
in upon us, it looks as if they were designed not to assist the natives,
but to conquer them”{44}.

{Sidenote: _Influence of the Reformation_}

But this tendency to latinize our speech was likely to receive, and
actually did receive, a new impulse from the revival of learning, and
the familiar re-acquaintance with the great masterpieces of ancient
literature which went along with this revival. Happily another movement
accompanied, or at least followed hard on this; a movement in England
essentially national; and which stirred our people at far deeper depths
of their moral and spiritual life than any mere revival of learning
could have ever done; I refer, of course, to the Reformation. It was
only among the Germanic nations of Europe, as has often been remarked,
that the Reformation struck lasting roots; it found its strength
therefore in the Teutonic element of the national character, which also
it in its turn further strengthened, purified, and called out. And thus,
though Latin came in upon us now faster than ever, and in a certain
measure also Greek, yet this was not without its redress and
counterpoise, in the cotemporaneous unfolding of the more fundamentally
popular side of the language. Popular preaching and discussion, the
necessity of dealing with truths the most transcendent in a way to be
understood not by scholars only, but by ‘idiots’ as well, all this
served to evoke the native resources of our tongue; and thus the
relative proportion between the one part of the language and the other
was not dangerously disturbed, the balance was not destroyed; as it
might well have been, if only the Humanists{45} had been at work, and
not the Reformers as well.

The revival of learning, which made itself first felt in Italy, extended
to England, and was operative here, during the reigns of Henry the
Eighth and his immediate successors. Having thus slightly anticipated in
time, it afterwards ran exactly parallel with, the period during which
our Reformation was working itself out. The epoch was in all respects
one of immense mental and moral activity, and such never leave the
language of a nation where they found it. Much is changed in it; much
probably added; for the old garment of speech, which once served all
needs, has grown too narrow, and serves them now no more. “Change in
language is not, as in many natural products, continuous; it is not
equable, but eminently by fits and starts”; and when the foundations of
the national mind are heaving under the power of some new truth, greater
and more important changes will find place in fifty years than in two
centuries of calmer or more stagnant existence. Thus the activities and
energies which the Reformation awakened among us here--and I need not
tell you that these reached far beyond the domain of our directly
religious life--caused mighty alterations in the English tongue{46}.

{Sidenote: _Rise of New Words_}

For example, the Reformation had its scholarly, we might say, its
scholastic, as well as its popular, aspect. Add this fact to the fact of
the revived interest in classical learning, and you will not wonder that
a stream of Latin, now larger than ever, began to flow into our
language. Thus Puttenham, writing in Queen Elizabeth’s reign{47}, gives
a long list of words which, as he declares, had been quite recently
introduced into the language. Some of them are Greek, a few French and
Italian, but very far the most are Latin. I will not give you his whole
catalogue, but some specimens from it; it is difficult to understand
concerning some of these, how the language should have managed to do
without them so long; ‘method’, ‘methodical’, ‘function’, ‘numerous’,
‘penetrate’, ‘penetrable’, ‘indignity’, ‘savage’, ‘scientific’,
‘delineation’, ‘dimension’--all which he notes to have recently come up;
so too ‘idiom’, ‘significative’, ‘compendious’, ‘prolix’, ‘figurative’,
‘impression’, ‘inveigle’, ‘metrical’. All these he adduces with praise;
others upon which he bestows equal commendation, have not held their
ground, as ‘placation’, ‘numerosity’, ‘harmonical’. Of those neologies
which he disallowed, he only anticipated in some cases, as in
‘facundity’, ‘implete’, ‘attemptat’ (‘attentat’), the decision of a
later day; other words which he condemned no less, as ‘audacious’,
‘compatible’, ‘egregious’, have maintained their ground. These too have
done the same; ‘despicable’, ‘destruction’, ‘homicide’, ‘obsequious’,
‘ponderous’, ‘portentous’, ‘prodigious’, all of them by another writer a
little earlier condemned as “inkhorn terms, smelling too much of the

{Sidenote: _French Neologies_}

It is curious to observe the “words of art”, as he calls them, which
Philemon Holland, a voluminous translator at the end of the sixteenth
and beginning of the seventeenth century, counts it needful to explain
in a sort of glossary which he appends to his translation of Pliny’s
_Natural History_{48}. One can hardly at the present day understand how
any person who would care to consult the book at all would find any
difficulty with words like the following, ‘acrimony’, ‘austere’, ‘bulb’,
‘consolidate’, ‘debility’, ‘dose’, ‘ingredient’, ‘opiate’, ‘propitious’,
‘symptom’, all which, however, as novelties he carefully explains. Some
of the words in his glossary, it is true, are harder and more technical
than these; but a vast proportion of them present no greater difficulty
than those which I have adduced{49}.

The period during which this naturalization of Latin words in the
English Language was going actively forward, may be said to have
continued till about the Restoration of Charles the Second. It first
received a check from the coming up of French tastes, fashions, and
habits of thought consequent on that event. The writers already formed
before that period, such as Cudworth and Barrow, still continued to
write their stately sentences, Latin in structure, and Latin in diction,
but not so those of a younger generation. We may say of this influx of
Latin that it left the language vastly more copious, with greatly
enlarged capabilities, but perhaps somewhat burdened, and not always
able to move gracefully under the weight of its new acquisitions; for as
Dryden has somewhere truly said, it is easy enough to acquire foreign
words, but to know what to do with them after you have acquired, is the

{Sidenote: _Pedantic Words_}

It might have received indeed most serious injury, if _all_ the words
which the great writers of this second Latin period of our language
employed, and so proposed as candidates for admission into it, had
received the stamp of popular allowance. But happily it was not so; it
was here, as it had been before with the French importations, and with
the earlier Latin of Lydgate and Occleve. The re-active powers of the
language, enabling it to throw off that which was foreign to it, did not
fail to display themselves now, as they had done on former occasions.
The number of unsuccessful candidates for admission into, and permanent
naturalization in, the language during this period, is enormous; and one
may say that in almost all instances where the Alien Act has been
enforced, the sentence of exclusion was a just one; it was such as the
circumstances of the case abundantly bore out. Either the word was not
idiomatic, or was not intelligible, or was not needed, or looked ill, or
sounded ill, or some other valid reason existed against it. A lover of
his native tongue will tremble to think what that tongue would have
become, if all the vocables from the Latin and the Greek which were then
introduced or endorsed by illustrious names, had been admitted on the
strength of their recommendation; if ‘torve’ and ‘tetric’ (Fuller),
‘cecity’ (Hooker), ‘fastide’ and ‘trutinate’ (_State Papers_),
‘immanity’ (Shakespeare), ‘insulse’ and ‘insulsity’ (Milton, prose),
‘scelestick’ (Feltham), ‘splendidious’ (Drayton), ‘pervicacy’ (Baxter),
‘stramineous’, ‘ardelion’ (Burton), ‘lepid’ and ‘sufflaminate’ (Barrow),
‘facinorous’ (Donne), ‘immorigerous’, ‘clancular’, ‘ferity’,
‘ustulation’, ‘stultiloquy’, ‘lipothymy’ (λειποθυμία), ‘hyperaspist’
(all in Jeremy Taylor), if ‘mulierosity’, ‘subsannation’, ‘coaxation’,
‘ludibundness’, ‘delinition’, ‘septemfluous’, ‘medioxumous’,
‘mirificent’, ‘palmiferous’ (all in Henry More), ‘pauciloquy’ and
‘multiloquy’ (Beaumont, _Psyche_); if ‘dyscolous’ (Foxe), ‘ataraxy’
(Allestree), ‘moliminously’ (Cudworth), ‘luciferously’ (Sir Thomas
Browne), ‘immarcescible’ (Bishop Hall), ‘exility’, ‘spinosity’,
‘incolumity’, ‘solertiousness’, ‘lucripetous’, ‘inopious’, ‘eluctate’,
‘eximious’ (all in Hacket), ‘arride’{50} (ridiculed by Ben Johnson),
with the hundreds of other words like these, and even more monstrous
than are some of these, not to speak of such Italian as ‘leggiadrous’ (a
favourite word in Beaumont’s _Psyche_), ‘amorevolous’ (Hacket), had not
been rejected and disallowed by the true instinct of the national mind.

{Sidenote: _Naturalization of Words_}

A great many too _were_ allowed and adopted, but not exactly in the shape
in which they first were introduced among us; they were made to drop
their foreign termination, or otherwise their foreign appearance, to
conform themselves to English ways, and only so were finally incorporated
into the great family of English words{51}. Thus of Greek words we have
the following: ‘pyramis’ and ‘pyramides’, forms often employed by
Shakespeare, became ‘pyramid’ and ‘pyramids’; ‘dosis’ (Bacon) ‘dose’;
‘distichon’ (Holland) ‘distich’; ‘hemistichion’ (North) ‘hemistich’;
‘apogæon’ (Fairfax) and ‘apogeum’ (Browne) ‘apogee’; ‘sumphonia’
(Lodge) ‘symphony’; ‘prototypon’ (Jackson) ‘prototype’; ‘synonymon’
(Jeremy Taylor) or ‘synonymum’ (Hacket), and ‘synonyma’ (Milton, prose),
became severally ‘synonym’ and ‘synonyms’; ‘syntaxis’ (Fuller) became
‘syntax’; ‘extasis’ (Burton) ‘ecstasy’; ‘parallelogrammon’ (Holland)
‘parallelogram’; ‘programma’ (Warton) ‘program’; ‘epitheton’ (Cowell)
‘epithet’; ‘epocha’ (South) ‘epoch’; ‘biographia’ (Dryden) ‘biography’;
‘apostata’ (Massinger) ‘apostate’; ‘despota’ (Fox) ‘despot’;
‘misanthropos’ (Shakespeare) if ‘misanthropi’ (Bacon) ‘misanthrope’;
‘psalterion’ (North) ‘psaltery’; ‘chasma’ (Henry More) ‘chasm’; ‘idioma’
and ‘prosodia’ (both in Daniel, prose) ‘idiom’ and ‘prosody’; ‘energia’,
‘energy’, and ‘Sibylla’, ‘Sibyl’ (both in Sidney); ‘zoophyton’ (Henry
More) ‘zoophyte’; ‘enthousiasmos’ (Sylvester) ‘enthusiasm’; ‘phantasma’
(Donne) ‘phantasm’; ‘magnes’ (Gabriel Harvey) ‘magnet’; ‘cynosura’
(Donne) ‘cynosure’; ‘galaxias’ (Fox) ‘galaxy’; ‘heros’ (Henry More)
‘hero’; ‘epitaphy’ (Hawes) ‘epitaph’.

The same process has gone on in a multitude of Latin words, which
testify by their terminations that they were, and were felt to be, Latin
at their first employment; though now they are such no longer. Thus
Bacon uses generally, I know not whether always, ‘insecta’ for
‘insects’; and ‘chylus’ for ‘chyle’; Bishop Andrews ‘nardus’ for ‘nard’;
Spenser ‘zephyrus’, and not ‘zephyr’; so ‘interstitium’ (Fuller)
preceded ‘interstice’; ‘philtrum’ (Culverwell) ‘philtre’; ‘expansum’
(Jeremy Taylor) ‘expanse’; ‘preludium’ (Beaumont, _Psyche_), ‘prelude’;
‘precipitium’ (Coryat) ‘precipice’; ‘aconitum’ (Shakespeare) ‘aconite’;
‘balsamum’ (Webster) ‘balsam’; ‘heliotropium’ (Holland) ‘heliotrope’;
‘helleborum’ (North) ‘hellebore’; ‘vehiculum’ (Howe) ‘vehicle’;
‘trochæus’ and ‘spondæus’ (Holland) ‘trochee’ and ‘spondee’; and
‘machina’ (Henry More) ‘machine’. We have ‘intervalla’, not ‘intervals’,
in Chillingworth; ‘postulata’, not ‘postulates’, in Swift; ‘archiva’,
not ‘archives’, in Baxter; ‘demagogi’, not ‘demagogues’, in Hacket;
‘vestigium’, not ‘vestige’, in Culverwell; ‘pantomimus’ in Lord Bacon
for ‘pantomime’; ‘mystagogus’ for ‘mystagogue’, in Jackson; ‘atomi’ in
Lord Brooke for ‘atoms’; ‘ædilis’ (North) went before ‘ædile’;
‘effigies’ and ‘statua’ (both in Shakespeare) before ‘effigy’ and
‘statue’; ‘abyssus’ (Jackson) before ‘abyss’; ‘vestibulum’ (Howe) before
‘vestibule’; ‘symbolum’ (Hammond) before ‘symbol’; ‘spectrum’ (Burton)
before ‘spectre’; while only after a while ‘quære’ gave place to
‘query’; ‘audite’ (Hacket) to ‘audit’; ‘plaudite’ (Henry More) to
‘plaudit’; and the low Latin ‘mummia’ (Webster) became ‘mummy’. The
widely extended change of such words as ‘innocency’, ‘indolency’,
‘temperancy’, and the large family of words with the same termination,
into ‘innocence’, ‘indolence’, ‘temperance’, and the like, can only be
regarded as part of the same process of entire naturalization.

The plural very often tells the secret of a word, and of the light in
which it is regarded by those who employ it, when the singular, being
less capable of modification, would have failed to do so; thus when
Holland writes ‘phalanges’, ‘bisontes’, ‘ideæ’, it is clear that
‘phalanx’, ‘bison’, ‘idea’, were still Greek words for him; as ‘dogma’
was for Hammond, when he made its plural not ‘dogmas’, but ‘dogmata’{52};
and when Spenser uses ‘heroes’ as a trisyllable, it plainly is not yet
thoroughly English for him{53}. ‘Cento’ is not English, but a Latin word
used in English, so long as it makes its plural not ‘centos’, but
‘centones’, as in the old anonymous translation of Augustin’s _City of
God_{54}; and ‘specimen’, while it makes its plural ‘specimina’ (Howe).
Pope making, as he does, ‘satellites’ a quadrisyllable in the line

    “Why Jove’s _satellites_ are less than Jove”,

must have felt that he was still dealing with it as Latin; just as
‘terminus’, a word which the necessities of railways have introduced
among us, will not be truly naturalized till we use ‘terminuses’, and
not ‘termini’ for its plural; nor ‘phenomenon’, till we have renounced
‘phenomena’. Sometimes it has been found convenient to retain both
plurals, that formed according to the laws of the classical language,
and that formed according to the laws of our own, only employing them in
different senses; thus is it with ‘indices’ and ‘indexes’, ‘genii’ and

The same process has gone on with words from other languages, as from
the Italian and the Spanish; thus ‘bandetto’ (Shakespeare), ‘bandito’
(Jeremy Taylor), becomes ‘bandit’; ‘ruffiano’ (Coryat) ‘ruffian’;
‘concerto’, ‘concert’; ‘busto’ (Lord Chesterfield) ‘bust’; ‘caricatura’
(Sir Thomas Browne) ‘caricature’; ‘princessa’ (Hacket) ‘princess’;
‘scaramucha’ (Dryden) ‘scaramouch’; ‘pedanteria’ (Sidney) ‘pedantry’;
‘impresa’ ‘impress’; ‘caprichio’ (Shakespeare) becomes first ‘caprich’
(Butler), then ‘caprice’; ‘duello’ (Shakespeare) ‘duel’; ‘alligarta’
(Ben Jonson), ‘alligator’; ‘parroquito’ (Webster) ‘parroquet’; ‘scalada’
(Heylin) or ‘escalado’ (Holland) ‘escalade’; ‘granada’ (Hacket)
‘grenade’; ‘parada’ (J. Taylor) ‘parade’; ‘emboscado’ (Holland)
‘stoccado’, ‘barricado’, ‘renegado’, ‘hurricano’ (all in Shakespeare),
‘brocado’ (Hackluyt), ‘palissado’ (Howell), drop their foreign
terminations, and severally become ‘ambuscade’, ‘stockade’, ‘barricade’,
‘renegade’, ‘hurricane’, ‘brocade’, ‘palisade’; ‘croisado’ in like
manner (Bacon) becomes first ‘croisade’ (Jortin), and then ‘crusade’;
‘quinaquina’ or ‘quinquina’, ‘quinine’. Other slight modifications of
spelling, not in the termination, but in the body of a word, will
indicate in like manner its more entire incorporation into the English
language. Thus ‘shash’, a Turkish word, becomes ‘sash’; ‘colone’
(Burton) ‘clown’{55}; ‘restoration’ was at first spelt ‘rest_au_ration’;
and so long as ‘vicinage’ was spelt ‘voisinage’{56} (Sanderson),
‘mirror’ ‘miroir’ (Fuller), ‘recoil’ ‘recule’, or ‘career’ ‘carriere’
(both by Holland), they could scarcely be considered those purely
English words which now they are{57}.

Here and there even at this comparatively late period of the language
awkward foreign words will be recast in a more thoroughly English mould;
‘chirurgeon’ will become ‘surgeon’; ‘hemorrhoid’, ‘emerod’; ‘squinancy’
will become first ‘squinzey’ (Jeremy Taylor) and then ‘quinsey’;
‘porkpisce’ (Spenser), that is sea-hog, or more accurately hogfish{58}
will be ‘porpesse’, and then ‘porpoise’, as it is now. In other words
the attempt will be made, but it will be now too late to be attended
with success. ‘Physiognomy’ will not give place to ‘visnomy’, however
Spenser and Shakespeare employ this briefer form; nor ‘hippopotamus’ to
‘hippodame’, even at Spenser’s bidding. In like manner the attempt to
naturalize ‘avant-courier’ in the shape of ‘vancurrier’ has failed.
Other words also we meet which have finally refused to take a more
popular form, although such was once more or less current; or, if this
is too much to say of all, yet hazarded by good authors. Thus Holland
wrote ‘cirque’, but we ‘circus’; ‘cense’, but we ‘census’; ‘interreign’,
but we ‘interregnum’; Sylvester ‘cest’, but we ‘cestus’; ‘quirry’, but
we ‘equerry’; ‘colosse’, but we still ‘colossus’; Golding ‘ure’, but we
‘urus’; ‘metropole’, but we ‘metropolis’; Dampier ‘volcan’, but this has
not superseded ‘volcano’; nor ‘pagod’ (Pope) ‘pagoda’; nor ‘skelet’
(Holland) ‘skeleton’; nor ‘stimule’ (Stubbs) ‘stimulus’. Bolingbroke
wrote ‘exode’, but we hold fast to ‘exodus’; Burton ‘funge’, but we
‘fungus’; Henry More ‘enigm’, but we ‘enigma’; ‘analyse’, but we
‘analysis’. ‘Superfice’ (Dryden) has not put ‘superficies’, nor
‘sacrary’ (Hacket) ‘sacrarium’, nor ‘limbeck’ ‘alembic’, out of use.
Chaucer’s ‘potecary’ has given way to a more Greek formation
‘apothecary’. Yet these and the like must be regarded quite as
exceptions; the tendency of things is altogether the other way.

Looking at this process of the reception of foreign words, with their
after assimilation in feature to our own, we may trace, as was to be
expected, a certain conformity between the genius of our institutions
and that of our language. It is the very character of our institutions
to repel none, but rather to afford a shelter and a refuge to all, from
whatever quarter they come; and after a longer or shorter while all the
strangers and incomers have been incorporated into the English nation,
within one or two generations have forgotten that they were ever ought
else than members of it, have retained no other reminiscence of their
foreign extraction than some slight difference of name, and that often
disappearing or having disappeared. Exactly so has it been with the
English language. No language has shown itself less exclusive; none has
stood less upon niceties; none has thrown open its arms wider, with a
fuller confidence, a confidence justified by experience, that it could
make truly its own, assimilate and subdue to itself, whatever it
received into its bosom; and in none has this experiment in a larger
number of instances been successfully carried out.

       *       *       *       *       *

{Sidenote: _French at the Restoration_}

Such are the two great enlargements from without of our vocabulary. All
other are minor and subordinate. Thus the introduction of French tastes
by Charles the Second and his courtiers returning from exile, to which I
have just adverted, though it rather modified the structure of our
sentences than the materials of our vocabulary, gave us some new words.
In one of Dryden’s plays, _Marriage à la Mode_, a lady full of
affectation is introduced, who is always employing French idioms in
preference to English, French words rather than native. It is not a
little curious that of these, thus put into her mouth to render her
ridiculous, not a few are excellent English now, and have nothing
far-sought or affected about them: for so it frequently proves that what
is laughed at in the beginning, is by all admitted and allowed at the
last. For example, to speak of a person being in the ‘good graces’ of
another has nothing in it ridiculous now; the words ‘repartee’,
‘embarrass’, ‘chagrin’, ‘grimace’, do not sound novel and affected now
as they all must plainly have done at the time when Dryden wrote.
‘Fougue’ and ‘fraischeur’, which he himself employed--being, it is true,
no frequent offender in this way--have not been justified by the same

{Sidenote: _Greek Words Naturalized_}

Nor indeed can it be said that this adoption and naturalization of
foreign words ever ceases in a language. There are periods, as we have
seen, when this goes forward much more largely than at others; when a
language throws open, as it were, its doors, and welcomes strangers with
an especial freedom; but there is never a time, when one by one these
foreigners and strangers are not slipping into it. We do not for the
most part observe the fact, at least not while it is actually doing.
Time, the greatest of all innovators, manages his innovations so
dexterously, spreads them over such vast periods, and therefore brings
them about so gradually, that often, while effecting the mightiest
changes, we have no suspicion that he is effecting any at all. Thus how
imperceptible are the steps by which a foreign word is admitted into the
full rights of an English one; the process of its incoming often
eluding our notice altogether. There are numerous Greek words, for
example which, quite unchanged in form, have in one way or another ended
in finding a home and acceptance among us. We may in almost every
instance trace step by step the naturalization of one of these; and the
manner of this singularly confirms what has just been said. We can note
it spelt for a while in Greek letters, and avowedly employed as a Greek
and not an English vocable; then after it had thus obtained a certain
allowance among us, and become not altogether unfamiliar, we note it
exchanging its Greek for English letters, and finally obtaining
recognition as a word which however drawn from a foreign source, is yet
itself English. Thus ‘acme’, ‘apotheosis’, ‘criterion’, ‘chrysalis’,
‘encyclopedia’, ‘metropolis’, ‘opthalmia’, ‘pathos’, ‘phenomena’, are
all now English words, while yet South with many others always wrote
ἀκμή, Jeremy Taylor ἀποθέωσις and κριτήριον, Henry More χρυσαλίς, Ben
Jonson speaks of ‘the knowledge of the liberal arts, which the Greeks
call ἐγκυκλοπαδείαν’{59}, Culverwell wrote μητρόπολις and ὀφθαλμία,
Preston, φαινόμενα--Sylvester ascribes to Baxter, not ‘pathos’, but
πάθος{60}. Ἠθος is a word at the present moment preparing for a like
passage from Greek characters to English, and certainly before long will
be acknowledged as an English word{61}. The only cause which has
hindered this for some time past is the misgiving whether it will not be
read ‘ĕthos,’ and not ‘ēthos,’ and thus not be the word intended.

Let us trace a like process in some French word, which is at this moment
becoming English. I know no better example than the French ‘prestige’
will afford. ‘Prestige’ has manifestly no equivalent in our own
language; it expresses something which no single word in English, which
only a long circumlocution, could express; namely, that magic influence
on others, which past successes as the pledge and promise of future
ones, breed. The word has thus naturally come to be of very frequent use
by good English writers; for they do not feel that in employing it they
are passing by as good or a better word of their own. At first all used
it avowedly as French, writing it in italics to indicate this. At the
present moment some write it so still, some do not; some, that is,
regard it still as foreign, others consider that it has now become
English, and obtained a settlement among us{62}. Little by little the
number of those who write it in italics will become fewer and fewer,
till they cease altogether. It will then only need that the accent
should be shifted, in obedience to the tendencies of the English
language, as far back in the word as it will go, that instead of
‘prestíge’, it should be pronounced ‘préstige’ even as within these few
years instead of ‘depót’ we have learned to say ‘dépot’, and its
naturalization will be complete. I have little doubt that in twenty
years it will be so pronounced by the majority of well educated
Englishmen{63},--some pronounce it so already,--and that our present
pronunciation will pass away in the same manner as ‘obl_ee_ge’, once
universal, has past away, and everywhere given place to ‘obl_i_ge’{64}.

{Sidenote: _Shifting of Accents_}

Let me here observe in passing, that the process of throwing the accent
of a word back, by way of completing its naturalization, is one which we
may note constantly going forward in our language. Thus, while Chaucer
accentuates sometimes ‘natúre’, he also accentuates elsewhere ‘náture’,
while sometimes ‘virtúe’, at other times ‘vírtue’. ‘Prostrate’,
‘adverse’, ‘aspect’, ‘process’, ‘insult’, ‘impulse’, ‘pretext’,
‘contrite’, ‘uproar’, ‘contest’, had all their accent on the last
syllable in Milton; they have it now on the first; ‘cháracter’ was
‘charácter’ with Spenser; ‘théatre’ was ‘theátre’ with Sylvester; while
‘acádemy’ was accented ‘académy’ by Cowley and Butler{65}. ‘Essay’ was
‘essáy’ with Dryden and with Pope; the first closes an heroic line with
the word; Pope does the same with ‘barrier’{66} and ‘effort’; therefore
pronounced ‘barríer’, ‘effórt’, by him.

There are not a few other French words which like ‘prestige’ are at this
moment hovering on the verge of English, hardly knowing whether they
shall become such, or no. Such are ‘ennui’, ‘exploitation’, ‘verve’,
‘persiflage’, ‘badinage’, ‘chicane’, ‘finesse’, and others; all of them
often employed by us,--and it is out of such frequent employment that
adoption proceeds,--because expressing shades of meaning not expressed
by any words of our own{67}. Some of these, we may confidently
anticipate, will complete their naturalization; others will after a time
retreat again, and become for us avowedly French. ‘Solidarity’, a word
which we owe to the French Communists, and which signifies a fellowship
in gain and loss, in honour and dishonour, in victory and defeat, a
being, so to speak, all in the same bottom, is so convenient, that
unattractive as confessedly it is, it will be in vain to struggle
against its reception. The newspapers already have it, and books will
not long exclude it; not to say that it has established itself in
German, and probably in other European languages as well.

{Sidenote: _Greek in English_}

Greek and Latin words also we still continue to adopt, although now no
longer in troops and companies, but only one by one. With the lively
interest which always has been felt in classical studies among us, and
which will continue to be felt, so long as any greatness and nobleness
survive in our land, it must needs be that accessions from these
quarters would never cease altogether. I do not refer here to purely
scientific terms; these, so long as they continue such, and do not pass
beyond the threshold of the science or sciences for the use of which
they were invented, being never heard on the lips, or employed in the
writings, of any but the cultivators of these sciences, have no right to
be properly called words at all. They are a kind of shorthand of the
science, or algebraic notation; and will not find place in a dictionary
of the language, constructed upon true principles, but rather in a
technical dictionary apart by themselves. Of these, compelled by the
advances of physical science, we have coined multitudes out of number in
these later times, fashioning them mainly from the Greek, no other
language within our reach yielding itself at all so easily to our needs.

Of non-scientific words, both Greek and Latin, some have made their way
among us quite in these latter times. Burke in the House of Commons is
said to have been the first who employed the word ‘inimical’{68}. He
also launched the verb ‘to spheterize’ in the sense of to appropriate
or make one’s own; but this without success. Others have been more
fortunate; ‘æsthetic’ we have got indeed _through_ the Germans, but
_from_ the Greeks. Tennyson has given allowance to ‘æon’{69}; and ‘myth’
is a deposit which wide and far-reaching controversies have left in the
popular language. ‘Photography’ is an example of what I was just now
speaking of--namely, a scientific word which has travelled beyond the
limits of the science which it designates and which gave it birth.
‘Stereotype’ is another word of the same character. It was invented--not
the thing, but the word,--by Didot not very long since; but it is now
absorbed into healthy general circulation, being current in a secondary
and figurative sense. Ruskin has given to ‘ornamentation’ the sanction
and authority of his name. ‘Normal’ and ‘abnormal’, not quite so new,
are yet of recent introduction into the language{70}.

{Sidenote: _German Importations_}

When we consider the near affinity between the English and German
languages, which, if not sisters, may at least be regarded as first
cousins, it is somewhat remarkable that almost since the day when they
parted company, each to fulfil its own destiny, there has been little
further commerce between them in the matter of giving or taking. At any
rate adoptions on our part from the German have been till within this
period extremely rare. ‘Crikesman’ (Kriegsmann) and ‘brandschat’
(Brandschatz), with some other German words common enough in the _State
Papers_ of the sixteenth century, found no permanent place in the
language. The explanation lies in the fact that the literary activity of
Germany did not begin till very late, nor our interest in it till later
still, not indeed till the beginning of the present century. Yet
‘plunder’, as I have mentioned elsewhere, was brought back from Germany
about the beginning of our Civil Wars, by the soldiers who had served
under Gustavus Adolphus and his captains{71}. And ‘trigger’, written
‘tricker’ in _Hudibras_ is manifestly the German ‘drücker’{72}, though
none of our dictionaries have marked it as such; a word first appearing
at the same period, it may have reached us through the same channel.
‘Iceberg’ (eisberg) also we must have taken whole from the German, as,
had we constructed the word for ourselves, we should have made it not
‘ice_berg_’, but ‘ice-_mountain_’. I have not found it in our earlier
voyagers, often as they speak of the ‘icefield’, which yet is not
exactly the same thing. An English ‘swindler’ is not exactly a German
‘schwindler’, yet the notion of the ‘nebulo’, though more latent in the
German, is common to both; and we must have drawn the word from
Germany{73} (it is not an old one in our tongue) during the course of
the last century. If ‘_life_-guard’ was originally, as Richardson
suggests, ‘_leib_-garde’, or ‘_body_-guard’, and from that transformed,
by the determination of Englishmen to make it significant in English,
into ‘_life_-guard’, or guard defending the _life_ of the sovereign,
this will be another word from the same quarter. Yet I have my doubts;
‘leibgarde’ would scarcely have found its way hither before the
accession of the House of Hanover, or at any rate before the arrival of
Dutch William with his memorable guards; while ‘lifeguard’, in its
present shape, is certainly an older word in the language; we hear often
of the ‘lifeguards’ in our Civil Wars; as witness too Fuller’s words:
“The Cherethites were a kind of _lifegard_ to king David”{74}.

Of late our German importations have been somewhat more numerous. With
several German compound words we have been in recent times so well
pleased, that we must needs adopt them into English, or imitate them in
it. We have not always been very happy in those which we have selected
for imitation or adoption. Thus we might have been satisfied with
‘manual’, and not called back from its nine hundred years of oblivion
that ugly and unnecessary word ‘handbook’. And now we are threatened
with ‘word-building’, as I see a book announced under the title of
“Latin _word-building_”, and, much worse than this, with ‘stand-point’.
‘Einseitig’ (itself a modern word, if I mistake not, or at any rate
modern in its secondary application) has not, indeed, been adopted, but
is evidently the pattern on which we have formed ‘onesided’--a word to
which a few years ago something of affectation was attached; so that any
one who employed it at once gave evidence that he was more or less a
dealer in German wares; it has however its manifest conveniences, and
will hold its ground. ‘Fatherland’ (Vaterland) on the contrary will
scarcely establish itself among us, the note of affectation will
continue to cleave to it, and we shall go on contented with ‘native
country’ to the end{75}. The most successful of these compounded words,
borrowed recently from the German, is ‘folk-lore’, and the substitution
of this for popular superstitions, must be esteemed, I think, an
unquestionable gain{76}.

To speak now of other sources from which the new words of a language are
derived. Of course the period when absolutely new roots are generated
will have past away, long before men begin by a reflective act to take
any notice of processes going forward in the language which they speak.
This pure productive energy, creative we might call it, belongs only to
the earlier stages of a nation’s existence,--to times quite out of the
ken of history. It is only from materials already existing either in its
own bosom, or in the bosom of other languages, that it can enrich itself
in the later, or historical stages of its life.

{Sidenote: _Compound Words_}

And first, it can bring its own words into new combinations; it can join
two, and sometimes even more than two, of the words which it already
has, and form out of them a new one. Much more is wanted here than
merely to attach two or more words to one another by a hyphen; this is
not to make a new word: they must really coalesce and grow together.
Different languages, and even the same language at different stages of
its existence, will possess this power of forming new words by the
combination of old in very different degrees. The eminent felicity of
the Greek in this respect has been always acknowledged. “The joints of
her compounded words”, says Fuller, “are so naturally oiled, that they
run nimbly on the tongue, which makes them though long, never tedious,
because significant”{77}. Sir Philip Sidney boasts of the capability of
our English language in this respect--that “it is particularly happy in
the composition of two or three words together, near equal to the Greek”.
No one has done more than Milton to justify this praise, or to make
manifest what may be effected by this marriage of words. Many of his
compound epithets, as ‘golden-tressed’, ‘tinsel-slippered’, ‘coral-paven’,
‘flowry-kirtled’, ‘violet-embroidered’, ‘vermeil-tinctured’, are
themselves poems in miniature. Not unworthy to be set beside these are
Sylvester’s “_opal-coloured_ morn”, Drayton’s “_silver-sanded_ shore”,
and perhaps Marlowe’s “_golden-fingered_ Ind”{78}.

Our modern inventions in the same kind are for the most part very
inferior: they could hardly fail to be so, seeing that the formative,
plastic powers of a language are always waning and diminishing more and
more. It may be, and indeed is, gaining in other respects, but in this
it is losing; and thus it is not strange if its later births in this
kind are less successful than its earlier. Among the poets of our own
time Shelley has done more than any other to assert for the language
that it has not quite renounced this power; while among writers of prose
in these later days Jeremy Bentham has been at once one of the boldest,
but at the same time one of the most unfortunate, of those who have
issued this money from their mint. Still we ought not to forget, while
we divert ourselves with the strange and formless progeny of his brain,
that we owe ‘international’ to him--a word at once so convenient and
supplying so real a need, that it was, and with manifest advantage, at
once adopted by all{79}.

{Sidenote: _Adjectives ending in al_}

Another way in which languages increase their stock of vocables is by
the forming of new words according to the analogy of formations, which
in seemingly parallel cases have been already allowed. Thus long since
upon certain substantives such as ‘congregation’, ‘convention’, were
formed their adjectives, ‘congregational’, ‘conventional’; yet these
also at a comparatively modern period; ‘congregational’ first rising up
in the Assembly of Divines, or during the time of the Commonwealth{80}.
These having found admission into the language, it is attempted to repeat
the process in the case of other words with the same ending. I confess
the effect is often exceedingly disagreeable. We are now pretty well used
to ‘educational’, and the word is sometimes serviceable enough; but I can
perfectly remember when some twenty years ago an “_Educational_ Magazine”
was started, the first impression on one’s mind was, that a work having
to do with education should not thus bear upon its front an offensive, or
to say the best, a very dubious novelty in the English language{81}.
These adjectives are now multiplying fast. We have ‘inflexional’,
‘seasonal’, ‘denominational’, and, not content with this, in dissenting
magazines at least, the monstrous birth, ‘denominationalism’; ‘emotional’
is creeping into books{82}, ‘sensational’, and others as well, so that
it is hard to say where this influx will stop, or whether all our words
with this termination will not finally generate an adjective. Convenient
as you may sometimes find these, I would yet certainly counsel you to
abstain from all but the perfectly well recognized formations of this
kind. There may be cases of exception; but for the most part Pope’s
advice is good, as certainly it is safe, that we be not among the last
to use a word which is going out, nor among the first to employ one that
is coming in.

‘Starvation’ is another word of comparatively recent introduction,
formed in like manner on the model of preceding formations of an
apparently similar character--its first formers, indeed, not observing
that they were putting a Latin termination to a Saxon word. Some have
supposed it to have reached us from America. It has not however
travelled from so great a distance, being a stranger indeed, yet not
from beyond the Atlantic, but only from beyond the Tweed. It is an old
Scottish word, but unknown in England, till used by Mr. Dundas, the
first Viscount Melville, in an American debate in 1775. That it then
jarred strangely on English ears is evident from the nickname,
“_Starvation_ Dundas”, which in consequence he obtained{83}.

{Sidenote: _Revival of Words_}

Again, languages enrich themselves, our own has done so, by recovering
treasures which for a while had been lost by them or forgone. I do not
mean that all which drops out of use _is_ loss; there are words which it
is gain to be rid of; which it would be folly to wish to revive; of
which Dryden, setting himself against an extravagant zeal in this
direction, says in an ungracious comparison--they do “not deserve this
redemption, any more than the crowds of men who daily die, or are slain
for sixpence in a battle, merit to be restored to life, if a wish could
revive them”{84}. There are others, however, which it is a real gain to
draw back again from the temporary oblivion which had overtaken them;
and this process of their setting and rising again, or of what, to use
another image, we might call their suspended animation, is not so
unfrequent as at first might be supposed.

You may perhaps remember that Horace, tracing in a few memorable lines
the history of words, while he notes that many once current have now
dropped out of use, does not therefore count that of necessity their
race is for ever run; on the contrary he confidently anticipates a
_palingenesy_ for many among them{85}; and I am convinced that there has
been such in the case of our English words to a far greater extent than
we are generally aware. Words slip almost or quite as imperceptibly back
into use as they once slipped out of it. Let me produce a few facts in
evidence of this. In the contemporary gloss which an anonymous friend of
Spenser’s furnished to his _Shepherd’s Calendar_, first published in
1579, “for the exposition of old words”, as he declares, he thinks it
expedient to include in his list, the following, ‘dapper’, ‘scathe’,
‘askance’, ‘sere’, ‘embellish’, ‘bevy’, ‘forestall’, ‘fain’, with not a
few others quite as familiar as these. In Speght’s _Chaucer_ (1667),
there is a long list of “old and obscure words in Chaucer explained”;
including ‘anthem’, ‘blithe’, ‘bland’, ‘chapelet’, ‘carol’, ‘deluge’,
‘franchise’, ‘illusion’, ‘problem’, ‘recreant’, ‘sphere’, ‘tissue’,
‘transcend’, with very many easier than these. In Skinner’s
_Etymologicon_ (1671), there is another list of obsolete, words{86}, and
among these he includes ‘to dovetail’, ‘to interlace’, ‘elvish’,
‘encombred’, ‘masquerade’ (mascarade), ‘oriental’, ‘plumage’, ‘pummel’
(pomell), and ‘stew’, that is, for fish. Who will say of the verb ‘to
hallow’ that it is now even obsolescent? and yet Wallis two hundred
years ago observed--“It has almost gone out of use” (fer. desuevit). It
would be difficult to find an example of the verb, ‘to advocate’,
between Milton and Burke{87}. Franklin, a close observer in such
matters, as he was himself an admirable master of English style,
considered the word to have sprung up during his own residence in
Europe. In this indeed he was mistaken; it had only during this period
revived{88}. Johnson says of ‘jeopardy’ that it is a “word not now in
use”; which certainly is not any longer true{89}.

{Sidenote: _Dryden and Chaucer’s English_}

I am persuaded that in facility of being understood, Chaucer is not
merely as near, but much nearer, to us than Dryden and his cotemporaries
felt him to be to them. He and the writers of his time make exactly the
same sort of complaints, only in still stronger language, about his
archaic phraseology and the obscurities which it involves, that are made
at the present day. Thus in the _Preface_ to his _Tales from Chaucer_,
having quoted some not very difficult lines from the earlier poet whom
he was modernizing, he proceeds: “You have here a specimen of Chaucer’s
language, which is so obsolete that his sense is scarce to be
understood”. Nor was it merely thus with respect of Chaucer. These wits
and poets of the Court of Charles the Second were conscious of a greater
gulf between themselves and the Elizabethan era, separated from them by
little more than fifty years, than any of which _we_ are aware,
separated from it by nearly two centuries more. I do not mean merely
that they felt themselves more removed from its tone and spirit; their
altered circumstances might explain this; but I am convinced that they
found a greater difficulty and strangeness in the language of Spenser
and Shakespeare than we find now; that it sounded in many ways more
uncouth, more old-fashioned, more abounding in obsolete terms than it
does in our ears at the present. Only in this way can I explain the
tone in which they are accustomed to speak of these worthies of the near
past. I must again cite Dryden, the truest representative of literary
England in its good and in its evil during the last half of the
seventeenth century. Of Spenser, whose death was separated from his own
birth by little more than thirty years, he speaks as of one belonging to
quite a different epoch, counting it much to say, “Notwithstanding his
obsolete language, he is still intelligible”{90}. Nay, hear what his
judgment is of Shakespeare himself, so far as language is concerned: “It
must be allowed to the present age that the tongue in general is so much
refined since Shakespeare’s time, that many of his words and more of his
phrases are scarce intelligible. And of those which we understand, some
are ungrammatical, others coarse; and his whole style is so pestered
with figurative expressions, that it is as affected as it is

{Sidenote: _Nugget_, _Ingot_}

Sometimes a word will emerge anew from the undercurrent of society, not
indeed new, but yet to most seeming as new, its very existence having
been altogether forgotten by the larger number of those speaking the
language; although it must have somewhere lived on upon the lips of men.
Thus, for instance, since the Californian and Australian discoveries of
gold we hear often of a ‘nugget’ of gold; being a lump of the pure
metal; and there has been some discussion whether the word has been born
for the present necessity, or whether it be a recent malformation of
‘ingot’, I am inclined to think that it is neither one nor the other. I
would not indeed affirm that it may not be a popular recasting of
‘ingot’; but only that it is not a recent one; for ‘nugget’ very nearly
in its present form, occurs in our elder writers, being spelt ‘niggot’
by them{92}. There can be little doubt of the identity of ‘niggot’ and
‘nugget’; all the consonants, the _stamina_ of a word, being the same;
while this early form ‘niggot’ makes more plausible their suggestion
that ‘nugget’ is only ‘ingot’ disguised, seeing that there wants nothing
but the very common transposition of the first two letters to bring that
out of this{93}.

{Sidenote: _Words from Proper Names_}

New words are often formed from the names of persons, actual or
mythical. Some one has observed how interesting would be a complete
collection, or a collection approaching to completeness, in any language
of the names of _persons_ which have afterwards become names of
_things_, from ‘nomina _appellativa_’ have become ‘nomina _realia_’{94}.
Let me without confining myself to those of more recent introduction
endeavour to enumerate as many as I can remember of the words which have
by this method been introduced into our language. To begin with mythical
antiquity--the Chimæra has given us ‘chimerical’, Hermes ‘hermetic’,
Tantalus ‘to tantalize’, Hercules ‘herculean’, Proteus ‘protean’, Vulcan
‘volcano’ and ‘volcanic’, and Dædalus ‘dedal’, if this word may on
Spenser’s and Shelley’s authority be allowed. Gordius, the Phrygian king
who tied that famous ‘gordian’ knot which Alexander cut, will supply a
natural transition from mythical to historical. Here Mausolus, a king of
Caria, has left us ‘mausoleum’, Academus ‘academy’, Epicurus ‘epicure’,
Philip of Macedon a ‘philippic’, being such a discourse as Demosthenes
once launched against the enemy of Greece, and Cicero ‘cicerone’.
Mithridates, who had made himself poison-proof, gave us the now
forgotten word ‘mithridate’, for antidote; as from Hippocrates we
derived ‘hipocras’, or ‘ypocras’, a word often occurring in our early
poets, being a wine supposed to be mingled after his receipt. Gentius, a
king of Illyria, gave his name to the plant ‘gentian’, having been, it
is said, the first to discover its virtues. A grammar used to be called
a ‘donnat’, or ‘donet’ (Chaucer), from Donatus, a famous grammarian.
Lazarus, perhaps an actual person, has given us ‘lazar’ and ‘lazaretto’;
St. Veronica and the legend connected with her name, a ‘vernicle’;
being a napkin with the Saviour’s face portrayed on it; Simon Magus
‘simony’; Mahomet a ‘mammet’ or ‘maumet’, meaning an idol{95}, and
‘mammetry’ or idolatry; ‘dunce’ is from Duns Scotus; while there is a
legend that the ‘knot’ or sandpiper is named from Canute or Knute, with
whom this bird was a special favourite. To come to more modern times,
and not pausing at Ben Johnson’s ‘chaucerisms’, Bishop Hall’s
‘scoganisms’, from Scogan, Edward the Fourth’s jester, or his
‘aretinisms’, from an infamous writer, ‘a poisonous Italian ribald’ as
Gabriel Harvey calls him, named Aretine; these being probably not
intended even by their authors to endure; a Roman cobbler named Pasquin
has given us the ‘pasquil’ or ‘pasquinade’; ‘patch’ in the sense of
fool, and often so used by Shakespeare, was originally the proper name
of a favourite fool of Cardinal Wolsey{96}; Colonel Negus in Queen
Anne’s time first mixed the beverage which goes by his name; Lord Orrery
was the first for whom an ‘orrery’ was constructed; and Lord Spencer
first wore, or at least first brought into fashion, a ‘spencer’. Dahl, a
Swede, introduced the cultivation of the ‘dahlia’, and M. Tabinet, a
French Protestant refugee, the making of the stuff called ‘tabinet’ in
Dublin; in ‘_tram_-road’, the second syllable of the name of Ou_tram_,
the inventor, survives{97}. The ‘tontine’ was conceived by an Italian
named Tonti; and another Italian, Galvani, first noted the phenomena of
animal electricity or ‘galvanism’; while a third Italian, ‘Volta’, gave
a name to the ‘voltaic’ battery. ‘Martinet’, ‘mackintosh’, ‘doyly’,
‘brougham’, ‘to macadamize’, ‘to burke’, are all names of persons or
from persons, and then transferred to things, on the score of some
connection existing between the one and other{98}.

Again the names of popular characters in literature, such as have taken
strong hold on the national mind, give birth to a number of new words.
Thus from Homer we have ‘mentor’ for a monitor; ‘stentorian’, for
loud-voiced; and inasmuch as with all of Hector’s nobleness there is a
certain amount of big talking about him, he has given us ‘to
hector’{99}; while the medieval romances about the siege of Troy ascribe
to Pandarus that shameful ministry out of which his name has past into
the words ‘to pandar’ and ‘pandarism’. ‘Rodomontade’ is from Rodomont, a
blustering and boasting hero of Boiardo, adopted by Ariosto;
‘thrasonical’, from Thraso, the braggart of the Roman comedy. Cervantes
has given us ‘quixotic’; Swift ‘lilliputian’; to Molière the French
language owes ‘tartuffe’ and ‘tartufferie’. ‘Reynard’ too, which with us
is a duplicate for fox, while in the French ‘renard’ has quite excluded
the older ‘volpils’, was originally not the name of a kind, but the
proper name of the fox-hero, the vulpine Ulysses, in that famous
beast-epic of the middle ages, _Reineke Fuchs_; the immense popularity
of which we gather from many evidences, from none more clearly than from
this. ‘Chanticleer’ is in like manner the proper name of the cock, and
‘Bruin’ of the bear in the same poem{100}. These have not made fortune
to the same extent of actually putting out in any language the names
which before existed, but still have become quite familiar to us all.

We must not count as new words properly so called, although they may
delay us for a minute, those comic words, most often comic combinations
formed at will, and sometimes of enormous length, in which, as plays
and displays of power, great writers ancient and modern have delighted.
These for the most part are meant to do service for the moment, and
then to pass away{101}. The inventors of them had themselves no
intention of fastening them permanently on the language. Thus among
the Greeks Aristophanes coined μελλονικιάω, to loiter like Nicias, with
allusion to the delays with which this prudent commander sought to put
off the disastrous Sicilian expedition, with not a few other familiar
to every scholar. The humour of them sometimes consists in their
enormous length, as in the ἀμφιπτολεμοπηδησίστρατος of Eupolis; the
σπερμαγοραιολεκιθολαχανόπωλις of Aristophanes; sometimes in their
mingled observance and transgression of the laws of the language, as in
the ‘oculissimus’ of Plautus, a comic superlative of ‘oculus’;
‘occisissimus’ of ‘occisus’; as in the ‘dosones’, ‘dabones’, which in
Greek and in medieval Latin were names given to those who were ever
promising, ever saying “I will give” but never performing their promise.
Plautus with his exuberant wit, and exulting in his mastery and command
of the Latin language, will compose four or five lines consisting
entirely of comic combinations thrown off for the occasion{102}. Of the
same character is Butler’s ‘cynarctomachy’, or battle of a dog and bear.
Nor do I suppose that Fuller, when he used ‘to avunculize’, to imitate
or follow in the steps of one’s uncle, or Cowper, when he suggested
‘extraforaneous’ for out of doors, in the least intended them as lasting
additions to the language.

{Sidenote: ‘_To Chouse_’}

Sometimes a word springs up in a very curious way; here is one, not
having, I suppose, any great currency except among schoolboys; yet being
no invention of theirs, but a genuine English word, though of somewhat
late birth in the language, I mean ‘to chouse’. It has a singular
origin. The word is, as I have mentioned already, a Turkish one, and
signifies ‘interpreter’. Such an interpreter or ‘chiaous’ (written
‘chaus’ in Hackluyt, ‘chiaus’ in Massinger), being attached to the
Turkish embassy in England, committed in the year 1609 an enormous fraud
on the Turkish and Persian merchants resident in London. He succeeded in
cheating them of a sum amounting to £4000--a sum very much greater at
that day than at the present. From the vast dimensions of the fraud, and
the notoriety which attended it, any one who cheated or defrauded was
said ‘to chiaous’, ‘chause’, or ‘chouse’; to do, that is, as this
‘chiaous’ had done{103}.

{Sidenote: _Different Spelling of Words_}

There is another very fruitful source of new words in a language, or
perhaps rather another way in which it increases its vocabulary, for a
question might arise whether the words thus produced ought to be called
new. I mean through the splitting of single words into two or even more.
The impulse and suggestion to this is in general first given by
varieties in pronunciation, which are presently represented by varieties
in spelling; but the result very often is that what at first were only
precarious and arbitrary differences in this, come in the end to be
regarded as entirely different words; they detach themselves from one
another, not again to reunite; just as accidental varieties in fruits or
flowers, produced at hazard, have yet permanently separated off, and
settled into different kinds. They have each its own distinct domain of
meaning, as by general agreement assigned to it; dividing the
inheritance between them, which hitherto they held in common. No one who
has not had his attention called to this matter, who has not watched and
catalogued these words as they have come under his notice, would at all
believe how numerous they are.

{Sidenote: _Doublets_}

Sometimes as the accent is placed on one syllable of a word or another,
it comes to have different significations, and those so distinctly
marked, that the separation may be regarded as complete. Examples of
this are the following: ‘dívers’, and ‘divérse’; ‘cónjure’ and
‘conjúre’; ‘ántic’ and ‘antíque’; ‘húman’ and ‘humáne’; ‘úrban’ and
‘urbáne’; ‘géntle’ and ‘gentéel’; ‘cústom’ and ‘costúme’; ‘éssay’ and
‘assáy’; ‘próperty’ and ‘propríety’. Or again, a word is pronounced with
a full sound of its syllables, or somewhat more shortly: thus ‘spirit’
and ‘sprite’; ‘blossom’ and ‘bloom’{104}; ‘personality’ and
‘personalty’; ‘fantasy’ and ‘fancy’; ‘triumph’ and ‘trump’ (the
_winning_ card{105}); ‘happily’ and ‘haply’; ‘waggon’ and ‘wain’;
‘ordinance’ and ‘ordnance’; ‘shallop’ and ‘sloop’; ‘brabble’ and
‘brawl’{106}; ‘syrup’ and ‘shrub’; ‘balsam’ and ‘balm’; ‘eremite’ and
‘hermit’; ‘nighest’ and ‘next’; ‘poesy’ and ‘posy’; ‘fragile’ and
‘frail’; ‘achievement’ and ‘hatchment’; ‘manœuvre’ and ‘manure’;--or
with the dropping of the first syllable: ‘history’ and ‘story’;
‘etiquette’ and ‘ticket’; ‘escheat’ and ‘cheat’; ‘estate’ and ‘state’;
and, older probably than any of these, ‘other’ and ‘or’;--or with a
dropping of the last syllable, as ‘Britany’ and ‘Britain’; ‘crony’ and
‘crone’;--or without losing a syllable, with more or less stress laid on
the close: ‘regiment’ and ‘regimen’; ‘corpse’ and ‘corps’; ‘bite’ and
‘bit’; ‘sire’ and ‘sir’; ‘land’ or ‘laund’ and ‘lawn’; ‘suite’ and
‘suit’; ‘swinge’ and ‘swing’; ‘gulph’ and ‘gulp’; ‘launch’ and ‘lance’;
‘wealth’ and ‘weal’; ‘stripe’ and ‘strip’; ‘borne’ and ‘born’; ‘clothes’
and ‘cloths’;--or a slight internal vowel change finds place, as between
‘dent’ and ‘dint’; ‘rant’ and ‘rent’ (a ranting actor tears or _rends_ a
passion to tatters){107}; ‘creak’ and ‘croak’; ‘float’ and ‘fleet’;
‘sleek’ and ‘slick’; ‘sheen’ and ‘shine’; ‘shriek’ and ‘shrike’; ‘pick’
and ‘peck’; ‘peak’, ‘pique’, and ‘pike’; ‘weald’ and ‘wold’; ‘drip’ and
‘drop’; ‘wreathe’ and ‘writhe’; ‘spear’ and ‘spire’ (“the least _spire_
of grass”, South); ‘trist’ and ‘trust’; ‘band’, ‘bend’ and ‘bond’;
‘cope’, ‘cape’ and ‘cap’; ‘tip’ and ‘top’; ‘slent’ (now obsolete) and
‘slant’; ‘sweep’ and ‘swoop’; ‘wrest’ and ‘wrist’; ‘gad’ (now surviving
only in gadfly) and ‘goad’; ‘complement’ and ‘compliment’; ‘fitch’ and
‘vetch’; ‘spike’ and ‘spoke’; ‘tamper’ and ‘temper’; ‘ragged’ and
‘rugged’; ‘gargle’ and ‘gurgle’; ‘snake’ and ‘sneak’ (both crawl);
‘deal’ and ‘dole’; ‘giggle’ and ‘gaggle’ (this last is now commonly
spelt ‘cackle’); ‘sip’, ‘sop’, ‘soup’ and ‘sup’; ‘clack’, ‘click’ and
‘clock’; ‘tetchy’ and ‘touchy’; ‘neat’ and ‘nett’; ‘stud’ and ‘steed’;
‘then’ and ‘than’{108}; ‘grits’ and ‘grouts’; ‘spirt’ and ‘sprout’;
‘cure’ and ‘care’{109}; ‘prune’ and ‘preen’; ‘mister’ and ‘master’;
‘allay’ and ‘alloy’; ‘ghostly’ and ‘ghastly’{110}; ‘person’ and
‘parson’; ‘cleft’ and ‘clift’, now written ‘cliff’; ‘travel’ and
‘travail’; ‘truth’ and ‘troth’; ‘pennon’ and ‘pinion’; ‘quail’ and
‘quell’; ‘quell’ and ‘kill’; ‘metal’ and ‘mettle’; ‘chagrin’ and
‘shagreen’; ‘can’ and ‘ken’; ‘Francis’ and ‘Frances’{111}; ‘chivalry’
and ‘cavalry’; ‘oaf’ and ‘elf’; ‘lose’ and ‘loose’; ‘taint’ and ‘tint’.
Sometimes the difference is mainly or entirely in the initial
consonants, as between ‘phial’ and ‘vial’; ‘pother’ and ‘bother’;
‘bursar’ and ‘purser’; ‘thrice’ and ‘trice’{110}; ‘shatter’ and
‘scatter’; ‘chattel’ and ‘cattle’; ‘chant’ and ‘cant’; ‘zealous’ and
‘jealous’; ‘channel’ and ‘kennel’; ‘wise’ and ‘guise’; ‘quay’ and ‘key’;
‘thrill’, ‘trill’ and ‘drill’;--or in the consonants in the middle of
the word, as between ‘cancer’ and ‘canker’; ‘nipple’ and ‘nibble’;
‘tittle’ and ‘title’; ‘price’ and ‘prize’; ‘consort’ and ‘concert’;--or
there is a change in both, as between ‘pipe’ and ‘fife’.

Or a word is spelt now with a final _k_ and now with a final _ch_; out
of this variation two different words have been formed; with, it may be,
other slight differences superadded; thus is it with ‘poke’ and ‘poach’;
‘dyke’ and ‘ditch’; ‘stink’ and ‘stench’; ‘prick’ and ‘pritch’ (now
obsolete); ‘break’ and ‘breach’; to which may be added ‘broach’; ‘lace’
and ‘latch’; ‘stick’ and ‘stitch’; ‘lurk’ and ‘lurch’; ‘bank’ and
‘bench’; ‘stark’ and ‘starch’; ‘wake’ and ‘watch’. So too _t_ and _d_
are easily exchanged; as in ‘clod’ and ‘clot’; ‘vend’ and ‘vent’;
‘brood’ and ‘brat’{112}; ‘halt’ and ‘hold’; ‘sad’ and ‘set’{113}; ‘card’
and ‘chart’; ‘medley’ and ‘motley’. Or there has grown up, besides the
rigorous and accurate pronunciation of a word, a popular as well; and
this in the end has formed itself into another word; thus is it with
‘housewife’ and ‘hussey’; ‘hanaper’ and ‘hamper’; ‘puisne’ and ‘puny’;
‘patron’ and ‘pattern’; ‘spital’ (hospital) and ‘spittle’ (house of
correction); ‘accompt’ and ‘account’; ‘donjon’ and ‘dungeon’; ‘nestle’
and ‘nuzzle’{114} (now obsolete); ‘Egyptian’ and ‘gypsy’; ‘Bethlehem’
and ‘Bedlam’; ‘exemplar’ and ‘sampler’; ‘dolphin’ and ‘dauphin’; ‘iota’
and ‘jot’.

Other changes cannot perhaps be reduced exactly under any of these
heads; as between ‘ounce’ and ‘inch’; ‘errant’ and ‘arrant’; ‘slack’ and
‘slake’; ‘slow’ and ‘slough’{115}; ‘bow’ and ‘bough’; ‘hew’ and
‘hough’{115}; ‘dies’ and ‘dice’ (both plurals of ‘die’); ‘plunge’ and
‘flounce’{115}; ‘staff’ and ‘stave’; ‘scull’ and ‘shoal’; ‘benefit’ and
‘benefice’{116}. Or, it may be, the difference which constitutes the two
forms of the word into two words is in the spelling only, and of a
character to be appreciable only by the eye, escaping altogether the
ear: thus it is with ‘draft’ and ‘draught’; ‘plain’ and ‘plane’; ‘coign’
and ‘coin’; ‘flower’ and ‘flour’; ‘check’ and ‘cheque’; ‘straight’ and
‘strait’; ‘ton’ and ‘tun’; ‘road’ and ‘rode’; ‘throw’ and ‘throe’;
‘wrack’ and ‘rack’; ‘gait’ and ‘gate’; ‘hoard’ and ‘horde’{117}; ‘knoll’
and ‘noll’; ‘chord’ and ‘cord’; ‘drachm’ and ‘dram’; ‘sergeant’ and
‘serjeant’; ‘mask’ and ‘masque’; ‘villain’ and ‘villein’.

{Sidenote: _Words in Two Forms_}

Now, if you will put the matter to proof, you will find, I believe, in
every case that there has attached itself to the different forms of a
word a modification of meaning more or less sensible, that each has won
for itself an independent sphere of meaning, in which it, and it only,
moves. For example, ‘divers’ implies difference only, but ‘diverse’
difference with opposition; thus the several Evangelists narrate the
same event in ‘divers’ manner, but not in ‘diverse’. ‘Antique’ is
ancient, but ‘antic’, is now the ancient regarded as overlived, out of
date, and so in our days grotesque, ridiculous; and then, with a
dropping of the reference to age, the grotesque, the ridiculous alone.
‘Human’ is what every man is, ‘humane’ is what every man ought to be;
for Johnson’s suggestion that ‘humane’ is from the French feminine,
‘humaine’, and ‘human’ from the masculine, cannot for an instant be
admitted. ‘Ingenious’ expresses a mental, ‘ingenuous’ a moral,
excellence{118}. A gardener ‘prunes’, or trims his trees, properly
indeed his _vines_ alone (pro_vigner_), birds ‘preen’ or trim their
feathers. We ‘allay’ wine with water; we ‘alloy’ gold with platina.
‘Bloom’ is a finer and more delicate efflorescence even than ‘blossom’;
thus the ‘bloom’, but not the ‘blossom’, of the cheek. It is now always
‘clots’ of blood and ‘clods’ of earth; a ‘float’ of timber, and a
‘fleet’ of ships; men ‘vend’ wares, and ‘vent’ complaints. A ‘curtsey’
is one, and that merely an external, manifestation of ‘courtesy’.
‘Gambling’ may be, as with a fearful irony it is called, _play_, but it
is nearly as distant from ‘gambolling’ as hell is from heaven{119}. Nor
would it be hard, in almost every pair or larger group of words which I
have adduced, as in others which no doubt might be added to complete the
list, to trace a difference of meaning which has obtained a more or less
distinct recognition{120}.

But my subject is inexhaustible; it has no limits except those, which
indeed may be often narrow enough, imposed by my own ignorance on the
one side; and on the other, by the necessity of consulting your
patience, and of only choosing such matter as will admit a popular
setting forth. These necessities, however, bid me to pause, and suggest
that I should not look round for other quarters from whence accessions
of new words are derived. Doubtless I should not be long without finding
many such. I must satisfy myself for the rest with a very brief
consideration of the _motives_ which, as they have been, are still at
work among us, inducing us to seek for these augmentations of our

And first, the desire of greater clearness is a frequent motive and
inducement to this. It has been well and truly said: “Every new term,
expressing a fact or a difference not precisely or adequately expressed
by any other word in the same language, is a new organ of thought for
the mind that has learned it”{121}. The limits of their vocabulary are
in fact for most men the limits of their knowledge; and in a great
degree for us all. Of course I do not affirm that it is absolutely
impossible to have our mental conceptions clearer and more distinct than
our words; but it is very hard to have, and still harder to keep, them
so. And therefore it is that men, conscious of this, so soon as ever
they have learned to distinguish in their minds, are urged by an almost
irresistible impulse to distinguish also in their words. They feel that
nothing is made sure till this is done.

{Sidenote: _Dissimilation of Words_}

The sense that a word covers too large a space of meaning, is the
frequent occasion of the introduction of another, which shall relieve
it of a portion of this. Thus, there was a time when ‘witch’ was applied
equally to male and female dealers in unlawful magical arts. Simon
Magus, for example, and Elymas are both ‘witches’, in Wiclif’s _New
Testament_ (Acts viii. 9; xiii. 8), and Posthumus in _Cymbeline_: but
when the medieval Latin ‘sortiarius’ (not ‘sortitor’ as in Richardson),
supplied another word, the French ‘sorcier’, and thus our English
‘sorcerer’ (originally the “caster of lots”), then ‘witch’ gradually was
confined to the hag, or female practiser of these arts, while ‘sorcerer’
was applied to the male.

New necessities, new evolutions of society into more complex conditions,
evoke new words; which come forth, because they are required now; but
did not formerly exist, because they were not required in the period
preceding. For example, in Greece so long as the poet sang his own
verses ‘singer’ (ἀοιδὸς) sufficiently expressed the double function;
such a ‘singer’ was Homer, and such Homer describes Demodocus, the bard
of the Phæacians; that double function, in fact, not being in his time
contemplated as double, but each part of it so naturally completing the
other, that no second word was required. When, however, in the division
of labour one made the verses which another chaunted, then ‘poet’ or
‘maker’, a word unknown in the Homeric age, arose. In like manner, when
‘physicians’ were the only natural philosophers, the word covered this
meaning as well as that other which it still retains; but when the
investigation of nature and natural causes detached itself from the art
of healing, became an independent study of itself, the name ‘physician’
remained to that which was as the stock and stem of the art, while the
new offshoot sought out a new name for itself.

Another motive to the invention of new words, is the desire thereby to
cut short lengthy{122} explanations, tedious circuits of language.
Science is often an immense gainer by words, which say singly what it
would have taken whole sentences otherwise to have said. Thus
‘isothermal’ is quite of modern invention; but what a long story it
would be to tell the meaning of ‘_isothermal_ lines’, all which is
summed up in and saved by the word. We have long had the word
‘assimilation’ in our dictionaries; ‘dissimilation’ has not yet found
its way into them, but it speedily will. It will appear first, if it
has not already appeared, in our books on language{123}. I express
myself with this confidence, because the advance of philological
enquiry has rendered it almost a matter of necessity that we should
possess a word to designate a certain process, and no other word would
designate it at all so well. There is a process of ‘assimilation’
going on very extensively in language; it occurs where the organs of
speech find themselves helped by changing a letter for another which
has just occurred, or will just occur in a word; thus we say not
‘_adf_iance’ but ‘_aff_iance’, not ‘re_n_ow_m_’, as our ancestors did
when the word ‘renommée’ was first naturalized, but ‘re_n_ow_n_’. At
the same time there is another opposite process, where some letter
would recur too often for euphony or comfort in speaking, if the
strict form of the word were too closely held fast, and where
consequently this letter is exchanged for some other, generally for
some nearly allied; thus it is at least a reasonable suggestion, that
‘cœ_r_uleum’ was once ‘cœ_l_uleum’, from cœlum: so too the Italians
prefer ‘ve_l_e_n_o’ to ‘ve_n_e_n_o’; and we ‘cinnamo_n_’ to
‘cinnamo_m_’ (the earlier form); in ‘turtle’ and ‘purple’ we have
shrunk from the double ‘_r_’ of ‘turtur’ and ‘purpura’; and this
process of _making unlike_, requiring a term to express it, will
create, or indeed has created, the word ‘dissimilation’, which
probably will in due time establish itself among us in far wider than
its primary use.

‘Watershed’ has only recently begun to appear in books of geography; and
yet how convenient it must be admitted to be; how much more so than
‘line of water parting’, which it has succeeded; meaning, as I need
hardly tell you it does, not merely that which _sheds_ the waters, but
that which _divides_ them (‘wasserscheide’); and being applied to that
exact ridge and highest line in a mountain region, where the waters of
that region separate off and divide, some to one side, and some to the
other; as in the Rocky Mountains of North America there are streams
rising within very few miles of one another, which flow severally east
and west, and, if not in unbroken course, yet as affluents to larger
rivers, fall at least severally into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It
must be allowed, I think, that not merely geographical terminology, but
geography itself, had a benefactor in him who first endowed it with so
expressive and comprehensive a word, bringing before us a fact which we
should scarcely have been aware of without it.

There is another word which I have just employed, ‘affluent’, in the
sense of a stream which does not flow into the sea, but joins a larger
stream, as for instance, the Isis is an ‘affluent’ of the Thames, the
Moselle of the Rhine. It is itself an example in the same kind of that
whereof I have been speaking, having been only recently constituted a
substantive, and employed in this sense, while yet its utility is
obvious. ‘Confluents’ would perhaps be a fitter name, where the rivers,
like the Missouri and the Mississippi, were of equal or nearly equal
importance up to the time of their meeting{124}.

{Sidenote: ‘_Selfishness_’, ‘_Suicide_’}

Again, new words are coined out of the necessity which men feel of
filling up gaps in the language. Thoughtful men, comparing their own
language with that of other nations, become conscious of deficiencies,
of important matters unexpressed in their own, and with more or less
success proceed to supply the deficiency. For example, that sin of sins,
the undue love of self, with the postponing of the interests of all
others to our own, had for a long time no word to express it in English.
Help was sought from the Greek, and from the Latin. ‘Philauty’
(φιλαυτία) had been more than once attempted by our scholars; but found
no popular acceptance. This failing, men turned to the Latin; one writer
trying to supply the want by calling the man a ‘suist’, as one seeking
_his own_ things (‘sua’), and the sin itself, ‘suicism’. The gap,
however, was not really filled up, till some of the Puritan writers,
drawing on our Saxon, devised ‘selfish’ and ‘selfishness’, words which
to us seem obvious enough, but which yet are little more than two
hundred [and fifty] years old{125}.

{Sidenote: _Notices of New Words_}

Before quitting this part of the subject, let me say a few words in
conclusion on this deliberate introduction of words to supply felt
omissions in a language, and the limits within which this or any other
conscious interference with the development of a language is desirable
or possible. By the time that a people begin to meditate upon their
language, to be aware by a conscious reflective act either of its merits
or deficiencies, by far the greater and more important part of its work
is done; it is fixed in respect of its structure in immutable forms; the
region in which any alteration or modification, addition to it, or
substraction from it, deliberately devised and carried out, may be
possible, is very limited indeed. Its great laws are too firmly
established to admit of this; so that almost nothing can be taken from
it, which it has got; almost nothing added to it, which it has _not_
got. It will travel indeed in certain courses of change; but it would be
as easy almost to alter the career of a planet as for man to alter
these. This is sometimes a subject of regret with those who see what
they believe manifest defects or blemishes in their language, and such
as appear to them capable of remedy. And yet in fact this is well; since
for once that these redressers of real or fancied wrongs, these
suppliers of things lacking, would have mended, we may be tolerably
confident that ten times, yea, a hundred times, they would have marred;
letting go that which would have been well retained; retaining that
which by a necessary law the language now dismisses and lets go; and in
manifold ways interfering with those processes of a natural logic, which
are here evermore at work. The genius of a language, unconsciously
presiding over all its transformations, and conducting them to a
definite issue, will have been a far truer, far safer guide, than the
artificial wit, however subtle, of any single man, or of any association
of men. For the genius of a language is the sense and inner conviction
of all who speak it, as to what it ought to be, and the means by which
it will best attain its objects; and granting that a pair of eyes, or
two or three pairs of eyes may see much, yet millions of eyes will
certainly see more.

{Sidenote: _German Purists_}

It is only with the words, and not with the forms and laws of a
language, that any interference such as I have just supposed is
possible. Something, indeed much, may here be done by wise masters, in
the way of rejecting that which would deform, allowing and adopting that
which will strengthen and enrich. Those who would purify or enrich a
language, so long as they have kept within this their proper sphere,
have often effected much, more than at first could have seemed possible.
The history of the German language affords so much better illustration
of this than our own would do, that I shall make no scruple in seeking
my examples there. When the patriotic Germans began to wake up to a
consciousness of the enormous encroachments which foreign languages,
the Latin and French above all, had made on their native tongue, the
lodgements which they had therein effected, and the danger which
threatened it, namely, that it should cease to be German at all, but
only a mingle-mangle, a variegated patchwork of many languages, without
any unity or inner coherence at all, various societies were instituted
among them, at the beginning and during the course of the seventeenth
century, for the recovering of what was lost of their own, for the
expelling of that which had intruded from abroad; and these with
excellent effect.

But more effectual than these societies were the efforts of single
men, who in this merited well of their country{126}. In respect of
words which are now entirely received by the whole nation, it is
often possible to designate the writers who first substituted them
for some affected Gallicism or unnecessary Latinism. Thus to Lessing
his fellow-countrymen owe the substitution of ‘zartgefühl’ for
‘delicatesse’, of ‘empfindsamkeit’ for ‘sentimentalität’, of
‘wesenheit’ for ‘essence’. It was Voss (1786) who first employed
‘alterthümlich’ for ‘antik’. Wieland too was the author or reviver of
a multitude of excellent words, for which often he had to do earnest
battle at the first; such were ‘seligkeit’, ‘anmuth’, ‘entzückung’,
‘festlich’, ‘entwirren’, with many more. For ‘maskerade’, Campe would
have fain substituted ‘larventanz’. It was a novelty when Büsching
called his great work on geography ‘erdbeschreibung’ instead of
‘geographie’; while ‘schnellpost’ instead of ‘diligence’, ‘zerrbild’
for ‘carricatur’ are also of recent introduction. In regard of
‘wörterbuch’ itself, J. Grimm tells us he can find no example of its
use dating earlier than 1719.

Yet at the same time it must be acknowledged that some of these
reformers proceeded with more zeal than knowledge, while others did
whatever in them lay to make the whole movement absurd--even as there
ever hang on the skirts of a noble movement, be it in literature or
politics or higher things yet, those who contribute their little all to
bring ridicule and contempt upon it. Thus in the reaction against
foreign interlopers which ensued, and in the zeal to purify the language
from them, some went to such extravagant excesses as to desire to get
rid of ‘testament’, ‘apostel’, which last Campe would have replaced by
‘lehrbote’, with other words like these, consecrated by longest use, and
to find native substitutes in their room; or they understood so little
what words deserved to be called foreign, or how to draw the line
between them and native, that they would fain have gotten rid of
‘vater’, ‘mutter’, ‘wein’, ‘fenster’, ‘meister’, ‘kelch’{127}; the first
three of which belong to the German language by just as good a right as
they do to the Latin and the Greek; while the other three have been
naturalized so long that to propose to expel them now was as if, having
passed an alien act for the banishment of all foreigners, we should
proceed to include under that name, and as such drive forth from the
kingdom, the descendants of the French Protestants who found refuge here
at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, or even of the Flemings who
settled among us in the time of our Edwards. One notable enthusiast in
this line proposed to create an entirely new nomenclature for all the
mythological personages of the Greek and the Roman pantheon, who, one
would think, might have been allowed, if any, to retain their Greek and
Latin names. So far however from this, they were to exchange these for
equivalent German titles; Cupid was to be ‘Lustkind’, Flora ‘Bluminne’,
Aurora ‘Röthin’; instead of Apollo schoolboys were to speak of
‘Singhold’; instead of Pan of ‘Schaflieb’; instead of Jupiter of
‘Helfevater’, with much else of the same kind. Let us beware (and the
warning extends much further than to the matter in hand) of making a
good cause ridiculous by our manner of supporting it, of assuming that
exaggerations on one side can only be redressed by exaggerations as
great upon the other.


{38} Thus Alexander Gil, head-master of St. Paul’s School, in his book,
     _Logonomia Anglica_, 1621, _Preface_: Huc usque peregrinæ voces in
     linguâ Anglicâ inauditæ. Tandem circa annum 1400 Galfridus
     Chaucerus, infausto omine, vocabulis Gallicis et Latinis poësin
     suam famosam reddidit. The whole passage, which is too long to
     quote, as indeed the whole book, is curious. Gil was an earnest
     advocate of phonetic spelling, and has adopted it in all his
     English quotations in this book.

{39} We may observe exactly the same in Plautus: a multitude of Greek
     words are used by him, which the Latin language did not want, and
     therefore refused to take up; thus ‘clepta’, ‘zamia’ (ζημία),
     ‘danista’, ‘harpagare’, ‘apolactizare’, ‘nauclerus’, ‘strategus’,
     ‘morologus’, ‘phylaca’, ‘malacus’, ‘sycophantia’, ‘euscheme’
     (εὐσχήμως), ‘dulice’ (δουλικῶς), [so ‘scymnus’ by Lucretius], none
     of which, I believe, are employed except by him; ‘mastigias’ and
     ‘techna’ appear also in Terence. Yet only experience could show
     that they were superfluous; and at the epoch of Latin literature in
     which Plautus lived, it was well done to put them on trial.

{40} [Modern poets have given ‘amort’ a new life; it is used by Keats,
     by Bailey (_Festus_, xxx), and by Browning (_Sordello_, vi).]

{41} [‘Bruit’ has been revived by Carlyle and Chas. Merivale. Its verbal
     form is used by Cowper, Byron and Dickens.]

{42} Let me here observe once for all that in adding the name of an
     author, which I shall often do, to a word, I do not mean to affirm
     the word in any way peculiar to him; although in some cases it may
     be so; but only to give one authority for its use. [Coleridge uses

{43} _Essay on English Poetry_, p. 93.

{44} _Dedication of the Translation of the Æneid_.

{45} [i.e. the promoters of Classical learning.]

{46} We have notable evidence in some lines of Waller of the sense which
     in his time scholars had of the rapidity with which the language
     was changing under their hands. Looking back at what the last
     hundred years had wrought of alteration in it, and very naturally
     assuming that the next hundred would effect as much, he checked
     with misgivings such as these his own hope of immortality:

         “Who can hope his lines should long
         Last in a daily changing tongue?
         While they are new, envy prevails,
         And as that dies, our language fails.

           *       *       *       *       *

         “Poets that lasting marble seek,
         Must carve in Latin or in Greek:
         _We_ write in sand; our language grows,
         And like the tide our work o’erflows”.

     Such were his misgivings as to the future, assuming that the rate
     of change would continue what it had been. How little they have
     been fulfilled, every one knows. In actual fact two centuries,
     which have elapsed since he wrote, have hardly antiquated a word or
     a phrase in his poems. If we care very little for them now, that is
     to be explained by quite other causes--by the absence of all moral
     earnestness from them.

{47} In his _Art of English Poesy_, London, 1589, republished in
     Haslewood’s _Ancient Critical Essays upon English Poets and Poesy_,
     London, 1811, vol. i. pp. 122, 123; [and in Arber’s _English
     Reprints_, 1869].

{48} London, 1601. Besides this work Holland translated the whole of
     Plutarch’s _Moralia_, the _Cyropœdia_ of Xenophon, Livy, Suetonius,
     Ammianus Marcellinus, and Camden’s _Britannia_. His works make a
     part of the “library of dullness” in Pope’s _Dunciad_:

         “De Lyra there a dreadful front extends,
         And here the groaning shelves _Philemon_ bends”--

     very unjustly; the authors whom he has translated are all more or
     less important, and his versions of them a mine of genuine
     idiomatic English, neglected by most of our lexicographers, wrought
     to a considerable extent, and with eminent advantage by Richardson;
     yet capable, as it seems to me, of yielding much more than they
     hitherto have yielded.

{49} And so too in French it is surprising to find of how late
     introduction are many words, which it seems as if the language
     could never have done without. ‘Désintéressement’, ‘exactitude’,
     ‘sagacité’, ‘bravoure’, were not introduced till late in the
     seventeenth century. ‘Renaissance’, ‘emportement’, ‘sçavoir-faire’,
     ‘indélébile’, ‘désagrément’, were all recent in 1675 (Bouhours);
     ‘indévot’, ‘intolérance’, ‘impardonnable’, ‘irréligieux’, were
     struggling into allowance at the end of the seventeenth century,
     and were not established till the beginning of the eighteenth.
     ‘Insidieux’ was invented by Malherbe; ‘frivolité’ does not appear
     in the earlier editions of the _Dictionary of the Academy_; the
     Abbé de St. Pierre was the first to employ ‘bienfaisance’, the
     elder Balzac ‘féliciter’, Sarrasin ‘burlesque’. Mad. de Sevigné
     exclaims against her daughter for employing ‘effervescence’ in a
     letter (comment dites-vous cela, ma fille? Voilà un mot dont je
     n’avais jamais ouï parler). ‘Demagogue’ was first hazarded by
     Bossuet, and was counted so bold a novelty that it was long before
     any ventured to follow him in its use. Somewhat earlier Montaigne
     had introduced ‘diversion’ and ‘enfantillage’, though not without
     being rebuked by cotemporaries on the score of the last.
     Desfontaines was the first who employed ‘suicide’; Caron gave to
     the language ‘avant-propos’, Ronsard ‘avidité’, Joachim Dubellay
     ‘patrie’, Denis Sauvage ‘jurisconsulte’, Menage ‘gracieux’ (at
     least so Voltaire affirms) and ‘prosateur’, Desportes ‘pudeur’,
     Chapelain ‘urbanité’, and Etienne first brought in, apologizing at
     the same time for the boldness of it, ‘analogie’ (si les oreilles
     françoises peuvent porter ce mot). ‘Préliber’ (prælibare) is a word
     of our own day; and it was Charles Nodier who, if he did not coin,
     yet revived the obsolete ‘simplesse’.--See Génin, _Variations du
     Langage Français_, pp. 308-19.

{50} [Resuscitated in vain by Charles Lamb.]

{51} J. Grimm (_Wörterbuch_, p. xxvi.): Fällt von ungefähr ein fremdes
     wort in den brunnen einer sprache, so wird es so lange darin
     umgetrieben, bis es ihre farbe annimmt, und seiner fremden art zum
     trotze wie ein heimisches aussieht.

{52} Have we here an explanation of the ‘battalia’ of Jeremy Taylor and
     others? Did they, without reflecting on the matter, regard
     ‘battalion’ as a word with a Greek neuter termination? It is
     difficult to think they should have done so; yet more difficult to
     suggest any other explanation. [‘Battalia’ was sometimes mistaken
     as a plural, which indeed it was originally, the word being derived
     through the Italian _battaglia_, from low Latin _battalia_, which
     (like _biblia_, _gaudia_, etc.) was afterwards regarded as a
     feminine singular (Skeat, _Principles_, ii, 230). But Shakespeare
     used it as a singular, “Our _battalia_ trebles that account”
     (_Rich. III_, v. 3, 11); and so Sir T. Browne, “The Roman
     _battalia_ was ordered after this manner” (_Garden of Cyrus_, 1658,
     p. 113).]

{53} “And old heroës, which their world did daunt”.

                                         _Sonnet on Scanderbeg._

{54} [By J. H(ealey), 1610, who has “centones ... of diuerse colours”,
     p. 605.]

{55} [The identity of these two words, notwithstanding the analogy of
     _corona_ and _crown_, is denied by Skeat, Kluge and Lutz.]

{56} Skinner (_Etymologicon_, 1671) protests against the word
     altogether, as purely French, and having no right to be considered
     English at all.

{57} It is curious how effectually the nationality of a word may by
     these slight alterations in spelling be disguised. I have met an
     excellent French and English scholar, to whom it was quite a
     surprise to learn that ‘redingote’ was ‘riding-coat’.

{58} [Compare French _marsouin_ (=German _meer-schwein_), “sea-pig”, the
     dolphin; Breton _mor-houc’h_; Irish _mucc mara_, “pig of the sea”,
     the dolphin (W. Stokes, _Irish Glossaries_, p. 118); French _truye
     de mer_ (Cotgrave); old English _brun-swyne_ (_Prompt. Parv._),
     “brown-pig”, the dolphin or seal.]

{59} He is not indeed perfectly accurate in this statement, for the
     Greeks spoke of ἐν κύκλῳ παιδεία and ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία, but had no
     such composite word as ἐγκυκλοπαδεία. We gather however from these
     expressions, as from Lord Bacon’s using the term ‘circle-learning’
     (=‘orbis doctrinæ’, Quintilian), that ‘encyclopædia’ did not exist
     in their time. [But ‘encyclopedia’ occurs in Elyot, _Governour_,
     1531, vol. i, p. 118 (ed. Croft); ‘encyclopædie’ in J. Sylvester,
     _Workes_, 1621, p. 660.]

{60} See the passages quoted in my paper, _On some Deficiencies in our
     English Dictionaries_, p. 38.

{61} [This prediction has been verified. ‘Ethos’ is used by Sir F.
     Palgrave, 1851, and in the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’, 1875. N.E.D.]

{62} We may see the same progress in Greek words which were being
     incorporated in the Latin. Thus Cicero writes ἀντίποδες (_Acad._
     ii, 39, 123), but Seneca (_Ep._ 122), ‘antipodes’; that is, the
     word for Cicero was still Greek, while in the period that elapsed
     between him and Seneca, it had become Latin: so too Cicero wrote
     εἴδωλον, the Younger Pliny ‘idolon’, and Tertullian ‘idolum’.

{63} [This rash prophecy has not been fulfilled. English speakers are
     still no more inclined to say ‘préstige’ than ‘pólice’.]

{64} See in Coleridge’s _Table Talk_, p. 3, the amusing story of John
     Kemble’s stately correction of the Prince of Wales for adhering to
     the earlier pronunciation, ‘obl_ee_ge,’--“It will become your royal
     mouth better to say obl_i_ge.”

{65} “In this great _académy_ of mankind”.

                              Butler, _To the Memory of Du Val_.

{66} “‘Twixt that and reason what a nice _barrier_”.

{67} [A fairly complete collection of these and similar semi-naturalized
     foreign words will be found in _The Stanford Dictionary of
     Anglicized Words_, edited by Dr. C. A. M. Fennell, 1892.]

{68} [This is quite wrong. Mr. Fitzedward Hall shows that ‘inimical’ was
     used by Gaule in 1652, as well as by Richardson in 1758 (_Modern
     English_, p. 287). The N.E.D. quotes an instance of it from Udall
     in 1643.]

{69} [The word had been already naturalized by H. More, 1647, Cudworth,
     1678, Tucker 1765, and Carlyle, 1831.--N.E.D.]

{70} [The earliest citation for ‘abnormal’ in the N.E.D. is dated 1835.
     The older word was ‘abnormous’. Curious to say it is unrelated to
     ‘normal’ to which it has been assimilated, being merely an
     alteration of ‘anomal-ous’.]

{71} [Fuller says of ‘plunder’, “we first heard thereof in the Swedish
     wars”, and that it came into England about 1642 (_Church History_,
     bk. xi, sec. 4, par. 33). It certainly occurs under that date in
     _Memoirs of the Verney Family_, “It is in danger of _plonderin_”
     (vol. i, p. 71, also p. 151). It also occurs in a document dated
     1643, “We must _plunder_ none but Roundheads” (_Camden Soc.
     Miscellany_, iii, 31). Drummond (died 1649) has “Go fight and
     _plunder_” (_Poems_, ed. Turnbull, p. 330). It appears in a
     quotation from _The Bellman of London_ (no reference) given in
     Timbs, _London and Westminster_, vol. i, p. 254.]

{72} [It is rather from the old Dutch _trecker_, a ‘puller’. Very few
     English words come to us from German.]

{73} [So Skeat, _Etym. Dict._ But the Germans themselves take their
     _schwindler_ (in the sense of cheat) to have been adopted from the
     English ‘swindler’. Dr. Dunger asserts that it was introduced into
     their language by Lichtenberg in his explanation of Hogarth’s
     engravings, 1794-99 (_Englanderei in der Deutschen Sprache_, 1899,
     p. 7).]

{74} _Pisgah Sight of Palestine_, 1650, p. 217.

{75} [This word introduced as a ‘pure neologism’ by D’Israeli
     (_Curiosities of Literature_, 1839, 11th ed. p. 384) as a companion
     to ‘mother-tongue’, had been already used by Sir W. Temple in 1672
     (Hall, _Mod. English_, p. 44). Nay, even by Tyndale, see T. L. K.
     Oliphant, _The New English_, i, 439.]

{76} [‘Folk-lore’ was introduced by Mr. W. J. Thoms, editor of _Notes
     and Queries_, in 1846. Still later came ‘Folk-etymology’, the
     earliest use of which in N.E.D. is given as 1883, but the editor’s
     work bearing that title appeared in 1882.]

{77} _Holy State_, b. 2, c. 6. There was a time when the Latin
     promised to display, if not an equal, yet not a very inferior,
     freedom in this forming of new words by the happy marriage of
     old. But in this, as in so many respects, it seemed possessed at
     the period of its highest culture with a timidity, which caused
     it voluntarily to abdicate many of its own powers. Where do we
     find in the Augustan period of the language so grand a pair of
     epithets as these, occurring as they do in a single line of
     Catullus: Ubi cerva _silvicultrix_, ubi aper _nemorivagus_? or
     again, as his ‘fluentisonus’? Virgil’s vitisator (_Æn._ 7, 179)
     is not his own, but derived from one of the earlier poets. Nay,
     the language did not even retain those compound epithets which it
     once had formed, but was content to let numbers of them drop:
     ‘parcipromus’; ‘turpilucricupidus’, and many more, do not extend
     beyond Plautus. On this matter Quintilian observes (i. 5, 70):
     Res tota magis Græcos decet, nobis minus succedit; nec id fieri
     naturâ puto, sed alienis favemus; ideoque cum κυρταύχενα mirati
     sumus, _incurvicervicum_ vix a risu defendimus. Elsewhere he
     complains, though not with reference to compound epithets, of the
     little _generative_ power which existed in the Latin language,
     that its continual losses were compensated by no equivalent gains
     (viii. 6, 32): Deinde, tanquum consummata sint omnia, nihil
     generare audemus ipsi, quum multa quotidie ab antiquis ficta
     moriantur. Notwithstanding this complaint, it must be owned that
     the silver age of the language, which sought to recover, and did
     recover to some extent the abdicated energies of its earlier
     times, reasserted among other powers that of combining words with
     a certain measure of success.

{78} [For Shakespearian compounds see Abbott’s _Shakespearian Grammar_,
     pp. 317-20.]

{79} [Writing in the year 1780 Bentham says: “The word it must be
     acknowledged is a new one”.]

{80} _Collection of Scarce Tracts_, edited by Sir W. Scott, vol. vii, p.

{81} [Hardly a novelty, as the word occurs in J. Gaule, Πῦς-μαντια,
     1652, p. 30. See F. Hall, _Mod. English_, p. 131.]

{82} [First used apparently by Grote, 1847, and Mrs. Gaskell, 1857,

{83} See _Letters of Horace Walpole and Mann_, vol. ii. p. 396, quoted
     in _Notes and Queries_, No. 225; and another proof of the novelty
     of the word in Pegge’s _Anecdotes of the English Language_, 1814,
     p. 38.

{84} Postscript to his _Translation of the Æneid_.

{85} Multa renascentur, quæ jam cecidere.

                          _De A. P._ 46-72; cf. _Ep._ 2, 2, 115.

{86} _Etymologicon vocum omnium antiquarum quæ usque a Wilhelmo Victore
     invaluerunt, et jam ante parentum ætatem in usu esse desierunt._

{87} [As a matter of fact the N.E.D. fails to give any quotation for
     this word in the period named.]

{88} [The verb ‘to advocate’ had long before been employed by Nash,
     1598, Sanderson, 1624, and Heylin, 1657 (F. Hall, _Mod. English_,
     p. 285).]

{89} In like manner La Bruyère, in his _Caractères_, c. 14, laments the
     extinction of a large number of French words which he names. At
     least half of these have now free course in the language, as
     ‘valeureux’, ‘haineux’, ‘peineux’, ‘fructueux’, ‘mensonger’,
     ‘coutumier’, ‘vantard’, ‘courtois’, ‘jovial’, ‘fétoyer’,
     ‘larmoyer’, ‘verdoyer’. Two or three of these may be rarely used,
     but every one would be found in a dictionary of the living

{90} _Preface to Juvenal._

{91} _Preface to Troilus and Cressida._ In justice to Dryden, and lest
     it should be said that he had spoken poetic blasphemy, it ought not
     to be forgotten that ‘pestered’ had not in his time at all so
     offensive a sense as it would have now. It meant no more than
     inconveniently crowded; thus Milton: “Confined and _pestered_ in
     this pinfold here”.

{92} Thus in North’s _Plutarch_, p. 499: “After the fire was quenched,
     they found in _niggots_ of gold and silver mingled together, about
     a thousand talents”; and again, p. 323: “There was brought a
     marvellous great mass of treasure in _niggots_ of gold”. The word
     has not found its way into our dictionaries or glossaries.

{93} [‘Niggot’ rather stands for ‘ningot’, due to a coalescence of the
     article in ‘an ingot’ (as if ‘a ningot’); just as, according to
     some, in French _l’ingot_ became _lingot_.]

{94} [Such collections were essayed in J. C. Hare’s _Two Essays in
     English Philology_, 1873, “_Words derived from Names of Persons_”,
     and in R. S. Charnock’s _Verba Nominalia_, pp. 326.]

{95} [In a strangely similar way the stone-worshipper in the Malay
     Peninsula gives to his sacred boulder the title of Mohammed (Tylor,
     _Primitive Culture_, 3rd ed. ii. 254).]

{96} [But Wolsey’s jester was most probably so called from his wearing a
     varicoloured or patchwork coat; compare the Shakespearian use of
     ‘motley’. Similarly the _maquereaux_ of the old French comedy were
     clothed in a mottled dress like our harlequin, just as the Latin
     _maccus_ or mime wore a _centunculus_ or patchwork coat, his name
     being perhaps connected with _macus_ (in _macula_), a spot (Gozzi,
     _Memoirs_, i, 38). In stage slang the harlequin was called
     _patchy_, as his Latin counterpart was _centunculus_.]

{97} [An error. Prof. Skeat shows that ‘tram’ was an old word in
     Scottish and Northern English (_Etym. Dict._, 655 and 831).]

{98} Several of these we have in common with the French. Of their own
     they have ‘sardanapalisme’, any piece of profuse luxury, from
     Sardanapalus; while for ‘lambiner’, to dally or loiter over a task,
     they are indebted to Denis Lambin, a worthy Greek scholar of the
     sixteenth century, whom his adversaries accused of sluggish
     movement and wearisome diffuseness in style. Every reader of
     Pascal’s _Provincial Letters_ will remember Escobar, the great
     casuist among the Jesuits, whose convenient subterfuges for the
     relaxation of the moral law have there been made famous. To the
     notoriety which he thus acquired he owes his introduction into the
     French language; where ‘escobarder’ is used in the sense of to
     equivocate, and ‘escobarderie’ of subterfuge or equivocation. The
     name of an unpopular minister of finance, M. de Silhouette,
     unpopular because he sought to cut down unnecessary expenses in the
     state, was applied to whatever was cheap, and, as was implied,
     unduly economical; it has survived in the black outline portrait
     which is now called a ‘silhouette’. (Sismondi, _Histoire des
     Français_, tom. xix, pp. 94, 95.) In the ‘mansarde’ roof we have
     the name of Mansart, the architect who introduced it. I need hardly
     add ‘guillotine’.

{99} See Col. Mure, _Language and Literature of Ancient Greece_, vol. i,
     p. 350.

{100} See Génin, _Des Variations du Langage Français_, p. 12.

{101} [Dr. Murray in the N.E.D. calls these by the convenient term

{102} _Persa_, iv. 6, 20-23. At the same time these words may be earnest
      enough; such was the ἐλαχιστότερος of St. Paul (Ephes. iii, 8);
      just as in the Middle Ages some did not account it sufficient to
      call themselves “fratres minores, minimi, postremi”, but coined
      ‘postremissimi’ to express the depth of their “voluntary

{103} It is curious that a correspondent of Skinner (_Etymologicon_,
      1671), although quite ignorant of this story, and indeed wholly
      astray in his application, had suggested that ‘chouse’ might be
      thus connected with the Turkish ‘chiaus’. I believe Gifford, in
      his edition of Ben Jonson, was the first to clear up the matter. A
      passage in _The Alchemist_ (Act i. Sc. 1) will have put him on the
      right track. [But Dr. Murray notes that Gifford’s story, as given
      above, has not hitherto been substantiated from any independent
      source, and is so far open to doubt.]

{104} [These are quite distinct words, though perhaps distantly

{105} If there were any doubt about this matter, which indeed there is
      not, a reference to Latimer’s famous _Sermon on Cards_ would
      abundantly remove it, where ‘triumph’ and ‘trump’ are
      interchangeably used.

{106} [Dr. Murray does not regard these words as ultimately identical.]

{107} [‘Rant’ (old Dutch _ranten_) has no connection with ‘rend’
      (Anglo-Saxon _hrendan_) (Skeat).]

{108} On these words see a learned discussion in _English Retraced_,
      Cambridge, 1862.

{109} [These are quite unconnected (Skeat).]

{110} [Neither are these words to be confused with one another.]

{111} The appropriating of ‘Franc_e_s’ to women and ‘Franc_i_s’ to men
      is quite of modern introduction; it was formerly nearly as often
      Sir Franc_e_s Drake as Sir Franc_i_s, while Fuller (_Holy State_,
      b. iv, c. 14) speaks of Franc_i_s Brandon, eldest _daughter_ of
      Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; and see Ben Jonson’s _New Inn_,
      Act. ii, Sc. 1.

{112} [Not connected.]

{113} [‘Sad’ akin to ‘sated’ bears no relationship to ‘set’; neither
      does ‘medley’ to ‘motley’.]

{114} [On the connection of these words see my _Folk and their
      Word-Lore_, p. 110.]

{115} [Not connected, see Skeat.]

{116} Were there need of proving that these both lie in ‘beneficium’,
      which there is not, for in Wiclif’s translation of the Bible the
      distinction is still latent (1 Tim. vi. 2), one might adduce a
      singularly characteristic little trait of Papal policy, which once
      turned upon the double use of this word. Pope Adrian the Fourth
      writing to the Emperor Frederic the First to complain of certain
      conduct of his, reminded the Emperor that he had placed the
      imperial crown upon his head, and would willingly have conferred
      even greater ‘beneficia’ upon him than this. Had the word been
      allowed to pass, it would no doubt have been afterwards appealed
      to as an admission on the Emperor’s part, that he held the Empire
      as a feud or fief (for ‘beneficium’ was then the technical word
      for this, though the meaning had much narrowed since) from the
      Pope--the very point in dispute between them. The word was
      indignantly repelled by the Emperor and the whole German nation,
      whereupon the Pope appealed to the etymology, that ‘beneficium’
      was but ‘bonum factum’, and protested that he meant no more than
      to remind the Emperor of the ‘benefits’ which he had done him, and
      which he would have willingly multiplied still more. [‘Benefice’
      from Latin _beneficium_, and ‘benefit’ from Latin _bene-factum_,
      are here confused.]

{117} [‘Hoard’ (Anglo-Saxon _hord_) cannot be equated with ‘horde’ (from
      Persian _órdú_).]

{118} [These words have been differentiated in comparatively modern
      times. ‘Ingenuity’ was once used for ‘ingenuousness’.]

{119} [The words are really unconnected, ‘to gamble’ being ‘to gamle’ or
      ‘game’, and ‘to gambol’ being akin to French _gambiller_, to fling
      up the legs (_gambes_ or _jambes_) like a frisking lamb.]

{120} The same happens in other languages. Thus in Greek ‘ἀνάθεμα’ and
      ‘ἀνάθημα’ both signify that which is devoted, though in very
      different senses, to the gods; ‘θάρσος’, boldness, and ‘θράσος’,
      temerity, were no more at first than different spellings of the
      same word; not otherwise is it with γρῖπος and γρῖφος, ἔθος and
      ἦθος, βρύκω and βρύχω, while ὀβελὸς and ὀβολὸς, σορὸς and σωρὸς,
      are probably the same words. So too in Latin ‘penna’ and ‘pinna’
      differ only in form, and signify alike a ‘wing’; while yet ‘penna’
      has come to be used for the wing of a bird, ‘pinna’ (its
      diminutive ‘pinnaculum’, has given us ‘pinnacle’) for that of a
      building. So is it with ‘Thrax’ a Thracian, and ‘Threx’ a
      gladiator; with ‘codex’ and ‘caudex’; ‘forfex’ and ‘forceps’;
      ‘anticus’ and ‘antiquus’; ‘celeber’ and ‘creber’; ‘infacetus’ and
      ‘inficetus’; ‘providentia’, ‘prudentia’, and ‘provincia’;
      ‘columen’ and ‘culmen’; ‘coitus’ and ‘cœtus’; ‘ægrimonia’ and
      ‘ærumna’; ‘Lucina’ and ‘luna’; ‘navita’ and ‘nauta’; in German
      with ‘rechtlich’ and ‘redlich’; ‘schlecht’ and ‘schlicht’;
      ‘ahnden’ and ‘ahnen’; ‘biegsam’ and ‘beugsam’; ‘fürsehung’ and
      ‘vorsehung’; ‘deich’ and ‘teich’; ‘trotz’ and ‘trutz’; ‘born’ and
      ‘brunn’; ‘athem’ and ‘odem’; in French with ‘harnois’ the armour,
      or ‘harness’, of a soldier, ‘harnais’ of a horse; with ‘Zéphire’
      and ‘zéphir’, and with many more.

{121} Coleridge, _Church and State_, p. 200.

{122} [One hardly expects to find this otiose Americanism (first used by
      J. Adams in 1759) in the work of a verbal purist, when ‘longish’
      or the old ‘longsome’ were at hand. No one, as yet, has ventured
      on ‘strengthy’ or ‘breadthy’ for somewhat strong or broad.]

{123} [This prediction was correct. ‘Dissimilation’ is first found in
      philological works published in the decade 1874-85. See N.E.D.]

{124} [Coblenz, at the junction of the Moselle and Rhine (from
      _Confluentes_), reminds us that the word was so used.]

{125} A passage from Hacket’s _Life of Archbishop Williams_, part 2, p.
      144, marks the first rise of this word, and the quarter from
      whence it arose: “When they [the Presbyterians] saw that he was
      not _selfish_ (it is a word of their own new mint), etc”. In
      Whitlock’s _Zootomia_ (1654) there is another indication of it as
      a novelty, p. 364: “If constancy may be tainted with this
      _selfishness_ (to use our _new wordings_ of old and general
      actings)”--It is he who in his striking essay, _The Grand
      Schismatic, or Suist Anatomized_, puts forward his own words,
      ‘suist’, and ‘suicism’, in lieu of those which have ultimately
      been adopted. ‘Suicism’, let me observe, had not in his time the
      obvious objection of resembling another word nearly, and being
      liable to be confused with it; for ‘suicide’ did not then exist in
      the language, nor indeed till some twenty years later. The coming
      up of ‘suicide’ is marked by this passage in Phillips’ _New World
      of Words_, 1671, 3rd ed.: “Nor less to be exploded is the word
      ‘_suicide_’, which may as well seem to participate of _sus_ a sow,
      as of the pronoun _sui_”. In the _Index_ to Jackson’s Works,
      published two years later, it is still ‘_suicidium_’--“the horrid
      _suicidium_ of the Jews at York”. ‘Suicide’ is apparently of much
      later introduction into French. Génin (_Récréations Philol._ vol.
      i, p. 194) places it about the year 1728, and makes the Abbé
      Desfontaines its first sponsor. He is wrong, as the words just
      quoted show, in supposing that we borrowed it from the French, or
      that the word did not exist in English till the middle of last
      century. The French sometimes complain that the fashion of suicide
      was borrowed from England. It would seem at all events probable
      that the word was so borrowed.

      Let me urge here the advantage of a complete collection, or one as
      nearly complete as the industry of the collectors would allow, of
      all the notices in our literature, which mark, and would serve as
      dates for, the first incoming of new words into the language.
      These notices are of the most various kinds. Sometimes they are
      protests and remonstrances, as that just quoted, against a new
      word’s introduction; sometimes they are gratulations at the same;
      while many hold themselves neuter as to approval or disapproval,
      and merely state, or allow us to gather, the fact of a word’s
      recent appearance. There are not a few of these notices in
      Richardson’s _Dictionary_: thus one from Lord Bacon under ‘essay’;
      from Swift under ‘banter’; from Sir Thomas Elyot under
      ‘mansuetude’; from Lord Chesterfield under ‘flirtation’; from
      Davies and Marlowe’s _Epigrams_ under ‘gull’; from Roger North
      under ‘sham’ (Appendix); the third quotation from Dryden under
      ‘mob’; one from the same under ‘philanthropy’, and again under
      ‘witticism’, in which he claims the authorship of the word; that
      from Evelyn under ‘miss’; and from Milton under ‘demagogue’. There
      are also notices of the same kind in _Todd’s Johnson_. The work,
      however, is one which no single scholar could hope to accomplish,
      which could only be accomplished by many lovers of their native
      tongue throwing into a common stock the results of their several
      studies. The sources from which these illustrative passages might
      be gathered cannot beforehand be enumerated, inasmuch as it is
      difficult to say in what unexpected quarter they would not
      sometimes be found, although some of these sources are obvious
      enough. As a very slight sample of what might be done in this way
      by the joint contributions of many, let me throw together
      references to a few passages of the kind which I do not think have
      found their way into any of our dictionaries. Thus add to that
      which Richardson has quoted on ‘banter’, another from _The
      Tatler_, No. 230. On ‘plunder’ there are two instructive passages
      in Fuller’s _Church History_, b. xi, § 4, 33; and b. ix, § 4; and
      one in Heylin’s _Animadversions_ thereupon, p. 196. On ‘admiralty’
      see a note in Harington’s _Ariosto_, book 19; on ‘maturity’ Sir
      Thomas Elyot’s _Governor_, b. i, c. 22; and on ‘industry’ the
      same, b. i, c. 23; on ‘neophyte’ a notice in Fulke’s _Defence of
      the English Bible_, Parker Society’s edition, p. 586; and on
      ‘panorama’, and marking its recent introduction (it is not in
      Johnson), a passage in Pegge’s _Anecdotes of the English
      Language_, first published in 1803, but my reference is to the
      edition of 1814, p. 306; on ‘accommodate’, and supplying a date
      for its first coming into popular use, see Shakespeare’s _2 Henry
      IV._ Act 3, Sc. 2; on ‘shrub’, Junius’ _Etymologicon_, s. v.
      ‘syrup’; on ‘sentiment’ and ‘cajole’ Skinner, s. vv., in his
      _Etymologicon_ (‘vox nuper civitate donata’); and on ‘opera’
      Evelyn’s _Memoirs and Diary_, 1827, vol. i, pp. 189, 190. In such
      a collection should be included those passages of our literature
      which supply implicit evidence for the non-existence of a word up
      to a certain moment. It may be urged that it is difficult, nay
      impossible, to prove a negative; and yet a passage like this from
      Bolingbroke makes certain that when it was written the word
      ‘isolated’ did not exist in our language: “The events we are
      witnesses of in the course of the longest life, appear to us very
      often original, unprepared, signal and _unrelative_: if I may use
      such a word for want of a better in English. In French I would say
      _isolés_” (_Notes and Queries_, No. 226). Compare Lord
      Chesterfield in a letter to Bishop Chenevix, of date March 12,
      1767: “I have survived almost all my cotemporaries, and as I am
      too old to make new acquaintances, I find myself _isolé_”. So,
      too, it is pretty certain that ‘amphibious’ was not yet English,
      when one writes (in 1618): “We are like those creatures called
      ἀμφίβια, who live in water or on land”. Ζωολογία, the title of a
      book published in 1649, makes it clear that ‘zoology’ was not yet
      in our vocabulary, as ζωόφυτον (Jackson) proves the same for
      ‘zoophyte’, and πολυθεϊσμος (Gell) for ‘polytheism’. One
      precaution, let me observe, would be necessary in the collecting,
      or rather in the adopting of any statements about the newness of a
      word--for the passages themselves, even when erroneous, ought not
      the less to be noted--namely, that, where there is the least
      motive for suspicion, no one’s affirmation ought to be accepted
      simply and at once as to the novelty of a word; for all here are
      liable to error. Thus more than one which Sir Thomas Elyot
      indicates as new in his time, ‘magnanimity’ for example (_The
      Governor_, 2, 14), are to be met in Chaucer. When Skinner affirmed
      of ‘sentiment’ that it had only recently obtained the rights of
      English citizenship from the translators of French books, he was
      altogether mistaken, this word being also one of continual
      recurrence in Chaucer. An intelligent correspondent gives in
      _Notes and Queries_, No. 225, a useful catalogue of recent
      neologies in our speech, which yet would require to be used with
      caution, for there are at least half a dozen in the list which
      have not the smallest right to be so considered.

{126} There is an admirable Essay by Leibnitz with this view (_Opera_,
      vol. vi, part 2, pp. 6-51) in French and German, with this title,
      _Considérations sur la Culture et la Perfection de la Langue

{127} _Zur Geschichte und Beurtheilung der Fremdwörter im Deutschen_,
      von. Aug. Fuchs, Dessau, 1842, pp. 85-91.



I took occasion to observe at the commencement of my last lecture that
it is the essential character of a living language to be in flux{128}
and flow, to be gaining and losing; the words which constitute it as
little continuing exactly the same, or in the same relations to one
another, as do the atoms which at any one moment make up our bodies
remain for ever without subtraction or addition. As I then undertook for
my especial subject to trace some of the acquisitions which our own
language had made, I shall consider in the present some of the losses,
or at any rate diminutions, which during the same period it has endured.
But it will be well here, by one or two remarks going before, to avert
any possible misapprehensions of my meaning.

It is certain that all languages must, or at least all languages do in
the end, perish. They run their course; not at all at the same rate, for
the tendency to change is different in different languages, both from
internal causes (mechanism and the like), and also from causes external
to the language, laid in the varying velocities of social progress and
social decline; but so it is, that whether of shorter or longer life,
they have their youth, their manhood, their old age, their decrepitude,
their final dissolution. Not indeed that, even when this last hour has
arrived, they disappear, leaving no traces behind them. On the contrary,
out of their death a new life comes forth; they pass into new forms, the
materials of which they were composed more or less survive, but these
now organized in new shapes and according to other laws of life. Thus
for example, the Latin perishes as a living language, but a chief part
of the words that composed it live on in the four daughter languages,
French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese; or the six, if we count the
Provençal and Wallachian; not a few in our own. Still in their own
proper being languages perish and pass away; there are dead records of
what they were in books; not living men who speak them any more. Seeing
then that they thus die, they must have had the germs of a possible
decay and death in them from the beginning.

{Sidenote: _Languages Gain and Lose_}

Nor is this all; but in such mighty strong built fabrics as these, the
causes which thus bring about their final dissolution must have been
actually at work very long before the results began to be visible.
Indeed, very often it is with them as with states, which, while in some
respects they are knitting and strengthening, in others are already
unfolding the seeds of their future and, it may be, still remote
overthrow. Equally in these and those, in states and in languages, it
would be a serious mistake to assume that all up to a certain point and
period is growth and gain, while all after is decay and loss. On the
contrary, there are long periods during which growth in some directions
is going hand in hand with decay in others; losses in one kind are
being compensated, or more than compensated, by gains in another; during
which a language changes, but only as the bud changes into the flower,
and the flower into the fruit. A time indeed arrives when the growth and
gains, becoming ever fewer, cease to constitute any longer a
compensation for the losses and the decay; which are ever becoming more;
when the forces of disorganization and death at work are stronger than
those of life and order. It is from this moment the decline of a
language may properly be dated. But until that crisis and turning point
has arrived, we may be quite justified in speaking of the losses of a
language, and may esteem them most real, without in the least thereby
implying that the period of its commencing degeneracy has begun. This
may yet be far distant, and therefore when I dwell on certain losses and
diminutions which our own has undergone, or is undergoing, you will not
conclude that I am seeking to present it to you as now travelling the
downward course to dissolution and death. This is very far from my
intention. If in some respects it is losing, in others it is gaining.
Nor is everything which it lets go, a loss; for this too, the parting
with a word in which there is no true help, the dropping of a cumbrous
or superfluous form, may itself be sometimes a most real gain. English
is undoubtedly becoming different from what it has been; but only
different in that it is passing into another stage of its development;
only different, as the fruit is different from the flower, and the
flower from the bud; having changed its merits, but not having
renounced them; possessing, it may be, less of beauty, but more of
usefulness; not, perhaps, serving the poet so well, but serving the
historian and philosopher and theologian better than before.

One observation more let me make, before entering on the special details
of my subject. It is this. The losses and diminutions of a language
differ in one respect from its gains and acquisitions--namely, that they
are of _two_ kinds, while its gains are only of _one_. Its gains are
only in _words_; it never puts forth in the course of its evolution a
new _power_; it never makes for itself a new case, or a new tense, or a
new comparative. But its losses are both in words and in _powers_--in
words of course, but in powers also: it leaves behind it, as it travels
onwards, cases which it once possessed; renounces the employment of
tenses which it once used; forgets its dual; is content with one
termination both for masculine and feminine, and so on. Nor is this a
peculiar feature of one language, but the universal law of all. “In all
languages”, as has been well said, “there is a constant tendency to
relieve themselves of that precision which chooses a fresh symbol for
every shade of meaning, to lessen the amount of nice distinction, and
detect as it were a royal road to the interchange of opinion”. For
example, a vast number of languages had at an early period of their
development, besides the singular and plural, a dual number, some even a
trinal, which they have let go at a later. But what I mean by a language
renouncing its powers will, I trust, be more clear to you before my
lecture is concluded. This much I have here said on the matter, to
explain and justify a division which I shall make, considering first the
losses of the English language in _words_, and then in _powers_.

{Sidenote: _Words become Extinct_}

And first, there is going forward a continual extinction of the words in
our language--as indeed in every other. When I speak of this, the dying
out of words, I do not refer to mere _tentative_, experimental words,
not a few of which I adduced in my last lecture, words offered to the
language, but not accepted by it; I refer rather to such as either
belonged to the primitive stock of the language, or if not so, which had
been domiciled in it long, that they might have been supposed to have
found in it a lasting home. Thus not a few pure Anglo-Saxon words which
lived on into the times of our early English, have subsequently dropped
out of our vocabulary, sometimes leaving a gap which has never since
been filled, but their places oftener taken by others which have come up
in their room. Not to mention those of Chaucer and Wiclif, which are
very numerous, many held their ground to far later periods, and yet have
finally given way. That beautiful word ‘wanhope’ for despair, hope which
has so _waned_ that now there is an entire _want_ of it, was in use down
to the reign of Elizabeth; it occurs so late as in the poems of
Gascoigne{129}. ‘Skinker’ for cupbearer, (an ungraceful word, no doubt)
is used by Shakespeare and lasted till Dryden’s time and beyond.

Spenser uses often ‘to welk’ (welken) in the sense of to fade, ‘to sty’
for to mount, ‘to hery’ as to glorify or praise, ‘to halse’ as to
embrace, ‘teene’ as vexation or grief: Shakespeare ‘to tarre’ as to
provoke, ‘to sperr’ as to enclose or bar in; ‘to sag’ for to droop, or
hang the head downward. Holland employs ‘geir’{130} for vulture
(“vultures or _geirs_”), ‘specht’ for woodpecker, ‘reise’ for journey,
‘frimm’ for lusty or strong. ‘To schimmer’ occurs in Bishop Hall; ‘to
tind’, that is, to kindle, and surviving in ‘tinder’, is used by Bishop
Sanderson; ‘to nimm’, or take, as late as by Fuller. A rogue is a
‘skellum’ in Sir Thomas Urquhart. ‘Nesh’ in the sense of soft through
moisture, ‘leer’ in that of empty, ‘eame’ in that of uncle, _mother’s_
brother (the German ‘oheim’), good Saxon-English once, still live on in
some of our provincial dialects; so does ‘flitter-mouse’ or
‘flutter-mouse’ (mus volitans), where we should use bat. Indeed of those
above named several do the same; it is so with ‘frimm’, with ‘to sag’,
‘to nimm’. ‘Heft’ employed by Shakespeare in the sense of weight, is
still employed in the same sense by our peasants in Hampshire{131}.

{Sidenote: _Vigorous Compound Words_}

A number of vigorous compounds we have dropped and let go. ‘Earsports’
for entertainments of song or music (ἀκροάματα) is a constantly
recurring word in Holland’s _Plutarch_. Were it not for Shakespeare, we
should have quite forgotten that young men of hasty fiery valour were
called ‘hotspurs’; and even now we regard the word rather as the proper
name of one than that which would have been once alike the designation
of all{132}. Fuller warns men that they should not ‘witwanton’ with God.
Severe austere old men, such as, in Falstaff’s words would “hate us
youth”, were ‘grimsirs’, or ‘grimsires’ once (Massinger). ‘Realmrape’
(=usurpation), occurring in _The Mirror for Magistrates_, is a vigorous
word. ‘Rootfast’ and ‘rootfastness’{133} were ill lost, being worthy to
have lived; so too was Lord Brooke’s ‘bookhunger’; and Baxter’s
‘word-warriors’, with which term he noted those whose strife was only
about words. ‘Malingerer’ is familiar enough to military men, but I do
not find it in our dictionaries; being the soldier who, out of _evil
will_ (malin gré) to his work, shams and shirks and is not found in the

Those who would gladly have seen the Anglo-Saxon to have predominated
over the Latin element in our language, even more than it actually has
done, must note with regret that in many instances a word of the former
stock had been dropped, and a Latin coined to supply its place; or where
the two once existed side by side, the Saxon has died, and the Latin
lived on. Thus Wiclif employed ‘soothsaw’, where we now use proverb;
‘sourdough’, where we employ leaven; ‘wellwillingness’ for benevolence;
‘againbuying’ for redemption; ‘againrising’ for resurrection;
‘undeadliness’ for immortality; ‘uncunningness’ for ignorance;
‘aftercomer’ for descendant; ‘greatdoingly’ for magnificently; ‘to
afterthink’ (still in use in Lancashire) for to repent; ‘medeful’, which
has given way to meritorious; ‘untellable’ for ineffable; ‘dearworth’
for precious; Chaucer has ‘forword’ for promise; Sir John Cheke
‘freshman’ for proselyte; ‘mooned’ for lunatic; ‘foreshewer’ for
prophet; ‘hundreder’ for centurion; Jewel ‘foretalk’, where we now
employ preface; Holland ‘sunstead’ where we use solstice; ‘leechcraft’
instead of medicine; and another, ‘wordcraft’ for logic; ‘starconner’
(Gascoigne) did service once, if not instead of astrologer, yet side by
side with it; ‘halfgod’ (Golding) had the advantage over ‘demigod’, that
it was all of one piece; ‘to eyebite’ (Holland) told its story at least
as well as to fascinate; ‘shriftfather’ as confessor; ‘earshrift’
(Cartwright) is only two syllables, while ‘auricular confession’ is
eight; ‘waterfright’ is a better word than our awkward Greek
hydrophobia. The lamprey (lambens petram) was called once the
‘suckstone’ or the ‘lickstone’; and the anemone the ‘windflower’.
‘Umstroke’, if it had lived on (it appears as late as Fuller, though
our dictionaries know nothing of it), might have made ‘circumference’
and ‘periphery’ unnecessary. ‘Wanhope’, as we saw just now, has given
place to despair, ‘middler’ to mediator; and it would be easy to
increase this list.

{Sidenote: _Local and Provincial English_}

I had occasion just now to notice the fact that many words survive in
our provincial dialects, long after they have died out from the main
body of the speech. The fact is one connected with so much of deep
interest in the history of language that I cannot pass it thus slightly
over. It is one which, rightly regarded, may assist to put us in a just
point of view for estimating the character of the local and provincial
in speech, and rescuing it from that unmerited contempt and neglect with
which it is often regarded. I must here go somewhat further back than I
could wish; but only so, only by looking at the matter in connexion with
other phenomena of speech, can I hope to explain to you the worth and
significance which local and provincial words and usages must oftentimes

Let us then first suppose a portion of those speaking a language to have
been separated off from the main body of its speakers, either through
their forsaking for one cause or other of their native seats, or by the
intrusion of a hostile people, like a wedge, between them and the
others, forcibly keeping them asunder, and cutting off their
communications one with the other, as the Saxons intruded between the
Britons of Cornwall and of Wales. In such a case it will inevitably
happen that before very long differences of speech will begin to reveal
themselves between those to whom even dialectic distinctions may have
been once unknown. The divergences will be of various kinds. Idioms will
come up in the separated body, which, not being recognized and allowed
by those who remain the arbiters of the language, will be esteemed by
them, should they come under their notice, violations of its law, or at
any rate departures from its purity. Again, where a colony has gone
forth into new seats, and exists under new conditions, it is probable
that the necessities, physical and moral, rising out of these new
conditions, will give birth to words, which there will be nothing to
call out among those who continue in the old haunts of the nation.
Intercourse with new tribes and people will bring in new words, as, for
instance, contact with the Indian tribes of North America has given to
American English a certain number of words hardly or not at all allowed
or known by us; or as the presence of a large Dutch population at the
Cape has given to the English spoken there many words, as ‘inspan’,
‘outspan’{135}, ‘spoor’, of which our home English knows nothing.

{Sidenote: _Antiquated English_}

There is another cause, however, which will probably be more effectual
than all these, namely, that words will in process of time be dropped by
those who constitute the original stock of the nation, which will not be
dropped by the offshoot; idioms which those have overlived, and have
stored up in the unhonoured lumber-room of the past, will still be in
use and currency among the smaller and separated section which has gone
forth; and thus it will come to pass that what seems and in fact is the
newer swarm, will have many older words, and very often an archaic air
and old-world fashion both about the words they use, their way of
pronouncing, their order and manner of combining them. Thus after the
Conquest we know that our insular French gradually diverged from the
French of the Continent. The Prioress in Chaucer’s _Canterbury Tales_
could speak her French “full faire and fetishly”, but it was French, as
the poet slyly adds,

    “After the scole of Stratford atte bow,
    For French of Paris was to hire unknowe”.

One of our old chroniclers, writing in the reign of Elizabeth, informs
us that by the English colonists within the Pale in Ireland numerous
words were preserved in common use, “the dregs of the old ancient
Chaucer English”, as he contemptuously calls it, which had become quite
obsolete and forgotten in England itself. For example, they still called
a spider an ‘attercop’--a word, by the way, still in popular use in the
North;--a physician a ‘leech’, as in poetry he still is called; a
dunghill was still for them a ‘mixen’; (the word is still common all
over England in this sense;) a quadrangle or base court was a
‘bawn’{136}; they employed ‘uncouth’ in the earlier sense of unknown.
Nay more, their general manner of speech was so different, though
containing English still, that Englishmen at their first coming over
often found it hard or impossible to comprehend. We have another example
of the same in what took place after the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, and the consequent formation of colonies of Protestant French
emigrants in various places, especially in Amsterdam and other chief
cities of Holland. There gradually grew up among these what came to be
called ‘refugee French’, which within a generation or two diverged in
several particulars from the classical language of France; its
divergence being mainly occasioned by this, that it remained stationary,
while the classical language was in motion; it retained usages and
words, which the latter had dismissed{137}.

{Sidenote: _Provincial English_}

Nor is it otherwise in respect of our English provincialisms. It is true
that our country people who in the main employ them, have not been
separated by distance of space, nor yet by insurmountable obstacles
intervening, from the main body of their fellow-countrymen; but they
have been quite as effectually divided by deficient education. They have
been, if not locally, yet intellectually, kept at a distance from the
onward march of the nation’s mind; and of them also it is true that many
of their words, idioms, turns of speech, which we are ready to set down
as vulgarisms, solecisms of speech, violations of the primary rules of
grammar, do merely attest that those who employ them have not kept
abreast with the advance of the language and nation, but have been left
behind by it. The usages are only local in the fact that, having once
been employed by the whole body of the English people, they have now
receded from the lips of all except those in some certain country
districts, who have been more faithful than others to the tradition of
the past{138}.

It is thus in respect of a multitude of isolated words, which were
excellent Anglo-Saxon, which were excellent early English, and which
only are not excellent present English, because use, which is the
supreme arbiter in these matters, has decided against their further
employment. Several of these I enumerated just now. It is thus also with
several grammatical forms and flexions. For instance, where we decline
the plural of “I sing”, “we sing”, “ye sing”, “they sing”, there are
parts of England in which they would decline, “we sin_gen_”, “ye
sin_gen_”, “they sin_gen_”. This is not indeed the original form of the
plural, but it is that form of it which, coming up about Chaucer’s time,
was just going out in Spenser’s; he, though we must ever keep in mind
that he does not fairly represent the language of his time, or indeed of
any time, affecting a certain artificial archaism both in words and
forms, continually uses it{139}. After him it becomes ever rarer, the
last of whom I am aware as occasionally using it being Fuller, until it
quite disappears.

{Sidenote: _Earlier and Later English_}

Of such as may now employ forms like these we must say, not that they
violate the laws of the language, but only that they have taken their
_permanent_ stand at a point which was only a point of transition, and
which it has now left behind, and overlived. Thus, to take examples
which you may hear at the present day in almost any part of England--a
countryman will say, “He made me _afeard_”; or “The price of corn _ris_
last market day”; or “I will _axe_ him his name”; or “I tell _ye_”. You
would probably set these phrases down for barbarous English. They are
not so at all; in one sense they are quite as good English as “He made
me _afraid_”; or “The price of corn _rose_ last market day”; or “I will
_ask_ him his name”. ‘Afeard’, used by Spenser, is the regular
participle of the old verb to ‘affear’, still existing as a law term, as
‘afraid’ is of to ‘affray’, and just as good English{140}; ‘ris’ or
‘risse’ is an old præterite of ‘to rise’; to ‘axe’ is not a
mispronunciation of ‘to ask’, but a genuine English form of the word,
the form which in the earlier English it constantly assumed; in Wiclif’s
Bible almost without exception; and indeed ‘axe’ occurs continually, I
know not whether invariably, in Tyndale’s translation of the Scriptures;
there was a time when ‘ye’ was an accusative, and to have used it as a
nominative or vocative, the only permitted uses at present, would have
been incorrect. Even such phrases as “Put _them_ things away”; or “The
man _what_ owns the horse” are not bad, but only antiquated
English{141}. Saying this, I would not in the least imply that these
forms are open to you to employ, or that they would be good English for
_you_. They would not; inasmuch as they are contrary to present use and
custom, and these must be our standards in what we speak, and in what we
write; just as in our buying and selling we are bound to employ the
current coin of the realm, must not attempt to pass that which long
since has been called in, whatever merits or intrinsic value it may
possess. All which I affirm is that the phrases just brought forward
represent past stages of the language, and are not barbarous violations
of it.

{Sidenote: _Luncheon_, _Nuncheon_}

The same may be asserted of certain ways of pronouncing words, which are
now in use among the lower classes, but not among the higher; as, for
example, ‘contrāry’, ‘mischiēvous’, ‘blasphēmous’, instead of
‘contrăry’, ‘mischiĕvous’, ‘blasphĕmous’. It would be abundantly easy to
show by a multitude of quotations from our poets, and those reaching
very far down, that these are merely the retention of the earlier
pronunciation by the people, after the higher classes have abandoned
it{142}. And on the strength of what has just been spoken, let me here
suggest to you how well worth your while it will prove to be on the
watch for provincial words and inflexions, local idioms and modes of
pronunciation, and to take note of these. Count nothing in this kind
beneath your notice. Do not at once ascribe anything which you hear to
the ignorance or stupidity of the speaker. Thus if you hear ‘nuncheon’,
do not at once set it down for a malformation of ‘luncheon’{143}, nor
‘yeel’{144}, of ‘eel’. Lists and collections of provincial usage, such
as I have suggested, always have their value. If you are not able to
turn them to any profit yourselves, and they may not stand in close
enough connexion with your own studies for this, yet there always are
those who will thank you for them; and to whom the humblest of these
collections, carefully and intelligently made, will be in one way or
another of real assistance{145}. And there is the more need to urge this
at the present, because, notwithstanding the tenacity with which our
country folk cling to their old forms and usages, still these forms and
usages must now be rapidly growing fewer; and there are forces, moral
and material, at work in England, which will probably cause that of
those which now survive the greater part will within the next fifty
years have disappeared{146}.

{Sidenote: _‘Its’ of Late Introduction_}

Before quitting this subject, let me instance one example more of that
which is commonly accounted ungrammatical usage, but which is really the
retention of old grammar by some, where others have substituted new; I
mean the constant application by our rustic population in the south, and
I dare say through all parts of England, of ‘his’ to inanimate objects,
and to these not personified, no less than to persons; where ‘its’ would
be employed by others. This was once the manner of speech among all; for
‘its’ is a word of very recent introduction, many would be surprised to
learn of how recent introduction, into the language. You will look for
it in vain through the whole of our Authorized Version of the Bible;
the office which it now fulfils being there accomplished, as our rustics
accomplish it at the present, by ‘his’ (Gen. i. 11; Exod. xxxvii. 17;
Matt. v. 15) or ‘her’ (Jon. i. 15; Rev. xxii. 2) applied as freely to
inanimate things as to persons, or else by ‘thereof’ (Ps. lxv. 10) or
‘of it’ (Dan. vii. 5). Nor may Lev. xx. 5 be urged as invalidating this
assertion; for reference to the exemplar edition of 1611, or indeed to
any earlier editions of King James’ Bible, will show that in them the
passage stood, “of _it_ own accord”{147}. ‘Its’ occurs very rarely in
Shakespeare, in many of his plays it will not once be found. Milton also
for the most part avoids it, and this, though in his time others freely
allowed it. How soon all this was forgotten we have striking evidence in
the fact that when Dryden, in one of his fault-finding moods with the
great men of the preceding generation, is taking Ben Jonson to task for
general inaccuracy in his English diction, among other counts of his
indictment, he quotes this line from _Catiline_

    “Though heaven should speak with all _his_ wrath at once”,

and proceeds, “_heaven_ is ill syntax with _his_”; while in fact up to
within forty or fifty years of the time when Dryden began to write, no
other syntax was known; and to a much later date was exceedingly rare.
Curious also, is it to note that in the earnest controversy which
followed on Chatterton’s publication of the poems ascribed by him to a
monk Rowlie, who should have lived in the fifteenth century, no one
appealed to such lines as the following,

    “Life and all _its_ goods I scorn”,

as at once deciding that the poems were not of the age which they
pretended. Warton, who denied, though with some hesitation, the
antiquity of the poems, giving many and sufficient reasons for this
denial, failed to take note of this little word; while yet there needed
no more than to point it out, for the disposing of the whole question;
the forgery at once was betrayed.

{Sidenote: _American English_}

What has been here affirmed concerning our provincial English, namely
that it is often _old_ English rather than _bad_ English, may be
affirmed with equal right of many so-called Americanisms. There are
parts of America where ‘het’ is used, or was used a few years since, as
the perfect of ‘to heat’; ‘holp’ as the perfect of ‘to help’; ‘stricken’
as the participle of ‘to strike’. Again there are the words which have
become obsolete during the last two hundred years, which have not become
obsolete there, although many of them probably retain only a provincial
existence. Thus ‘slick’, which indeed is only another form of ‘sleek’,
was employed by our good writers of the seventeenth century{148}. Other
words again, which have remained current on both sides of the Atlantic,
have yet on our side receded from their original use, while they have
remained true to it on the other. ‘Plunder’ is a word in point{149}.

In the contemplation of facts like these it has been sometimes asked,
whether a day will ever arrive when the language spoken on this side of
the Atlantic and on the other, will divide into two languages, an old
English and a new. We may confidently answer, No. Doubtless, if those
who went out from us to people and subdue a new continent, had left our
shores two or three centuries earlier than they did, when the language
was very much farther removed from that ideal after which it was
unconsciously striving, and in which, once reached, it has in great
measure acquiesced; if they had not carried with them to their distant
homes their English Bible, and what else of worth had been already
uttered in the English tongue; if, having once left us, the intercourse
between Old and New England had been entirely broken off, or only rare
and partial; there would then have unfolded themselves differences
between the language spoken here and there, which in tract of time
accumulating and multiplying, might in the end have justified the
regarding of the languages as no longer one and the same. It could not
have failed but that such differences should have displayed themselves;
for while there is a law of _necessity_ in the evolution of languages,
while they pursue certain courses and in certain directions, from which
they can be no more turned aside by the will of men than one of the
heavenly bodies could be pushed from its orbit by any engines of ours,
there is a law of _liberty_ no less; and this liberty must inevitably
have made itself in many ways felt. In the political and social
condition of America, so far removed from our own, in the many natural
objects which are not the same with those which surround us here, in
efforts independently carried out to rid the language of imperfections,
or to unfold its latent powers, even in the different effects of soil
and climate on the organs of speech, there would have been causes enough
to have provoked in the course of time not immaterial divergencies of

As it is, however, the joint operation of those three causes referred to
already, namely, that the separation did not take place in the infancy
or youth of the language, but only in its ripe manhood, that England and
America owned a body of literature, to which they alike looked up and
appealed as containing the authoritative standards of the language, that
the intercourse between the one people and the other has been large and
frequent, hereafter probably to be larger and more frequent still, has
effectually wrought. It has been strong enough so to traverse, repress,
and check all those causes which tended to divergence, that the
_written_ language of educated men on both sides of the water remains
precisely the same, their _spoken_ manifesting a few trivial
differences of idiom; while even among those classes which do not
consciously acknowledge any ideal standard of language, there are
scarcely greater differences, in some respects far smaller, than exist
between inhabitants of different provinces in this one island of
England; and in the future we may reasonably anticipate that these
differences, so far from multiplying, will rather diminish and

{Sidenote: _Extinct English_}

But I must return from this long digression. It seems often as if an
almost unaccountable caprice presided over the fortunes of words, and
determined which should live and which die. Thus in instances out of
number a word lives on as a verb, but has ceased to be employed as a
noun; we say ‘to embarrass’, but no longer an ‘embarrass’; ‘to revile’,
but not, with Chapman and Milton, a ‘revile’; ‘to dispose’, but not a
‘dispose’{150}; ‘to retire’ but not a ‘retire’; ‘to wed’, but not
a ‘wed’; we say ‘to infest’, but use no longer the adjective ‘infest’.
Or with a reversed fortune a word lives on as a noun, but has perished
as a verb--thus as a noun substantive, a ‘slug’, but no longer ‘to slug’
or render slothful; a ‘child’, but no longer ‘to child’, (“_childing_
autumn”, Shakespeare); a ‘rape’, but not ‘to rape’ (South); a ‘rogue’,
but not ‘to rogue’; ‘malice’, but not ‘to malice’; a ‘path’, but not ‘to
path’; or as a noun adjective, ‘serene’, but not ‘to serene’, a beautiful
word, which we have let go, as the French have ‘sereiner’{151}; ‘meek’,
but not ‘to meek’ (Wiclif); ‘fond’, but not ‘to fond’ (Dryden); ‘dead’,
but not ‘to dead’; ‘intricate’, but ‘to intricate’ (Jeremy Taylor) no

Or again, the affirmative remains, but the negative is gone; thus
‘wisdom’, ‘bold’, ‘sad’, but not any more ‘unwisdom’, ‘unbold’, ‘unsad’
(all in Wiclif); ‘cunning’, but not ‘uncunning’; ‘manhood’, ‘wit’,
‘mighty’, ‘tall’, but not ‘unmanhood’, ‘unwit’, ‘unmighty’, ‘untall’
(all in Chaucer); ‘buxom’, but not ‘unbuxom’ (Dryden); ‘hasty’, but not
‘unhasty’ (Spenser); ‘blithe’, but not ‘unblithe’; ‘ease’, but not
‘unease’ (Hacket); ‘repentance’, but not ‘unrepentance’; ‘remission’,
but not ‘irremission’ (Donne); ‘science’, but not ‘nescience’
(Glanvill){152}; ‘to know’, but not ‘to unknow’ (Wiclif); ‘to give’, but
not ‘to ungive’. Or once more, with a curious variation from this, the
negative survives, while the affirmative is gone; thus ‘wieldy’
(Chaucer) survives only in ‘unwieldy’; ‘couth’ and ‘couthly’ (both in
Spenser), only in ‘uncouth’ and ‘uncouthly’; ‘rule’ (Foxe) only in
‘unruly’; ‘gainly’ (Henry More) in ‘ungainly’; these last two were both
of them serviceable words, and have been ill lost{153}; ‘gainly’ is
indeed still common in the West Riding of Yorkshire; ‘exorable’
(Holland) and ‘evitable’ only in ‘inexorable’ and ‘inevitable’;
‘faultless’ remains, but hardly ‘faultful’ (Shakespeare). In like
manner ‘semble’ (Foxe) has, except as a technical law term,
disappeared; while ‘dissemble’ continues. So also of other pairs one
has been taken and one left; ‘height’, or ‘highth’, as Milton better
spelt it, remains, but ‘lowth’ (Becon) is gone; ‘righteousness’, or
‘rightwiseness’, as it would once more accurately have been written,
for ‘righteous’ is a corruption of ‘rightwise’, remains, but its
correspondent ‘wrongwiseness’ has been taken; ‘inroad’ continues, but
‘outroad’ (Holland) has disappeared; ‘levant’ lives, but ‘ponent’
(Holland) has died; ‘to extricate’ continues, but, as we saw just now,
‘to intricate’ does not; ‘parricide’, but not ‘filicide’ (Holland).
Again, of whole groups of words formed on some particular scheme it
may be only a single specimen will survive. Thus ‘gainsay’, that is,
again say, survives; but ‘gainstrive’ (Foxe), ‘gainstand’, ‘gaincope’
(Golding), and other similarly formed words exist no longer. It is the
same with ‘foolhardy’, which is but one, though now indeed the only
one remaining, of at least five adjectives formed on the same
principle; thus ‘foollarge’, quite as expressive a word as prodigal,
occurs in Chaucer, and ‘foolhasty’, found also in him, lived on to the
time of Holland; while ‘foolhappy’ is in Spencer; and ‘foolbold’ in
Bale. ‘Steadfast’ remains, but ‘shamefast’, ‘rootfast’, ‘bedfast’
(=bedridden), ‘homefast’, ‘housefast’, ‘masterfast’ (Skelton), with
others, are all gone. ‘Exhort’ remains; but ‘dehort’ a word whose
place neither ‘dissuade’ nor any other exactly supplies, has escaped
us{154}. We have ‘twilight’, but ‘twibill’ = bipennis (Chapman) is

Let me mention another real loss, where in like manner there remains in
the present language something to remind us of that which is gone. The
comparative ‘rather’ stands alone, having dropped on one side its
positive ‘rathe’{155}, and on the other its superlative ‘rathest’.
‘Rathe’, having the sense of early, though a graceful word, and not
fallen quite out of popular remembrance, inasmuch as it is embalmed in
the _Lycidas_ of Milton,

    “And the _rathe_ primrose, which forsaken dies”,

might still be suffered without remark to share the common lot of so many
words which have perished, though worthy to have lived; but the disuse
of ‘rathest’ has left a real gap in the language, and the more so,
seeing that ‘liefest’ is gone too. ‘Rather’ expresses the Latin ‘potius’;
but ‘rathest’ being out of use, we have no word, unless ‘soonest’ may
be accepted as such, to express ‘potissimum’, or the preference not of
one way over another or over certain others, but of one over all; which
we therefore effect by aid of various circumlocutions. Nor has ‘rathest’
been so long out of use, that it would be playing the antic to attempt
to revive it. It occurs in the _Sermons_ of Bishop Sanderson, who in the
opening of that beautiful sermon from the text, “When my father and my
mother forsake me, the Lord taketh me up”, puts the consideration, “why
these”, that is, father and mother, “are named the _rathest_, and the
rest to be included in them”{156}.

It is sometimes easy enough, but indeed oftener hard, and not seldom
quite impossible, to trace the causes which have been at work to bring
about that certain words, little by little, drop out of the language of
men, come to be heard more and more rarely, and finally are not heard
any more at all--to trace the motives which have induced a whole people
thus to arrive at a tacit consent not to employ them any longer; for
without this tacit consent they could never have thus become obsolete.
That it is not accident, that there is a law here at work, however
hidden it may be from us, is plain from the fact that certain families
of words, words formed on certain patterns, have a tendency thus to fall
into desuetude.

{Sidenote: _Words in ‘-some’_}

Thus, I think, we may trace a tendency in words ending in ‘some’, the
Anglo-Saxon and early English ‘sum’, the German ‘sam’ (‘friedsam’,
‘seltsam’) to fall out of use. It is true that a vast number of these
survive, as ‘gladsome’, ‘handsome’, ‘wearisome’, ‘buxom’ (this last
spelt better ‘bucksome’, by our earlier writers, for its present
spelling altogether disguises its true character, and the family to
which it belongs); being the same word as the German ‘beugsam’ or
‘biegsam’, bendable, compliant{157}; but a larger number of these words
than can be ascribed to accident, many more than the due proportion of
them, are either quite or nearly extinct. Thus in Wiclif’s Bible alone
you might note the following, ‘lovesum’, ‘hatesum’, ‘lustsum’, ‘gilsum’
(guilesome), ‘wealsum’, ‘heavysum’, ‘lightsum’, ‘delightsum’; of these
‘lightsome’ long survived, and indeed still survives in provincial
dialects; but of the others all save ‘delightsome’ are gone; and that,
although used in our Authorized Version (Mal. iii, 12), is now only
employed in poetry. So too ‘mightsome’ (see Coleridge’s _Glossary_),
‘brightsome’ (Marlowe), ‘wieldsome’, and ‘unwieldsome’ (Golding),
‘unlightsome’ (Milton), ‘healthsome’ (_Homilies_), ‘ugsome’ and
‘ugglesome’ (both in Foxe), ‘laboursome’ (Shakespeare), ‘friendsome’,
‘longsome’ (Bacon), ‘quietsome’, ‘mirksome’ (both in Spenser),
‘toothsome’ (Beaumont and Fletcher), ‘gleesome’, ‘joysome’ (both in
Browne’s _Pastorals_), ‘gaysome’ (_Mirror for Magistrates_), ‘roomsome’,
‘bigsome’, ‘awesome’, ‘timersome’, ‘winsome’, ‘viewsome’, ‘dosome’
(=prosperous), ‘flaysome’ (=fearful), ‘auntersome’ (=adventurous),
‘clamorsome’ (all these still surviving in the North), ‘playsome’
(employed by the historian Hume), ‘lissome’{158}, have nearly or quite
disappeared from our English speech. They seem to have held their
ground in Scotland in considerably larger numbers than in the south of
the Island{159}.

{Sidenote: _Words in ‘-ard’_}

Neither can I esteem it a mere accident that of a group of depreciatory
and contemptuous words ending in ‘ard’, at least one half should have
dropped out of use; I refer to that group of which ‘dotard’, ‘laggard’,
‘braggard’, now spelt ‘braggart’, ‘sluggard’, ‘buzzard’, ‘bastard’,
‘wizard’, may be taken as surviving specimens; ‘blinkard’ (_Homilies_),
‘dizzard’ (Burton), ‘dullard’ (Udal), ‘musard’ (Chaucer), ‘trichard’
(_Political Songs_), ‘shreward’ (Robert of Gloucester), ‘ballard’ (a
bald-headed man, Wiclif); ‘puggard’, ‘stinkard’ (Ben Jonson), ‘haggard’,
a worthless hawk, as extinct.

Thus too there is a very curious province of our language, in which we
were once so rich, that extensive losses here have failed to make us
poor; so many of its words still surviving, even after as many or more
have disappeared. I refer to those double words which either contain
within themselves a strong rhyming modulation, such for example as
‘willy-nilly’, ‘hocus-pocus’, ‘helter-skelter’, ‘tag-rag’,
‘namby-pamby’, ‘pell-mell’, ‘hodge-podge’; or with a slight difference
from this, though belonging to the same group, those of which the
characteristic feature is not this internal likeness with initial
unlikeness, but initial likeness with internal unlikeness; not rhyming,
but strongly alliterative, and in every case with a change of the
interior vowel from a weak into a strong, generally from _i_ into _a_
or _o_; as ‘shilly-shally’, ‘mingle-mangle’, ‘tittle-tattle’,
‘prittle-prattle’, ‘riff-raff’, ‘see-saw’, ‘slip-slop’. No one who is
not quite out of love with the homelier yet more vigorous portions of
the language, but will acknowledge the life and strength which there is
often in these and in others still current among us. But of the same
sort what vast numbers have fallen out of use, some so fallen out of all
remembrance that it may be difficult almost to find credence for them.
Thus take of rhyming the following: ‘hugger-mugger’, ‘hurly-burly’,
‘kicksy-wicksy’ (all in Shakespeare); ‘hibber-gibber’, ‘rusty-dusty’,
‘horrel-lorrel’, ‘slaump paump’ (all in Gabriel Harvey), ‘royster-doyster’
(Old Play), ‘hoddy-doddy’ (Ben Jonson); while of alliterative might be
instanced these: ‘skimble-skamble’, ‘bibble-babble’ (both in
Shakespeare), ‘twittle-twattle’, ‘kim-kam’ (both in Holland), ‘hab-nab’
(Lilly), ‘trim-tram’, ‘trish-trash’, ‘swish-swash’ (all in Gabriel
Harvey), ‘whim-wham’ (Beaumont and Fletcher), ‘mizz-mazz’ (Locke),
‘snip-snap’ (Pope), ‘flim-flam’ (Swift), ‘tric-trac’, and others{160}.

{Sidenote: _Words under Ban_}

Again, there was once a whole family of words whereof the greater number
are now under ban; which seemed at one time to have been formed almost
at pleasure, the only condition being that the combination should be a
happy one--I mean all those singularly expressive words formed by a
combination of verb and substantive, the former governing the latter; as
‘telltale’, ‘scapegrace’, ‘turncoat’, ‘turntail’, ‘skinflint’,
‘spendthrift’, ‘spitfire’, ‘lickspittle’, ‘daredevil’ (=wagehals),
‘makebate’ (=störenfried), ‘marplot’, ‘killjoy’. These with a certain
number of others, have held their ground, and may be said to be still
more or less in use; but what a number more are forgotten; and yet,
though not always elegant, they constituted a very vigorous portion of
our language, and preserved some of its most genuine idioms{161}. It
could not well be otherwise; they are almost all words of abuse, and the
abusive words of a language are always among the most picturesque and
vigorous and imaginative which it possesses. The whole man speaks out in
them, and often the man under the influence of passion and excitement,
which always lend force and fire to his speech. Let me remind you of a
few of them; ‘smellfeast’, if not a better, is yet a more graphic, word
than our foreign parasite; as graphic indeed for us as τρεχέδειπνος to
Greek ears; ‘clawback’ (Hackett) is a stronger, if not a more graceful,
word than flatterer or sycophant; ‘tosspot’ (Fuller), or less frequently
‘reel-pot’ (Middleton), tells its own tale as well as drunkard; and
‘pinchpenny’ (Holland), or ‘nipfarthing’ (Drant), as well as or better
than miser. And then what a multitude more there are in like kind;
‘spintext’, ‘lacklatin’, ‘mumblematins’, all applied to ignorant
clerics; ‘bitesheep’ (a favourite word with Foxe) to such of these as
were rather wolves tearing, than shepherds feeding, the flock;
‘slip-string’ = pendard (Beaumont and Fletcher), ‘slip-gibbet’,
‘scapegallows’; all names given to those who, however they might have
escaped, were justly owed to the gallows, and might still “go upstairs
to bed”.

{Sidenote: _Obsolete Compounds_}

How many of these words occur in Shakespeare. The following list makes
no pretence to completeness; ‘martext’, ‘carrytale’, ‘pleaseman’,
‘sneakcup’, ‘mumblenews’, ‘wantwit’, ‘lackbrain’, ‘lackbeard’,
‘lacklove’, ‘ticklebrain’, ‘cutpurse’, ‘cutthroat’, ‘crackhemp’,
‘breedbate’, ‘swinge-buckler’, ‘pickpurse’, ‘pickthank’, ‘picklock’,
‘scarecrow’, ‘breakvow’, ‘breakpromise’, ‘makepeace’--this last and
‘telltruth’ (Fuller) being the only ones in the whole collection wherein
reprobation or contempt is not implied. Nor is the list exhausted yet;
there are further ‘dingthrift’ = prodigal (Herrick), ‘wastegood’
(Cotgrave), ‘stroygood’ (Golding), ‘wastethrift’ (Beaumont and
Fletcher), ‘scapethrift’, ‘swashbuckler’ (both in Holinshed),
‘shakebuckler’, ‘rinsepitcher’ (both in Bacon), ‘crackrope’ (Howell),
‘waghalter’, ‘wagfeather’ (both in Cotgrave), ‘blabtale’ (Racket),
‘getnothing’ (Adams), ‘findfault’ (Florio), ‘tearthroat’ (Gayton),
‘marprelate’, ‘spitvenom’, ‘nipcheese’, ‘nipscreed’, ‘killman’
(Chapman), ‘lackland’, ‘pickquarrel’, ‘pickfaults’, ‘pickpenny’ (Henry
More), ‘makefray’ (Bishop Hall), ‘make-debate’ (Richardson’s _Letters_),
‘kindlecoal’ (attise feu), ‘kindlefire’ (both in Gurnall), ‘turntippet’
(Cranmer), ‘swillbowl’ (Stubbs), ‘smell-smock’, ‘cumberwold’ (Drayton),
‘curryfavor’, ‘pinchfist’, ‘suckfist’, ‘hatepeace’ (Sylvester),
‘hategood’ (Bunyan), ‘clutchfist’, ‘sharkgull’ (both in Middleton),
‘makesport’ (Fuller), ‘hangdog’ (“Herod’s _hangdogs_ in the tapestry”,
Pope), ‘catchpoll’, ‘makeshift’ (used not impersonally as now),
‘pickgoose’ (“the bookworm was never but a _pickgoose_”){162}, ‘killcow’
(these three last in Gabriel Harvey), ‘rakeshame’ (Milton, prose), with
others which it will be convenient to omit. ‘Rakehell’, which used to be
spelt ‘rakel’ or ‘rakle’ (Chaucer), a good English word, would be only
through an error included in this list, although Cowper, when he writes
‘rakehell’ (“_rake-hell_ baronet”) evidently regarded it as belonging to
this group{163}.

{Sidenote: _Words become Vulgar_}

Perhaps one of the most frequent causes which leads to the disuse of
words is this: in some inexplicable way there comes to be attached
something of ludicrous, or coarse, or vulgar to them, out of a feeling
of which they are no longer used in earnest serious writing, and at the
same time fall out of the discourse of those who desire to speak
elegantly. Not indeed that this degradation which overtakes words is in
all cases inexplicable. The unheroic character of most men’s minds, with
their consequent intolerance of that heroic which they cannot
understand, is constantly at work, too often with success, in taking
down words of nobleness from their high pitch; and, as the most
effectual way of doing this, in casting an air of mock-heroic about
them. Thus ‘to dub’, a word resting on one of the noblest usages of
chivalry, has now something of ludicrous about it; so too has ‘doughty’;
they belong to that serio-comic, mock-heroic diction, the multiplication
of which, as of all parodies on greatness, and the favour with which it
is received, is always a sign of evil augury for a nation, is at present
a sign of evil augury for our own.

‘Pate’ in the sense of head is now comic or ignoble; it was not so once;
as is plain from its occurrence in the Prayer Book Version of the Psalms
(Ps. vii. 17); as little was ‘noddle’, which occurs in one of the few
poetical passages in Hawes. The same may be said of ‘sconce’, in this
sense at least; of ‘nowl’ or ‘noll’, which Wiclif uses; of ‘slops’ for
trousers (Marlowe’s _Lucan_); of ‘cocksure’ (Rogers), of ‘smug’, which
once meant no more than adorned (“the _smug_ bridegroom”, Shakespeare).
‘To nap’ is now a word without dignity; while yet in Wiclif’s Bible it
is said, “Lo he schall not _nappe_, nether slepe that kepeth Israel”
(Ps. cxxi. 4). ‘To punch’, ‘to thump’, both of which, and in serious
writing, occur in Spenser, could not now obtain the same use, nor yet
‘to wag’, or ‘to buss’. Neither would any one now say that at Lystra
Barnabas and Paul “rent their clothes and _skipped out_ among the
people” (Acts xiv. 14), which is the language that Wiclif employs; nor
yet that “the Lord _trounced_ Sisera and all his host” as it stands in
the Bible of 1551. “A _sight_ of angels”, for which phrase see Cranmer’s
Bible (Heb. xii. 22), would be felt as a vulgarism now. We should
scarcely call now a delusion of Satan a “_flam_ of the devil” (Henry
More). It is not otherwise in regard of phrases. “Through thick and
thin”, occurring in Spenser, “cheek by jowl” in Dubartas{164}, do not
now belong to serious poetry. In the glorious ballad of _Chevy Chase_, a
noble warrior whose legs are hewn off, is described as being “in doleful
dumps”; just as, in Holland’s _Livy_, the Romans are set forth as being
“in the dumps” as a consequence of their disastrous defeat at Cannæ. In
Golding’s _Ovid_, one fears that he will “go to pot”. In one of the
beautiful letters of John Careless, preserved in Foxe’s _Martyrs_, a
persecutor, who expects a recantation from him, is described as “in the
wrong box”. And in the sermons of Barrow, who certainly intended to
write an elevated style, and did not seek familiar, still less vulgar,
expressions, we constantly meet such terms as ‘to rate’, ‘to snub’, ‘to
gull’, ‘to pudder’, ‘dumpish’, and the like; which we may confidently
affirm were not vulgar when he used them.

Then too the advance of refinement causes words to be forgone, which are
felt to speak too plainly. It is not here merely that one age has more
delicate ears than another; and that matters are freely spoken of at one
time which at another are withdrawn from conversation. This is
something; but besides this, and even if this delicacy were at a
standstill, there would still be a continual process going on, by which
the words, which for a certain while have been employed to designate
coarse or disagreeable facts or things, would be disallowed, or at all
events relinquished to the lower class of society, and others adopted in
their place. The former by long use being felt to have come into too
direct and close relation with that which they designate, to summon it
up too distinctly before the mind’s eye, they are thereupon exchanged
for others, which, at first at least, indicate more lightly and
allusively the offensive thing, rather hint and suggest than paint and
describe it: although by and by these new will also in their turn be
discarded, and for exactly the same reasons which brought about the
dismissal of those which they themselves superseded. It lies in the
necessity of things that I must leave this part of my subject, very
curious as it is, without illustration{165}. But no one, even
moderately acquainted with the early literature of the Reformation, can
be ignorant of words freely used in it, which now are not merely coarse
and as such under ban, but which no one would employ who did not mean to
speak impurely and vilely.

       *       *       *       *       *

{Sidenote: _Lost Powers of a Language_}

Thus much in respect of the words, and the character of the words, which
we have lost or let go. Of these, indeed, if a language, as it travels
onwards, loses some, it also acquires others, and probably many more
than it loses; they are leaves on the tree of language, of which if some
fall away, a new succession takes their place. But it is not so, as I
already observed, with the _forms_ or _powers_ of a language, that is,
with the various inflections, moods, duplicate or triplicate formation
of tenses; which the speakers of a language come gradually to perceive
that they can do without, and therefore cease to employ; seeking to
suppress grammatical intricacies, and to obtain grammatical simplicity
and so far as possible a pervading uniformity, sometimes even at the
hazard of letting go what had real worth, and contributed to the more
lively, if not to the clearer, setting forth of the inner thought or
feeling of the mind. Here there is only loss, with no compensating gain;
or, at all events, diminution only, and never addition. In regard of
these inner forces and potencies of a language, there is no creative
energy at work in its later periods, in any, indeed, but quite the
earliest. They are not as the leaves, but may be likened to the stem and
leading branches of a tree, whose shape, mould and direction are
determined at a very early stage of its growth; and which age, or
accident, or violence may diminish, but which can never be multiplied. I
have already slightly referred to a notable example of this, namely, to
the dropping of the dual number in the Greek language. Thus in all the
New Testament it does not once occur, having quite fallen out of the
common dialect in which that is composed. Elsewhere too it has been felt
that the dual was not worth preserving, or at any rate, that no serious
inconvenience would follow on its loss. There is no such number in the
modern German, Danish or Swedish; in the old German and Norse there was.

{Sidenote: _Extinction of Powers_}

How many niceties, delicacies, subtleties of language, _we_, speakers of
the English tongue, in the course of centuries have got rid of; how bare
(whether too bare is another question) we have stripped ourselves; what
simplicity for better or for worse reigns in the present English, as
compared with the old Anglo-Saxon. That had six declensions, our present
English but one; that had three genders, English, if we except one or
two words, has none; that formed the genitive in a variety of ways, we
only in one; and the same fact meets us, wherever we compare the
grammars of the two languages. At the same time, it can scarcely be
repeated too often, that in the estimate of the gain or loss thereupon
ensuing, we must by no means put certainly to loss everything which the
language has dismissed, any more than everything to gain which it has
acquired. It is no real wealth in a language to have needless and
superfluous forms. They are often an embarrassment and an encumbrance to
it rather than a help. The Finnish language has fourteen cases. Without
pretending to know exactly what it is able to effect, I yet feel
confident that it cannot effect more, nor indeed so much, with its
fourteen as the Greek is able to do with its five. It therefore seems to
me that some words of Otfried Müller, in many ways admirable, do yet
exaggerate the losses consequent on the reduction of the forms of a
language. “It may be observed”, he says, “that in the lapse of ages,
from the time that the progress of language can be observed, grammatical
forms, such as the signs of cases, moods and tenses have never been
increased in number, but have been constantly diminishing. The history
of the Romance, as well as of the Germanic, languages shows in the
clearest manner how a grammar, once powerful and copious, has been
gradually weakened and impoverished, until at last it preserves only a
few fragments of its ancient inflections. Now there is no doubt that
this luxuriance of grammatical forms is not an essential part of a
language, considered merely as a vehicle of thought. It is well known
that the Chinese language, which is merely a collection of radical words
destitute of grammatical forms, can express even philosophical ideas
with tolerable precision; and the English, which, from the mode of its
formation by a mixture of different tongues, has been stripped of its
grammatical inflections more completely than any other European
language, seems, nevertheless, even to a foreigner, to be distinguished
by its energetic eloquence. All this must be admitted by every
unprejudiced inquirer; but yet it cannot be overlooked, that this
copiousness of grammatical forms, and the fine shades of meaning which
they express, evince a nicety of observation, and a faculty of
distinguishing, which unquestionably prove that the race of mankind
among whom these languages arose was characterized by a remarkable
correctness and subtlety of thought. Nor can any modern European, who
forms in his mind a lively image of the classical languages in their
ancient grammatical luxuriance, and compares them with his mother
tongue, conceal from himself that in the ancient languages the words,
with their inflections, clothed as it were with muscles and sinews, come
forward like living bodies, full of expression and character, while in
the modern tongues the words seem shrunk up into mere skeletons”{166}.

{Sidenote: _Words in ‘-ess’_}

Whether languages are as much impoverished by this process as is here
assumed, may, I think, be a question. I will endeavour to give you some
materials which shall assist you in forming your own judgment in the
matter. And here I am sure that I shall do best in considering not forms
which the language has relinquished long ago, but mainly such as it is
relinquishing now; which, touching us more nearly, will have a far more
lively interest for us all. For example, the female termination which
we employ in certain words, such as from ‘heir’ ‘heiress’, from
‘prophet’ ‘prophetess’, from ‘sorcerer’ ‘sorceress’, was once far more
widely extended than at present; the words which retain it are daily
becoming fewer. It has already fallen away in so many, and is evidently
becoming of less frequent use in so many others, that, if we may augur
of the future from the analogy of the past, it will one day altogether
vanish from our tongue. Thus all these occur in Wiclif’s Bible;
‘techeress’ as the female teacher (2 Chron. xxxv. 25); ‘friendess’
(Prov. vii. 4); ‘servantess’ (Gen. xvi. 2); ‘leperess’ (=saltatrix,
Ecclus. ix. 4); ‘daunceress’ (Ecclus. ix. 4); ‘neighbouress’ (Exod. iii.
22); ‘sinneress’ (Luke vii. 37); ‘purpuress’ (Acts xvi. 14); ‘cousiness’
(Luke i. 36); ‘slayeress’ (Tob. iii. 9); ‘devouress’ (Ezek. xxxvi. 13);
‘spousess’ (Prov. v. 19); ‘thralless’ (Jer. xxxiv. 16); ‘dwelleress’
(Jer. xxi. 13); ‘waileress’ (Jer. ix. 17); ‘cheseress’ (=electrix, Wisd.
viii. 4); ‘singeress’, ‘breakeress’, ‘waiteress’, this last indeed
having recently come up again. Add to these ‘chideress’, the female
chider, ‘herdess’, ‘constabless’, ‘moveress’, ‘jangleress’, ‘soudaness’
(=sultana), ‘guideress’, ‘charmeress’ (all in Chaucer); and others,
which however we may have now let them fall, reached to far later
periods of the language; thus ‘vanqueress’ (Fabyan); ‘poisoneress’
(Greneway); ‘knightess’ (Udal); ‘pedleress’, ‘championess’, ‘vassaless’,
‘avengeress’, ‘warriouress’, ‘victoress’, ‘creatress’ (all in Spenser);
‘fornicatress’, ‘cloistress’, ‘jointress’ (all in Shakespeare);
‘vowess’ (Holinshed); ‘ministress’, ‘flatteress’ (both in Holland);
‘captainess’ (Sidney); ‘saintess’ (Sir T. Urquhart); ‘heroess’,
‘dragoness’, ‘butleress’, ‘contendress’, ‘waggoness’, ‘rectress’ (all in
Chapman); ‘shootress’ (Fairfax); ‘archeress’ (Fanshawe); ‘clientess’,
‘pandress’ (both in Middleton); ‘papess’, ‘Jesuitess’ (Bishop Hall);
‘incitress’ (Gayton); ‘soldieress’, ‘guardianess’, ‘votaress’ (all in
Beaumont and Fletcher); ‘comfortress’, ‘fosteress’ (Ben Jonson);
‘soveraintess’ (Sylvester); ‘preserveress’ (Daniel); ‘solicitress’,
‘impostress’, ‘buildress’, ‘intrudress’ (all in Fuller); ‘favouress’
(Hakewell); ‘commandress’ (Burton); ‘monarchess’, ‘discipless’ (Speed);
‘auditress’, ‘cateress’, ‘chantress’, ‘tyranness’ (all in Milton);
‘citess’, ‘divineress’ (both in Dryden); ‘deaness’ (Sterne);
‘detractress’ (Addison); ‘hucksteress’ (Howell); ‘tutoress’
(Shaftesbury); ‘farmeress’ (Lord Peterborough, _Letter to Pope_);
‘laddess’, which however still survives in the contracted form of
‘lass’{167}; with more which, I doubt not, it would not be very hard to
bring together{168}.

{Sidenote: _Words in ‘-ster’_}

Exactly the same thing has happened with another feminine affix. I refer
to ‘ster’, taking the place of ‘er’ where a feminine doer is
intended{169}. ‘Spinner’ and ‘spinster’ are the only pair of such
words, which still survive. There were formerly many such; thus ‘baker’
had ‘bakester’, being the female who baked: ‘brewer’ ‘brewster’; ‘sewer’
‘sewster’; ‘reader’ ‘readster’; ‘seamer’ ‘seamster’; ‘fruiterer’
‘fruitester’; ‘tumbler’ ‘tumblester’; ‘hopper’ ‘hoppester’ (these last
three in Chaucer; “the shippes _hoppesteres_”, about which so much
difficulty has been made, are the ships _dancing_, i.e., on the
waves){170}, ‘knitter’ ‘knitster’ (a word, I am told, still alive in
Devon). Add to these ‘whitster’ (female bleacher, Shakespeare),
‘kempster’ (pectrix), ‘dryster’ (siccatrix), ‘brawdster’, (I suppose
embroideress){171}, and ‘salster’ (salinaria){172}. It is a singular
example of the richness of a language in forms at the earlier stages of
its existence, that not a few of the words which had, as we have just
seen, a feminine termination in ‘ess’, had also a second in ‘ster’. Thus
‘daunser’, beside ‘daunseress’, had also ‘daunster’ (Ecclus. ix. 4);
‘wailer’, beside ‘waileress’, had ‘wailster’ (Jer. ix. 17); ‘dweller’
‘dwelster’ (Jer. xxi. 13); and ‘singer’ ‘singster’ (2 Kin. xix. 35); so
too, ‘chider’ had ‘chidester’ (Chaucer), as well as ‘chideress’,
‘slayer’ ‘slayster’ (Tob. iii. 9), as well as ‘slayeress’, ‘chooser’
‘chesister’, (Wisd. viii. 4), as well as ‘cheseress’, with others that
might be named.

{Sidenote: _Deceptive Analogies_}

It is difficult to understand how Marsh, with these examples before him
should affirm, “I find no positive evidence to show that the termination
‘ster’ was ever regarded as a feminine termination in English”. It may
be, and indeed has been, urged that the existence of such words as
‘seamstr_ess_’, ‘songstr_ess_’, is decisive proof that the ending ‘ster’
of itself was not counted sufficient to designate persons as female; for
if, it has been said, ‘seam_ster_’ and ‘song_ster_’ had been felt to be
already feminine, no one would have ever thought of doubling on this,
and adding a second female termination; ‘seam_stress_’, ‘song_stress_’.
But all which can justly be concluded from hence is, that when this
final ‘ess’ was added to these already feminine forms, and examples of
it will not, I think, be found till a comparatively late period of the
language, the true principle and law of the words had been lost sight of
and forgotten{173}. The same may be affirmed of such other of these
feminine forms as are now applied to men, such as ‘gamester’,
‘youngster’, ‘oldster’, ‘drugster’ (South), ‘huckster’, ‘hackster’,
(=swordsman, Milton, prose), ‘teamster’, ‘throwster’, ‘rhymester’,
‘punster’ (_Spectator_), ‘tapster’, ‘whipster’ (Shakespeare),
‘trickster’. Either, like ‘teamster’, and ‘punster’, the words first
came into being, when the true significance of this form was altogether
lost{174}; or like ‘tapster’, which was female in Chaucer (“the gay
_tapstere_”), as it is still in Dutch and Frisian, and distinguished
from ‘tapper’, the _man_ who keeps the inn, or has charge of the tap, or
as ‘bakester’, at this day used in Scotland for ‘baker’, as ‘dyester’
for ‘dyer’, the word did originally belong of right and exclusively to
women; but with the gradual transfer of the occupation to men, and an
increasing forgetfulness of what this termination implied, there went
also a transfer of the name{175}, just as in other words, and out of
the same causes, the exact converse has found place; and ‘baker’ or
‘brewer’, not ‘bakester’ or ‘brewster’{176}, would be now in England
applied to the woman baking or brewing. So entirely has this power of
the language died out, that it survives more apparently than really even
in ‘spinner’ and ‘spinster’; seeing that ‘spinster’ has obtained now
quite another meaning than that of a woman spinning, whom, as well as
the man, we should call not a ‘spinster’, but a ‘spinner’{177}. It would
indeed be hard to believe, if we had not constant experience of the
fact, how soon and how easily the true law and significance of some
form, which has never ceased to be in everybody’s mouth, may yet be lost
sight of by all. No more curious chapter in the history of language
could be written than one which should trace the violations of analogy,
the transgressions of the most primary laws of a language, which follow
hereupon; the plurals like ‘welkin’ (=wolken, the clouds){178},
‘chicken’{179}, which are dealt with as singulars, the singulars, like
‘riches’ (richesse){180}, ‘pease’ (pisum, pois){181}, ‘alms’,
‘eaves’{182}, which are assumed to be plurals.

{Sidenote: _The Genitival Inflexion ‘-s’_}

There is one example of this, familiar to us all; probably so familiar
that it would not be worth while adverting to it, if it did not
illustrate, as no other word could, this forgetfulness which may
overtake a whole people, of the true meaning of a grammatical form which
they have never ceased to employ. I refer to the mistaken assumption
that the ‘s’ of the genitive, as ‘the king’s countenance’, was merely a
more rapid way of pronouncing ‘the king _his_ countenance’, and that the
final ‘s’ in ‘king’s’ was in fact an elided ‘his’. This explanation for
a long time prevailed almost universally; I believe there are many who
accept it still. It was in vain that here and there a deeper knower of
our tongue protested against this “monstrous syntax”, as Ben Jonson in
his _Grammar_ justly calls it{183}. It was in vain that Wallis, another
English scholar of the seventeenth century, pointed out in _his_ Grammar
that the slightest examination of the facts revealed the untenable
character of this explanation, seeing that we do not merely say “the
_king’s_ countenance”, but “the _queen’s_ countenance”; and in this case
the final ‘s’ cannot stand for ‘his’, for “the queen _his_ countenance”
cannot be intended{184}; we do not say merely “the _child’s_ bread”, but
“the _children’s_ bread”, where it is no less impossible to resolve the
phrase into “the children _his_ bread”{185}. Despite of these protests
the error held its ground. This much indeed of a plea it could make for
itself, that such an actual employment of ‘his’ _had_ found its way
into the language, as early as the fourteenth century, and had been in
occasional, though rare use, from that time downward{186}. Yet this,
which has only been elicited by the researches of recent scholars, does
not in the least justify those who assumed that in the habitual ‘s’ of
the genitive were to be found the remains of ‘his’--an error from which
the books of scholars in the seventeenth, and in the early decades of
the eighteenth, century are not a whit clearer than those of others.
Spenser, Donne, Fuller, Jeremy Taylor, all fall into it; I cannot say
confidently whether Milton does. Dryden more than once helps out his
verse with an additional syllable gained by its aid. It has even forced
its way into our Prayer Book itself, where in the “Prayer for all sorts
and conditions of men”, added by Bishop Sanderson at the last revision
of the Liturgy in 1661, we are bidden to say, “And this we beg for Jesus
Christ _his_ sake”{187}. I need hardly tell you that this ‘s’ is in fact
the one remnant of flexion surviving in the singular number of our
English noun substantives; it is in all the Indo-Germanic languages the
original sign of the genitive, or at any rate the earliest of which we
can take cognizance; and just as in Latin ‘lapis’ makes ‘lapidis’ in the
genitive, so ‘king’, ‘queen’, ‘child’, make severally ‘kings’, ‘queens’,
‘childs’, the comma, an apparent note of elision, being a mere modern
expedient, “a late refinement”, as Ash calls it{188}, to distinguish the
genitive singular from the plural cases{189}.

{Sidenote: _Adjectives in ‘-en’_}

Notice another example of this willingness to dispense with inflection,
of this endeavour on the part of the speakers of a language to reduce
its forms to the fewest possible, consistent with the accurate
communication of thought. Of our adjectives in ‘en’, formed on
substantives, and expressing the material or substance of a thing, some
have gone, others are going, out of use; while we content ourselves with
the bare juxtaposition of the substantive itself, as sufficiently
expressing our meaning. Thus instead of “_golden_ pin” we say “_gold_
pin”; instead of “_earthen_ works” we say “_earth_ works”. ‘Golden’ and
‘earthen’, it is true, still belong to our living speech, though mainly
as part of our poetic diction, or of the solemn and thus stereotyped
language of Scripture; but a whole company of such words have nearly or
quite disappeared; some lately, some long ago. ‘Steelen’ and ‘flowren’
belong only to the earliest period of the language; ‘rosen’ also went
early. Chaucer is my latest authority for it (“_rosen_ chapelet”).
‘Hairen’ is in Wiclif and in Chaucer; ‘stonen’ in the former (John iii.
6){190}. ‘Silvern’ stood originally in Wiclif’s Bible (“_silverne_
housis to Diane”, Acts xix. 24); but already in the second recension of
this was exchanged for ‘silver’; ‘hornen’, still in provincial use, he
also employs, and ‘clayen’ (Job iv. 19) no less. ‘Tinnen’ occurs in
Sylvester’s _Du Bartas_; where also we meet with “Jove’s _milken_
alley”, as a name for the _Via Lactea_, in Bacon also not “the _Milky_”,
but “the _Milken_ Way”. In the coarse polemics of the Reformation the
phrase, “_breaden_ god”, provoked by the Romish doctrine of
transubstantiation, was of frequent employment, and occurs as late as in
Oldham. “_Mothen_ parchments” is in Fulke; “_twiggen_ bottle” in
Shakespeare; ‘_yewen_’, or, according to earlier spelling, “_ewghen_
bow”, in Spenser; “_cedarn_ alley”, and “_azurn_ sheen” are both in
Milton; “_boxen_ leaves” in Dryden; “a _treen_ cup” in Jeremy Taylor;
“_eldern_ popguns” in Sir Thomas Overbury; “a _glassen_ breast”, in
Whitlock; “a _reeden_ hat” in Coryat; ‘yarnen’ occurs in Turberville;
‘furzen’ in Holland; ‘threaden’ in Shakespeare; and ‘bricken’, ‘papern’
appear in our provincial glossaries as still in use.

It is true that many of these adjectives still hold their ground; but
it is curious to note how the roots which sustain even these are being
gradually cut away from beneath them. Thus ‘brazen’ might at first sight
seem as strongly established in the language as ever; it is far from so
being; its supports are being cut from beneath it. Even now it only
lives in a tropical and secondary sense, as ‘a _brazen_ face’; or if in
a literal, in poetic diction or in the consecrated language of
Scripture, as ‘the _brazen_ serpent’; otherwise we say ‘a _brass_
farthing’, ‘a _brass_ candlestick’. It is the same with ‘oaten’,
‘birchen’, ‘beechen’, ‘strawen’, and many more, whereof some are
obsolescent, some obsolete, the language manifestly tending now, as it
has tended for a long time past, to the getting quit of these, and to
the satisfying of itself with an adjectival apposition of the
substantive in their stead.

{Sidenote: _Weak and Strong Præterites_}

Let me illustrate by another example the way in which a language, as it
travels onward, simplifies itself, approaches more and more to a
grammatical and logical uniformity, seeks to do the same thing always in
the same manner; where it has two or three ways of conducting a single
operation, lets all of them go but one; and thus becomes, no doubt,
easier to be mastered, more handy, more manageable; for its very riches
were to many an embarrassment and a perplexity; but at the same time
imposes limits and restraints on its own freedom of action, and is in
danger of forfeiting elements of strength, variety and beauty, which it
once possessed. I refer to the tendency of our verbs to let go their
strong præterites, and to substitute weak ones in their room; or, where
they have two or three præterites, to retain only one of them, and that
invariably the weak one. Though many of us no doubt are familiar with
the terms ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ præterites, which in all our better
grammars have put out of use the wholly misleading terms, ‘irregular’
and ‘regular’, I may perhaps as well remind you of the exact meaning of
the terms. A strong præterite is one formed by an internal vowel change;
for instance the verb ‘to _drive_’ forms the præterite ‘_drove_’ by an
internal change of the vowel ‘i’ into ‘o’. But why, it may be asked,
called ‘strong’? In respect of the vigour and indwelling energy in the
word, enabling it to form its past tense from its own resources, and
with no calling in of help from without. On the other hand ‘lift’ forms
its præterite ‘lift_ed_’, not by any internal change, but by the
addition of ‘ed’; ‘grieve’ in like manner has ‘griev_ed_’. Here are weak
tenses; as strength was ascribed to the other verbs, so weakness to
these, which can form their præterites only by external aid and
addition. You will see at once that these strong præterites, while they
witness to a vital energy in the words which are able to put them forth,
do also, as must be allowed by all, contribute much to the variety and
charm of a language{191}.

The point, however, which I am urging now is this,--that these are
becoming fewer every day; multitudes of them having disappeared, while
others are in the act of disappearing. Nor is the balance redressed and
compensation found in any new creations of the kind. The power of
forming strong præterites is long ago extinct; probably no verb which
has come into the language since the Conquest has asserted this power,
while a whole legion have let it go. For example, ‘shape’ has now a weak
præterite, ‘shaped’, it had once a strong one, ‘shope’; ‘bake’ has now a
weak præterite, ‘baked’, it had once a strong one, ‘boke’; the præterite
of ‘glide’ is now ‘glided’, it was once ‘glode’ or ‘glid’; ‘help’ makes
now ‘helped’, it made once ‘halp’ and ‘holp’. ‘Creep’ made ‘crope’,
still current in the north of England; ‘weep’ ‘wope’; ‘yell’ ‘yoll’
(both in Chaucer); ‘seethe’ ‘soth’ or ‘sod’ (Gen. xxv. 29); ‘sheer’ in
like manner once made ‘shore’; as ‘leap’ made ‘lope’; ‘wash’ ‘wishe’
(Chaucer); ‘snow’ ‘snew’; ‘sow’ ‘sew’; ‘delve’ ‘dalf’ and ‘dolve’;
‘sweat’ ‘swat’; ‘yield’ ‘yold’ (both in Spenser); ‘mete’ ‘mat’ (Wiclif);
‘stretch’ ‘straught’; ‘melt’ ‘molt’; ‘wax’ ‘wex’ and ‘wox’; ‘laugh’
‘leugh’; with others more than can be enumerated here{192}.

{Sidenote: _Strong Præterites_}

Observe further that where verbs have not actually renounced their
strong præterites, and contented themselves with weak in their room,
yet, once possessing two, or, it might be three of these strong, they
now retain only one. The others, on the principle of dismissing whatever
can be dismissed, they have let go. Thus ‘chide’ had once ‘chid’ and
‘chode’, but though ‘chode’ is in our Bible (Gen. xxxi. 36), it has not
maintained itself in our speech; ‘sling’ had ‘slung’ and ‘slang’ (1 Sam.
xvii. 49); only ‘slung’ remains; ‘fling’ had once ‘flung’ and ‘flang’;
‘strive’ had ‘strove’ and ‘strave’; ‘stick’ had ‘stuck’ and ‘stack’;
‘hang’ had ‘hung’ and ‘hing’ (Golding); ‘tread’ had ‘trod’ and ‘trad’;
‘choose’ had ‘chose’ and ‘chase’; ‘give’ had ‘gave’ and ‘gove’; ‘lead’
had ‘led’ ‘lad’ and ‘lode’; ‘write’ had ‘wrote’ ‘writ’ and ‘wrate’. In
all these cases, and more might easily be cited, only [of] the
præterites which I have named the first remains in use.

Observe too that in every instance where a conflict is now going on
between weak and strong forms, which shall continue, the battle is not
to the strong; on the contrary the weak is carrying the day, is getting
the better of its stronger competitor. Thus ‘climbed’ is gaining the
upper hand of ‘clomb’, ‘swelled’ of ‘swoll’, ‘hanged’ of ‘hung’. It is
not too much to anticipate that a time will come, although it may be
still far off, when all English verbs will form their præterites weakly;
not without serious damage to the fulness and force which in this
respect the language even now displays, and once far more eminently

{Sidenote: _Comparatives and Superlatives_}

Take another proof of this tendency in our own language to drop its
forms and renounce its own inherent powers; though here also the
renunciation, threatening one day to be complete, is only partial at the
present. I refer to the formation of our comparatives and superlatives;
and I will ask you again to observe here that curious law of language,
namely, that wherever there are two or more ways of attaining the same
result, there is always a disposition to drop and dismiss all of these
but one, so that the alternative or choice of ways once existing, shall
not exist any more. If only it can attain a greater simplicity, it seems
to grudge no self-impoverishment by which this result may be brought
about. We have two ways of forming our comparatives and superlatives,
one dwelling in the word itself, which we have inherited from our old
Gothic stock, as ‘bright’, ‘bright_er_’, ‘bright_est_’, the other
supplementary to this, by prefixing the auxiliaries ‘more’ and ‘most’.
The first, organic we might call it, the indwelling power of the word to
mark its own degrees, must needs be esteemed the more excellent way;
which yet, already disallowed in almost all adjectives of more than two
syllables in length, is daily becoming of narrower and more restrained
application. Compare in this matter our present with our past. Wiclif
for example forms such comparatives as ‘grievouser’, ‘gloriouser’,
‘patienter’, ‘profitabler’, such superlatives as ‘grievousest’,
‘famousest’; this last occurring also in Bacon. We meet in Tyndale,
‘excellenter’, ‘miserablest’; in Shakespeare, ‘violentest’; in Gabriel
Harvey, ‘vendiblest’, ‘substantialest’, ‘insolentest’; in Rogers,
‘insufficienter’, ‘goldener’; in Beaumont and Fletcher, ‘valiantest’.
Milton uses ‘virtuosest’, and in prose ‘vitiosest’, ‘elegantest’,
‘artificialest’, ‘servilest’, ‘sheepishest’, ‘resolutest’, ‘sensualest’;
Fuller has ‘fertilest’; Baxter ‘tediousest’; Butler ‘preciousest’,
‘intolerablest’; Burnet ‘copiousest’, Gray ‘impudentest’. Of these
forms, and it would be easy to adduce almost any number, we should
hardly employ any now. In participles and adverbs in ‘ly’, these organic
comparatives and superlatives hardly survive at all. We do not say
‘willinger’ or ‘lovinger’, and still less ‘flourishingest’, or
‘shiningest’, or ‘surmountingest’, all which Gabriel Harvey, a foremost
master of the English of his time, employs; ‘plenteouslyer’, ‘fulliest’
(Wiclif), ‘easiliest’ (Fuller), ‘plainliest’ (Dryden), would be all
inadmissible at present.

In the manifest tendency of English at the present moment to reduce the
number of words in which this more vigorous scheme of expressing degrees
is allowed, we must recognize an evidence that the energy which the
language had in its youth is in some measure abating, and the stiffness
of age overtaking it. Still it is with us here only as it is with all
languages, in which at a certain time of their life auxiliary words,
leaving the main word unaltered, are preferred to inflections of this
last. Such preference makes itself ever more strongly felt; and, judging
from analogy, I cannot doubt that a day, however distant now, will
arrive, when the only way of forming comparatives and superlatives in
the English language will be by prefixing ‘more’ and ‘most’; or, if the
other survive, it will be in poetry alone.

It will fare not otherwise, as I am bold to predict, with the flexional
genitive, formed in ‘s’ or ‘es’ (see p. 161). This too will finally
disappear altogether from the language, or will survive only in poetry,
and as much an archaic form there as the ‘pictaï’ of Virgil. A time will
come when it will not any longer be free to say, as now, either, “_the
king’s sons_”, or “_the sons of the king_”, but when the latter will be
the only admissible form. Tokens of this are already evident. The region
in which the alternative forms are equally good is narrowing. We should
not now any more write, “When _man’s son_ shall come” (Wiclif), but
“When _the Son of man_ shall come”, nor yet, “_The hypocrite’s hope_
shall perish” (Job viii. 13, Authorized Version), but, “_The hope of the
hypocrite_ shall perish”; not with Barrow, “No man can be ignorant _of
human life’s brevity and uncertainty_”, but “No man can be ignorant _of
the brevity and uncertainty of human life_”. The consummation which I
anticipate may be centuries off, but will assuredly arrive{194}.

{Sidenote: _Lost Diminutives_}

Then too diminutives are fast disappearing from the language. If we
desire to express smallness, we prefer to do it by an auxiliary word;
thus a little fist, and not a ‘fistock’ (Golding), a little lad, and not
a ‘ladkin’, a little worm, rather than a ‘wormling’ (Sylvester). It is
true that of diminutives very many still survive, in all our four
terminations of such, as ‘hillock’, ‘streamlet’, ‘lambkin’, ‘gosling’;
but those which have perished are many more. Where now is ‘kingling’
(Holland), ‘whimling’ (Beaumont and Fletcher), ‘godling’, ‘loveling’,
‘dwarfling’, ‘shepherdling’ (all in Sylvester), ‘chasteling’ (Bacon),
‘niceling’ (Stubbs), ‘fosterling’ (Ben Johnson), and ‘masterling’? Where
now ‘porelet’ (=paupercula, Isai. x. 30, Vulg.), ‘bundelet’, (both in
Wiclif); ‘cushionet’ (Henry More), ‘havenet’, or little ‘haven’,
‘pistolet’, ‘bulkin’ (Holland), and a hundred more? Even of those which
remain many are putting off, or have long since put off, their
diminutive sense; a ‘pocket’ being no longer a _small_ poke, nor a
‘latchet’ a _small_ lace, nor a ‘trumpet’ a small _trump_, as once they

{Sidenote: _Thou and Thee_}

Once more--in the entire dropping among the higher classes of ‘thou’,
except in poetry or in addresses to the Deity, and as a necessary
consequence, the dropping also of the second singular of the verb with
its strongly marked flexion, as ‘lovest’, ‘lovedst’, we have another
example of a force once existing in the language, which has been, or is
being, allowed to expire. In the seventeenth century ‘thou’ in English,
as at the present ‘du’ in German, ‘tu’ in French, was the sign of
familiarity, whether that familiarity was of love, or of contempt and
scorn{195}. It was not unfrequently the latter. Thus at Sir Walter
Raleigh’s trial (1603), Coke, when argument and evidence failed him,
insulted the defendant by applying to him the term ‘thou’:--“All that
Lord Cobham did was at _thy_ instigation, _thou_ viper, for I _thou_
thee, _thou_ traitor”. And when Sir Toby Belch in _Twelfth Night_ is
urging Sir Andrew Aguecheek to send a sufficiently provocative challenge
to Viola, he suggests to him that he “taunt him with the licence of ink;
if thou _thou’st_ him some thrice, it shall not be amiss”. To keep this
in mind will throw much light on one peculiarity of the Quakers, and
give a certain dignity to it, as once maintained, which at present it is
very far from possessing. However needless and unwise their
determination to ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ the whole world was, yet this had a
significance. It was not, as now to us it seems, and, through the silent
changes which language has undergone, as now it indeed is, a gratuitous
departure from the ordinary usage of society. Right or wrong, it meant
something, and had an ethical motive: being indeed a testimony upon
their parts, however misplaced, that they would not have high or great
or rich men’s persons in admiration; nor give the observance to some
which they withheld from others. It was a testimony too which cost them
something; at present we can very little understand the amount of
courage which this ‘thou-ing’ and ‘thee-ing’ of all men must have
demanded on their parts, nor yet the amount of indignation and offence
which it stirred up in them who were not aware of, or would not allow
for, the scruples which obliged them to it{196}. It is, however, in its
other aspect that we must chiefly regret the dying out of the use of
‘thou’--that is, as the pledge of peculiar intimacy and special
affection, as between husband and wife, parents and children, and such
other as might be knit together by bands of more than common affection.

{Sidenote: _Gender Words_}

I have preferred during this lecture to find my theme in changes which
are now going forward in English, but I cannot finish it without drawing
one illustration from its remoter periods, and bidding you to note a
force not now waning and failing from it, but extinct long ago. I
cannot well pass it by; being as it is by far the boldest step which in
this direction of simplification the English language has at any time
taken. I refer to the renouncing of the distribution of its nouns into
masculine, feminine, and neuter, as in German, or even into masculine
and feminine, as in French; and with this, and as a necessary
consequence of this, the dropping of any flexional modification in the
adjectives connected with them. Natural _sex_ of course remains, being
inherent in all language; but grammatical _gender_, with the exception
of ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘it’, and perhaps one or two other fragmentary
instances, the language has altogether forgone. An example will make
clear the distinction between these. Thus it is not the word ‘poetess’
which is _feminine_, but the person indicated who is _female_. So too
‘daughter’, ‘queen’, are in English not _feminine_ nouns, but nouns
designating _female_ persons. Take on the contrary ‘filia’ or ‘regina’,
‘fille’ or ‘reine’; there you have _feminine_ nouns as well as _female_
persons. I need hardly say to you that we did not inherit this
simplicity from others, but, like the Danes, in so far as they have done
the like, have made it for ourselves. Whether we turn to the Latin, or,
which is for us more important, to the old Gothic, we find gender; and
in all daughter languages which have descended from the Latin, in most
of those which have descended from the ancient Gothic stock, it is fully
established to this day. The practical, business-like character of the
English mind asserted itself in the rejection of a distinction, which in
a vast proportion of words, that is, in all which are the signs of
_inanimate_ objects, and as such incapable of sex, rested upon a
fiction, and had no ground in the real nature of things. It is only by
an act and effort of the imagination that sex, and thus gender, can be
attributed to a table, a ship, or a tree; and there are aspects, this
being one, in which the English is among the least imaginative of all
languages even while it has been employed in some of the mightiest works
of imagination which the world has ever seen{197}.

What, it may be asked, is the meaning and explanation of all this? It is
that at certain earlier periods of a nation’s life its genius is
synthetic, and at later becomes analytic. At earlier periods all is by
synthesis; and men love to contemplate the thing, and the mode of the
thing, together, as a single idea, bound up in one. But a time arrives
when the intellectual obtains the upper hand of the imaginative, when
the tendency of those that speak the language is to analyse, to
distinguish between these two, and not only to distinguish but to
divide, to have one word for the thing itself, and another for the
quality of the thing; and this, as it would appear, is true not of some
languages only, but of all.


{128} [Apparently a slip for ‘ebb’]

{129} It is still used in prose as late as the age of Henry VIII; see
      the _State Papers_, vol. viii. p. 247. It was the latest survivor
      of a whole group or family of words which continued much longer in
      Scotland than with us; of which some perhaps continue there still;
      these are but a few of them; ‘wanthrift’ for extravagance;
      ‘wanluck’, misfortune; ‘wanlust’, languor; ‘wanwit’, folly;
      ‘wangrace’, wickedness; ‘wantrust’ (Chaucer), distrust, [Also
      ‘wan-ton’, devoid of breeding (_towen_). Compare German
      _wahn-sinn_, insanity, and _wahn-witz_.]

{130} We must not suppose that this still survives in ‘_gir_falcon’;
      which wholly belongs to the Latin element of the language; being
      the later Latin ‘gyrofalco’, and that, “a _gyrando_, quia diu
      _gyrando_ acriter prædam insequitur”.

{131} [‘Heft’, from ‘heave’ (_Winter’s Tale_, ii. 1, 45), is widely
      diffused in the Three Kingdoms and in America. See E.D.D. _s.v._]

{132} “Some _hot-spurs_ there were that gave counsel to go against them
      with all their forces, and to fright and terrify them, if they
      made slow haste”. (Holland’s _Livy_, p. 922.)

{133} _State Papers_, vol. vi. p. 534.

{134} [‘Malinger’, French _malingre_ (mistakenly derived above), stands
      for old French _mal-heingre_ (maliciously or falsely ill, feigning
      sickness), which is from Latin _male aeger_, with an intrusive

{135} [To which the late Boer War contributed many more, such as
      ‘kopje’, ‘trek’, ‘slim’, ‘veldt’, etc.]

{136} The only two writers of whom I am aware as subsequently using this
      word are, both writing in Ireland and of Irish matters, Spenser
      and Swift. The passages are both quoted in Richardson’s
      _Dictionary_. [‘Bawn’ stands for the Irish _ba-dhun_ (not
      _bábhun_, as in N.E.D.), or _bo-dhun_, literally ‘cow-fortress’, a
      cattle enclosure (Irish _bo_, a cow). See P. W. Joyce, _Irish
      Names of Places_, 1st ser. p. 297.]

{137} There is an excellent account of this “refugee French” in Weiss’
      _History of the Protestant Refugees of France_.

{138} [Thus the Shakespearian word _renege_ (Latin _renegare_), to deny
      (_Lear_ ii, 2) still lives in the mouths of the Irish peasantry. I
      have heard a farmer’s wife denounce those who “_renege_ [_renaig_]
      their religion”.]

{139} With all its severity, there is some truth in Ben Johnson’s
      observation: “Spenser, in affecting the ancients, writ no
      language”. In this matter, however, Ben Jonson was at one with
      him; for he does not hesitate to express his strong regret that
      this form has not been retained. “The _persons_ plural” he says
      (_English Grammar_, c. 17), “keep the termination of the first
      _person_ singular. In former times, till about the reign of King
      Henry VIII, they were wont to be formed by adding _en_; thus,
      _loven_, _sayen_, _complainen_. But now (whatsoever is the cause)
      it hath quite grown out of use, and that other so generally
      prevailed, that I dare not presume to set this afoot again; albeit
      (to tell you my opinion) I am persuaded that the lack hereof, well
      considered, will be found a great blemish to our tongue. For
      seeing _time_ and _person_ be as it were the right and left hand
      of a verb, what can the maiming bring else, but a lameness to the
      whole body”?

{140} [The two words are often popularly confounded. When a good woman
      said “I’m _afeerd_”, Mr. Pickwick exclaimed “_Afraid_”! (_Pickwick
      Papers_, ch. v.). Chaucer, instructively, uses both in the one
      sentence, “This wyf was not _affered_ ne _affrayed_” (_Shipman’s
      Tale_, l. 400).]

{141} Génin (_Récréations Philologiques_, vol. i. p. 71) says to the
      same effect: “Il n’y a guères de faute de Français, je dis faute
      générale, accréditée, qui n’ait sa raison d’être, et ne pût au
      besoin produire ses lettres de noblesse; et souvent mieux en règle
      que celles des locutions qui ont usurpé leur place au soleil”.

{142} A single proof may in each case suffice:

          “Our wills and fates do so _contráry_ run”.--_Shakespeare._

          “Ne let _mischiévous_ witches with their charms”.--_Spenser._

          “O argument _blasphémous_, false and proud”.--_Milton._

      [These archaisms are still current in Ireland.]

{143} I cannot doubt that this form which our country people in
      Hampshire, as in many other parts, always employ, either retains
      the original pronunciation, our received one being a modern
      corruption; or else, as is more probable, that _we_ have made a
      confusion between two originally different words, from which they
      have kept clear. Thus in Howell’s _Vocabulary_, 1659, and in
      Cotgrave’s _French and English Dictionary_ both words occur:
      “nuncion or nuncheon, the afternoon’s repast”, (cf. _Hudibras_, i.
      1, 346: “They took their breakfasts or their _nuncheons_”), and
      “lunchion, a big piece” i.e. of bread; for both give the old
      French ‘caribot’, which has this meaning, as the equivalent of
      ‘luncheon’. It is clear that in this sense of lump or ‘big piece’
      Gay uses ‘luncheon’:

          “When hungry thou stood’st staring like an oaf,
          I sliced the _luncheon_ from the barley loaf”;

      and Miss Baker in her _Northamptonshire Glossary_ explains ‘lunch’
      as “a large lump of bread, or other edible; ‘He helped himself to
      a good _lunch_ of cake’”. We may note further that this ‘nuntion’
      may possibly put us on the right track for arriving at the
      etymology of the word. Richardson has called attention to the fact
      that it is spelt “noon-shun” in Browne’s _Pastorals_, which must
      at least suggest as possible and plausible that the ‘nuntion’ was
      originally applied to the labourer’s slight meal, to which he
      withdrew for the _shunning_ of the heat of the middle _noon_:
      especially when in Lancashire we find a word of similar formation,
      ‘noon-scape’, and in Norfolk ‘noon-miss’, for the time when
      labourers rest after dinner. [It really stands for the older
      English _none-schenche_, i.e. ‘noon-skink’ or noon-drink (see
      Skeat, _Etym. Dict._, _s.v._), correlative to ‘noon-meat’ or
      ‘nam-met’.] It is at any rate certain that the dignity to which
      ‘lunch’ or ‘luncheon’ has now arrived, as when we read in the
      newspapers of a “magnificent _luncheon_”, is altogether modern;
      the word belonged a century ago to rustic life, and in literature
      had not travelled beyond the “hobnailed pastorals” which professed
      to describe that life.

{144} See it so written, Holland’s _Pliny_, vol. ii. p. 428, and often.

{145} As a proof of the excellent service which an accurate acquaintance
      with provincial usages may render in the investigation of the
      innumerable perplexing phenomena of the English language, I would
      refer to the admirable article _On English Pronouns Personal_ in
      _Transactions of the Philological Society_, vol. i. p. 277.

{146} [We now have the good fortune to possess a complete collection of
      this valuable class of words in the splendid “English Dialect
      Dictionary”, edited by Professor Joseph Wright of Oxford, which is
      an essential supplement to all existing dictionaries of our

{147} This last very curious usage, which served as a kind of
      stepping-stone to ‘its’, and of which another example occurs in
      the Geneva Version (Acts xii. 10), and three or four in
      Shakespeare, has been abundantly illustrated by those who have
      lately written on the early history of the word ‘its’; thus see
      Craik, _On the English of Shakespeare_, p. 91; Marsh, _Manual of
      the English Language_ (Eng. Edit.), p. 278; _Transactions of the
      Philological Society_, vol. 1. p. 280; and my book _On the
      Authorized Version of the New Testament_, p. 59.

{148} Thus Fuller (_Pisgah Sight of Palestine_, vol. ii. p. 190): “Sure
      I am this city [the New Jerusalem] as presented by the prophet,
      was fairer, finer, _slicker_, smoother, more exact, than any
      fabric the earth afforded”.

{149} [In the United States ‘plunder’ is used for personal effects,
      baggage and luggage (Webster). This is not noticed in the E.D.D.]

{150} [But we have acquired, in some quarters, the abomination ‘an

{151} How many words modern French has lost which are most vigorous and
      admirable, the absence of which can only now be supplied by a
      circumlocution or by some less excellent word--‘Oseur’,
      ‘affranchisseur’ (Amyot), ‘mépriseur’, ‘murmurateur’,
      ‘blandisseur’ (Bossuet), ‘abuseur’ (Rabelais), ‘désabusement’,
      ‘rancœur’, are all obsolete at the present. So ‘désaimer’, to
      cease to love (‘disamare’ in Italian), ‘guirlander’, ‘stériliser’,
      ‘blandissant’, ‘ordonnément’ (Montaigne), with innumerable others.

{152} [It has now attained a fair currency.]

{153} [‘Gainly’ is still used by nineteenth century writers, 1855-86;
      see N.E.D.]

{154} [‘Dehort’ has been used in modern times by Southey (_Letters_,
      1825, iii, 462), and Cheyne (_Isaiah, introd._ 1882, xx.)--N.E.D.]

{155} [Tennyson has endeavoured to resuscitate the word--“_Rathe_ she
      rose”--_Lancelot and Elaine_--but with no great success.]

{156} For other passages in which ‘rathest’ occurs, see the _State
      Papers_, vol. ii. pp. 92, 170.

{157} [‘Buxom’ for old English _buc-sum_ or _buch-sum_, i.e. ‘bow-some’,
      yielding, compliant, obedient. “Sara was _buxom_ to Abraham”, 1
      Pet. iii, 6 (xiv. Cent. Version, ed. Pawes, p. 216).]

{158} [‘Lissome’ for _lithe-some_, like Wessex _blissom_ for
      _blithe-some_. Tennyson has “as _lissome_ as a hazel wand”--_The
      Brook_, l. 70.]

{159} Jamieson’s _Dictionary_ gives a large number of words with this
      termination which I should suppose were always peculiar to
      Scotland, as ‘bangsome’, i.e. quarrelsome, ‘freaksome’, ‘drysome’,
      ‘grousome’ (the German ‘grausam’) [Now in common use as

{160} [A list of some of these reduplicated words was given by Dr. Booth
      in his “Analytical Dictionary of the English Language”, 1835; but
      a full collection of nearly six hundred was published by Mr. H. B.
      Wheatley in the _Transactions of the Philological Society_ for

{161} Many languages have groups of words formed upon the same scheme,
      although, singularly enough, they are altogether absent from the
      Anglo-Saxon. (J. Grimm, _Deutsche Gramm._, vol. ii. p. 976). The
      Spaniards have a great many very expressive words of this
      formation. Thus with allusion to the great struggle in which
      Christian Spain was engaged for so many centuries, a vaunting
      braggart is a ‘matamoros’, a ‘slaymoor’; he is a ‘matasiete’, a
      ‘slayseven’; a ‘perdonavidas’, a ‘sparelives’. Others may be added
      to these, as ‘azotacalles’, ‘picapleytos’, ‘saltaparedes’,
      ‘rompeesquinas’, ‘ganapan’, ‘cascatreguas’.

{162} [This stands for ‘peak-goose’ (_peek goos_ in Ascham,
      _Scholemaster_, 1570, p. 54, ed. Arber), a _goose_ that _peaks_ or
      pines, used for a sickly, delicate person, and a simpleton. In
      Chapman, Cotgrave and others it appears as ‘pea-goose’.]

{163} The mistake is far earlier; long before Cowper wrote the sound
      suggested first this sense, and then this spelling. Thus
      Stanihurst, _Description of Ireland_, p. 28: “They are taken for
      no better than _rakehels_, or _the devil’s black guard_”; and
      often elsewhere.

{164} [i.e. in Joshua Sylvester’s translation of “Du Bartas, his Diuine
      Weekes and Workes”, 1621.]

{165} As not, however, turning on a _very_ coarse matter, and
      illustrating the subject with infinite wit and humour, I might
      refer the Spanish scholar to the discussion between Don Quixote
      and his squire on the dismissal of ‘regoldar’, from the language
      of good society, and the substitution of ‘erutar’ in its room
      (_Don Quixote_, 4. 7. 43). In a letter of Cicero to Pætus (_Fam._
      ix. 22) there is a subtle and interesting disquisition on
      forbidden words, and their philosophy.

{166} _Literature of Greece_, p. 5.

{167} [Notwithstanding the analogous instance of ‘abbess’ for ‘abbatess’
      this account of ‘lass’ must be abandoned. It is the old English
      _lasce_ (akin to Swedish _lösk_), meaning (1) one free or
      disengaged, (2) an unmarried girl (N.E.D.)]

{168} In Cotgrave’s _Dictionary_ I find ‘praiseress’, ‘commendress’,
      ‘fluteress’, ‘possesseress’, ‘loveress’, but have never met them
      in use.

{169} On this termination see J. Grimm, _Deutsche Gramm._, vol. ii. p.
      134; vol. iii. p. 339.

{170} [_The Knightes Tale_, ed. Skeat, l. 2017.]

{171} [Yes; so in N.E.D.]

{172} I am indebted for these last four to a _Nominale_ in the _National
      Antiquities_, vol. i. p. 216.

{173} The earliest example which Richardson gives of ‘seamstress’ is
      from Gay, of ‘songstress’, from Thomson. I find however
      ‘sempstress’ in the translation of Olearius’ _Voyages and
      Travels_, 1669, p. 43. It is quite certain that as late as Ben
      Jonson, ‘seamster’ and ‘songster’ expressed the _female_ seamer
      and singer; a single passage from his _Masque of Christmas_ is
      evidence to this. One of the children of Christmas there is
      “Wassel, like a neat _sempster_ and _songster_; _her_ page bearing
      a brown bowl”. Compare a passage from _Holland’s Leaguer_, 1632:
      “A _tyre-woman_ of phantastical ornaments, a _sempster_ for
      ruffes, cuffes, smocks and waistcoats”.

{174} This was about the time of Henry VIII. In proof of the confusion
      which reigned on the subject in Shakespeare’s time, see his use of
      ‘spinster’ as--‘spinner’, the _man_ spinning, _Henry VIII_, Act.
      i. Sc. 2; and I have no doubt that it is the same in _Othello_,
      Act i. Sc. 1. And a little later, in Howell’s _Vocabulary_, 1659,
      ‘spinner’ and ‘spinster’ are _both_ referred to the male sex, and
      the barbarous ‘spinstress’ invented for the female.

{175} I have included ‘huckster’, as will be observed, in this list. I
      certainly cannot produce any passage in which it is employed as
      the _female_ pedlar. We have only, however, to keep in mind the
      existence of the verb ‘to huck’, in the sense of to peddle (it is
      used by Bishop Andrews), and at the same time not to let the
      present spelling of ‘hawker’ mislead us, and we shall confidently
      recognize ‘hucker’ (the German ‘höker’ or ‘höcker’), in hawker,
      that is, the _man_ who ‘hucks’, ‘hawks’, or peddles, as in
      ‘huckster’ the _female_ who does the same. When therefore Howell
      and others employ ‘hucksteress’, they fall into the same barbarous
      excess of expression, whereof we are all guilty, when we use
      ‘seamstress’ and ‘songstress’.--The note stood thus in the third
      edition. Since that was published, I have met in the _Nominale_
      referred to p. 155, the following, “hæc auxiatrix, a _hukster_”.
      [Huckster, xiii. cent. _huccster_, it may be noted is an older
      word in the language than _hukker_ (hucker) and _to huck_, both
      first appearing in the xiv. cent. N.E.D.]

{176} [Preserved in the surnames Baxter and Brewster. See C. W.
      Bardsley, _English Surnames_, 2nd ed. 364, 379.]

{177} _Notes and Queries_, No. 157.

{178} [‘Welkin’ is possibly a plural, but in Anglo-Saxon _wolcen_ is a
      cloud, and the plural _wolcnu_.]

{179} When Wallis wrote, it was only beginning to be forgotten that
      ‘chick’ was the singular, and ‘chicken’ the plural: “_Sunt qui
      dicunt_ in singulari ‘chicken’, et in plurali ‘chickens’”; and
      even now the words are in many country parts correctly employed.
      In Sussex, a correspondent writes, they would as soon think of
      saying ‘oxens’ as ‘chickens’. [‘Chicken’ is properly a singular,
      old English _cicen_, the _-en_ being a diminutival, not a plural,
      suffix (as in ‘kitten’, ‘maiden’). Thus ‘chicken’ was originally
      ‘a little chuck’ (or cock), out of which ‘chick’ was afterwards

{180} See Chaucer’s _Romaunt of the Rose_, 1032, where Richesse, “an
      high lady of great noblesse”, is one of the persons of the
      allegory; and compare Rev. xviii. 17, Authorized Version. This has
      so entirely escaped the knowledge of Ben Jonson, English scholar
      as he was, that in his _Grammar_ he cites ‘riches’ as an example
      of an English word wanting a singular.

{181} “Set shallow brooks to surging seas,
      An orient pearl to a white _pease_”.


{182} [‘Eaves’ (old English _efes_) from which an imaginary singular
      ‘eave’ has sometimes been evolved, as when Tennyson speaks of a
      ‘cottage-eave’ (_In Memoriam_, civ.), and Cotgrave of ‘an

{183} It is curious that despite of this protest, one of his plays has
      for its name, _Sejanus his Fall_.

{184} Even this does not startle Addison, or cause him any misgiving; on
      the contrary he boldly asserts (_Spectator_, No. 135), “The same
      single letter ‘s’ on many occasions does the office of a whole
      word, and represents the ‘his’ _or ‘her’_ of our forefathers”.

{185} Nothing can be better than the way in which Wallis disposes of
      this scheme, although less successful in showing what this ‘s’
      does mean than in showing what it cannot mean (_Gramm. Ling.
      Anglic._, c. 5); Qui autem arbitrantur illud s, loco _his_
      adjunctum esse (priori scilicet parte per aphæresim abscissâ),
      ideoque apostrophi notam semper vel pingendam esse, vel saltem
      subintelligendam, omnino errant. Quamvis enim non negem quin
      apostrophi nota commode nonnunquam affigi possit, ut ipsius
      litteræ s usus distinctius, ubi opus est, percipiatur; ita tamen
      semper fieri debere, aut etiam ideo fieri quia vocem _his_ innuat,
      omnino nego. Adjungitur enim et fœminarum nominibus propriis, et
      substantivis pluralibus, ubi vox _his_ sine solœcismo locum habere
      non potest: atque etiam in possessivis _ours_, _yours_, _theirs_,
      _hers_, ubi vocem _his_ innui nemo somniaret.

{186} See the proofs in Marsh’s _Manual of the English Language_,
      English Edit., pp. 280, 293.

{187} I cannot think that it would exceed the authority of our
      University Presses, if this were removed from the Prayer Books
      which they put forth, as certainly it is supprest by many of the
      clergy in the reading. Such a liberty they have already assumed
      with the Bible. In all earlier editions of the Authorized Version
      it stood at 1 Kin. xv. 24: “Nevertheless _Asa his_ heart was
      perfect with the Lord”; it is “_Asa’s_ heart” now. In the same way
      “_Mordecai his_ matters” (Esth. iii. 4) has been silently changed
      into “_Mordecai’s_ matters”; and in some modern editions, but not
      in all, “_Holofernes his_ head” (Judith xiii. 9) into
      “_Holofernes’_ head”.

{188} In a good note on the matter, p. 6, in the _Comprehensive Grammar_
      prefixed to his _Dictionary_, London, 1775.

{189} See Grimm. _Deut. Gramm._, vol. ii. pp. 609, 944.

{190} The existence of ‘stony’--‘lapidosus’, ‘steinig’, does not make
      ‘stonen’--‘lapideus’, ‘steinern’, superfluous, any more than
      ‘earthy’ makes ‘earthen’. That part of the field in which the good
      seed withered so quickly (Matt. xiii. 5) was ‘stony’. The vessels
      which held the water that Christ turned into wine (John iii. 6)
      were ‘stonen’.

{191} J. Grimm (_Deutsche Gramm._ vol. i, p. 1040): Dass die starke form
      die ältere, kräftigere, innere; die schwache die spätere,
      gehemmtere und mehr äusserliche sey, leuchtet ein. Elsewhere,
      speaking generally of inflections by internal vowel change, he
      characterizes them as a ‘chief beauty’ (hauptschönheit) of the
      Teutonic languages. Marsh (_Manual of the English Language_, p.
      233, English ed.) protests, though, as it seems to me, on no
      sufficient grounds, against these terms ‘strong’ and ‘weak’, as
      themselves fanciful and inappropriate.

{192} The entire ignorance as to the past historic evolution of the
      language, with which some have undertaken to write about it, is
      curious. Thus the author of _Observations upon the English
      Language_, without date, but published about 1730, treats all
      these strong præterites as of recent introduction, counting ‘knew’
      to have lately expelled ‘knowed’, ‘rose’ to have acted the same
      part toward ‘rised’, and of course esteeming them as so many
      barbarous violations of the laws of the language; and concluding
      with the warning that “great care must be taken to prevent their
      increase”!!--p. 24. Cobbett does not fall into this absurdity, yet
      proposes in his _English Grammar_, that they should all be
      abolished as inconvenient. [Now many others are rapidly becoming
      obsolescent. How seldom do we hear ‘drank’, ‘shrank’, ‘sprang’,

{193} J. Grimm (_Deutsche Gramm._ vol. i. p. 839): “Die starke flexion
      stufenweise versinkt und ausstirbt, die schwache aber um sich
      greift”. Cf. i. 994, 1040; ii. 5; iv. 509.

{194} [See also J. C. Hare, _Two Essays in Eng. Philology_ i. 47-56.]

{195} Thus Wallis (_Gramm. Ling. Anglic._, 1654): Singulari numero
      siquis alium compellet, vel dedignantis illud esse solet, vel
      familiariter blandientis. [For a good discussion of the old use of
      ‘thou’, see the Hares, _Guesses at Truth_, 1847, pp. 169-90. Even
      at the present day a Wessex matron has been known to resent the
      too familiar address of an inferior with the words, “Who bist thou
      _a-theein’_ of”? (_The Spectator_, 1904, Sept. 3, p. 319).]

{196} What the actual position of the compellation ‘thou’ was at that
      time, we may perhaps best learn from this passage in Fuller’s
      _Church History, Dedication of Book_ vii.: “In opposition
      whereunto [i.e. to the Quaker usage] we maintain that _thou_ from
      superiors to inferiors is proper, as a sign of command; from
      equals to equals is passable, as a note of familiarity; but from
      inferiors to superiors, if proceeding from ignorance, hath a smack
      of clownishness; if from affectation, a tone of contempt”.

{197} See on this subject of the dropping of grammatical gender, Pott,
      _Etymologische Forschungen_, part 2, pp. 404, _sqq._



I propose, according to the plan sketched out in my first lecture, to
take for my subject in the present those changes which in the course of
time have found place, or now are finding place, in the meaning of many
among our English words; so that, whether we are aware of it or not, we
employ them at this day in senses very different from those in which our
forefathers employed them of old. You observe that it is not _obsolete_
words, words quite fallen out of present use, which I propose to
consider; but such, rather, as are still on the lips of men, but with
meanings more or less removed from those which once they possessed. My
subject is far more practical, has far more to do with your actual life,
than if I had taken obsolete words, and considered them. These last have
an interest indeed, but it is an interest of an antiquarian character.
They constituted a part of the intellectual money with which our
ancestors carried on the business of their life; but now they are rather
medals for the cabinets and collections of the curious than current
money for the needs and pleasures of all. Their wings are clipped, so
that they are “_winged_ words” no more; the spark of thought or
feeling, kindling from mind to mind, no longer runs along them, as along
the electric wires of the soul.

{Sidenote: _Obsolete Words_}

And then, besides this, there is little or no danger that any should be
misled by them. A reader lights for the first time on one of these
obsolete English words, as ‘frampold’, or ‘garboil’, or ‘brangle’{198};
he is at once conscious of his ignorance; he has recourse to a glossary,
of if he guesses from the context at the word’s signification, still his
guess is as a guess to him, and no more. But words that have changed
their meaning have often a deceivableness about them; a reader not once
doubts but that he knows their intention, has no misgiving but that they
possess for him the same force which they possessed for their writer,
and conveyed to _his_ contemporaries, when indeed it is quite otherwise.
The old life has gone out of them and a new life entered in.

Thus, for example, a reader of our day lights upon such a passage as the
following (it is from the _Preface_ to Howell’s _Lexicon_, 1660):
“Though the root of the English language be _Dutch_{199}, yet it may be
said to have been inoculated afterwards on a French stock”. He may know
that the Dutch is a sister language or dialect to our own; but this
that it is the mother or root of it will certainly perplex him, and he
will hardly know what to make of the assertion; perhaps he ascribes it
to an error in his author, who is thereby unduly lowered in his esteem.
But presently in the course of his reading he meets with the following
statement, this time in Fuller’s _Holy War_, being a history of the
Crusades: “The French, _Dutch_, Italian, and English were the four
elemental nations, whereof this army [of the Crusaders] was compounded”.
If the student has sufficient historical knowledge to know that in the
time of the Crusades there were no Dutch in our use of the word, this
statement would merely startle him; and probably before he had finished
the chapter, having his attention once aroused, he would perceive that
Fuller with the writers of his time used ‘Dutch’ for German; even as it
was constantly so used up to the end of the seventeenth century; and as
the Americans use it to this present day; what we call now a Dutchman
being then a Hollander. But a young student might very possibly want
that amount of previous knowledge, which should cause him to receive
this announcement with misgiving and surprise; and thus he might carry
away altogether a wrong impression, and rise from a perusal of the book,
persuaded that the Dutch, as we call them, played an important part in
the Crusades, while the Germans took little or no part in them at all.

{Sidenote: _Miscreant_}

And as it is here with an historic fact, so still more often will it
happen with the subtler changes which words have undergone. Out of this
it will continually happen that they convey now much more blame and
condemnation, or convey now much less, than formerly they did; or of a
different kind; and a reader not aware of the altered value which they
now possess, may be in continual danger of misreading his author, of
misunderstanding his intentions, while he has no doubt whatever that he
perfectly apprehends and takes it in. Thus when Shakespeare in _1 Henry
VI_ makes the gallant York address Joan of Arc as a ‘miscreant’, how
coarse a piece of invective this sounds; how unlike what the chivalrous
soldier would have uttered; or what one might have supposed Shakespeare,
even with his unworthy estimate of the holy warrior Maid, would have put
into his mouth. But a ‘miscreant’ in Shakespeare’s time had nothing of
the meaning which now it has. It was simply, in agreement with its
etymology, a misbeliever, one who did not believe rightly the Articles
of the Catholic Faith. And I need not remind you that this was the
constant charge which the English brought against Joan,--namely, that
she was a dealer in hidden magical arts, a witch, and as such had fallen
from the faith. On this plea they burnt her, and it is this which York
means when he calls her a ‘miscreant’, and not what we should intend by
the name.

In reading of poetry above all what beauties are often missed, what
forces lost, through this assumption that the present of a word is
always equivalent to its past. How often the poet is wronged in our
estimation; that seeming to us now flat and pointless, which at once
would lose this character, did we know how to read into some word the
emphasis which it once had, but which now has departed from it. For
example, Milton ascribes in _Comus_ the “_tinsel-slippered_ feet” to
Thetis, the goddess of the sea. How comparatively poor an epithet this
‘tinsel-slippered’ sounds for those who know of ‘tinsel’ only in its
modern acceptation of mean and tawdry finery, affecting a splendour
which it does not really possess. But learn its earlier use by learning
its derivation, bring it back to the French ‘étincelle’, and the Latin
‘scintillula’; see in it, as Milton and the writers of his time saw,
‘the sparkling’, and how exquisitely beautiful a title does this become
applied to a goddess of the sea; how vividly does it call up before our
mind’s eye the quick glitter and sparkle of the waves under the light of
sun or moon{200}. It is Homer’s ‘silver-footed’ (ἀργυρόπεζα), not
servilely transferred, but reproduced and made his own by the English
poet, dealing as one great poet will do with another; who will not
disdain to borrow, but to what he borrows will add often a further grace
of his own.

{Sidenote: ‘_Influence_’}

Or, again, do we keep in mind, or are we even aware, that whenever the
word ‘influence’ occurs in our English poetry, down to comparatively a
modern date, there is always more or less remote allusions to invisible
illapses of power, skyey, planetary effects, supposed to be exercised by
the heavenly luminaries upon the lives of men{201}? How many a passage
starts into new life and beauty and fulness of allusion, when this is
present with us; even Milton’s

          “store of ladies, whose bright eyes
    Rain _influence_”,

as spectators of the tournament, gain something, when we regard
them--and using this language, he intended we should--as the luminaries
of this lower sphere, shedding by their propitious presence strength and
valour into the hearts of their knights.

{Sidenote: ‘_Baffle_’}

The word even in its present acceptation may yield, as here, a
convenient and even a correct sense; we may fall into no positive
misapprehension about it; and still, through ignorance of its past
history and of the force which it once possessed, we may miss a great
part of its significance. We are not _beside_ the meaning of our author,
but we are _short_ of it. Thus in Beaumont and Fletcher’s _King and no
King_, (Act iii. Sc. 2,) a cowardly braggart of a soldier describes the
treatment he experienced, when like Parolles he was at length found out,
and stripped of his lion’s skin:--“They hung me up by the heels and beat
me with hazel sticks, ... that the whole kingdom took notice of me for a
_baffled_, whipped fellow”. The word to which I wish here to call your
attention is ‘baffled’. Were you reading this passage, there would
probably be nothing here to cause you to pause; you would attach to
‘baffled’ a sense which sorts very well with the context--“hung up by
the heels and beaten, all his schemes of being thought much of were
_baffled_ and defeated”. But “baffled” implies far more than this; it
contains allusion to a custom in the days of chivalry, according to
which a perjured or recreant knight was either in person, or more
commonly in effigy, hung up by the heels, his scutcheon blotted, his
spear broken, and he himself or his effigy made the mark and subject of
all kinds of indignities; such a one being said to be ‘baffled’{202}.
Twice in Spenser recreant knights are so dealt with. I can only quote a
portion of the shorter passage, in which this infamous punishment is

    “And after all, for greater infamy
    He by the heels him hung upon a tree,
    And _baffled_ so, that all which passéd by
    The picture of his punishment might see”{203}.

Probably when Beaumont and Fletcher wrote, men were not so remote from
the days of chivalry, or at any rate from the literature of chivalry,
but that this custom was still fresh in their minds. How much more to
them than to us, so long as we are ignorant of the same, would those
words I just quoted have conveyed?

{Sidenote: ‘_Religion_’}

There are several places in the Authorized Version of Scripture where
those who are not aware of the changes which have taken place during the
last two hundred and fifty years in our language, can hardly fail of
being to a certain extent misled as to the intention of our Translators;
or, if they are better acquainted with Greek than with early English,
will be tempted to ascribe to them, though unjustly, an inexact
rendering of the original. Thus the altered meaning of a word involves
a serious misunderstanding in that well known statement of St. James,
“Pure _religion_ and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction”. “There”, exclaims
one who wishes to set up St. James against St. Paul, that so he may
escape the necessity of obeying either, “listen to what St. James says;
there is nothing mystical in what he requires; instead of harping on
faith as a condition necessary to salvation, he makes all religion to
consist in practical deeds of kindness from one to another”. But let us
pause for a moment. Did ‘religion’, when our translation was made, mean
godliness? did it mean the _sum total_ of our duties towards God? for,
of course, no one would deny that deeds of charity are a necessary part
of our Christian duty, an evidence of the faith which is in us. There is
abundant evidence to show that ‘religion’ did not mean this; that, like
the Greek θρησκεία, for which it here stands, like the Latin ‘religio’,
it meant the outward forms and embodiments in which the inward principle
of piety arrayed itself, the _external service_ of God; and St. James is
urging upon those to whom he is writing something of this kind: “Instead
of the ceremonial services of the Jews, which consisted in divers
washings and in other elements of this world, let our service, our
θρησκεία, take a nobler shape, let it consist in deeds of pity and of
love”--and it was this which our Translators intended, when they used
‘religion’ here and ‘religious’ in the verse preceding. How little
‘religion’ once meant godliness, how predominantly it was used for the
_outward_ service of God, is plain from many passages in our
_Homilies_, and from other contemporary literature.

Again, there are words in our Liturgy which I have no doubt are commonly
misunderstood. The mistake involves no serious error; yet still in our
own language, and in words which we have constantly in our mouths, and
at most solemn times, it is certainly better to be right than wrong. In
the Litany we pray God that it would please Him, “to give and preserve
to our use the _kindly_ fruits of the earth”. What meaning do we attach
to this epithet, “the _kindly_ fruits of the earth”? Probably we
understand by it those fruits in which the _kindness_ of God or of
nature towards us finds its expression. This is no unworthy explanation,
but still it is not the right one. The “_kindly_ fruits” are the
“_natural_ fruits”, those which the earth according to its _kind_ should
naturally bring forth, which it is appointed to produce. To show you how
little ‘kindly’ meant once benignant, as it means now, I will instance
an employment of it from Sir Thomas More’s _Life of Richard the Third_.
He tells us that Richard calculated by murdering his two nephews in the
Tower to make himself accounted “a _kindly_ king”--not certainly a
‘kindly’ one in our present usage of the word{204}; but, having put them
out of the way, that he should then be lineal heir of the Crown, and
should thus be reckoned as king _by kind_ or natural descent; and such
was of old the constant use of the word.

{Sidenote: ‘_Worship_’}

A phrase in one of our occasional Services “with my body I thee
_worship_”, has sometimes offended those who are unacquainted with the
early use of English words, and thus with the intention of the actual
framers of that Service. Clearly in our modern sense of ‘worship’, this
language would be unjustifiable. But ‘worship’ or ‘worthship’ meant
‘honour’ in our early English, and ‘to worship’ to honour, this meaning
of ‘worship’ still very harmlessly surviving in the title of “your
worship”, addressed to the magistrate on the bench. So little was it
restrained of old to the honour which man is bound to pay to God, that
it was employed by Wiclif to express the honour which God will render to
his faithful servants and friends. Thus our Lord’s declaration “If any
man serve Me, him will my Father _honour_”, in Wiclif’s translation
reads thus, “If any man serve Me, my Father shall _worship_ him”. I do
not say that there is not sufficient reason to change the words, “with
my body I thee _worship_”, if only there were any means of changing
anything which is now antiquated and out of date in our services or
arrangements. I think it would be very well if they were changed, liable
as they are to misunderstanding and misconstruction now; but still they
did not mean at the first, and therefore do not now really mean, any
more than, “with my body I thee _honour_”, and so you may reply to any
fault-finder here.

Take another example of a very easy misapprehension, although not now
from Scripture or the Prayer Book, Fuller, our Church historian, having
occasion to speak of some famous divine that was lately dead, exclaims,
“Oh the _painfulness_ of his preaching!” If we did not know the former
uses of ‘painfulness’, we might take this for an exclamation wrung out
at the recollection of the tediousness which he inflicted on his
hearers. Far from it; the words are a record not of the _pain_ which he
caused to others, but of the _pains_ which he bestowed himself: and I am
persuaded, if we had more ‘painful’ preachers in the old sense of the
word, that is, who _took_ pains themselves, we should have fewer
‘painful’ ones in the modern sense, who _cause_ pain to their hearers.
So too Bishop Grosthead is recorded as “the _painful_ writer of two
hundred books”--not meaning hereby that these books were painful in the
reading, but that he was laborious and painful in their composing.

Here is another easy misapprehension. Swift wrote a pamphlet, or, as he
called it, a _Letter to the Lord Treasurer_, with this title, “A
proposal for correcting, improving, and _ascertaining_ the English
Tongue”. Who that brought a knowledge of present English, and no more,
to this passage, would doubt that “_ascertaining_ the English Tongue”
meant arriving at a certain knowledge of what it was? Swift, however,
means something quite different from this. “_To ascertain_ the English
tongue” is not with him to arrive at a subjective certainty in our own
minds of what that tongue is, but to give an objective certainty to that
tongue itself, so that henceforth it shall not alter nor change. For
even Swift himself, with all his masculine sense, entertained a dream
of this kind, as is more fully declared in the work itself{205}.

{Sidenote: ‘_Treacle_’}

In other places unacquaintance with the changes in a word’s usage will
not so much mislead as leave you nearly or altogether at a loss in
respect of the intention of an author whom you may be reading. It is
evident that he has a meaning, but what it is you are unable to divine,
even though all the words he employs are words in familiar employment to
the present day. For example, the poet Waller is congratulating Charles
the Second on his return from exile, and is describing the way in which
all men, even those formerly most hostile to him, were now seeking his
favour, and he writes:

    “Offenders now, the chiefest, do begin
    To strive for grace, and expiate their sin:
    All winds blow fair that did the world embroil,
    _Your vipers treacle yield_, and scorpions oil”.

Many a reader before now has felt, as I cannot doubt, a moment’s
perplexity at the now courtly poet’s assertion that “_vipers treacle
yield_”--who yet has been too indolent, or who has not had the
opportunity, to search out what his meaning might be. There is in fact
allusion here to a curious piece of legendary lore. ‘Treacle’, or
‘triacle’, as Chaucer wrote it, was originally a Greek word, and wrapped
up in itself the once popular belief (an anticipation, by the way, of
homœopathy), that a confection of the viper’s flesh was the most potent
antidote against the viper’s bite{206}. Waller goes back to this the
word’s old meaning, familiar enough in his time, for Milton speaks of
“the sovran _treacle_ of sound doctrine”{207}, while “Venice treacle”,
or “viper wine”, as it sometimes was called, was a common name for a
supposed antidote against all poisons; and he would imply that regicides
themselves began to be loyal, vipers not now yielding hurt any more, but
rather healing for the old hurts which they themselves had inflicted. To
trace the word down to its present use, it may be observed that,
designating first this antidote, it then came to designate any antidote,
then any medicinal confection or sweet syrup; and lastly that particular
syrup, namely, the sweet syrup of molasses, to which alone it is now

{Sidenote: ‘_Blackguard_’}

I will draw on the writings of Fuller for one more example. In his _Holy
War_, having enumerated the rabble rout of fugitive debtors, runaway
slaves, thieves, adulterers, murderers, of men laden for one cause or
another with heaviest censures of the Church, who swelled the ranks, and
helped to make up the army, of the Crusaders, he exclaimed, “A
lamentable case that the devil’s _black guard_ should be God’s
soldiers”! What does he mean, we may ask, by “the devil’s _black
guard_”? Nor is this a solitary mention of the “black guard”. On the
contrary, the phrase is of very frequent recurrence in the early
dramatists and others down to the time of Dryden, who gives as one of
his stage directions in _Don Sebastian_, “Enter the captain of the
rabble, with the _Black guard_”. What is this “black guard”? Has it any
connexion with a word of our homeliest vernacular? We feel that probably
it has so; yet at first sight the connexion is not very apparent, nor
indeed the exact force of the phrase. Let me trace its history. In old
times, the palaces of our kings and seats of our nobles were not so well
and completely furnished as at the present day: and thus it was
customary, when a royal progress was made, or when the great nobility
exchanged one residence for another, that at such a removal all kitchen
utensils, pots and pans, and even coals, should be also carried with
them where they went. Those who accompanied and escorted these, the
lowest, meanest, and dirtiest of the retainers, were called ‘the black
guard’{208}; then any troop or company of ragamuffins; and lastly, when
the origin of the word was lost sight of, and it was forgotten that it
properly implied a company, a rabble rout, and not a single person, one
would compliment another, not as belonging to, but as himself being, the

The examples which I have adduced are, I am persuaded, sufficient to
prove that it is not a useless and unprofitable study, nor yet one
altogether without entertainment, to which I invite you; that on the
contrary any one who desires to read with accuracy, and thus with
advantage and pleasure, our earlier classics, who would avoid continual
misapprehension in their perusal, and would not often fall short of, and
often go astray from, their meaning, must needs bestow some attention on
the altered significance of English words. And if this is so, we could
not more usefully employ what remains of this present lecture than in
seeking to indicate those changes which words most frequently undergo;
and to trace as far as we can the causes, mental and moral, at work in
the minds of men to bring these changes about, with the good and evil
out of which they have sprung, and to which they bear witness.

For indeed these changes to which words in the progress of time are
submitted are not changes at random, but for the most part are obedient
to certain laws, are capable of being distributed into certain classes,
being the outward transcripts and witnesses of mental and moral
processes inwardly going forward in those who bring them about. Many, it
is true, will escape any classification of ours, the changes which have
taken place in their meaning being, or at least seeming to us, the
result of mere caprice; and not explicable by any principle which we can
appeal to as habitually at work in the mind. But, admitting all this, a
majority will still remain which are reducible to some law or other, and
with these we will occupy ourselves now.

{Sidenote: ‘_Duke_’, ‘_Corpse_’, ‘_Weed_’}

And first, the meaning of a word oftentimes is gradually narrowed. It
was once as a generic name, embracing many as yet unnamed species within
itself, which all went by its common designation. By and bye it is found
convenient that each of these should have its own more special sign
allotted to it{209}. It is here just as in some newly enclosed country,
where a single household will at first loosely occupy a whole district;
while, as cultivation proceeds, this district is gradually parcelled out
among a dozen or twenty, and under more accurate culture employs and
sustains them all. Thus, for example, all food was once called ‘meat’;
it is so in our Bible, and ‘horse-meat’ for fodder is still no unusual
phrase; yet ‘meat’ is now a name given only to flesh. Any little book or
writing was a ‘libel’ once; now only such a one as is scurrilous and
injurious. Any leader was a ‘duke’ (dux); thus “_duke_ Hannibal” (Sir
Thomas Eylot), “_duke_ Brennus” (Holland), “_duke_ Theseus”
(Shakespeare), “_duke_ Amalek”, with other ‘dukes’ (Gen. xxxvi.). Any
journey, by land as much as by sea, was a ‘voyage’. ‘Fairy’ was not a
name restricted, as now, to the _Gothic_ mythology; thus “the _fairy_
Egeria” (Sir J. Harrington). A ‘corpse’ might be quite as well living as
dead{210}. ‘Weeds’ were whatever covered the earth or the person; while
now as respects the earth, those only are ‘weeds’ which are noxious, or
at least self-sown; as regards the person, we speak of no other ‘weeds’
but the widow’s{211}. In each of these cases, the same contraction of
meaning, the separating off and assigning to other words of large
portions of this, has found place. ‘To starve’ (the German ‘sterben’,
and generally spelt ‘sterve’ up to the middle of the seventeenth
century), meant once to die any manner of death; thus Chaucer says,
Christ “_sterved_ upon the cross for our redemption”; it now is
restricted to the dying by cold or by hunger. Words not a few were once
applied to both sexes alike, which are now restricted to the female. It
is so even with ‘girl’, which was once a young person of either
sex{212}; while other words in this list, such for instance as
‘hoyden’{213} (Milton, prose), ‘shrew’ (Chaucer), ‘coquet’ (Phillips,
_New World of Words_), ‘witch’ (Wiclif), ‘termagant’ (Bale), ‘scold’,
‘jade’, ‘slut’ (Gower), must be regarded in their present exclusive
appropriation to the female sex as evidences of men’s rudeness, and not
of women’s deserts.

{Sidenote: _Words used more accurately_}

The necessities of an advancing civilization demand a greater precision
and accuracy in the use of words having to do with weight, measure,
number, size. Almost all such words as ‘acre’, ‘furlong’, ‘yard’,
‘gallon’, ‘peck’, were once of a vague and unsettled use, and only at a
later day, and in obedience to the requirements of commerce and social
life, exact measures and designations. Thus every field was once an
‘acre’; and this remains so still with the German ‘acker’, and in our
“God’s acre”, as a name for a churchyard{214}; it was not till about the
reign of Edward the First that ‘acre’ was commonly restricted to a
determined measure and portion of land. Here and there even now a
glebeland will be called “the acre”; and this, even while it contains
not one but many of our measured acres. A ‘furlong’ was a ‘furrowlong’,
or length of a furrow{215}. Any pole was a ‘yard’, and this vaguer use
survives in ‘sail_yard_’, ‘hal_yard_’, and in other sea-terms. Every
pitcher was a ‘galon’ (Mark xiv. 13, Wiclif), while a ‘peck’ was no more
than a ‘poke’ or bag{216}. And the same has no doubt taken place in all
other languages. I will only remind you how the Greek ‘drachm’ was at
first a handful (δραχμή = ‘manipulus’, from δράσσω, to grasp); its
later word for ‘ten thousand’ (μύριοι) implied in Homer’s time any great
multitude; and with the accent on a different syllable always retained
this meaning.

{Sidenote: _Words used less accurately_}

Opposite to this is a counter-process by which words of narrower
intention gradually enlarge the domain of their meaning, becoming
capable of much wider application than any which once they admitted.
Instances in this kind are fewer than in that which we have just been
considering. The main stream and course of human thoughts and human
discourse tends the other way, to discerning, distinguishing, dividing;
and then to the permanent fixing of the distinctions gained, by the aid
of designations which shall keep apart for ever in word that which has
been once severed and sundered in thought. Nor is it hard to perceive
why this process should be the more frequent. Men are first struck with
the likenesses between those things which are presented to them, with
their points of resemblance; on the strength of which they bracket them
under a common term. Further acquaintance reveals their points of
unlikeness, the real dissimilarities which lurk under superficial
resemblances, the need therefore of a different notation for objects
which are essentially different. It is comparatively much rarer to
discover real likeness under what at first appeared as unlikeness; and
usually when a word moves forward, and from a specialty indicates now a
generality, it is not in obedience to any such discovery of the true
inner likeness of things,--the steps of successful generalizations being
marked and secured in other ways. But this widening of a word’s meaning
is too often a result of those elements of disorganization and decay
which are at work in a language. Men forget a word’s history and
etymology; its distinctive features are obliterated for them, with all
which attached it to some thought or fact which by right was its own.
Appropriated and restricted once to some striking specialty which it
vigorously set out, it can now be used in a wider, vaguer, more
unsettled way. It can be employed twenty times for once when it would
have been possible formerly to employ it. Yet this is not gain, but pure
loss. It has lost its place in the disciplined _army_ of words, and
become one of a loose and disorderly _mob_.

Let me instance the word ‘preposterous’. It is now no longer of any
practical service at all in the language, being merely an ungraceful and
slipshod synonym for absurd. But restore and confine it to its old use;
let it designate that one peculiar branch of absurdity which it
designated once, namely the reversing of the true order of things, the
putting of the last first, and, by consequence, of the first last, and
of what excellent service the word would be capable. Thus it is
‘preposterous’, in the most accurate use of the word, to put the cart
before the horse, to expect wages before the work is done, to hang a man
first and try him afterwards; and in this strict and accurate sense the
word was always used by our elder writers{217}.

In like manner ‘to prevaricate’ was never employed by good writers of
the seventeenth century without nearer or more remote allusion to the
uses of the word in the Roman law courts, where a ‘prævaricator’
(properly a straddler with distorted legs) did not mean generally and
loosely, as now with us, one who shuffles, quibbles, and evades; but one
who plays false in a particular manner; who, undertaking, or being by
his office bound, to prosecute a charge, is in secret collusion with the
opposite party; and, betraying the cause which he affects to support, so
manages the accusation as to obtain not the condemnation, but the
acquittal, of the accused; a “feint pleader”, as, I think, in our old
law language he would have been termed. How much force would the keeping
of this in mind add to many passages in our elder divines.

Or take ‘equivocal’, ‘equivocate’, ‘equivocation’. These words, which
belonged at first to logic, have slipped down into common use, and in so
doing have lost all the precision of their first employment.
‘Equivocation’ is now almost any such dealing in ambiguous words with
the intention of deceiving, as falls short of an actual lie; but
according to its etymology and in its primary use ‘equivocation’, this
fruitful mother of so much error, is the calling by the same name, of
things essentially diverse, hiding intentionally or otherwise a real
difference under a verbal resemblance{218}. Nor let it be urged in
defence of its present looser use, that only so could it have served the
needs of our ordinary conversation; on the contrary, had it retained its
first use, how serviceable an implement of thought would it have been in
detecting our own fallacies, or those of others; all which it can be now
no longer.

{Sidenote: ‘_Idea_’}

What now is ‘idea’ for us? How infinite the fall of this word since the
time when Milton sang of the Creator contemplating his newly created

                  “how it showed,
    Answering his great _idea_”,

to its present use when this person “has an _idea_ that the train has
started”, and the other “had no _idea_ that the dinner would be so bad”.
But this word ‘idea’ is perhaps the worst case in the English language.
Matters have not mended here since the times of Dr. Johnson; of whom
Boswell tells us: “He was particularly indignant against the almost
universal use of the word _idea_ in the sense of _notion_ or _opinion_,
when it is clear that _idea_ can only signify something of which an
image can be formed in the mind”. There is perhaps no word in the whole
compass of English, so seldom used with any tolerable correctness; in
none is the distance so immense between the frequent sublimity of the
word in its proper use, and the triviality of it in its slovenly and its

This tendency in words to lose the sharp, rigidly defined outline of
meaning which they once possessed, to become of wide, vague, loose
application instead of fixed, definite, and precise, to mean almost
anything, and so really to mean nothing, is among the most fatally
effectual which are at work for the final ruin of a language, and, I do
not fear to add, for the demoralization of those that speak it. It is
one against which we shall all do well to watch; for there is none of us
who cannot do something in keeping words close to their own proper
meaning, and in resisting their encroachment on the domain of others.

The causes which bring this mischief about are not hard to trace. We all
know that when a piece of our silver money has long fulfilled its part,
as “pale and common drudge ’tween man and man”, whatever it had at first
of sharper outline and livelier impress is in the end wholly obliterated
from it. So it is with words, above all with words of science and
theology. These getting into general use, and passing often from mouth
to mouth, lose the “image and superscription” which they had, before
they descended from the school to the market-place, from the pulpit to
the street. Being now caught up by those who understand imperfectly and
thus incorrectly their true value, who will not be at the pains of
understanding that, or who are incapable of doing so, they are obliged
to accommodate themselves to the lower sphere in which they circulate,
by laying aside much of the precision and accuracy and depth which once
they had; they become weaker, shallower, more indefinite; till in the
end, as exponents of thought and feeling, they cease to be of any
service at all.

       *       *       *       *       *

{Sidenote: ‘_Bombast_’, ‘_Garble_’}

Sometimes a word does not merely narrow or extend its meaning, but
altogether changes it; and this it does in more ways than one. Thus a
secondary figurative sense will quite put out of use and extinguish the
literal, until in the entire predominance of that it is altogether
forgotten that it ever possessed any other. I may instance ‘bombast’ as
a word about which this forgetfulness is nearly complete. What ‘bombast’
now means is familiar to us all, namely inflated words, “full of sound
and fury”, but “signifying nothing”. This, at present its sole meaning,
was once only the secondary and superinduced; ‘bombast’ being properly
the cotton plant, and then the cotton wadding with which garments were
stuffed out and lined. You remember perhaps how Prince Hal addresses
Falstaff, “How now, my sweet creature of _bombast_”; using the word in
its literal sense; and another early poet has this line:

    “Thy body’s bolstered out with _bombast_ and with bags”.

‘Bombast’ was then transferred in a vigorous image to the big words
without strength or solidity wherewith the discourses of some were
stuffed out, and has now quite forgone any other meaning. So too ‘to
garble’ was once “to cleanse from dross and dirt, as grocers do their
spices, to pick or cull out”{219}. It is never used now in this its
primary sense, and has indeed undergone this further change, that while
once ‘to garble’ was to sift for the purpose of selecting the best, it
is now to sift with a view of picking out the worst{220}. ‘Polite’ is
another word which in the figurative sense has quite extinguished the
literal. We still speak of ‘polished’ surfaces; but not any more, with
Cudworth, of “_polite_ bodies, as looking glasses”. Neither do we now
‘exonerate’ a ship (Burton); nor ‘stigmatize’, at least otherwise than
figuratively, a ‘malefactor’ (the same); nor ‘corroborate’ our health
(Sir Thomas Elyot).

Again, a word will travel on by slow and regularly progressive courses
of change, itself a faithful index of changes going on in society and in
the minds of men, till at length everything is changed about it. The
process of this it is often very curious to observe; capable as not
seldom it is of being watched step by step in its advances to the final
consummation. There may be said to be three leading phases which the
word successively presents, three steps in its history. At first it
grows naturally out of its own root, is filled with its own natural
meaning. Presently the word allows another meaning, one superinduced on
the former, and foreign to its etymology, to share with the other in the
possession of it, on the ground that where the former exists, the latter
commonly co-exists with it. At the third step, the newly introduced
meaning, not satisfied with its moiety, with dividing the possession of
the word, has thrust out the original and rightful possessor altogether,
and remains in sole and exclusive possession. The three successive
stages may be represented by _a_, _ab_, _b_; in which series _b_, which
was wanting altogether at the first stage, and was only admitted as
secondary at the second, does at the third become primary and indeed

{Sidenote: _Gradual Change of Meaning_}

We are not to suppose that in actual fact the transitions from one
signification to another are so strongly and distinctly marked, as I
have found it convenient to mark them here. Indeed it is hard to imagine
anything more gradual, more subtle and imperceptible, than the process
of change. The manner in which the new meaning first insinuates itself
into the old, and then drives out the old, can only be compared to the
process of petrifaction, as rightly understood--the water not gradually
turning what is put into it to stone, as we generally take the operation
to be; but successively displacing each several particle of that which
is brought within its power, and depositing a stony particle, in its
stead, till, in the end, while all appears to continue the same, all has
in fact been thoroughly changed. It is precisely thus, by such slow,
gradual, and subtle advances that the new meaning filters through and
pervades the word, little by little displacing entirely that which it
before possessed.

No word would illustrate this process better than that old example,
familiar probably to us all, of ‘villain’. The ‘villain’ is, first, the
serf or peasant, ‘villanus’, because attached to the ‘villa’ or farm. He
is, secondly, the peasant who, it is further taken for granted, will be
churlish, selfish, dishonest, and generally of evil moral conditions,
these having come to be assumed as always belonging to him, and to be
permanently associated with his name, by those higher classes of society
who in the main commanded the springs of language. At the third step,
nothing of the meaning which the etymology suggests, nothing of ‘villa’,
survives any longer; the peasant is wholly dismissed, and the evil moral
conditions of him who is called by this name alone remain; so that the
name would now in this its final stage be applied as freely to peer, if
he deserved it, as to peasant. ‘Boor’ has had exactly the same history;
being first the cultivator of the soil; then secondly, the cultivator of
the soil who, it is assumed, will be coarse, rude, and unmannerly; and
then thirdly, any one who is coarse, rude, and unmannerly{221}. So too
‘pagan’; which is first villager, then heathen villager, and lastly
heathen. You may trace the same progress in ‘churl’, ‘clown’, ‘antic’,
and in numerous other words. The intrusive meaning might be likened in
all these cases to the egg which the cuckoo lays in the sparrow’s nest;
the young cuckoo first sharing the nest with its rightful occupants, but
not resting till it has dislodged and ousted them altogether.

{Sidenote: ‘_Gossip_’}

I will illustrate by the aid of one word more this part of my subject. I
called your attention in my last lecture to the true character of
several words and forms in use among our country people, and claimed for
them to be in many instances genuine English, though English now more
or less antiquated and overlived. ‘Gossip’ is a word in point. I have
myself heard this name given by our Hampshire peasantry to the sponsors
in baptism, the godfathers and godmothers. I do not say that it is a
usual word; but it is occasionally employed, and well understood. This
is a perfectly correct employment of ‘gossip’, in fact its proper and
original one, and involves moreover a very curious record of past
beliefs. ‘Gossip’, or ‘gossib’, as Chaucer spelt it, is a compound word,
made up of the name of ‘God’, and of an old Anglo-Saxon word, ‘sib’,
still alive in Scotland, as all readers of Walter Scott will remember,
and in some parts of England, and which means, akin; they were said to
be ‘sib’, who are related to one another. But why, you may ask, was the
name given to sponsors? Out of this reason;--in the middle ages it was
the prevailing belief (and the Romish Church still affirms it), that
those who stood as sponsors to the same child, besides contracting
spiritual obligations on behalf of that child, also contracted spiritual
affinity one with another; they became _sib_, or akin, in _God_; and
thus ‘gossips’; hence ‘gossipred’, an old word, exactly analogous to
‘kindred’. Out of this faith the Roman Catholic Church will not allow
(unless indeed by dispensations procured for money), those who have
stood as sponsors to the same child, afterwards to contract marriage
with one another, affirming them too nearly related for this to be

Take ‘gossip’ however in its ordinary present use, as one addicted to
idle tittle-tattle, and it seems to bear no relation whatever to its
etymology and first meaning. The same three steps, however, which we
have traced before will bring us to its present use. ‘Gossips’ are,
first, the sponsors, brought by the act of a common sponsorship into
affinity and near familiarity with one another; secondly, these
sponsors, who being thus brought together, allow themselves one with the
other in familiar, and then in trivial and idle talk; thirdly, any who
allow themselves in this trivial and idle talk,--called in French
‘commérage’, from the fact that ‘commére’ has run through exactly the
same stages as its English equivalent.

It is plain that words which designate not things and persons only, but
these as they are contemplated more or less in an ethical light, words
which tinge with a moral sentiment what they designate, are peculiarly
exposed to change; are constantly liable to take a new colouring, or to
lose an old. The gauge and measure of praise or blame, honour or
dishonour, admiration or abhorrence, which they convey, is so purely a
mental and subjective one, that it is most difficult to take accurate
note of its rise or of its fall, while yet there are causes continually
at work leading it to the one or the other. There are words not a few,
but ethical words above all, which have so imperceptibly drifted away
from their former moorings, that although their position is now very
different from that which they once occupied, scarcely one in a hundred
of casual readers, whose attention has not been specially called to the
subject, will have observed that they have moved at all. Here too we
observe some words conveying less of praise or blame than once, and
some more; while some have wholly shifted from the one to the other.
Some were at one time words of slight, almost of offence, which have
altogether ceased to be so now. Still these are rare by comparison with
those which once were harmless, but now are harmless no more; which
once, it may be, were terms of honour, but which now imply a slight or
even a scorn. It is only too easy to perceive why these should exceed
those in number.

{Sidenote: ‘_Imp_’, ‘_Brat_’}

Let us take an example or two. If any were to speak now of royal
children as “royal _imps_”, it would sound, and with our present use of
the word would be, impertinent and unbecoming enough; and yet ‘imp’ was
once a name of dignity and honour, and not of slight or of undue
familiarity. Thus Spenser addresses the Muses in this language,

    “Ye sacred _imps_ that on Parnasso dwell”;

and ‘imp’ was especially used of the scions of royal or illustrious
houses. More than one epitaph, still existing, of our ancient nobility
might be quoted, beginning in such language as this, “Here lies that
noble _imp_”. Or what should we say of a poet who commenced a solemn
poem in this fashion,

    “Oh Israel, oh household of the Lord,
    Oh Abraham’s _brats_, oh brood of blessed seed”?

Could we conclude anything else but that he meant, by using low words on
lofty occasions, to turn sacred things into ridicule? Yet this was very
far from the intention of Gascoigne, the poet whose lines I have just
quoted. “Abraham’s _brats_” was used by him in perfect good faith, and
without the slightest feeling that anything ludicrous or contemptuous
adhered to the word ‘brat’, as indeed in his time there did not, any
more than adheres to ‘brood’, which is another form of the same word

Call a person ‘pragmatical’, and you now imply not merely that he is
busy, but _over_-busy, officious, self-important, and pompous to boot.
But it once meant nothing of the kind, and ‘pragmatical’ (like
πραγματικός) was one engaged in affairs, being an honourable title,
given to a man simply and industriously accomplishing the business which
properly concerned him{223}. So too to say that a person ‘meddles’ or is
a ‘meddler’ implies now that he interferes unduly in other men’s
matters, without a call mixing himself up with them. This was not
insinuated in the earlier uses of the word. On the contrary three of our
earlier translations of the Bible have, “_Meddle_ with your own
business” (1 Thess. iv. 11); and Barrow in one of his sermons draws at
some length the distinction between ‘meddling’ and “being _meddlesome_”,
and only condemns the latter.

{Sidenote: ‘_Proser_’}

Or take again the words, ‘to prose’ or a ‘proser’. It cannot indeed be
affirmed that they convey any _moral_ condemnation, yet they certainly
convey no compliment now; and are almost among the last which any one
would desire should with justice be applied either to his talking or his
writing. For ‘to prose’, as we all now know too well, is to talk or
write heavily and tediously, without spirit and without animation; but
once it was simply the antithesis of to versify, and a ‘proser’ the
antithesis of a versifier or a poet. It will follow that the most rapid
and liveliest writer who ever wrote, if he did not write in verse would
have ‘prosed’ and been a ‘proser’, in the language of our ancestors.
Thus Drayton writes of his contemporary Nashe:

    “And surely Nashe, though he a _proser_ were,
      A branch of laurel yet deserves to bear”;

that is, the ornament not of a ‘proser’, but of a poet. The tacit
assumption that vigour, animation, rapid movement, with all the
precipitation of the spirit, belong to verse rather than to prose, and
are the exclusive possession of it, is that which must explain the
changed uses of the word.

{Sidenote: ‘_Knave_’}

Still it is according to a word’s present signification that we must
apply it now. It would be no excuse, having applied an insulting epithet
to any, if we should afterwards plead that, tried by its etymology and
primary usage, it had nothing offensive or insulting about it; although
indeed Swift assures us that in his time such a plea was made and was
allowed. “I remember”, he says, “at a trial in Kent, where Sir George
Rooke was indicted for calling a gentleman ‘knave’ and ‘villain’, the
lawyer for the defendant brought off his client by alleging that the
words were not injurious; for ‘knave’ in the old and true signification
imported only a servant{224}; and ‘villain’ in Latin is villicus, which
is no more than a man employed in country labour, or rather a baily”.
The lawyer may have deserved his success for his ingenuity and his
boldness; though, if Swift reports him aright, not certainly on the
ground of the strict accuracy either of his Anglo-Saxon or his Latin.

The moral sense and conviction of men is often at work upon their words,
giving them new turns in obedience to these convictions, of which their
changed use will then remain a permanent record. Let me illustrate this
by the history of our word ‘sycophant’. You probably are acquainted with
the story which the Greek scholiasts invented by way of explaining a
word of which they knew nothing, namely that the ‘sycophant’ was a
“manifester of figs”, one who detected others in the act of exporting
figs from Attica, an act forbidden, they asserted, by the Athenian law;
and accused them to the people. Be this explanation worth what it may,
the word obtained in Greek a more general sense; any accuser, and then
any _false_ accuser, was a ‘sycophant’; and when the word was first
adopted into the English language, it was in this meaning: thus an old
English poet speaks of “the railing route of _sycophants_”; and Holland:
“The poor man that hath nought to lose, is not afraid of the
_sycophant_”. But it has not kept this meaning; a ‘sycophant’ is now a
fawning flatterer; not one who speaks ill of you behind your back;
rather one who speaks good of you before your face, but good which he
does not in his heart believe. Yet how true a moral instinct has
presided over the changed signification of the word. The calumniator and
the flatterer, although they seem so opposed to one another, how closely
united they really are. They grow out of the same root. The same
baseness of spirit which shall lead one to speak evil of you behind your
back, will lead him to fawn on you and flatter you before your face;
there is a profound sense in that Italian proverb, “Who flatters me
before, spatters me behind”.

{Sidenote: _Weakening of Words_}

But it is not the moral sense only of men which is thus at work,
modifying their words; but the immoral as well. If the good which men
have and feel, penetrates into their speech, and leaves its deposit
there, so does also the evil. Thus we may trace a constant tendency--in
too many cases it has been a successful one--to empty words employed in
the condemnation of evil, of the depth and earnestness of the moral
reprobation which they once conveyed. Men’s too easy toleration of sin,
the feebleness of their moral indignation against it, brings about that
the blame which words expressed once, has in some of them become much
weaker now than once, has from others vanished altogether. “To do a
_shrewd_ turn”, was once to do a _wicked_ turn; and Chaucer, using
‘shrewdness’ by which to translate the Latin ‘improbitas’, shows that it
meant wickedness for him; nay, two murderers he calls two ‘shrews’,--for
there were, as already noticed, male shrews once as well as female. But
“a _shrewd_ turn” now, while it implies a certain amount of sharp
dealing, yet implies nothing more; and ‘shrewdness’ is applied to men
rather in their praise than in their dispraise. And not ‘shrewd’ and
‘shrewdness’ only, but a multitude of other words,--I will only instance
‘prank’ ‘flirt’, ‘luxury’, ‘luxurious’, ‘peevish’, ‘wayward’,
‘loiterer’, ‘uncivil’,--conveyed once a much more earnest moral
disapproval than now they do.

But I must bring this lecture to a close. I have but opened to you
paths, which you, if you are so minded, can follow up for yourselves. We
have learned lately to speak of men’s ‘antecedents’{225}; the phrase is
newly come up; and it is common to say that if we would know what a man
really now is, we must know his ‘antecedents’, that is, what he has been
in time past. This is quite as true about words. If we would know what
they now are, we must know what they have been; we must know, if
possible, the date and place of their birth, the successive stages of
their subsequent history, the company which they have kept, all the road
which they have travelled, and what has brought them to the point at
which now we find them; we must know, in short, their antecedents.

{Sidenote: _Changes of Meaning_}

And let me say, without attempting to bring back school into these
lectures which are out of school, that, seeking to do this, we might add
an interest to our researches in the lexicon and the dictionary which
otherwise they could never have; that taking such words, for example, as
ἐκκλησία, or παλιγγενεσία, or εὐτραπελία, or σοφιστής, or σχολαστικός,
in Greek; as ‘religio’, or ‘sacramentum’, or ‘urbanitas’, or
‘superstitio’, in Latin; as ‘libertine’, or ‘casuistry’{226}, or
‘humanity’, or ‘humorous’, or ‘danger’, or ‘romance’, in English, and
endeavouring to trace the manner in which one meaning grew out of and
superseded another, and how they arrived at that use in which they have
finally rested (if indeed before our English words there is not a future
still), we shall derive, I believe, amusement, I am sure, instruction;
we shall feel that we are really getting something, increasing the moral
and intellectual stores of our minds; furnishing ourselves with that
which may hereafter be of service to ourselves, may be of service to
others--than which there can be no feeling more pleasurable, none more
delightful. I shall be glad and thankful, if you can feel as much in
regard of that lecture, which I now bring to its end{227}.


{198} [‘Frampold’, peevish, perverse (_Merry Wives of Windsor_, 1598,
      ii, 2, 94) is supposed to be another form of ‘from-polled’, as if
      ‘wrong-headed’. ‘Garboil’, a tumult or hubbub, was originally
      _garboyl_, and came from old French _garbouil_ (Italian
      _garbuglio_). ‘Brangle’, a brawl, stands for ‘brandle’ from Old
      Fr. _brandeler_, akin to ‘brandish’.]

{199} [‘Dutch’ i.e. Teutonic, Mid. High-German _diutsch_, old
      High-German _diut-isk_ from _diot_, people, and so the people-ish
      or popular language the mother-tongue, founded on a primitive
      _teuta_, ‘people’. See Kluge _s.v. Deutsch_.]

{200} So in Herrick’s _Electra_:

          “More white than are the whitest creams,
          Or moonlight _tinselling_ the streams”.

{201} [Hence also the epidemic of malefic power supposed to be
      air-borne, ‘influenza’.]

{202} See Holinshed’s _Chronicles_, vol. iii, pp. 827, 1218; Ann. 1513,

{203} _Fairy Queen_, vi, 7, 27; cf. v. 3, 37.

{204} [The two words are intimately related, ‘king’, contracted for
      _kining_ (Anglo-Saxon _cyn-ing_), ‘son of the kin’ or ‘tribe’, one
      of the people, cognate with _cynde_, true-born, native, ‘kind’,
      and _cynd_, nature ‘kind’, whence ‘kindly’, natural.]

{205} See Sir W. Scott’s edition of Swift’s _Works_, vol. ix, p. 139.

{206} θηριακή, from θηρίον, a designation given to the viper, see Acts
      xxviii, 4. ‘Theriac’ is only the more rigid form of the same word,
      the scholarly, as distinguished from the popular, adoption of it.
      Augustine (_Con. duas Epp. Pelag._ iii, 7): Sicut fieri consuevit
      antidotum etiam de serpentibus contra venena serpentum.

{207} And Chaucer, more solemnly still:

          “Christ, which that is to every harm _triacle_”.

      The _antidotal_ character of treacle comes out yet more in these
      lines of Lydgate:

              “There is no _venom_ so parlious in sharpnes,
          As whan it hath of _treacle_ a likenes”.

{208} “A slave that within these twenty years rode with the _black
      guard_ in the Duke’s carriage, ’mongst spits and dripping pans”.
      (Webster’s _White Devil_.) [First ed. 1612. “The Black Guard of
      the King’s Kitchen” is mentioned in a State Paper of 1535

{209} Génin (_Lexique de la Langue de Molière_, p. 367) says well: “En
      augmentant le nombre des mots, il a fallu restreindre leur
      signification, et faire aux nouveaux un apanage aux dépens des

{210} [Accordingly there is nothing tautological in the “dead corpses”
      of 2 Kings xix, 35, in the A.V.]

{211} [‘Weed’, vegetable growth, Anglo-Saxon _weód_, is here confounded
      with a perfectly distinct word ‘weed’, clothing, which is the
      Anglo-Saxon _waéd_, a garment.]

{212} And no less so in French with ‘dame’, by which form not ‘domina’
      only, but ‘dominus’, was represented. Thus in early French poetry,
      “_Dame_ Dieu” for “_Dominus_ Deus” continually occurs. We have
      here the key to the French exclamation, or oath, as we now
      perceive it to be, ‘Dame’! of which the dictionaries give no
      account. See Génin’s _Variations du Langage Français_, p. 347.

{213} [‘Hoyden’ seems to be derived from the old Dutch _heyden_, a
      heathen, then a clownish, boorish fellow.]

{214} [This “ancient Saxon phrase”, as Longfellow calls it, has not been
      found in any old English writer, but has been adopted from the
      Modern German. Neither is it known in the dialects, E.D.D.]

{215} “A _furlong_, quasi _furrowlong_, being so much as a team in
      England plougheth going forward, before they return back again”.
      (Fuller, _Pisgah Sight of Palestine_, p. 42.) [‘Furlong’ in St.
      Luke xxiv, 13, already occurs in the Anglo-Saxon version of that
      passage as _furlanga_.]

{216} [Recent etymologists cannot see any connexion between ‘peck’ and

{217} [e. g. “One said thus _preposterously_: ‘when we had climbed the
      clifs and were a shore’” (Puttenham, _Arte of Eng. Poesie_, 1589,
      p. 181, ed. Arber). “It is a _preposterous_ order to teach first
      and to learn after” (_Preface to Bible_, 1611). “Place not the
      coming of the wise men, _preposterously_, before the appearance of
      the star” (Abp. Secker, _Sermons_, iii, 85, ed. 1825).]

{218} Thus Barrow: “Which [courage and constancy] he that wanteth is no
      other than _equivocally_ a gentleman, as an image or a carcass is
      a man”.

{219} Phillips, _New World of Words_, 1706. [‘Garble’ comes through old
      French _garbeler_, _grabeler_ (Italian _garbellare_) from Latin
      _cribellare_, to sift, and that from _cribellum_, a sieve,
      diminutive of _cribrum_.]

{220} “But his [Gideon’s] army must be _garbled_, as too great for God
      to give victory thereby; all the fearful return home by
      proclamation” (Fuller, _Pisgah Sight of Palestine_, b. ii, c. 8).

{221} [Compare the transitions of meaning in French _manant_ = (1) a
      dweller (where he was born--from _manoir_ to dwell), the
      inhabitant of a homestead, (2) a countryman, (3) a clown or boor,
      a coarse fellow.]

{222} [These words lie totally apart. ‘Brat’, an infant, seems a
      figurative use of ‘brat’, a rag or pinafore, just as ‘bantling’
      comes from ‘band’, a swathe.]

{223} “We cannot always be contemplative, or _pragmatical_ abroad: but
      have need of some delightful intermissions, wherein the enlarged
      soul may leave off awhile her severe schooling”. (Milton,

{224} [Anglo-Saxon _cnafa_, or _cnapa_, a boy.]

{225} [Mr. Fitzedward Hall in 1873 says ‘antecedents’ is “not yet a
      generation old” (_Mod. English_, 303). Landor in 1853 says “the
      French have lately taught (it to) us” (_Last Fruit of an Old
      Tree_, 176). De Quincey, in 1854 calls it “modern slang” (_Works_
      xiv, 449); and the earliest quotation, 1841, given in the N.E.D.,
      introduces it as “what the French call their antecedents”.]

{226} See Whewell, _History of Moral Philosophy in England_, pp.

{227} For a fuller treatment of the subject of this lecture, see my
      _Select Glossary of English Words used formerly in senses
      different from their present_, 2nd ed. London, 1859.



When I announce to you that the subject of my lecture to-day will be
English orthography, or the spelling of the words in our native
language, with the alterations which this has undergone, you may perhaps
think with yourselves that a weightier, or, if not a weightier, at all
events a more interesting subject might have occupied this our
concluding lecture. I cannot admit it to be wanting either in importance
or in interest. Unimportant it certainly is not, but might well engage,
as it often has engaged, the attention of those with far higher
acquirements than any which I possess. Uninteresting it may be, by
faults in the manner of treating it; but I am sure it ought as little to
be this; and would never prove so in competent hands{228}. Let us then
address ourselves to this matter, not without good hope that it may
yield us both profit and pleasure.

I know not who it was that said, “The invention of printing was very
well; but, as compared to the invention of writing, it was no such great
matter after all”. Whoever it was who made this observation, it is clear
that for him use and familiarity had not obliterated the wonder which
there is in that, whereat we probably have long ceased to wonder at
all--the power, namely, of representing sounds by written signs, of
reproducing for the eye that which existed at first only for the ear:
nor was the estimate which he formed of the relative value of these two
inventions other than a just one. Writing indeed stands more nearly on a
level with speaking, and deserves rather to be compared with it, than
with printing; which, with all its utility, is yet of altogether another
and inferior type of greatness: or, if this is too much to claim for
writing, it may at any rate be affirmed to stand midway between the
other two, and to be as much superior to the one as it is inferior to
the other.

The intention of the written word, that which presides at its first
formation, the end whereunto it is a mean, is by aid of symbols agreed
on beforehand, to represent to the eye with as much accuracy as possible
the spoken word.

{Sidenote: _Imperfection of Writing_}

It never fulfils this intention completely, and by degrees more and more
imperfectly. Short as man’s spoken word often falls of his thought, his
written word falls often as short of his spoken. Several causes
contribute to this. In the first place, the marks of imperfection and
infirmity cleave to writing, as to every other invention of man. All
alphabets have been left incomplete. They have superfluous letters,
letters, that is, which they do not want, because other letters already
represent the sound which they represent; they have dubious letters,
letters, that is, which say nothing certain about the sounds they stand
for, because more than one sound is represented by them--our ‘c’ for
instance, which sometimes has the sound of ‘s’, as in ‘_c_ity’,
sometimes of ‘k’, as in ‘_c_at’; they are deficient in letters, that is,
the language has elementary sounds which have no corresponding letters
appropriated to them, and can only be represented by combinations of
letters. All alphabets, I believe, have some of these faults, not a few
of them have all, and more. This then is one reason of the imperfect
reproduction of the spoken word by the written. But another is, that the
human voice is so wonderfully fine and flexible an organ, is able to
mark such subtle and delicate distinctions of sound, so infinitely to
modify and vary these sounds, that were an alphabet complete as human
art could make it, did it possess eight and forty instead of four and
twenty letters, there would still remain a multitude of sounds which it
could only approximately give back{229}.

{Sidenote: _Alphabets Inadequate_}

But there is a further cause for the divergence which comes gradually to
find place between men’s spoken and their written words. What men do
often, they will seek to do with the least possible trouble. There is
nothing which they do oftener than repeat words; they will seek here
then to save themselves pains; they will contract two or more syllables
into one; (‘toto opere’ will become ‘topper’; ‘vuestra merced’, ‘usted’;
and ‘topside the other way’, ‘topsy-turvey’{230}); they will slur over,
and thus after a while cease to pronounce, certain letters; for hard
letters they will substitute soft; for those which require a certain
effort to pronounce, they will substitute those which require little or
none. Under the operation of these causes a gulf between the written and
spoken word will not merely exist; but it will have the tendency to grow
ever wider and wider. This tendency indeed will be partially
counterworked by approximations which from time to time will by silent
consent be made of the written word to the spoken; here and there a
letter dropped in speech will be dropped also in writing, as the ‘s’ in
so many French words, where its absence is marked by a circumflex; a new
shape, contracted or briefer, which a word has taken on the lips of men,
will find its representation in their writing; as ‘chirurgeon’ will not
merely be pronounced, but also spelt, ‘surgeon’, and ‘synodsman’
‘sidesman’. Still for all this, and despite of these partial
readjustments of the relations between the two, the anomalies will be
infinite; there will be a multitude of written letters which have ceased
to be sounded letters; a multitude of words will exist in one shape upon
our lips, and in quite another in our books.

It is inevitable that the question should arise--Shall these anomalies
be meddled with? shall it be attempted to remove them, and bring writing
and speech into harmony and consent--a harmony and consent which never
indeed in actual fact at any period of the language existed, but which
yet may be regarded as the object of written speech, as the idea which,
however imperfectly realized, has, in the reduction of spoken sounds to
written, floated before the minds of men? If the attempt is to be made,
it is clear that it can only be made in one way. The alternative is not
open, whether Mahomet shall go to the mountain, _or_ the mountain to
Mahomet. The spoken word is the mountain; it will not stir; it will
resist all interference. It feels its own superior rights, that it
existed the first, that it is, so to say, the elder brother; and it will
never be induced to change itself for the purpose of conforming and
complying with the written word. Men will not be persuaded to pronounce
‘wou_l_d’ and ‘de_b_t’, because they write ‘would’ and ‘debt’ severally
with an ‘l’ and with a ‘b’: but what if they could be induced to write
‘woud’ and ‘det’, because they pronounce so; and to deal in like manner
with all other words, in which there exists at present a discrepancy
between the word as it is spoken, and the word as it is written?

{Sidenote: _Phonetic Systems_}

Here we have the explanation of that which in the history of almost all
literatures has repeated itself more than once, namely, the endeavour to
introduce phonetic writing. It has certain plausibilities to rest on; it
has its appeal to the unquestionable fact that the written word was
intended to picture to the eye what the spoken word sounded in the ear.
At the same time I believe that it would be impossible to introduce it;
and, even if it _were_ possible, that it would be most undesirable, and
this for two reasons; the first being that the losses consequent upon
its introduction, would far outweigh the gains, even supposing those
gains as great as the advocates of the scheme promise; the second, that
these promised gains would themselves be only very partially realized,
or not at all.

{Sidenote: _Alphabets Imperfect_}

In the first place, I believe it to be impossible. It is clear that such
a scheme must begin with the reconstruction of the alphabet. The first
thing that the phonographers have perceived is the necessity for the
creation of a vast number of new signs, the poverty of all existing
alphabets, at any rate of our own, not yielding a several sign for all
the several sounds in the language. Our English phonographers have
therefore had to invent ten of these new signs or letters, which are
henceforth to take their place with our _a_, _b_, _c_, and to enjoy
equal rights with them. Rejecting two (_q_, _x_), and adding ten, they
have raised their alphabet from twenty-six letters to thirty-four. But
to procure the reception of such a reconstructed alphabet is simply an
impossibility, as much an impossibility as would be the reconstitution
of the structure of the language in any points where it was manifestly
deficient or illogical. Sciolists or scholars may sit down in their
studies, and devise these new letters, and prove that we need them, and
that the introduction of them would be a great gain, and a manifest
improvement; and this may be all very true; but if they think they can
induce a people to adopt them, they know little of the ways in which its
alphabet is entwined with the whole innermost life of a people. One may
freely own that all present alphabets are redundant here, are deficient
there; our English perhaps is as greatly at fault as any, and with that
we have chiefly to do. Unquestionably it has more letters than one to
express one and the same sound; it has only one letter to express two or
three sounds; it has sounds which are only capable of being expressed at
all by awkward and roundabout expedients. Yet at the same time we must
accept the fact, as we accept any other which it is out of our power to
change--with regret, indeed, but with a perfect acquiescence: as one
accepts the fact that Ireland is not some thirty or forty miles nearer
to England--that it is so difficult to get round Cape Horn--that the
climate of Africa is so fatal to European life. A people will no more
quit their alphabet than they will quit their language; they will no
more consent to modify the one _ab extra_ than the other. Cæsar avowed
that with all his power he could not introduce a new word, and certainly
Claudius could not introduce a new letter. Centuries may sanction the
bringing in of a new one, or the dropping of an old. But to imagine that
it is possible to suddenly introduce a group of ten new letters, as
these reformers propose--they might just as feasibly propose that the
English language should form its comparatives and superlatives on some
entirely new scheme, say in Greek fashion, by the terminations ‘oteros’
and ‘otatos’; or that we should agree to set up a dual; or that our
substantives should return to our Anglo-Saxon declensions. Any one of
these or like proposals would not betray a whit more ignorance of the
eternal laws which regulate human language, and of the limits within
which deliberate action upon it is possible, than does this of
increasing our alphabet by ten entirely novel signs.

But grant it possible, grant our six and twenty letters to have so
little sacredness in them that Englishmen would endure a crowd of
upstart interlopers to mix themselves on an equal footing with them,
still this could only be from a sense of the greatness of the advantage
to be derived from this introduction. Now the vast advantage claimed by
the advocates of the system is, that it would facilitate the learning to
read, and wholly save the labour of learning to spell, which “on the
present plan occupies”, as they assure us, “at the very lowest
calculation from three to five years”. Spelling, it is said, would no
longer need to be learned at all; since whoever knew the sound, would
necessarily know also the spelling, this being in all cases in perfect
conformity with that. The anticipation of this gain rests upon two
assumptions which are tacitly taken for granted, but both of them

The first of these assumptions is, that all men pronounce all words
alike, so that whenever they come to spell a word, they will exactly
agree as to what the outline of its sound is. Now we are sure men will
not do this from the fact that, before there was any fixed and settled
orthography in our language, when therefore everybody was more or less a
phonographer, seeking to write down the word as it sounded to _him_,
(for he had no other law to guide him,) the variations of spelling were
infinite. Take for instance the word ‘sudden’; which does not seem to
promise any great scope for variety. I have myself met with this word
spelt in the following fifteen ways among our early writers: ‘sodain’,
‘sodaine’, ‘sodan’, ‘sodayne’, ‘sodden’, ‘sodein’, ‘sodeine’, ‘soden’,
‘sodeyn’, ‘suddain’, ‘suddaine’, ‘suddein’, ‘suddeine’, ‘sudden’,
‘sudeyn’. Again, in how many ways was Raleigh’s name spelt, or
Shakespeare’s? The same is evident from the spelling of uneducated
persons in our own day. They have no other rule but the sound to guide
them. How is it that they do not all spell alike; erroneously, it may
be, as having only the sound for their guide, but still falling all into
exactly the same errors? What is the actual fact? They not merely spell
wrong, which might be laid to the charge of our perverse system of
spelling, but with an inexhaustible diversity of error, and that too in
the case of simplest words. Thus the little town of Woburn would seem to
give small room for caprice in spelling, while yet the postmaster there
has made, from the superscription of letters that have passed through
his hands, a collection of two hundred and forty-four varieties of ways
in which the place has been spelt{231}. It may be replied that these
were all or nearly all from the letters of the ignorant and uneducated.
Exactly so;--but it is for their sakes, and to place them on a level
with the educated, or rather to accelerate their education by the
omission of a useless yet troublesome discipline, that the change is
proposed. I wish to show you that after the change they would be just as
much, or almost as much, at a loss in their spelling as now.

{Sidenote: _Pronouncing Dictionaries_}

And another reason which would make it quite as necessary then to learn
orthography as now, is the following. Pronunciation, as I have already
noticed, is far too fine and subtle a thing to be more than approximated
to, and indicated in the written letter. In a multitude of cases the
difficulties which pronunciation presented would be sought to be
overcome in different ways, and thus different spelling, would arise; or
if not so, one would have to be arbitrarily selected, and would have
need to be learned, just as much as the spelling of a word now has need
to be learned. I will only ask you, in proof of this which I affirm, to
turn to any Pronouncing Dictionary. That greatest of all absurdities, a
Pronouncing Dictionary, may be of some service to you in this matter; it
will certainly be of none in any other. When you mark the elaborate and
yet ineffectual artifices by which it toils after the finer distinctions
of articulation, seeks to reproduce in letters what exists, and can only
exist, as the spoken tradition of pronunciation, acquired from lip to
lip by the organ of the ear, capable of being learned, but incapable of
being taught; or when you compare two of these dictionaries with one
another, and mark the entirely different schemes and combinations of
letters which they employ for representing the same sound to the eye;
you will then perceive how idle the attempt to make the written in
language commensurate with the sounded; you will own that not merely
out of human caprice, ignorance, or indolence, the former falls short of
and differs from the later; but that this lies in the necessity of
things, in the fact that man’s _voice_ can effect so much more than ever
his _letter_ can{232}. You will then perceive that there would be as
much, or nearly as much, of the arbitrary in spelling which calls itself
phonetic as in our present, that spelling would have to be learned just
as really then as now. We should be unable to dismiss the spelling card
even after the arrival of that great day, when, for example, those lines
of Pope which hitherto we have thus spelt and read,

    “But errs not nature from this gracious end,
    From burning suns when livid deaths descend,
    When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep
    Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep”?

when I say, instead of this they should present themselves to our eyes
in the following attractive form:

    “But ¿ erz not nɛtiur from ðis grɛcus end,
    from burniŋ sunz when livid deθs dɨsend,
    when erθkwɛks swolɵ, or when tempests swɨp
    tounz tu wun grɛv, hɵl nɛconz tu ðe dɨp”.

{Sidenote: _Losses of Phonetic Spelling_}

The scheme would not then fulfil its promises. Its vaunted gains, when
we come to look closely at them, disappear. And now for its losses.
There are in every language a vast number of words, which the ear does
not distinguish from one another, but which are at once distinguishable
to the eye by the spelling. I will only instance a few which are the
same parts of speech; thus ‘sun’ and ‘son’; ‘virge’ (‘virga’, now
obsolete) and ‘verge’; ‘reign’, ‘rain’, and ‘rein’; ‘hair’ and ‘hare’;
‘plate’ and ‘plait’; ‘moat’ and ‘mote’; ‘pear’ and ‘pair’; ‘pain’ and
‘pane’; ‘raise’ and ‘raze’; ‘air’ and ‘heir’; ‘ark’ and ‘arc’; ‘mite’
and ‘might’; ‘pour’ and ‘pore’; ‘veil’ and ‘vale’; ‘knight’ and ‘night’;
‘knave’ and ‘nave’; ‘pier’ and ‘peer’; ‘rite’ and ‘right’; ‘site’ and
‘sight’; ‘aisle’ and ‘isle’; ‘concent’ and ‘consent’; ‘signet’ and
‘cygnet’. Now, of course, it is a real disadvantage, and may be the
cause of serious confusion, that there should be words in spoken
languages of entirely different origin and meaning which yet cannot in
sound be differenced from one another. The phonographers simply propose
to extend this disadvantage already cleaving to our spoken languages, to
the written languages as well. It is fault enough in the French
language, that ‘mère’ a mother, ‘mer’ the sea, ‘maire’ a mayor of a
town, should have no perceptible difference between them in the spoken
tongue; or again that in some there should be nothing to distinguish
‘sans’, ‘sang’, ‘sent’, ‘sens’, ‘s’en’, ‘cent’; nor yet between ‘ver’,
‘vert’, ‘verre’ and ‘vers’. Surely it is not very wise to propose
gratuitously to extend the same fault to the written languages as well.

This loss in so many instances of the power to discriminate between
words, which however liable to confusion now in our spoken language, are
liable to none in our written, would be serious enough; but far more
serious than this would be the loss which would constantly ensue, of all
which visibly connects a word with the past, which tells its history,
and indicates the quarter from which it has been derived. In how many
English words a letter silent to the ear, is yet most eloquent to the
eye--the _g_ for instance in ‘deign’, ‘feign’, ‘reign’, ‘impugn’,
telling as it does of ‘dignor’, ‘fingo’, ‘regno’, ‘impugno’; even as the
_b_ in ‘debt’, ‘doubt’, is not idle, but tells of ‘debitum’ and

{Sidenote: _Pronunciation Alters_}

At present it is the written word which is in all languages their
conservative element. In it is the abiding witness against the
mutilations or other capricious changes in their shape which
affectation, folly, ignorance, and half-knowledge would introduce. It is
not indeed always able to hinder the final adoption of these corrupter
forms, but does not fail to oppose to them a constant, and very often a
successful, resistance. With the adoption of phonetic spelling, this
witness would exist no longer; whatever was spoken would have also to be
written, let it be never so barbarous, never so great a departure from
the true form of the word. Nor is it merely probable that such a
barbarizing process, such an adopting and sanctioning of a vulgarism,
might take place, but among phonographers it already has taken place. We
all probably are aware that there is a vulgar pronunciation of the word
‘Eu_rope_’, as though it were ‘Eu_rup_’. Now it is quite possible that
numerically more persons in England may pronounce the word in this
manner than in the right; and therefore the phonographers are only true
to their principles when they spell it in the fashion which they do,
‘Eurup’, or indeed omitting the E at the beginning, ‘Urup’{234} with
thus the life of the first syllable assailed no less than that of the
second. What are the consequences? First its relations with the old
mythology are at once and entirely broken off; secondly, its most
probable etymology from two Greek words, signifying ‘broad’ and ‘face’,
Europe being so called from the _Broad_ line or _face_ of coast which
our continent presented to the Asiatic Greek, is totally obscured. But
so far from the spelling servilely following the pronunciation, I should
be bold to affirm that if ninety-nine out of every hundred persons in
England chose to call Europe ‘Urup’, this would be a vulgarism still,
against which the written word ought to maintain its protest, not
sinking down to their level, but rather seeking to elevate them to its

{Sidenote: _Changes of Pronunciation_}

And if there is much in orthography which is unsettled now, how much
more would be unsettled then. Inasmuch as the pronunciation of words is
continually altering, their spelling would of course have continually to
alter too. For the fact that pronunciation is undergoing constant
changes, although changes for the most part unmarked, or marked only by
a few, would be abundantly easy to prove. Take a Pronouncing Dictionary
of fifty or a hundred years ago; turn to almost any page, and you will
observe schemes of pronunciation there recommended, which are now merely
vulgarisms, or which have been dropped altogether. We gather from a
discussion in Boswell’s _Life of Johnson_{236}, that in his time ‘great’
was by some of the best speakers of the language pronounced ‘gr_ee_t’,
not ‘gr_a_te’: Pope usually rhymes it with ‘cheat’, ‘complete’, and the
like; thus in the _Dunciad_:

    “Here swells the shelf with Ogilby the _great_,
    There, stamped with arms, Newcastle shines com_plete_”.

Spenser’s constant use of the word a century and a half earlier, leaves
no doubt that such was the invariable pronunciation of his time{237}.
Again, Pope rhymes ‘obliged’ with ‘beseiged’; and it has only ceased to
be ‘obl_ee_ged’ almost in our own time. Who now drinks a cup of ‘tay’?
yet there is abundant evidence that this was the fashionable
pronunciation in the first half of the last century; the word, that is,
was still regarded as French: Locke writes it ‘thé’; and in Pope’s time,
though no longer written, it was still pronounced so. Take this couplet
of his in proof:

    “Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms _obey_,
    Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes _tea_”.

So too a pronunciation which still survives, though scarcely among
well-educated persons, I mean ‘Room’ for ‘Rome’, must have been in
Shakespeare’s time the predominant one, else there would have been no
point in that play on words where in _Julius Cæsar_ Cassius, complaining
that in all _Rome_ there was not _room_ for a single man, exclaims,

    “Now is it _Rome_ indeed, and _room_ enough”.

Samuel Rogers too assures us that in his youth “everybody said
‘Lonnon’{238} not ‘London’; that Fox said ‘Lonnon’ to the last”.

The following quotation from Swift will prove to you that I have been
only employing here an argument, which he employed long ago against the
phonographers of his time. He exposes thus the futility of their
scheme{239}: “Another cause which has contributed not a little to the
maiming of our language, is a foolish opinion advanced of late years
that we ought to spell exactly as we speak: which, besides the obvious
inconvenience of utterly destroying our etymology, would be a thing we
should never see an end of. Not only the several towns and counties of
England have a different way of pronouncing, but even here in London
they clip their words after one manner about the court, another in the
city, and a third in the suburbs; and in a few years, it is probable,
will all differ from themselves, as fancy or fashion shall direct; all
which, reduced to writing, would entirely confound orthography”.

This much I have thought good to say in respect of that entire
revolution in English orthography, which some rash innovators have
proposed. Let me, dismissing them and their innovations, call your
attention now to those changes in spelling which are constantly going
forward, at some periods more rapidly than at others, but which never
wholly cease out of a language; while at the same time I endeavour to
trace, where this is possible, the motives and inducements which bring
them about. It is a subject which none can neglect, who desire to obtain
even a tolerably accurate acquaintance with their native tongue. Some
principles have been laid down in the course of what has been said
already, that may help us to judge whether the changes which have found
place in our own have been for better or for worse. We shall find, if I
am not mistaken, of both kinds.

{Sidenote: ‘_Grogram_’}

There are alterations in spelling which are for the worse. Thus an
altered spelling will sometimes obscure the origin of a word, concealing
it from those who, but for this, would at once have known whence and
what it was, and would have found both pleasure and profit in this
knowledge. I need not say that in all those cases where the earlier
spelling revealed the secret of the word, told its history, which the
latter defaces or conceals, the change has been injurious, and is to be
regretted; while, at the same time, where it has thoroughly established
itself, there is nothing to do but to acquiesce in it: the attempt to
undo it would be absurd. Thus, when ‘gro_c_er’ was spelt ‘gro_ss_er’, it
was comparatively easy to see that he first had his name, because he
sold his wares not by retail, but in the _gross_. ‘Co_x_comb’ tells us
nothing now; but it did when spelt, as it used to be, ‘co_cks_comb’, the
_comb_ of a _cock_ being then an ensign or token which the fool was
accustomed to wear. In ‘grogra_m_’ we are entirely to seek for the
derivation; but in ‘grogra_n_’ or ‘grogra_in_’, as earlier it was spelt,
one could scarcely miss ‘grosgrain’, the stuff of a _coarse grain_ or
woof. How many now understand ‘woodbin_e_’? but who could have helped
understanding ‘woodbin_d_’ (Ben Jonson)? What a mischievous alteration
in spelling is ‘d_i_vest’ instead of ‘d_e_vest’{240}. This change is so
recent that I am tempted to ask whether it would not here be possible to
return to the only intelligible spelling of this word.

{Sidenote: ‘_Pigmy_’}

‘P_i_gmy’ used formerly to be spelt ‘p_y_gmy’, and so long as it was so,
no Greek scholar could see the word, but at once he knew that by it
were indicated manikins whose measure in height was no greater than
that of a man’s arm from the elbow to the closed _fist_{241}. Now he may
know this in other ways; but the word itself, so long as he assumes it
to be rightly spelt, tells him nothing. Or again, the old spelling,
‘diam_ant_’, was preferable to the modern ‘diam_ond_’. It was
preferable, because it told more of the quarter whence the word had
reached us. ‘Diamant’ and ‘adamant’ are in fact only two different
adoptions on the part of the English tongue, of one and the same Greek,
which afterwards became a Latin word. The primary meaning of ‘adamant’
is, as you know, the indomitable, and it was a name given at first to
steel as the hardest of metals; but afterwards transferred{242} to the
most precious among all the precious stones, as that which in power of
resistance surpassed everything besides.

{Sidenote: ‘_Cozen_’, ‘_Bless_’}

Neither are new spellings to be commended, which obliterate or obscure
the relationship of a word with others to which it is really allied;
separating from one another, for those not thoroughly acquainted with
the subject, words of the same family. Thus when ‘_j_aw’ was spelt
‘_ch_aw’, no ne could miss its connexions with the verb ‘to chew’{243}.
Now probably ninety-nine out of a hundred who use both words, are
entirely unaware of any relationship between them. It is the same with
‘cousin’ (consanguineus), and ‘to cozen’ or to deceive. I do not propose
to determine which of these words should conform itself to the spelling
of the other. There was great irregularity in the spelling of both from
the first; yet for all this, it was then better than now, when a
permanent distinction has established itself between them, keeping out
of sight that ‘to cozen’ is in all likelihood to deceive under show of
kindred and affinity; which if it be so, Shakespeare’s words,

    “_Cousins_ indeed, and by their uncle _cozened_
    Of comfort”{244},

will be found to contain not a pun, but an etymology{245}. The real
relation between ‘bliss’ and ‘to bless’ is in like manner at present

The omission of a letter, or the addition of a letter, may each
effectually do its work in keeping out of sight the true character and
origin of a word. Thus the omission of a letter. When the first syllable
of ‘bran-new’ was spelt ‘bran_d_’ with a final ‘d’, ‘bran_d_-new’, how
vigorous an image did the word contain. The ‘brand’ is the fire, and
‘brand-new’ equivalent to ‘fire-new’ (Shakespeare), is that which is
fresh and bright, as being newly come from the forge and fire. As now
spelt, ‘bran-new’ conveys to us no image at all. Again, you have the
word ‘scrip’--as a ‘scrip’ of paper, government ‘scrip’. Is this the
same word with the Saxon ‘scrip’, a wallet, having in some strange
manner obtained these meanings so different and so remote? Have we here
only two different applications of one and the same word, or two
homonyms, wholly different words, though spelt alike? We have only to
note the way in which the first of these ‘scrips’ used to be written,
namely with a final ‘t’, not ‘scrip’ but ‘scrip_t_’, and we are at once
able to answer the question. This ‘script’ is a Latin, as the other is
an Anglo-Saxon, word, and meant at first simply a _written_ (scripta)
piece of paper--a circumstance which since the omission of the final ‘t’
may easily escape our knowledge. ‘Afraid’ was spelt much better in old
times with the double ‘ff’, than with the single ‘f’ as now. It was then
clear that it was not another form of ‘afeared’, but wholly separate
from it, the participle of the verb ‘to affray’, ‘affrayer’, or, as it
is now written, ‘effrayer’{247}.

{Sidenote: ‘_Whole_’, ‘_Hale_’, ‘_Heal_’}

In the cases hitherto adduced, it has been the omission of a letter
which has clouded and concealed the etymology. The intrusion of a letter
sometimes does the same. Thus in the early editions of _Paradise Lost_,
and in all writers of that time, you will find ‘scent’, an odour, spelt
‘sent’. It was better so; there is no other noun substantive ‘sent’,
with which it is in danger of being confounded; while its relation with
‘sentio’, with ‘re_sent_’{248}, ‘dis_sent_’, and the like, is put out of
sight by its novel spelling; the intrusive ‘_c_’, serves only to
mislead. The same thing was attempted with ‘site’, ‘situate’,
‘situation’, spelt for a time by many, ‘s_c_ite’, ‘s_c_ituate’,
‘s_c_ituation’; but it did not continue with these. Again, ‘whole’, in
Wiclif’s Bible, and indeed much later, occasionally as far down as
Spenser, is spelt ‘hole’, without the ‘w’ at the beginning. The present
orthography may have the advantage of at once distinguishing the word to
the eye from any other; but at the same time the initial ‘w’, now
prefixed, hides its relation to the verb ‘to heal’, with which it is
closely allied. The ‘whole’ man is he whose hurt is ‘healed’ or
covered{249} (we say of the convalescent that he ‘recovers’){250};
‘whole’ being closely allied to ‘hale’ (integer), from which also by
its modern spelling it is divided. ‘Wholesome’ has naturally followed
the fortunes of ‘whole’; it was spelt ‘holsome’ once.

Of ‘island’ too our present spelling is inferior to the old, inasmuch as
it suggests a hybrid formation, as though the word were made up of the
Latin ‘insula’, and the Saxon ‘land’. It is quite true that ‘isle’ _is_
in relation with, and descent from, ‘insula’, ‘isola’, ‘île’; and hence
probably the misspelling of ‘island’. This last however has nothing to
do with ‘insula’, being identical with the German ‘eiland’, the
Anglo-Saxon ‘ealand’{251} and signifying the sea-land, or land girt,
round with the sea. And it is worthy of note that this ‘s’ in the first
syllable of ‘island’ is quite of modern introduction. In all the earlier
versions of the Scriptures, and in the Authorized Version as at first
set forth, it is ‘iland’; while in proof that this is not accidental, it
may be observed that, while ‘iland’ has not the ‘s’, ‘isle’ has it (see
Rev. i. 9). ‘Iland’ indeed is the spelling which we meet with far down
into the seventeenth century.

{Sidenote: _Folk-etymologies_}

What has just been said of ‘island’ leads me as by a natural transition
to observe that one of the most frequent causes of alteration in the
spelling of a word is a wrongly assumed derivation. It is then sought to
bring the word into harmony with, and to make it by its spelling
suggest, this derivation, which has been erroneously thrust upon it.
Here is a subject which, followed out as it deserves, would form an
interesting and instructive chapter in the history of language{252}. Let
me offer one or two small contributions to it; noting first by the way
how remarkable an evidence we have in this fact, of the manner in which
not the learned only, but all persons learned and unlearned alike, crave
to have these words not body only, but body and soul. What an
attestation, I say, of this lies in the fact that where a word in its
proper derivation is unintelligible to them, they will shape and mould
it into some other form, not enduring that it should be a mere inert
sound without sense in their ears; and if they do not know its right
origin, will rather put into it a wrong one, than that it should have
for them no meaning, and suggest no derivation at all{253}.

There is probably no language in which such a process has not been going
forward; in which it is not the explanation, in a vast number of
instances, of changes in spelling and even in form, which words have
undergone. I will offer a few examples of it from foreign tongues,
before adducing any from our own. ‘Pyramid’ is a word, the spelling of
which was affected in the Greek by an erroneous assumption of its
derivation; the consequences of this error surviving in our own word to
the present day. It is spelt by us with a ‘y’ in the first syllable, as
it was spelt with the υ corresponding in the Greek. But why was this? It
was because the Greeks assumed that the pyramids were so named from
their having the appearance of _flame_ going up into a point{254}, and
so they spelt ‘pyramid’, that they might find πῦρ or ‘pyre’ in it; while
in fact ‘pyramid’ has nothing to do with flame or fire at all; being, as
those best qualified to speak on the matter declare to us, an Egyptian
word of quite a different signification{255}, and the Coptic letters
being much better represented by the diphthong ‘ei’ than by the letter
‘y’, as no doubt, but for this mistaken notion of what the word was
intended to mean, they would have been.

Once more--the form ‘Hierosolyma’, wherein the Greeks reproduced the
Hebrew ‘Jerusalem’, was intended in all probability to express that the
city so called was the _sacred_ city of the _Solymi_{256}. At all events
the intention not merely of reproducing the Hebrew word, but also of
making it significant in Greek, of finding ἱερόν in it, is plainly
discernible. For indeed the Greeks were exceedingly intolerant of
foreign words, till they had laid aside their foreign appearance--of
all words which they could not thus quicken with a Greek soul; and, with
a very characteristic vanity, an ignoring of all other tongues but their
own, assumed with no apparent misgivings that all words, from whatever
quarter derived, were to be explained by Greek etymologies{257}.

‘Tartar’ is another word, of which it is at least possible that a
wrongly assumed derivation has modified the spelling, and indeed not
the spelling only, but the very shape in which we now possess it. To
many among us it may be known that the people designated by this
appellation are not properly ‘Tartars’, but ‘Tatars’; and you sometimes
perhaps have noted the omission of the ‘r’ on the part of those who are
curious in their spelling. How, then, it may be asked, did the form
‘Tartar’ arise? When the terrible hordes of middle Asia burst in upon
civilized Europe in the thirteenth century, many beheld in the ravages
of their innumerable cavalry a fulfilment of that prophetic word in the
Revelation (chap. ix.) concerning the opening of the bottomless pit; and
from this belief ensued the change of their name from ‘Tatars’ to
‘Tartars’, which was thus put into closer relation with ‘Tartarus’ or
hell, out of which their multitudes were supposed to have proceeded{258}.

Another good example in the same kind is the German word ‘sündflut’, the
Deluge, which is now so spelt as to signify a ‘sinflood’, the plague or
_flood_ of waters brought on the world by the _sins_ of mankind; and
probably some of us have before this admired the pregnant significance
of the word. Yet the old High German word had originally no such
intention; it was spelt ‘sinfluot’, that is, the great flood; and as
late as Luther, indeed in Luther’s own translation of the Bible, is so
spelt as to make plain that the notion of a ‘_sin_-flood’ had not yet
found its way into, even as it had not affected the spelling of, the

{Sidenote: ‘_Currants_’}

But to look now nearer home for our examples. The little raisins brought
from Greece, which play so important a part in one of the national
dishes of England, the Christmas plum-pudding, used to be called
‘corinths’; and so you would find them in mercantile lists of a hundred
years ago: either that for the most part they were shipped from Corinth,
the principal commercial city in Greece, or because they grew in large
abundance in the immediate district round about it. Their likeness in
shape and size and general appearance to our own currants, working
together with the ignorance of the great majority of English people
about any such place as Corinth, soon brought the name ‘corinths’ into
‘currants’, which now with a certain unfitness they bear; being not
currants at all, but dried grapes, though grapes of diminutive

{Sidenote: ‘_Court-cards_’}

‘_Court_-cards’, that is, the king, queen, and knave in each suit, were
once ‘coat-cards’{261}; having their name from the long splendid ‘coat’
(vestis talaris) with which they were arrayed. Probably ‘coat’ after a
while did not perfectly convey its original meaning and intention; being
no more in common use for the long garment reaching down to the heels;
and then ‘coat’ was easily exchanged for ‘court’, as the word is now
both spelt and pronounced, seeing that nowhere so fitly as in a Court
should such splendidly arrayed personages be found. A public house in
the neighbourhood of London having a few years since for its sign “The
George _Canning_” is already “The George and _Cannon_”,--so rapidly do
these transformations proceed, so soon is that forgotten which we
suppose would never be forgotten. “Welsh _rarebit_” becomes “Welsh
_rabbit_”{262}; and ‘_farced_’ or stuffed ‘meat’ becomes “forced meat”.
Even the mere determination to make a word _look_ English, to put it
into an English shape, without thereby so much as seeming to attain any
result in the way of etymology, this is very often sufficient to bring
about a change in its spelling, and even in its form{263}. It is thus
that ‘sipahi’ has become ‘sepoy’; and only so could ‘weissager’ have
taken its present form of ‘wiseacre’{264}.

{Sidenote: _Transformation of Words_}

It is not very uncommon for a word, while it is derived from one word,
to receive a certain impulse and modification from another. This extends
sometimes beyond the spelling, and in cases where it does so, would
hardly belong to our present theme. Still I may notice an instance or
two. Thus our ‘obsequies’ is the Latin ‘exequiæ’, but formed under a
certain impulse of ‘obsequium’, and seeking to express and include the
observant honour of that word. ‘To refuse’ is ‘recusare’, while yet it
has derived the ‘f’ of its second syllable from ‘refutare’; it is a
medley of the two{265}. The French ‘rame’, an oar, is ‘remus’, but that
modified by an unconscious recollection of ‘ramus’. ‘Orange’ is no doubt
a Persian word, which has reached us through the Arabic, and which the
Spanish ‘naranja’ more nearly represents than any form of it existing in
the other languages of Europe. But what so natural as to think of the
orange as the _golden_ fruit, especially when the “_aurea_ mala” of the
Hesperides were familiar to all antiquity? There cannot be a doubt that
‘aurum’, ‘oro’, ‘or’, made themselves felt in the shapes which the word
assumed in the languages of the West, and that here we have the
explanation of the change in the first syllable, as in the low Latin
‘aurantium’, ‘orangia’, and in the French ‘orange’, which has given us
our own.

It is foreign words, or words adopted from foreign languages, as might
beforehand be expected, which are especially subjected to such
transformations as these. The soul which the word once had in its own
language, having, for as many as do not know that language, departed
from it, or at least not being now any more to be recognized by such as
employ the word, these are not satisfied till they have put another soul
into it, and it has thus become alive to them again. Thus--to take first
one or two very familiar instances, but which serve as well as any other
to illustrate my position--the Bellerophon becomes for our sailors the
‘Billy Ruffian’, for what can they know of the Greek mythology, or of
the slayer of Chimæra? an iron steamer, the Hirondelle, now or lately
plying on the Tyne, is the ‘Iron Devil’. ‘_Contre_ danse’, or dance in
which the parties stand _face to face_ with one another, and which ought
to have appeared in English as ‘_counter_ dance’, does become ‘_country_
dance’{266}, as though it were the dance of the country folk and rural
districts, as distinguished from the quadrille and waltz and more
artificial dances of the town{267}. A well known rose, the “rose _des
quatre saisons_”, or of the four seasons, becomes on the lips of some of
our gardeners, the “rose of the _quarter sessions_”, though here it is
probable that the eye has misled, rather than the ear. ‘Dent de lion’,
(it is spelt ‘dentdelyon’ in our early writers) becomes ‘dandylion’,
“_chaude_ melée”, or an affray in _hot_ blood, “_chance_-medley”{268},
‘causey’ (chaussée) becomes ‘causeway’{269}, ‘rachitis’ ‘rickets’{270},
and in French ‘mandragora’ ‘main de gloire’{271}.

{Sidenote: ‘_Necromancy_’}

‘Necromancy’ is another word which, if not now, yet for a long period
was erroneously spelt, and indeed assumed a different shape, under the
influence of an erroneous derivation; which, curiously enough, even now
that it has been dismissed, has left behind it the marks of its
presence, in our common phrase, “the _Black_ Art”. I need hardly remind
you that ‘necromancy’ is a Greek word, which signifies, according to its
proper meaning, a prophesying by aid of the dead, or that it rests on
the presumed power of raising up by potent spells the dead, and
compelling them to give answers about things to come. We all know that
it was supposed possible to exercise such power; we have a very awful
example of it in the story of the witch of Endor, and a very horrid one
in Lucan{272}. But the Latin medieval writers, whose Greek was either
little or none, spelt the word, ‘nigromantia’, as if its first syllables
had been Latin: at the same time, not wholly forgetting the original
meaning, but in fact getting round to it though by a wrong process, they
understood the dead by these ‘nigri’, or blacks, whom they had brought
into the word{273}. Down to a rather late period we find the forms,
‘_negro_mancer’ and ‘_negro_mancy’ frequent in English.

{Sidenote: _Words Misspelt_}

‘Pleurisy’ used often to be spelt, (I do not think it is so now,)
without an ‘e’ in the first syllable, evidently on the tacit assumption
that it was from _plus pluris_{274}. When Shakespeare falls into an
error, he “makes the offence gracious”; yet, I think, he would scarcely
have written,

    “For goodness growing to a _plurisy_
    Dies of his own _too much_”,

but that _he_ too derived ‘plurisy’ from _pluris_. This, even with the
“small Latin and less Greek”, which Ben Jonson allows him, he scarcely
would have done, had the word presented itself in that form, which by
right of its descent from πλευρά (being a pain, stitch, or sickness _in
the side_) it ought to have possessed. Those who for ‘crucible’ wrote
‘chrysoble’ (Jeremy Taylor does so) must evidently have done this under
the assumption that the Greek for _gold_, and not the Latin for _cross_,
lay at the foundation of this word. ‘Anthymn’ instead of ‘anthem’
(Barrow so spells the word), rests plainly on a wrong etymology, even as
this spelling clearly betrays what that wrong etymology is. ‘Rhyme’ with
a ‘y’ is a modern misspelling; and would never have been but for the
undue influence which the Greek ‘rhythm’ has exercised upon it. Spenser
and his cotemporaries spell it ‘rime’. ‘Abominable’ was by some
etymologists of the seventeenth century spelt ‘abhominable’, as though
it were that which departed from the human (ab homine) into the bestial
or devilish.

In all these words which I have adduced last, the correct spelling has
in the end resumed its sway. It is not so with ‘frontisp_ie_ce’, which
ought to be spelt ‘frontisp_i_ce’ (it was so by Milton and others),
being the low Latin ‘frontispicium’, from ‘frons’ and ‘aspicio’, the
forefront of the building, that part which presents itself to the view.
It was only the entirely ungrounded notion that the word ‘piece’
constitutes the last syllable, which has given rise to our present

{Sidenote: Wrong Spelling}

You may, perhaps, wonder that I have dwelt so long on these details of
spelling; that I have bestowed on them so much of my own attention,
that I have claimed for them so much of yours; yet in truth I cannot
regard them as unworthy of our very closest heed. For indeed of how much
beyond itself is accurate or inaccurate spelling the certain indication.
Thus when we meet ‘s_y_ren’, for ‘s_i_ren’, as so strangely often we do,
almost always in newspapers, and often where we should hardly have
expected (I met it lately in the _Quarterly Review_, and again in
Gifford’s _Massinger_), how difficult it is not to be “judges of evil
thoughts”, and to take this slovenly misspelling as the specimen and
evidence of an inaccuracy and ignorance which reaches very far wider
than the single word which is before us. But why is it that so much
significance is ascribed to a wrong spelling? Because ignorance of a
word’s spelling at once argues ignorance of its origin and derivation. I
do not mean that one who spells rightly may not be ignorant of it too,
but he who spells wrongly is certainly so. Thus, to recur to the example
I have just adduced, he who for ‘s_i_ren’ writes ‘s_y_ren’, certainly
knows nothing of the magic _cords_ (σειραί) of song, by which those fair
enchantresses were supposed to draw those that heard them to their

Correct or incorrect orthography being, then, this note of accurate or
inaccurate knowledge, we may confidently conclude where two spellings
of a word exist, and are both employed by persons who generally write
with precision and scholarship, that there must be something to account
for this. It will generally be worth your while to inquire into the
causes which enable both spellings to hold their ground and to find
their supporters, not ascribing either one or the other to mere
carelessness or error. It will in these cases often be found that two
spellings exist, because two views of the word’s origin exist, and each
of those spellings is the correct expression of one of these. The
question therefore which way of spelling should continue, and wholly
supersede the other, and which, while the alternative remains, we should
ourselves employ, can only be settled by settling which of these
etymologies deserves the preference. So is it, for example, with
‘ch_y_mist’ and ‘ch_e_mist’, neither of which has obtained in our common
use the complete mastery over the other{277}. It is not here, as in some
other cases, that one is certainly right, the other as certainly wrong:
but they severally represent two different etymologies of the word, and
each is correct according to its own. If we are to spell ‘ch_y_mist’ and
‘ch_y_mistry’, it is because these words are considered to be derived
from the Greek word, χυμός, sap; and the chymic art will then have
occupied itself first with distilling the juice and sap of plants, and
will from this have derived its name. I have little doubt, however, that
the other spelling, ‘ch_e_mist’, not ‘ch_y_mist’, is the correct one. It
was not with the distillation of herbs, but with the amalgamation of
metals, that chemistry occupied itself at its rise, and the word
embodies a reference to Egypt, the land of Ham or ‘Cham’{278}, in which
this art was first practised with success.

{Sidenote: ‘_Satyr_’, ‘_Satire_’}

Of how much confusion the spelling which used to be so common, ‘satyr’
for ‘satire’, is at once the consequence, the expression, and again the
cause; not indeed that this confusion first began with us{279}; for the
same already found place in the Latin, where ‘satyricus’ was continually
written for ‘satiricus’ out of a false assumption of the identity
between the Roman _satire_ and the Greek _satyric_ drama. The Roman
‘satira’,--I speak of things familiar to many of my hearers,--is
properly a _full_ dish (lanx being understood)--a dish heaped up with
various ingredients, a ‘farce’ (according to the original signification
of that word), or hodge-podge; and the word was transferred from this to
a form of poetry which at first admitted the utmost variety in the
materials of which it was composed, and the shapes into which these
materials were wrought up; being the only form of poetry which the
Romans did _not_ borrow from the Greeks. Wholly different from this,
having no one point of contact with it in its form, its history, or its
intention, is the ‘satyric’ drama of Greece, so called because Silenus
and the ‘Satyrs’ supplied the chorus; and in their naïve selfishness,
and mere animal instincts, held up before men a mirror of what they
would be, if only the divine, which is also the truly human, element of
humanity, were withdrawn; what man, all that properly made him man being
withdrawn, would prove.

{Sidenote: ‘_Mid-wife_’, ‘_Nostril_’}

And then what light, as we have already seen, does the older spelling of
a word often cast upon its etymology; how often does it clear up the
mystery, which would otherwise have hung about it, or which _had_ hung
about it till some one had noticed and turned to profit this its earlier
spelling. Thus ‘dirge’ is always spelt ‘dirige’ in early English. This
‘dirige’ may be the first word in a Latin psalm or prayer once used at
funerals; there is a reasonable probability that the explanation of the
word is here; at any rate, if it is not here, it is nowhere{280}. The
derivation of ‘mid-wife’ is uncertain, and has been the subject of
discussion; but when we find it spelt ‘medewife’ and ‘meadwife’, in
Wiclif’s Bible, this leaves hardly a doubt that it is the _wife_ or
woman who acts for a _mead_ or reward{281}. In cases too where there
was no mystery hanging about a word, how often does the early spelling
make clear to all that which was before only known to those who had made
the language their study. For example, if an early edition of Spenser
should come into your hands, or a modern one in which the early spelling
is retained, what continual lessons in English might you derive from it.
Thus ‘nostril’ is always spelt by him and his cotemporaries
‘nosethrill’; a little earlier it was ‘nosethirle’. Now ‘to thrill’ is
the same as to drill or pierce; it is plain then here at once that the
word signifies the orifice or opening with which the _nose_ is
_thrilled_, drilled, or pierced. We might have read the word for ever in
our modern spelling without being taught this. ‘Ell’ tells us nothing
about itself; but in ‘eln’ used in Holland’s translation of Camden, we
recognize ‘ulna’ at once.

Again, the ‘morris’ or ‘morrice-dance’, which is alluded to so often by
our early poets, as it is now spelt informs us nothing about itself; but
read ‘_moriske_ dance’, as it is generally spelt by Holland and his
cotemporaries, and you will scarcely fail to perceive that of which
indeed there is no manner of doubt; namely, that it was so called either
because it was really, or was supposed to be, a dance in use among the
_moriscoes_ of Spain, and from thence introduced into England{282}.

Again, philologers tell us, and no doubt rightly, that our ‘cray-fish’,
or ‘craw-fish’, is the French ‘écrevisse’. This is true, but certainly
it is not self-evident. Trace however the word through these successive
spellings, ‘krevys’ (Lydgate), ‘crevish’ (Gascoigne), ‘craifish’
(Holland), and the chasm between ‘cray-fish’ or ‘craw-fish’ and
‘écrevisse’ is by aid of these three intermediate spellings bridged over
at once; and in the fact of our Gothic ‘fish’ finding its way into this
French word we see only another example of a law, which has been already
abundantly illustrated in this lecture{283}.

{Sidenote: ‘_Emmet_’, ‘_Ant_’}

In other ways also an accurate taking note of the spelling of words, and
of the successive changes which it has undergone, will often throw light
upon them. Thus we may know, others having assured us of the fact, that
‘ant’ and ‘emmet’ were originally only two different spellings of one
and the same word; but we may be perplexed to understand how two forms
of a word, now so different, could ever have diverged from a single
root. When however we find the different spellings, ‘emmet’, ‘emet’,
‘amet’, ‘amt’, ‘ant’, the gulf which appeared to separate ‘emmet’ from
‘ant’ is bridged over at once, and we do not merely know on the
assurance of others that these two are in fact identical, their
differences being only superficial, but we perceive clearly in what
manner they are so{284}.

Even before any close examination of the matter, it is hard not to
suspect that ‘runagate’ is in fact another form of ‘renegade’, slightly
transformed, as so many words, to put an English signification into its
first syllable; and then the meaning gradually modified in obedience to
the new derivation which was assumed to be its original and true one.
Our suspicion of this is very greatly strengthened (for we see how very
closely the words approach one another), by the fact that ‘renega_d_e’
is constantly spelt ‘renega_t_e’ in our old authors, while at the same
time the denial of _faith_, which is now a necessary element in
‘renegade’, and one differencing it inwardly from ‘runagate’, is
altogether wanting in early use--the denial of _country_ and of the
duties thereto owing being all that is implied in it. Thus it is
constantly employed in Holland’s _Livy_ as a rendering of ‘perfuga’{285};
while in the one passage where ‘runagate’ occurs in the Prayer Book
Version of the Psalms (Ps. lxviii. 6), a reference to the original will
show that the translators could only have employed it there on the
ground that it also expressed rebel, revolter, and not runaway

{Sidenote: _Assimilating Power of English_}

I might easily occupy your attention much longer, so little barren or
unfruitful does this subject of spelling appear likely to prove; but all
things must have an end; and as I concluded my first lecture with a
remarkable testimony borne by an illustrious German scholar to the
merits of our English tongue, I will conclude my last with the words of
another, not indeed a German, but still of the great Germanic stock;
words resuming in themselves much of which we have been speaking upon
this and upon former occasions: “As our bodies”, he says, “have hidden
resources and expedients, to remove the obstacles which the very art of
the physician puts in its way, so language, ruled by an indomitable
inward principle, triumphs in some degree over the folly of grammarians.
Look at the English, polluted by Danish and Norman conquests, distorted
in its genuine and noble features by old and recent endeavours to mould
it after the French fashion, invaded by a hostile entrance of Greek and
Latin words, threatening by increasing hosts to overwhelm the indigenous
terms. In these long contests against the combined power of so many
forcible enemies, the language, it is true, has lost some of its power
of inversion in the structure of sentences, the means of denoting the
difference of gender, and the nice distinctions by inflection and
termination--almost every word is attacked by the spasm of the accent
and the drawing of consonants to wrong positions; yet the old English
principle is not overpowered. Trampled down by the ignoble feet of
strangers, its springs still retain force enough to restore itself. It
lives and plays through all the veins of the language; it impregnates
the innumerable strangers entering its dominions with its temper, and
stains them with its colour, not unlike the Greek which in taking up
oriental words, stripped them of their foreign costume, and bid them to
appear as native Greeks”{287}.


{228} In proof that it need not be so, I would only refer to a paper,
      _On Orthographical Expedients_, by Edwin Guest, Esq., in the
      _Transactions of the Philological Society_, vol. iii. p. 1.

{229} [The scientific treatises on Phonetics of Mr. Alexander J. Ellis
      and Dr. Henry Sweet have surmounted the difficulty of registering
      sounds with great accuracy.]

{230} I have not observed this noticed in our dictionaries as the
      original form of the phrase. There is no doubt however of the
      fact; see _Stanihurst’s Ireland_, p. 33, in Holinshed’s
      _Chronicles_. [Rather from _torvien_, to throw,--Skeat].

{231} _Notes and Queries_, No. 147.

{232} See Boswell’s _Life of Johnson_, Croker’s edit. 1848, p. 233.

{233} [The _b_ was purposely foisted into these words by bookmen to
      suggest their Latin derivation; it did not belong to them in
      earlier English. The same may be said of the _g_, intruded into
      ‘deign’ and ‘feign’.]

{234} A chief phonographer writes to me to deny that this is the present
      spelling (1856) of ‘Europe’. It was so when this paragraph was
      written. [Most people would now consider [Yeuroap] as American

{235} Quintilian has expressed himself with the true dignity of a
      scholar on this matter (_Inst._ 1, 6, 45): Consuetudinem sermonis
      vocabo _consensum eruditorum_; sicut vivendi consensum
      bonorum.--How different from innovations like this the changes in
      the spelling of German which J. Grimm, so far as his own example
      may reach, _has_ introduced; and the still bolder and more
      extensive ones which in the _Preface_ to his _Deutsches
      Wörterbuch_, pp. liv.-lxii., he avows his desire to see
      introduced;--as the employment of _f_, not merely where it is at
      present used, but also wherever _v_ is now employed; the
      substituting of the _v_, which would be thus disengaged, for _w_,
      and the entire dismissal of _w_. They may be advisable, or they
      may not; it is not for strangers to offer an opinion; but at any
      rate they are not a seizing of the fluctuating, superficial
      accidents of the present, and a seeking to give permanent
      authority to these, but they all rest on a deep historic study of
      the language, and of the true genius of the language.

{236} Croker’s edit. 1848, pp. 57, 61, 233.

{237} [An incorrect conclusion. Almost all ‘ea’ words were pronounced
      ‘ai’ down to the eighteenth century. Thus ‘great’ was a true rhyme
      to ‘cheat’ and ‘complete’, their ordinary pronunciation being
      ‘grait’, ‘chait’, ‘complait’.]

{238} [i.e. ‘Lunnun’.]

{239} _A proposal for correcting, improving and ascertaining the English
      Tongue_, 1711, Works, vol. ix, pp. 139-59.

{240} [‘Devest’ was still in use till the end of the eighteenth century,
      but ‘divest’ is already found in _King Lear_, 1605, i, 1, 50.]

{241} Pygmæi, quasi _cubitales_ (Augustine).

{242} First so used by Theophrastus in Greek, and by Pliny in
      Latin.--The real identity of the two words explains Milton’s use
      of ‘diamond’ in _Paradise Lost_, b. 7; and also in that sublime
      passage in his _Apology for Smectymnuus_: “Then zeal, whose
      substance is ethereal, arming in complete _diamond_”.--Diez
      (_Wörterbuch d. Roman. Sprachen_, p. 123) supposes, not very
      probably, that it was under a certain influence of ‘_dia_fano’,
      the translucent, that ‘adamante’ was in the Italian, whence we
      have derived the word, changed into ‘_dia_mante’.

{243} [Similarly _jowl_ for _chowl_ or _chavel_.]

{244} _Richard III_, Act iv, Sc. 4.

{245} [For another account of this word, approved by Dr. Murray, see
      _The Folk and their Word-Lore_, p. 156.]

{246} [‘Bliss’ representing the old English _bliths_ or _blidhs_,
      blitheness, is really a quite distinct word from ‘bless’, standing
      for _blets_, old English _blétsian_ (=_blóedsian_, to consecrate
      with blood, _blód_), although the latter was by a folk-etymology
      very frequently spelt ‘bliss’.]

{247} [But ‘afraied’ is the earliest form of the word (1350), the verb
      itself being at first spelt ‘afray’ (1325). N.E.D.]

{248} How close this relationship was once, not merely in respect of
      etymology, but also of significance, a passage like this will
      prove: “Perchance, as vultures are said to smell the earthiness of
      a dying corpse; so this bird of prey [the evil spirit which
      personated Samuel, 1 Sam. xxviii. 41] _resented_ a worse than
      earthly savor in the soul of Saul, as evidence of his death at
      hand”. (Fuller, _The Profane State_, b. 5, c. 4.)

{249} [There is an unfortunate confusion here between ‘heal’ to make
      ‘hale’ or ‘[w]hole’ (Anglo-Saxon _hælan_) and the old (and
      Provincial) English _hill_, to cover, _hilling_, covering,
      _hellier_, a slater, akin to ‘hell’, the covered place, ‘helm’;
      Icelandic _hylja_, to cover.]

{250} [By a curious slip Dr. Trench here confounds ‘recover’, to
      recuperate or regain health (derived through old French _recovrer_
      from Latin _recuperare_), with a totally distinct word _re-cover_,
      to cover or clothe over again, which comes from old French
      _covrir_, Latin _co-operire_. It is just the difference between
      ‘recovering’ a lost umbrella through the police and ‘recovering’ a
      torn one at a shop. I pointed this out to the author in 1869, and
      I think he altered the passage in his later editions.]

{251} [‘Island’, though cognate with Anglo-Saxon _eá-land_ “water-land”
      (German _ei-land_), is really identical with Anglo-Saxon
      _íg-land_, i.e. “isle-land”, from _íg_, an island, the diminutive
      of which survives in _eyot_ or _ait_.]

{252} [The editor essayed to make a complete collection of this class of
      words in his _Folk-etymology, a Dictionary of Words corrupted by
      False Derivation or Mistaken Analogy_, 1882, and more recently in
      a condensed form in _The Folk and their Word-Lore_, 1904.]

{253} Diez looks with much favour on this process, and calls it, ein
      sinnreiches mittel fremdlinge ganz heimisch zu machen.

{254} Ammianus Marcellinus, xxii, 15, 28.

{255} [The Greek _pyramis_ probably represents the Egyptian
      _piri-m-ûisi_ (Maspero, _Dawn of Civilization_, 358), or
      _pir-am-us_ (Brugsch, _Egypt under the Pharaohs_, i, 73), rather
      than _pi-ram_, ‘the height’ (Birch, _Bunsen’s Egypt_, v, 763).]

{256} Tacitus, _Hist._ v. 2.

{257} Let me illustrate this by further instances in a note. Thus
      βούτυρον, from which, through the Latin, our ‘butter’ has
      descended to us, is borrowed (Pliny, _H.N._ xxviii. 9) from a
      Scythian word, now to us unknown: yet it is sufficiently plain
      that the Greeks so shaped and spelt it as to contain apparent
      allusion to _cow_ and _cheese_; there is in βούτυρον an evident
      feeling after βοῦς and τυρόν. Bozra, meaning citadel in Hebrew and
      Phœnician, and the name, no doubt, which the citadel of Carthage
      bore, becomes Βύρσα on Greek lips; and then the well known legend
      of the ox-hide was invented upon the name; not having suggested
      it, but being itself suggested by it. Herodian (v. 6) reproduces
      the name of the Syrian goddess Astarte in a shape that is
      significant also for Greek ears--Ἀστροάρχη, The Star-ruler, or
      Star-queen. When the apostate and hellenizing Jews assumed Greek
      names, ‘Eliakim’ or “Whom God has set”, became ‘Alcimus’ (ἄλκιμος)
      or The Strong (1 Macc. vii. 5). Latin examples in like kind are
      ‘com_i_ssatio’, spelt continually ‘com_e_ssatio’, and
      ‘com_e_ssation’ by those who sought to naturalize it in England,
      as though it were connected with ‘cŏmedo’, to eat, being indeed
      the substantive from the verb ‘cōmissari’ (--κωμάζειν), to revel,
      as Plutarch, whose Latin is in general not very accurate, long ago
      correctly observed; and ‘orichalcum’, spelt often ‘_au_richalcum’,
      as though it were a composite metal of mingled _gold_ and brass;
      being indeed the _mountain_ brass (ὀρείχαλκος). The miracle play,
      which is ‘mystère’, in French, whence our English ‘mystery’ was
      originally written ‘mistère’, being properly derived from
      ‘ministère’, and having its name because the clergy, the
      _ministri_ Ecclesiæ, conducted it. This was forgotten, and it then
      took its present form of ‘mystery’, as though so called because
      the mysteries of the faith were in it set out.

{258} We have here, in this bringing of the words by their supposed
      etymology together, the explanation of the fact that Spenser
      (_Fairy Queen_, i, 7, 44), Middleton (_Works_, vol. 5, pp. 524,
      528, 538), and others employ ‘Tartary’ as equivalent to ‘Tartarus’
      or hell.

{259} For a full discussion of this matter and fixing of the period at
      which ‘sinfluot’ became ‘sündflut’, see the _Theol. Stud. u.
      Krit._ vol. ii, p. 613; and Delitzsch, _Genesis_, 2nd ed. vol. ii,
      p. 210.

{260} [The name of the small grape, originally _raisins de Corauntz_,
      was transferred to the _ribes_ in the sixteenth century.]

{261} Ben Jonson, _The New Inn_, Act i, Sc. i.

{262} [On the contrary, it is the modern “Welsh _rarebit_” which has
      been mistakenly evolved out of the older “Welsh _rabbit_” as I
      have shown in _Folk-Etymology_, p. 431. Grose has both forms in
      his _Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue_, 1785.]

{263} ‘Leghorn’ is sometimes quoted as an example of this; but
      erroneously; for, as Admiral Smyth has shown (_The Mediterranean_,
      p. 409) ‘Livorno’ is itself rather the modern corruption, and
      ‘Ligorno’ the name found on the earlier charts.

{264} Exactly the same happens in other languages; thus ‘armbrust’, a
      crossbow, _looks_ German enough, and yet has nothing to do with
      ‘arm’ or ‘brust’, being a contraction of ‘arcubalista’, but a
      contraction under these influences. As little has ‘abenteuer’
      anything to do with ‘abend’ or ‘theuer’, however it may seem to be
      connected with them, being indeed the Provençal ‘adventura’. And
      ‘weissagen’ in its earlier forms had nothing in common with

{265} [So Diez. But Prof. Skeat and Scheler see no reason why it should
      not be direct from French _refuser_ and Low Latin _refusare_, from
      _refusus_, rejected.]

{266} It is upon this word that De Quincey (_Life and Manners_, p. 70,
      American Ed.) says excellently well: “It is in fact by such
      corruptions, by off-sets upon an old stock, arising through
      ignorance or mispronunciation originally, that every language is
      frequently enriched; and new modifications of thought, unfolding
      themselves in the progress of society, generate for themselves
      concurrently appropriate expressions.... It must not be allowed to
      weigh against a word once fairly naturalized by all, that
      originally it crept in upon an abuse or a corruption. Prescription
      is as strong a ground of legitimation in a case of this nature, as
      it is in law. And the old axiom is applicable--Fieri non debuit,
      factum valet. Were it otherwise, languages would be robbed of much
      of their wealth”. [_Works_, vol. xiv., p. 201.]

{267} [The direct opposite is the fact. The French _contredanse_ was
      borrowed from the English ‘country-dance’. See _The Folk and their
      Word-Lore_, p. 153.]

{268} [These words are not identical. They were in use as distinct words
      in the fifteenth century. See N.E.D.]

{269} [Dr. Murray has shown that ‘causeway’ is not a corruption of
      ‘causey’ but a compound of that word with ‘way’.]

{270} [Prof. Skeat has demonstrated that the supposed Greek ‘rachitis’,
      inflammation of the back, is an ætiological invention to serve as
      etymon of ‘rickets’, the condition of being rickety, a purely
      native word. See also _Folk-Etymology_, 312.]

{271} [See _The Folk and their Word-Lore_, p. 124.]

{272} _Phars._ vi. 720-830.

{273} Thus in a _Vocabulary_, 1475: Nigromansia dicitur divinatio facta
      _per nigros_.

{274} [Dyce believed that it was really thus derived and distinct from
      _pleurisy_, but it was evidently modelled upon that word (_Remarks
      on Editions of Shakespeare_, p. 218).]

{275} As ‘orthography’ itself means properly “_right_ spelling”, it might
      be a curious question whether it is permissible to speak of an
      _incorrect_ _ortho_graphy, that is of a _wrong_ _right_-spelling.
      The question which would be thus started is one of not unfrequent
      recurrence, and it is very worthy of observation how often, so
      soon as we take note of etymologies, this _contradictio in
      adjecto_ is found to occur. I will here adduce a few examples
      from the Greek, the Latin, the German, and from our own tongue.
      Thus the Greeks having no convenient word to express a rider,
      apart from a rider _on a horse_, did not scruple to speak of the
      _horse_man (ἱππεύς) upon an _elephant_. They often allowed
      themselves in a like inaccuracy, where certainly there was no
      necessity; as in using ἀνδριάς of the statue of a _woman_; where
      it would have been quite as easy to have used εἱκών or ἄγαλμα. So
      too their ‘table’ (τράπεζα = τετράπεζα) involved probably the
      _four_ feet which commonly support one; yet they did not shrink
      from speaking of a _three_-footed table (τρίπους τράπεζα), in
      other words, a “_three_-footed _four_-footed”; much as though we
      should speak of a “_three_-footed _quadru_ped”. Homer writes of a
      ‘hecatomb’ not of a _hundred_, but of twelve, oxen; and elsewhere
      of Hebe he says, in words not reproducible in English, νέκταρ
      ἐωνοχόει. ‘Tetrarchs’ were often rulers of quite other than
      _fourth_ parts of a land. Ἀκρατος had so come to stand for wine,
      without any thought more of its signifying originally the
      _unmingled_, that St. John speaks of ἄκρατος κεκερασμένος (Rev.
      xiv. 10), or the unmingled mingled. Boxes in which precious
      ointments were contained were so commonly of alabaster, that the
      name came to be applied to them whether they were so or not; and
      Theocritus celebrates “_golden_ alabasters”. Cicero having to
      mention a water-clock is obliged to call it a _water_ _sun_dial
      (solarium ex aquâ). Columella speaks of a “_vintage_ of honey”
      (vindemia mellis), and Horace invites his friend to im_pede_, not
      his _foot_, but his head, with myrtle (_caput_ im_ped_ire myrto).
      Thus too a German writer who desired to tell of the golden shoes
      with which the folly of Caligula adorned his horse could scarcely
      avoid speaking of _golden_ hoof-_irons_. The same inner
      contradiction is involved in such language as our own, a “_false_
      _ver_dict”, a “_steel_ _cuirass_” (‘coriacea’ from corium,
      leather), “antics new” (Harrington’s _Ariosto_), an “_erroneous_
      _etymo_logy”, a “_corn_ _chandler_”; that is, a “_corn_
      _candle_-maker”, “_rather_ _late_”, ‘rather’ being the
      comparative of ‘rathe’, early, and thus “rather late” being
      indeed “more early late”; and in others.

{276} [‘Siren’ is now generally understood to have meant originally a
      songstress, from the root _svar_, to sing or sound, seen in
      _syrinx_, a flute, _su(r)-sur-us_, etc. See J. E. Harrison, _Myths
      of the Odyssey_, p. 175.]

{277} [‘Chymist’ seems to be the oldest form of the word in English; see

{278} χημία, the name of Egypt; see Plutarch, _De Is. et Os._ c. 33.

{279} We have a notable evidence how deeply rooted this error was, how
      long this confusion endured, of the way in which it was shared by
      the learned as well as the unlearned, in Milton’s _Apology for
      Smectymnuus_, sect. 7, which everywhere presumes the identity of
      the ‘satyr’ and the ‘satirist’. It was Isaac Casaubon who first
      effectually dissipated it even for the learned world. The results
      of his investigations were made popular for the unlearned reader
      by Dryden, in the very instructive _Discourse on Satirical
      Poetry_, prefixed to his translations of Juvenal; but the
      confusion still survives, and ‘satyrs’ and ‘satires’, the Greek
      ‘satyric’ drama, the Latin ‘satirical’ poetry, are still assumed
      by most to have something to do with one another.

{280} [‘Dirige’ was the first word of the antiphon at matins in the
      Office for the Dead, taken from Psalm v, 9 (Vulg.), in which occur
      the words “_dirige_ in conspectu tuo vitam meam”. See Skeat,
      _Piers Plowman_, ii, 52. Hence also Scotch _dregy_, a dirge.]

{281} [Incorrect: the ‘mid-wife’ is etymologically she that is _with_
      (old English _mid_) a woman to help her in her hour of need, like
      German _bei-frau_, Spanish _co-madre_, Icelandic _naer-kona_,
      “near-woman”, Latin _ob-stetrix_, “by-stander”, all words for the
      lying-in nurse. Compare German _mit-bruder_, a comrade.]

{282}               “I have seen him
      Caper upright, like a wild _Môrisco_,
      Shaking the bloody darts, as he his bells”.

                        Shakespeare, _2 Henry VI_ Act iii, Sc. 1.

{283} In the reprinting of old books it is often very difficult to
      determine how far the old shape in which words present themselves
      should be retained, how far they should be conformed to present
      usage. It is comparatively easy to lay down as a rule that in
      books intended for popular use, wherever the form of the word is
      not affected by the modernizing of the spelling, as where this
      modernizing consists merely in the dropping of superfluous
      letters, there it shall take place; as who would wish our Bibles
      to be now printed letter for letter after the edition of 1611, or
      Shakespeare with the orthography of the first folio; but wherever
      more than the spelling, the actual shape, outline, and character
      of the word has been affected by the changes which it has
      undergone, that in all such cases the earlier form shall be held
      fast. The rule is a judicious one; but when it is attempted to
      carry it out, it is not always easy to draw the line, and to
      determine what affects the form and essence of a word, and what
      does not. About some words there can be no doubt; and therefore
      when a modern editor of Fuller’s _Church History_ complacently
      announces that he has allowed himself in such changes as ‘dirige’
      into ‘dirge’, ‘barreter’ into ‘barrister’, ‘synonymas’ into
      ‘synonymous’, ‘extempory’ into ‘extemporary’, ‘scited’ into
      ‘situated’, ‘vancurrier’ into ‘avant-courier’; he at the same time
      informs us that for all purposes of the study of the English
      language (and few writers are for this more important than
      Fuller), he has made his edition utterly worthless. Or again, when
      modern editors of Shakespeare print, and that without giving any
      intimation of the fact,

          “Like quills upon the fretful _porcupine_”,

      he having written, and in his first folio and quarto the words

          “Like quills upon the fretful _porpentine_”,

      this being the earlier, and in Shakespeare’s time the more common
      form of the word [e.g. “the _purpentines_ nature” (Puttenham,
      _Eng. Poesie_, 1589, p. 118, ed. Arber)], they must be considered
      as taking a very unwarrantable liberty with his text; and no less,
      when they substitute ‘Kenilworth’ for ‘Killingworth’, which he
      wrote, and which was his, Marlowe’s, and generally the earlier
      form of the name.

{284} [Compare Latin _amita_, yielding old French _ante_, our ‘aunt’.]

{285} “The Carthaginians shall restore and deliver back all the
      _renegates_ [perfugas] and fugitives that have fled to their side
      from us”.--p. 751.

{286} [See further in _The Folk and their Word-Lore_, p. 80.]

{287} Halbertsma quoted by Bosworth, _Origin of the English and Germanic
      Languages_, p. 39.


    Abenteuer                  240
    Abnormal                    72
    Abominable                 245
    Academy                     70
    Accommodate                107
    Acre                       193
    Adamant                    230
    Admiralty                  107
    Advocate                    82
    Æon                         72
    Æsthetic                    72
    Afeard                     126
    Affluent                   104
    Afraid                     127
    Afterthink                 120
    Alcimus                    237
    Alcove                      16
    Amphibious                 107
    Analogie                    56
    Ant                        253
    Antecedents                210
    Anthem                     245
    Antipodes                   68
    Apotheosis                  67
    -ard                       141
    Armbrust                   240
    Arride                      58
    Ascertain                  186
    Ask                        126
    Astarte                    237
    Attercop                   123
    Aurantium                  241
    Aurichalcum                237
    Avunculize                  91
    Axe                        126

    Baffle                     181
    Baker, bakester            157
    Banter                     106
    Barrier                     70
    Battalion                   61
    Bawn                       123
    Benefice, benefit           97
    Bitesheep                  144
    Black art                  243
    Blackguard                 189
    Blasphemous                128
    Bless                      231
    Bombast                    199
    Book                        21
    Boor                       202
    Bozra                      237
    Brangle                    177
    Bran-new                   231
    Brat                       205
    Brazen                     164
    Breaden                    163
    Bruin                       89
    Buffalo                     16
    Butter                     237
    Buxom                      139

    Chagrin                     95
    Chance-medley              243
    Chanticleer                 89
    Chemist, chemistry         248
    Chicken                    158
    Chouse                      91
    Chymist, chymistry         248
    Clawback                   144
    Comissatio                 237
    Commérage                  204
    Confluent                  104
    Congregational              79
    Contrary                   128
    Corpse                     191
    Country dance              242
    Court card                 239
    Coxcomb                    229
    Cozen                      231
    Crawfish                   252
    Creansur                    45
    Criterion                   67
    Crone, crony                93
    Crucible                   245
    Crusade                     62
    Cuirass                    246
    Currant                    239
    Cynarctomachy               91

    Dahlia                      88
    Dame                       192
    Dandylion                  243
    Dearworth                  120
    Dedal                       86
    Dehort                     137
    Demagogue                   55
    Denominationalism           79
    Depot                       69
    Diamond                    230
    Dirge                      250
    Dissimilation              103
    Divest                     229
    Donat                       86
    Dorter                      20
    Dosones                     90
    Doughty                    146
    Drachm                     193
    Dragoman                    12
    Dub                        146
    Duke                       191
    Dumps                      147
    Dutch                      177

    Eame                       118
    Earsport                   119
    Eaves                      159
    Educational                 79
    Effervescence               55
    Einseitig                   75
    Eliakim                    237
    Ell                        251
    Emet                       253
    Emotional                   79
    Encyclopedia                67
    Enfantillage                55
    Equivocation               196
    Erutar                     149
    Escobarder                  88
    -ess                       153
    Europe                     224
    Eyebite                    120

    Fairy                      191
    Farfalla                    15
    Fatherland                  75
    Flitter-mouse              118
    Flota                       17
    Folklore                    75
    Foolhappy                  137
    Foolhardy                  137
    Foolhasty                  137
    Foollarge                  137
    Foretalk                   120
    Fougue                      66
    Fraischeur                  66
    Frances                     95
    Francis                     95
    Frimm                      118
    Frivolité                   55
    Frontispiece               245
    Furlong                    193

    Gainly                     136
    Gallon                     193
    Galvanism                   88
    Garble                     199
    Geir                       118
    Gentian                     86
    Girdle                      21
    Girfalcon                  118
    Girl                       192
    Glassen                    163
    Gordian                     86
    Gossip                     203
    Great                      226
    Grimsire                   119
    Grocer                     229
    Grogram                    229

    Halfgod                    120
    Hallow                      82
    Handbook                    75
    Hangdog                    145
    Hector                      89
    Heft                       118
    Hermetic                    86
    Hery                       118
    Hierosolyma                236
    Hipocras                    86
    Hippodame                   64
    His                        131
    Hooker                      16
    Hoppester                  155
    Hotspur                    119
    Hoyden                     192
    Huck                       157
    Huckster, huckstress       157
    Hurricane                   14

    Iceberg                     73
    Icefield                    74
    Idea                       197
    Imp                        205
    Influence                  181
    International               78
    Island                     234
    Isle                       234
    Isolated                   107
    Isothermal                 102
    Its                        130

    Jaw                        230
    Jeopardy                    82

    Kenilworth                 253
    Kindly                     184
    Kirtle                      21
    Knave                      207
    Knitster                   155
    Knot                        87

    Lambiner                    88
    Lass                       154
    Lazar                       86
    Leer                       118
    Leghorn                    240
    Libel                      191
    Lifeguard                   74
    Lissome                    140
    London                     227
    Lunch, luncheon            129

    Malingerer                 119
    Mammet, mammetry            87
    Mandragora                 243
    Mansarde                    89
    Matachin                    17
    Matamoros                  143
    Mausoleum                   86
    Meat                       191
    Meddle, meddlesome         206
    Middler                    121
    Mid-wife                   250
    Milken                     163
    Mischievous                128
    Miscreant                  179
    Mithridate                  86
    Mixen                      123
    Morris dance               251
    Mystery, mystère           237
    Myth                        72

    Nap                        147
    Necromancy                 243
    Negus                       87
    Nemorivagus                 77
    Neophyte                   107
    Nesh                       118
    Niggot                      85
    Nimm                       118
    Noonscape                  129
    Noonshun                   129
    Normal                      72
    Nostril                    251
    Nugget                      85
    Nuncheon                   128

    Oblige                      69
    Obsequies                  241
    Oculissimus                 90
    Orange                     241
    Orichalcum                 237
    Ornamentation               72
    Orrery                      87
    Orthography                245

    Pagan                      202
    Painful, painfulness       186
    Pandar, pandarism           89
    Panorama                   107
    Pasquinade                  87
    Patch                       87
    Pate                       146
    Pease                      159
    Peck                       193
    Pester                      84
    Philauty                   105
    Photography                 72
    Physician                  101
    Pigmy                      229
    Pinchpenny                 144
    Pleurisy                   244
    Plunder                73, 106
    Poet                       101
    Polite                     200
    Polytheism                 107
    Porcupine                  253
    Porpoise                    63
    Postremissimus              91
    Potecary                    64
    Prævaricator               196
    Pragmatical                206
    Préliber                    56
    Preposterous               195
    Prestige                    68
    Prevaricate                196
    Privado                     16
    Prose, proser              206
    Punctilio                   16
    Punto                       16
    Pyramid                    235

    Quellio                     17
    Quinsey                     63
    Quirpo                      16
    Quirry                      64

    Rakehell                   145
    Rame                       241
    Rathe, rathest             138
    Realmrape                  119
    Recover                    233
    Redingote                   63
    Refuse                     241
    Regoldar                   149
    Religion                   183
    Renegade                   254
    Renown                     103
    Resent                     233
    Reynard                     89
    Rhyme                      245
    Riches                     159
    Rickets                    243
    Righteousness              137
    Rodomontade                 89
    Rome                       227
    Rootfast                   119
    Rosen                      162
    Ruly                       136
    Runagate                   254

    Sag                        118
    Sardanapalisme              88
    Sash                        63
    Satellites                  61
    Satire, satirical          250
    Satyr, satyric        249, 250
    Scent                      232
    Schimmer                   118
    Scrip                      232
    Seamster, seamstress  155, 156
    Selfish, selfishness       105
    Sentiment                  107
    Sepoy                      240
    Serene                     135
    Shrewd, shrewdness         209
    Silhouette                  88
    Silvern                    163
    Silvicultrix                77
    Siren                      247
    Skinker                    117
    Skip                       147
    Slick                      132
    Smellfeast                 143
    Smug                       146
    Solidarity                  70
    Songster, songstress  155, 156
    Sorcerer                   101
    Spencer                     88
    Sperr                      118
    Spheterize                  72
    Spinner, spinster          156
    Starconner                 120
    Starvation                  80
    Starve                     192
    Stereotype                  72
    Stonen                     163
    Suckstone                  120
    Sudden                     220
    Suicide                    105
    Suicism, suist             105
    Sündflut                   238
    Sunstead                   120
    Swindler                    74
    Sycophant                  208

    Tabinet                     88
    Tapster                    157
    Tarre                      118
    Tartar                     237
    Tartary                    238
    Tea                        227
    Theriac                    187
    Thou                       171
    Thrasonical                 89
    Tind                       118
    Tinnen                     163
    Tinsel                     180
    Tinsel-slippered           180
    Tontine                     88
    Topsy-turvy                215
    Tosspot                    144
    Tram                        88
    Treacle                    187
    Trigger                     73
    Trounce                    147
    Turban                      13

    Umstroke                   120
    Uncouth                    124

    Vancurrier                  64
    Vicinage                    63
    Villain               201, 208
    Volcano                     86
    Voltaic                     88
    Voyage                     191

    Wanhope                    117
    Waterfright                120
    Watershed                  103
    Weed                       192
    Welk                       118
    Welkin                     158
    Welsh rabbit               240
    Whole                      234
    Windflower                 120
    Wiseacre                   240
    Witch                      101
    Witticism                  106
    Witwanton                  119
    Woburn                     220
    Woodbine                   229
    Worship                    185
    Wörterbuch                 111

    Yard                       193
    Youngster                  156

    Zoology                    107
    Zoophyte                   107


Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.

       *       *       *       *       *


Variation in the spelling of the names Jonson/Johnson, Spenser/Spencer,
and Ralegh/Raleigh is as in the original.

The following have been left as they appear in the original:

    There are who venture
    tanquum consummata (probable error for “tamquam consumpta”)
    In ‘grogra_m_’ we are entirely to seek

The following obvious printing errors have been corrected:


    _ORIGINAL TEXT_                    _CHANGE_
    up words  n every quarter          in
    el lagarto’                        removed quote mark
    ‘trespasses’ might be substitued   substituted
    matter than in our authorized      Authorized
    Galations v. 19                    Galatians
    artificial, made-up, facititious   factitious
    such doublets is given by Pro f    Prof.


    _ORIGINAL TEXT_                    _CHANGE_
    masterpieces of antient            ancient
    Ἡθος is a word at                  Ἠθος
    at other times ‘vìrtue’.           vírtue
    ‘hcáracter’ with Spenser;          charácter
    perfectly well recognised          recognized
    Shakesspeare than we find now      Shakespeare
    ‘maumet’, meaning an idol{95}      added comma after footnote marker
    ‘aretinisms’, from an,             removed comma after “an”
    whith hitherto they held           which
    Missouri and the Missisippi        Mississippi
    things lacking, would have mended  added comma after “mended”
    εἰδωλον                            εἴδωλον
    “The word t  must be               it
    we have in common with the French  added period after “French”
    Language Français_, p. 12.         Langage
    ἀνάθέμα                            ἀνάθεμα
    ‘fursehung’ and ‘vorsehung’        fürsehung
    ἀμφιβια                            ἀμφίβια
    πολυθεισμος                        πολυθεϊσμος


    _ORIGINAL TEXT_                    _CHANGE_
    so dose ‘flitter-mouse’            does
    is an old preterite                præterite
    instrinsic value it may possess.   intrinsic
    which it belongs; being the same   added “)” before semicolon
    ‘guideress’; ‘charmeress’          changed semicolon to comma
    superlatives as ‘griveousest’      grievousest
    ‘dwarfling’, ‘sherperdling’        shepherdling
    _contráry_ run”--_Shakespeare._    added period after quotes
    their charms”.--_Spenser,_         changed comma to period
    _bu h-sum_, i.e. ‘bow-some’,       buch-sum


    _ORIGINAL TEXT_                    _CHANGE_
    Shakespeare in _I Henry VI_        changed I to 1
    words justI quoted have conveyed?  I just
    misapprehension in their persual   perusal
    as by sea, was a ‘voyage’,         changed final comma to period
    Langage Francais_, p. 347          Français
    before they return back again.     added double quotes after “again”
    1589, p. 181 (ed.                  181, ed.
    _Preface to Bible_, 1611.          added “)” before period
    Secker, _Sermons_, iii, 85 (ed.    85, ed.


    _ORIGINAL TEXT_                    _CHANGE_
    of the arbitary in spelling        arbitrary
    ‘vert’, ‘verre’ and ‘vers’,        changed final comma to period
    v corresponding in the Greek.      changed “v” to υ
    and a very horried one             horrid
    χ υμο                              χυμός
    Croker’s edit. 1848, pp. 57        ‘5’ unclear in the original
    the Provencal ‘adventura’.         Provençal
    oua ‘aunt’.                        our


    _ORIGINAL TEXT_                    _CHANGE_
    Alcove 15                          16
    Book 20                            21
    Creansur 46                        45
    Flota 16                           17
    Galvanism 9                        88
    Girdle 20                          21
    Hooker 15                          16
    Icefield 73                        74
    Imp 215                            205
    Kirtle 20                          21
    Matachin 16                        17
    Milken 162                         163
    Postremissimus 90                  91
    Quellio 16                         17
    Rosen 161                          162
    Silvern 162                        163
    Stonen 162                         163
    Tapster 156                        157

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