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Title: On the Study of Words
Author: Trench, Richard Chenevix
Language: English
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'Language is the armoury of the human mind, and at once contains the
trophies of its past, and the weapons of its future, conquests'

'Out, idle words, servants to shallow fools!'--SHAKESPEARE



Joint Author of 'The Concise Middle English Dictionary'


In all essential points this edition of The Study of Words is the same
book as the last edition. The aim of the editor has been to alter as
little of Archbishop Trench's work as possible. In the arrangement of
the book, in the order of the chapters and paragraphs, in the style, in
the general presentation of the matter, no change has been made. On the
other hand, the work has been thoroughly revised and corrected. A great
deal of thought and labour has of late been bestowed on English
philology, and there has been a great advance in the knowledge of the
laws regulating the development of the sounds of English words, and the
result has been that many a derivation once generally accepted has had
to be given up as phonetically impossible. An attempt has been made to
purge the book of all erroneous etymologies, and to correct in the text
small matters of detail. There have also been added some footnotes, in
which difficult points are discussed and where reference is given to
recent authorities. All editorial additions, whether in the text or in
the notes, are enclosed in square brackets. It is hoped that the book
as it now stands does not contain in its etymological details anything
inconsistent with the latest discoveries of English scholars.




These lectures will not, I trust, be found anywhere to have left out of
sight seriously, or for long, the peculiar needs of those for whom they
were originally intended, and to whom they were primarily addressed. I
am conscious, indeed, here and there, of a certain departure from my
first intention, having been in part seduced to this by a circumstance
which I had not in the least contemplated when I obtained permission to
deliver them, by finding, namely, that I should have other hearers
besides the pupils of the Training-School. Some matter adapted for
those rather than for these I was thus led to introduce--which
afterwards I was unwilling, in preparing for the press, to remove; on
the contrary adding to it rather, in the hope of obtaining thus a
somewhat wider circle of readers than I could have hoped, had I more
rigidly restricted myself in the choice of my materials. Yet I should
greatly regret to have admitted so much of this as should deprive these
lectures of their fitness for those whose profit in writing and in
publishing I had mainly in view, namely schoolmasters, and those
preparing to be such.

Had I known any book entering with any fulness, and in a popular manner,
into the subject-matter of these pages, and making it its exclusive
theme, I might still have delivered these lectures, but should scarcely
have sought for them a wider audience than their first, gladly leaving
the matter in their hands, whose studies in language had been fuller
and riper than my own. But abundant and ready to hand as are the
materials for such a book, I did not; while yet it seems to me that the
subject is one to which it is beyond measure desirable that their
attention, who are teaching, or shall have hereafter to teach, others
should be directed; so that they shall learn to regard language as one
of the chiefest organs of their own education and that of others. For I
am persuaded that I have used no exaggeration in saying, that for many
a young man 'his first discovery that words are living powers, has been
like the dropping of scales from his eyes, like the acquiring of
another sense, or the introduction into a new world,'--while yet all
this may be indefinitely deferred, may, indeed, never find place at all,
unless there is some one at hand to help for him, and to hasten the
process; and he who so does, will ever after be esteemed by him as one
of his very foremost benefactors. Whatever may be Horne Tooke's
shortcomings (and they are great), whether in details of etymology, or
in the philosophy of grammar, or in matters more serious still, yet,
with all this, what an epoch in many a student's intellectual life has
been his first acquaintance with _The Diversions of Purley_. And they
were not among the least of the obligations which the young men of our
time owed to Coleridge, that he so often himself weighed words in the
balances, and so earnestly pressed upon all with whom his voice went
for anything, the profit which they would find in so doing. Nor, with
the certainty that I am anticipating much in my little volume, can I
refrain from quoting some words which were not present with me during
its composition, although I must have been familiar with them long ago;
words which express excellently well why it is that these studies
profit so much, and which will also explain the motives which induced
me to add my little contribution to their furtherance:

'A language will often be wiser, not merely than the vulgar, but even
than the wisest of those who speak it. Being like amber in its efficacy
to circulate the electric spirit of truth, it is also like amber in
embalming and preserving the relics of ancient wisdom, although one is
not seldom puzzled to decipher its contents. Sometimes it locks up
truths, which were once well known, but which, in the course of ages,
have passed out of sight and been forgotten. In other cases it holds
the germs of truths, of which, though they were never plainly discerned,
the genius of its framers caught a glimpse in a happy moment of
divination. A meditative man cannot refrain from wonder, when he digs
down to the deep thought lying at the root of many a metaphorical term,
employed for the designation of spiritual things, even of those with
regard to which professing philosophers have blundered grossly; and
often it would seem as though rays of truth, which were still below the
intellectual horizon, had dawned upon the imagination as it was looking
up to heaven. Hence they who feel an inward call to teach and enlighten
their countrymen, should deem it an important part of their duty to
draw out the stores of thought which are already latent in their native
language, to purify it from the corruptions which Time brings upon all
things, and from which language has no exemption, and to endeavour to
give distinctness and precision to whatever in it is confused, or
obscure, or dimly seen'--_Guesses at Truth, First Series_, p. 295.

ITCHENSTOKE: Oct. 9, 1851.












There are few who would not readily acknowledge that mainly in worthy
books are preserved and hoarded the treasures of wisdom and knowledge
which the world has accumulated; and that chiefly by aid of books they
are handed down from one generation to another. I shall urge on you in
these lectures something different from this; namely, that not in books
only, which all acknowledge, nor yet in connected oral discourse, but
often also in words contemplated singly, there are boundless stores of
moral and historic truth, and no less of passion and imagination, laid
up--that from these, lessons of infinite worth may be derived, if only
our attention is roused to their existence. I shall urge on you how
well it will repay you to study the words which you are in the habit of
using or of meeting, be they such as relate to highest spiritual things,
or our common words of the shop and the market, and of all the familiar
intercourse of daily life. It will indeed repay you far better than you
can easily believe. I am sure, at least, that for many a young man his
first discovery of the fact that words are living powers, are the
vesture, yea, even the body, which thoughts weave for themselves, has
been like the dropping of scales from his eyes, like the acquiring of
another sense, or the introduction into a new world; he is never able
to cease wondering at the moral marvels that surround him on every side,
and ever reveal themselves more and more to his gaze.

We indeed hear it not seldom said that ignorance is the mother of
admiration. No falser word was ever spoken, and hardly a more
mischievous one; implying, as it does, that this healthiest exercise of
the mind rests, for the most part, on a deceit and a delusion, and that
with larger knowledge it would cease; while, in truth, for once that
ignorance leads us to admire that which with fuller insight we should
perceive to be a common thing, one demanding no such tribute from us, a
hundred, nay, a thousand times, it prevents us from admiring that which
is admirable indeed. And this is so, whether we are moving in the
region of nature, which is the region of God's wonders, or in the
region of art, which is the region of man's wonders; and nowhere truer
than in this sphere and region of language, which is about to claim us
now. Oftentimes here we walk up and down in the midst of intellectual
and moral marvels with a vacant eye and a careless mind; even as some
traveller passes unmoved over fields of fame, or through cities of
ancient renown--unmoved, because utterly unconscious of the lofty deeds
which there have been wrought, of the great hearts which spent
themselves there. We, like him, wanting the knowledge and insight which
would have served to kindle admiration in us, are oftentimes deprived
of this pure and elevating excitement of the mind, and miss no less
that manifold instruction which ever lies about our path, and nowhere
more largely than in our daily words, if only we knew how to put forth
our hands and make it our own. 'What riches,' one exclaims, 'lie hidden
in the vulgar tongue of our poorest and most ignorant. What flowers of
paradise lie under our feet, with their beauties and their parts
undistinguished and undiscerned, from having been daily trodden on.'

And this subject upon which we are thus entering ought not to be a dull
or uninteresting one in the handling, or one to which only by an effort
you will yield the attention which I shall claim. If it shall prove so,
this I fear must be through the fault of my manner of treating it; for
certainly in itself there is no study which _may_ be made at once more
instructive and entertaining than the study of the use and abuse, the
origin and distinction of words, with an investigation, slight though
it may be, of the treasures contained in them; which is exactly that
which I now propose to myself and to you. I remember a very learned
scholar, to whom we owe one of our best Greek lexicons, a book which
must have cost him years, speaking in the preface of his completed work
with a just disdain of some, who complained of the irksome drudgery of
such toils as those which had engaged him so long,--toils irksome,
forsooth, because they only had to do with words. He disclaims any part
with those who asked pity for themselves, as so many galley-slaves
chained to the oar, or martyrs who had offered themselves for the good
of the literary world. He declares that the task of classing, sorting,
grouping, comparing, tracing the derivation and usage of words, had
been to him no drudgery, but a delight and labour of love. [Footnote:
It is well worth the while to read on this same subject the pleasant
_causerie_ of Littré 'Comment j'ai fait mon Dictionnaire.' It is to be
found pp. 390-442 of his _Glanures_.]

And if this may be true in regard of a foreign tongue, how much truer
ought it to be in regard of our own, of our 'mother tongue,' as we
affectionately call it. A great writer not very long departed from us
has borne witness at once to the pleasantness and profit of this study.
'In a language,' he says, 'like ours, where so many words are derived
from other languages, there are few modes of instruction more useful or
more amusing than that of accustoming young people to seek for the
etymology or primary meaning of the words they use. There are cases in
which more knowledge of more value may be conveyed by the history of a
word than by the history of a campaign.' So writes Coleridge; and
impressing the same truth, Emerson has somewhere characterized language
as 'fossil poetry.' He evidently means that just as in some fossil,
curious and beautiful shapes of vegetable or animal life, the graceful
fern or the finely vertebrated lizard, such as now, it may be, have
been extinct for thousands of years, are permanently bound up with the
stone, and rescued from that perishing which would else have been their
portion,--so in words are beautiful thoughts and images, the
imagination and the feeling of past ages, of men long since in their
graves, of men whose very names have perished, there are these, which
might so easily have perished too, preserved and made safe for ever.
The phrase is a striking one; the only fault one can find with it is
that it is too narrow. Language may be, and indeed is, this 'fossil
poetry'; but it may be affirmed of it with exactly the same truth that
it is fossil ethics, or fossil history. Words quite as often and as
effectually embody facts of history, or convictions of the moral sense,
as of the imagination or passion of men; even as, so far as that moral
sense may be perverted, they will bear witness and keep a record of
that perversion. On all these points I shall enter at full in after
lectures; but I may give by anticipation a specimen or two of what I
mean, to make from the first my purpose and plan more fully
intelligible to all.

Language then is 'fossil poetry'; in other words, we are not to look
for the poetry which a people may possess only in its poems, or its
poetical customs, traditions, and beliefs. Many a single word also is
itself a concentrated poem, having stores of poetical thought and
imagery laid up in it. Examine it, and it will be found to rest on some
deep analogy of things natural and things spiritual; bringing those to
illustrate and to give an abiding form and body to these. The image may
have grown trite and ordinary now: perhaps through the help of this
very word may have become so entirely the heritage of all, as to seem
little better than a commonplace; yet not the less he who first
discerned the relation, and devised the new word which should express
it, or gave to an old, never before but literally used, this new and
figurative sense, this man was in his degree a poet--a maker, that is,
of things which were not before, which would not have existed but for
him, or for some other gifted with equal powers. He who spake first of
a 'dilapidated' fortune, what an image must have risen up before his
mind's eye of some falling house or palace, stone detaching itself from
stone, till all had gradually sunk into desolation and ruin. Or he who
to that Greek word which signifies 'that which will endure to be held
up to and judged by the sunlight,' gave first its ethical signification
of 'sincere,' 'truthful,' or as we sometimes say, 'transparent,' can we
deny to him the poet's feeling and eye? Many a man had gazed, we are
sure, at the jagged and indented mountain ridges of Spain, before one
called them 'sierras' or 'saws,' the name by which now they are known,
as _Sierra_ Morena, _Sierra_ Nevada; but that man coined his
imagination into a word which will endure as long as the everlasting
hills which he named.

But it was said just now that words often contain a witness for great
moral truths--God having pressed such a seal of truth upon language,
that men are continually uttering deeper things than they know,
asserting mighty principles, it may be asserting them against
themselves, in words that to them may seem nothing more than the
current coin of society. Thus to what grand moral purposes Bishop
Butler turns the word 'pastime'; how solemn the testimony which he
compels the world, out of its own use of this word, to render against
itself--obliging it to own that its amusements and pleasures do not
really satisfy the mind and fill it with the sense of an abiding and
satisfying joy: [Footnote: _Sermon_ xiv. _Upon the Love of God_.
Curiously enough, Montaigne has, in his Essays, drawn the same
testimony out of the word: 'This ordinary phrase of Pass-time, and
passing away the time, represents the custom of those wise sort of
people, who think they cannot have a better account of their lives,
than to let them run out and slide away, to pass them over and to baulk
them, and as much as they can, to take no notice of them and to shun
them, as a thing of troublesome and contemptible quality. But I know it
to be another kind of thing, and find it both valuable and commodious
even in its latest decay, wherein I now enjoy it, and nature has
delivered it into our hands in such and so favourable circumstances
that we commonly complain of ourselves, if it be troublesome to us or
slide unprofitably away.'] they are only 'pastime'; they serve only, as
this word confesses, to _pass_ away the _time_, to prevent it from
hanging, an intolerable burden, on men's hands: all which they can do
at the best is to prevent men from discovering and attending to their
own internal poverty and dissatisfaction and want. He might have added
that there is the same acknowledgment in the word 'diversion' which
means no more than that which _diverts_ or turns us aside from
ourselves, and in this way helps us to forget ourselves for a little.
And thus it would appear that, even according to the world's own
confession, all which it proposes is--not to make us happy, but a
little to prevent us from remembering that we are unhappy, to _pass_
away our time, to _divert_ us from ourselves. While on the other hand
we declare that the good which will really fill our souls and satisfy
them to the uttermost, is not in us, but without us and above us, in
the words which we use to set forth any transcending delight. Take
three or four of these words--'transport,' 'rapture,' 'ravishment,'
'ecstasy,'--'transport,' that which _carries_ us, as 'rapture,' or
'ravishment,' that which _snatches_ us out of and above ourselves; and
'ecstasy' is very nearly the same, only drawn from the Greek. And not
less, where a perversion of the moral sense has found place, words
preserve oftentimes a record of this perversion. We have a signal
example of this in the use, or rather misuse, of the words 'religion'
and 'religious' during the Middle Ages, and indeed in many parts of
Christendom still. A 'religious' person did not then mean any one who
felt and owned the bonds that bound him to God and to his fellow-men,
but one who had taken peculiar vows upon him, the member of a monastic
Order, of a 'religion' as it was called. As little did a 'religious'
house then mean, nor does it now mean in the Church of Rome, a
Christian household, ordered in the fear of God, but a house in which
these persons were gathered together according to the rule of some man.
What a light does this one word so used throw on the entire state of
mind and habits of thought in those ages! That then was 'religion,' and
alone deserved the name! And 'religious' was a title which might not be
given to parents and children, husbands and wives, men and women
fulfilling faithfully and holily in the world the duties of their
several stations, but only to those who had devised a self-chosen
service for themselves. [Footnote: A reviewer in Fraser's Magazine, Dec.
1851, doubts whether I have not here pushed my assertion too far. So
far from this, it was not merely the 'popular language' which this
corruption had invaded, but a decree of the great Fourth Lateran
Council (A.D. 1215), forbidding the further multiplication of monastic
Orders, runs thus: Ne nimia _religionum_ diversitas gravem in Ecclesia
Dei confusionem inducat, firmiter prohibemus, ne quis de cetero novam
_religionem_ inveniat, sed quicunque voluerit ad _religionem_ converti,
unam de approbatis assumat.]

But language is fossil history as well. What a record of great social
revolutions, revolutions in nations and in the feelings of nations, the
one word 'frank' contains, which is used, as we all know, to express
aught that is generous, straightforward, and free. The Franks, I need
not remind you, were a powerful German tribe, or association of tribes,
who gave themselves [Footnote: This explanation of the name _Franks_ is
now generally given up. The name is probably a derivative from a lost
O.H.G. _francho_, a spear or javelin: compare A.S. _franca_, Icel.
_frakka_; similarly the Saxons are supposed to have derived their name
from a weapon--_seax_, a knife; see Kluge's _Dict_. (s.v. _frank_).]
this proud name of the 'franks' or the free; and who, at the breaking
up of the Roman Empire, possessed themselves of Gaul, to which they
gave their own name. They were the ruling conquering people, honourably
distinguished from the Gauls and degenerate Romans among whom they
established themselves by their independence, their love of freedom,
their scorn of a lie; they had, in short, the virtues which belong to a
conquering and dominant race in the midst of an inferior and conquered
one. And thus it came to pass that by degrees the name 'frank'
indicated not merely a national, but involved a moral, distinction as
well; and a 'frank' man was synonymous not merely with a man of the
conquering German race, but was an epithet applied to any man possessed
of certain high moral qualities, which for the most part appertained to,
and were found only in, men of that stock; and thus in men's daily
discourse, when they speak of a person as being 'frank,' or when they
use the words 'franchise,' 'enfranchisement,' to express civil
liberties and immunities, their language here is the outgrowth, the
record, and the result of great historic changes, bears testimony to
facts of history, whereof it may well happen that the speakers have
never heard. [Footnote: 'Frank,' though thus originally a German word,
only came back to Germany from France in the seventeenth century. With
us it is found in the sixteenth; but scarcely earlier.] The word
'slave' has undergone a process entirely analogous, although in an
opposite direction. 'The martial superiority of the Teutonic races
enabled them to keep their slave markets supplied with captives taken
from the Sclavonic tribes. Hence, in all the languages of Western
Europe, the once glorious name of Slave has come to express the most
degraded condition of men. What centuries of violence and warfare does
the history of this word disclose.' [Footnote: Gibbon, _Decline and
Fall_, c. 55. [It is very doubtful whether the idea of 'glory' was
implied originally in the national name of _Slav_. It is generally held
now that the Slavs gave themselves the name as being 'the
intelligible,' or 'the intelligibly speaking' people; as in the case of
many other races, they regarded their strange-speaking neighbours as
'barbarian,' that is 'stammering,' or even as 'dumb.' So the Russians
call their neighbours the Germans _njemets_, connected with _njemo_,
indistinct. The old name _Slovene_, Slavonians, is probably a
derivative from the substantive which appears in Church Slavonic in the
form _slovo_, a word; see Thomsen's _Russia and Scandinavia_, p. 8.
_Slovo_ is closely connected with the old Slavonic word for 'fame'--
_slava_, hence, no doubt, the explanation of _Slave_ favoured by

Having given by anticipation this handful of examples in illustration
of what in these lectures I propose, I will, before proceeding further,
make a few observations on a subject, which, if we would go at all to
the root of the matter, we can scarcely leave altogether untouched,--I
mean the origin of language, in which however we will not entangle
ourselves deeper than we need. There are, or rather there have been,
two theories about this. One, and that which rather has been than now
is, for few maintain it still, would put language on the same level
with the various arts and inventions with which man has gradually
adorned and enriched his life. It would make him by degrees to have
invented it, just as he might have invented any of these, for himself;
and from rude imperfect beginnings, the inarticulate cries by which he
expressed his natural wants, the sounds by which he sought to imitate
the impression of natural objects upon him, little by little to have
arrived at that wondrous organ of thought and feeling, which his
language is often to him now.

It might, I think, be sufficient to object to this explanation, that
language would then be an _accident_ of human nature; and, this being
the case, that we certainly should somewhere encounter tribes sunken so
low as not to possess it; even as there is almost no human art or
invention so obvious, and as it seems to us so indispensable, but there
are those who have fallen below its knowledge and its exercise. But
with language it is not so. There have never yet been found human
beings, not the most degraded horde of South African bushmen, or Papuan
cannibals, who did not employ this means of intercourse with one
another. But the more decisive objection to this view of the matter is,
that it hangs together with, and is indeed an essential part of, that
theory of society, which is contradicted alike by every page of Genesis,
and every notice of our actual experience--the 'urang-utang theory,' as
it has been so happily termed--that, I mean, according to which the
primitive condition of man was the savage one, and the savage himself
the seed out of which in due time the civilized man was unfolded;
whereas, in fact, so far from being this living seed, he might more
justly be considered as a dead withered leaf, torn violently away from
the great trunk of humanity, and with no more power to produce anything
nobler than himself out of himself, than that dead withered leaf to
unfold itself into the oak of the forest. So far from being the child
with the latent capabilities of manhood, he is himself rather the man
prematurely aged, and decrepit, and outworn.

But the truer answer to the inquiry how language arose, is this: God
gave man language, just as He gave him reason, and just because He gave
him reason; for what is man's _word_ but his reason, coming forth that
it may behold itself? They are indeed so essentially one and the same
that the Greek language has one word for them both. He gave it to him,
because he could not be man, that is, a social being, without it. Yet
this must not be taken to affirm that man started at the first
furnished with a full-formed vocabulary of words, and as it were with
his first dictionary and first grammar ready-made to his hands. He did
not thus begin the world _with names_, but _with the power of naming_:
for man is not a mere speaking machine; God did not teach him words, as
one of us teaches a parrot, from without; but gave him a capacity, and
then evoked the capacity which He gave. Here, as in everything else
that concerns the primitive constitution, the great original institutes,
of humanity, our best and truest lights are to be gotten from the study
of the first three chapters of Genesis; and you will observe that there
it is not God who imposed the first names on the creatures, but Adam--
Adam, however, at the direct suggestion of his Creator. _He_ brought
them all, we are told, to Adam, 'to see what he would call them; and
whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name
thereof' (Gen. ii. 19). Here we have the clearest intimation of the
origin, at once divine and human, of speech; while yet neither is so
brought forward as to exclude or obscure the other.

And so far we may concede a limited amount of right to those who have
held a progressive acquisition, on man's part, of the power of
embodying thought in words. I believe that we should conceive the
actual case most truly, if we conceived this power of naming things and
expressing their relations, as one laid up in the depths of man's being,
one of the divine capabilities with which he was created: but one (and
in this differing from those which have produced in various people
various arts of life) which could not remain dormant in him, for man
could be only man through its exercise; which therefore did rapidly bud
and blossom out from within him at every solicitation from the world
without and from his fellow-man; as each object to be named appeared
before his eyes, each relation of things to one another arose before
his mind. It was not merely the possible, but the necessary, emanation
of the spirit with which he had been endowed. Man makes his own
language, but he makes it as the bee makes its cells, as the bird its
nest; he cannot do otherwise. [Footnote: Renan has much of interest on
this matter, both in his work _De l'Origine du Langage_, and in his
_Hist. des Langues Semitiques_. I quote from the latter, p. 445: Sans
doute les langues, comme tout ce qui est organisé, sont sujettes à la
loi du développement graduel. En soutenant que le langage primitif
possédait les éléments nécessaires à son intégrité, nous sommes loin de
dire que les mécanismes d'un âge plus avancé y fussent arrivés a leur
pleine existence. Tout y était, mais confusément et sans distinction.
Le temps seul et les progrès de l'esprit humain pouvaient opérer un
discernement dans cette obscure synthèse, et assigner à chaque élément
son rôle spécial. La vie, en un mot, n'était ici, comme partout, qu'à
la condition de l'évolution du germe primitif, de la distribution des
rôles et de la séparation des organes. Mais ces organes eux-mêmes
furent détermines dès le premier jour, et depuis l'acte générateur qui
le fit être, le langage ne s'est enrichi d'aucune fonction vraiment
nouvelle. Un germe est posé, renfermant en puissance tout ce que l'être
sera un jour; le germe se développe, les formes se constituent dans
leurs proportions régulières, ce qui était en puissance devient en
acte; mais rien ne se crée, rien ne s'ajoute: telle est la loi commune
des êtres soumis aux conditions de la vie. Telle fut aussi la loi du

_How_ this latent power evolved itself first, how this spontaneous
generation of language came to pass, is a mystery; even as every act of
creation is of necessity such; and as a mystery all the deepest
inquirers into the subject are content to leave it. Yet we may perhaps
a little help ourselves to the realizing of what the process was, and
what it was not, if we liken it to the growth of a tree springing out
of, and unfolding itself from, a root, and according to a necessary
law--that root being the divine capacity of language with which man was
created, that law being the law of highest reason with which he was
endowed: if we liken it to this rather than to the rearing of a house,
which a man should slowly and painfully fashion for himself with dead
timbers combined after his own fancy and caprice; and which little by
little improved in shape, material, and size, being first but a log
house, answering his barest needs, and only after centuries of toil and
pain growing for his sons' sons into a stately palace for pleasure and

Were it otherwise, were the savage the primitive man, we should then
find savage tribes, furnished scantily enough, it might be, with the
elements of speech, yet at the same time with its fruitful beginnings,
its vigorous and healthful germs. But what does their language on close
inspection prove? In every case what they are themselves, the remnant
and ruin of a better and a nobler past. Fearful indeed is the impress
of degradation which is stamped on the language of the savage, more
fearful perhaps even than that which is stamped upon his form. When
wholly letting go the truth, when long and greatly sinning against
light and conscience, a people has thus gone the downward way, has been
scattered off by some violent catastrophe from those regions of the
world which are the seats of advance and progress, and driven to its
remote isles and further corners, then as one nobler thought, one
spiritual idea after another has perished from it, the words also that
expressed these have perished too. As one habit of civilization has
been let go after another, the words which those habits demanded have
dropped as well, first out of use, and then out of memory and thus
after a while have been wholly lost.

Moffat, in his _Missionary Labours and Scenes in South Africa_, gives
us a very remarkable example of the disappearing of one of the most
significant words from the language of a tribe sinking ever deeper in
savagery; and with the disappearing of the word, of course, the
disappearing as well of the great spiritual fact and truth whereof that
word was at once the vehicle and the guardian. The Bechuanas, a Caffre
tribe, employed formerly the word 'Morimo,' to designate 'Him that is
above' or 'Him that is in heaven' and attached to the word the notion
of a supreme Divine Being. This word, with the spiritual idea
corresponding to it, Moffat found to have vanished from the language of
the present generation, although here and there he could meet with an
old man, scarcely one or two in a thousand, who remembered in his youth
to have heard speak of 'Morimo'; and this word, once so deeply
significant, only survived now in the spells and charms of the so-
called rainmakers and sorcerers, who misused it to designate a fabulous
ghost, of whom they told the absurdest and most contradictory things.

And as there is no such witness to the degradation of the savage as the
brutal poverty of his language, so is there nothing that so effectually
tends to keep him in the depths to which he has fallen. You cannot
impart to any man more than the words which he understands either now
contain, or can be made, intelligibly to him, to contain. Language is
as truly on one side the limit and restraint of thought, as on the
other side that which feeds and unfolds thought. Thus it is the ever-
repeated complaint of the missionary that the very terms are well-nigh
or wholly wanting in the dialect of the savage whereby to impart to him
heavenly truths; and not these only; but that there are equally wanting
those which should express the nobler emotions of the human heart.
Dobrizhoffer, the Jesuit missionary, in his curious _History of the
Abipones,_ tells us that neither these nor the Guarinies, two of the
principal native tribes of Brazil, possessed any word in the least
corresponding to our 'thanks.' But what wonder, if the feeling of
gratitude was entirely absent from their hearts, that they should not
have possessed the corresponding word in their vocabularies? Nay, how
should they have had it there? And that in this absence lies the true
explanation is plain from a fact which the same writer records, that,
although inveterate askers, they never showed the slightest sense of
obligation or of gratitude when they obtained what they sought; never
saying more than, 'This will be useful to me,' or, 'This is what I
wanted.' Dr. Krapf, after laborious researches in some widely extended
dialects of East Africa, has remarked in them the same absence of any
words expressing the idea of gratitude.

Nor is it only in what they have forfeited and lost, but also in what
they have retained or invented, that these languages proclaim their
degradation and debasement, and how deeply they and those that speak
them have fallen. For indeed the strange wealth and the strange poverty,
I know not which the strangest and the saddest, of the languages of
savage tribes, rich in words which proclaim their shame, poor in those
which should attest the workings of any nobler life among them, not
seldom absolutely destitute of these last, are a mournful and ever-
recurring surprise, even to those who were more or less prepared to
expect nothing else. Thus I have read of a tribe in New Holland, which
has no word to signify God, but has one to designate a process by which
an unborn child may be destroyed in the bosom of its mother. [Footnote:
A Wesleyan missionary, communicating with me from Fiji, assures me I
have here understated the case. He says: 'I could write down several
words, which express as many different ways of killing an unborn
child.' He has at the same time done me the favour to send me dreadful
confirmation of all which I have here asserted. It is a list of some
Fiji words, with the hideous meanings which they bear, or facts which
they imply. He has naturally confined himself to those in one domain of
human wickedness--that, namely, of cruelty; leaving another domain,
which borders close on this, and which, he assures me, would yield
proofs quite as terrible, altogether untouched. It is impossible to
imagine a record more hideous of what the works of the arch-murderer
are, or one more fitted to stir up missionary zeal in behalf of those
dark places of the earth which are full of the habitations of cruelty.
A very few specimens must suffice. The language of Fiji has a word for
a club which has killed a man; for a dead body which is to be eaten;
for the first of such bodies brought in at the beginning of a war; for
the flesh on each side of the backbone. It has a name of honour given
to those who have taken life; it need not have been the life of an
enemy; if only they have shed blood--it may have been the life of a
woman or a child--the title has been earned. It has a hideous word to
express the torturing and insulting of an enemy, as by cutting off any
part of his body--his nose or tongue, for instance--cooking and eating
it before his face, and taunting him the while; the [Greek:
hakrotaeriazein] of the Greeks, with the cannibalism added. But of this
enough.] And I have been informed, on the authority of one excellently
capable of knowing, an English scholar long resident in Van Diemen's
Land, that in the native language of that island there are [Footnote:
This was written in 1851. Now, in 1888, Van Diemen's Land is called
Tasmania, and the native language of that island is a thing of the
past.] four words to express the taking of human life--one to express a
father's killing of a son, another a son's killing of a father, with
other varieties of murder; and that in no one of these lies the
slightest moral reprobation, or sense of the deep-lying distinction
between to 'kill' and to 'murder'; while at the same time, of that
language so richly and so fearfully provided with expressions for this
extreme utterance of hate, he also reports that a word for 'love' is
wanting in it altogether. Yet with all this, ever and anon in the midst
of this wreck and ruin, there is that in the language of the savage,
some subtle distinction, some curious allusion to a perished
civilization, now utterly unintelligible to the speaker; or some other
note, which proclaims his language to be the remains of a dissipated
inheritance, the rags and remnants of a robe which was a royal one once.
The fragments of a broken sceptre are in his hand, a sceptre wherewith
once he held dominion (he, that is, in his progenitors) over large
kingdoms of thought, which now have escaped wholly from his sway.
[Footnote: See on this matter Tylor, _Early History of Mankind_, pp.
150-190; and, still better, the Duke of Argyll, _On Primeval Man_; and
on this same survival of the fragments of an elder civilization, Ebrard,
_Apologetik_, vol. ii. p. 382. Among some of the Papuans the faintest
rudiments of the family survive; of the tribe no trace whatever; while
yet of these one has lately written:--'Sie haben religiöse Gebräuche
und Uebungen, welche, mit einigen anderen Erscheinungen in ihrem Leben,
mit ihrem jetzigen Culturzustande ganz unvereinbar erscheinen, wenn man
darin nicht die Spuren einer früher höhern Bildung erkennen will.'
Sayce agrees with this.]

But while it is thus with him, while this is the downward course of all
those that have chosen the downward path, while with every
impoverishing and debasing of personal and national life there goes
hand in hand a corresponding impoverishment and debasement of language;
so on the contrary, where there is advance and progress, where a divine
idea is in any measure realizing itself in a people, where they are
learning more accurately to define and distinguish, more truly to know,
where they are ruling, as men ought to rule, over nature, and
compelling her to give up her secrets to them, where new thoughts are
rising up over the horizon of a nation's mind, new feelings are
stirring at a nation's heart, new facts coming within the sphere of its
knowledge, there will language be growing and advancing too. It cannot
lag behind; for man feels that nothing is properly his own, that he has
not secured any new thought, or entered upon any new spiritual
inheritance, till he has fixed it in language, till he can contemplate
it, not as himself, but as his word; he is conscious that he must
express truth, if he is to preserve it, and still more if he would
propagate it among others. 'Names,' as it has been excellently said,
'are impressions of sense, and as such take the strongest hold upon the
mind, and of all other impressions can be most easily recalled and
retained in view. They therefore serve to give a point of attachment to
all the more volatile objects of thought and feeling. Impressions that
when past might be dissipated for ever, are by their connexion with
language always within reach. Thoughts, of themselves are perpetually
slipping out of the field of immediate mental vision; but the name
abides with us, and the utterance of it restores them in a moment.'

Men sometimes complain of the number of new theological terms which the
great controversies in which the Church from time to time has been
engaged, have left behind them. But this could not have been otherwise,
unless the gains through those controversies made, were presently to be
lost again; for as has lately been well said: 'The success and enduring
influence of any systematic construction of truth, be it secular or
sacred, depends as much upon an exact terminology, as upon close and
deep thinking itself. Indeed, unless the results to which the human
mind arrives are plainly stated, and firmly fixed in an exact
phraseology, its thinking is to very little purpose in the end.
"Terms," says Whewell, "record discoveries." That which was seen, it
may be with crystal clearness, and in bold outline, in the
consciousness of an individual thinker, may fail to become the property
and possession of mankind at large, because it is not transferred from
the individual to the general mind, by means of a precise phraseology
and a rigorous terminology. Nothing is in its own nature more fugacious
and shifting than thought; and particularly thoughts upon the mysteries
of Christianity. A conception that is plain and accurate in the
understanding of the first man becomes obscure and false in that of the
second, because it was not grasped and firmly held in the form and
proportions with which it first came up, and then handed over to other
minds, a fixed and scientific quantity.' [Footnote: Shedd, _History of
Christian Doctrine_, vol. i. p. 362; compare _Guesses at Truth_, 1866,
p. 217; and Gerber, _Sprache als Kunst_, vol. i. p. 145.] And on the
necessity of names at once for the preservation and the propagation of
truth it has been justly observed: 'Hardly any original thoughts on
mental or social subjects ever make their way among mankind, or assume
their proper importance in the minds even of their inventors, until
aptly selected words or phrases have as it were nailed them down and
held them fast.' [Footnote: Mill, _System of Logic_, vol. ii. p. 291.]
And this holds good alike of the false and of the true. I think we may
observe very often the way in which controversies, after long eddying
backward and forward, hither and thither, concentrate themselves at
last in some single word which is felt to contain all that the one
party would affirm and the other would deny. After a desultory swaying
of the battle hither and thither 'the high places of the field' the
critical position, on the winning of which everything turns, is
discovered at last. Thus the whole controversy of the Catholic Church
with the Arians finally gathers itself up in a single word,
'homoousion;' that with the Nestorians in another, 'theotokos.' One
might be bold to affirm that the entire secret of Buddhism is found in
'Nirvana'; for take away the word, and it is not too much to say that
the keystone to the whole arch is gone. So too when the medieval Church
allowed and then adopted the word 'transubstantiation' (and we know the
exact date of this), it committed itself to a doctrine from which
henceforward it was impossible to recede. The floating error had become
a fixed one, and exercised a far mightier influence on the minds of all
who received it, than except for this it would have ever done. It is
sometimes not a word, but a phrase, which proves thus mighty in
operation. 'Reformation in the head and in the members 'was the
watchword, for more than a century before an actual Reformation came,
of all who were conscious of the deeper needs of the Church. What
intelligent acquaintance with Darwin's speculations would the world in
general have made, except for two or three happy and comprehensive
terms, as 'the survival of the fittest,' 'the struggle for existence,'
'the process of natural selection'? Multitudes who else would have
known nothing about Comte's system, know something about it when they
know that he called it 'the positive philosophy.'

We have been tempted to depart a little, though a very little, from the
subject immediately before us. What was just now said of the manner in
which language enriches itself does not contradict a prior assertion,
that man starts with language as God's perfect gift, which he only
impairs and forfeits by sloth and sin, according to the same law which
holds good in respect of each other of the gifts of heaven. For it was
not meant, as indeed was then observed, that men would possess words to
set forth feelings which were not yet stirring in them, combinations
which they had not yet made, objects which they had not yet seen,
relations of which they were not yet conscious; but that up to man's
needs, (those needs including not merely his animal wants, but all his
higher spiritual cravings,) he would find utterance freely. The great
logical, or grammatical, framework of language, (for grammar is the
logic of speech, even as logic is the grammar of reason,) he would
possess, he knew not how; and certainly not as the final result of
gradual acquisitions, and of reflexion setting these in order, and
drawing general rules from them; but as that rather which alone had
made those acquisitions possible; as that according to which he
unconsciously worked, filled in this framework by degrees with these
later acquisitions of thought, feeling, and experience, as one by one
they arrayed themselves in the garment and vesture of words.

Here then is the explanation of the fact that language should be thus
instructive for us, that it should yield us so much, when we come to
analyse and probe it; and yield us the more, the more deeply and
accurately we do so. It is full of instruction, because it is the
embodiment, the incarnation, if I may so speak, of the feelings and
thoughts and experiences of a nation, yea, often of many nations, and
of all which through long centuries they have attained to and won. It
stands like the Pillars of Hercules, to mark how far the moral and
intellectual conquests of mankind have advanced, only not like those
pillars, fixed and immovable, but ever itself advancing with the
progress of these. The mighty moral instincts which have been working
in the popular mind have found therein their unconscious voice; and the
single kinglier spirits that have looked deeper into the heart of
things have oftentimes gathered up all they have seen into some one
word, which they have launched upon the world, and with which they have
enriched it for ever--making in that new word a new region of thought to
be henceforward in some sort the common heritage of all. Language is
the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle thoughts have been
safely embedded and preserved. It has arrested ten thousand lightning
flashes of genius, which, unless thus fixed and arrested, might have
been as bright, but would have also been as quickly passing and
perishing, as the lightning. 'Words convey the mental treasures of one
period to the generations that follow; and laden with this, their
precious freight, they sail safely across gulfs of time in which
empires have suffered shipwreck, and the languages of common life have
sunk into oblivion.' And for all these reasons far more and mightier in
every way is a language than any one of the works which may have been
composed in it. For that work, great as it may be, at best embodies
what was in the heart and mind of a single man, but this of a nation.
The _Iliad_ is great, yet not so great in strength or power or beauty
as the Greek language. [Footnote: On the Greek language and its merits,
as compared with the other Indo-European languages, see Curtius,
_History of Greece,_ English translation, vol. i. pp. 18-28.] _Paradise
Lost_ is a noble possession for a people to have inherited, but the
English tongue is a nobler heritage yet. [Footnote: Gerber (_Sprache
als Kunst,_ vol. i. p. 274): Es ist ein bedeutender Fortschritt in der
Erkenntniss des Menschen dass man jetzt Sprachen lernt nicht bloss, um
sich den Gedankeninhalt, den sie offenbaren, anzueignen, sondern
zugleich um sie selbst als herrliche, architektonische Geisteswerke
kennen zu lernen, und sich an ihrer Kunstschönheit zu erfreuen.]

And imperfectly as we may apprehend all this, there is an obscure sense,
or instinct I might call it, in every one of us, of this truth. We all,
whether we have given a distinct account of the matter to ourselves or
not, believe that words which we use are not arbitrary and capricious
signs, affixed at random to the things which they designate, for which
any other might have been substituted as well, but that they stand in a
real relation to these. And this sense of the significance of names,
that they are, or ought to be,--that in a world of absolute truth they
ever would be,--the expression of the innermost character and qualities
of the things or persons that bear them, speaks out in various ways, It
is reported of Boiardo, author of a poem without which we should
probably have never seen the _Orlando Furioso_ of Ariosto, that he was
out hunting, when the name Rodomonte presented itself to him as exactly
fitting a foremost person of the epic he was composing; and that
instantly returning home, he caused all the joy-bells of the village to
be rung, to celebrate the happy invention. This story may remind us of
another which is told of the greatest French novelist of modern times.
A friend of Balzac's, who has written some _Recollections_ of him,
tells us that he would sometimes wander for days through the streets of
Paris, studying the names over the shops, as being sure that there was
a name more appropriate than any other to some character which he had
conceived, and hoping to light on it there.

You must all have remarked the amusement and interest which children
find in any notable agreement between a name and the person who owns
that name, as, for instance, if Mr. Long is tall--or, which naturally
takes a still stronger hold upon them, in any manifest contradiction
between the name and the name-bearer; if Mr. Strongitharm is a weakling,
or Mr. Black an albino: the former striking from a sense of fitness,
the latter from one of incongruity. Nor is this a mere childish
entertainment. It continues with us through life; and that its roots
lie deep is attested by the earnest use which is often made, and that
at the most earnest moments of men's lives, of such agreements or
disagreements as these. Such use is not un-frequent in Scripture,
though it is seldom possible to reproduce it in English, as for
instance in the comment of Abigail on her husband Nabal's name: 'As his
name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him' (i Sam.
xxv. 25). And again, 'Call me not Naomi,' exclaims the desolate widow--
'call me not Naomi [or _pleasantness_]; call me Marah [or _bitterness_],
for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.' She cannot endure
that the name she bears should so strangely contradict the thing she is.
Shakespeare, in like manner, reveals his own profound knowledge of the
human heart, when he makes old John of Gaunt, worn with long sickness,
and now ready to depart, play with his name, and dwell upon the consent
between it and his condition; so that when his royal nephew asks him,
'How is it with aged Gaunt?' he answers,

     'Oh, how that name befits my composition,
     Old _Gaunt_ indeed, and _gaunt_ in being old--
     _Gaunt_ am I for the grave, _gaunt_ as the grave--' [Footnote:
Ajax, or [Greek: Aias], in the play of Sophocles, which bears his name,
does the same with the [Greek: aiai] which lies in that name (422,
423); just as in the _Bacchae_ of Euripides, not Pentheus himself, but
others for him, indicate the prophecy of a mighty [Greek: penthos] or
grief, which is shut up in his name (367). A tragic writer, less known
than Euripides, does the same: [Greek: Pentheus, esomenes sumphoras
eponymos]. Eteocles in the _Phoenissae_ of Euripides makes a play of
the same kind on the name of Polynices.] with much more in the same
fashion; while it is into the mouth of the slight and frivolous king
that Shakespeare puts the exclamation of wonder,

'Can sick men play so nicely with their names?' [Footnote: 'Hus' is
Bohemian for 'goose' [the two words being in fact cognate forms]; and
here we have the explanation of the prophetic utterance of Hus, namely,
that in place of one goose, tame and weak of wing, God would send
falcons and eagles before long.]

Mark too how, if one is engaged in a controversy or quarrel, and his
name imports something good, his adversary will lay hold of the name,
will seek to bring out a real contradiction between the name and the
bearer of the name, so that he shall appear as one presenting himself
under false colours, affecting a merit which he does not really possess.
Examples of this abound. There was one Vigilantius in the early
Church;--his name might be interpreted 'The Watchful.' He was at issue
with St. Jerome about certain vigils; these he thought perilous to
Christian morality, while Jerome was a very eager promoter of them; who
instantly gave a turn to his name, and proclaimed that he, the enemy of
these watches, the partisan of slumber and sloth, should have been not
Vigilantius or The Watcher, but 'Dormitantius' or The Sleeper rather.
Felix, Bishop of Urgel, a chief champion in the eighth century of the
Adoptianist heresy, is constantly 'Infelix' in the writings of his
adversary Alcuin. The Spanish peasantry during the Peninsular War would
not hear of Bonaparte, but changed the name to 'Malaparte,' as
designating far better the perfidious kidnapper of their king and enemy
of their independence. It will be seen then that Aeschylus is most true
to nature, when in his _Prometheus Bound_ he makes Strength tauntingly
to remind Prometheus, or The Prudent, how ill his name and the lot
which he has made for himself agreed, bound as he is with adamantine
chains to his rock, and bound, as it might seem, for ever. When
Napoleon said of Count Lobau, whose proper name was Mouton, 'Mon mouton
c'est un lion,' it was the same instinct at work, though working from
an opposite point. It made itself felt no less in the bitter irony
which gave to the second of the Ptolemies, the brother-murdering king,
the title of Philadelphus.

But more frequent still is this hostile use of names, this attempt to
place them and their owners in the most intimate connexion, to make, so
to speak, the man answerable for his name, where the name does not thus
need to be reversed; but may be made as it now is, or with very
slightest change, to contain a confession of the ignorance,
worthlessness, or futility of the bearer. If it implies, or can be made
to imply, anything bad, it is instantly laid hold of as expressing the
very truth about him. You know the story of Helen of Greece, whom in
two of his 'mighty lines' Marlowe's Faust so magnificently

     'Is this the face that launched a thousand ships,
      And burned the topless towers of Ilium?'

It is no frigid conceit of the Greek poet, when one passionately
denouncing the ruin which she wrought, finds that ruin couched and
fore-announced in her name; [Footnote: [Greek: Helenas [=helenaos],
helandros, heleptolis], Aeschylus, _Agamemnon_, 636.] as in English it
might be, and has been, reproduced--

     '_Hell_ in her name, and heaven in her looks.'

Or take other illustrations. Pope Hildebrand in one of our _Homilies_
is styled 'Brand of Hell,' as setting the world in a blaze; as
'Höllenbrand' he appears constantly in German. Tott and Teuffel were
two officers of high rank in the army which Gustavus Adolphus brought
with him into Germany. You may imagine how soon those of the other side
declared that he had brought 'death' and 'hell' in his train. There
were two not inconsiderable persons in the time of our Civil Wars, Vane
(not the 'young Vane' of Milton's and Wordsworth's sonnets), and
Sterry; and one of these, Sterry, was chaplain to the other. Baxter,
having occasion to mention them in his profoundly instructive
_Narrative of his Life and Times_, and liking neither, cannot forbear
to observe, that '_vanity_ and _sterility_ were never more fitly joined
together;' and speaks elsewhere of 'the vanity of Vane, and the
sterility of Sterry.' This last, let me observe, is an eminently unjust
charge, as Baxter himself in a later volume [Footnote: Catholic
Theology, pt, 3, p. 107.] has very handsomely acknowledged. [Footnote:
A few more examples, in a note, of this contumely of names. Antiochus
Epiphanes, or 'the Illustrious,' is for the Jews, whom he so madly
attempted to hellenize, Antiochus Epimanes, or 'the Insane.' Cicero,
denouncing Verres, the infamous praetor of Sicily, is too skilful a
master of the passions to allow the name of the arch-criminal to escape
unused. He was indeed Verres, for he _swept_ the province; he was a
_sweep-net_ for it (everriculum in provincia); and then presently,
giving altogether another turn to his name, Others, he says, might be
partial to 'jus verrinum' (which might mean either Verrine law or boar-
sauce), but not he. Tiberius Claudius Nero, charged with being a
drunkard, becomes in the popular language 'Biberius Caldius Mero.' The
controversies of the Church with heretics yield only too abundant a
supply, and that upon both sides, of examples of this kind. The 'royal-
hearted' Athanasius is 'Satanasius' for the Arians; and some of St.
Cyprian's adversaries did not shrink from so foul a perversion of his
name as to call him Koprianos, or 'the Dungy.' But then how often is
Pelagius declared by the Church Fathers to be a pelagus, a very _ocean_
of wickedness. It was in vain that the Manichaeans changed their
master's name from Manes to Manichaeus, that so it might not so nearly
resemble the word signifying madness in the Greek (devitantes nomen
insaniae, Augustine, _De Haer_. 46); it did not thereby escape. The
Waldenses, or Wallenses, were declared by Roman controversialists to be
justly so called, as dwelling 'in valle densa,' in the thick valley of
darkness and ignorance. Cardinal Clesel was active in setting forward
the Roman Catholic reaction in Bohemia with which the dismal tragedy of
the Thirty Years' War began. It was a far-fetched and not very happy
piece of revenge, when they of the other side took pleasure in spelling
his name 'CLesel,' as much as to say, He of the 150 ass-power. Berengar
of Tours calls a Pope who had taken sides against him not pontifex, but
'pompifex.' Metrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople, being counted to
have betrayed the interests of the Greek Church, his spiritual mother,
at the Council of Florence, saw his name changed by popular hate into
'Metrophonos,' or the 'Matricide.' In the same way of more than one
Pope Urbanus it was declared that he would have been better named
'Turbanus' (quasi _turbans_ Ecclesiam). Mahomet appears as 'Bafomet,'
influenced perhaps by 'bafa,' a lie, in Provençal. Shechem, a chief
city of the heretical Samaritans, becomes 'Sychar,' or city of lies
(see John iv. 5), so at least some will have it, on the lips of the
hostile Jews; while Toulouse, a very seedplot of heresies, Albigensian
and other, in the Middle Ages, is declared by writers of those times to
have prophesied no less by its name (Tolosa = tota dolosa). In the same
way adversaries of Wiclif traced in his name an abridgement of 'wicked-
belief.' Metternich was 'Mitternacht,' or Midnight, for the political
reformers of Germany in the last generation. It would be curious to
know how often the Sorbonne has been likened to a 'Serbonian' bog; some
'privilegium' declared to be not such indeed, but a 'pravilegium'
rather. Baxter complains that the Independents called presbyters
'priestbiters,' Presbyterian ministers not 'divines' but 'dry vines,'
and their Assembly men 'Dissembly men.']

Where, on the other hand, it is desired to do a man honour, how gladly,
in like manner, is his name seized on, if it in any way bears an
honourable significance, or is capable of an honourable interpretation
--men finding in that name a presage and prophecy of that which was
actually in its bearer. A multitude of examples, many of them very
beautiful, might be brought together in this kind. How often, for
instance, and with what effect, the name of Stephen, the proto-martyr,
that name signifying in Greek 'the Crown,' was taken as a prophetic
intimation of the martyr-crown, which it should be given to him, the
first in that noble army, to wear. [Footnote: Thus in a sublime Latin
hymn by Adam of St. Victor:

     Nomen habes _Coronati_;
     Te tormenta decet pati
     Pro _corona_ gloriae.

Elsewhere the same illustrious hymnologist plays in like manner on the
name of St. Vincentius:

     Qui _vincentis_ habet nomen
     Ex re probat dignum omen
     Sui fore nominis;
     _Vincens_ terra, _vincens_ mari
     Quidquid potest irrogari
     Poenae vel formidinis.

In the Bull for the canonization of Sta. Clara, the canonizing Pope
does not disdain a similar play upon her name: Clara Claris praeclara
meritis, magnae in caelo claritate gloriae, ac in terrâ miraculorum
sublimium, clare claret. On these 'prophetic' names in the heathen
world see Pott, _Wurzel-Wörterbuch_, vol. ii. part 2, p. 522.]

Irenaeus means in Greek 'the Peaceable'; and early Church writers love
to remark how fitly the illustrious Bishop of Lyons bore this name,
setting forward as he so earnestly did the peace of the Church,
resolved as he was, so far as in him lay, to preserve the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace. [Footnote: We cannot adduce St. Columba as
another example in the same kind, seeing that this name was not his
birthright, but one given to him by his scholars for the dove-like
gentleness of his character. So indeed we are told; though it must be
owned that some of the traits recorded of him in _The Monks of the
West_ are not _columbine_ at all.] The Dominicans were well pleased
when their name was resolved into 'Domini canes'--the Lord's watchdogs;
who, as such, allowed no heresy to appear without at once giving the
alarm, and seeking to chase it away. When Ben Jonson praises
Shakespeare's 'well-filed lines'--

     'In each of which he seems to _shake a lance_
      As brandished in the eyes of ignorance'

--he is manifestly playing with his name. Fuller, too, our own Church
historian, who played so often upon the names of others, has a play
made upon his own in some commendatory verses prefixed to one of his

     'Thy style is clear and white; thy very name
      Speaks pureness, and adds lustre to the frame.'

He plays himself upon it in an epigram which takes the form of a

     'My soul is stainèd with a dusky colour:
      Let thy Son be the soap; I'll be the fuller.'

John Careless, whose letters are among the most beautiful in Foxe's
_Book of Martyrs_, writing to Philpot, exclaims, 'Oh good master
Philpot, which art a principal pot indeed, filled with much precious
liquor,--oh pot most happy! of the High Potter ordained to honour.'

Herein, in this faith that men's names were true and would come true,
in this, and not in any altogether unreasoning superstition, lay the
root of the carefulness of the Romans that in the enlisting of soldiers
names of good omen, such as Valerius, Salvius, Secundus, should be the
first called. Scipio Africanus, reproaching his soldiers after a mutiny,
finds an aggravation of their crime in the fact that one with so ill-
omened a name as Atrius Umber should have seduced them, and persuaded
them to take him for their leader. So strong is the conviction of men
that names are powers. Nay, it must have been sometimes thought that
the good name might so react on the evil nature that it should not
remain evil altogether, but might be induced, in part at least, to
conform itself to the designation which it bore. Here we have an
explanation of the title Eumenides, or the Well-minded, given to the
Furies; of Euxine, or the kind to strangers, to the inhospitable Black
Sea, 'stepmother of ships,' as the Greek poet called it; the
explanation too of other similar transformations, of the Greek Egesta
transformed by the Romans into 'Segesta,' that it might not suggest
'egestas' or penury; [Footnote: [But the form _Segesta_ is probably
older than _Egesta_, the Romans here, as in other cases, retaining the
original initial _s_, which in Greek is represented generally by the
rough, sometimes by the smooth breathing.]] of Epidamnus, which, in
like manner seeming too suggestive of 'damnum,' or loss, was changed
into 'Dyrrachium'; of Maleventum, which became 'Beneventum'; of Cape
Tormentoso, or Stormy Cape, changed into 'Cape of Good Hope'; of the
fairies being always respectfully spoken of as 'the good people' in
Ireland, even while they are accredited with any amount of mischief; of
the dead spoken of alike in Greek and in Latin simply as 'the
majority'; of the dying, in Greek liturgies remembered as 'those about
to set forward upon a journey'[Footnote: [Greek: oi exodeuontes]]; of
the slain in battle designated in German as 'those who remain,' that is,
on the field of battle; of [Greek: eulogia], or 'the blessing,' as a
name given in modern Greek to the smallpox! We may compare as an
example of this same euphemism the famous 'Vixerunt' with which Cicero
announced that the conspirators against the Roman State had paid the
full penalty of their treason.

Let me observe, before leaving this subject, that not in one passage
only, but in passages innumerable, Scripture sets its seal to this
significance of names, to the fact that the seeking and the finding of
this significance is not a mere play upon the surface of things: it
everywhere recognizes the inner band, which ought to connect, and in a
world of truth would connect, together the name and the person or thing
bearing the name. Scripture sets its seal to this by the weight and
solemnity which it everywhere attaches to the imposing of names; this
in many instances not being left to hazard, but assumed by God as his
own peculiar care. 'Thou shalt call his name Jesus' (Matt. i. 21; Luke
i. 31) is of course the most illustrious instance of all; but there is
a multitude of other cases in point; names given by God, as that of
John to the Baptist; or changed by Him, as Abram's to Abraham (Gen.
xvii. 3), Sarai's to Sarah, Hoshea's to Joshua; or new names added by
Him to the old, when by some mighty act of faith the man had been
lifted out of his old life into a new; as Israel added to Jacob, and
Peter to Simon, and Boanerges or Sons of thunder to the two sons of
Zebedee (Mark iii. 17). The same feeling is at work elsewhere. A Pope
on his election always takes a new name. Or when it is intended to make,
for good or for ill, an entire breach with the past, this is one of the
means by which it is sought to effect as much (2 Chr. xxxvi. 4; Dan. i.
7). How far this custom reaches, how deep the roots which it casts, is
exemplified well in the fact that the West Indian buccaneer makes a
like change of name on entering that society of blood. It is in both
cases a sort of token that old things have passed away, that all have
become new to him.

But we must draw to a close. Enough has been said to attest and to
justify the wide-spread faith of men that names are significant, and
that things and persons correspond, or ought to correspond, to them.
You will not, then, find it a laborious task to persuade your pupils to
admit as much. They are prepared to accept, they will be prompt to
believe it. And great indeed will be our gains, their gains and ours,--
for teacher and taught will for the most part enrich themselves
together,--if, having these treasures of wisdom and knowledge lying
round about us, so far more precious than mines of Californian gold, we
determine that we will make what portion of them we can our own, that
we will ask the words which we use to give an account of themselves, to
say whence they are, and whither they tend. Then shall we often rub off
the dust and rust from what seemed to us but a common token, which as
such we had taken and given a thousand times; but which now we shall
perceive to be a precious coin, bearing the 'image and superscription'
of the great King: then shall we often stand in surprise and in
something of shame, while we behold the great spiritual realities which
underlie our common speech, the marvellous truths which we have been
witnessing _for_ in our words, but, it may be, witnessing _against_ in
our lives. And as you will not find, for so I venture to promise, that
this study of words will be a dull one when you undertake it yourselves,
as little need you fear that it will prove dull and unattractive, when
you seek to make your own gains herein the gains also of those who may
be hereafter committed to your charge. Only try your pupils, and mark
the kindling of the eye, the lighting up of the countenance, the revival
of the flagging attention, with which the humblest lecture upon words,
and on the words especially which they are daily using, which are
familiar to them in their play or at their church, will be welcomed by
them. There is a sense of reality about children which makes them rejoice
to discover that there is also a reality about words, that they are not
merely arbitrary signs, but living powers; that, to reverse the saying
of one of England's 'false prophets,' they may be the fool's counters,
but are the wise man's money; not, like the sands of the sea,
innumerable disconnected atoms, but growing out of roots, clustering in
families, connecting and intertwining themselves with all that men have
been doing and thinking and feeling from the beginning of the world
till now.

And it is of course our English tongue, out of which mainly we should
seek to draw some of the hid treasures which it contains, from which we
should endeavour to remove the veil which custom and familiarity have
thrown over it. We cannot employ ourselves better. There is nothing
that will more help than will this to form an English heart in
ourselves and in others. We could scarcely have a single lesson on the
growth of our English tongue, we could scarcely follow up one of its
significant words, without having unawares a lesson in English history
as well, without not merely falling on some curious fact illustrative
of our national life, but learning also how the great heart which is
beating at the centre of that life was gradually shaped and moulded. We
should thus grow too in our sense of connexion with the past, of
gratitude and reverence to it; we should rate more highly and thus more
truly all which it has bequeathed to us, all that it has made ready to
our hands. It was not a small matter for the children of Israel, when
they came into Canaan, to enter upon wells which they digged not, and
vineyards which they had not planted, and houses which they had not
built; but how much vaster a boon, how much more glorious a prerogative,
for any one generation to enter upon the inheritance of a language
which other generations by their truth and toil have made already a
receptacle of choicest treasures, a storehouse of so much unconscious
wisdom, a fit organ for expressing the subtlest distinctions, the
tenderest sentiments, the largest thoughts, and the loftiest
imaginations, which the heart of man has at any time conceived. And
that those who have preceded us have gone far to accomplish this for us,
I shall rejoice if I am able in any degree to make you feel in the
lectures which will follow the present.



I said in my last lecture, or rather I quoted another who had said,
that language is fossil poetry. It is true that for us very often this
poetry which is bound up in words has in great part or altogether
disappeared. We fail to recognize it, partly from long familiarity with
it, partly from insufficient knowledge, partly, it may be, from never
having had our attention called to it. None have pointed it out to us;
we may not ourselves have possessed the means of detecting it; and thus
it has come to pass that we have been in close vicinity to this wealth,
which yet has not been ours. Margaret has not been for us 'the Pearl,'
nor Esther 'the Star,' nor Susanna 'the Lily,' [Footnote: See Jacob
Grimm, _Ueber Frauennamen aus Blumen_, in his _Kleinere Schriften_, vol.
ii. pp. 366-401; and on the subject of this paragraph more generally,
Schleicher, _Die Deutsche Sprache_, p. 115 sqq.] nor Stephen 'the
Crown,' nor Albert 'the illustrious in birth.' 'In our ordinary
language,' as Montaigne has said, 'there are several excellent phrases
and metaphors to be met with, of which the beauty is withered by age,
and the colour is sullied by too common handling; but that takes
nothing from the relish to an understanding man, neither does it
derogate from the glory of those ancient authors, who, 'tis likely,
first brought those words into that lustre.' We read in one of
Molière's most famous comedies of one who was surprised to discover
that he had been talking prose all his life without being aware of it.
If we knew all, we might be much more surprised to find that we had
been talking poetry, without ever having so much as suspected this. For
indeed poetry and passion seek to insinuate, and do insinuate
themselves everywhere in language; they preside continually at the
giving of names; they enshrine and incarnate themselves in these: for
'poetry is the mother tongue of the human race,' as a great German
writer has said. My present lecture shall contain a few examples and
illustrations, by which I would make the truth of this appear.

'Iliads without a Homer,' some one has called, with a little
exaggeration, the beautiful but anonymous ballad poetry of Spain. One
may be permitted, perhaps, to push the exaggeration a little further in
the same direction, and to apply the same language not merely to a
ballad but to a word. For poetry, which is passion and imagination
embodying themselves in words, does not necessarily demand a
_combination_ of words for this. Of this passion and imagination a
single word may be the vehicle. As the sun can image itself alike in a
tiny dew-drop or in the mighty ocean, and can do it, though on a
different scale, as perfectly in the one as in the other, so the spirit
of poetry can dwell in and glorify alike a word and an Iliad. Nothing
in language is too small, as nothing is too great, for it to fill with
its presence. Everywhere it can find, or, not finding, can make, a
shrine for itself, which afterwards it can render translucent and
transparent with its own indwelling glory. On every side we are beset
with poetry. Popular language is full of it, of words used in an
imaginative sense, of things called--and not merely in transient
moments of high passion, and in the transfer which at such moments
finds place of the image to the thing imaged, but permanently,--by
names having immediate reference not to what they are, but to what they
are like. All language is in some sort, as one has said, a collection
of faded metaphors. [Footnote: Jean Paul: Ist jede Sprache in Rücksicht
geistiger Beziehungen ein Wörterbuch erblasster Metaphern. We regret
this, while yet it is not wholly matter of regret. Gerber (_Sprache als
Kunst_, vol. i. p. 387) urges that language would be quite unmanageable,
that the words which we use would be continually clashing with and
contradicting one another, if every one of them retained a lively
impress of the image on which it originally rested, and recalled this
to our mind. His words, somewhat too strongly put, are these: Für den
Usus der Sprache, für ihren Verstand und ihre Verständlichkeit ist
allerdings das Erblassen ihrer Lautbilder, so dass sie allmählig als
blosse Zeichen für Begriffe fungiren, nothwendig. Die Ueberzahl der
Bilder würde, wenn sie alle als solche wirkten, nur verwirren und jede
klarere Auffassung, wie sie die praktischen Zwecke der Gegenwart
fordern, unmöglich machen. Die Bilder würden ausserdem einander zum
Theil zerstören, indem sie die Farben verschiedener Sphären
zusammenfliessenlassen, und damit für den Verstand nur Unsinn

Sometimes, indeed, they have not faded at all. Thus at Naples it is the
ordinary language to call the lesser storm-waves 'pecore,' or sheep;
the larger 'cavalloni,' or big horses. Who that has watched the foaming
crests, the white manes, as it were, of the larger billows as they
advance in measured order, and rank on rank, into the bay, but will own
not merely the fitness, but the grandeur, of this last image? Let me
illustrate my meaning more at length by the word 'tribulation.' We all
know in a general way that this word, which occurs not seldom in
Scripture and in the Liturgy, means affliction, sorrow, anguish; but it
is quite worth our while to know _how_ it means this, and to question
'tribulation' a little closer. It is derived from the Latin 'tribulum,'
which was the threshing instrument or harrow, whereby the Roman
husbandman separated the corn from the husks; and 'tribulatio' in its
primary signification was the act of this separation. But some Latin
writer of the Christian Church appropriated the word and image for the
setting forth of a higher truth; and sorrow, distress, and adversity
being the appointed means for the separating in men of whatever in them
was light, trivial, and poor from the solid and the true, their chaff
from their wheat, [Footnote: Triticum itself may be connected with tero,
tritus; [so Curtius, _Greek Etym._ No. 239].] he therefore called these
sorrows and trials 'tribulations,' threshings, that is, of the inner
spiritual man, without which there could be no fitting him for the
heavenly garner. Now in proof of my assertion that a single word is
often a concentrated poem, a little grain of pure gold capable of being
beaten out into a broad extent of gold-leaf, I will quote, in reference
to this very word 'tribulation,' a graceful composition by George
Wither, a prolific versifier, and occasionally a poet, of the
seventeenth century. You will at once perceive that it is all wrapped
up in this word, being from first to last only the explicit unfolding
of the image and thought which this word has implicitly given; it is as

     'Till from the straw the flail the corn doth beat,
      Until the chaff be purgèd from the wheat,
      Yea, till the mill the grains in pieces tear,
      The richness of the flour will scarce appear.
      So, till men's persons great afflictions touch,
      If worth be found, their worth is not so much,
      Because, like wheat in straw, they have not yet
      That value which in threshing they may get.
      For till the bruising flails of God's corrections
      Have threshèd out of us our vain affections;
      Till those corruptions which do misbecome us
      Are by Thy sacred Spirit winnowed from us;
      Until from us the straw of worldly treasures,
      Till all the dusty chaff of empty pleasures,
      Yea, till His flail upon us He doth lay,
      To thresh the husk of this our flesh away;
      And leave the soul uncovered; nay, yet more,
      Till God shall make our very spirit poor,
      We shall not up to highest wealth aspire;
      But then we shall; and that is my desire.'

This deeper religious use of the word 'tribulation' was unknown to
classical antiquity, belonging exclusively to the Christian writers;
and the fact that the same deepening and elevating of the use of words
recurs in a multitude of other, and many of them far more signal,
instances, is one well deserving to be followed up. Nothing, I am
persuaded, would more mightily convince us of the new power which
Christianity proved in the world than to compare the meaning which so
many words possessed before its rise, and the deeper meaning which they
obtained, so soon as they were assumed as the vehicles of its life, the
new thought and feeling enlarging, purifying, and ennobling the very
words which they employed. This is a subject which I shall have
occasion to touch on more than once in these lectures, but is itself
well worthy of, as it would afford ample material for, a volume.

On the suggestion of this word 'tribulation', I will quote two or three
words from Coleridge, bearing on the matter in hand. He has said, 'In
order to get the full sense of a word, we should first present to our
minds the visual image that forms its primary meaning.' What admirable
counsel is here! If we would but accustom ourselves to the doing of
this, what a vast increase of precision and force would all the
language which we speak, and which others speak to us, obtain; how
often would that which is now obscure at once become clear; how
distinct the limits and boundaries of that which is often now confused
and confounded! It is difficult to measure the amount of food for the
imagination, as well as gains for the intellect, which the observing of
this single rule would afford us. Let me illustrate this by one or two
examples. We say of such a man that he is 'desultory.' Do we attach any
very distinct meaning to the word? Perhaps not. But get at the image on
which 'desultory' rests; take the word to pieces; learn that it is from
'desultor,' [Footnote: Lat. _desultor_ is from _desult_-, the stem of
_desultus_, past part, of _desilire_, to leap down.] one who rides two
or three horses at once, leaps from one to the other, being never on
the back of any one of them long; take, I say, the word thus to pieces,
and put it together again, and what a firm and vigorous grasp will you
have now of its meaning! A 'desultory' man is one who jumps from one
study to another, and never continues for any length of time in one.
Again, you speak of a person as 'capricious,' or as full of 'caprices.'
But what exactly are caprices? 'Caprice' is from _capra_, a goat.
[Footnote: The etymology of _caprice_ has not been discovered yet; the
derivation from _capra_ is unsatisfactory, as it does not account for
the latter part of the word.] If ever you have watched a goat, you will
have observed how sudden, how unexpected, how unaccountable, are the
leaps and springs, now forward, now sideward, now upward, in which it
indulges. A 'caprice' then is a movement of the mind as unaccountable,
as little to be calculated on beforehand, as the springs and bounds of
a goat. Is not the word so understood a far more picturesque one than
it was before? and is there not some real gain in the vigour and
vividness of impression which is in this way obtained? 'Pavaner' is the
French equivalent for our verb 'to strut,' 'fourmiller' for our verb
'to swarm.' But is it not a real gain to know further that the one is
to strut _as the peacock does_, the other to swarm _as do ants_? There
are at the same time, as must be freely owned, investigations, moral no
less than material, in which the nearer the words employed approach to
an algebraic notation, and the less disturbed or coloured they are by
any reminiscences of the ultimate grounds on which they rest, the
better they are likely to fulfil the duties assigned to them; but these
are exceptions. [Footnote: A French writer, Adanson, in his _Natural
History of Senegal_ complains of the misleading character which names
so often have, and urges that the only safety is to give to things
names which have and can have no meaning at all. His words are worth
quoting as a curiosity, if nothing else: L'expérience nous apprend, que
la plupart des noms significatifs qu'on a voulu donner à différens
objets d'histoire naturelle, sont devenus faux à mesure qu'on a
découvert des qualités, des propriétés nouvelles ou contraires à celles
qui avaient fait donner ces noms: il faut donc, pour se mettre à l'abri
des contradictions, éviter les termes figurés, et même faire en sorte
qu'on ne puisse les rapporter à quelque étymologie, a fin que ceux, qui
ont la fureur des étymologies, ne soient pas tenus de leur attribuer
une idée fausse. II en doit être des noms, comme des coups des jeux de
hazard, qui n'ont pour l'ordinaire aucune liaison entre eux: ils
seraient d'autant meilleurs qu'ils seraient moins significatifs, moins
relatifs à d'autres noms, ou à des choses connues, par ce que l'idée ne
se fixant qu'à un seul objet, le saisit beaucoup plus nettement, que
lorsqu'elle se lie avec d'autres objets qui y ont du rapport. There is
truth in what he says, but the remedy he proposes is worse than the

The poetry which has been embodied in the names of places, in those
names which designate the leading features of outward nature,
promontories, mountains, capes, and the like, is very worthy of being
elicited and evoked anew, latent as it now has oftentimes become.
Nowhere do we so easily forget that names had once a peculiar fitness,
which was the occasion of their giving. Colour has often suggested the
name, as in the well-known instance of our own 'Albion,'--'the silver-
coasted isle,' as Tennyson so beautifully has called it,--which had
this name from the white line of cliffs presented by it to those
approaching it by the narrow seas. [Footnote: The derivation of the
name _Albion_ has not been discovered yet; it is even uncertain whether
the word is Indo-European; see Rhys, _Celtic Britain_, p. 200.]
'Himalaya' is 'the abode of snow.' Often, too, shape and configuiation
are incorporated in the name, as in 'Trinacria' or 'the three-
promontoried land,' which was the Greek name of Sicily; in 'Drepanum'
or 'the sickle,' the name which a town on the north-west promontory of
the island bore, from the sickle-shaped tongue of land on which it was
built. But more striking, as the embodiment of a poetical feeling, is
the modern name of the great southern peninsula of Greece. We are all
aware that it is called the 'Morea'; but we may not be so well aware
from whence that name is derived. It had long been the fashion among
ancient geographers to compare the shape of this region to a platane
leaf; [Footnote: Strabo, viii. 2; Pliny, H.N. iv. 5; Agathemerus, I.i.
p. 15; echein de omoion schaema phullps platanan] and a glance at the
map will show that the general outline of that leaf, with its sharply-
incised edges, justified the comparison. This, however, had remained
merely as a comparison; but at the shifting and changing of names, that
went with the breaking up of the old Greek and Roman civilization, the
resemblance of this region to a leaf, not now any longer a platane, but
a mulberry leaf, appeared so strong, that it exchanged its classic name
of Peloponnesus for 'Morea' which embodied men's sense of this
resemblance, _morus_ being a mulberry tree in Latin, and _morea_ in
Greek. This etymology of 'Morea' has been called in question;
[Footnote: By Fallmerayer, _Gesck. der Halbinsel Morea,_ p. 240, sqq.
The island of Ceylon, known to the Greeks as Taprobane, and to Milton
as well (_P. L._ iv. 75), owed this name to a resemblance which in
outline it bore to the leaf of the betel tree. [This is very
doubtful.]] but, as it seems to me, on no sufficient grounds. Deducing,
as one objector does, 'Morea' from a Slavonic word 'more,' the sea, he
finds in this derivation a support for his favourite notion that the
modern population of Greece is not descended from the ancient, but
consists in far the larger proportion of intrusive Slavonic races. Two
mountains near Dublin, which we, keeping in the grocery line, have
called the Great and the Little Sugarloaf, are named in Irish 'the
Golden Spears.'

In other ways also the names of places will oftentimes embody some
poetical aspect under which now or at some former period men learned to
regard them. Oftentimes when discoverers come upon a new land they will
seize with a firm grasp of the imagination the most striking feature
which it presents to their eyes, and permanently embody this in a word.
Thus the island of Madeira is now, I believe, nearly bare of wood; but
its sides were covered with forests at the time when it was first
discovered, and hence the name, 'madeira' in Portuguese having this
meaning of wood. [Footnote: [Port. _madeira,_ 'wood,' is the same word
as the Lat. _materia_.]] Some have said that the first Spanish
discoverers of Florida gave it this name from the rich carpeting of
flowers which, at the time when first their eyes beheld it, everywhere
covered the soil. [Footnote: The Spanish historian Herrera says that
Juan Ponce de Leon, the discoverer of Florida, gave that name to the
country for two reasons: first, because it was a land of flowers,
secondly, because it was discovered by him on March 27, 1513, Easter
Day, which festival was called by the Spaniards, 'Pascua Florida,' or
'Pascua de Flores,' see Herrera's _History_, tr. by Stevens, ii. p. 33,
and the _Discovery of Florida_ by R. Hakluyt, ed. by W. B. Rye for the
Hakluyt Soc., 1851, introd. p. x.; cp. Larousse (s.v.), and Pierer's
_Conversations Lexicon_. It is stated by some authorities that Florida
was so called because it was discovered on Palm Sunday; this is due to
a mistaken inference from the names for that Sunday--Pascha Florum,
Pascha Floridum (Ducange), Pasque Fleurie (Cotgrave); see _Dict. Géog.
Univ_., 1884, and Brockhaus.] Surely Florida, as the name passes under
our eye, or from our lips, is something more than it was before, when
we may thus think of it as the land of flowers. [Footnote: An Italian
poet, Fazio degli Uberti, tells us that Florence has its appellation
from the same cause:

      Poichè era posta in un prato di fiori,
      Le denno il nome bello, oude s' ingloria.

It would be instructive to draw together a collection of etymologies
which have been woven into verse. These are so little felt to be alien
to the spirit of poetry, that they exist in large numbers, and often
lend to the poem in which they find a place a charm and interest of
their own. In five lines of _Paradise Lost_ Milton introduces four such
etymologies, namely, those of the four fabled rivers of hell, though
this will sometimes escape the notice of the English reader:

     'Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly _hate_,
      Sad Acheron of _sorrow_, black and deep,
      Cocytus, named of _lamentation_ loud
      Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon,
      Whose waves of torrent _fire_ inflame with rage.'

'Virgil, that great master of the proprieties,' as Bishop Pearson has
so happily called him, does not shun, but rather loves to introduce
them, as witness his etymology of 'Byrsa,' _Aen_. i. 367, 368; v. 59,
63 [but the etymology here is imaginative, the name _Byrsa_ being of
Punic, that is of Semitic, origin, and meaning 'a fortress'; compare
Heb. _Bozrah_]; of 'Silvius,' _Aen_. vi. 763, 765; of 'Argiletum,'
where he is certainly wrong (_Aen_. viii. 345); of 'Latium,' with
reference to Saturn having remained _latent_ there (_Aen_. viii. 322;
of. Ovid, _Fasti_, i. 238); of 'Laurens' (_Aen_. vii. 63):

                   Latiumque vocari
     Maluit, his quoniam _latuisset_ tutus in oris:

and again of 'Avernus' (=[Greek: aornos], _Aen_. vi. 243); being indeed
in this anticipated by Lucretius (vi. 741):

     quia sunt avibus contraria cunctis.

Ovid's taste is far from faultless, and his example cannot go for much;
but he is always a graceful versifier, and his _Fasti_ swarms with
etymologies, correct and incorrect; as of 'Agonalis' (i. 322), of
'Aprilis' (iv. 89), of 'Augustus' (i. 609-614), of 'Februarius' (ii.
19-22), of 'hostia' (i. 336), of 'Janus' (i. 120-127), of 'Junius' (vi.
26), of 'Lemures' (v. 479-484), of 'Lucina' (ii. 449), of 'majestas' (v.
26), of 'Orion' (v. 535), of 'pecunia' (v. 280, 281), of 'senatus' (v.
64), of 'Sulmo'(iv. 79; cf. Silius Italicus, ix. 70); of 'Vesta' (vi.
299), of 'victima' (i. 335); of 'Trinacris' (iv. 420). He has them also
elsewhere, as of 'Tomi' (_Trist._ iii. 9, 33). Lucilius, in like manner,
gives us the etymology of 'iners':
     Ut perhibetur iners, _ars_ in quo non erit ulla; Propertius (iv. 2,
3) of 'Vertumnus'; and Lucretius of 'Magnes' (vi. 909).]

The name of Port Natal also embodies a fact which must be of interest
to its inhabitants, namely, that this port was discovered on Christmas
Day, the _dies natalis_ of our Lord.

Then again what poetry is there, as indeed there ought to be, in the
names of flowers! I do not speak of those, the exquisite grace and
beauty of whose names is so forced on us that we cannot miss it, such
as 'Aaron's rod,' 'angel's eyes,' 'bloody warrior,' 'blue-bell, 'crown
imperial,' 'cuckoo-flower,' blossoming as this orchis does when the
cuckoo is first heard, [Footnote: In a catalogue of _English Plant
Names_ I count thirty in which 'cuckoo' formed a component part.] 'eye-
bright,' 'forget-me-not,' 'gilt-cup' (a local name for the butter-cup,
drawn from the golden gloss of its petals), 'hearts-ease,' 'herb-of-
grace,' 'Jacob's ladder,' 'king-cup,' 'lady's fingers,' 'Lady's smock,'
'Lady's tresses,' 'larkspur,' 'Lent lily,' 'loose-strife,' 'love-in-
idleness,' 'Love lies bleeding,' 'maiden-blush,' 'maiden-hair,'
'meadow-sweet,' 'Our Lady's mantle,' 'Our Lady's slipper,' 'queen-of-
the-meadows,' 'reine-marguerite,' 'rosemary,' 'snow-flake,' 'Solomon's
seal,' 'star of Bethlehem,' 'sun-dew,' 'sweet Alison,' 'sweet Cicely,'
'sweet William,' 'Traveller's joy,' 'Venus' looking-glass,' 'Virgin's
bower,' and the like; but take 'daisy'; surely this charming little
English flower, which has stirred the peculiar affection of English
poets from Chaucer to Wordsworth, and received the tribute of their
song, [Footnote:
     'Fair fall that gentle flower,
      A golden tuft set in a silver crown,' as Brown exclaims, whose
singularly graceful _Pastorals_ should not be suffered to fall
altogether to oblivion. In Ward's recent _English Poets_, vol. ii. p.
65, justice has been done to them, and to their rare beauty.] becomes
more charming yet, when we know, as Chaucer long ago has told us, that
'daisy' is day's eye, or in its early spelling 'daieseighe,' the eye of
day; these are his words:

     'That men by reson well it calle may
      The _daisie_, or elles the ye of day.'
            _Chaucer_, ed. Morris, vol. v. p. 281.

For only consider how much is implied here. To the sun in the heavens
this name, eye of day, was naturally first given, and those who
transferred the title to our little field flower meant no doubt to
liken its inner yellow disk, or shield, to the great golden orb of the
sun, and the white florets which encircle this disk to the rays which
the sun spreads on all sides around him. What imagination was here, to
suggest a comparison such as this, binding together as this does the
smallest and the greatest! what a travelling of the poet's eye, with
the power which is the privilege of that eye, from earth to heaven, and
from heaven to earth, and of linking both together. So too, call up
before your mind's eye the 'lavish gold' of the drooping laburnum when
in flower, and you will recognize the poetry of the title, 'the golden
rain,' which in German it bears. 'Celandine' does not so clearly tell
its own tale; and it is only when you have followed up the [Greek:
chelidonion], (swallow-wort), of which 'celandin' is the English
representative, that the word will yield up the poetry which is
concealed in it.

And then again, what poetry is there often in the names of birds and
beasts and fishes, and indeed of all the animated world around us; how
marvellously are these names adapted often to bring out the most
striking and characteristic features of the objects to which they are
given. Thus when the Romans became acquainted with the stately giraffe,
long concealed from them in the interior deserts of Africa, (which we
learn from Pliny they first did in the shows exhibited by Julius
Caesar,) it was happily imagined to designate a creature combining,
though with infinitely more grace, something of the height and even the
proportions of the _camel_ with the spotted skin of the _pard_, by a
name which should incorporate both these its most prominent
features, [Footnote: Varro: Quod erat figura ut camelus, maculis ut
panthera; and Horace (Ep. ii. I, 196): Diversum confusa genus panthera
camelo.] calling it the 'camelopard.' Nor can we, I think, hesitate to
accept that account as the true one, which describes the word as no
artificial creation of scientific naturalists, but as bursting
extempore from the lips of the common people, who after all are the
truest namers, at the first moment when the novel creature was
presented to their gaze. 'Cerf-volant,' a name which the French have so
happily given to the horned scarabeus, the same which we somewhat less
poetically call the 'stag-beetle,' is another example of what may be
effected with the old materials, by merely bringing them into new and
happy combinations.

You know the appearance of the lizard, and the _star_-like shape of the
spots which are sown over its back. Well, in Latin it is called
'stellio,' from _stella_, a star; just as the basilisk had in Greek
this name of 'little king' because of the shape as of a _kingly_ crown
which the spots on its head might be made by the fancy to assume.
Follow up the etymology of 'squirrel,' and you will find that the
graceful creature which bears this name has obtained it as being wont
to sit under the shadow of its own tail. [Footnote: [The word
_squirrel_ is a diminutive of the Greek word for squirrel, [Greek:
skiouros], literally 'shadow-tail.']] Need I remind you of our
'goldfinch,' evidently so called from that bright patch of yellow on
its wing; our 'kingfisher,' having its name from the royal beauty, the
kingly splendour of the plumage with which it is adorned? Some might
ask why the stormy petrel, a bird which just skims and floats on the
topmost wave, should bear this name? No doubt we have here the French
'pétrel,' or little Peter, and the bird has in its name an allusion to
the Apostle Peter, who at his Master's bidding walked for a while on
the unquiet surface of an agitated sea. The 'lady-bird' or 'lady-cow'
is prettily named, as indeed the whole legend about it is full of grace
and fancy [Footnote: [For other names for the 'lady-bird,' and the
reference in many of them to God and the Virgin Mary, see Grimm,
_Teutonic Mythology_, p. 694.]]; but a common name which in many of our
country parts this creature bears, the 'golden knob,' is prettier still.
And indeed in our country dialects there is a wide poetical
nomenclature which is well worthy of recognition; thus the shooting
lights of the Aurora Borealis are in Lancashire 'the Merry Dancers';
clouds piled up in a particular fashion are in many parts of England
styled 'Noah's Ark'; the puff-ball is 'the Devil's snuff-box'; the
dragon-fly 'the Devil's darning-needle'; a large black beetle 'the
Devil's coach-horse.' Any one who has watched the kestrel hanging
poised in the air, before it swoops upon its prey, will acknowledge the
felicity of the name 'windhover,' or sometimes 'windfanner,' which it
popularly bears. [Footnote: In Wallace's _Tropical Nature_ there is a
beautiful chapter on humming birds, and the names which in various
languages these exquisite little creatures bear.] The amount is very
large of curious legendary lore which is everywhere bound up in words,
and which they, if duly solicited, will give back to us again. For
example, the Greek 'halcyon,' which we have adopted without change, has
reference, and wraps up in itself an allusion, to one of the most
beautiful and significant legends of heathen antiquity; according to
which the sea preserved a perfect calmness for all the period, the
fourteen 'halcyon days,' during which this bird was brooding over her
nest. The poetry of the name survives, whether the name suggested the
legend, or the legend the name. Take again the names of some of our
precious stones, as of the topaz, so called, as some said, because men
were only able to _conjecture_ ([Greek: topazein]) the position of the
cloud-concealed island from which it was brought. [Footnote: Pliny, _H.
N._ xxxvii. 32. [But this is only popular etymology: the word can
hardly be of Greek origin; see A. S. Palmer, _Folk-Etymology_, p.

Very curious is the determination which some words, indeed many, seem
to manifest, that their poetry shall not die; or, if it dies in one
form, that it shall revive in another. Thus if there is danger that,
transferred from one language to another, they shall no longer speak to
the imagination of men as they did of old, they will make to themselves
a new life, they will acquire a new soul in the room of that which has
ceased to quicken and inform them any more. Let me make clear what I
mean by two or three examples. The Germans, knowing nothing of
carbuncles, had naturally no word of their own for them; and when they
first found it necessary to name them, as naturally borrowed the Latin
'carbunculus,' which originally had meant 'a little live coal,' to
designate these precious stones of a fiery red. But 'carbunculus,' word
full of poetry and life for Latin-speaking men, would have been only an
arbitrary sign for as many as were ignorant of that language. What then
did these, or what, rather, did the working genius of the language, do?
It adopted, but, in adopting, modified slightly yet effectually the
word, changing it into 'Karfunkel,' thus retaining the framework of the
original, yet at the same time, inasmuch as 'funkeln' signifies 'to
sparkle,' reproducing now in an entirely novel manner the image of the
bright sparkling of the stone, for every knower of the German tongue.
'Margarita,' or pearl, belongs to the earliest group of Latin words
adopted into English. The word, however, told nothing about itself to
those who adopted it. But the pearl might be poetically contemplated as
the sea-stone; and so our fathers presently transformed 'margarita'
into 'mere-grot,' which means nothing less. [Footnote: Such is the A.S.
form of _margarita_ in three versions of the parable of the Pearl of
Great Price, St. Matt. xiii. 45; _see Anglo-Saxon Gospels_, ed. Skeat,
1887.] Take another illustration of this from another quarter. The
French 'rossignol,' a nightingale, is undoubtedly the Latin
'lusciniola,' the diminutive of 'luscinia,' with the alteration, so
frequent in the Romance languages, of the commencing 'l' into 'r.'
Whatever may be the etymology of 'luscinia,' it is plain that for
Frenchmen in general the word would no longer suggest any meaning at
all, hardly even for French scholars, after the serious transformations
which it had undergone; while yet, at the same time, in the exquisitely
musical 'rossignol,' and still more perhaps in the Italian 'usignuolo,'
there is an evident intention and endeavour to express something of the
music of the bird's song in the liquid melody of the imitative name
which it bears; and thus to put a new soul into the word, in lieu of
that other which had escaped. Or again--whatever may be the meaning of
Senlac, the name of that field where the ever-memorable battle, now
better known as the Battle of Hastings, was fought, it certainly was
not 'Sanglac,' or Lake of Blood; the word only shaping itself into this
significant form subsequently to the battle, and in consequence of it.

One or two examples more of the perishing of the old life in a word,
and the birth of a new in its stead, may be added. The old name of
Athens, 'Athaevai,' was closely linked with the fact that the goddess
Pallas Athêne was the guardian deity of the city. The reason of the
name, with other facts of the old mythology, faded away from the memory
of the peasantry of modern Greece; but Athens is a name which must
still mean something for them. Accordingly it is not 'Athaevai now, but
'Avthaevai, or the Blooming, on the lips of the peasantry round about;
so Mr. Sayce assures us. The same process everywhere meets us. Thus no
one who has visited Lucerne can fail to remember the rugged mountain
called 'Pilatus' or 'Mont Pilate,' which stands opposite to him; while
if he has been among the few who have cared to climb it, he will have
been shown by his guide the lake at its summit in which Pontius Pilate
in his despair drowned himself, with an assurance that from this
suicide of his the mountain obtained its name. Nothing of the kind.
'Mont Pilate' stands for 'Mons _Pileatus_,' the '_capped_ hill'; the
clouds, as one so often sees, gathering round its summit, and forming
the shape or appearance of a cap or hat. When this true derivation was
forgotten or misunderstood, the other explanation was invented and
imposed. [Footnote: [The old name of Pilatus was _Fractus Mons_,
'broken mountain' from its rugged cliffs and precipices. _Pilatus_ did
not become general till the close of the last century.]] An instructive
example this, let me observe by the way, of that which has happened
continually in the case of far older legends; I mean that the name has
suggested the legend, and not the legend the name. We have an apt
illustration of this in the old notion that the crocodile ([Greek:
krokodeilos]) could not endure saffron.

I have said that poetry and imagination seek to penetrate everywhere;
and this is literally true; for even the hardest, austerest studies
cannot escape their influence; they will put something of their own
life into the dry bones of a nomenclature which seems the remotest from
them, the most opposed to them. Thus in Danish the male and female
lines of descent and inheritance are called respectively the sword-side
and the spindle-side. [Footnote: [In the same way the Germans used to
employ _schwert_ and _kunkel_; compare the use of the phrases _on ða
sperehealfe_, and _on ða spinlhealfe_ in King Alfred's will; see Kemble,
_Codex Diplomaticus_, No. 314 (ii. 116), Pauli's _Life of Alfred_, p.
225, Lappenberg's _Anglo-Saxon Kings_, ii. 99 (1881).]] He who in
prosody called a metrical foot consisting of one long syllable followed
by two short (-..) a 'dactyle' or a finger, with allusion to the long
first joint of the finger, and the two shorter which follow, whoever he
may have been, and some one was the first to do it, must be allowed to
have brought a certain amount of imagination into a study so alien to
it as prosody very well might appear.

He did the same in another not very poetical region who invented the
Latin law-term, 'stellionatus.' The word includes all such legally
punishable acts of swindling or injurious fraud committed on the
property of another as are not specified in any more precise enactment;
being drawn and derived from a practice attributed, I suppose without
any foundation, to the lizard or 'stellio' we spoke of just now. Having
cast its winter skin, it is reported to swallow it at once, and this
out of a malignant grudge lest any should profit by that which, if not
now, was of old accounted a specific in certain diseases. The term was
then transferred to any malicious wrong whatever done by one person to

In other regions it was only to be expected that we should find poetry.
Thus it is nothing strange that architecture, which has been called
frozen music, and which is poetry embodied in material forms, should
have a language of its own, not dry nor hard, not of the mere intellect
alone, but one in the forming of which it is evident that the
imaginative faculties were at work. To take only one example--this,
however, from Gothic art, which naturally yields the most remarkable--
what exquisite poetry in the name of 'the rose window' or better still,
'the rose,' given to the rich circular aperture of stained glass, with
its leaf-like compartments, in the transepts of a Gothic cathedral!
Here indeed we may note an exception from that which usually finds
place; for usually art borrows beauty from nature, and very faintly, if
at all, reflects back beauty upon her. In this present instance,
however, art is so beautiful, has reached so glorious and perfect a
development, that if the associations which the rose supplies lend to
that window some hues of beauty and a glory which otherwise it would
not have, the latter abundantly repays the obligation; and even the
rose itself may become lovelier still, associated with those shapes of
grace, those rich gorgeous tints, and all the religious symbolism of
that in art which has borrowed and bears its name. After this it were
little to note the imagination, although that was most real, which
dictated the term 'flamboyant' to express the wavy flame-like outline,
which, at a particular period of art, the tracery in the Gothic window

'Godsacre' or 'Godsfield,' is the German name for a burial-ground, and
once was our own, though we unfortunately have nearly, if not quite,
let it go. What a hope full of immortality does this little word
proclaim! how rich is it in all the highest elements of poetry, and of
poetry in its noblest alliance, that is, in its alliance with faith--
able as it is to cause all loathsome images of death and decay to
disappear, not denying them, but suspending, losing, absorbing them in
the sublimer thought of the victory over death, of that harvest of life
which God shall one day so gloriously reap even there where now seems
the very triumphing place of death. Many will not need to be reminded
how fine a poem in Longfellow's hands unfolds itself out of this word.

Lastly let me note the pathos of poetry which lies often in the mere
tracing of the succession of changes in meaning which certain words
have undergone. Thus 'elend' in German, a beautiful word, now signifies
wretchedness, but at first it signified exile or banishment. [Footnote:
On this word there is an interesting discussion in Weigand's _Etym.
Dict._, and compare Pott, _Etym. Forsch._ i. 302. _Ellinge_, an English
provincial word of infinite pathos, still common in the south of
England, and signifying at once lonely and sad, is not connected, as
has been sometimes supposed, with the German _elend_, but represents
Anglo-Saxon _ae-lenge_, protracted, tedious; see the _New English
Dictionary_ (s.v. _alange_)] The sense of this separation from the
native land and from all home delights, as being the woe of all woes,
the crown of all sorrows, little by little so penetrated the word, that
what at first expressed only one form of misery, has ended by
signifying all. It is not a little notable, as showing the same feeling
elsewhere at work, that 'essil' (= exilium) in old French signified,
not only banishment, but ruin, destruction, misery. In the same manner
[Greek: nostimos] meaning at first no more than having to do with a
return, comes in the end to signify almost anything which is favourable
and auspicious.

Let us then acknowledge man a born poet; if not every man himself a
'maker' yet every one able to rejoice in what others have made,
adopting it freely, moving gladly in it as his own most congenial
element and sphere. For indeed, as man does not live by bread alone, as
little is he content to find in language merely the instrument which
shall enable him to buy and sell and get gain, or otherwise make
provision for the lower necessities of his animal life. He demands to
find in it as well what shall stand in a real relation and
correspondence to the higher faculties of his being, shall feed,
nourish, and sustain these, shall stir him with images of beauty and
suggestions of greatness. Neither here nor anywhere else could he
become the mere utilitarian, even if he would. Despite his utmost
efforts, were he so far at enmity with his own good as to put them
forth, he could not succeed in exhausting his language of the poetical
element with which it is penetrated through and through; he could not
succeed in stripping it of blossom, flower, and fruit, and leaving it
nothing but a bare and naked stem. He may fancy for a moment that he
has succeeded in doing this; but it will only need for him to become a
little better philologer, to go a little deeper into the story of the
words which he is using, and he will discover that he is as remote as
ever from such an unhappy consummation, from so disastrous a success.

For ourselves, let us desire and attempt nothing of the kind. Our life
is not in other ways so full of imagination and poetry that we need
give any diligence to empty it of that which it may possess of these.
It will always have for us all enough of dull and prosaic and
commonplace. What profit can there be in seeking to extend the region
of these? Profit there will be none, but on the contrary infinite loss.
It is _stagnant_ waters which corrupt themselves; not those in
agitation and on which the winds are freely blowing. Words of passion
and imagination are, as one so grandly called them of old, 'winds of
the soul' ([Greek: psyches anemoi]), to keep it in healthful motion and
agitation, to lift it upward and to drive it onward, to preserve it
from that unwholesome stagnation which constitutes the fatal
preparedness for so many other and worse evils.



Is man of a divine birth and of the stock of heaven? coming from God,
and, when he fulfils the law of his being, and the intention of his
creation, returning to Him again? We need no more than the words he
speaks to prove it; so much is there in them which could never have
existed on any other supposition. How else could all those words which
testify of his relation to God, and of his consciousness of this
relation, and which ground themselves thereon, have found their way
into his language, being as that is the veritable transcript of his
innermost life, the genuine utterance of the faith and hope which is in
him? In what other way can we explain that vast and preponderating
weight thrown into the scale of goodness and truth, which, despite of
all in the other scale, we must thankfully acknowledge that his
language never is without? How else shall we account for that sympathy
with the right, that testimony against the wrong, which, despite of all
aberrations and perversions, is yet the prevailing ground-tone of all?

But has man fallen, and deeply fallen, from the heights of his original
creation? We need no more than his language to prove it. Like
everything else about him, it bears at once the stamp of his greatness
and of his degradation, of his glory and of his shame. What dark and
sombre threads he must have woven into the tissue of his life, before
we could trace those threads of darkness which run through the tissue
of his language! What facts of wickedness and woe must have existed in
the one, ere such words could exist to designate these as are found in
the other! There have never wanted those who would make light of the
moral hurts which man has inflicted on himself, of the sickness with
which he is sick; who would persuade themselves and others that
moralists and divines, if they have not quite invented, have yet
enormously exaggerated, these. But are statements of the depth of his
fall, the malignity of the disease with which he is sick, found only in
Scripture and in sermons? Are those who bring forward these statements
libellers of human nature? Or are not mournful corroborations of the
truth of these assertions imprinted deeply upon every province of man's
natural and spiritual life, and on none more deeply than on his
language? It needs but to open a dictionary, and to cast our eye
thoughtfully down a few columns, and we shall find abundant
confirmation of this sadder and sterner estimate of man's moral and
spiritual condition. How else shall we explain this long catalogue of
words, having all to do with sin or with sorrow, or with both? How came
they there? We may be quite sure that they were not invented without
being needed, and they have each a correlative in the world of
realities. I open the first letter of the alphabet; what means this
'Ah,' this 'Alas,' these deep and long-drawn sighs of humanity, which
at once encounter me there? And then presently there meet me such words
as these, 'Affliction,' 'Agony,' 'Anguish,' 'Assassin,' 'Atheist,'
'Avarice,' and a hundred more--words, you will observe, not laid up in
the recesses of the language, to be drawn forth on rare occasions, but
many of them such as must be continually on the lips of men. And indeed,
in the matter of abundance, it is sad to note how much richer our
vocabularies are in words that set forth sins, than in those that set
forth graces. When St. Paul (Gal. v. 19-23) would range these over
against those, 'the works of the flesh' against 'the fruit of the
Spirit,' those are seventeen, these only nine; and where do we find in
Scripture such lists of graces, as we do at 2 Tim. iii. 2, Rom. i. 29-
31, of their contraries? [Footnote: Of these last the most exhaustive
collection which I know is in Philo, _De Merced. Meret._ Section 4.
There are here one hundred and forty-six epithets brought together,
each of them indicating a sinful moral habit of mind. It was not
without reason that Aristotle wrote: 'It is possible to err in many
ways, for evil belongs to the infinite; but to do right is possible
only in one way' (_Ethic. Nic._ ii. 6. 14).] Nor can I help noting, in
the oversight and muster from this point of view of the words which
constitute a language, the manner in which its utmost resources have
been taxed to express the infinite varieties, now of human suffering,
now of human sin. Thus, what a fearful thing is it that any language
should possess a word to express the pleasure which men feel at the
calamities of others; for the existence of the word bears testimony to
the existence of the thing. And yet such in more languages than one may
be found. [Footnote: In the Greek, [Greek: epichairekakia], in the
German, 'schadenfreude.' Cicero so strongly feels the want of such a
word, that he _gives_ to 'malevolentia' the significance, 'voluptas ex
malo alterius,' which lies not of necessity in it.] Nor are there
wanting, I suppose, in any language, words which are the mournful
record of the strange wickednesses which the genius of man, so fertile
in evil, has invented. What whole processes of cruelty are sometimes
wrapped up in a single word! Thus I have not travelled down the first
column of an Italian dictionary before I light upon the verb
'abbacinare' meaning to deprive of sight by holding a red-hot metal
basin close to the eyeballs. Travelling a little further in a Greek
lexicon, I should reach [Greek: akroteriazein] mutilate by cutting off
all the extremities, as hands, feet, nose, ears; or take our English
'to ganch.' And our dictionaries, while they tell us much, cannot tell
us all. How shamefully rich is everywhere the language of the vulgar in
words and phrases which, seldom allowed to find their way into books,
yet live as a sinful oral tradition on the lips of men, for the setting
forth of things unholy and impure. And of these words, as no less of
those dealing with the kindred sins of revelling and excess, how many
set the evil forth with an evident sympathy and approbation of it, and
as themselves taking part with the sin against Him who has forbidden it
under pain of his highest displeasure. How much ability, how much wit,
yes, and how much imagination must have stood in the service of sin,
before it could possess a nomenclature so rich, so varied, and often so
heaven-defying, as that which it actually owns.

Then further I would bid you to note the many words which men have
dragged downward with themselves, and made more or less partakers of
their own fall. Having once an honourable meaning, they have yet with
the deterioration and degeneration of those that used them, or of those
about whom they were used, deteriorated and degenerated too. How many,
harmless once, have assumed a harmful as their secondary meaning; how
many worthy have acquired an unworthy. Thus 'knave' meant once no more
than lad (nor does 'knabe' now in German mean more); 'villain' than
peasant; a 'boor' was a farmer, a 'varlet' a serving-man, which meaning
still survives in 'valet,' the other form of this word; [Footnote: Yet
this itself was an immense fall for the word (see _Ampère, La Langue
Française_, p. 219, and Littré, _Dict. de la Langue Française_, preface,
p. xxv.).] a 'menial' was one of the household; a 'paramour' was a
lover, an honourable one it might be; a 'leman' in like manner might be
a lover, and be used of either sex in a good sense; a 'beldam' was a
fair lady, and is used in this sense by Spenser; [Footnote: _F. Q._ iii.
2. 43.] a 'minion' was a favourite (man in Sylvester is 'God's dearest
_minion_'); a 'pedant' in the Italian from which we borrowed the word,
and for a while too with ourselves, was simply a tutor; a 'proser' was
one who wrote in prose; an 'adventurer' one who set before himself
perilous, but very often noble ventures, what the Germans call a
glücksritter; a 'swindler,' in the German from which we got it, one who
entered into dangerous mercantile speculations, without implying that
this was done with any intention to defraud others. Christ, according
to Bishop Hall, was the 'ringleader' of our salvation. 'Time-server'
two hundred years ago quite as often designated one in an honourable as
in a dishonourable sense 'serving the time.' [Footnote: See in proof
Fuller, _Holy State_, b. iii. c. 19.] 'Conceits' had once nothing
conceited in them. An 'officious' man was one prompt in offices of
kindness, and not, as now, an uninvited meddler in things that concern
him not; something indeed of the older meaning still survives in the
diplomatic use of the word.

'Demure' conveyed no hint, as it does now, of an overdoing of the
outward demonstrations of modesty; a 'leer' was once a look with
nothing amiss in it (_Piers Plowman_). 'Daft' was modest or retiring;
'orgies' were religious ceremonies; the Blessed Virgin speaks of
herself in an early poem as 'God's wench.' In 'crafty' and 'cunning' no
_crooked wisdom_ was implied, but only knowledge and skill; 'craft,'
indeed, still retains very often its more honourable use, a man's
'craft' being his skill, and then the trade in which he is skilled.
'Artful' was skilful, and not tricky as now. [Footnote: Not otherwise
'leichtsinnig' in German meant cheerful once; it is frivolous now;
while in French a 'rapporteur' is now a bringer back of _malicious_
reports, the malicious having little by little found its way into the
word.] Could the Magdalen have ever bequeathed us 'maudlin' in its
present contemptuous application, if the tears of penitential sorrow
had been held in due honour by the world? 'Tinsel,' the French
'etincelle,' meant once anything that sparkled or glistened; thus,
'cloth of _tinsel_' would be cloth inwrought with silver and gold; but
the sad experience that 'all is not gold that glitters, that much
showing fair to the eye is worthless in reality, has caused that by
'tinsel,' literal or figurative, we ever mean now that which has no
realities of sterling worth underlying the specious shows which it
makes. 'Specious' itself, let me note, meant beautiful at one time, and
not, as now, presenting a deceitful appearance of beauty. 'Tawdry,' an
epithet applied once to lace or other finery bought at the fair of St.
Awdrey or St. Etheldreda, has run through the same course: it at one
time conveyed no suggestion of _mean_ finery or _shabby_ splendour, as
now it does. 'Voluble' was an epithet which had nothing of slight in it,
but meant what 'fluent' means now; 'dapper' _was_ what in German
'tapfer' _is_; not so much neat and spruce as brave and bold;
'plausible' was worthy of applause; 'pert' is now brisk and lively, but
with a very distinct subaudition, which once it had not, of sauciness
as well; 'lewd' meant no more than unlearned, as the lay or common
people might be supposed to be. [Footnote: Having in mind what 'dirne,'
connected with 'dienen,' 'dienst,' commonly means now in German, one
almost shrinks from mentioning that it was once a name of honour which
could be and was used of the Blessed Virgin Mary (see Grimm,
_Wörterbuch_, s. v.). 'Schalk' in like manner had no evil subaudition
in it at the first; nor did it ever obtain such during the time that it
survived in English; thus in _Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight_, the
peerless Gawayne is himself on more than one a 'schalk' (424, 1776).
The word survives in the last syllable of 'seneschal,' and indeed of
'marshal' as well.] 'To carp' is in Chaucer's language no more than to
converse; 'to mouth' in _Piers Plowman_ is simply to speak; 'to garble'
was once to sift and pick out the best; it is now to select and put
forward as a fair specimen the worst.

This same deterioration through use may be traced in the verb 'to
resent.' Barrow could speak of the good man as a faithful 'resenter'
and requiter of benefits, of the duty of testifying an affectionate
'resentment' of our obligations to God. But the memory of benefits
fades from us so much more quickly than that of injuries; we remember
and revolve in our minds so much more predominantly the wrongs, real or
imaginary, men have done us, than the favours we owe them, that
'resentment' has come in our modern English to be confined exclusively
to that deep reflective displeasure which men entertain against those
that have done, or whom they fancy to have done, them a wrong. And this
explains how it comes to pass that we do not speak of the 'retaliation'
of benefits at all so often as the 'retaliation' of injuries. 'To
retaliate' signifies no more than to render again as much as we have
received; but this is so much seldomer practised in the matter of
benefits than of wrongs, that 'retaliation' though not wholly strange
in this worthier sense, has yet, when so employed, an unusual sound in
our ears. 'To retaliate' kindnesses is a language which would not now
be intelligible to all. 'Animosity' as originally employed in that
later Latin which gave it birth, was spiritedness; men would speak of
the 'animosity' or fiery courage of a horse. In our early English it
meant nothing more; a divine of the seventeenth century speaks of 'due
Christian animosity.' Activity and vigour are still implied in the
word; but now only as displayed in enmity and hate. There is a Spanish
proverb which says, 'One foe is too many; a hundred friends are too
few.' The proverb and the course which this word 'animosity' has
travelled may be made mutually to illustrate one another. [Footnote: For
quotations from our earlier authors in proof of many of the assertions
made in the few last pages, see my _Select Glossary of English Words
used formerly in senses different from their present_, 5th edit. 1879.]

How mournful a witness for the hard and unrighteous judgments we
habitually form of one another lies in the word 'prejudice.' It is
itself absolutely neutral, meaning no more than a judgment formed
beforehand; which judgment may be favourable, or may be otherwise. Yet
so predominantly do we form harsh unfavourable judgments of others
before knowledge and experience, that a 'prejudice' or judgment before
knowledge and not grounded on evidence, is almost always taken in an
ill sense; 'prejudicial' having actually acquired mischievous or
injurious for its secondary meaning.

As these words bear testimony to the _sin_ of man, so others to his
_infirmity_, to the limitation of human faculties and human knowledge,
to the truth of the proverb, that 'to err is human.' Thus 'to retract'
means properly no more than to handle again, to reconsider. And yet, so
certain are we to find in a subject which we reconsider, or handle a
second time, that which was at first rashly, imperfectly, inaccurately,
stated, which needs therefore to be amended, modified, or withdrawn,
that 'to retract' could not tarry long in its primary meaning of
reconsidering; but has come to signify to withdraw. Thus the greatest
Father of the Latin Church, wishing toward the close of his life to
amend whatever he might then perceive in his various published works
incautiously or incorrectly stated, gave to the book in which he
carried out this intention (for authors had then no such opportunities
as later editions afford us now), this very name of '_Retractations_',
being literally 'rehandlings,' but in fact, as will be plain to any one
turning to the work, withdrawings of various statements by which he was
no longer prepared to abide.

But urging, as I just now did, the degeneration of words, I should
seriously err, if I failed to remind you that a parallel process of
purifying and ennobling has also been going forward, most of all
through the influences of a Divine faith working in the world. This, as
it has turned _men_ from evil to good, or has lifted them from a lower
earthly goodness to a higher heavenly, so has it in like manner
elevated, purified, and ennobled a multitude of the words which they
employ, until these, which once expressed only an earthly good, express
now a heavenly. The Gospel of Christ, as it is the redemption of man,
so is it in a multitude of instances the redemption of his word,
freeing it from the bondage of corruption, that it should no longer be
subject to vanity, nor stand any more in the service of sin or of the
world, but in the service of God and of his truth. Thus the Greek had a
word for 'humility'; but for him this humility meant--that is, with
rare exceptions--meanness of spirit. He who brought in the Christian
grace of humility, did in so doing rescue the term which expressed it
for nobler uses and a far higher dignity than hitherto it had attained.
There were 'angels' before heaven had been opened, but these only
earthly messengers; 'martyrs' also, or witnesses, but these not unto
blood, nor yet for God's highest truth; 'apostles,' but sent of men;
'evangels,' but these good tidings of this world, and not of the
kingdom of heaven; 'advocates,' but not 'with the Father.' 'Paradise'
was a word common in slightly different forms to almost all the nations
of the East; but it was for them only some royal park or garden of
delights; till for the Jew it was exalted to signify the mysterious
abode of our first parents; while higher honours awaited it still, when
on the lips of the Lord, it signified the blissful waiting-place of
faithful departed souls (Luke xxiii. 43); yea, the heavenly blessedness
itself (Rev. ii. 7). A 'regeneration' or palingenesy, was not unknown
to the Greeks; they could speak of the earth's 'regeneration' in
spring-time, of recollection as the 'regeneration' of knowledge; the
Jewish historian could describe the return of his countrymen from the
Babylonian Captivity, and their re-establishment in their own land, as
the 'regeneration' of the Jewish State. But still the word, whether as
employed by Jew or Greek, was a long way off from that honour reserved
for it in the Christian dispensation--namely, that it should be the
vehicle of one of the most blessed mysteries of the faith. [Footnote:
See my _Synonyms of the N.T._ Section 18.] And many other words in like
manner there are, 'fetched from the very dregs of paganism,' as
Sanderson has it (he instances the Latin 'sacrament,' the Greek
'mystery'), which the Holy Spirit has not refused to employ for the
setting forth of the glorious facts of our redemption; and, reversing
the impious deed of Belshazzar, who profaned the sacred vessels of
God's house to sinful and idolatrous uses (Dan. v. 2), has consecrated
the very idol-vessels of Babylon to the service of the sanctuary.

Let us now proceed to contemplate some of the attestations to God's
truth, and then some of the playings into the hands of the devil's
falsehood, which lurk in words. And first, the attestations to God's
truth, the fallings in of our words with his unchangeable Word; for
these, as the true uses of the word, while the other are only its
abuses, have a prior claim to be considered.

Thus, some modern 'false prophets,' willing to explain away all such
phenomena of the world around us as declare man to be a sinner, and
lying under the consequences of sin, would fain have them to believe
that pain is only a subordinate kind of pleasure, or, at worst, a sort
of needful hedge and guardian of pleasure. But a deeper feeling in the
universal heart of man bears witness to quite another explanation of
the existence of pain in the present economy of the world--namely, that
it is the correlative of sin, that it is _punishment_; and to this the
word 'pain,' so closely connected with 'poena,' bears witness.
[Footnote: Our word _pain_ is actually the same word as the Latin
_poena_, coming to us through the French _peine_.] Pain _is_
punishment; for so the word, and so the conscience of every one that is
suffering it, declares. Some will not hear of great pestilences being
scourges of the sins of men; and if only they can find out the
immediate, imagine that they have found out the ultimate, causes of
these; while yet they have only to speak of a 'plague' and they
implicitly avouch the very truth which they have set themselves to
deny; for a 'plague,' what is it but a stroke; so called, because that
universal conscience of men which is never at fault, has felt and in
this way confessed it to be such? For here, as in so many other cases,
that proverb stands fast, 'Vox populi, vox Dei'; and may be admitted to
the full; that is, if only we keep in mind that this 'people' is not
the populace either in high place or in low; and this 'voice of the
people' no momentary outcry, but the consenting testimony of the good
and wise, of those neither brutalized by ignorance, nor corrupted by a
false cultivation, in many places and in various times.

To one who admits the truth of this proverb it will be nothing strange
that men should have agreed to call him a 'miser' or miserable, who
eagerly scrapes together and painfully hoards the mammon of this world.
Here too the moral instinct lying deep in all hearts has borne
testimony to the tormenting nature of this vice, to the gnawing pains
with which even in this present time it punishes its votaries, to the
enmity which there is between it and all joy; and the man who enslaves
himself to his money is proclaimed in our very language to be a
'miser,' or miserable man. [Footnote: 'Misery' does not any longer
signify avarice, nor 'miserable' avaricious; but these meanings they
once possessed (see my _Select Glossary_, s. vv.). In them men said,
and in 'miser' we still say, in one word what Seneca when he wrote,--
'Nulla avaritia sine poena est, _quamvis satis sit ipsa poenarum_'--
took a sentence to say.] Other words bear testimony to great moral
truths. St. James has, I doubt not, been often charged with
exaggeration for saying, 'Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet
offend in one point, he is guilty of all' (ii. 10). The charge is an
unjust one. The Romans with their 'integritas' said as much; we too say
the same who have adopted 'integrity' as a part of our ethical language.
For what is 'integrity' but entireness; the 'integrity' of the body
being, as Cicero explains it, the full possession and the perfect
soundness of _all_ its members; and moral 'integrity' though it cannot
be predicated so absolutely of any sinful child of Adam, is this same
entireness or completeness transferred to things higher. 'Integrity'
was exactly that which Herod had _not_ attained, when at the Baptist's
bidding he 'did many things gladly' (Mark vi. 20), but did _not_ put
away his brother's wife; whose partial obedience therefore profited
nothing; he had dropped one link in the golden chain of obedience, and
as a consequence the whole chain fell to the ground.

It is very noticeable, and many have noticed, that the Greek word
signifying wickedness (_ponaeria_) comes of another signifying labour
(_ponos_). How well does this agree with those passages in Scripture
which describe sinners as '_wearying themselves_ to commit iniquity,'
as '_labouring_ in the very fire'; 'the martyrs of the devil,' as South
calls them, being at more pains to go to hell than the martyrs of God
to go to heaven. 'St. Chrysostom's eloquence,' as Bishop Sanderson has
observed, 'enlarges itself and triumphs in this argument more
frequently than in almost any other; and he clears it often and beyond
all exception, both by Scripture and reason, that the life of a wicked
or worldly man is a very drudgery, infinitely more toilsome, vexatious,
and unpleasant than a godly life is.' [Footnote: _Sermons_, London,
1671, vol. ii. p. 244.]

How deep an insight into the failings of the human heart lies at the
root of many words; and if only we would attend to them, what valuable
warnings many contain against subtle temptations and sins! Thus, all of
us have felt the temptation of seeking to please others by an unmanly
_assenting_ to their opinion, even when our own independent convictions
did not agree with theirs. The existence of such a temptation, and the
fact that too many yield to it, are both declared in the Latin for a
flatterer--'assentator'--that is, 'an assenter'; one who has not
courage to say _No_, when a _Yes_ is expected from him; and quite
independently of the Latin, the German, in its contemptuous and
precisely equivalent use of 'Jaherr,' a 'yea-Lord,' warns us in like
manner against all such unmanly compliances. Let me note that we also
once possessed 'assentation' in the sense of unworthy flattering lip-
assent; the last example of it in our dictionaries is from Bishop Hall:
'It is a fearful presage of ruin when the prophets conspire in
assentation;' but it lived on to a far later day, being found and
exactly in the same sense in Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his son; he
there speaks of 'abject flattery and indiscriminate
assentation.' [Footnote: _August_ 10, 1749. [In the _New English
Dictionary_ a quotation for the word is given as late as 1859. I.
Taylor, in his _Logic in Theology_, p. 265, says: 'A safer anchorage
may be found than the shoal of mindless assentation']] The word is well
worthy to be revived.

Again, how well it is to have that spirit of depreciation, that
eagerness to find spots and stains in the characters of the noblest and
the best, who would otherwise oppress and rebuke us with a goodness and
a greatness so immensely superior to our own,--met and checked by a
word at once so expressive, and so little pleasant to take home to
ourselves, as the French 'dénigreur,' a 'blackener.' This also has
fallen out of use; which is a pity, seeing that the race which it
designates is so far from being extinct. Full too of instruction and
warning is our present employment of 'libertine.' A 'libertine,' in
earlier use, was a speculative free-thinker in matters of religion and
in the theory of morals. But as by a process which is seldom missed
free-_thinking_ does and will end in free-_acting_, he who has cast off
one yoke also casting off the other, so a 'libertine' came in two or
three generations to signify a profligate, especially in relation to
women, a licentious and debauched person. [Footnote: See the author's
_Select Glossary_ (s.v.)]

Look a little closely at the word 'passion,' We sometimes regard a
'passionate' man as a man of strong will, and of real, though
ungoverned, energy. But 'passion' teaches us quite another lesson; for
it, as a very solemn use of it declares, means properly 'suffering';
and a 'passionate' man is not one who is doing something, but one
suffering something to be done to him. When then a man or child is 'in
a passion,' this is no outcoming in him of a strong will, of a real
energy, but the proof rather that, for the time at least, he is
altogether wanting in these; he is _suffering_, not doing; suffering
his anger, or whatever evil temper it may be, to lord over him without
control. Let no one then think of 'passion' as a sign of strength. One
might with as much justice conclude a man strong because he was often
well beaten; this would prove that a strong man was putting forth his
strength on him, but certainly not that he was himself strong. The same
sense of 'passion' and feebleness going together, of the first as the
outcome of the second, lies, I may remark by the way, in the twofold
use of 'impotens' in the Latin, which meaning first weak, means then
violent, and then weak and violent together. For a long time 'impotent'
and 'impotence' in English embodied the same twofold meaning.

Or meditate on the use of 'humanitas,' and the use (in Scotland at
least) of the 'humanities,' to designate those studies which are
esteemed the fittest for training the true humanity in every man.
[Footnote: [Compare the use of the term _Litterae Humaniores_ in the
University of Oxford to designate the oldest and most characteristic of
her examinations or 'Schools.']] We have happily overlived in England
the time when it was still in debate among us whether education is a
good thing for every living soul or not; the only question which now
seriously divides Englishmen being, in what manner that mental and
moral training, which is society's debt to each one of its members, may
be most effectually imparted to him. Were it not so, were there any
still found to affirm that it was good for any man to be left with
powers not called out and faculties untrained, we might appeal to this
word 'humanitas,' and the use to which the Roman put it, in proof that
he at least was not of this mind. By 'humanitas' he intended the
fullest and most harmonious development of all the truly human
faculties and powers. Then, and then only, man was truly man, when he
received this; in so far as he did not receive this, his 'humanity' was
maimed and imperfect; he fell short of his ideal, of that which he was
created to be.

In our use of 'talents,' as when we say 'a man of talents,' there is a
clear recognition of the responsibilities which go along with the
possession of intellectual gifts and endowments, whatever these may be.
We owe our later use of 'talent' to the parable (Matt. xxv. 14), in
which more or fewer of these are committed to the several servants,
that they may trade with them in their master's absence, and give
account of their employment at his return. Men may choose to forget the
ends for which their 'talents' were given them; they may count them
merely something which they have gotten; [Footnote: An [Greek: hexis],
as the heathen did, not a [Greek: dorema], as the Christian does; see a
remarkable passage in Bishop Andrewes' _Sermons_, vol. iii. p. 384.]
they may turn them to selfish ends; they may glorify themselves in them,
instead of glorifying the Giver; they may practically deny that they
were given at all; yet in this word, till they can rid their vocabulary
of it, abides a continual memento that they were so given, or rather
lent, and that each man shall have to render an account of their use.

Again, in 'oblige' and 'obligation,' as when we speak of 'being
obliged,' or of having 'received an obligation,' a moral truth is
asserted--this namely, that having received a benefit or a favour at
the hands of another, we are thereby morally _bound_ to show ourselves
grateful for the same. We cannot be ungrateful without denying not
merely a moral truth, but one incorporated in the very language which
we employ. Thus South, in a sermon, _Of the odious Sin of Ingratitude_,
has well asked, 'If the conferring of a kindness did not _bind_ the
person upon whom it was conferred to the returns of gratitude, why, in
the universal dialect of the world, are kindnesses called
_obligations_?' [Footnote: _Sermons_, London, 1737, vol. i. p. 407.]

Once more--the habit of calling a woman's chastity her 'virtue' is
significant. I will not deny that it may spring in part from a tendency
which often meets us in language, to narrow the whole circle of virtues
to some one upon which peculiar stress is laid; [Footnote: Thus in
Jewish Greek [Greek: eleaemosnuae] stands often for [Greek: dikaosnuae]
(Deut. vi. 25; Ps. cii. 6, LXX), or almsgiving for righteousness.] but
still, in selecting this peculiar one as _the_ 'virtue' of woman, there
speaks out a true sense that this is indeed for her the citadel of the
whole moral being, the overthrow of which is the overthrow of all; that
it is the keystone of the arch, which being withdrawn, the whole
collapses and falls.

Or consider all which is witnessed for us in 'kind.' We speak of a
'kind' person, and we speak of man-'kind,' and perhaps, if we think
about the matter at all, fancy that we are using quite different words,
or the same words in senses quite unconnected. But they are connected,
and by closest bonds; a 'kind' person is one who acknowledges his
kinship with other men, and acts upon it; confesses that he owes to
them, as of one blood with himself, the debt of love. [Footnote: Thus
Hamlet does much more than merely play on words when he calls his
father's brother, who had married his mother, 'A little more than _kin_,
and less than _kind_.' [For the relation between _kind_ (the adj.) and
_kind_ ('nature,' the sb.) see Skeat's Dict.]] Beautiful before, how
much more beautiful do 'kind' and 'kindness' appear, when we apprehend
the root out of which they grow, and the truth which they embody; that
they are the acknowledgment in loving deeds of our kinship with our
brethren; of the relationship which exists between all the members of
the human family, and of the obligations growing out of the same.

But I observed just now that there are also words bearing on them the
slime of the serpent's trail; uses, too, of words which imply moral
perversity--not upon their parts who employ them now in their acquired
senses, but on theirs from whom little by little they received their
deflection, and were warped from their original rectitude. A 'prude' is
now a woman with an over-done affectation of a modesty which she does
not really feel, and betraying the absence of the substance by this
over-preciseness and niceness about the shadow. Goodness must have gone
strangely out of fashion, the corruption of manners must have been
profound, before matters could have come to this point. 'Prude,' a
French word, means properly virtuous or prudent. [Footnote: [Compare
French _prude_, on the etymology of which see Schelar's _French Dict._,
ed. 3 (1888)].] But where morals are greatly and generally relaxed,
virtue is treated as hypocrisy; and thus, in a dissolute age, and one
incredulous of any inward purity, by the 'prude' or virtuous woman is
intended a sort of female Tartuffe, affecting a virtue which it is
taken for granted none can really possess; and the word abides, a proof
of the world's disbelief in the realities of goodness, of its
resolution to treat them as hypocrisies and deceits.

Again, why should 'simple' be used slightingly, and 'simpleton' more
slightingly still? The 'simple' is one properly of a single fold;
[Footnote: [Latin _simplicem_; for Lat. _sim-_, _sin-_= Greek [Greek:
ha] in [Greek: ha-pax], see Brugmann, _Grundriss_, Section 238, Curtius,
_Greek Etym._ No. 599.]] a Nathanael, whom as such Christ honoured to
the highest (John i. 47); and, indeed, what honour can be higher than
to have nothing _double_ about us, to be without _duplicities_ or
folds? Even the world, which despises 'simplicity,' does not profess to
admire 'duplicity,' or double-foldedness. But inasmuch as it is felt
that a man without these folds will in a world like ours make himself a
prey, and as most men, if obliged to choose between deceiving and being
deceived, would choose the former, it has come to pass that 'simple'
which in a kingdom of righteousness would be a world of highest honour,
carries with it in this world of ours something of contempt. [Footnote:
'Schlecht,' which in modern German means bad, good for nothing, once
meant good,--good, that is, in the sense of right or straight, but has
passed through the same stages to the meaning which it now possesses,
'albern' has done the same (Max Müller, _Science of Language_, 2nd
series, p. 274).] Nor can we help noting another involuntary testimony
borne by human language to human sin. I mean this,--that an idiot, or
one otherwise deficient in intellect, is called an 'innocent' or one
who does no hurt; this use of 'innocent' assuming that to do hurt and
harm is the chief employment to which men turn their intellectual
powers, that, where they are wise, they are oftenest wise to do evil.

Nor are these isolated examples of the contemptuous use which words
expressive of goodness gradually acquire. Such meet us on every side.
Our 'silly' is the Old-English 'saelig' or blessed. We see it in a
transition state in our early poets, with whom 'silly' is an
affectionate epithet which sheep obtain for their harmlessness. One
among our earliest calls the newborn Lord of Glory Himself, 'this
harmless _silly_ babe,' But 'silly' has travelled on the same lines as
'simple,' 'innocent,' and so many other words. The same moral
phenomenon repeats itself continually. Thus 'sheepish' in the _Ormulum_
is an epithet of honour: it is used of one who has the mind of Him who
was led as a sheep to the slaughter. At the first promulgation of the
Christian faith, while the name of its Divine Founder was still strange
to the ears of the heathen, they were wont, some in ignorance, but more
of malice, slightly to mispronounce this name, turning 'Christus' into
'Chrestus'--that is, the benevolent or benign. That these last meant no
honour thereby to the Lord of Life, but the contrary, is certain; this
word, like 'silly,' 'innocent,' 'simple,' having already contracted a
slight tinge of contempt, without which there would have been no
inducement to fasten it on the Saviour. The French have their
'bonhomie' with the same undertone of contempt, the Greeks their
[Greek: eyetheia]. Lady Shiel tells us of the modern Persians, 'They
have odd names for describing the moral qualities; "Sedakat" means
sincerity, honesty, candour; but when a man is said to be possessed of
"sedakat," the meaning is that he is a credulous, contemptible
simpleton.' [Footnote: _Life and Manners in Persia_, p. 247.] It is to
the honour of the Latin tongue, and very characteristic of the best
aspects of Roman life, that 'simplex' and 'simplicitas' never acquired
this abusive signification.

Again, how prone are we all to ascribe to chance or fortune those gifts
and blessings which indeed come directly from God--to build altars to
Fortune rather than to Him who is the author of every good thing which
we have gotten. And this faith of men, that their blessings, even their
highest, come to them by a blind chance, they have incorporated in a
word; for 'happy' and 'happiness' are connected with 'hap,' which is
chance;--how unworthy, then, to express any true felicity, whose very
essence is that it excludes hap or chance, that the world neither gave
nor can take it away. [Footnote: The heathen with their [Greek:
eudaimonia], inadequate as this word must be allowed to be, put _us_
here to shame.] Against a similar misuse of 'fortunate,' 'unfortunate,'
Wordsworth very nobly protests, when, of one who, having lost
everything else, had yet kept the truth, he exclaims:

     'Call not the royal Swede _unfortunate_,
      Who never did to _Fortune_ bend the knee.'

There are words which reveal a wrong or insufficient estimate that men
take of their duties, or that at all events others have taken before
them; for it is possible that the mischief may have been done long ago,
and those who now use the words may only have inherited it from others,
not helped to bring it about themselves. An employer of labour
advertises that he wants so many 'hands'; but this language never could
have become current, a man could never have thus shrunk into a 'hand'
in the eyes of his fellow-man, unless this latter had in good part
forgotten that, annexed to those hands which he would purchase to toil
for him, were also heads and hearts [Footnote: A similar use of [Greek:
somata] for slaves in Greek rested originally on the same forgetfulness
of the moral worth of every man. It has found its way into the
Septuagint and Apocrypha (Gen. xxxvi. 6; 2 Macc. viii. 11; Tob. x. 10);
and occurs once in the New Testament (Rev. xviii. 13). [In Gen. xxxvi.
6 the [Greek: somata] of the Septuagint is a rendering of the Hebrew
_nafshôth_, souls, so Luther translates 'Seelen.']]--a fact, by the way,
of which, if he persists in forgetting it, he may be reminded in very
unwelcome ways at the last. In Scripture there is another not
unfrequent putting of a part for the whole, as when it is said, 'The
same day there were added unto them about three thousand _souls_' (Acts
ii. 41). 'Hands' here, 'souls' there--the contrast may suggest some
profitable reflections.

There is another way in which the immorality of words mainly displays
itself, and in which they work their worst mischief; that is, when
honourable names are given to dishonourable things, when sin is made
plausible; arrayed, it may be, in the very colours of goodness, or, if
not so, yet in such as go far to conceal its own native deformity. 'The
tongue,' as St. James has said, 'is a _world_ of iniquity' (iii. 7); or,
as some would render his words, and they are then still more to our
purpose, '_the ornament_ of iniquity,' that which sets it out in fair
and attractive colours.

How much wholesomer on all accounts is it that there should be an ugly
word for an ugly thing, one involving moral condemnation and disgust,
even at the expense of a little coarseness, rather than one which plays
fast and loose with the eternal principles of morality, makes sin
plausible, and shifts the divinely reared landmarks of right and wrong,
thus bringing the user of it under the woe of them 'that call evil good,
and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness,
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter' (Isai. v. 20). On this
text, and with reference to this scheme, South has written four of his
grandest sermons, bearing this striking title, _Of the fatal Imposture
and Force of Words_. [Footnote: _Sermons_, 1737, vol. ii. pp. 313-351;
vol. vi. pp. 3-120. Thus on those who pleaded that their 'honour' was
engaged, and that therefore they could not go back from this or that
sinful act:--'Honour is indeed a noble thing, and therefore the word
which signifies it must needs be very plausible. But as a rich and
glistening garment may be cast over a rotten body, so an illustrious
commanding word may be put upon a vile and an ugly thing--for words are
but the garments, the loose garments of things, and so may easily be
put off and on according to the humour of him who bestows them. But the
body changes not, though the garments do.'] How awful, yea how fearful,
is this 'imposture and force' of theirs, leading men captive at will.
There is an atmosphere about them which they are evermore diffusing, a
savour of life or of death, which we insensibly inhale at each moral
breath we draw. [Footnote: Bacon's words have often been quoted, but
they will bear being quoted once more: Credunt enim homines rationem
suam verbis imperare. Sed fit etiam ut verba vim suam super intellectum
retorqueant et reflectant.] 'Winds of the soul,' as we have already
heard them called, they fill its sails, and are continually impelling
it upon its course, to heaven or to hell.

Thus how different the light in which we shall have learned to regard a
sin, according as we have been wont to designate it, and to hear it
designated, by a word which brings out its loathsomeness and deformity;
or by one which palliates this and conceals; men, as one said of old,
being wont for the most part to be ashamed not of base deeds but of
base names affixed to those deeds. In the murder trials at Dublin, 1883,
those destined to the assassin's knife were spoken of by approvers as
persons to be removed, and their death constantly described as their
'removal.' In Sussex it is never said of a man that he is drunk. He may
be 'tight,' or 'primed,' or 'crank,' or 'concerned in liquor,' nay, it
may even be admitted that he had taken as much liquor as was good for
him; but that he was drunk, oh never. [Footnote: 'Pransus' and 'potus,'
in like manner, as every Latin scholar knows, mean much more than they
say.] Fair words for foul things are everywhere only too frequent; thus
in 'drug-damned Italy,' when poisoning was the rifest, nobody was said
to be poisoned; it was only that the death of this one or of that had
been 'assisted' (aiutata). Worse still are words which seek to turn the
edge of the divine threatenings against some sin by a jest; as when in
France a subtle poison, by whose aid impatient heirs delivered
themselves from those who stood between them and the inheritance which
they coveted, was called 'poudre de succession.' We might suppose
beforehand that such cloaks for sin would be only found among people in
an advanced state of artificial cultivation. But it is not so. Captain
Erskine, who visited the Fiji Islands before England had taken them
into her keeping, and who gives some extraordinary details of the
extent to which cannibalism then prevailed among their inhabitants,
pork and human flesh being their two staple articles of food, relates
in his deeply interesting record of his voyage that natural pig they
called '_short_ pig,' and man dressed and prepared for food, '_long_
pig.' There was doubtless an attempt here to carry off with a jest the
revolting character of the practice in which they indulged. For that
they were themselves aware of this, that their consciences did bear
witness against it, was attested by their uniform desire to conceal, if
possible, all traces of the practice from European eyes.

But worst, perhaps, of all are names which throw a flimsy veil of
sentiment over some sin. What a source, for example, of mischief
without end in our country parishes is the one practice of calling a
child born out of wedlock a 'love-child,' instead of a bastard. It
would be hard to estimate how much it has lowered the tone and standard
of morality among us; or for how many young women it may have helped to
make the downward way more sloping still. How vigorously ought we to
oppose ourselves to all such immoralities of language. This opposition,
it is true, will never be easy or pleasant; for many who will endure to
commit a sin, will profoundly resent having that sin called by its
right name. Pirates, as Aristotle tells us, in his time called
themselves 'purveyors.' [Footnote: _Rhet_. iii. 2: [Greek: oi laestai
autous poriotas kalousi nun.]] Buccaneers, men of the same bloody
trade, were by their own account 'brethren of the coast.' Shakespeare's
thieves are only true to human nature, when they name themselves 'St.
Nicholas' clerks,' 'michers,' 'nuthooks,' 'minions of the moon,'
anything in short but thieves; when they claim for their stealing that
it shall not be so named, but only conveying ('convey the wise it
call'); the same dislike to look an ugly fact in the face reappearing
among the voters in some of our corrupter boroughs, who receive, not
bribes--they are hugely indignant if this is imputed to them--but
'head-money' for their votes. Shakespeare indeed has said that a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet; but there are some things which
are not roses, and which are counted to smell a great deal sweeter
being called by any other name than their own. Thus, to deal again with
bribes, call a bribe 'palm oil,' or a 'pot de vin,' and how much of its
ugliness disappears. Far more moral words are the English 'sharper' and
'blackleg' than the French 'chevalier d'industrie': [Footnote: For the
rise of this phrase, see Lemontey, _Louis XIV_. p. 43.] and the same
holds good of the English equivalent, coarse as it is, for the Latin
'conciliatrix.' In this last word we have a notable example of the
putting of sweet for bitter, of the attempt to present a disgraceful
occupation on an amiable, almost a sentimental side, rather than in its
own proper deformity. [Footnote: This tendency of men to throw the
mantle of an honourable word over a dishonourable thing, or, vice versa,
to degrade an honourable thing, when they do not love it, by a
dishonourable appellation, has in Greek a word to describe it, [Greek:
hypokorizesthai], itself a word with an interesting history; while the
great ethical teachers of Greece frequently occupy themselves in
detecting and denouncing this most mischievous among all the impostures
of words. Thus, when Thucydides (iii. 82) would paint the fearful moral
ruin which her great Civil War had wrought, he adduces this alteration
of the received value of words, this fitting of false names to
everything--names of honour to the base, and of baseness to the
honourable--as one of the most remarkable tokens of this, even as it
again set forward the evil, of which it had been first the result.] Use
and custom soon dim our eyes in such matters as these; else we should
be deeply struck by a familiar instance of this falsehood in names, one
which perhaps has never struck us at all--I mean the profane
appropriation of 'eau de vie' (water of life), a name borrowed from
some of the Saviour's most precious promises (John iv. 14; Rev. xxii.
17), to a drink which the untutored savage with a truer instinct has
named 'fire-water'; which, sad to say, is known in Tahiti as 'British
water'; and which has proved for thousands and tens of thousands, in
every clime, not 'water of life,' but the fruitful source of disease,
crime, and madness, bringing forth first these, and when these are
finished, bringing forth death. There is a blasphemous irony in this
appropriation of the language of heaven to that which, not indeed in
its use, but too frequent abuse, is the instrument of hell, that is
almost without a parallel. [Footnote: Milton in a profoundly
instructive letter, addressed by him to one of the friends whom he made
during his Italian tour, encourages him in those philological studies
to which he had devoted his life by such words as these: Neque enim qui
sermo, purusne an corruptus, quaeve loquendi proprietas quotidiana
populo sit, parvi interesse arbitrandum est, quae res Athenis non semel
saluti fuit; immo vero, quod Platonis sententia est, immutato vestiendi
more habituque graves in Republica motus mutationesque portendi,
equidem potius collabente in vitium atque errorem loquendi usu occasum
ejus urbis remque humilem et obscuram subsequi crediderim: verba enim
partim inscita et putida, partim mendosa et perperam prolata, quid si
ignavos et oscitantes et ad servile quidvis jam olim paratos incolarum
animos haud levi indicio declarant? Contra nullum unquam audivimus
imperium, nullam civitatem non mediocriter saltern floruisse, quamdiu
linguae sua gratia, suusque cultus constitit. Compare an interesting
Epistle (the 114th) of Seneca.] If I wanted any further evidence of
this, the moral atmosphere which words diffuse, I would ask you to
observe how the first thing men do, when engaged in controversy with
others, be it in the conflict of the tongue or the pen, or of weapons
more wounding yet, if such there be, is ever to assume some honourable
name to themselves, such as, if possible, shall beg the whole subject
in dispute, and at the same time to affix on their adversaries a name
which shall place them in a ridiculous or contemptible or odious
light. [Footnote: See p. 33.] A deep instinct, deeper perhaps than men
give any account of to themselves, tells them how far this will go;
that multitudes, utterly unable to weigh the arguments on one side or
the other, will yet be receptive of the influences which these words
are evermore, however imperceptibly, diffusing. By argument they might
hope to gain over the reason of a few, but by help of these nicknames
they enlist what at first are so much more potent, the prejudices and
passions of the many, on their side. Thus when at the breaking out of
our Civil War the Parliamentary party styled _themselves_ 'The Godly,'
while to the Royalists they gave the title of 'The Malignants,' it is
certain that, wherever they could procure entrance and allowance for
these terms, the question upon whose side the right lay was already
decided. The Royalists, it is true, made exactly the same employment of
what Bentham used to call question-begging words, of words steeped
quite as deeply in the passions which animated _them_. It was much when
at Florence the 'Bad Boys,' as they defiantly called themselves, were
able to affix on the followers of Savonarola the title of Piagnoni or
The Snivellers. So, too, the Franciscans, when they nicknamed the
Dominicans 'Maculists,' as denying, or at all events refusing to affirm
as a matter of faith, that the Blessed Virgin was conceived without
stain (sine macula), perfectly knew that this title would do much to
put their rivals in an odious light. The copperhead in America is a
peculiarly venomous snake. Something effectual was done when this name
was fastened, as it lately was, by one party in America on its
political opponents. Not otherwise, in some of our northern towns, the
workmen who refuse to join a trade union are styled 'knobsticks,'
'crawlers,' 'scabs,' 'blacklegs.' Nor can there be any question of the
potent influence which these nicknames of contempt and scorn exert.
[Footnote: [See interesting chapter on Political Nicknames in
D'Israeli's _Curiosities of Literature_.]]

Seeing, then, that language contains so faithful a record of the good
and of the evil which in time past have been working in the minds and
hearts of men, we shall not err, if we regard it as a moral barometer
indicating and permanently marking the rise or fall of a nation's life.
To study a people's language will be to study _them_, and to study them
at best advantage; there, where they present themselves to us under
fewest disguises, most nearly as they are. Too many have had a hand in
the language as it now is, and in bringing it to the shape in which we
find it, it is too entirely the collective work of a whole people, the
result of the united contributions of all, it obeys too immutable laws,
to allow any successful tampering with it, any making of it to witness
to any other than the actual facts of the case. [Footnote: Terrien
Poncel, _Du Langage_, p. 231: Les langues sont faites à l'usage des
peuples qui les parlent; elles sont animées chacune d'un esprit
différent, et suivent un mode particulier d'action, conforme à leur
principe. 'L'esprit d'une nation et le caractère de sa langue, a écrit
G. de Humboldt, 'sont si intimement liés ensemble, que si l'un était
donné, l'autre devrait pouvoir s'en déduire exactement.' La langue
n'est autre chose que la manifestation extérieure de l'esprit des
peuples; leur langue est leur esprit, et leur esprit est leur langue,
de telle sorte qu'en devéloppant et perfectionnant l'un, ils
développent et perfectionnent nécessairement l'autre. And a recent
German writer has well said, Die Sprache, das selbstgewebte Kleid der
Vorstellung, in welchem jeder Faden wieder eine Vorstellung ist, kann
uns, richtig betrachtet, offenbaren, welche Vorstellungen die
Grundfaden bildeten (Gerber, _Die Sprache als Kunst_).] Thus the
frivolity of an age or nation, its mockery of itself, its inability to
comprehend the true dignity and meaning of life, the feebleness of its
moral indignation against evil, all this will find an utterance in the
employment of solemn and earnest words in senses comparatively trivial
or even ridiculous. 'Gehenna,' that word of such terrible significance
on the lips of our Lord, has in French issued in 'gêne,' and in this
shape expresses no more than a slight and petty annoyance. 'Ennui'
meant once something very different from what now it means. [Footnote:
_Ennui_ is derived from the Late Latin phrase _in odio esse_.] Littré
gives as its original signification, 'anguish of soul, caused by the
death of persons beloved, by their absence, by the shipwreck of hopes,
by any misfortunes whatever.' 'Honnêteté,' which should mean that
virtue of all virtues, honesty, and which did mean it once, standing as
it does now for external civility and for nothing more, marks a
willingness to accept the slighter observances and pleasant courtesies
of society in the room of deeper moral qualities. 'Vérité' is at this
day so worn out, has been used so often where another and very
different word would have been more appropriate, that not seldom a
Frenchman at this present who would fain convince us of the truth of
his communication finds it convenient to assure us that it is 'la vraie
vérité.' Neither is it well that words, which ought to have been
reserved for the highest mysteries of the spiritual life, should be
squandered on slight and secular objects,--'spirituel' itself is an
example in point,--or that words implying once the deepest moral guilt,
as is the case with 'perfide,' 'malice,' 'malin,' in French, should be
employed now almost in honour, applied in jest and in play.

Often a people's use of some single word will afford us a deeper
insight into their real condition, their habits of thought and feeling,
than whole volumes written expressly with the intention of imparting
this insight. Thus 'idiot,' a Greek word, is abundantly characteristic
of Greek life. The 'idiot,' or [Greek: idiotas], was originally the
_private_ man, as contradistinguished from one clothed with office, and
taking his share in the management of public affairs. In this its
primary sense it was often used in the English of the seventeenth
century; as when Jeremy Taylor says, 'Humility is a duty in great ones,
as well as in _idiots_.' It came then to signify a rude, ignorant,
unskilled, intellectually unexercised person, a boor; this derived or
secondary sense bearing witness to a conviction woven deep into the
Greek mind that contact with public life, and more or less of
participation in it, was indispensable even to the right development of
the intellect, [Footnote: Hare, _Mission of the Comforter_, p. 552.] a
conviction which would scarcely have uttered itself with greater
clearness than it does in this secondary use of 'idiot.' Our tertiary,
in which the 'idiot' is one deficient in intellect, not merely with
intellectual powers unexercised, is only this secondary pushed a little
farther. Once more, how wonderfully characteristic of the Greek mind it
is that the language should have one and the same word ([Greek: kalos]),
to express the beautiful and the good--goodness being thus contemplated
as the highest beauty; while over against this stands another word
([Greek: aischros]) used alike for the ugly to look at and for the
morally bad. Again, the innermost differences between the Greek and the
Hebrew reveal themselves in the several salutations of each, in the
'Rejoice' of the first, as contrasted with the 'Peace' of the second.
The clear, cheerful, world-enjoying temper of the Greek embodies itself
in the first; he could desire nothing better or higher for himself, nor
wish it for his friend, than to have _joy_ in his life. But the Hebrew
had a deeper longing within him, and one which finds utterance in his
'Peace.' It is not hard to perceive why this latter people should have
been chosen as the first bearers of that truth which indeed enables
truly to _rejoice_, but only through first bringing _peace_; nor why
from them the word of life should first go forth. It may be urged,
indeed, that these were only forms, and such they may have at length
become; as in our 'good-by' or 'adieu' we can hardly be said now to
commit our friend to the Divine protection; yet still they were not
forms at the beginning, nor would they have held their ground, if ever
they had become such altogether.

How much, again, will be sometimes involved in the gradual disuse of
one name, and the coming up of another in its room. Thus, little as the
fact, and the moral significance of the fact, may have been noticed at
the time, what an epoch was it in the history of the Papacy, and with
what distinctness marking a more thorough secularizing of its whole
tone and spirit, when '_Ecclesia_ Romana,' the official title by which
it was wont at an earlier day to designate itself, gave place to the
later title, '_Curia_ Romana,' the Roman _Church_ making room for the
Roman _Court_. [Footnote: See on this matter _The Pope and the Council_,
by Janus, p. 215.] The modifications of meaning which a word has
undergone as it had been transplanted from one soil to another, so that
one nation borrowing it from another, has brought into it some force
foreign to it before, has deepened, or extenuated, or otherwise
modified its meaning,--this may reveal to us, as perhaps nothing else
would, fundamental diversities of character existing between them. The
word in Greek exactly corresponding to our 'self-sufficient' is one of
honour, and was applied to men in their praise. And indeed it was the
glory of the heathen philosophy to teach man to find his resources in
his own bosom, to be thus sufficient for himself; and seeing that a
true centre without him and above him, a centre in God, had not been
revealed to him, it was no shame for him to seek it there; far better
this than to have no centre at all. But the Gospel has taught us
another lesson, to find our sufficiency in God: and thus 'self-
sufficient,' to the Greek suggesting no lack of modesty, of humility,
or of any good thing, at once suggests such to us. 'Self-sufficiency'
no man desires now to be attributed to him. The word carries for us its
own condemnation; and its different uses, for honour once, for reproach
now, do in fact ground themselves on the innermost differences between
the religious condition of the world before Christ and after.

It was not well with Italy, she might fill the world with exquisite
specimens of her skill in the arts, with pictures and statues of rarest
loveliness, but all higher national life was wanting to her during
those centuries in which she degraded 'virtuoso,' or the virtuous man,
to signify one skilled in the appreciation of painting, music, and
sculpture; for these, the ornamental fringe of a people's life, can
never, without loss of all manliness of character, be its main texture
and woof--not to say that excellence in them has been too often
dissociated from all true virtue and moral worth. The opposite
exaggeration of the Romans, for whom 'virtus' meant predominantly
warlike courage, the truest 'manliness' of men, was more tolerable than
this; for there is a sense in which a man's 'valour' is his value, is
the measure of his worth; seeing that no virtue can exist among men who
have not learned, in Milton's glorious phrase,' to hate the cowardice
of doing wrong.' [Footnote: It did not escape Plutarch, imperfect Latin
scholar as he was, that 'virtus' far more nearly corresponded to
[Greek: andreia] than to [Greek: arete] (_Coriol. I_)] It could not but
be morally ill with a people among whom 'morbidezza' was used as an
epithet of praise, expressive of a beauty which on the score of its
sickly softness demanded to be admired. There was too sure a witness
here for the decay of moral strength and health, when these could not
merely be dissevered from beauty, but implicitly put in opposition to
it. Nor less must it have fared ill with Italians, there was little joy
and little pride which they could have felt in their country, at a time
when 'pellegrino,' meaning properly the strange or the foreign, came to
be of itself a word of praise, and equivalent to beautiful. [Footnote:
Compare Florio's Ital. Diet.: 'pelegrino, excellent, noble, rare,
pregnant, singular and choice.'] Far better the pride and assumption
of that ancient people who called all things and persons beyond their
own pale barbarous and barbarians; far better our own 'outlandish,'
used with something of the same contempt. There may be a certain
intolerance in our use of these; yet this how much healthier than so
far to have fallen out of conceit with one's own country, so far to
affect things foreign, that these last, merely on the strength of being
foreign, commend themselves as beautiful in our sight. How little,
again, the Italians, until quite later years, can have lived in the
spirit of their ancient worthies, or reverenced the most illustrious
among these, we may argue from the fact that they should have endured
so far to degrade the name of one among their noblest, that every glib
and loquacious hireling who shows strangers about their picture-
galleries, palaces, and ruins, is called 'cicerone,' or a Cicero! It is
unfortunate that terms like these, having once sprung up, are not again,
or are not easily again, got rid of. They remain, testifying to an
ignoble past, and in some sort helping to maintain it, long after the
temper and tone of mind that produced them has passed away. [Footnote:
See on this matter Marsh, _On the English Language_, New York, 1860, p.

Happily it is nearly impossible for us in England to understand the
mingled scorn, hatred, fear, suspicion, contempt, which in time past
were associated with the word 'sbirri' in Italian. [Footnote: [Compare
V. Hugo's allusion to Louis Napoleon in the _Châtiments_:

     'Qui pour la mettre en croix livra,
     _Sbire_ cruel!
     Rome républicaine à Rome catholique!']]

These 'sbirri' were the humble, but with all this the acknowledged,
ministers of justice; while yet everything which is mean and false and
oppressive, which can make the name of justice hateful, was implied in
this title of theirs, was associated with their name. There is no surer
sign of a bad oppressive rule, than when the titles of the
administrators of law, titles which should be in themselves so
honourable, thus acquire a hateful undermeaning. What a world of
concussions, chicane and fraud, must have found place, before tax-
gatherer, or exciseman, 'publican,' as in our English Bible, could
become a word steeped in hatred and scorn, as alike for Greek and Jew
it was; while, on the other hand, however unwelcome the visits of the
one or the interference of the other may be to us, yet the sense of the
entire fairness and justice with which their exactions are made,
acquits these names for us of the slightest sense of dishonour.
'Policeman' has no evil subaudition with us; though in the last century,
when a Jonathan Wild was possible, 'catchpole,' a word in Wiclif's time
of no dishonour at all, was abundantly tinged with this scorn and
contempt. So too, if at this day any accidental profits fall or
'escheat' to the Crown, they are levied with so much fairness and more
than fairness to the subject, that, were not the thing already
accomplished, 'escheat' would never yield 'cheat,' nor 'escheator'
'cheater,' as through the extortions and injustices for which these
dues were formerly a pretext, they actually have done.

It is worse, as marking that a still holier sanctuary than that of
civil government has become profane in men's sight, when words which
express sacred functions and offices become redolent of scorn. How
thankful we may be that in England we have no equivalent to the German
'Pfaffe,' which, identical with 'papa' and 'pope,' and a name given at
first to any priest, now carries with it the insinuation of almost
every unworthiness in the forms of meanness, servility, and avarice
which can render the priest's office and person base and contemptible.

Much may be learned by noting the words which nations have been obliged
to borrow from other nations, as not having the same of home-growth--
this in most cases, if not in all, testifying that the thing itself was
not native, but an exotic, transplanted, like the word that indicated
it, from a foreign soil. Thus it is singularly characteristic of the
social and political life of England, as distinguished from that of the
other European nations, that to it alone the word 'club' belongs;
France and Germany, having been alike unable to grow a word of their
own, have borrowed ours. That England should have been the birthplace
of 'club' is nothing wonderful; for these voluntary associations of men
for the furthering of such social or political ends as are near to the
hearts of the associates could have only had their rise under such
favourable circumstances as ours. In no country where there was not
extreme personal freedom could they have sprung up; and as little in
any where men did not know how to use this freedom with moderation and
self-restraint, could they long have been endured. It was comparatively
easy to adopt the word; but the ill success of the 'club' itself
everywhere save here where it is native, has shown that it was not so
easy to transplant or, having transplanted, to acclimatize the thing.
While we have lent this and other words, political and industrial for
the most part, to the French and Germans, it would not be less
instructive, if time allowed, to trace our corresponding obligations to

And scarcely less significant and instructive than the presence of a
word in a language, will be occasionally its absence. Thus Fronto, a
Greek orator in Roman times, finds evidence of an absence of strong
family affection on the part of the Romans in the absence of any word
in the Latin language corresponding to the Greek [Greek: philostorgos]
How curious, from the same point of view, are the conclusions which
Cicero in his high Roman fashion draws from the absence of any word in
the Greek answering to the Latin 'ineptus'; not from this concluding,
as we might have anticipated, that the character designated by the word
was wanting, but rather that the fault was so common, so universal with
the Greeks, that they failed to recognize it as a fault at all.
[Footnote: _De Orat_. ii. 4: Quem enim nos _ineptum_ vocamus, is mihi
videtur ab hoc nomen habere ductum, quod non sit aptus. Idque in
sermonis nostri consuetudine perlate patet. Nam qui aut tempus quid
postulet, non videt, aut plura loquitur, aut se ostentat, aut eorum
quibuscum est vel dignitatis vel commodi rationem non habet, aut
denique in aliquo genere aut inconcinnus aut multus est, is ineptus
esse dicitur. Hoc vitio cumulata est eruditissima illa Graecorum natio.
Itaque quod vim hujus mali Graeci non vident, ne nomen quidem ei vitio
imposuerunt. Ut enim quasras omnia, quomodo Graeci ineptum appellent,
non invenies.] Very instructive you may find it to note these words,
which one people possess, but to which others have nothing to
correspond, so that they have no choice but to borrow these, or else to
go without altogether. Here are some French words for which it would
not be easy, nay, in most cases it would be impossible, to find exact
equivalents in English or in German, or probably in any language:
'aplomb,' 'badinage,' 'borné,' 'chic,' 'chicane,' 'cossu,' 'coterie,'
'égarement,' 'élan,' 'espièglerie,' 'etourderie,' 'friponnerie,'
'gentil,' 'ingénue,' 'liaison,' 'malice,' 'parvenu,' 'persiflage,'
'prévenant,' 'ruse,' 'tournure,' 'tracasserie,' 'verve.' It is evident
that the words just named have to do with shades of thought which are
to a great extent unfamiliar to us; for which, at any rate, we have not
found a name, have hardly felt that they needed one. But fine and
subtle as in many instances are the thoughts which these words embody,
there are deeper thoughts struggling in the bosom of a people, who have
devised for themselves such words as the following: 'gemüth,'
'heimweh,' 'innigkeit,' 'sehnsucht,' 'tiefsinn,' 'sittsamkeit,'
'verhängniss,' 'weltschmerz,' 'zucht'; all these being German words
which, in a similar manner, partially or wholly fail to find their
equivalents in French.

The petty spite which unhappily so often reigns between nations
dwelling side by side with one another, as it embodies itself in many
shapes, so it finds vent in the words which they borrow from one
another, and the use to which they put them. Thus the French, borrowing
'hablár' from the Spaniards, with whom it means simply to speak, give
it in 'hâbler' the sense of to brag; the Spaniards paying them off in
exactly their own coin, for of 'parler' which in like manner is but to
speak in French, they make 'parlár,' which means to prate, to chat.
[Footnote: See Darmesteter, _The Life of Words_, Eng. ed. p. 100.]

But it is time to bring this lecture to an end. These illustrations, to
which it would be easy to add more, justify all that has been asserted
of a moral element existing in words; so that they do not hold
themselves neutral in that great conflict between good and evil, light
and darkness, which is dividing the world; that they are not satisfied
to be passionless vehicles, now of the truth, and now of lies. We see,
on the contrary, that they continually take their side, are some of
them children of light, others children of this world, or even of
darkness; they beat with the pulses of our life; they stir with our
passions; we clothe them with light; we steep them in scorn; they
receive from us the impressions of our good and of our evil, which
again they are most active still further to propagate and diffuse.
[Footnote: Two or three examples of what we have been affirming, drawn
from the Latin, may fitly here find place. Thus Cicero (_Tusc_. iii. 7)
laments of 'confidens' that it should have acquired an evil
signification, and come to mean bold, over-confident in oneself, unduly
pushing (compare Virgil,_Georg_. iv. 444), a meaning which little by
little had been superinduced on the word, but etymologically was not
inherent in it at all. In the same way 'latro,' having left two earlier
meanings behind, one of these current so late as in Virgil (_Aen_. xii.
7), settles down at last in the meaning of robber. Not otherwise
'facinus' begins with being simply a fact or act, something done; but
ends with being some act of outrageous wickedness. 'Pronuba' starts
with meaning a bridesmaid it ignobly ends with suggesting a procuress.]
Must we not own then that there is a wondrous and mysterious world, of
which we may hitherto have taken too little account, around us and
about us? Is there not something very solemn and very awful in wielding
such an instrument as this of language is, with such power to wound or
to heal, to kill or to make alive? and may not a deeper meaning than
hitherto we have attached to it, lie in that saying, 'By thy words thou
shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned'?



Language, being ever in flux and flow, and, for nations to which
letters are still strange, existing only for the ear and as a sound, we
might beforehand expect would prove the least trustworthy of all
vehicles whereby the knowledge of the past has reached our present;
that one which would most certainly betray its charge. In actual fact
it has not proved so at all. It is the main, oftentimes the only,
connecting link between the two, an ark riding above the water-floods
that have swept away or submerged every other landmark and memorial of
bygone ages and vanished generations of men. Far beyond all written
records in a language, the language itself stretches back, and offers
itself for our investigation--'the pedigree of nations,' as Johnson
calls it [Footnote: This statement of his must be taken with a certain
amount of qualification. It is not always that races are true to the
end to their language; external forces are sometimes too strong. Thus
Celtic disappeared before Latin in Gaul and Spain. Slavonic became
extinct in Prussia two centuries ago, German taking its room; the
negroes of Hayti speak French, and various American tribes have
exchanged their own idioms for Spanish and Portuguese. See upon this
matter Sayce's _Principles of Comparative Philology_, pp. 175-181.]--
itself in its own independent existence a far older and at the same
time a far more instructive document than any book, inscription, or
other writing which employs it. The written records may have been
falsified by carelessness, by vanity, by fraud, by a multitude of
causes; but language never deceives, if only we know how to question it

Such investigations as these, it is true, lie plainly out of your
sphere. Not so, however, those humbler yet not less interesting
inquiries, which by the aid of any tolerable dictionary you may carry
on into the past history of your own land, as attested by the present
language of its people. You know how the geologist is able from the
different strata and deposits, primary, secondary, or tertiary,
succeeding one another, which he meets, to arrive at a knowledge of the
successive physical changes through which a region has passed; is, so
to say, in a condition to preside at those past changes, to measure the
forces that were at work to produce them, and almost to indicate their
date. Now with such a language as the English before us, bearing as it
does the marks and footprints of great revolutions profoundly impressed
upon it, we may carry on moral and historical researches precisely
analogous to his. Here too are strata and deposits, not of gravel and
chalk, sandstone and limestone, but of Celtic, Latin, Low German,
Danish, Norman words, and then once more Latin and French, with
slighter intrusions from many other quarters: and any one with skill to
analyse the language might, up to a certain point, re-create for
himself the history of the people speaking that language, might with
tolerable accuracy appreciate the diverse elements out of which that
people was made up, in what proportion these were mingled, and in what
succession they followed, one upon the other.

Would he trace, for example, the relation in which the English and
Norman occupants of this land stood to one another? An account of this,
in the main as accurate as it would be certainly instructive, might be
drawn from an intelligent study of the contributions which they have
severally made to the English language, as bequeathed to us jointly by
them both. Supposing all other records to have perished, we might still
work out and almost reconstruct the history by these aids; even as now,
when so many documents, so many institutions survive, this must still
be accounted the most important, and that of which the study will
introduce us, as no other can, into the innermost heart and life of
large periods of our history.

Nor, indeed, is it hard to see why the language must contain such
instruction as this, when we a little realize to ourselves the stages
by which it has reached us in its present shape. There was a time when
the languages which the English and the Norman severally spoke, existed
each by the side of, but un-mingled with, the other; one, that of the
small dominant class, the other that of the great body of the people.
By degrees, however, with the reconciliation and partial fusion of the
two races, the two languages effected a transaction; one indeed
prevailed over the other, but at the same time received a multitude of
the words of that other into its own bosom. At once there would exist
duplicates for many things. But as in popular speech two words will not
long exist side by side to designate the same thing, it became a
question how the relative claims of the English and Norman word should
adjust themselves, which should remain, which should be dropped; or, if
not dropped, should be transferred to some other object, or express
some other relation. It is not of course meant that this was ever
formally proposed, or as something to be settled by agreement; but
practically one was to be taken and one left. Which was it that should
maintain its ground? Evidently, where a word was often on the lips of
one race, its equivalent seldom on those of the other, where it
intimately cohered with the whole manner of life of one, was only
remotely in contact with that of the other, where it laid strong hold
on one, and only slight on the other, the issue could not be doubtful.
In several cases the matter was simpler still: it was not that one word
expelled the other, or that rival claims had to be adjusted; but that
there never had existed more than one word, the thing which that word
noted having been quite strange to the other section of the nation.

Here is the explanation of the assertion made just now--namely, that we
might almost reconstruct our history, so far as it turns upon the
Norman Conquest, by an analysis of our present language, a mustering of
its words in groups, and a close observation of the nature and
character of those which the two races have severally contributed to it.
Thus we should confidently conclude that the Norman was the ruling race,
from the noticeable fact that all the words of dignity, state, honour,
and pre-eminence, with one remarkable exception (to be adduced
presently), descend to us from them--'sovereign,' 'sceptre,' 'throne,'
'realm,' 'royalty,' 'homage,' 'prince,' 'duke,' 'count,' ('earl' indeed
is Scandinavian, though he must borrow his 'countess' from the Norman),
'chancellor,' 'treasurer,' 'palace,' 'castle,' 'dome,' and a multitude
more. At the same time the one remarkable exception of 'king' would
make us, even did we know nothing of the actual facts, suspect that the
chieftain of this ruling race came in not upon a new title, not as
overthrowing a former dynasty, but claiming to be in the rightful line
of its succession; that the true continuity of the nation had not, in
fact any more than in word, been entirely broken, but survived, in due
time to assert itself anew.

And yet, while the statelier superstructure of the language, almost all
articles of luxury, all having to do with the chase, with chivalry,
with personal adornment, are Norman throughout; with the broad basis of
the language, and therefore of the life, it is otherwise. The great
features of nature, sun, moon, and stars, earth, water, and fire; the
divisions of time; three out of the four seasons, spring, summer, and
winter; the features of natural scenery, the words used in earliest
childhood, the simpler emotions of the mind; all the prime social
relations, father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother,
sister,--these are of native growth and un-borrowed. 'Palace' and
'castle' may have reached us from the Norman, but to the Saxon we owe
far dearer names, the 'house,' the 'roof,' the 'home,' the 'hearth.'
His 'board' too, and often probably it was no more, has a more
hospitable sound than the 'table' of his lord. His sturdy arms turn the
soil; he is the 'boor,' the 'hind,' the 'churl'; or if his Norman
master has a name for him, it is one which on his lips becomes more and
more a title of opprobrium and contempt, the 'villain.' The instruments
used in cultivating the earth, the 'plough,' the 'share,' the 'rake,'
the 'scythe,' the 'harrow,' the 'wain,' the 'sickle,' the 'spade,' the
'sheaf,' the 'barn,' are expressed in his language; so too the main
products of the earth, as wheat, rye, oats, bere, grass, flax, hay,
straw, weeds; and no less the names of domestic animals. You will
remember, no doubt, how in the matter of these Wamba, the Saxon jester
in _Ivanhoe_, plays the philologer, [Footnote: Wallis, in his _Grammar_,
p. 20, had done so before.] having noted that the names of almost all
animals, so long as they are alive, are Saxon, but when dressed and
prepared for food become Norman--a fact, he would intimate, not very
wonderful; for the Saxon hind had the charge and labour of tending and
feeding them, but only that they might appear on the table of his
Norman lord. Thus 'ox,' 'steer,' 'cow,' are Saxon, but 'beef' Norman;
'calf' is Saxon, but 'veal' Norman; 'sheep' is Saxon, but 'mutton'
Norman: so it is severally with 'swine' and 'pork,' 'deer' and
'venison,' 'fowl' and 'pullet.' 'Bacon,' the only flesh which perhaps
ever came within the hind's reach, is the single exception. Putting all
this together, with much more of the same kind, which has only been
indicated here, we should certainly gather, that while there are
manifest tokens preserved in our language of the Saxon having been for
a season an inferior and even an oppressed race, the stable elements of
English life, however overlaid for a while, had still made good their
claim to be the solid groundwork of the after nation as of the after
language; and to the justice of this conclusion all other historic
records, and the present social condition of England, consent in
bearing witness.

Then again, who could doubt, even if the fact were not historically
attested, that the Arabs were the arithmeticians, the astronomers, the
chemists, the merchants of the Middle Ages, when he had once noted that
from them we have gotten these words and so many others like them-
'alchemy,' 'alcohol,' 'alembic,' 'algebra,' 'alkali,' 'almanack,'
'azimuth,' 'cypher,' 'elixir,' 'magazine,' 'nadir,' 'tariff,' 'zenith,'
'zero '?--for if one or two of these were originally Greek, they
reached us through the Arabic, and with tokens of their transit
cleaving to them. In like manner, even though history were silent on
the matter, we might conclude, and we know that we should rightly
conclude, that the origins of the monastic system are to be sought in
the Greek and not in the Latin branch of the Church, seeing that with
hardly an exception the words expressing the constituent elements of
the system, as 'anchorite,' 'archimandrite,' 'ascetic,' 'cenobite,'
'hermit,' 'monastery,' 'monk,' are Greek and not Latin.

But the study of words will throw rays of light upon a past infinitely
more remote than any which I have suggested here, will reveal to us
secrets of the past, which else must have been lost to us for ever.
Thus it must be a question of profound interest for as many as count
the study of man to be far above every other study, to ascertain what
point of culture that Indo-European race of which we come, the _stirps
generosa et historica_ of the world, as Coleridge has called it, had
attained, while it was dwelling still as one family in its common home.
No voices of history, the very faintest voices of tradition, reach us
from ages so far removed from our own. But in the silence of all other
voices there is one voice which makes itself heard, and which can tell
us much. Where Indian, and Greek, and Latin, and Teutonic designate
some object by the same word, and where it can be clearly shown that
they did not, at a later day, borrow that word one from the other, the
object, we may confidently conclude, must have been familiar to the
Indo-European race, while yet these several groups of it dwelt as one
undivided family together. Now they have such common words for the
chief domestic animals--for ox, for sheep, for horse, for dog, for
goose, and for many more. From this we have a right to gather that
before the migrations began, they had overlived and outgrown the
fishing and hunting stages of existence, and entered on the pastoral.
They have _not_ all the same words for the main products of the earth,
as for corn, wheat, barley, wine; it is tolerably evident therefore
that they had not entered on the agricultural stage. So too from the
absence of names in common for the principal metals, we have a right to
argue that they had not arrived at a knowledge of the working of these.

On the other hand, identical names for dress, for house, for door, for
garden, for numbers as far as a hundred, for the primary relations of
the family, as father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, for the
Godhead, testify that the common stock, intellectual and moral, was not
small which they severally took with them when they went their way,
each to set up for itself and work out its own destinies in its own
appointed region of the earth. [Footnote: See Brugmann, _Grundriss der
vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen_ (1886), Section
2.] This common stock may, indeed, have been much larger than these
investigations declare; for a word, once common to all these languages,
may have survived only in one; or possibly may have perished in all.
Larger it may very well, but poorer it cannot, have been. [Footnote:
Ozanam (_Les Germains avant le Christianisme_, p. 155): Dans le
vocabulaire d'une langue on a tout le spectacle d'une civilisation. On
y voit ce qu'un peuple sait des choses invisibles, si les notions de
Dieu, de l'âme, du devoir, sont assez pures chez lui pour ne souffrir
que des termes exacts. On mesure la puissance de ses institutions par
le nombre et la propriété des termes qu'elles veulent pour leur
service; la liturgie a ses paroles sacramentelles, la procédure a ses
formules. Enfin, si ce peuple a étudié la nature, il faut voir à quel
point il en a pénétré les secrets, par quelle variété d'expressions,
par quels sons flatteurs ou énergiques, il a cherché à décrire les
divers aspects du ciel et de la terre, à faire, pour ainsi dire,
l'inventaire des richesses temporelles dont il dispose.]

This is one way in which words, by their presence or their absence, may
teach us history which else we now can never know. I pass to other ways.

There are vast harvests of historic lore garnered often in single
words; important facts which they at once proclaim and preserve; these
too such as sometimes have survived nowhere else but in them. How much
history lies in the word 'church.' I see no sufficient reason to
dissent from those who derive it from the Greek [Greek: kyriakae],
'that which pertains to the Lord,' or 'the house which is the Lord's.'
It is true that a difficulty meets us at the threshold here. How
explain the presence of a Greek word in the vocabulary of our Teutonic
forefathers? for that _we_ do not derive it immediately from the Greek,
is certain. What contact, direct or indirect, between the languages
will account for this? The explanation is curious. While Angles, Saxons,
and other tribes of the Teutonic stock were almost universally
converted through contact with the Latin Church in the western
provinces of the Roman Empire, or by its missionaries, some Goths on
the Lower Danube had been brought at an earlier date to the knowledge
of Christ by Greek missionaries from Constantinople; and this [Greek:
kyriakae] or 'church,' did, with certain other words, pass over from
the Greek to the Gothic tongue; these Goths, the first converted and
the first therefore with a Christian vocabulary, lending the word in
their turn to the other German tribes, to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers
among the rest; and by this circuit it has come round from
Constantinople to us. [Footnote: The passage most illustrative of the
parentage of the word is from Walafrid Strabo (about A.D. 840): Ab
ipsis autem Graecis Kyrch à Kyrios, et alia multa accepimus. Sicut
domus Dei Basilica, i.e. Regia à Rege, sic etiam Kyrica, i.e. Dominica
à Domino, nuncupatur. Si autem quaeritur, quâ occasione ad nos vestigia
haec graecitatis advenerint, dicendum praecipuè à Gothis, qui et Getae,
cùm eo tempore, quo ad fidem Christi perducti sunt, in Graecorum
provinciis commorantes, nostrum, i.e. theotiscum sermonem habuerint. Cf.
Rudolf von Raumer, _Einwirkung des Christenthums auf die
Althochdeutsche Sprache_, p. 288; Niedner, _Kirch. Geschichte_, p. 2.
[It may, however, be as well to remark that no trace of the Greek
[Greek: kyriakae] occurs in the literary remains of the Gothic language
which have come down to us; the Gothic Christians borrowed [Greek:
ekklaesia], as the Latin and Celtic Christians did.]]

Or again, interrogate 'pagan' and 'paganism,' and you will find
important history in them. You are aware that 'pagani,' derived from
'pagus,' a village, had at first no religious significance, but
designated the dwellers in hamlets and villages as distinguished from
the inhabitants of towns and cities. It was, indeed, often applied to
_all_ civilians as contradistinguished from the military caste; and
this fact may have had a certain influence, when the idea of the
faithful as soldiers of Christ was strongly realized in the minds of
men. But it was mainly in the following way that it grew to be a name
for those alien from the faith of Christ. The Church fixed itself first
in the seats and centres of intelligence, in the towns and cities of
the Roman Empire; in them its earliest triumphs were won; while, long
after these had accepted the truth, heathen superstitions and
idolatries lingered on in the obscure hamlets and villages; so that
'pagans' or villagers, came to be applied to _all_ the remaining
votaries of the old and decayed superstitions, although not all, but
only most of them, were such. In an edict of the Emperor Valentinian,
of date A.D. 368, 'pagan' first assumes this secondary meaning.
'Heathen' has run a course curiously similar. When the Christian faith
first found its way into Germany, it was the wild dwellers on the
_heaths_ who were the slowest to accept it, the last probably whom it
reached. One hardly expects an etymology in _Piers Plowman_; but this
is there:

     '_Hethene_ is to mene after _heth_,
      And untiled erthe.'
          B. 15, 451, Skeat's ed. (Clarendon Press).

Here, then, are two instructive notices--one, the historic fact that
the Church of Christ planted itself first in the haunts of learning and
intelligence; another, morally more significant, that it did not shun
discussion, feared not to encounter the wit and wisdom of this world,
or to expose its claims to the searching examination of educated men;
but, on the contrary, had its claims first recognized by them, and in
the great cities of the world won first a complete triumph over all
opposing powers. [Footnote: There is a good note on 'pagan' in Gibbon's
_Decline and Fall_, c. 21, at the end; and in Grimm's _Deutsche Mythol_.
p. 1198; and the history of the changes in the word's use is well
traced in another interest by Mill, _Logic_, vol. ii. p. 271.]

I quoted in my first lecture the saying of one who, magnifying the
advantage to be derived from such studies as ours, did not fear to
affirm that oftentimes more might be learned from the history of a word
than from the history of a campaign. Thus follow some Latin word,.
'imperator' for example; as Dean Merivale has followed it in his
_History of the Romans_, [Footnote: Vol. iii. pp. 441-452.] and you will
own as much. But there is no need to look abroad. Words of our own out
of number, such as 'barbarous,' 'benefice,' 'clerk,' 'common-sense,'
'romance,' 'sacrament,' 'sophist,' [Footnote: For a history of
'sophist' see Sir Alexander Grant's _Ethics of Aristotle_, 2nd ed. vol.
i. p. 106, sqq.] would prove the truth of the assertion. Let us take
'sacrament'; its history, while it carries us far, will yet carry us by
ways full of instruction; and these not the less instructive, while we
restrict our inquiries to the external history of the word. We find
ourselves first among the forms of Roman law. The 'sacramentum' appears
there as the deposit or pledge, which in certain suits plaintiff and
defendant were alike bound to make, and whereby they engaged themselves
to one another; the loser of the suit forfeiting his pledge to sacred
temple uses, from which fact the name 'sacramentum,' or thing
consecrated, was first derived. The word, as next employed, plants us
amidst the military affairs of Rome, designating the military oath by
which the Roman soldiers mutually engaged themselves at the first
enlisting never to desert their standards, or turn their backs upon the
enemy, or abandon their general,--this employment teaching us the
sacredness which the Romans attached to their military engagements, and
going far to account for their victories. The word was then transferred
from this military oath to any solemn oath whatsoever. These three
stages 'sacramentum' had already passed through, before the Church
claimed it for her own, or indeed herself existed at all. Her early
writers, out of a sense of the sacredness and solemnity of the oath,
transferred this name to almost any act of special solemnity or
sanctity, above all to such mysteries as intended more than met eye or
ear. For them the Incarnation was a 'sacrament,' the lifting up of the
brazen serpent was a 'sacrament,' the giving of the manna, and many
things more. It is well to be acquainted with this phase of the word's
history, depriving as it does of all convincing power those passages
quoted by Roman Catholic controversialists from early church-writers in
proof of their seven sacraments. It is quite true that these may have
called marriage a 'sacrament' and confirmation a 'sacrament,' and we
may reach the Roman seven without difficulty; but then they called many
things more, which even the theologians of Rome do not include in the
'sacraments' properly so called, by the same name; and this evidence,
proving too much, in fact proves nothing at all. One other stage in the
word's history remains; its limitation, namely, to the two
'sacraments,' properly so called, of the Christian Church. A
reminiscence of the employment of 'sacrament,' an employment which
still survived, to signify the plighted troth of the Roman soldier to
his captain and commander, was that which had most to do with the
transfer of the word to Baptism; wherein we, with more than one
allusion to this oath of theirs, pledge ourselves to fight manfully
under Christ's banner, and to continue his faithful soldiers and
servants to our life's end; while the _mysterious_ character of the
Holy Eucharist was mainly that which earned for it this name.

We have already found history imbedded in the word 'frank'; but I must
bring forward the Franks again, to account for the fact with which we
are all familiar, that in the East not Frenchmen alone, but _all_
Europeans, are so called. Why, it may be asked, should this be? This
wide use of 'Frank' dates from the Crusades; Michaud, the chief French
historian of these, finding evidence here that his countrymen took a
decided lead, as their gallantry well fitted them to do, in these
romantic enterprises of the Middle Ages; impressed themselves so
strongly on the imagination of the East as _the_ crusading nation of
Europe, that their name was extended to all the warriors of Christendom.
He is not here snatching for them more than the honour which is justly
theirs. A very large proportion of the noblest Crusaders, from Godfrey
of Bouillon to St. Lewis, as of others who did most to bring these
enterprises about, as Pope Urban II., as St. Bernard, were French, and
thus gave, in a way sufficiently easy to explain, an appellation to all.
[Footnote: See Fuller, _Holy War_, b. i. c. 13.]

To the Crusades also, and to the intense hatred which they roused
throughout Christendom against the Mahomedan infidels, we owe
'miscreant,' as designating one to whom the vilest principles and
practices are ascribed. A 'miscreant,' at the first, meant simply a
misbeliever. The name would have been applied as freely, and with as
little sense of injustice, to the royal-hearted Saladin as to the
vilest wretch that fought in his armies. By degrees, however, those who
employed it tinged it more and more with their feeling and passion,
more and more lost sight of its primary use, until they used it of any
whom they regarded with feelings of abhorrence, such as those which
they entertained for an infidel; just as 'Samaritan' was employed by
the Jews simply as a term of reproach, and with no thought whether he
on whom it was fastened was in fact one of that detested race or not;
where indeed they were quite sure that he was not (John viii. 48).
'Assassin' also, an Arabic word whose story you will find no difficulty
in obtaining,--you may read it in Gibbon, [Footnote: Decline and Fall, c.
64.]--connects itself with a romantic chapter in the history of the

Various explanations of 'cardinal' have been proposed, which should
account for the appropriation of this name to the parochial clergy of
the city of Rome with the subordinate bishops of that diocese. This
appropriation is an outgrowth, and a standing testimony, of the
measureless assumptions of the Roman See. One of the favourite
comparisons by which that See was wont to set out its relation of
superiority to all other Churches of Christendom was this; it was the
hinge, or 'cardo,' on which all the rest of the Church, as the door, at
once depended and turned. It followed presently upon this that the
clergy of Rome were 'cardinales,' as nearest to, and most closely
connected with, him who was thus the hinge, or 'cardo,' of all.
[Footnote: Thus a letter professing to be of Pope Anacletus the First
in the first century, but really belonging to the ninth: Apostolica
Sedes _cardo_ et caput omnium Ecclesiarum a Domino est constituta; et
sicut _cardine_ ostium regitur, sic hujus S. Sedis auctoritate omnes
Ecclesiae reguntur. And we have 'cardinal' put in relation with this
'cardo' in a genuine letter of Pope Leo IX.: Clerici summae Sedis
_Cardinales_ dicuntur, _cardini_ utique illi quo cetera moventur,
vicinius adhaerentes.]

'Legend' is a word with an instructive history. We all have some notion
of what at this day a 'legend' means. It is a tale which is _not_ true,
which, however historic in form, is not historic in fact, claims no
serious belief for itself. It was quite otherwise once. By this name of
'legends' the annual commemorations of the faith and patience of God's
saints in persecution and death were originally called; these legends
in this title which they bore proclaiming that they were worthy to be
read, and from this worthiness deriving their name. At a later day, as
corruptions spread through the Church, these 'legends' grew, in
Hooker's words, 'to be nothing else but heaps of frivolous and
scandalous vanities,' having been 'even with disdain thrown out, the
very nests which bred them abhorring them.' How steeped in falsehood,
and to what an extent, according to Luther's indignant turn of the word,
the 'legends' (legende) must have become 'lyings' (lügende), we can
best guess, when we measure the moral forces which must have been at
work, before that which was accepted at the first as 'worthy to be
read,' should have been felt by this very name to announce itself as
most unworthy, as belonging at best to the region of fable, if not to
that of actual untruth.

An inquiry into the pedigree of 'dunce' lays open to us an important
page in the intellectual history of Europe. Certain theologians in the
Middle Ages were termed Schoolmen; having been formed and trained in
the cloister and cathedral _schools_ which Charlemagne and his
immediate successors had founded. These were men not to be lightly
spoken of, as they often are by those who never read a line of their
works, and have not a thousandth part of their wit; who moreover little
guess how many of the most familiar words which they employ, or
misemploy, have descended to them from these. 'Real,' 'virtual,'
'entity,' 'nonentity,' 'equivocation,' 'objective,' 'subjective,' with
many more unknown to classical Latin, but now almost necessities to us,
were first coined by the Schoolmen; and, passing over from them into
the speech of others more or less interested in their speculations,
have gradually filtered through the successive strata of society, till
now some of them have reached to quite the lowest. At the Revival of
Learning, however, their works fell out of favour: they were not
written in classical Latin: the forms into which their speculations
were thrown were often unattractive; it was mainly in their authority
that the Roman Church found support for her perilled dogmas. On all
these accounts it was esteemed a mark of intellectual progress to have
broken with them, and thrown off their yoke. Some, however, still clung
to these Schoolmen, and to one in particular, John _Duns_ Scotus, the
most illustrious teacher of the Franciscan Order. Thus it came to pass
that many times an adherent of the old learning would seek to
strengthen his position by an appeal to its famous doctor, familiarly
called Duns; while those of the new learning would contemptuously
rejoin, 'Oh, you are a _Dunsman_' or more briefly, 'You are a _Duns_,'
--or, 'This is a piece of _duncery_'; and inasmuch as the new learning
was ever enlisting more and more of the genius and scholarship of the
age on its side, the title became more and more a term of scorn.
'Remember ye not,' says Tyndal, 'how within this thirty years and far
less, the old barking curs, _Dunce's_ disciples, and like draff called
Scotists, the children of darkness, raged in every pulpit against Greek,
Latin, and Hebrew?' And thus from that conflict long ago extinct
between the old and the new learning, that strife between the medieval
and the modern theology, we inherit 'dunce' and 'duncery.' The lot of
Duns, it must be confessed, has been a hard one, who, whatever his
merits as a teacher of Christian truth, was assuredly one of the
keenest and most subtle-witted of men. He, the 'subtle Doctor' by pre-
eminence, for so his admirers called him, 'the wittiest of the school-
divines,' as Hooker does not scruple to style him, could scarcely have
anticipated, and did not at all deserve, that his name should be turned
into a by-word for invincible stupidity.

This is but one example of the singular fortune waiting upon words. We
have another of a parallel injustice, in the use which 'mammetry,' a
contraction of 'Mahometry,' obtained in our early English. Mahomedanism
being the most prominent form of false religion with which our
ancestors came in contact, 'mammetry' was used, up to and beyond the
Reformation, to designate first any false religion, and then the
worship of idols; idolatry being proper to, and a leading feature of,
most of the false religions of the world. Men did not pause to remember
that Mahomedanism is the great exception, being as it is a protest
against all idol-worship whatsoever; so that it was a signal injustice
to call an idol a 'mawmet' or a Mahomet, and idolatry 'mammetry.'

A misnomer such as this may remind us of the immense importance of
possessing such names for things as shall not involve or suggest an
error. We have already seen this in the province of the moral life; but
in other regions also it nearly concerns us. Resuming, as words do, the
past, shaping the future, how important it is that significant facts or
tendencies in the world's history should receive their right names. It
is a corrupting of the very springs and sources of knowledge, when we
bind up not a truth, but an error, in the very nomenclature which we
use. It is the putting of an obstacle in the way, which, however
imperceptibly, is yet ever at work, hindering any right apprehension of
the thing which has been thus erroneously noted.

Out of a sense of this, an eminent German scholar of the last century,
writing _On the Influence of Opinions on Language_, did not stop here,
nor make this the entire title of his book, but added another and
further clause--_and on the Influence of Language on Opinions_;
[Footnote: _Von dem Einfluss der Meinungen in die Sprache, und der
Sprache in die Meinungen_, von J, D. Michaëlis, Berlin, 1760.] the
matter which fulfils the promise of this latter clause constituting by
far the most interesting and original portion of his work: for while
the influence of opinions on words is so little called in question,
that the assertion of it sounds almost like a truism, this, on the
contrary, of words on opinions, would doubtless present itself as a
novelty to many. And yet it is an influence which has been powerfully
felt in every region of human knowledge, in science, in art, in morals,
in theology. The reactive energy of words, not merely on the passions
of men (for that of course), but on their opinions calmly and
deliberately formed, would furnish a very curious chapter in the
history of human knowledge and human ignorance.

Sometimes words with no fault of theirs, for they did not originally
involve any error, will yet draw some error in their train; and of that
error will afterwards prove the most effectual bulwark and shield. Let
me instance--the author just referred to supplies the example--the word
'crystal.' The strange notion concerning the origin of the thing,
current among the natural philosophers of antiquity, and which only two
centuries ago Sir Thomas Browne thought it worth while to place first
and foremost among the _Vulgar Errors_ that he undertook to refute, was
plainly traceable to a confusion occasioned by the name. Crystal, as
men supposed, was ice or snow which had undergone such a process of
induration as wholly and for ever to have lost its fluidity: [Footnote:
Augustine: Quid est crystallum? Nix est glacie durata per multos annos,
ita ut a sole vel igne facile dissolvi non possit. So too in Beaumont
and Fletcher's tragedy of _Valentinian_, a chaste matron is said to be
'cold as crystal _never to be thawed again_.'] and Pliny, backing up
one mistake by another, affirmed that it was only found in regions of
extreme cold. The fact is, that the Greek word for crystal originally
signified ice; but after a while was also imparted to that diaphanous
quartz which has so much the look of ice, and which alone _we_ call by
this name; and then in a little while it was taken for granted that the
two, having the same name, were in fact the same substance; and this
mistake it took ages to correct.

Natural history abounds in legends. In the word 'leopard' one of these
has been permanently bound up; the error, having first given birth to
the name, being afterwards itself maintained and propagated by it. The
leopard, as is well known, was not for the Greek and Latin zoologists a
species by itself, but a mongrel birth of the male panther or pard and
the lioness; and in 'leopard' or 'lion-pard' this fabled double descent
is expressed. [Footnote: This error lasted into modern times; thus
Fuller (_A Pisgah Sight of Palestine_, vol. i. p. 195): 'Leopards and
mules are properly no creatures.'] 'Cockatrice' embodies a somewhat
similar fable; the fable however in this case having been invented to
account for the name. [Footnote: See Wright, _The Bible Word Book_, s.
v. [The word _cockatrice_ is a corrupt form of Late Latin _cocodrillus_,
which again is a corruption of Latin _crocodilus_, Gr. [Greek:
krokodeilos], a crocodile.]]

It was Eichhorn who first suggested the calling of a certain group of
languages, which stand in a marked contradistinction to the Indo-
European or Aryan family, by the common name of 'Semitic.' A word which
should include all these was wanting, and this one was handy and has
made its fortune; at the same time implying, as 'Semitic' does, that
these are all languages spoken by races which are descended from Shem,
it is eminently calculated to mislead. There are non-Semitic races, the
Phoenicians for example, which have spoken a Semitic language; there
are Semitic races which have not spoken one. Against 'Indo-European'
the same objection may be urged; seeing that several languages are
European, that is, spoken within the limits of Europe, as the Maltese,
the Finnish, the Hungarian, the Basque, the Turkish, which lie
altogether outside of this group.

'Gothic' is plainly a misnomer, and has often proved a misleader as
well, when applied to a style of architecture which belongs not to one,
but to all the Germanic tribes; which, moreover, did not come into
existence till many centuries after any people called Goths had ceased
from the earth. Those, indeed, who first called this medieval
architecture 'Gothic,' had no intention of ascribing to the Goths the
first invention of it, however this language may seem now to bind up in
itself an assertion of the kind. 'Gothic' was at first a mere random
name of contempt. The Goths, with the Vandals, being the standing
representatives of the rude in manners and barbarous in taste, the
critics who would fain throw scorn on this architecture as compared
with that classical Italian which alone seemed worthy of their
admiration, [Footnote: The name, as the designation of a style of
architecture, came to us from Italy. Thus Fuller in his _Worthies_:
'Let the Italians deride our English and condemn them for _Gothish_
buildings.' See too a very curious expression of men's sentiments about
Gothic architecture as simply equivalent to barbarous, in Phillips's
_New World of Words_, 1706, s.v. 'Gothick.'] called it 'Gothic,'
meaning rude and barbarous thereby. We who recognize in this Gothic
architecture the most wondrous and consummate birth of genius in one
region of art, find it hard to believe that this was once a mere title
of slight and scorn, and sometimes wrongly assume a reference in the
word to the people among whom first it arose.

'Classical' and 'romantic,' names given to opposing schools of
literature and art, contain an absurd antithesis; and either say
nothing at all, or say something erroneous. 'Revival of Learning' is a
phrase only partially true when applied to that mighty intellectual
movement in Western Europe which marked the fifteenth century and the
beginning of the sixteenth. A revival there might be, and indeed there
was, of _Greek_ learning at that time; but there could not be properly
affirmed a revival of Latin, inasmuch as it had never been dead; or,
even as those who dissent from this statement must own, had revived
nearly two centuries before. 'Renaissance,' applied in France to the
new direction which art took about the age of Francis the First, is
another question-begging word. Very many would entirely deny that the
bringing back of an antique pagan spirit, and of pagan forms as the
utterance of this, into Christian art was a 'renaissance' or new birth
of it at all.

But inaccuracy in naming may draw after it more serious mischief in
regions more important. Nowhere is accuracy more vital than in words
having to do with the chief facts and objects of our faith; for such
words, as Coleridge has observed, are never inert, but constantly
exercise an immense reactive influence, whether men know it or not, on
such as use them, or often hear them used by others. The so-called
'Unitarians,' claiming by this name of theirs to be asserters of the
unity of the Godhead, claim that which belongs to us by far better
right than to them; which, indeed, belonging of fullest right to us,
does not properly belong to them at all. I should, therefore, without
any intention of offence, refuse the name to them; just as I should
decline, by calling those of the Roman Obedience 'Catholics,' to give
up the whole question at issue between them and us. So, also, were I
one of them, I should never, however convenient it might sometimes
prove, consent to call the great religious movement of Europe in the
sixteenth century the 'Reformation.' Such in _our_ esteem it was, and
in the deepest, truest sense; a shaping anew of things that were amiss
in the Church. But how any who esteem it a disastrous, and, on their
parts who brought it about, a most guilty schism, can consent to call
it by this name, has always surprised me.

Let me urge on you here the importance of seeking in every case to
acquaint yourselves with the circumstances under which any body of men
who have played an important part in history, above all in the history
of your own land, obtained the name by which they were afterwards
themselves willing to be known, or which was used for their designation
by others. This you may do as a matter of historical inquiry, and
keeping entirely aloof in spirit from the bitterness, the contempt, the
calumny, out of which very frequently these names were first imposed.
Whatever of scorn or wrong may have been at work in them who coined or
gave currency to the name, the name itself can never without serious
loss be neglected by any who would truly understand the moral
significance of the thing; for always something, oftentimes much, may
be learned from it. Learn, then, about each one of these names which
you meet in your studies, whether it was one that men gave to
themselves; or one imposed on them by others, but never recognized by
them; or one that, first imposed by others, was yet in course of time
admitted and allowed by themselves. We have examples in all these kinds.
Thus the 'Gnostics' call _themselves_ such; the name was of their own
devising, and declared that whereof they made their boast; it was the
same with the 'Cavaliers' of our Civil War. 'Quaker,' 'Puritan,'
'Roundhead,' were all, on the contrary, names devised by others, and
never accepted by those to whom they were attached. To the third class
'Whig' and 'Tory' belong. These were nicknames originally of bitterest
party hate, withdrawn from their earlier use, and fastened by two
political bodies in England each on the other, [Footnote: In North's
_Examen_. p. 321, is a very lively, though not a very impartial,
account of the rise of these names.] the 'Whig' being properly a
Scottish covenanter, [Footnote: [For a full account of the name see
Nares, and Todd's _Johnson_.]] the 'Tory' an Irish bog-trotting
freebooter; while yet these nicknames in tract of time so lost and let
go what was offensive about them, that in the end they were adopted by
the very parties themselves. Not otherwise the German 'Lutherans' were
originally so called by their antagonists. [Footnote: Dr. Eck, one of
the earliest who wrote against the Reformation, first called the
Reformed 'Lutherani.'] 'Methodist,' in like manner, was a title not
first taken by the followers of Wesley, but fastened on them by others,
while yet they have been subsequently willing, though with a certain
reserve, to accept and to be known by it. 'Momiers' or 'Mummers,' a
name in itself of far greater offence, has obtained in Switzerland
something of the same allowance. Exactly in the same way 'Capuchin' was
at first a jesting nickname, given by the gamins in the streets to that
reformed branch of the Franciscans which afterwards accepted it as
their proper designation. It was provoked by the peaked and pointed
hood ('cappuccio,' 'cappucino') which they wore. The story of the
'Gueux,' or 'Beggars,' of Holland, and how they appropriated their name,
is familiar, as I doubt not, to many. [Footnote: [See chapter on
Political Nicknames in D'Israeli's _Curiosities of Literature_.]]

A 'Premier' or 'Prime Minister,' though unknown to the law of England,
is at present one of the institutions of the country. The acknowledged
leadership of one member in the Government is a fact of only gradual
growth in our constitutional history, but one in which the nation has
entirely acquiesced,--nor is there anything invidious now in the title.
But in what spirit the Parliamentary Opposition, having coined the term,
applied it first to Sir Robert Walpole, is plain from some words of his
spoken in the House of Commons, Feb. 11, 1742: 'Having invested me with
a kind of mock dignity, and styled me a _Prime Minister_, they [the
Opposition] impute to me an unpardonable abuse of the chimerical
authority which they only created and conferred.'

Now of these titles some undoubtedly, like 'Capuchin' instanced just
now, stand in no very intimate connexion with those who bear them; and
such names, though seldom without their instruction, yet plainly are
not so instructive as others, in which the innermost heart of the thing
named so utters itself, that, having mastered the name, we have placed
ourselves at the central point, from whence best to master everything
besides. It is thus with 'Gnostic' and 'Gnosticism'; in the prominence
given to _gnôsis_ or knowledge, as opposed to faith, lies the key to
the whole system. The Greek Church has loved ever to style itself the
Holy 'Orthodox' Church, the Latin, the Holy 'Catholic' Church. Follow
up the thoughts which these words suggest. What a world of teaching
they contain; above all when brought into direct comparison and
opposition one with the other. How does all which is innermost in the
Greek and Roman mind unconsciously reveal itself here; the Greek Church
regarding as its chief blazon that its speculation is right, the Latin
that its empire is universal. Nor indeed is it merely the Greek and
Latin Churches which utter themselves here, but Greece and Rome in
their deepest distinctions, as these existed from their earliest times.
The key to the whole history, Pagan as well as Christian, of each is in
these words. We can understand how the one established a dominion in
the region of the mind which shall never be overthrown, the other
founded an empire in the world whose visible effects shall never be
done away. This is an illustrious example; but I am bold to affirm that,
in their degree, all parties, religious and political, are known by
names that will repay study; by names, to understand which will bring
us far to an understanding of their strength and their weakness, their
truth and their error, the idea and intention according to which they
wrought. Thus run over in thought a few of those which have risen up in
England. 'Puritans,' 'Fifth-Monarchy men,' 'Seekers,' 'Levellers,'
'Independents,' 'Friends,' 'Rationalists,' 'Latitudnarians,'
'Freethinkers,' these titles, with many more, have each its
significance; and would you get to the heart of things, and thoroughly
understand what any of these schools and parties intended, you must
first understand what they were called. From this as from a central
point you must start; even as you must bring back to this whatever
further knowledge you may acquire; putting your later gains, if
possible, in subordination to the name; at all events in connexion and
relation with it.

You will often be able to glean information from names, such as, if not
always important, will yet rarely fail to be interesting and
instructive in its way. Thus what a record of inventions, how much of
the past history of commerce do they embody and preserve. The 'magnet'
has its name from Magnesia, a district of Thessaly; this same Magnesia,
or else another like-named district in Asia Minor, yielding the
medicinal earth so called. 'Artesian' wells are from the province of
Artois in France, where they were long in use before introduced
elsewhere. The 'baldachin' or 'baudekin' is from Baldacco, the Italian
form of the name of the city of Bagdad, from whence the costly silk of
this canopy originally came. [Footnote: [See Devic's Supplement to
Littré; the Italian _l_ is an attempt to pronounce the Arabic guttural
Ghain. In the Middle Ages _Baldacco_ was often supposed to be the same
as 'Babylon'; see Florio's _Ital. Dict._ (s.v. _baldacca_).]] The'
bayonet' suggests concerning itself, though perhaps wrongly, that it
was first made at Bayonne--the 'bilbo,' a finely tempered Spanish blade,
at Bilbao--the 'carronade' at the Carron Ironworks in Scotland--
'worsted' that it was spun at a village not far from Norwich--
'sarcenet' that it is a Saracen manufacture--'cambric' that it reached
us from Cambray--'copper' that it drew its name from Cyprus, so richly
furnished with mines of this metal--'fustian' from Fostat, a suburb of
Cairo--'frieze' from Friesland--'silk' or 'sericum' from the land of
the Seres or Chinese--'damask' from Damascus--'cassimere' or
'kersemere' from Cashmere--'arras' from a town like-named--'duffel,'
too, from a town near Antwerp so called, which Wordsworth has
immortalized--'shalloon' from Chalons--'jane' from Genoa--'gauze' from
Gaza. The fashion of the 'cravat' was borrowed from the Croats, or
Crabats, as this wild irregular soldiery of the Thirty Years' War used
to be called. The 'biggen,' a plain cap often mentioned by our early
writers, was first worn by the Beguines, communities of pietist women
in the Low Countries in the twelfth century. The 'dalmatic' was a
garment whose fashion was taken to be borrowed from Dalmatia. (_See_
Marriott.) England now sends her calicoes and muslins to India and the
East; yet these words give standing witness that we once imported them
from thence; for 'calico' is from Calicut, a town on the coast of
Malabar, and 'muslin' from Mossul, a city in Asiatic Turkey. 'Cordwain'
or 'cordovan' is from Cordova--'delf' from Delft--'indigo' (indicum)
from India--'gamboge' from Cambodia--the 'agate' from a Sicilian river,
Achates--the 'turquoise' from Turkey--the 'chalcedony' or onyx from
Chalcedon--'jet' from the river Gages in Lycia, where this black stone
is found. [Footnote: In Holland's _Pliny_, the Greek form 'gagates' is
still retained, though he oftener calls it 'jeat' or 'geat.'] 'Rhubarb'
is a corruption of Rha barbarum, the root from the savage banks of the
Rha or Volga--'jalap' is from Jalapa, a town in Mexico--'tobacco' from
the island Tobago--'malmsey' from Malvasia, for long a flourishing city
in the Morea--'sherry,' or 'sherris' as Shakespeare wrote it, is from
Xeres--'macassar' oil from a small Malay kingdom so named in the
Eastern Archipelago--'dittany' from the mountain Dicte, in Crete--
'parchment' from Pergamum--'majolica' from Majorca--'faience' from the
town named in Italian Faenza. A little town in Essex gave its name to
the 'tilbury'; another, in Bavaria, to the 'landau.' The 'bezant' is a
coin of Byzantium; the 'guinea' was originally coined (in 1663) of gold
brought from the African coast so called; the pound 'sterling' was a
certain weight of bullion according to the standard of the Easterlings,
or Eastern merchants from the Hanse Towns on the Baltic. The 'spaniel'
is from Spain; the 'barb' is a steed from Barbary; the pony called a
'galloway' from the county of Galloway in Scotland; the 'tarantula' is
a poisonous spider, common in the neighbourhood of Tarentum. The
'pheasant' reached us from the banks of the Phasis; the 'bantam' from a
Dutch settlement in Java so called; the 'canary' bird and wine, both
from the island so named; the 'peach' (persica) declares itself a
Persian fruit; 'currants' derived their name from Corinth, whence they
were mostly shipped; the 'damson' is the 'damascene' or plum of
Damascus; the 'bergamot' pear is named from Bergamo in Italy; the
'quince' has undergone so many changes in its progress through Italian
and French to us, that it hardly retains any trace of Cydon (malum
Cydonium), a town of Crete, from which it was supposed to proceed.
'Solecisms,' if I may find room for them here, are from Soloe, an
Athenian colony in Cilicia, whose members soon forgot the Attic
refinement of speech, and became notorious for the ungrammatical Greek
which they talked.

And as things thus keep record in the names which they bear of the
quarters from which they reached us, so also will they often do of the
persons who, as authors, inventors, or discoverers, or in some other
way, stood in near connexion with them. A collection in any language of
all the names of persons which have since become names of things--from
nomina _apellativa_ have become nomina _realia_--would be very curious
and interesting, I will enumerate a few. Where the matter is not
familiar to you, it will not be unprofitable to work back from the word
or thing to the person, and to learn more accurately the connexion
between them.

To begin with mythical antiquity--the Chimaera has given us
'chimerical,' Hermes 'hermetic,' Pan 'panic,' Paean, being a name of
Apollo, the 'peony,' Tantalus 'to tantalize,' Hercules 'herculean,'
Proteus 'protean,' Vulcan 'volcano' and 'volcanic,' and Daedalus
'dedal,' if this word, for which Spenser, Wordsworth, and Shelley have
all stood godfathers, may find allowance with us. The demi-god Atlas
figures with a world upon his shoulders in the title-page of some early
works on geography; and has probably in this way lent to our map-books
their name. Gordius, the Phrygian king who tied the famous 'gordian'
knot which Alexander cut, will supply a natural transition from
mythical to historical. The 'daric,' a Persian gold coin, very much of
the same value as our own rose noble, had its name from Darius.
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 'mithridate' (Dryden) for antidote; as from
Hippocrates we derived 'hipocras,' or 'ypocras,' often occurring in our
early poets, being a wine supposed to be mingled after the great
physician's receipt. Gentius, a king of Illyria, gave his name to the
plant 'gentian,' having been, it is said, the first to discover its
virtues. [Footnote: Pliny, _H. N._ xxv. 34.] Glaubers, who has
bequeathed his salts to us, was a Dutch chemist of the seventeenth
century. A grammar used to be called a 'donat' or 'donet' (Chaucer),
from Donatus, a Roman grammarian of the fourth century, whose Latin
grammar held its place as a school-book during a large part of the
Middle Ages. Othman, more than any other the grounder of the Turkish
dominion in Europe, reappears in our 'Ottoman'; and Tertullian,
strangely enough, in the Spanish 'tertulia.' The beggar Lazarus has
given us 'lazar' and 'lazaretto'; Veronica and the legend connected
with her name, a 'vernicle,' being a napkin with the Saviour's face
impressed upon it. Simon Magus gave us 'simony'; this, however, as we
understand it now, is not a precise reproduction of his sin as recorded
in Scripture. A common fossil shell is called an 'ammonite' from the
fanciful resemblance to the twisted horns of Jupiter Ammon which was
traced in it; Ammon again appearing in 'ammonia.' Our 'pantaloons' are
from St. Pantaleone; he was the patron saint of the Venetians, who
therefore very commonly received Pantaleon as their Christian name; it
was from them transferred to a garment which they much affected.
'Dunce,' as we have seen, is derived from Duns Scotus. To come to more
modern times, and not pausing at Ben Jonson's 'chaucerisms,' Bishop
Hall's 'scoganisms,' from Scogan, Edward the Fourth's jester, or his
'aretinisms,' from Aretin; these being probably not intended even by
their authors to endure; a Roman cobbler named Pasquin has given us the
'pasquil' or 'pasquinade.' Derrick was the common hangman in the time
of Charles II.; he bequeathed his name to the crane used for the
lifting and moving of heavy weights. [Footnote: [But _derick_ in the
sense of 'gallows' occurs as early as 1606 in Dekker's _Seven Deadly
Sins of London_, ed. Arber, p. 17; see Skeat's _Etym. Dict._, ed. 2, p.
799.]] 'Patch,' a name of contempt not unfrequent in Shakespeare, was,
it is said, the proper name of a favourite fool of Cardinal Wolsey's.
[Footnote: [The Cardinal's two fools were occasionally called _patch_,
a term for a 'domestic fool,' from the patchy, parti-coloured dress;
see Skeat (s. v.).]] Colonel Negus in Queen Anne's time is reported to
have first mixed the beverage which goes by his name. Lord Orrery was
the first for whom an 'orrery' was constructed; Lord Spencer first wore,
or first brought into fashion, a 'spencer'; and the Duke of Roquelaure
the cloak which still bears his name. Dahl, a Swede, introduced from
Mexico the cultivation of the 'dahlia'; the 'fuchsia' is named after
Fuchs, a German botanist of the sixteenth century; the 'magnolia' after
Magnol, a distinguished French botanist of the beginning of the
eighteenth; while the 'camelia' was introduced into Europe from Japan
in 1731 by Camel, a member of the Society of Jesus; the 'shaddock' by
Captain Shaddock, who first transplanted this fruit from the West
Indies. In 'quassia' we have the name of a negro sorcerer of Surinam,
who in 1730 discovered its properties, and after whom it was called. An
unsavoury jest of Vespasian has attached his name in French to an
unsavoury spot. 'Nicotine,' the poison recently drawn from tobacco,
goes back for its designation to Nicot, a physician, who first
introduced the tobacco-plant to the general notice of Europe. The
Gobelins were a family so highly esteemed in France that the
manufactory of tapestry which they had established in Paris did not
drop their name, even after it had been purchased and was conducted by
the State. A French Protestant refugee, Tabinet, first made 'tabinet'
in Dublin; another Frenchman, Goulard, a physician of Montpellier, gave
his to the soothing lotion, not unknown in our nurseries. The 'tontine'
was conceived by Tonti, an Italian; another Italian, Galvani, first
noted the phenomena of animal electricity or 'galvanism'; while a third,
Volta, lent a title to the 'voltaic' battery. Dolomieu, a French
geologist, first called attention to a peculiar formation of rocks in
Eastern Tyrol, called 'dolomites' after him. Colonel Martinet was a
French officer appointed by Louvois as an army inspector; one who did
his work excellently well, but has left a name bestowed often since on
mere military pedants. 'Macintosh,' 'doyly,' 'brougham,' 'hansom,' 'to
mesmerize,' 'to macadamize,' 'to burke,' 'to boycott,' are all names of
persons or words formed from their names, and then transferred to
things or actions, on the ground of some sort of connexion between the
one and the other. [Footnote: Several other such words we have in
common with the French. Of their own they have 'sardanapalisme,' any
piece of profuse luxury, from Sardanapalus. For 'lambiner,' to dally or
loiter over a task, they are indebted to Denis Lambin, a worthy Greek
scholar of the sixteenth century, but accused of sluggish movement and
wearisome diffuseness in style. Every reader of Pascal's _Provincial
Letters_ will remember Escobar, the famous casuist of the Jesuits,
whose convenient devices 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. A pale green colour is in French called 'céladon' from a
personage of this name, of a feeble and _fade_ tenderness, who figures
in _Astrée_, a popular romance of the seventeenth century. An unpopular
minister of finance, M. de Silhouette, unpopular because he sought to
cut down unnecessary expenses in the State, saw his name transferred to
the slight and thus cheap black outline portrait called a 'silhouette'
(Sismondi, _Hist, des Français_, vol. xix, pp. 94, 95). In the
'mansarde' roof we are reminded of Mansart, the architect who
introduced it. In 'marivaudage' the name of Marivaux is bound up, who
was noted for the affected euphuism which goes by this name; very much
as the sophist Gorgias gave [Greek: gorgiazein] to the Greek. The point
of contact between the 'fiacre' and St. Fiacre is well known: hackney
carriages, when first established in Paris, waited for their hiring in
the court of an hotel which was adorned with an image of the Scottish
saint.] To these I may add 'guillotine,' though Dr. Guillotin did not
invent this instrument of death, even as it is a baseless legend that
he died by it. Some improvements in it he made, and it thus happened
that it was called after him.

Nor less shall we find history, at all events literary history, in the
noting of the popular characters in books, who have supplied words that
have passed into common speech. 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 talk about him, he
has given us 'to hector'; [Footnote: See Col. Mure, _Language and
Literature of Ancient Greece_, vol. i. p. 350.] while the medieval
romances about the siege of Troy ascribe to Pandarus that shameful
traffic out of which his name has passed into the words 'to pander' and
'pandarism.' 'Rodomontade' is from Rodomonte, a hero of Boiardo; who
yet, it must be owned, does not bluster and boast, as the word founded
on his name seems to imply; adopted by Ariosto, it was by him changed
into Rodamonte. 'Thrasonical' is from Thraso, the braggart of Roman
comedy. Cervantes has given us 'quixotic'; Swift 'lilliputian'; to
Molière the French language owes 'tartuffe' and 'tartufferie.'
'Reynard' with us is a sort of duplicate for fox, while in French
'renard' has quite excluded the old 'volpils' being originally no more
than 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 this poem we gather from many evidences--from none more
clearly than from this. 'Chanticleer' is the name of the cock, and
'Bruin' of the bear in the same poem. [Footnote: See Génin, _Des
Variations du Langage Français_, p.12] These have not made fortune to
the same extent of actually putting out of use names which before
existed, but contest the right of existence with them.

Occasionally a name will embody and give permanence to an error; as
when in 'America' the discovery of the New World, which belonged to
Columbus, is ascribed to another eminent discoverer, but one who had no
title to this honour, even as he was entirely guiltless of any attempt
to usurp it for himself. [Footnote: Humboldt has abundantly shown this
(_Kosmos_, vol. ii. note 457). He ascribes its general reception to its
introduction into a popular work on geography, published in 1507. The
subject has also been very carefully treated by Major, _Life of Prince
Henry the Navigator_, 1868. pp. 382-388] Our 'turkeys' are not from
Turkey, as was assumed by those who so called them, but from that New
World where alone they are native. This error the French in another
shape repeat with their 'dinde' originally 'poulet _d'Inde_,' or Indian
fowl. There lies in 'gipsy' or Egyptian, the assumption that Egypt was
the original home of this strange people; as was widely believed when
they made their first appearance in Europe early in the fifteenth
century. That this, however, was a mistake, their language leaves no
doubt; proclaiming as it does that they are wanderers from a more
distant East, an outcast tribe from Hindostan. 'Bohemians' as they are
called by the French, testifies to a similar error, to the fact that at
their first apparition in Western Europe they were supposed by the
common people in France to be the expelled Hussites of Bohemia.

Where words have not embodied an error, it will yet sometimes happen
that the sound or spelling will _to us_ suggest one. Against such in
these studies it will be well to be on our guard. Thus many of us have
been tempted to put 'domus' and 'dominus' into a connexion which really
does not exist. There has been a stage in most boys' geographical
knowledge, when they have taken for granted that 'Jutland' was so
called, not because it was the land of the Jutes, but on account of its
_jutting_ out into the sea in so remarkable a manner. At a much later
period of their education, 'Aborigines,' being the proper name of an
Italian tribe, might very easily lead astray. [Footnote: See Pauly,
_Encyclop._ s. v. Latium.] Who is there that has not mentally put the
Gulf of Lyons in some connexion with the city of the same name? We may
be surprised that the Gulf should have drawn its title from a city so
remote and so far inland, but we accept the fact notwithstanding: the
river Rhone, flowing by the one, and disemboguing in the other, seems
to offer to us a certain link of connexion. There is indeed no true
connexion at all between the two. In old texts this Gulf is generally
called _Sinus Gallicus_; in the fourteenth century a few writers began
to call it _Sinus Leonis_, the Gulf of the Lion, possibly from the
fierceness of its winds and waves, but at any rate by a name having
nothing to do with Lyons on the Rhone. The oak, in Greek [Greek: drys],
plays no inconsiderable part in the Ritual of the Druids; it is not
therefore wonderful if most students at one time of their lives have
put the two in etymological relation. The Greeks, who with so
characteristic a vanity assumed that the key to the meaning of words in
all languages was to be found in their own, did this of course. So, too,
there have not been wanting those who have traced in the name 'Jove' a
heathen reminiscence of the awful name of Jehovah; while yet, however
specious this may seem, on closer scrutiny the words declare that they
have no connexion with one another, any more than 'Iapetus' and
'Japheth,' or, I may add, than 'God' and 'good,' which yet by an
honourable moral instinct men can hardly refrain from putting into an
etymological relation with each other.

Sometimes a falsely-assumed derivation of a word has reacted upon and
modified its spelling. Thus it may have been with 'hurricane.' In the
tearing up and _hurrying_ away of the _canes_ in the sugar plantations
by this West-Indian tornado, many have seen an explanation of the name;
just in the same way as the Latin 'calamitas' has been derived from
'calamus,' the stalk of the corn. In both cases the etymology is
faulty; 'hurricane,' originally a Carib word, is only a transplanting
into our tongue of the Spanish 'huracan.'

It is a signal evidence of the conservative powers of language, that we
may continually trace in speech the record of customs and states of
society which have now passed so entirely away as to survive in these
words alone. For example, a 'stipulation' or agreement is so called, as
many affirm, from 'stipula,' a straw; and tells of a Roman custom, that
when two persons would make a mutual engagement with one another,
[Footnote: See on this disputed point, and on the relation between the
Latin 'stipulatio' and the old German custom not altogether dissimilar,
J. Grimm, _Deutsche Rechtsalterthümer_, pp. 121, sqq. [This account of
the derivation of 'stipulatio' is generally given up now; for Greek
cognates of the word see Curtius, _Greek Etymology_, No. 224.]] they
would break a straw between them. We all know what fact of English
history is laid up in 'curfew,' or 'couvre-feu.' The 'limner,' or
'illuminer,' for so we find the word in Fuller, throws us back on a
time when the _illumination_ of manuscripts was a leading occupation of
the painter. By 'lumber,' we are reminded that Lombards were the first
pawnbrokers, even as they were the first bankers, in England: a
'lumber'-room being a 'lombard'-room, or a room where the pawnbroker
stored his pledges. [Footnote: See my _Select Glossary_, s. v. Lumber.]
Nor need I do more than remind you that in our common phrase of
'_signing_ our name,' we preserve a record of a time when such first
rudiments of education as the power of writing, were the portion of so
few, that it was not as now an exception, but the custom, of most
persons to make their mark or 'sign'; great barons and kings themselves
not being ashamed to set this _sign_ or cross to the weightiest
documents. To 'subscribe' the name would more accurately express what
now we do. As often as we term arithmetic the science of calculation,
we implicitly allude to that rudimental stage in this science, when
pebbles (calculi) were used, as now among savage tribes they often are,
to help the practice of counting; the Greeks made the same use of one
word of theirs ([Greek: psephizein]); while in another ([Greek:
pempazein]) they kept record of a period when the _five_ fingers were
so employed. 'Expend,' 'expense,' tell us that money was once weighed
out (Gen. xxiii. 16), not counted out as now; 'pecunia,' 'peculatus,'
'fee' (vieh) keep record all of a time when cattle were the main
circulating medium. In 'library' we preserve the fact that books were
once written on the bark (liber) of trees; in 'volume' that they were
mostly rolls; in 'paper,' that the Egyptian papyrus, 'the paper-reeds
by the brooks,' furnished at one time the ordinary material on which
they were written.

Names thus so often surviving things, we have no right to turn an
etymology into an argument. There was a notable attempt to do this in
the controversy so earnestly carried on between the Greek and Latin
Churches, concerning the bread, whether it should be leavened or
unleavened, that was used at the Table of the Lord. Those of the
Eastern Church constantly urged that the Greek word for bread (and in
Greek was the authoritative record of the first institution of this
sacrament), implied, according to its root, that which was raised or
lifted up; not, therefore, to use a modern term, 'sad' or set, or, in
other words, unleavened bread; such rather as had undergone the process
of fermentation. But even if the etymology on which they relied (artos
from airo, to raise) had been as certain as it is questionable, they
could draw no argument of the slightest worth from so remote an
etymology, and one which had so long fallen out of the consciousness of
those who employed the word.

Theories too, which long since were utterly renounced, have yet left
their traces behind them. Thus 'good humour.' 'bad humour.' 'humours,'
and, strangest contradiction of all, '_dry_ humour,' rest altogether on
a now exploded, but a very old and widely accepted, theory of medicine;
according to which there were four principal moistures or 'humours' in
the natural body, on the due proportion and combination of which the
disposition alike of body and mind depended. [Footnote: See the
_Prologue_ to Ben Jonson's _Every Man out of His Humour_.] Our present
use of 'temper' has its origin in the same theory; the due admixture,
or right tempering, of these humours gave what was called the happy
temper, or mixture, which, thus existing inwardly, manifested itself
also outwardly; while 'distemper,' which we still employ in the sense
of sickness, was that evil frame either of a man's body or his mind
(for it was used of both), which had its rise in an unsuitable mingling
of these humours. In these instances, as in many more, the great
streams of thought and feeling have changed their course, flowing now
in quite other channels from those which once they filled, but have
left these words as abiding memorials of the channels wherein once they
ran. Thus 'extremes,' 'golden mean,' 'category,' 'predicament,'
'axiom,' 'habit'--what are these but a deposit in our ethical
terminology which Aristotle has left behind him?

But we have not exhausted our examples of the way in which the record
of old errors, themselves dismissed long ago, will yet survive in
language--being bound up in words that grew into use when those errors
found credit, and that maintain their currency still. The mythology
which Saxon or Dane brought with them from their German or Scandinavian
homes is as much extinct for us as are the Lares, Larvae, and Lemures
of heathen Rome; yet the deposit it has permanently left behind it in
the English language is not inconsiderable. 'Lubber,' 'dwarf,' 'oaf,'
'droll,' 'wight,' 'puck,' 'urchin,' 'hag,' 'night-mare,' 'gramary,'
'Old Nick,' 'changeling' (wechselkind), suggest themselves, as all
bequeathed to us by that old Teutonic demonology. [Footnote: [But the
words _puck_, _urchin_, _gramary_, are not of Teutonic origin. The
etymology of _puck_ is unknown; _urchin_ means properly 'a hedgehog,'
being the old French _eriçon_ (in modern French _hérisson_), a
derivative from the Latin _ericius_, 'a hedgehog'; _gramary_ is simply
Old French _gramaire_, 'grammar' = Lat. _grammatica_ (_ars_), just as
Old French _mire_, 'a medical man' = Lat. _medicum_.]] Few now have
any faith in astrology, or count that the planet under which a man is
born will affect his temperament, make him for life of a disposition
grave or gay, lively or severe. Yet our language affirms as much; for
we speak of men as 'jovial' or 'saturnine,' or 'mercurial'--'jovial,'
as being born under the planet Jupiter or Jove, which was the
joyfullest star, and of happiest augury of all: [Footnote: 'Jovial' in
Shakespeare's time (see _Cymbeline_, act 5, sc. 4) had not forgotten
its connexion with Jove.] a gloomy severe person is said to be
'saturnine,' born, that is, under the planet Saturn, who makes those
that own his influence, having been born when he was in the ascendant,
grave and stern as himself: another we call 'mercurial,' or light-
hearted, as those born under the planet Mercury were accounted to be.
The same faith in the influence of the stars survives in 'disastrous,'
'ill-starred,' 'ascendancy,' 'lord of the ascendant,' and, indeed, in
'influence' itself. What a record of old speculations, old certainly as
Aristotle, and not yet exploded in the time of Milton, [Footnote: See
_Paradise Lost_, iii. 714-719.] does the word 'quintessence' contain;
and 'arsenic' the same; no other namely than this that metals are of
different sexes, some male ([Greek: arsenika]), and some female. Again,
what curious legends belong to the 'sardonic' [Footnote: See an
excellent history of this word, in Rost and Palm's _Greek Lexicon_, s.
v. [Greek: sardonios].] or Sardinian, laugh; a laugh caused, as was
supposed, by a plant growing in Sardinia, of which they who ate, died
laughing; to the 'barnacle' goose, [Footnote: For a full and most
interesting study on this very curious legend, see Max Müller's
_Lectures on Language_, vol. ii. pp. 533-551; [for the etymology of the
word _barnacle_ in this connexion see the _New English Dictionary_ (s.
v.).]] to the 'amethyst' esteemed, as the word implies, a preventive
or antidote of drunkenness; and to other words not a few, which are
employed by us still.

A question presents itself here, and one not merely speculative; for it
has before now become a veritable case of conscience with some whether
they ought to use words which originally rested on, and so seem still
to affirm, some superstition or untruth. This question has practically
settled itself; the words will keep their ground: but further, they
have a right to do this; for no word need be considered so to root
itself in its etymology, and to draw its sap and strength from thence,
that it cannot detach itself from this, and acquire the rights of an
independent existence. And thus our _weekly_ newspapers commit no
absurdity in calling themselves 'journals,' or 'diurnals'; and we as
little when we name that a 'journey' which occupies not one, but
several days. We involve ourselves in no real contradiction, speaking
of a 'quarantine' of five, ten, or any number of days more or fewer
than _forty_; or of a population 'decimated' by a plague, though
exactly a tenth of it has not perished. A stone coffin may be still a
'sarcophagus,' without thereby implying that it has any special
property of consuming the flesh of bodies which are laid within
it. [Footnote: See Pliny, _H. N._ ii. 96; xxxvi. 17.] In like manner the
wax of our 'candles' ('candela,' from 'candeo') is not necessarily
_white_; our 'rubrics' retain their name, though seldom printed in
_red_ ink; neither need our 'miniatures' abandon theirs, though no
longer painted with _minium_ or carmine; our 'surplice' is not usually
worn over an undergarment of skins; our 'stirrups' are not ropes by
whose aid we climb upon our horses; nor are 'haversacks' sacks for the
carrying of oats; it is not barley or bere only which we store up in
our 'barns,' nor hogs' fat in our 'larders'; a monody need not be sung
by a single voice; and our lucubrations are not always by candlelight;
a 'costermonger' or 'costardmonger' does not of necessity sell costards
or apples; there are 'palaces' which are not built on the Palatine
Hill; and 'nausea' [Footnote: [From _nausea_ through the French comes
our English _noise_; see Bartsch and Horning, Section 90.]] which is
not sea-sickness. I remember once asking a class of school-children,
whether an announcement which during one very hard winter appeared in
the papers, of a '_white_ _black_bird' having been shot, might be
possibly correct, or was on the face of it self-contradictory and
absurd. The less thoughtful members of the class instantly pronounced
against it; while after a little consideration, two or three made
answer that it might very well be, that, while without doubt the bird
had originally obtained this name from its blackness, yet 'blackbird'
was now the name of a species, and a name so cleaving to it, as not to
be forfeited, even when the blackness had quite disappeared. We do not
question the right of the '_New_ Forest' to retain this title of New,
though it has now stood for eight hundred years; nor of 'Naples' to be
_New_ City (Neapolis) still, after an existence three or four times as

It must, then, be esteemed a piece of ethical prudery, and an ignorance
of the laws which languages obey, when the early Quakers refused to
employ the names commonly given to the days of the week, and
substituted for these, 'first day,' 'second day,' and so on. This they
did, as is well known, on the ground that it became not Christian men
to give that sanction to idolatry which was involved in the ordinary
style--as though every time they spoke of Wednesday they were rendering
homage to Woden, of Thursday to Thor, of Friday to Friga, and thus with
the rest; [ Footnote: It is curious to find Fuller prophesying, a very
few years before, that at some future day such a protest as theirs
might actually be raised (_Church History_, b. ii. cent. 6): 'Thus we
see the whole week bescattered with Saxon idols, whose pagan gods were
the godfathers of the days, and gave them their names. This some zealot
may behold as the object of a necessary reformation, desiring to have
the days of the week new dipt, and called after other names. Though,
indeed, this supposed scandal will not offend the wise, as beneath
their notice; and cannot offend the ignorant, as above their
knowledge.'] or at all events recognizing their existence. Now it is
quite intelligible that the early Christians, living in the midst of a
still rampant heathenism, should have objected, as we know they did, to
'dies _Solis_,' or Sunday, to express the first day of the week, their
Lord's-Day. But when the later Friends raised _their_ protest, the case
was altogether different. The false gods whose names were bound up in
these words had ceased to be worshipped in England for about a thousand
years; the words had wholly disengaged themselves from their
etymologies, of which probably not one in a thousand had the slightest
suspicion. Moreover, had these precisians in speech been consistent,
they could not have stopped where they did. Every new acquaintance with
the etymology or primary use of words would have entangled them in some
new embarrassment, would have required a new purging of their
vocabulary. 'To charm,' 'to bewitch,' 'to fascinate,' 'to enchant,'
would have been no longer lawful words for those who had outlived the
belief in magic, and in the power of the evil eye; nor 'lunacy,' nor
'lunatic,' for such as did not count the moon to have anything to do
with mental unsoundness; nor 'panic' fear, for those who believed that
the great god Pan was indeed dead; nor 'auguries,' nor 'auspices,' for
those to whom divination was nothing; while to speak of 'initiating' a
person into the 'mysteries' of an art, would have been utterly
heathenish language. Nay, they must have found fault with the language
of Holy Scripture itself; for a word of honourable use in the New
Testament expressing the function of an interpreter, and reappearing in
our 'hermeneutics,' is directly derived from and embodies the name of
Hermes, a heathen deity, and one who did not, like Woden, Thor, and
Friga, pertain to a long extinct mythology, but to one existing in its
strength at the very time when he wrote. And how was it, as might have
been fairly asked, that St. Paul did not protest against a Christian
woman retaining the name of Phoebe (Rom. xvi. I), a goddess of the same

The rise and fall of words, the honour which in tract of time they
exchanged for dishonour, and the dishonour for honour--all which in my
last lecture I contemplated mainly from an ethical point of view--is in
a merely historic aspect scarcely less remarkable. Very curious is it
to watch the varying fortune of words--the extent to which it has fared
with them, as with persons and families; some having improved their
position in the world, and attained to far higher dignity than seemed
destined for them at the beginning, while others in a manner quite as
notable have lost caste, have descended from their high estate to
common and even ignoble uses. Titles of dignity and honour have
naturally a peculiar liability to be some lifted up, and some cast down.
Of words which have risen in the world, the French 'maréchal' affords
us an excellent example. 'Maréchal,' as Howell has said, 'at first was
the name of a smith-farrier, or one that dressed horses'--which indeed
it is still--'but it climbed by degrees to that height that the
chiefest commanders of the gendarmery are come to be called marshals.'
But if this has risen, our 'alderman' has fallen. Whatever the civic
dignity of an alderman may now be, still it must be owned that the word
has lost much since the time that the 'alderman' was only second in
rank and position to the king. Sometimes a word will keep or even
improve its place in one language, while at the same time it declines
from it in another. Thus 'demoiselle' (dominicella) cannot be said to
have lost ground in French, however 'donzelle' may; while 'damhele,'
being the same word, designates in Walloon the farm-girl who minds the
cows. [Footnote: See Littré, _Etudes et Glanures_, p. 16; compare p. 30.
Elsewhere he says: Les mots ont leurs déchéances comme les families.]
'Pope' is the highest ecclesiastical dignitary in the Latin Church;
every parish priest is a 'pope' in the Greek. 'Queen' (gunae) has had a
double fortune. Spelt as above it has more than kept the dignity with
which it started, being the title given to the lady of the kingdom;
while spelt as 'quean' it is a designation not untinged with
contempt. [Footnote: [_Queen_ and _quean_ are not merely different
spellings of the same Old English word; for _queen_ represents Anglo-
Saxon _cwe:n_, Gothic _qens_, whereas _quean_ is the phonetic
equivalent of Anglo-Saxon _cwene_ Gothic _qino_]] 'Squatter' remains for
us in England very much where it always was; in Australia it is now the
name by which the landed aristocracy are willing to be known. [Footnote:
Dilke, _Greater Britain_, vol. ii. p. 40]

After all which has thus been adduced, you will scarcely deny that we
have a right to speak of a history in words. Now suppose that the
pieces of money which in the intercourse and traffic of daily life are
passing through our hands continually, had each one something of its
own that made it more or less worthy of note; if on one was stamped
some striking maxim, on another some important fact, on the third a
memorable date; if others were works of finest art, graven with rare
and beautiful devices, or bearing the head of some ancient sage or hero
king; while others, again, were the sole surviving monuments of mighty
nations that once filled the world with their fame; what a careless
indifference to our own improvement--to all which men hitherto had felt
or wrought--would it argue in us, if we were content that these should
come and go, should stay by us or pass from us, without our vouchsafing
to them so much as one serious regard. Such a currency there is, a
currency intellectual and spiritual of no meaner worth, and one with
which we have to transact so much of the higher business of our lives.
Let us take care that we come not in this matter under the condemnation
of any such incurious indifference as that which I have imagined.



If I do not much mistake, you will find it not a little interesting to
follow great and significant words to the time and place of their birth.
And not these alone. The same interest, though perhaps not in so high a
degree, will cleave to the upcoming of words not a few that have never
played a part so important in the world's story. A volume might be
written such as few would rival in curious interest, which should do no
more than indicate the occasion upon which new words, or old words
employed in a new sense--being such words as the world subsequently
heard much of--first appeared; with quotation, where advisable, of the
passages in proof. A great English poet, too early lost, 'the young
Marcellus of our tongue,' as Dryden so finely calls him, has very
grandly described the emotion of

     'some watcher of the skies,
      When a new planet swims into his ken.'

Not very different will be our feeling, as we watch, at the moment of
its rising above the horizon, some word destined, it may be, to play
its part in the world's story, to take its place for ever among the
luminaries in the moral and intellectual firmament above us.

But a caution is necessary here. We must not regard as certain in every
case, or indeed in most cases, that the first rise of a word will have
exactly consented in time with its first appearance within the range of
our vision. Such identity will sometimes exist; and we may watch i the
actual birth of some word, and may affirm with confidence that at such
a time and on such an occasion it first saw the light--in this book, or
from the lips of that man. Of another we can only say, About this time
and near about this spot it first came into being, for we first meet it
in such an author and under such and such conditions. So mere a
fragment of ancient literature has come down to us, that, while the
earliest appearance there of a word is still most instructive to note,
it cannot in all or in nearly all cases be affirmed to mark the exact
moment of its nativity. And even in the modern world we must in most
instances be content to fix a period, we may perhaps add a local
habitation, within the limits of which the term must have been born,
either in legitimate scientific travail, or the child of some flash of
genius, or the product of some _generatio aequivoca_, the necessary
result of exciting predisposing causes; at the same time seeking by
further research ever to narrow more and more the limits within which
this must have happened.

To speak first of words religious and ecclesiastical. Very noteworthy,
and in some sort epoch-making, must be regarded the first appearance of
the following:--'Christian'; [Footnote: Acts xi. 26.] 'Trinity';
[Footnote: Tertullian, _Adv. Prax._ 3.] 'Catholic,' as applied to the
Church; [Footnote: Ignatius, _Ad Smyrn_. 8.] 'canonical,' as a
distinctive title of the received Scriptures; [Footnote: Origen, _Opp_.
vol. iii. p. 36 (ed. De la Rue).] 'New Testament,' as describing the
complex of the sacred books of the New Covenant; [Footnote: Tertullian,
_Adv. Marc._ iv. I; _Adv. Prax._ xv. 20.] 'Gospels,' as applied to the
four inspired records of the life and ministry of our Lord. [Footnote:
Justin Martyr, _Apol_. i. 66.] We notice, too, with interest, the
first coming up of 'monk' and 'nun,' [Footnote: 'Nun' (nonna) first
appears in Jerome (_Ad Eustoch. Ep._ 22); 'monk' (monachus) a little
earlier: Rutilius, a Latin versifier of the fifth century, who still
clung to the old Paganism, gives the derivation:
     Ipsi se _monachos_ Graio cognomine dicunt,
     Quod _soli_ nullo vivere teste volunt.] marking as they do the
beginnings of the monastic system;--of 'transubstantiation,' [Footnote:
Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours (d. 1134), is the first to use it
(_Serm_. 93).] of 'concomitance,' [Footnote: Thomas Aquinas is
reported to have been the first to use this word.] expressing as does
this word the grounds on which the medieval Church defended communion
in one kind only for the laity; of 'limbo' in its theological
sense; [Footnote: Thomas Aquinas first employs 'limbus' in this sense.]
witnessing as these do to the _consolidation_ of errors which had long
been floating in the Church.

Not of so profound an interest, but still very instructive to note, is
the earliest apparition of names historical and geographical, above all
of such as have since been often on the lips of men; as the first
mention in books of 'Asia'; [Footnote: Aeschylus, _Prometheus Vinctus_,
412.] of 'India'; [Footnote: Id. _Suppl_. 282.] of 'Europe'; [Footnote:
Herodotus, iv. 36.] of 'Macedonia'; [Footnote: Id. v. 17.] of 'Greeks';
[Footnote: Aristotle, _Meteor_, i. 14. But his _Graikoi_ are only an
insignificant tribe, near Dodona. How it came to pass that Graeci, or
Graii, was the Latin name by which all the Hellenes were known, must
always remain a mystery.] of 'Germans' and 'Germany'; [Footnote:
Probably first in the _Commentaries_ of Caesar; see Grimm, _Gesch. d.
Deutschen Sprache_, p. 773.] of 'Alemanni'; [Footnote: Spartian,
_Caracalla_, c. 9.] of 'Franks'; [Footnote: Vopiscus, _Aurel_. 7;
about A.D. 240.] of 'Prussia' and 'Prussians'; [Footnote: 'Pruzia' and
'Pruzzi' first appear in the _Life of S. Adalbert_, written by his
fellow-labourer Gaudentius, between 997-1006.] of 'Normans'; [Footnote:
The _Geographer of Ravenna_.] the earliest notice by any Greek author
of Rome; [Footnote: Probably in Hellanicus, a contemporary of Herodotus.]
the first use of 'Italy' as comprehending the entire Hesperian peninsula;
[Footnote: In the time of Augustus Caesar; see Niebuhr, _History of
Rome_, Engl. Translation, vol. i. p. 12.] of 'Asia Minor' to designate
Asia on this side Taurus. [Footnote: Orosius, i. 2: in the fifth century
of our era.] 'Madagascar' may hereafter have a history, which will make
it interesting to know that this name was first given, so far as we can
trace, by Marco Polo to the huge African island. Neither can we regard
with indifference the first giving to the newly-discovered continent in
the West the name of 'America'; and still less should we Englishmen
fail to take note of the date when this island exchanged its earlier
name of Britain for 'England'; or again, when it resumed 'Great
Britain' as its official designation. So also, to confirm our assertion
by examples from another quarter, it cannot be unprofitable to mark the
exact moment at which 'tyrant' and 'tyranny,' forming so distinct an
epoch as this did in the political history of Greece, first appeared;
[Footnote: In the writings of Archilochus, about 700 B.C. A 'tyrant'
was not for Greeks a bad king, who abused a rightful position to
purposes of lust or cruelty or other wrong. It was of the essence of a
'tyrant' that he had attained supreme dominion through a violation of
the laws and liberties of the state; having done which, whatever the
moderation of his after-rule, he would not escape the name. Thus the
mild and bounteous Pisistratus was 'tyrant' of Athens, while a
Christian II. of Denmark, 'the Nero of the North,' would not in Greek
eyes have been one. It was to their honour that they did not allow the
course of the word to be arrested or turned aside by occasional or
partial exceptions in the manner of the exercise of this ill-gotten
dominion; but in the hateful secondary sense which 'tyrant' with them
acquired, and which has passed over to us, the moral conviction,
justified by all experience, spake out, that the ill-gotten would be
ill-kept; that the 'tyrant' in the earlier sense of the word, dogged by
suspicion, fear, and an evil conscience, must, by an almost inevitable
law, become a 'tyrant' in our later sense of the word.] or again, when,
and from whom, the fabric of the external universe first received the
title of 'cosmos,' or beautiful order; [ Footnote: Pythagoras, born B.C.
570, is said to have been the first who made this application of the
word. For much of interest on its history see Humboldt, _Kosmos_, 1846,
English edit., vol. i. p. 371.] a name not new in itself, but new in
this application of it; with much more of the same kind.

Let us go back to one of the words just named, and inquire what may be
learned from acquaintance with the time and place of its first
appearance. It is one the coming up of which has found special record
in the Book of life: 'The disciples,' as St. Luke expressly tells us,
'were called Christians first in Antioch' (Acts xi. 26). That we have
here a notice which we would not willingly have missed all will
acknowledge, even as nothing can be otherwise than curious which
relates to the infancy of the Church. But there is here much more than
an interesting notice. Question it a little closer, and how much it
will be found to contain, how much which it is waiting to yield up.
What light it throws on the whole story of the apostolic Church to know
where and when this name of 'Christians' was first imposed on the
faithful; for imposed by adversaries it certainly was, not devised by
themselves, however afterwards they may have learned to glory in it as
the name of highest dignity and honour. They did not call themselves,
but, as is expressly recorded, they 'were called,' Christians first at
Antioch; in agreement with which statement, the name occurs nowhere in
Scripture, except on the lips of those alien from, or opposed to, the
faith (Acts xxvi. 28; I Pet. iv. 16). And as it was a name imposed by
adversaries, so among these adversaries it was plainly heathens, and
not Jews, who were its authors; for Jews would never have called the
followers of Jesus of Nazareth, 'Christians,' or those of Christ, the
very point of their opposition to Him being, that He was _not_ the
Christ, but a false pretender to the name. [Footnote: Compare Tacitus
(_Annal_, xv. 24): Quos _vulgus_ ... Christianos appellabat. It is
curious too that, although a Greek word and coined in a Greek city, the
termination is Latin. Christianos is formed on the model of Romanus,
Albanus, Pompeianus, and the like.]

Starting then from this point, that 'Christians' was a title given to
the disciples by the heathen, what may we deduce from it further? At
Antioch they first obtained this name--at the city, that is, which was
the head-quarters of the Church's missions to the heathen, in the same
sense as Jerusalem had been the head-quarters of the mission to the
seed of Abraham. It was there, and among the faithful there, that a
conviction of the world-wide destination of the Gospel arose; there it
was first plainly seen as intended for all kindreds of the earth.
Hitherto the faithful in Christ had been called by their adversaries,
and indeed often were still called, 'Galileans,' or 'Nazarenes,'--both
names which indicated the Jewish cradle wherein the Church had been
nursed, and that the world saw in the new Society no more than a Jewish
sect. But it was plain that the Church had now, even in the world's
eyes, chipped its Jewish shell. The name 'Christians,' or those of
Christ, while it told that Christ and the confession of Him was felt
even by the heathen to be the sum and centre of this new faith, showed
also that they comprehended now, not all which the Church would be, but
something of this; saw this much, namely, that it was no mere sect and
variety of Judaism, but a Society with a mission and a destiny of its
own. Nor will the thoughtful reader fail to observe that the coming up
of this name is by closest juxtaposition connected in the sacred
narrative, and still more closely in the Greek than in the English,
with the arrival at Antioch, and with the preaching there, of that
Apostle, who was God's appointed instrument for bringing the Church to
a full sense that the message which it had, was not for some men only,
but for all. As so often happens with the rise of new names, the rise
of this one marked a new epoch in the Church's life, and that it was
entering upon a new stage of its development. [Footnote: Renan (_Les
Apôtres_ pp. 233-236) has much instruction on this matter. I quote a
few words; though even in them the spirit in which the whole book is
conceived does not fail to make itself felt: L'heure où une création
nouvelle reçoit son nom est solennelle; car le nom est le signe
définitif de l'existence. C'est par le nom qu'un être individuel ou
collectif devient lui-même, et sort d'un autre. La formation du mot
'chrétien' marque ainsi la date précise où l'Eglise de Jésus se sépara
du judaïsme.... Le christianisme est complètement détaché du sein de sa
mère; la vraie pensée de Jésus a triomphé de l'indécision de ses
premiers disciples; l'Eglise de Jérusalem est dépassée; l'Araméen, la
langue de Jésus, est inconnue à une partie de son école; le
christianisme parle grec; il est lancé définitivement dans le grand
tourbillon du monde grec et romain; d'où il ne sortira plus.] It is a
small matter, yet not without its own significance, that the invention
of this name is laid by St. Luke,--for so, I think, we may confidently
say,--to the credit of the Antiochenes. Now the idle, frivolous, and
witty inhabitants of the Syrian capital were noted in all antiquity for
the invention of nicknames; it was a manufacture for which their city
was famous. And thus it was exactly the place where beforehand we might
have expected that such a title, being a nickname or little better in
their mouths who devised it should first come into being.

This one example is sufficient to show that new words will often repay
any amount of attention which we may bestow upon them, and upon the
conditions under which they were born. I proceed to consider the causes
which suggest or necessitate their birth, the periods when a language
is most fruitful in them, the sources from which they usually proceed,
with some other interesting phenomena about them.

And first of the causes which give them birth. Now of all these causes
the noblest is this--namely, that in the appointments of highest Wisdom
there are epochs in the world's history, in which, more than at other
times, new moral and spiritual forces are at work, stirring to their
central depths the hearts of men. When it thus fares with a people,
they make claims on their language which were never made on it before.
It is required to utter truths, to express ideas, remote from it
hitherto; for which therefore the adequate expression will naturally
not be forthcoming at once, these new thoughts and feelings being
larger and deeper than any wherewith hitherto the speakers of that
tongue had been familiar. It fares with a language then, as it would
fare with a river bed, suddenly required to deliver a far larger volume
of waters than had hitherto been its wont. It would in such a case be
nothing strange, if the waters surmounted their banks, broke forth on
the right hand and on the left, forced new channels with a certain
violence for themselves. Something of the kind they must do. Now it was
exactly thus that it fared--for there could be no more illustrious
examples--with the languages of Greece and Rome, when it was demanded
of them that they should be vehicles of the truths of revelation.

These languages, as they already existed, might have sufficed, and did
suffice, for heathenism, sensuous and finite; but they did not suffice
for the spiritual and infinite, for the truths at once so new and so
mighty which claimed now to find utterance in the language of men. And
thus it continually befell, that the new thought must weave a new
garment for itself, those which it found ready made being narrower than
that it could wrap itself in them; that the new wine must fashion new
vessels for itself, if both should be preserved, the old being neither
strong enough, nor expansive enough, to hold it. [ Footnote: Renan,
speaking on this matter, says of the early Christians: La langue leur
faisait défaut. Le Grec et le Sémitique les trahissaient également. De
là cette énorme violence que le Christianisme naissant fit au langage
(_Les Apôtres_, p. 71)] Thus, not to speak of mere technical matters,
which would claim an utterance, how could the Greek language possess a
word for 'idolatry,' so long as the sense of the awful contrast between
the worship of the living God and of dead things had not risen up in
their minds that spoke it? But when Greek began to be the native
language of men, to whom this distinction between the Creator and the
creature was the most earnest and deepest conviction of their souls,
words such as 'idolatry,' 'idolater,' of necessity appeared. The
heathen did not claim for their deities to be 'searchers of hearts,'
did not disclaim for them the being 'accepters of persons'; such
attributes of power and righteousness entered not into their minds as
pertaining to the objects of their worship. The Greek language,
therefore, so long as they only employed it, had not the words
corresponding. [Footnote: [Greek: Prosopolaeptaes, kardiognostaes.]]
It, indeed, could not have had them, as the Jewish Hellenistic Greek
could not be without them. How useful a word is 'theocracy'; what good
service it has rendered in presenting a certain idea clearly and
distinctly to the mind; yet where, except in the bosom of the same
Jewish Greek, could it have been born? [Footnote: We preside at its
birth in a passage of Josephus, _Con. Apion._ ii. 16.]

These difficulties, which were felt the most strongly when the thought
and feeling that had been at home in the Hebrew, the original language
of inspiration, needed to be transferred into Greek, reappeared, though
not in quite so aggravated a form, when that which had gradually woven
for itself in the Greek an adequate clothing, again demanded to find a
suitable garment in the Latin. An example of the difficulty, and of the
way in which the difficulty was ultimately overcome, will illustrate
this far better than long disquisitions. The classical language of
Greece had a word for 'saviour' which, though often degraded to
unworthy uses, bestowed as a title of honour not merely on the false
gods of heathendom, but sometimes on men, such as better deserved to be
styled 'destroyers' than 'saviours' of their fellows, was yet in itself
not unequal to the setting forth the central office and dignity of Him,
who came into the world to _save_ it. The word might be likened to some
profaned temple, which needed a new consecration, but not to be
abolished, and another built in its room. With the Latin it was
otherwise. The language seemed to lack a word, which on one account or
another Christians needed continually to utter: indeed Cicero, than
whom none could know better the resources of his own tongue, remarkably
enough had noted its want of any single equivalent to the Greek
'saviour.' [Footnote: Hoc [Greek: soter] quantum est? ita magnum ut
Latinè uno verbo exprimi non possit.] 'Salvator' would have been the
natural word; but the classical Latin of the best times, though it had
'salus' and 'salvus,' had neither this, nor the verb 'salvare'; some,
indeed, have thought that 'salvare' had always existed in the common
speech. 'Servator' was instinctively felt to be insufficient, even as
'Preserver' would for us fall very short of uttering all which
'Saviour' does now. The seeking of the strayed, the recovery of the
lost, the healing of the sick, would all be but feebly and faintly
suggested by it, if suggested at all. God '_preserveth_ man and beast,'
but He is the 'Saviour' of his own in a more inward and far more
endearing sense. It was long before the Latin Christian writers
extricated themselves from this embarrassment, for the 'Salutificator'
of Tertullian, the 'Sospitator' of another, assuredly did not satisfy
the need. The strong good sense of Augustine finally disposed of the
difficulty. He made no scruple about using 'Salvator'; observing with a
true insight into the conditions under which new words should be
admitted, that however 'Salvator' might not have been good Latin before
the Saviour came, He by his coming and by the work had made it such;
for, as shadows wait upon substances, so words wait upon things.
[Footnote: _Serm_. 299. 6: Christus Jesus, id est Christus Salvator:
hoc est enim Latine Jesus. Nec quaerant grammatici quam sit Latinum,
sed Christiani, quam verum. Salus enim Latinum nomen est; salvare et
salvator non fuerunt haec Latina, antequam veniret Salvator: quando ad
Latinos venit, et haec Latina fecit. Cf. _De Trin_. 13. 10: Quod verbum
[salvator] Latina lingua antea non habebat, sed habere poterat; sicut
potuit quando voluit. Other words which we owe to Christian Latin,
probably to the Vulgate or to the earlier Latin translations, are
these--'carnalis,' 'clarifico,' 'compassio,' 'deitas' (Augustine, _Civ.
Dei_, 7. i), 'glorifico,' 'idololatria,' 'incarnatio,' 'justifico,'
'justificatio,' 'longanimitas,' 'mortifico,' 'magnalia,' 'mundicors,'
'passio,' 'praedestinatio,' 'refrigerium' (Ronsch, _Vulgata_, p. 321),
'regeneratio,' 'resipiscentia,' 'revelatio,' 'sanctificatio,'
'soliloquium,' 'sufficientia,' 'supererogatio,' 'tribulatio.' Many of
these may seem barbarous to the Latin scholar, but there is hardly one
of them which does not imply a new thought, or a new feeling, or the
sense of a new relation of man to God or to his fellow-man. Strange too
and significant that heathen Latin could get as far as 'peccare' and
'peccatum,' but stopped short of 'peccator' and 'peccatrix.'] Take
another example. It seemed so natural a thing, in the old heathen world,
to expose infants, where it was not found convenient to rear them, the
crime excited so little remark, was so little regarded as a crime at
all, that it seemed not worth the while to find a name for it; and thus
it came to pass that the word 'infanticidium' was first born in the
bosom of the Christian Church, Tertullian being the earliest in whose
writings it appears.

Yet it is not only when new truth, moral or spiritual, has thus to fit
itself to the lips of men, that such enlargements of speech become
necessary: but in each further unfolding of those seminal truths
implanted in man at the first, in each new enlargement of his sphere of
knowledge, outward or inward, the same necessities make themselves felt.
The beginnings and progressive advances of moral philosophy in Greece,
[Footnote: See Lobeck, _Phrynichus_, p. 350.] the transplantation of
the same to Rome, the rise of the scholastic, and then of the mystic,
theology in the Middle Ages, the discoveries of modern science and
natural philosophy, these each and all have been accompanied with
corresponding extensions in the domain of language. Of the words to
which each of these has in turn given birth, many, it is true, have
never travelled beyond their own peculiar sphere, having remained
purely technical, or scientific, or theological to the last; but many,
too, have passed over from the laboratory and the school, from the
cloister and the pulpit, into everyday use, and have, with the ideas
which they incorporate, become the common heritage of all. For however
hard and repulsive a front any study or science may present to the
great body of those who are as laymen in regard of it, there is yet
inevitably such a detrition as this continually going forward, and one
which it would be well worth while to trace in detail.

Where the movement is a popular one, stirring the heart and mind of a
people to its depths, there these new words will for the most part
spring out of their bosom, a free spontaneous birth, seldom or never
capable of being referred to one man more than another, because in a
manner they belong to all. Where, on the contrary, the movement is more
strictly theological, or has for its sphere those regions of science
and philosophy, where, as first pioneers and discoverers, only a few
can bear their part, there the additions to the language and extensions
of it will lack something of the freedom, the unconscious boldness,
which mark the others. Their character will be more artificial, less
spontaneous, although here also the creative genius of a single man, as
there of a nation, will oftentimes set its mark; and many a single word
will come forth, which will be the result of profound meditation, or of
intuitive genius, or of both in happiest combination--many a word,
which shall as a torch illuminate vast regions comparatively obscure
before, and, it may be, cast its rays far into the yet unexplored
darkness beyond; or which, summing up into itself all the acquisitions
in a particular direction of the past, shall furnish a mighty vantage-
ground from which to advance to new conquests in those realms of mind
or of nature, not as yet subdued to the intellect and uses of man.

'Cosmopolite' has often now a shallow or even a mischievous use; and he
who calls himself 'cosmopolite' may mean no more than that he is _not_
a patriot, that his native country does _not_ possess his love. Yet, as
all must admit, he could have been no common man who, before the
preaching of the Gospel, launched this word upon the world, and claimed
this name for himself. Nor was he a common man; for Diogenes the Cynic,
whose sayings are among quite the most notable in antiquity, was its
author. Being demanded of what city or country he was, Diogenes
answered that he was a 'cosmopolite'; in this word widening the range
of men's thoughts, bringing in not merely a word new to Greek ears, but
a thought which, however commonplace and familiar to us now, must have
been most novel and startling to those whom he addressed. I am far from
asserting that contempt for his citizenship in its narrower sense may
not have mingled with this his challenge for himself of a citizenship
wide as the world; but there was not the less a very remarkable
reaching out here after truths which were not fully born into the world
until _He_ came, in whom and in whose Church all national differences
and distinctions are done away.

As occupying somewhat of a middle place between those more deliberate
word-makers and the multitude whose words rather grow of themselves
than are made, we must not omit him who is a _maker_ by the very right
of his name--I mean, the poet. That creative energy with which he is
endowed, 'the high-flying liberty of conceit proper to the poet,' will
not fail to manifest itself in this region as in others. Extending the
domain of thought and feeling, he will scarcely fail to extend that
also of language, which does not willingly lag behind. And the loftier
his moods, the more of this maker he will be. The passion of such times,
the all-fusing imagination, will at once suggest and justify audacities
in speech, upon which in calmer moods he would not have ventured, or,
venturing, would have failed to carry others with him: for it is only
the fluent metal that runs easily into novel shapes and moulds. Nor is
it merely that the old and the familiar will often become new in the
poet's hands; that he will give the stamp of allowance, as to him will
be free to do, to words which hitherto have lived only on the lips of
the people, or been confined to some single dialect and province; but
he will enrich his native tongue with words unknown and non-existent
before--non-existent, that is, save in their elements; for in the
historic period of a language it is not permitted to any man to do more
than work on pre-existent materials; to evolve what is latent therein,
to combine what is apart, to recall what has fallen out of sight.

But to return to the more deliberate coining of words. New necessities
have within the last few years called out several of these deliberate
creations in our own language. The almost simultaneous discovery of
such large abundance of gold in so many quarters of the world led some
nations so much to dread an enormous depreciation of this metal, that
they ceased to make it the standard of value--Holland for instance did
so for a while, though she has since changed her mind; and it has been
found convenient to invent a word, 'to demonetize' to express this
process of turning a precious metal from being the legal standard into
a mere article of commerce. So, too, diplomacy has recently added more
than one new word to our vocabulary. I suppose nobody ever heard of
'extradition' till within the last few years; nor of 'neutralization'
except, it might be, in some treatise upon chemistry, till in the
treaty of peace which followed the Crimean War the 'neutralization' of
the Black Sea was made one of the stipulations. 'Secularization,' in
like manner, owes its birth to the long and weary negotiations which
preceded the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). Whenever it proved difficult
to find anywhere else compensation for some powerful claimant, there
was always some abbey or bishopric which with its revenues might be
seized, stripped of its ecclesiastical character, and turned into a
secular possession. Our manifold points of contact with the East, the
necessity that has thus arisen of representing oriental words to the
western world by means of an alphabet not its own, with the manifold
discussions on the fittest equivalents, all this has brought with it
the need of a word which should describe the process, and
'transliteration' is the result.

We have long had 'assimilation' in our dictionaries; 'dissimilation'
has as yet scarcely found its way into them, but it speedily will. [It
has already appeared in our books on language. [Footnote: See Skeat's
_Etym. Dict_. (s. v. _truffle_). Pott (_Etym. Forsch_. vol. ii. p. 65)
introduced the word 'dissimilation' into German.]] Advances in
philology have rendered it a matter of necessity that we should possess
a term to designate a certain process which words unconsciously undergo,
and no other would designate it at all so well. There is a process of
'assimilation' going on very extensively in language; the organs of
speech finding themselves helped by changing one letter for another
which has just occurred, or will just occur in a word; thus we say not
'a_df_iance,' but 'a_ff_iance,' not 're_n_ow_m_,' as our ancestors did
when 'renom' was first naturalized, but 're_n_ow_n_'; we say too,
though we do not write it, 'cu_b_board' and not 'cu_p_board,'
'su_t_tle' and not 'su_b_tle.' But side by side with this there is
another opposite process, where some letter would recur too often for
euphony or ease in speaking, were the strict form of the word too
closely held fast; and where consequently this letter is exchanged for
some other, generally for some nearly allied; thus 'cae_r_uleus' was
once 'cae_l_uleus,' from caelum [Footnote: The connexion of _caeruleus_
with _caelum_ is not at all certain.] 'me_r_idies' is for 'me_d_idies/
or medius dies. In the same way the Italians prefer 've_l_eno' to
've_n_eno'; the Germans '_k_artoffel' to '_t_artüffel,' from Italian
'tartufola' = Latin terrae tuber, an old name of the potato; and we
'cinnamo_n_' to 'cinnamo_m_' (the earlier form). So too in 'turtle,'
'marble,' 'purple,' we have shrunk from the double '_r_' of 'turtur,'
'marmor,' 'purpura.' [Footnote: See Dwight, _Modern Philology_, 2nd
Series, p. 100; Heyse, _System der Sprachwissenschaft_, Section 139-
141; and Peile, _Introduction to Greek and Latin Etymology_, pp. 357-
379.] 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 in an anterior period
they were not required. For example, in Greece so long as the poet sang
his own verses, 'singer' (aoidos) sufficiently expressed the double
function; such a 'singer' was Homer, and such Homer describes Demodocus,
the bard of the Phaeacians; that double function, in fact, not being in
his time contemplated as double, but each of its parts 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 to 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, the name
'physician' remained to that which was as the stock and stem of the art,
while the new offshoot sought out and obtained a new name for itself.

But it is not merely new things which will require new names. It will
often be discovered that old things have not got a name at all, or,
having one, are compelled to share it with something else, often to the
serious embarrassment of both. The manner in which men become aware of
such deficiencies, is commonly this. Comparing their own language with
another, and in some aspects a richer, compelled, it may be, to such
comparison through having undertaken to transfer treasures of that
language into their own, they become conscious of much worthy to be
uttered in human speech, and plainly utterable therein, since another
language has found utterance for it; but which hitherto has found no
voice in their own. Hereupon with more or less success they proceed to
supply the deficiency. Hardly in any other way would the wants in this
way revealed make themselves felt even by the most thoughtful; for
language is to so large an extent the condition and limit of thought,
men are so little accustomed, indeed so little able, to contemplate
things, except through the intervention, and by the machinery, of words,
that the absence of words from a language almost necessarily brings
with it the absence of any sense of that absence. Here is one advantage
of acquaintance with other languages besides our own, and of the
institution that will follow, if we have learned those other to any
profit, of such comparisons, namely, that we thus become aware that
names are not, and least of all the names in any one language, co-
extensive with things (and by 'things' I mean subjects as well as
objects of thought, whatever one can _think_ about), that innumerable
things and aspects of things exist, which, though capable of being
resumed and connoted in a word, are yet without one, unnamed and
unregistered; and thus, vast as may be the world of names, that the
world of realities, and of realities which are nameable, is vaster
still. Such discoveries the Romans made, when they sought to transplant
the moral philosophy of Greece to an Italian soil. They discovered that
many of its terms had no equivalents with them; which equivalents
thereupon they proceeded to devise for themselves, appealing for this
to the latent capabilities of their own tongue. For example, the Greek
schools had a word, and one playing no unimportant part in some of
their philosophical systems, to express 'apathy' or the absence of all
passion and pain. As it was absolutely necessary to possess a
corresponding word, Cicero invented 'indolentia,' as that 'if I may so
speak' with which he paves the way to his first introduction of it,
sufficiently declares. [Footnote: _Fin_. ii. 4; and for 'qualitas' see
_Acad_. i. 6.] Sometimes, indeed, such a skilful mint-master of words,
such a subtle watcher and weigher of their force as was Cicero,
[Footnote: Ille verborum vigilantissimus appensor ac mensor, as
Augustine happily terms him.] will have noticed even apart from this
comparison with other languages, an omission in his own, which
thereupon he will endeavour to supply. Thus the Latin had two
adjectives which, though not kept apart as strictly as they might have
been, possessed each its peculiar meaning, 'invidus' one who is envious,
'invidiosus' one who excites envy in others; [Footnote: Thus the
monkish line:
     _Invidiosus_ ego, non _invidus_ esse laboro.] at the same time
there was only one substantive, 'invidia' the correlative of them both;
with the disadvantage, therefore, of being employed now in an active,
now in a passive sense, now for the envy which men feel, and now for
the envy which they excite. The word he saw was made to do double duty;
under a seeming unity there lurked a real dualism, from which manifold
confusions might follow. He therefore devised 'invidentia,' to express
the active envy, or the envying, no doubt desiring that 'invidia'
should be restrained to the passive, the being envied. 'Invidentia' to
all appearance supplied a real want; yet Cicero himself did not succeed
in giving it currency; does not seem himself to have much cared to
employ it again. [Footnote: _Tusc._ iii. 9; iv. 8; cf. Döderlein,
_Synon._ vol. iii, p. 68.] We see by this example that not every word,
which even an expert in language proposes, finds acceptance; [Footnote:
Quintilian's advice, based on this fact, is good (i. 6. 42): Etiamsi
potest nihil peccare, qui utitur iis verbis quae summi auctores
tradiderunt, multum tamen refert non solum quid _dixerint_, sed etiam
quid _persuaserint_. He himself, as he informs us, invented 'vocalitas'
to correspond with the Greek [Greek: euphonia] (_Instit._ i. 5. 24),
but I am not conscious that he found any imitators here.] for, as
Dryden, treating on this subject, has well observed, 'It is one thing
to draw a bill, and another to have it accepted.' Provided some words
live, he must be content that others should fall to the ground and die.
Nor is this the only unsuccessful candidate for admission into the
language which Cicero put forward. His 'indolentia' which I mentioned
just now, hardly passed beyond himself; [Footnote: Thus Seneca a little
later is unaware, or has forgotten, that Cicero made any such
suggestion. Taking no notice of it, he proposes 'impatientia' as an
adequate rendering of [Greek: apatheia]. There clung this inconvenience
to the word, as he himself allowed, that it was already used in exactly
the opposite sense (_Ep_. 9). Elsewhere he claims to be the inventor of
'essentia' (_Ep_. 38;.)] his 'vitiositas,' [Footnote: _Tusc_. iv. 15.]
'indigentia,' [Footnote: _Ibid_. iv. 9. 21.] and 'mulierositas,'
[Footnote: _Ibid_. iv. ii.] not at all. 'Beatitas' too and 'beatitudo,'
[Footnote: Nat. Dear. i. 34.] both of his coining, yet, as he owns
himself, with something strange and unattractive about them, found
almost no acceptance at all in the classical literature of Rome:
'beatitude,' indeed, obtained a home, as it deserved to do, in the
Christian Church, but 'beatitas' none. Coleridge's 'esemplastic,' by
which he was fain to express the all-atoning or unifying power of the
imagination, has not pleased others at all in the measure in which it
pleased himself; while the words of Jeremy Taylor, of such Latinists as
Sir Thomas Browne and Henry More, born only to die, are multitudinous
as the fallen leaves of autumn. [Footnote: See my _English Past and
Present_, 13th edit. p. 113.] Still even the word which fails is often
an honourable testimony to the scholarship, or the exactness of thought,
or the imagination of its author; and Ben Jonson is over-hard on
'neologists,' if I may bring this term back to its earlier meaning,
when he says: 'A man coins not a new word without some peril, and less
fruit; for if it happen to be received, the praise is but moderate; if
refused, the scorn is assured,' [Footnote: Therefore the maxim: Moribus
antiquis, praesentibus utere verbis.]

I spoke just now of comprehensive words, which should singly say what
hitherto it had taken many words to say, in which a higher term has
been reached than before had been attained. The value of these is
incalculable. By the cutting short of lengthy explanations and tedious
circuits of language, they facilitate mental processes, such as would
often have been nearly or quite impossible without them; and such as
have invented or put these into circulation, are benefactors of a high
order to knowledge. In the ordinary traffic of life, unless our
dealings are on the smallest scale, we willingly have about us our
money in the shape rather of silver than of copper; and if our
transactions are at all extensive, rather in gold than in silver: while,
if we were setting forth upon a long and costly journey, we should be
best pleased to turn even our gold coin itself into bills of exchange
or circular notes; in fact, into the highest denomination of money
which it was capable of assuming. How many words with which we are now
perfectly familiar are for us what the circular note or bill of
exchange is for the traveller or the merchant. As innumerable pence, a
multitude of shillings, not a few pounds are gathered up and
represented by one of these, so have we in some single word the
quintessence and final result of an infinite number of anterior mental
processes, ascending one above the other, until all have been at length
summed up for us in that single word. This last may be compared to
nothing so fitly as to some mighty river, which does not bring its
flood of waters to the sea, till many rills have been swallowed up in
brooks, and brooks in streams, and streams in tributary rivers, each of
these affluents having lost its separate name and existence in that
which at last represents and contains them all.

Science is an immense gainer by words which thus say singly, what whole
sentences might with difficulty have succeeded in saying. Thus
'isothermal' is quite a modern invention; but how much is summed up by
the word; what a long story is saved, as often as we speak of
'isothermal' lines. Physiologists have given the name of 'atavism' to
the emerging again of a face in a family after its disappearance during
two or three generations. What would have else needed a sentence is
here accomplished by a word. Lord Bacon somewhere describes a certain
candidate for the Chair of St. Peter as being 'papable.' There met,
that is, in him all the conditions, and they were many, which would
admit the choice of the Conclave falling upon him. When Bacon wrote,
one to be 'papable' must have been born in lawful wedlock; must have no
children nor grandchildren living; must not have a kinsman already in
the Conclave; must be already a Cardinal; all which facts this single
word sums up. When Aristotle, in the opening sentences of his
_Rhetoric_, declares that rhetoric and logic are antistrophic,' what a
wonderful insight into both, and above all into their relations to one
another, does the word impart to those who have any such special
training as enables them to take in all which hereby he intends. Or
take a word so familiar as 'circle,' and imagine how it would fare with
us, if, as often as in some long and difficult mathematical problem we
needed to refer to this figure, we were obliged to introduce its entire
definition, no single word representing it; and not this only, but the
definition of each term employed in the definition;--how well nigh
impossible it would prove to carry the whole process in the mind, or to
take oversight of all its steps. Imagine a few more words struck out of
the vocabulary of the mathematician, and if all activity and advance in
his proper domain was not altogether arrested, yet would it be as
effectually restrained and hampered as commercial intercourse would be,
if in all its transactions iron or copper were the sole medium of
exchange. Wherever any science is progressive, there will be progress
in its nomenclature as well. Words will keep pace with things, and with
more or less felicity resuming in themselves the labours of the past,
will at once assist and abridge the labours of the future; like tools
which, themselves the result of the finest mechanical skill, do at the
same time render other and further triumphs of art possible, oftentimes
such as would prove quite unattainable without them. [Footnote: See
Mill, _System of Logic_, iv. 6, 3.]

It is not merely the widening of men's intellectual horizon, which,
bringing new thoughts within the range of their vision, compels the
origination of corresponding words; but as often as regions of this
outward world hitherto closed are laid open, the novel objects of
interest which these contain will demand to find their names, and not
merely to be catalogued in the nomenclature of science, but, so far as
they present themselves to the popular eye, will require to be
popularly named. When a new thing, a plant, or fruit, or animal, or
whatever else it may be, is imported from some foreign land, or so
comes within the sphere of knowledge that it needs to be thus named,
there are various ways by which this may be done. The first and
commonest way is to import the name and the thing together,
incorporating the former, unchanged, or with slight modification, into
the language. Thus we did with the potato, which is only another form
of 'batata,' in which shape the original Indian word appears in our
earlier voyagers. But this is not the only way of naming; and the
example on which I have just lighted affords good illustration of
various other methods which may be adopted. Thus a name belonging to
something else, which the new object nearly resembles, may be
transferred to it, and the confusion arising from calling different
things by the same name disregarded. It was thus in German, 'kartoffel'
being only a corruption, which found place in the last century, of
'tartuffel' from the Italian 'tartiiffolo'(Florio), properly the name
of the truffle; but which not the less was transferred to the potato,
on the ground of the many resemblances between them. [Footnote: [See
Kluge, _Etym. Dict_. (s. v. _Kartoffel_).]] Or again this same transfer
may take place, but with some qualifying or distinguishing addition.
Thus in Italy also men called the potato 'tartufo,' but added 'bianco,'
the white truffle; a name now giving way to 'patata.' Thus was it, too,
with the French; who called it apple, but 'apple of the earth'; even as
in many of the provincial dialects of Germany it bears the name of
'erdapfel' or earth-apple to this day.

It will sometimes happen that a language, having thus to provide a new
name for a new thing, will seem for a season not to have made up its
mind by which of these methods it shall do it. Two names will exist
side by side, and only after a time will one gain the upper hand of the
other. Thus when the pineapple was introduced into England, it brought
with it the name of 'ananas' erroneously 'anana' under which last form
it is celebrated by Thomson in his _Seasons_. [Footnote: [The word
ananas is from a native Peruvian name _nanas_. The pineapple was first
seen by Europeans in Peru; see the _New English Dictionary_ (s. v.).]]
This name has been nearly or quite superseded by 'pineapple' manifestly
suggested by the likeness of the new fruit to the cone of the pine. It
is not a very happy formation; for it is not _likeness_, but _identity_,
which 'pineapple' suggests, and it gives some excuse to an error, which
up to a very late day ran through all German-English and French-English
dictionaries; I know not whether even now it has disappeared. In all of
these 'pineapple' is rendered as though it signified not the anana, but
this cone of the pine; and not very long ago, the _Journal des Débats_
made some uncomplimentary observations on the voracity of the English,
who could wind up a Lord Mayor's banquet with fir-cones for dessert.

Sometimes the name adopted will be one drawn from an intermediate
language, through which we first became acquainted with the object
requiring to be named. 'Alligator' is an example of this. When that
ugly crocodile of the New World was first seen by the Spanish
discoverers, they called it, with a true insight into its species, 'el
lagarto,' _the_ lizard, as being the largest of that lizard species to
which it belonged, or sometimes 'el lagarto de las Indias,' the Indian
lizard. In Sir Walter Raleigh's _Discovery of Guiana_ the word still
retains its Spanish form. Sailing up the Orinoco, 'we saw in it,' he
says, 'divers sorts of strange fishes of marvellous bigness, but for
_lagartos_ it exceeded; for there were thousands of these ugly serpents,
and the people call it, for the abundance of them, the river of
_lagartos_, in their language.' We can explain the shape which with us
the word gradually assumed, by supposing that English sailors who
brought it home, and had continually heard, but may have never seen it
written, blended, as in similar instances has often happened, the
Spanish article 'el' with the name. In Ben Jonson's 'alligarta,' we
note the word in process of transformation. [Footnote: 'Alcoran'
supplies another example of this curious annexation of the article.
Examples of a like absorption or incorporation of it are to be found in
many languages; in our own, when we write 'a newt,' and not an ewt, or
when our fathers wrote 'a nydiot' (Sir T. More), and not an idiot; in
the Italian, which has 'lonza' for onza; but they are still more
numerous in French. Thus 'lierre,' ivy, was written by Ronsard,
'l'hierre,' which is correct, being the Latin 'hedera.' 'Lingot' is our
'ingot,' but with fusion of the article; in 'larigot' and 'loriot' the
word and the article have in the same manner grown together. In old
French it was l'endemain,' or, le jour en demain: 'le lendemain,' as
now written, is a barbarous excess of expression. 'La Pouille,' a name
given to the southern extremity of Italy, and in which we recognize
'Apulia,' is another variety of error, but moving in the same sphere
(Génin, _Récréations Philologiques_, vol. i. pp. 102-105); of the same
variety is 'La Natolie,' which was written 'L'Anatolie' once. An Irish
scholar has observed that in modern Irish 'an' (='the') is frequently
thus absorbed in the names of places, as in 'Nenagh, 'Naul'; while
sometimes an error exactly the reverse of this is committed, and a
letter supposed to be the article, but in fact a part of the word,
dropt: thus 'Oughaval,' instead of 'Noughhaval' or New Habitation. [See
Joyce, _Irish Local Names_.]]

Less honourable causes than some which I have mentioned, give birth to
new words; which will sometimes reflect back a very fearful light on
the moral condition of that epoch in which first they saw the light. Of
the Roman emperor, Tiberius, one of those 'inventors of evil things,'
of whom St. Paul speaks (Rom. i. 30), Tacitus informs us that under his
hateful dominion words, unknown before, emerged in the Latin tongue,
for the setting out of wickednesses, happily also previously unknown,
which he had invented. It was the same frightful time which gave birth
to 'delator,' alike to the thing and to the word.

The atrocious attempt of Lewis XIV. to convert the Protestants in his
dominions to the Roman Catholic faith by quartering dragoons upon them,
with license to misuse to the uttermost those who refused to conform,
this 'booted mission' (mission bottée), as it was facetiously called at
the time, has bequeathed 'dragonnade' to the French language. 'Refugee'
had at the same time its rise, and owed it to the same event. They were
called 'réfugiés' or 'refugees' who took refuge in some land less
inhospitable than their own, so as to escape the tender mercies of
these missionaries. 'Convertisseur' belongs to the same period. The
spiritual factor was so named who undertook to convert the Protestants
on a large scale, receiving so much a head for the converts whom he

Our present use of 'roué' throws light on another curious and shameful
page of French history. The 'roué,' by which word now is meant a man of
profligate character and conduct, is properly and primarily one broken
on the wheel. Its present and secondary meaning it derived from that
Duke of Orleans who was Regent of France after the death of Lewis XIV.
It was his miserable ambition to gather round him companions worse, if
possible, and wickeder than himself. These, as the Duke of St. Simon
assures us, he was wont to call his 'roués'; every one of them
abundantly deserving to be broken on the wheel,--which was the
punishment then reserved in France for the worst malefactors.
[Footnote: The 'roués' themselves declared that the word expressed
rather their readiness to give any proof of their affection, even to
the being broken upon the wheel, to their protector and friend.] When
we have learned the pedigree of the word, the man and the age rise up
before us, glorying in their shame, and not caring to pay to virtue
even that hypocritical homage which vice finds it sometimes convenient
to render.

The great French Revolution made, as might be expected, characteristic
contributions to the French language. It gives us some insight into its
ugliest side to know that, among other words, it produced the
following: 'guillotine,' 'incivisme,' 'lanterner,' 'noyade,'
'sansculotte,' 'terrorisme.' Still later, the French conquests in North
Africa, and the pitiless severities with which every attempt at
resistance on the part of the free tribes of the interior was put down
and punished, have left their mark on it as well; 'razzia' which is
properly an Arabic word, having been added to it, to express the swift
and sudden sweeping away of a tribe, with its herds, its crops, and all
that belongs to it. The Communist insurrection of 1871 bequeathed one
contribution almost as hideous as itself, namely 'pétroleuse,' to the
language. It is quite recently that we have made any acquaintance with
'recidivist'--one, that is, who falls back once more on criminal

But it would ill become us to look only abroad for examples in this
kind, when perhaps an equal abundance might be found much nearer home.
Words of our own keep record of passages in our history in which we
have little reason to glory. Thus 'mob' and 'sham' had their birth in
that most disgraceful period of English history, the interval between
the Restoration and the Revolution. 'I may note,' says one writing
towards the end of the reign of Charles II., 'that the rabble first
changed their title, and were called "the mob" in the assemblies of
this [The Green Ribbon] Club. It was their beast of burden, and called
first "mobile vulgus," but fell naturally into the contraction of one
syllable, and ever since is become proper English.' [Footnote: North,
_Examen_, p. 574; for the origin of 'sham' see p. 231. Compare Swift in
_The Tatler_, No. ccxxx. 'I have done the utmost,' he there says, 'for
some years past to stop the progress of "mob" and "banter"; but have
been plainly borne down by numbers, and betrayed by those who promised
to assist me.'] At a much later date a writer in _The Spectator_ speaks
of 'mob' as still only struggling into existence. 'I dare not answer,'
he says, 'that mob, rap, pos, incog., and the like, will not in time be
looked at as part of our tongue.' In regard of 'mob,' the mobile
multitude, swayed hither and thither by each gust of passion or caprice,
this, which _The Spectator_ hardly expected, while he confessed it
possible, has actually come to pass. 'It is one of the many words
formerly slang, which are now used by our best writers, and received,
like pardoned outlaws, into the body of respectable citizens.' Again,
though the murdering of poor helpless lodgers, afterwards to sell their
bodies for dissection, can only be regarded as the monstrous wickedness
of one or two, yet the verb 'to burke,' drawn from the name of a wretch
who long pursued this hideous traffic, will be evidence in all after
times, unless indeed its origin should be forgotten, to how strange a
crime this age of ours could give birth. Nor less must it be
acknowledged that 'to ratten' is no pleasant acquisition which the
language within the last few years has made; and as little 'to
boycott,' which is of still later birth. [Footnote: This word has found
its way into most European languages, see the New English Dictionary (s.

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, wherein, as plays and displays of power, writers
ancient and modern have delighted. These for the most part are meant to
do service for the moment, and, this done, to pass into oblivion; the
inventors of them themselves having no intention of fastening them
permanently on the language. Thus Aristophanes coined [Greek:
mellonikiao], to loiter like Nicias, with allusion to the delays by
whose aid this prudent commander sought to put off the disastrous
Sicilian expedition, with other words not a few, familiar to every
scholar. The humour will sometimes consist in their enormous
length, [Footnote: As in the [Greek: amphiptolemopedesistratos] of
Eupolis; the [Greek: spermagoraiolekitholachanopolis] of Aristophanes.
There are others a good deal longer than these.] sometimes in their
mingled observance and transgression of the laws of the language, as in
the [Greek: danaotatos], in the [Greek: autotatos] of the Greek comic
poet, the 'patruissimus' and 'oculissimus,' comic superlatives of
patruus and oculus, 'occisissimus' of occisus; 'dominissimus' of
dominus; 'asinissimo' (Italian) of asino; or in superlative piled on
superlative, as in the 'minimissimus' and 'pessimissimus' of Seneca,
the 'ottimissimo' of the modern Italian; so too 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
crowning promise with performance. Plautus, with his exuberant wit, and
exulting in his mastery of the Latin language, is rich in these,
'fustitudinus,' 'ferricrepinus' and the like; will put together four or
five lines consisting wholly of comic combinations thrown off for the
occasion. [Footnote: _Persa_, iv. 6, 20-23.] Of the same character is
Chaucer's 'octogamy,' or eighth marriage; Butler's 'cynarctomachy,' or
battle of a dog and bear; Southey's 'matriarch,' for by this name he
calls the wife of the Patriarch Job; but Southey's fun in this line of
things is commonly poor enough; his want of finer scholarship making
itself felt here. What humour for example can any one find in
'philofelist' or lover of cats? Fuller, when he used 'to avunculize,'
meaning to tread in the footsteps of one's uncle, scarcely proposed it
as a lasting addition to the language; as little did Pope intend more
than a very brief existence for 'vaticide,' or Cowper for 'extra-
foraneous,' or Carlyle for 'gigmanity,' for 'tolpatchery,' or the like.

Such are some of the sources of increase in the wealth of a language;
some of the quarters from which its vocabulary is augmented. There have
been, from time to time, those who have so little understood what a
language is, and what are the laws which it obeys, that they have
sought by arbitrary decrees of their own to arrest its growth, have
pronounced that it has reached the limits of its growth, and must not
henceforward presume to develop itself further. Even Bentley with all
his vigorous insight into things is here at fault. 'It were no
difficult contrivance,' he says, 'if the public had any regard to it,
to make the English tongue immutable, unless hereafter some foreign
nation shall invade and overrun us.' [Footnote: Works, vol. II. p. 13.]
But a language has a life, as truly as a man, or as a tree. As a man,
it must grow to its full stature; unless indeed its life is prematurely
abridged by violence from without; even as it is also submitted to his
conditions of decay. As a forest tree, it will defy any feeble bands
which should attempt to control its expansion, so long as the principle
of growth is in it; as a tree too it will continually, while it casts
off some leaves, be putting forth others. And thus all such attempts to
arrest have utterly failed, even when made under conditions the most
favourable for success. The French Academy, numbering all or nearly all
the most distinguished writers of France, once sought to exercise such
a domination over their own language, and might have hoped to succeed,
if success had been possible for any. But the language heeded their
decrees as little as the advancing tide heeded those of Canute. Could
they hope to keep out of men's speech, or even out of their books,
however they excluded from their own _Dictionary_, such words as
'blague,' 'blaguer,' 'blagueur,' because, being born of the people,
they had the people's mark upon them? After fruitless resistance for a
time, they have in cases innumerable been compelled to give way--though
in favour of the words just cited they have not yielded yet--and in
each successive edition of their _Dictionary_ have thrown open its
doors to words which had established themselves in the language, and
would hold their ground there, altogether indifferent whether they
received the Academy's seal of allowance or not. [Footnote: Nisard
(_Curiosites de l'Etym. Franc._ p. 195) has an article on these words,
where with the epigrammatic neatness which distinguishes French prose,
he says, Je regrette que l'Académie repousse de son Dictionnaire les
mots _blague, blagueur_, laissant gronder à sa porte ces fils effrontés
du peuple, qui finiront par l'enfoncer. On this futility of struggling
against popular usage in language Montaigne has said, 'They that will
fight custom with grammar are fools'; and, we may add, not less fools,
as engaged in as hopeless a conflict, they that will fight it with

Littré, the French scholar who single-handed has given to the world a
far better Dictionary than that on which the Academy had bestowed the
collective labour of more than two hundred years, shows a much juster
estimate of the actual facts of language. If ever there was a word born
in the streets, and bearing about it tokens of the place of its birth,
it is 'gamin'; moreover it cannot be traced farther back than the year
1835; when first it appeared in a book, though it may have lived some
while before on the lips of the people. All this did not hinder his
finding room for it in the pages of his _Dictionary_. He did the same
for 'flâneur,' and for 'rococo,' and for many more, bearing similar
marks of a popular origin. [Footnote: A work by Darmesteter, _De la
Création actuelle de Mots nouveaux dans la Langue Française_, Paris,
1877, is well worth consulting here.] And with good right; for though
fashions may descend from the upper classes to the lower, words, such I
mean as constitute real additions to the wealth of a language, ascend
from the lower to the higher; and of these not a few, let fastidious
scholars oppose or ignore them for a while as they may, will assert a
place for themselves therein, from which they will not be driven by the
protests of all the scholars and all the academicians in the world. The
world is ever moving, and language has no choice but to move with it.
[Footnote: One has well said, 'The subject of language, the instrument,
but also the restraint, of thought, is endless. The history of language,
the mouth speaking from the fulness of the heart, is the history of
human action, faith, art, policy, government, virtue, and crime. When
society progresses, the language of the people necessarily runs even
with the line of society. You cannot unite past and present, still less
can you bring back the past; moreover, the law of progress is the law
of storms, it is impossible to inscribe an immutable statute of
language on the periphery of a vortex, whirling as it advances. Every
political development induces a concurrent alteration or expansion in
conversation and composition. New principles are generated, new
authorities introduced; new terms for the purpose of explaining or
concealing the conduct of public men must be created: new
responsibilities arise. The evolution of new ideas renders the change
as easy as it is irresistible, being a natural change indeed, like our
own voice under varying emotions or in different periods of life: the
boy cannot speak like the baby, nor the man like the boy, the wooer
speaks otherwise than the husband, and every alteration in
circumstances, fortune or misfortune, health or sickness, prosperity or
adversity, produces some corresponding change of speech or inflection
of tone.']

Those who make attempts to close the door against all new comers are
strangely forgetful of the steps whereby that vocabulary of the
language, with which they are so entirely satisfied that they resent
every endeavour to enlarge it, had itself been gotten together--namely
by that very process which they are now seeking by an arbitrary decree
to arrest. We so take for granted that words with which we have been
always familiar, whose right to a place in the language no one dreams
now of challenging or disputing, have always formed part of it, that it
is oftentimes a surprise to discover of how very late introduction many
of these actually are; what an amount, it may be, of remonstrance and
resistance some of them encountered at the first. To take two or three
Latin examples: Cicero, in employing 'favor,' a word soon after used by
everybody, does it with an apology, evidently feels that he is
introducing a questionable novelty, being probably first applied to
applause in the theatre; 'urbanus,' too, in our sense of urbane, had in
his time only just come up; 'obsequium' he believes Terence to have
been the first to employ. [Footnote: On the new words in classical
Latin, see Quintilian, Inst. viii. 3. 30-37.] 'Soliloquium' seems to us
so natural, indeed so necessary, a word, this 'soliloquy,' or talking
of a man with himself alone, something which would so inevitably demand
and obtain its adequate expression, that we learn with surprise that no
one spoke of a 'soliloquy' before Augustine; the word having been
coined, as he distinctly informs us, by himself. [Footnote: Solil. 2.

Where a word has proved an unquestionable gain, it is interesting to
watch it as it first emerges, timid, and doubtful of the reception it
will meet with; and the interest is much enhanced if it has thus come
forth on some memorable occasion, or from some memorable man. Both
these interests meet in the word 'essay.' Were we asked what is the
most remarkable volume of essays which the world has seen, few, capable
of replying, would fail to answer, Lord Bacon's. But they were also the
first collection of these, which bore that name; for we gather from the
following passage in the (intended) dedication of the volume to Prince
Henry, that 'essay' was itself a recent word in the language, and, in
the use to which he put it, perfectly novel: he says--'To write just
treatises requireth leisure in the writer, and leisure in the
reader; ... which is the cause which hath made me choose to write
certain brief notes set down rather significantly than curiously, which
I have called _Essays_. The word is late, but the thing is ancient.'
From this dedication we gather that, little as 'essays' now can be
considered a word of modesty, deprecating too large expectations on the
part of the reader, it had, as 'sketches' perhaps would have now, as
'commentary' had in the Latin, that intention in its earliest use. In
this deprecation of higher pretensions it resembled the 'philosopher'
of Pythagoras. Others had styled themselves, or had been willing to be
styled, 'wise men.' 'Lover of wisdom' a name at once so modest arid so
beautiful, was of his devising. [Footnote: Diogenes Laërtius, Prooem.
Section 12.] But while thus some words surprise us that they are so new,
others surprise us that they are so old. Few, I should imagine, are
aware that 'rationalist,' and this in a theological, and not merely a
philosophical sense, is of such early date as it is; or that we have
not imported quite in these later times both the name and the thing
from Germany. Yet this is very far from the case. There were
'rationalists' in the time of the Commonwealth; and these challenging
the name exactly on the same grounds as those who in later times have
claimed it for their own. Thus, the author of a newsletter from London,
of date October 14, 1646, among other things mentions: 'There is a new
sect sprung up among them [the Presbyterians and Independents], and
these are the _Rationalists_, and what their reason dictates them in
Church or State stands for good, until they be convinced with better;'
[Footnote: _Clarendon State Papers_, vol. ii. p. 40 of the _Appendix._]
with more to the same effect. 'Christology' has been lately
characterized as a monstrous importation from Germany. I am quite of
the remonstrant's mind that English theology does not need, and can do
excellently well without it; yet this novelty it is not; for in the
_Preface_ to the works of that illustrious Arminian divine of the
seventeenth century, Thomas Jackson, written by Benjamin Oley, his
friend and pupil, the following passage occurs: 'The reader will find
in this author an eminent excellence in that part of divinity which I
make bold to call _Christology_, in displaying the great mystery of
godliness, God the Son manifested in human flesh.' [Footnote: _Preface
to Dr. Jackson's Works_, vol. i. p. xxvii. A work of Fleming's,
published in 1700, bears the title, _Christology_.] In their power of
taking up foreign words into healthy circulation and making them truly
their own, languages differ much from one another, and the same
language from itself at different periods of its life. There are
languages of which the appetite and digestive power, the assimilative
energy, is at some periods almost unlimited. Nothing is too hard for
them; everything turns to good with them; they will shape and mould to
their own uses and habits almost any material offered to them. This,
however, is in their youth; as age advances, the assimilative energy
diminishes. Words are still adopted; for this process of adoption can
never wholly cease; but a chemical amalgamation of the new with the old
does not any longer find place; or only in some instances, and very
partially even in them. The new comers lie upon the surface of the
language; their sharp corners are not worn or rounded off; they remain
foreign still in their aspect and outline, and, having missed their
opportunity of becoming otherwise, will remain so to the end. Those who
adopt, as with an inward misgiving about their own gift and power of
stamping them afresh, make a conscience of keeping them in exactly the
same form in which they have received them; instead of conforming them
to the laws of that new community into which they are now received.
Nothing will illustrate this so well as a comparison of different words
of the same family, which have at different periods been introduced
into our language. We shall find that those of an earlier introduction
have become English through and through, while the later introduced,
belonging to the same group, have been very far from undergoing the
same transforming process. Thus 'bishop' [A.S. biscop], a word as old
as the introduction of Christianity into England, though derived from
'episcopus,' is thoroughly English; while 'episcopal,' which has
supplanted 'bishoply,' is only a Latin word in an English dress.
'Alms,' too, is thoroughly English, and English which has descended to
us from far; the very shape in which we have the word, one syllable for
'eleëmosyna' of six, sufficiently testifying this; 'letters,' as Horne
Tooke observes,' like soldiers, being apt to desert and drop off in a
long march.' The seven-syllabled and awkward 'eleëmosynary' is of far
more recent date. Or sometimes this comparison is still more striking,
when it is not merely words of the same family, but the very same word
which has been twice adopted, at an earlier period and a later--the
earlier form will be thoroughly English, as 'palsy'; the later will be
only a Greek or Latin word spelt with English letters, as 'paralysis.'
'Dropsy,' 'quinsy,' 'megrim,' 'squirrel,' 'rickets,' 'surgeon,'
'tansy,' 'dittany,' 'daffodil,' and many more words that one might name,
have nothing of strangers or foreigners about them, have made
themselves quite at home in English. So entirely is their physiognomy
native, that it would be difficult even to suspect them to be of Greek
descent, as they all are. Nor has 'kickshaws' anything about it now
which would compel us at once to recognize in it the French 'quelques
choses' [Footnote: 'These cooks have persuaded us their coarse fare is
the best, and all other but what they dress to be mere _quelques
choses_, made dishes of no nourishing' (Whitlock, _Zootomia_, p.
147).]--'French _kickshose_,' as with allusion to the quarter from
which it came, and while the memory of that was yet fresh in men's
minds, it was often called by our early writers. A very notable fact
about new words, and a very signal testimony of their popular origin,
of their birth from the bosom of the people, is the difficulty so often
found in tracing their pedigree. When the _causae vocum_ are sought, as
they very fitly are, and out of much better than mere curiosity, for
the _causae rerum_ are very often wrapt up in them, those continually
elude our research. Nor does it fare thus merely with words to which
attention was called, and interest about their etymology awakened, only
after they had been long in popular use--for that such should often
give scope to idle guesses, should altogether refuse to give up their
secret, is nothing strange--but words will not seldom perplex and
baffle the inquirer even where an investigation of their origin has
been undertaken almost as soon as they have come into existence. Their
rise is mysterious; like almost all acts of _becoming_, it veils itself
in deepest obscurity. They emerge, they are in everybody's mouth; but
when it is inquired from whence they are, nobody can tell. They are but
of yesterday, and yet with inexplicable rapidity they have already lost
all traces of the precise circumstances under which they were born.

The rapidity with which this comes to pass is nowhere more striking
than in the names of political or religious parties, and above all in
names of slight or of contempt. Thus Baxter tells us that when he wrote
there already existed two explanations of 'Roundhead,' [Footnote:
_Narrative of my Life and Times_, p. 34; 'The original of which name is
not certainly known. Some say it was because the Puritans then commonly
wore short hair, and the King's party long hair; some say, it was
because the Queen at Stafford's trial asked who that _round-headed_ man
was, meaning Mr. Pym, because he spake so strongly.'] a word not nearly
so old as himself. How much has been written about the origin of the
German 'ketzer' (= our 'heretic'), though there can scarcely be a doubt
that the Cathari make their presence felt in this word. [Footnote: See
on this word Kluge's _Etym. Dict_.] Hardly less has been disputed about
the French 'cagot.' [Footnote: The word meant in old times 'a leper';
see Cotgrave's _Dictionary_, also _Athenceum_, No. 2726.] Is 'Lollard,'
or 'Loller' as we read it in Chaucer, from 'lollen,' to chaunt? that is,
does it mean the chaunting or canting people? or had the Lollards their
title from a principal person among them of this name, who suffered at
the stake?--to say nothing of 'lolium,' found by some in the name,
these men being as _tares_ among the wholesome wheat. [Footnote: Hahn,
_Ketzer im Mittelalter_ vol. ii. p. 534.] The origin of 'Huguenot' as
applied to the French Protestants, was already a matter of doubt and
discussion in the lifetime of those who first bore it. A distinguished
German scholar has lately enumerated fifteen explanations which have
been offered of the word. [Footnote: Mahn, _Etymol. Untersuch_. p. 92.
Littré, who has found the word in use as a Christian name two centuries
before the Reformation, has no doubt that here is the explanation of it.
At any rate there is here what explodes a large number of the proposed
explanations, as for instance that Huguenot is another and popular
shape of 'Eidgenossen.'] [How did the lay sisters in the Low Countries,
the 'Beguines' get their name? Many derivations have been suggested,
but the most probable account is that given in Ducange, that the
appellative was derived from 'le Bègue' the Stammerer, the nickname of
Lambert, a priest of Liège in the twelfth century, the founder of the
order. (See the document quoted in Ducange, and the 'New English
Dictionary' (s. v.).)] Were the 'Waldenses' so called from one Waldus,
to whom these 'Poor Men of Lyons' as they were at first called, owed
their origin? [Footnote: [It is not doubted now that the Waldenses got
their name from Peter Waldez or Valdo, a native of Lyons in the twelfth
century. Waldez was a rich merchant who sold his goods and devoted his
wealth to furthering translations of the Bible, and to the support of a
set of poor preachers. For an interesting account of the Waldenses see
in the _Guardian_, Aug. 18, 1886, a learned review by W. A. B. C. of
_Histoire Littéraire des Vaudois_, par E. Montet.]] As little can any
one tell us with any certainty why the 'Paulicians' and the 'Paterines'
were severally named as they are; or, to go much further back, why the
'Essenes' were so called. [Footnote: Lightfoot, _On the Colossians_, p.
114 sqq.] From whence had Johannes Scotus, who anticipated so much of
the profoundest thinking of later times, his title of 'Erigena,' and
did that title mean Irish-born, or what? [Footnote: [There is no doubt
whatever that _Erigena_ in this case means 'Irish-born.']] 'Prester
John' was a name given in the Middle Ages to a priest-king, real or
imaginary, of wide dominion in Central Asia. But whether there was ever
actually such a person, and what was intended by his name, is all
involved in the deepest obscurity. How perplexing are many of the
Church's most familiar terms, and terms the oftenest in the mouth of
her children; thus her 'Ember' days; her 'Collects'; [Footnote: Freeman,
_Principles of Divine Service_, vol. i. p. 145.] her 'Breviary'; her
'Whitsunday'; [Footnote: See Skeat, s. v.] the derivation of 'Mass'
itself not being lifted above all question. [Footnote: Two at least of
the ecclesiastical terms above mentioned are no longer perplexing, and
are quite lifted above dispute: _ember_ in 'Ember Days' represents
Anglo-Saxon _ymb-ryne_, literally 'a running round, circuit, revolution,
anniversary'; see Skeat (s. v.); and _Whitsunday_ means simply 'White
Sunday,' Anglo-Saxon _hwita Sunnan-daeg_.] As little can any one inform
us why the Roman military standard on which Constantine inscribed the
symbols of the Christian faith should have been called 'Labarum.' And
yet the inquiry began early. A father of the Greek Church, almost a
contemporary of Constantine, can do no better than suggest that
'labarum' is equivalent to 'laborum,' and that it was so called because
in that victorious standard was the end of _labour_ and toil (finis
laborum)! [Footnote: Mahn, _Elym. Untersuch_. p. 65; cf. Kurtz,
_Kirchen-geschichte_, 3rd edit. p. 115.] The 'ciborium' of the early
Church is an equal perplexity; [Footnote: The word is first met in
Chrysostom, who calls the silver models of the temple at Ephesus (Acts
xix, 24) [Greek: mikra kiboria]. [A primary meaning of the Greek
[Greek: kiborion] was the cup-like seed-vessel of the Egyptian water-
lily, see _Dict. of Christian Antiquities_, p. 65.]] and 'chapel'
(capella) not less. All later investigations have failed effectually to
dissipate the mystery of the 'Sangraal.' So too, after all that has
been written upon it, the true etymology of 'mosaic' remains a question

And not in Church matters only, but everywhere, we meet with the same
oblivion resting on the origin of words. The Romans, one might
beforehand have assumed, must have known very well why they called
themselves 'Quirites,' but it is manifest that this knowledge was not
theirs. Why they were addressed as Patres Conscripti is a matter
unsettled still. They could have given, one would think, an explanation
of their naming an outlying conquered region a 'province.'
Unfortunately they offer half a dozen explanations, among which we may
make our choice. 'German' and 'Germany' were names comparatively recent
when Tacitus wrote; but he owns that he has nothing trustworthy to say
of their history; [Footnote: _Germania_, 2.] later inquirers have not
mended the matter, [Footnote: Pott, _Etymol. Forsch._ vol. ii. pt. 2,
pp. 860-872.]

The derivation of words which are the very key to the understanding of
the Middle Ages, is often itself wrapt in obscurity. On 'fief' and
'feudal' how much has been disputed. [Footnote: Stubbs, _Constitutional
History of England_, vol. i. p. 251.] 'Morganatic' marriages are
recognized by the public law of Germany, but why called 'morganatic' is
unsettled still. [Footnote: [There is no mystery about this word; see a
good account of the term in Skeat's _Diet_. (s. v.).]] Gypsies in
German are 'zigeuner'; but when this is resolved into 'zichgauner,' or
roaming thieves, the explanation has about as much scientific value as
the not less ingenious explanation of 'Saturnus' as satur annis,
[Footnote: Cicero, _Nat. Deor._ ii. 25.] of 'severitas' as saeva
veritas (Augustine); of 'cadaver' as composed of the first syllables of
_ca_ro _da_ta, _ver_mibus. [Footnote: Dwight, _Modern Philology_, lst
series, p. 288.] Littré has evidently little confidence in the
explanation commonly offered of the 'Salic' law, namely, that it was
the law which prevailed on the banks of the Saal. [Footnote: For a full
and learned treatment of the various derivations of 'Mephistopheles'
which have been proposed, and for the first appearance of the name in
books, see Ward's _Marlowe's Doctor Faustus_, p. 117.]

And the modern world has unsolved riddles innumerable of like kind. Why
was 'Canada' so named? And whence is 'Yankee' a title little more than
a century old? having made its first appearance in a book printed at
Boston, U.S., 1765. Is 'Hottentot' an African word, or, more probably,
a Dutch or Low Frisian; and which, if any, of the current explanations
of it should be accepted? [Footnote: See _Transactions of the
Philological Society_, 1866, pp. 6-25.] Shall we allow Humboldt's
derivation of 'cannibal,' and find 'Carib' in it? [Footnote: See Skeat,
s. v.] Whence did the 'Chouans,' the insurgent royalists of Brittany,
obtain their title? When did California obtain its name, and why?
Questions such as these, to which we can give no answer or a very
doubtful one, might be multiplied without end. Littré somewhere in his
great Dictionary expresses the misgiving with which what he calls
'anecdotal etymology' fills him; while yet it is to this that we are
continually tempted here to have recourse.

But consider now one or two words which have _not_ lost the secret of
their origin, and note how easily they might have done this, and having
once lost, how unlikely it is that any searching would have recovered
it. The traveller Burton tells us that the coarse cloth which is the
medium of exchange, in fact the money of Eastern Africa, is called
'merkani.' The word is a native corruption of 'American,' the cloth
being manufactured in America and sold under this name. But suppose a
change should take place in the country from which this cloth was
brought, men little by little forgetting that it ever had been imported
from America, who then would divine the secret of the word? So too, if
the tradition of the derivation of 'paraffin' were once let go and lost,
it would, I imagine, scarcely be recovered. Mere ingenuity would
scarcely divine the fact that a certain oil was so named because 'parum
affinis,' having little affinity which chemistry could detect, with any
other substance.

So, too, it is not very probable that the derivation of 'licorice,'
once lost, would again be recovered. It would exist, at the best, but
as one guess among many. There can be no difficulty about it when we
find it spelt, as we do in Fuller, 'glycyrize or liquoris.'

Those which I cite are but a handful of examples of the way in which
words forget, or under predisposing conditions might forget, the
circumstances of their birth. Now if we could believe in any merely
_arbitrary_ words, standing in connexion with nothing but the mere
lawless caprice of some inventor, the impossibility of tracing their
derivation would be nothing strange. Indeed it would be lost labour to
seek for the parentage of all words, when many probably had none. But
there is no such thing; there is no word which is not, as the Spanish
gentleman loves to call himself, an 'hidalgo,' or son of something.
[Footnote: The Spanish _hijo dalgo_, a gentleman, means a son of wealth,
or an estate; see Stevens' _Dict_. (s. v.)] All are embodiments, more
or less successful, of a sensation, a thought, or a fact; or if of more
fortuitous birth, still they attach themselves somewhere to the already
subsisting world of words and things, [Footnote: J. Grimm, in an
interesting review of a little volume dealing with what the Spaniards
call 'Germanía' with no reference to Germany, the French 'argot,' and
we 'Thieves' Language,' finds in this language the most decisive
evidence of this fact (_Kleine Schrift_. vol. iv. p. 165): Der
nothwendige Zusammenhang aller Sprache mit Ueberlieferung zeigt sich
auch hier; kaum ein Wort dieser Gaunermundart scheint leer erfunden,
und Menschen eines Gelichters, das sich sonst kein Gewissen aus Lügen
macht, beschämen manchen Sprachphilosophen, der von Erdichtung einer
allgemeinen Sprache geträumt hat. Van Helmont indeed, a sort of modern
Paracelsus, is said to have _invented_ the word 'gas'; but it is
difficult to think that there was not a feeling here after 'geest' or
'geist,' whether he was conscious of this or not.] and have their point
of contact with it and departure from it, not always discoverable, as
we see, but yet always existing. [Footnote: Some will remember here the
old dispute--Greek I was tempted to call it, but in one shape or
another it emerges everywhere--whether words were imposed on things
[Greek: thesei] or [Greek: physei], by arbitrary arrangement or by
nature. We may boldly say with Bacon, Vestigia certe rationis verba
sunt, and decide in favour of nature. If only they knew their own
history, they could always explain, and in most cases justify, their
existence. See some excellent remarks on this subject by Renan, _De
l'Origine du Langage_, pp. 146-149; and an admirable article on 'Slang'
in the _Times_, Oct. 18, 1864.] And thus, when a word entirely refuses
to tell us anything about itself, it must be regarded as a riddle which
no one has succeeded in solving, a lock of which no man has found the
key--but still a riddle which has a solution, a lock for which there is
a key, though now, it may be, irrecoverably lost. And this difficulty--
it is oftentimes an impossibility--of tracing the genealogy even of
words of a very recent formation, is, as I observed, a strong argument
for the birth of the most notable of these out of the heart and from
the lips of the people. Had they first appeared in books, something in
the context would most probably explain them. Had they issued from the
schools of the learned, these would not have failed to leave a
recognizable stamp and mark upon them.

There is, indeed, another way in which obscurity may rest on a new word,
or a word employed in a new sense. It may tell the story of its birth,
of the word or words which compose it, may so bear these on its front,
that there can be no question here, while yet its purpose and intention
may be hopelessly hidden from our eyes. The secret once lost, is not
again to be recovered. Thus no one has called, or could call, in
question the derivation of 'apocryphal' that it means 'hidden away.'
When, however, we begin to inquire why certain books which the Church
either set below the canonical Scriptures, or rejected altogether, were
called 'apocryphal' then a long and doubtful discussion commences. Was
it because their origin was _hidden_ to the early Fathers of the Church,
and thus reasonable suspicions of their authenticity entertained?
[Footnote: Augustine (_De Civ. Dei_, xv. 23): Apocrypha nuncupantur eo
quod eorum occulta origo non claruit Patribus. Cf. _Con. Faust_, xi.
2.] Or was it because they were mysteriously kept out of sight and
_hidden_ by the heretical sects which boasted themselves in their
exclusive possession? Or was it that they were books not laid up in the
Church chest, but _hidden away_ in obscure corners? Or were they books
_worthier to be hidden_ than to be brought forward and read to the
faithful? [Footnote: For still another reason for the epithet
'apocryphal' see Skeat's _Etym. Dict_.]--for all these explanations
have been offered, and none with such superiority of proof on its side
as to have deprived others of all right to be heard. In the same way
there is no question that 'tragedy' is the song of the goat; but why
this, whether because a goat was the prize for the best performers of
that song in which the germs of Greek tragedy lay, or because the first
actors were dressed like satyrs in goatskins, is a question which will
now remain unsettled to the end. [Footnote: See Bentley, _Works_, vol.
i. p. 337.] You know what 'leonine' verses are; or, if you do not, it
is very easy to explain. They are Latin hexameters into which an
internal rhyme has forced its way. The following, for example, are all

     Qui pingit _florem_ non pingit floris _odorem_:
     Si quis det _mannos_, ne quaere in dentibus _annos_.
     Una avis in _dextra_ melior quam quattuor _extra_.

The word has plainly to do with 'leo' in some shape or other; but are
these verses leonine from one Leo or Leolinus, who first composed them?
or because, as the lion is king of beasts, so this, in monkish
estimation, was the king of metres? or from some other cause which none
have so much as guessed at? [Footnote: See my _Sacred Latin Poetry_,
3rd edit. p. 32.] It is a mystery which none has solved. That frightful
system of fagging which made in the seventeenth century the German
Universities a sort of hell upon earth, and which was known by the name
of 'pennalism,' we can scarcely disconnect from 'penna'; while yet this
does not help us to any effectual scattering of the mystery which rests
upon the term. [Footnote: See my _Gustavus Adolphus in Germany_, p. 131.
[_Pennal_ meant 'a freshman,' a term given by the elder students in
mockery, because the student in his first year was generally more
industrious, and might be often seen with his _pennal_ or pen-case
about him.]] The connexion of 'dictator' with 'dicere', 'dictare,' is
obvious; not so the reason why the 'dictator' obtained his name.
'Sycophant' and 'superstition' are words, one Greek and one Latin, of
the same character. No one doubts of what elements they are composed;
and yet their secret has been so lost, that, except as a more or less
plausible guess, it can never now be recovered. [Footnote: For a good
recapitulation of what best has been written on 'superstitio' see Pott,
_Etym. Forschungen_, vol. ii. p. 921.]

But I must conclude. I may seem in this present lecture a little to
have outrun your needs, and to have sometimes moved in a sphere too
remote from that in which your future work will lie. And yet it is in
truth very difficult to affirm of any words, that they do not touch us,
do not in some way bear upon our studies, on what we shall hereafter
have to teach, or shall desire to learn; that there are any conquests
which language makes that concern only a select few, and may be
regarded indifferently by all others. For it is here as with many
inventions in the arts and luxuries of life; which, being at the first
the exclusive privilege and possession of the wealthy and refined,
gradually descend into lower strata of society, until at length what
were once the elegancies and luxuries of a few, have become the
decencies, well-nigh the necessities, of all. Not otherwise there are
words, once only on the lips of philosophers or theologians, of the
deeper thinkers of their time, or of those directly interested in their
speculations, which step by step have come down, not debasing
themselves in this act of becoming popular, but training and elevating
an ever-increasing number of persons to enter into their meaning, till
at length they have become truly a part of the nation's common stock,
'household words,' used easily and intelligently by nearly all.

I cannot better conclude this lecture than by quoting a passage, one
among many, which expresses with a rare eloquence all I have been
labouring to utter; for this truth, which many have noticed, hardly any
has set forth with the same fulness of illustration, or the same sense
of its importance, as the author of _The Philosophy of the Inductive
Sciences_. 'Language,' he observes, 'is often called an instrument of
thought, but it is also the nutriment of thought; or rather, it is the
atmosphere in which thought lives; a medium essential to the activity
of our speculative powers, although invisible and imperceptible in its
operation; and an element modifying, by its qualities and changes, the
growth and complexion of the faculties which it feeds. In this way the
influence of preceding discoveries upon subsequent ones, of the past
upon the present, is most penetrating and universal, although most
subtle and difficult to trace. The most familiar words and phrases are
connected by imperceptible ties with the reasonings and discoveries of
former men and distant times. Their knowledge is an inseparable part of
ours: the present generation inherits and uses the scientific wealth of
all the past. And this is the fortune, not only of the great and rich
in the intellectual world, of those who have the key to the ancient
storehouses, and who have accumulated treasures of their own, but the
humblest inquirer, while he puts his reasonings into words, benefits by
the labours of the greatest. When he counts his little wealth, he finds
he has in his hands coins which bear the image and superscription of
ancient and modern intellectual dynasties, and that in virtue of this
possession acquisitions are in his power, solid knowledge within his
reach, which none could ever have attained to, if it were not that the
gold of truth once dug out of the mine circulates more and more widely
among mankind.'



Synonyms, and the study of synonyms, with the advantages to be derived
from a careful noting of the distinction between them, constitute the
subject with which in my present Lecture I shall deal. But what, you
may ask, is meant when, comparing certain words with one another, we
affirm of them that they are synonyms? We imply that, with great and
essential resemblances of meaning, they have at the same time small,
subordinate, and partial differences--these differences being such as
either originally, and on the strength of their etymology, were born
with them; or differences which they have by usage acquired; or such as,
though nearly or altogether latent now, they are capable of receiving
at the hands of wise and discreet masters of language. Synonyms are
thus words of like significance in the main; with a large extent of
ground which they occupy in common, but also with something of their
own, private and peculiar, which they do not share with one another.
[Footnote: The word 'synonym' only found its way into the English
language about the middle of the seventeenth century. Its recent
incoming is marked by the Greek or Latin termination which for a while
it bore; Jeremy Taylor writing 'synonymon,' Hacket 'synonymum,' and
Milton (in the plural) 'synonyma.' Butler has 'synonymas.' On the
subject of this chapter see Marsh, _Lectures on the English Language_,
New York, 1860, p. 571, sqq.]

So soon as the term 'synonym' is defined thus, it will be at once
perceived by any acquainted with its etymology, that, strictly speaking,
it is a misnomer, and is given, with a certain inaccuracy and
impropriety, to words which stand in such relations as I have just
traced to one another; since in strictness of speech the terms,
'synonyms' and 'synonymous' applied to words, affirm of them that they
cover not merely almost, but altogether, the same extent of meaning,
that they are in their signification perfectly identical and
coincident; circles, so to speak, with the same centre and the same
circumference. The term, however, is not ordinarily so used; it
evidently is not so by such as undertake to trace out the distinction
between synonyms; for, without venturing to deny that there may be such
perfect synonyms, words, that is, with this absolute coincidence of the
one with the other, yet these could not be the objects of any such
discrimination; since, where no real difference exists, it would be
lost labour and the exercise of a perverse ingenuity to attempt to draw
one out.

There are, indeed, those who assert that words in one language are
never exactly synonymous, or in all respects commensurate, with words
in another; that, when they are compared with one another, there is
always something more, or something less, or something different, in
one as compared with the other, which hinders this complete equivalence.
And, those words being excepted which designate objects in their nature
absolutely incapable of a more or less and of every qualitative
difference, I should be disposed to consider other exceptions to this
assertion exceedingly rare. 'In all languages whatever,' to quote
Bentley's words, 'a word of a moral or of a political significance,
containing several complex ideas arbitrarily joined together, has
seldom any correspondent word in any other language which extends to
all these ideas.' Nor is it hard to trace reasons sufficient why this
should be so. For what, after all, is a word, but the enclosure for
human use of a certain district, larger or smaller, from the vast
outfield of thought or feeling or fact, and in this way a bringing of
it under human cultivation, a rescuing of it for human uses? But how
extremely unlikely it is that nations, drawing quite independently of
one another these lines of enclosure, should draw them in all or most
cases exactly in the same direction, neither narrower nor wider; how
almost inevitable, on the contrary, that very often the lines should
not coincide--and this, even supposing no moral forces at work to
disturb the falling of the lines.

How immense and instructive a field of comparison between languages
does this fact lay open to us; while it is sufficient to drive a
translator with a high ideal of the task which he has undertaken well-
nigh to despair. For indeed in the transferring of any matter of high
worth from one language to another there are losses involved, which no
labour, no skill, no genius, no mastery of one language or of both can
prevent. The translator may have worthily done his part, may have
'turned' and not 'overturned' his original (St. Jerome complains that
in his time many _versiones_ deserved to be called _eversiones_
rather); he may have given the lie to the Italian proverb, 'Traduttori
Traditori,' or 'Translators Traitors,' men, that is, who do not
'render' but' surrender' their author's meaning, and yet for all this
the losses of which I speak will not have been avoided. Translations,
let them have been carried through with what skill they may, are, as
one has said, _belles infideles_ at the best.

How often in the translation of Holy Scripture from the language
wherein it was first delivered into some other which offers more words
than one whereby some all-important word in the original record may be
rendered, the perplexity has been great which of these should be
preferred. Not, indeed, that there was here an embarrassment of riches,
but rather an embarrassment of poverty. Each, it may be, has advantages
of its own, but each also its own drawbacks and shortcomings. There is
nothing but a choice of difficulties anyhow, and whichever is selected,
it will be found that the treasure of God's thought has been committed
to an earthen vessel, and one whose earthiness will not fail at this
point or at that to appear; while yet, with all this, of what far-
reaching importance it is that the best, that is, the least inadequate,
word should be chosen. Thus the missionary translator, if he be at all
aware of the awful implement which he is wielding, of the tremendous
crisis in a people's spiritual life which has arrived, when their
language is first made the vehicle of the truths of Revelation, will
often tremble at the work he has in hand; he will tremble lest he
should permanently lower or confuse the whole spiritual life of a
people, by choosing a meaner and letting go a nobler word for the
setting forth of some leading truth of redemption; and yet the choice
how difficult, the nobler itself falling how infinitely below his
desires, and below the truth of which he would make it the bearer.

Even those who are wholly ignorant of Chinese can yet perceive how vast
the spiritual interests which are at stake in China, how much will be
won or how much lost for the whole spiritual life of its people, it may
be for ages to come, according as the right or the wrong word is
selected by our missionaries there for designating the true and the
living God. As many of us indeed as are ignorant of the language can be
no judges in the controversy which on this matter is, or was lately,
carried on; but we can all feel how vital the question, how enormous
the interests at stake; while, not less, having heard the allegations
on the one side and on the other, we must own that there is only an
alternative of difficulties here. Nearer home there have been
difficulties of the same kind. At the Reformation, for example, when
Latin was still more or less the language of theology, how earnest a
controversy raged round the word in the Greek Testament which we have
rendered 'repentance'; whether 'poenitentia' should be allowed to stand,
hallowed by long usage as it was, or 'resipiscentia,' as many of the
Reformers preferred, should be substituted in its room; and how much on
either side could be urged. Not otherwise, at an earlier date, 'Sermo'
and 'Verbum' contended for the honour of rendering the 'Logos' of St.
John; though here there can be no serious doubt on which side the
advantage lay, and that in 'Verbum' the right word was chosen.

But this of the relation of words in one language to words in another,
and of all the questions which may thus be raised, is a sea too large
for me to launch upon now; and with thus much said to invite you to
have open eyes and ears for such questions, seeing that they are often
full of teaching, [Footnote: Pott in his _Etymol. Forschungen_, vol. v.
p. lxix, and elsewhere, has much interesting instruction on the subject.
There were four attempts to render [Greek: eironeia], itself, it is
true, a very subtle word. They are these: 'dissimulatio' (Cicero);
'illusio' (Quintilian); 'simulatio' and 'irrisio.'] I must leave this
subject, and limit myself in this Lecture to a comparison between words,
not in different languages, but in the same.

Synonyms then, as the term is generally understood, and as I shall use
it, are words in the same language with slight differences either
already established between them, or potentially subsisting in them.
They are not on the one side words absolutely identical, for such, as
has been said already, afford no room for discrimination; but neither
on the other side are they words only remotely similar to one another;
for the differences between these last will be self-evident, will so
lie on the surface and proclaim themselves to all, that it would be as
superfluous an office as holding a candle to the sun to attempt to make
this clearer than it already is. It may be desirable to trace and fix
the difference between scarlet and crimson, for these might easily be
confounded; but who would think of so doing between scarlet and green?
or between covetousness and avarice; while it would be idle and
superfluous to do the same for covetousness and pride. They must be
words more or less liable to confusion, but which yet ought not to be
confounded, as one has said; in which there originally inhered a
difference, or between which, though once absolutely identical, such
has gradually grown up, and so established itself in the use of the
best writers, and in the instinct of the best speakers of the tongue,
that it claims to be openly recognized by all.

But here an interesting question presents itself to us: How do
languages come to possess synonyms of this latter class, which are
differenced not by etymology, nor by any other deep-lying cause, but
only by usage? Now if languages had been made by agreement, of course
no such synonyms as these could exist; for when once a word had been
found which was the adequate representative of a thought, feeling, or
fact, no second one would have been sought. But languages are the
result of processes very different from this, and far less formal and
regular. Various tribes, each with its own dialect, kindred indeed, but
in many respects distinct, coalesce into one people, and cast their
contributions of language into a common stock. Thus the French possess
many synonyms from the _langue d'Oc_ and _langue d'Oil_, each having
contributed its word for one and the same thing; thus 'atre' and
'foyer,' both for hearth. Sometimes different tribes of the same people
have the same word, yet in forms sufficiently different to cause that
both remain, but as words distinct from one another; thus in Latin
'serpo' and 'repo' are dialectic variations of the same word; just as
in German, 'odem' and 'athem' were no more than dialectic differences
at the first. Or again, a conquering people have fixed themselves in
the midst of a conquered; they impose their dominion, but do not
succeed in imposing their language; nay, being few in number, they find
themselves at last compelled to adopt the language of the conquered;
yet not so but that a certain compromise between the two languages
finds place. One carries the day, but on the condition that it shall
admit as naturalized denizens a number of the words of the other; which
in some instances expel, but in many others subsist as synonyms side by
side with, the native words.

These are causes of the existence of synonyms which reach far back into
the history of a nation and a language; but other causes at a later
period are also at work. When a written literature springs up, authors
familiar with various foreign tongues import from one and another words
which are not absolutely required, which are oftentimes rather luxuries
than necessities. Sometimes, having a very sufficient word of their own,
they must needs go and look for a finer one, as they esteem it, from
abroad; as, for instance, the Latin having its own expressive
'succinum' (from 'succus'), for amber, some must import from the Greek
the ambiguous 'electrum.' Of these thus proposed as candidates for
admission, some fail to obtain the rights of citizenship, and after
longer or shorter probation are rejected; it may be, never advance
beyond their first proposer. Enough, however, receive the stamp of
popular allowance to create embarrassment for a while; until, that is,
their relations with the already existing words are adjusted. As a
single illustration of the various quarters from which the English has
thus been augmented and enriched, I would instance the words 'wile,'
'trick,' device,' finesse,' 'artifice,' and 'stratagem.' and remind you
of the various sources from which we have drawn them. Here 'wile,' is
Old-English, 'trick' is Dutch, 'devise' is Old-French, 'finesse' is
French, 'artificium' is Latin, and '[Greek: stratagema]' Greek.

By and by, however, as a language becomes itself an object of closer
attention, at the same time that society, advancing from a simpler to a
more complex condition, has more things to designate, more thoughts to
utter, and more distinctions to draw, it is felt as a waste of
resources to employ two or more words for the designating of one and
the same thing. Men feel, and rightly, that with a boundless world
lying around them and demanding to be catalogued and named, and which
they only make truly their own in the measure and to the extent that
they do name it, with infinite shades and varieties of thought and
feeling subsisting in their own minds, and claiming to find utterance
in words, it is a wanton extravagance to expend two or more signs on
that which could adequately be set forth by one--an extravagance in one
part of their expenditure, which will be almost sure to issue in, and
to be punished by, a corresponding scantness and straitness in another.
Some thought or feeling or fact will wholly want one adequate sign,
because another has two. [Footnote: We have a memorable example of this
in the history of the great controversy of the Church with the Arians,
In the earlier stages of this, the upholders of the orthodox faith used
[Greek: ousia] and [Greek: hypostasis] as identical in force and
meaning with one another, Athanasius, in as many words, affirming them
to be such. As, however, the controversy went forward, it was perceived
that doctrinal results of the highest importance might be fixed and
secured for the Church through the assigning severally to these words
distinct modifications of meaning. This, accordingly, in the Greek
Church, was done; while the Latin, desiring to move _pari passu_ did
yet find itself most seriously embarrassed and hindered in so doing by
the fact that it had, or assumed that it had, but the one word,
'substantia,' to correspond to the two Greek.] Hereupon that which has
been well called the process of 'desynonymizing' begins--that is, of
gradually discriminating in use between words which have hitherto been
accounted perfectly equivalent, and, as such, indifferently employed.
It is a positive enriching of a language when this process is at any
point felt to be accomplished; when two or more words, once
promiscuously used, have had each its own peculiar domain assigned to
it, which it shall not itself overstep, upon which others shall not
encroach. This may seem at first sight only as a better regulation of
old territory; for all practical purposes it is the acquisition of new.

This desynonymizing process is not carried out according to any
prearranged purpose or plan. The working genius of the language
accomplishes its own objects, causes these synonymous words insensibly
to fall off from one another, and to acquire separate and peculiar
meanings. The most that any single writer can do, save indeed in the
terminology of science, is to assist an already existing inclination,
to bring to the clear consciousness of all that which already has been
obscurely felt by many, and thus to hasten the process of this
disengagement, or, as it has been well expressed, 'to regulate and
ordinate the evident nisus and tendency of the popular usage into a
severe definition'; and establish on a firm basis the distinction, so
that it shall not be lost sight of or brought into question again. Thus
long before Wordsworth wrote, it was obscurely felt by many that in
'imagination' there was more of the earnest, in 'fancy' of the play, of
the spirit, that the first was a loftier faculty and power than the
second. The tendency of the language was all in this direction. None
would for some time back have employed 'fancy' as Milton employs
it, [Footnote: _Paradise Lost_, v. 102-105 5 so too Longinus, _De
Subl._ 15.] ascribing to it operations which we have learned to reserve
for 'imagination' alone, and indeed subordinating 'imaginations' to
fancy, as a part of the materials with which it deals. Yet for all this
the words were continually, and not without injury, confounded.
Wordsworth first, in the _Preface_ to his _Lyrical Ballads_, rendered
it impossible for any, who had read and mastered what he had written
on the matter, to remain unconscious any longer of the essential
difference between them. [Footnote: Thus De Quincey (_Letters to a
Young Man whose Education has been neglected_): 'All languages tend to
clear themselves of synonyms, as intellectual culture advances; the
superfluous words being taken up and appropriated by new shades and
combinations of thought evolved in the progress of society. And long
before this appropriation is fixed and petrified, as it were, into the
acknowledged vocabulary of the language, an insensible _clinamen_ (to
borrow a Lucretian word) prepares the way for it. Thus, for instance,
before Mr. Wordsworth had unveiled the great philosophic distinction
between the powers of _fancy_ and _imagination_, the two words had
begun to diverge from each other, the first being used to express a
faculty somewhat capricious and exempted from law, the other to express
a faculty more self-determined. When, therefore, it was at length
perceived, that under an apparent unity of meaning there lurked a real
dualism, and for philosophic purposes it was necessary that this
distinction should have its appropriate expression, this necessity was
met half way by the _clinamen_ which had already affected the popular
usage of the words.' Compare what Coleridge had before said on the same
matter, _Biogr. Lit_. vol. i. p. 90; and what Ruskin, _Modern Painters_
part 3, Section 2, ch. 3, has said since. It is to Coleridge that we
owe the word 'to desynonymize' (_Biogr. Lit_. p. 87)--which is
certainly preferable to Professor Grote's 'despecificate.' Purists
indeed will object that it is of hybrid formation, the prefix Latin,
the body of the word Greek; but for all this it may very well stand
till a better is offered. Coleridge's own contributions, direct and
indirect, in this province are perhaps more in number and in value than
those of any other English writer; thus to him we owe the
disentanglement of 'fanaticism' and 'enthusiasm' (_Lit. Rem_. vol. ii.
p. 365); of 'keenness' and 'subtlety' (_Table-Talk_, p. 140); of
'poetry' and 'poesy' (_Lit. Rem_. vol. i. p. 219); of 'analogy' and
'metaphor' (_Aids to Reflection_, 1825, p. 198); and that on which he
himself laid so great a stress, of 'reason' and 'understanding.'] This
is but one example, an illustrious one indeed, of what has been going
forward in innumerable pairs of words. Thus in Wiclif's time and long
after, there seems to have been no difference recognized between a
'famine' and a 'hunger'; they both expressed the outward fact of a
scarcity of food. It was a genuine gain when, leaving to 'famine' this
meaning, by 'hunger' was expressed no longer the outward fact, but the
inward sense of the fact. Other pairs of words between which a
distinction is recognized now which was not recognized some centuries
ago, are the following: 'to clarify' and 'to glorify'; 'to admire' and
'to wonder'; 'to convince' and 'to convict'; 'reign' and 'kingdom';
'ghost' and 'spirit'; 'merit' and 'demerit'; 'mutton' and 'sheep';
'feminine' and 'effeminate'; 'mortal' and 'deadly'; 'ingenious' and
'ingenuous'; 'needful' and 'needy'; 'voluntary' and 'wilful.'
[footnote: For the exact difference between these, and other pairs or
larger groups of words, see my _Select Glossary_.]

A multitude of words in English are still waiting for a similar
discrimination. Many in due time will obtain it, and the language prove
so much the richer thereby; for certainly if Coleridge had right when
he affirmed that '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.' [footnote: _Church and State_, p. 200.] we are justified in
regarding these distinctions which are still waiting to be made as so
much reversionary wealth in our mother tongue. Thus how real an ethical
gain would it be, how much clearness would it bring into men's thoughts
and actions, if the distinction which exists in Latin between
'vindicta' and 'ultio,' that the first is a moral act, the just
punishment of the sinner by his God, of the criminal by the judge, the
other an act in which the self-gratification of one who counts himself
injured or offended is sought, could in like manner be fully
established (vaguely felt it already is) between our 'vengeance' and
'revenge'; so that 'vengeance' (with the verb 'to avenge') should never
be ascribed except to God, or to men acting as the executors of his
righteous doom; while all retaliation to which not zeal for his
righteousness, but men's own sinful passions have given the impulse and
the motive, should be termed 'revenge.' As it now is, the moral
disapprobation which cleaves, and cleaves justly, to 'revenge,' is
oftentimes transferred almost unconsciously to 'vengeance'; while yet
without vengeance it is impossible to conceive in a world so full of
evil-doing any effectual assertion of righteousness, any moral
government whatever.

The causes mentioned above, namely that our modern English, Teutonic in
its main structure, yet draws so large a portion of its verbal wealth
from the Latin, and has further welcomed, and found place for, many
later accessions, these causes have together effected that we possess a
great many duplicates, not to speak of triplicates, or of such a
quintuplicate as that which I adduced just now, where the Teutonic,
French, Italian, Latin, and Greek had each yielded us a word. Let me
mention a few duplicate substantives, Old-English and Latin: thus we
have 'shepherd' and 'pastor'; 'feeling' and 'sentiment'; 'handbook' and
'manual'; 'ship' and 'nave'; 'anger' and 'ire'; 'grief' and 'sorrow';
'kingdom,' 'reign,' and 'realm'; 'love' and 'charity'; 'feather' and
'plume'; 'forerunner' and 'precursor'; 'foresight' and 'providence';
'freedom' and 'liberty'; 'bitterness' and 'acerbity'; 'murder' and
'homicide'; 'moons' and 'lunes.' Sometimes, in theology and science
especially, we have gone both to the Latin and to the Greek, and drawn
the same word from them both: thus 'deist' and 'theist'; 'numeration'
and 'arithmetic'; 'revelation' and 'apocalypse'; 'temporal' and
'chronic'; 'compassion' and 'sympathy'; 'supposition' and 'hypothesis';
'transparent' and 'diaphanous'; 'digit' and 'dactyle.' But to return to
the Old-English and Latin, the main factors of our tongue. Besides
duplicate substantives, we have duplicate verbs, such as 'to whiten'
and 'to blanch'; 'to soften' and 'to mollify'; 'to unload' and 'to
exonerate'; 'to hide' and 'to conceal'; with many more. Duplicate
adjectives also are numerous, as 'shady' and 'umbrageous'; 'unreadable'
and 'illegible'; 'unfriendly' and 'inimical'; 'almighty' and
'omnipotent'; 'wholesome' and 'salubrious'; 'unshunnable' and
'inevitable.' Occasionally our modern English, not adopting the Latin
substantive, has admitted duplicate adjectives; thus 'burden' has not
merely 'burdensome' but also 'onerous,' while yet 'onus' has found no
place with us; 'priest' has 'priestly' and 'sacerdotal'; 'king' has
'kingly,' 'regal,' which is purely Latin, and 'royal,' which is Latin
distilled through the French. 'Bodily' and 'corporal,' 'boyish' and
'puerile,' 'fiery' and 'igneous,' 'wooden' and 'ligneous,' 'worldly'
and 'mundane,' 'bloody' and 'sanguine,' 'watery' and 'aqueous,'
'fearful' and 'timid,' 'manly' and 'virile,' 'womanly' and 'feminine,'
'sunny' and 'solar,' 'starry' and 'stellar,' 'yearly' and 'annual,'
'weighty' and 'ponderous,' may all be placed in the same list. Nor are
these more than a handful of words out of the number which might be
adduced. You would find both pleasure and profit in enlarging these
lists, and, as far as you are able, making them gradually complete.

If we look closely at words which have succeeded in thus maintaining
their ground side by side, and one no less than the other, we shall
note that in almost every instance they have little by little asserted
for themselves separate spheres of meaning, have in usage become more
or less distinct. Thus we use 'shepherd' almost always in its primary
meaning, keeper of sheep; while 'pastor' is exclusively used in the
tropical sense, one that feeds the flock of God; at the same time the
language having only the one adjective, 'pastoral,' that is of
necessity common to both. 'Love' and 'charity' are used in our
Authorized Version of Scripture promiscuously, and out of the sense of
their equivalence are made to represent one and the same Greek word;
but in modern use 'charity' has come predominantly to signify one
particular manifestation of love, the ministry to the bodily needs of
others, 'love' continuing to express the affection of the soul. 'Ship'
remains in its literal meaning, while 'nave' has become a symbolic term
used in sacred architecture alone. 'Kingdom' is concrete, as the
'kingdom' of Great Britain; 'reign' is abstract, the 'reign' of Queen
Victoria. An 'auditor' and a 'hearer' are now, though they were not
once, altogether different from one another. 'Illegible' is applied to
the handwriting, 'unreadable' to the subject-matter written; a man
writes an 'illegible' hand; he has published an 'unreadable' book.
'Foresight' is ascribed to men, but' providence' for the most part
designates, as _pronoia_ also came to do, the far-looking wisdom of God,
by which He governs and graciously cares for his people. It becomes
boys to be 'boyish,' but not men to be 'puerile.' 'To blanch' is to
withdraw colouring matter: we 'blanch' almonds or linen; or the cheek
by the withdrawing of the blood is 'blanched' with fear; but we
'whiten' a wall, not by withdrawing some other colour, but by the
superinducing of white; thus 'whited sepulchres.' When we 'palliate'
our own or other people's faults, we do not seek 'to cloke' them
altogether, but only to extenuate the guilt of them in part.

It might be urged that there was a certain preparedness in these words
to separate off in their meaning from one another, inasmuch as they
originally belonged to different stocks; and this may very well have
assisted; but we find the same process at work where original
difference of stock can have supplied no such assistance. 'Astronomy'
and 'astrology' are both words drawn from the Greek, nor is there any
reason beforehand why the second should not be in as honourable use as
the first; for it is the _reason_, as 'astronomy' the _law_, of the
stars. [footnote: So entirely was any determining reason wanting, that
for some while it was a question _which_ word should obtain the
honourable employment, and it seemed as if 'astrology' and 'astrologer'
would have done so, as this extract from Bishop Hooper makes abundantly
plain (_Early Writings_, Parker Society, p. 331): 'The _astrologer_ is
he that knoweth the course and motions of the heavens and teacheth the
same; which is a virtue if it pass not its bounds, and become of an
astrologer an _astronomer_, who taketh upon him to give judgment and
censure of these motions and courses of the heavens, what they
prognosticate and destiny unto the creature.'] But seeing there is a
true and a false science of the stars, both needing words to utter them,
it has come to pass that in our later use, 'astrology' designates
always that pretended science of imposture, which affecting to submit
the moral freedom of men to the influences of the heavenly bodies,
prognosticates future events from the position of these, as contrasted
with 'astronomy' that true science which investigates the laws of the
heavenly bodies in their relations to one another and to the planet
upon which we dwell.

As these are both from the Greek, so 'despair' and 'diffidence' are
both, though the second more directly than the first, from the Latin.
At a period not very long past the difference between them was hardly
appreciable; one was hardly stronger than the other. If in one the
absence of all _hope_, in the other that of all faith, was implied. In
_The Pilgrim's Progress_, a book with which every English schoolmaster
should be familiar, 'Mistress _Diffidence_' is 'Giant _Despair's_' wife,
and not a whit behind him in deadly enmity to the pilgrims; even as
Jeremy Taylor speaks of the impenitent sinner's '_diffidence_ in the
hour of death,' meaning, as the context plainly shows, his despair. But
to what end two words for one and the same thing? And thus 'diffidence'
did not retain that energy of meaning which it had at the first, but
little by little assumed a more mitigated sense, (Hobbes speaks of
'men's diffidence,' meaning their distrust 'of one another,') till it
has come now to signify a becoming distrust of ourselves, a humble
estimate of our own powers, with only a slight intimation, as in the
later use of the Latin 'verecundia,' that perhaps this distrust is
carried too far.

Again, 'interference' and 'interposition' are both from the Latin; and
here too there is no anterior necessity that they should possess those
different shades of meaning which actually they have obtained among
us;--the Latin verbs which form their latter halves being about as
strong one as the other. [Footnote: The word _interference_ is a
derivative from the verb _ferire_ to strike, which is certainly
stronger in meaning than _ponere_, to place.] And yet in our practical
use, 'interference' is something offensive; it is the pushing in of
himself between two parties on the part of a third, who was not asked,
and is not thanked for his pains, and who, as the feeling of the word
implies, had no business there; while 'interposition' is employed to
express the friendly peace-making mediation of one whom the act well
became, and who even if he was not specially invited thereunto, is
still thanked for what he has done. How real an increase is it in the
wealth and efficiency of a language thus to have discriminated such
words as these; and to be able to express acts outwardly the same by
different words, according as we would praise or blame the temper and
spirit out of which they sprung. [Footnote: If in the course of time
distinctions are thus created, and if this is the tendency of language,
yet they are also sometimes, though far less often, obliterated. Thus
the fine distinction between 'yea' and 'yes,' 'nay' and 'no,' once
existing in English, has quite disappeared. 'Yea' and 'Nay,' in Wiclif
s time, and a good deal later, were the answers to questions framed in
the affirmative. 'Will he come?' To this it would have been replied,
'Yea' or 'Nay,' as the case might be. But 'Will he not come?'--to this
the answer would have been, 'Yes,' or 'No.' Sir Thomas More finds fault
with Tyndale, that in his translation of the Bible he had not observed
this distinction, which was evidently therefore going out even then,
that is in the reign of Henry VIII., and shortly after it was quite

Take now some words not thus desynonymized by usage only, but having a
fundamental etymological distinction,--one, however, which it would be
easy to overlook, and which, so long as we dwell on the surface of the
word, we shall overlook; and try whether we shall not be gainers by
bringing out the distinction into clear consciousness. Here are
'arrogant,' 'presumptuous,' and 'insolent'; we often use them
promiscuously; yet let us examine them a little more closely, and ask
ourselves, as soon as we have traced the lines of demarcation between
them, whether we are not now in possession of three distinct thoughts,
instead of a single confused one. He is 'arrogant' who claims the
observance and homage of others as his due (ad rogo); who does not wait
for them to offer, but himself demands all this; or who, having right
to one sort of observance, claims another to which he has no right.
Thus, it was 'arrogance' in Nebuchadnezzar, when he required that all
men should fall down before the image which he had reared. He, a man,
was claiming for man's work the homage which belonged only to God. But
one is 'presumptuous' who _takes_ things to himself _before_ he has
acquired any title to them (prae sumo); as the young man who already
usurps the place of the old, the learner who speaks with the authority
of the teacher. By and by all this may very justly be his, but it is
'presumption' to anticipate it now. 'Insolent' means properly no more
than unusual; to act 'insolently' is to act unusually. The offensive
meaning which 'insolent' has acquired rests upon the sense that there
is a certain well-understood rule of society, a recognized standard of
moral and social behaviour, to which each of its members should conform.
The 'insolent' man is one who violates this rule, who breaks through
this order, acting in an _unaccustomed_ manner. The same sense of the
orderly being also the moral, is implied in 'irregular'; a man of
'irregular' is for us a man of immoral life; and yet more strongly in
Latin, which has but one word (mores) for customs and morals.

Or consider the following words: 'to hate,' 'to loathe,' 'to detest,'
'to abhor'. It would be safe to say that our blessed Lord 'hated' to
see his Father's house profaned, when, the zeal of that house consuming
Him, He drove forth in anger the profaners from it (John ii. 15); He
'loathed' the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans, when He threatened to
spue them out of his mouth (Rev. iii. 16); He 'detested' the hypocrisy
of the Pharisees and Scribes, when He affirmed and proclaimed their sin,
and uttered those eight woes against them (Matt, xxiii.); He 'abhorred'
the evil suggestions of Satan, when He bade the Tempter to get behind
Him, shrinking from him as one would shrink from a hissing serpent in
his path.

Sometimes words have no right at all to be considered synonyms, and yet
are continually used one for the other; having through this constant
misemployment more need than synonyms themselves to be discriminated.
Thus, what confusion is often made between 'genuine' and 'authentic';
what inaccuracy exists in their employment. And yet the distinction is
a very plain one. A 'genuine' work is one written by the author whose
name it bears; an 'authentic' work is one which relates truthfully the
matters of which it treats. For example, the apocryphal _Gospel of St.
Thomas_ is neither 'genuine' nor 'authentic.' It is not 'genuine' for
St. Thomas did not write it; it is not 'authentic,' for its contents
are mainly fables and lies. _The History of the Alexandrian War_, which
passes under Caesar's name, is not 'genuine,' for he did not write it;
it is 'authentic,' being in the main a truthful record of the events
which it professes to relate. Thiers' _History of the French Empire_,
on the contrary, is 'genuine,' for he is certainly the author, but very
far indeed from 'authentic '; while Thucydides' _History of the
Peloponnesian War_ is both 'authentic' and 'genuine.' [Footnote: On
this matter see the _New English Dictionary_ (s. v. _authentic_). It
will there be found that the prevailing sense of 'authentic' is
reliable, trustworthy, of established credit; it being often used by
writers on Christian Evidences in contradistinction to 'genuine.'
However, the Dictionary shows us that careful writers use the word in
the sense of 'genuine,' of undisputed origin, not forged, or
apocryphal: there is a citation bearing witness to this meaning from
Paley. The Greek [Greek: authentikos] meant 'of firsthand authority,

You will observe that in most of the words just adduced, I have sought
to refer their usage to their etymologies, to follow the guidance of
these, and by the same aid to trace the lines of demarcation which
divide them. For I cannot but think it an omission in a very
instructive little volume upon synonyms edited by the late Archbishop
Whately, and a partial diminution of its usefulness, that in the
valuation of words reference is so seldom made to their etymologies,
the writer relying almost entirely on present usage and the tact and
instinct of a cultivated mind for the appreciation of them aright. The
accomplished author (or authoress) of this book indeed justifies this
omission on the ground that a work on synonyms has to do with the
present relative value of words, not with their roots and derivations;
and, further, that a reference to these often brings in what is only a
disturbing force in the process, tending to confuse rather than to
clear. But while it is quite true that words will often ride very
slackly at anchor on their etymologies, will be borne hither and
thither by the shifting tides and currents of usage, yet are they for
the most part still holden by them. Very few have broken away and
drifted from their moorings altogether. A 'novelist,' or writer of
_new_ tales in the present day, is very different from a 'novelist' or
upholder of _new_ theories in politics and religion, of two hundred
years ago; yet the idea of _newness_ is common to them both. A
'naturalist' was once a denier of revealed truth, of any but _natural_
religion; he is now an investigator, often a devout one, of _nature_
and of her laws; yet the word has remained true to its etymology all
the while. A 'methodist' was formerly a follower of a certain 'method'
of philosophical induction, now of a 'method' in the fulfilment of
religious duties; but in either case 'method' or orderly progression,
is the central idea of the word. Take other words which have changed or
modified their meaning--'plantations,' for instance, which were once
colonies of men (and indeed we still 'plant' a colony), but are now
nurseries of trees, and you will find the same to hold good. 'Ecstasy'
_was_ madness; it _is_ intense delight; but has in no wise thereby
broken with the meaning from which it started, since it is the nature
alike of madness and of joy to set men out of and beside themselves.

And even when the fact is not so obvious as in these cases, the
etymology of a word exercises an unconscious influence upon its uses,
oftentimes makes itself felt when least expected, so that a word, after
seeming quite to have forgotten, will after longest wanderings return
to it again. And one main device of great artists in language, such as
would fain evoke the latent forces of their native tongue, will very
often consist in reconnecting words by their use of them with their
original derivation, in not suffering them to forget themselves and
their origin, though they would. How often and with what signal effect
does Milton compel a word to return to its original source, 'antiquam
exquirere matrem'; while yet how often the fact that he is doing this
passes even by scholars unobserved. [Footnote: Everyone who desires, as
he reads Milton, thoroughly to understand him, will do well to be ever
on the watch for such recalling, upon his part, of words to their
primitive sense; and as often as he detects, to make accurate note of
it for his own use, and, so far as he is a teacher, for the use of
others. Take a few examples out of many: 'afflicted' (_P. L._ i. 186);
'alarmed' (_P. L._ iv. 985); 'ambition' (_P. L._ i. 262; _S. A._ 247);
'astonished' (_P. L._ i. 266); 'chaos' (_P. L._ vi. 55); 'diamond' (_P.
L._ vi. 364); 'emblem' (_P. L._ iv. 703); 'empiric' (_P. L._ v. 440);
'engine' (_P. L._ i. 750); 'entire' (= integer, _P. L._ ix. 292);
'extenuate' (_P. L._ x. 645); 'illustrate' (_P. L._ v. 739); 'implicit'
(_P. L._ vii. 323); 'indorse' (_P. R._ iii. 329); 'infringe' (_P. R._ i.
62); 'mansion' (_Com_. 2); 'moment' (_P. L._ x. 45); 'oblige' (_P. L._
ix. 980); 'person' (_P. L._ x. 156); 'pomp' (_P. L._ viii. 61);
'sagacious' (_P. L._ x. 28l); 'savage' (_P. L._ iv. l72); 'scene' (_P.
L._ iv. 140;) 'secular' (_S. A._ 1707); 'secure' (_P. L._ vi. 638);
'seditious' (_P. L._ vi. 152); 'transact' (_P. L._ vi. 286); 'voluble'
(_P. L._ ix. 436). We may note in Jeremy Taylor a similar reduction of
words to their origins; thus, 'insolent' for unusual, 'metal' for mine,
'irritation' for a making vain, 'extant' for standing out (applied to a
bas-relief), 'contrition' for bruising ('the _contrition_ of the
serpent'), 'probable' for worthy of approval ('a _probable_ doctor').
The author of the excellent _Lexique de la Langue de Corneille_ claims
the same merit for him and for his great contemporaries or immediate
successors: Faire rendre aux mots tout ce qu'ils peuvent donner, en
varier habilement les acceptions et les nuances, les ramener à leur
origine, les retremper fréquemment à leur source étymologique,
constituait un des secrets principaux des grands écrivains du dix-
septième siècle. It is this putting of old words in a new light, and to
a new use, though that will be often the oldest of all, on which Horace
sets so high a store:
        Dixeris egregie, notum si callida verbum
        Reddiderit junctura novum; and not less Montaigne: 'The
handling and utterance of fine wits is that which sets off a language;
not so much by innovating it, as by putting it to more vigorous and
various service, and by straining, bending, and adapting it to this.
They do not create words, but they enrich their own, and give them
weight and signification by the uses they put them to.']

Moreover, even if all this were not so, yet the past history of a word,
a history that must needs _start_ from its derivation, how soon soever
this may be left behind, can hardly be disregarded, when we are seeking
to ascertain its present value. What Barrow says is quite true, that
'knowing the primitive meaning of words can seldom or never _determine_
their meaning anywhere, they often in common use declining from it';
but though it cannot 'determine,' it can as little be omitted or
forgotten, when this determination is being sought. A man may be wholly
different now from what once he was; yet not the less to know his
antecedents is needful, before we can ever perfectly understand his
present self; and the same holds good with words.

There is a moral gain which synonyms will sometimes yield us, enabling
us, as they do, to say exactly what we intend, without exaggerating or
putting more into our speech than we feel in our hearts, allowing us to
be at once courteous and truthful. Such moral advantage there is, for
example, in the choice which we have between the words 'to felicitate'
and 'to congratulate,' for the expressing of our sentiments and wishes
in regard of the good fortune that may happen to others. To
'felicitate' another is to wish him happiness, without affirming that
his happiness is also ours. Thus, out of that general goodwill with
which we ought to regard all, we might 'felicitate' one almost a
stranger to us; nay, more, I can honestly 'felicitate' one on his
appointment to a post, or attainment of an honour, even though _I_ may
not consider him the fittest to have obtained it, though I should have
been glad if another had done so; I can desire and hope, that is, that
it may bring all joy and happiness to him. But I could not, without a
violation of truth, 'congratulate' him, or that stranger whose
prosperity awoke no lively delight in my heart; for when I
'congratulate' a person (congratulor), I declare that I am sharer in
his joy, that what has rejoiced him has rejoiced also me. We have all,
I dare say, felt, even without having analysed the distinction between
the words, that 'congratulate' is a far heartier word than
'felicitate,' and one with which it much better becomes us to welcome
the good fortune of a friend; and the analysis, as you perceive,
perfectly justifies the feeling. 'Felicitations' are little better than
compliments; 'congratulations' are the expression of a genuine sympathy
and joy.

Let me illustrate the importance of synonymous distinctions by another
example, by the words, 'to invent' and 'to discover'; or 'invention'
and 'discovery.' How slight may seem to us the distinction between them,
even if we see any at all. Yet try them a little closer, try them,
which is the true proof, by aid of examples, and you will perceive that
they can by no means be indifferently used; that, on the contrary, a
great truth lies at the root of their distinction. Thus we speak of the
'invention' of printing, of the 'discovery' of America. Shift these
words, and speak, for instance, of the 'invention' of America; you feel
at once how unsuitable the language is. And why? Because Columbus did
not make that to be, which before him had not been. America was there,
before he revealed it to European eyes; but that which before _was_, he
_showed_ to be; he withdrew the veil which hitherto had concealed it;
he 'discovered' it. So too we speak of Newton 'discovering' the law of
gravitation; he drew aside the veil whereby men's eyes were hindered
from perceiving it, but the law had existed from the beginning of the
world, and would have existed whether he or any other man had traced it
or no; neither was it in any way affected by the discovery of it which
he had made. But Gutenberg, or whoever else it may be to whom the
honour belongs, 'invented' printing; he made something to be, which
hitherto was not. In like manner Harvey 'discovered' the circulation of
the blood; but Watt 'invented' the steam-engine; and we speak, with a
true distinction, of the 'inventions' of Art, the 'discoveries' of
Science. In the very highest matters of all, it is deeply important
that we be aware of and observe the distinction. In religion there have
been many 'discoveries,' but (in true religion I mean) no 'inventions.'
Many discoveries--but God in each case the discoverer; He draws aside
the veils, one veil after another, that have hidden Him from men; the
discovery or revelation is from Himself, for no man by searching has
found out God; and therefore, wherever anything offers itself as an
'invention' in matters of religion, it proclaims itself a lie,--as are
all self-devised worships, all religions which man projects from his
own heart. Just that is known of God which He is pleased to make known,
and no more; and men's recognizing or refusing to recognize in no way
affects it. They may deny or may acknowledge Him, but He continues the

As involving in like manner a distinction which cannot safely be lost
sight of, how important the difference, the existence of which is
asserted by our possession of the two words, 'to apprehend' and 'to
comprehend' with their substantives 'apprehension' and 'comprehension.'
For indeed we 'apprehend' many truths, which we do not 'comprehend.'
The great mysteries of our faith--the doctrine, for instance, of the
Holy Trinity, we lay hold upon it, we hang on it, our souls live by it;
but we do not '_com_prehend' it, that is, we do not take it all in; for
it is a necessary attribute of God that He is _incomprehensible_; if He
were not so, either He would not be God, or the Being that comprehended
Him would be God also (Matt, xi. 27). But it also belongs to the idea
of God that He may be '_ap_prehended' though not '_com_prehended' by
his reasonable creatures; He has made them to know Him, though not to
know Him _all_, to '_ap_prehend' though not to '_com_prehend' Him. We
may transfer with profit the same distinction to matters not quite so
solemn. Thus I read Goldsmith's _Traveller_, or one of Gay's _Fables_,
and I feel that I 'comprehend' it;--I do not believe, that is, that
there was anything stirring in the poet's mind or intention, which I
have not in the reading reproduced in my own. But I read _Hamlet_, or
_King Lear_: here I 'apprehend' much; I have wondrous glimpses of the
poet's intention and aim; but I do not for an instant suppose that I
have 'comprehended,' taken in, that is, all that was in his mind in the
writing; or that his purpose does not stretch in manifold directions
far beyond the range of my vision; and I am sure there are few who
would not shrink from affirming, at least if they at all realized the
force of the words they were using, that they 'comprehended
'Shakespeare; however much they may 'apprehend' in him.

How often 'opposite' and 'contrary' are used as if there was no
difference between them, and yet there is a most essential one, one
which perhaps we may best express by saying that 'opposites' complete,
while 'contraries' exclude one another. Thus the most 'opposite' moral
or mental characteristics may meet in one and the same person, while to
say that the most 'contrary' did so, would be manifestly absurd; for
example, a soldier may be at once prudent and bold, for these are
opposites; he could not be at once prudent and rash, for these are
contraries. We may love and fear at the same time and the same person;
we pray in the Litany that we may love and dread God, the two being
opposites, and thus the complements of one another; but to pray that we
might love and hate would be as illogical as it would be impious, for
these are contraries, and could no more co-exist together than white
and black, hot and cold, in the same subject at the same time. Or to
take another illustration, sweet and sour are 'opposites,' sweet and
bitter are 'contraries,' [Footnote: See Coleridge, _Church and State_,
p. 18.] It will be seen then that there is always a certain relation
between 'opposites'; they unfold themselves, though in different
directions, from the same root, as the positive and negative forces of
electricity, and in their very opposition uphold and sustain one
another; while 'contraries' encounter one another from quarters quite
diverse, and one only subsists in the exact degree that it puts out of
working the other. Surely this distinction cannot be an unimportant one
either in the region of ethics or elsewhere.

It will happen continually, that rightly to distinguish between two
words will throw a flood of light upon some controversy in which they
play a principal part, nay, may virtually put an end to that
controversy altogether. Thus when Hobbes, with a true instinct, would
have laid deep the foundations of atheism and despotism together,
resolving all right into might, and not merely robbing men, if he could,
of the power, but denying to them the duty, of obeying God rather than
man, his sophisms could stand only so long as it was not perceived that
'compulsion' and 'obligation,' with which he juggled, conveyed two
ideas perfectly distinct, indeed disparate, in kind. Those sophisms of
his collapsed at once, so soon as it was perceived that what pertained
to one had been transferred to the other by a mere confusion of terms
and cunning sleight of hand, the former being a _physical_, the latter
a _moral_, necessity.

There is indeed no such fruitful source of confusion and mischief as
this--two words are tacitly assumed as equivalent, and therefore
exchangeable, and then that which may be assumed, and with truth, of
one, is assumed also of the other, of which it is not true. Thus, for
instance, it often is with 'instruction' and 'education,' Cannot we
'instruct' a child, it is asked, cannot we teach it geography, or
arithmetic, or grammar, quite independently of the Catechism, or even
of the Scriptures? No doubt you may; but can you 'educate' without
bringing moral and spiritual forces to bear upon the mind and
affections of the child? And you must not be permitted to transfer the
admissions which we freely make in regard of 'instruction,' as though
they also held good in respect of 'education.' For what is 'education'?
Is it a furnishing of a man from without with knowledge and facts and
information? or is it a drawing forth from within and a training of the
spirit, of the true humanity which is latent in him? Is the process of
education the filling of the child's mind, as a cistern is filled with
waters brought in buckets from some other source? or the opening up for
that child of fountains which are already there? Now if we give any
heed to the word 'education,' and to the voice which speaks therein, we
shall not long be in doubt. Education must educe, being from 'educare,'
which is but another form of 'educere'; and that is to draw out, and
not to put in. 'To draw out' what is in the child, the immortal spirit
which is there, this is the end of education; and so much the word
declares. The putting in is indeed most needful, that is, the child
must be instructed as well as educated, and 'instruction' means
furnishing; but not instructed instead of educated. He must first have
powers awakened in him, measures of value given him; and then he will
know how to deal with the facts of this outward world; then instruction
in these will profit him; but not without the higher training, still
less as a substitute for it.

It has occasionally happened that the question which out of two
apparent synonyms should be adopted in some important state-document
has been debated with no little earnestness and passion; as at the
great English Revolution of 1688, when the two Houses of Parliament
were at issue whether it should be declared of James II, that he had
'abdicated,' or had 'deserted,' the throne. This might seem at first
sight a mere strife about words, and yet, in reality, serious
constitutional questions were involved in the debate. The Commons
insisted on the word 'abdicated,' not as wishing to imply that in any
act of the late king there had been an official renunciation of the
crown, which would have been manifestly untrue; but because 'abdicated'
in their minds alone expressed the fact that James had so borne himself
as virtually to have entirely renounced, disowned, and relinquished the
crown, to have forfeited and separated himself from it, and from any
right to it for ever; while 'deserted' would have seemed to leave room
and an opening for a return, which they were determined to declare for
ever excluded; as were it said of a husband that he had 'deserted' his
wife, or of a soldier that he had 'deserted' his colours, this language
would imply not only that he might, but that he was bound to return.
The speech of Lord Somers on the occasion is a masterly specimen of
synonymous discrimination, and an example of the uses in highest
matters of state to which it may be turned. As little was it a mere
verbal struggle when, at the restoration a good many years ago of our
interrupted relations with Persia, Lord Palmerston insisted that the
Shah should address the Queen of England not as 'Maleketh' but as
'Padischah,' refusing to receive letters which wanted this

Let me press upon you, in conclusion, some few of the many advantages
to be derived from the habit of distinguishing synonyms. These
advantages we might presume to be many, even though we could not
ourselves perceive them; for how often do the greatest masters of style
in every tongue, perhaps none so often as Cicero, the greatest of all,
[Footnote: Thus he distinguishes between 'voluntas' and 'cupiditas';
'cautio' and 'metus' (_Tusc_. iv. 6); 'gaudium,' 'laetitia,' 'voluptas'
(_Tusc_. iv. 6; _Fin_. ii. 4); 'prudentia' and 'sapientia' (_Off_. i.
43); 'caritas' and 'amor' (_De Part. Or_. 25); 'ebrius' and 'ebriosus,'
'iracundus' and 'iratus,' 'anxietas' and 'angor' (_Tusc_. iv. 12);
'vitium,' 'morbus,' and 'aegrotatio' (_Tusc_. iv. 13); 'labor' and
'dolor' (_Tusc_. ii. 15); 'furor' and 'insania' (_Tusc_. iii. 5);
'malitia' and 'vitiositas' (_Tusc_. iv. 15); 'doctus' and 'peritus'
(_Off_. i. 3). Quintilian also often bestows attention on synonyms,
observing well (vi. 3. 17): 'Pluribus nominibus in eadem re vulgo
utimur; quae tamen si diducas, suam quandam propriam vim ostendent;' he
adduces 'salsum,' 'urbanum,' 'facetum'; and elsewhere (v. 3) 'rumor'
and 'fama' are discriminated happily by him. Among Church writers
Augustine is a frequent and successful discriminator of words. Thus he
separates off from one another 'flagitium' and 'facinus' (_De Doct.
Christ_, iii. 10); 'aemulatio' and 'invidia' (_Expl. ad Gal._ x. 20);
'arrha' and 'pignus' (_Serm._ 23. 8,9); 'studiosus' and 'curiosus' (_De
Util. Cred._ 9); 'sapientia' and 'scientia' (_De Div. Quaes_. 2, qu.
2); 'senecta' and 'senium' (_Enarr. in Ps._ 70. l8); 'schisma' and
'haeresis' (_Con. Cresc_. 2. 7); with many more (see my _Synonyms of
the N.T._ Preface, p. xvi). Among the merits of the Grimms'
_Wörterbuch_ is the care which they, and those who have taken up their
work, bestow on the discrimination of synonyms; distinguishing, for
example, 'degen' and 'schwert'; 'feld,' 'acker' and 'heide'; 'aar' and
'adler'; 'antlitz' and 'angesicht'; 'kelch,' 'becher' and 'glas';
'frau' and 'weib'; 'butter,' 'schmalz' and 'anke'; 'kopf' and 'haupt';
'klug' and 'weise'; 'geben' and 'schenken'; 'heirath' and 'ehe.']
pause to discriminate between the words they are using; how much care
and labour, how much subtlety of thought, they have counted well
bestowed on the operation; how much importance they avowedly attach to
it; not to say that their works, even where they do not intend it, will
afford a continual lesson in this respect: a great writer merely in the
precision and accuracy with which he employs words will always be
exercising us in synonymous distinction. But the advantages of
attending to synonyms need not be taken on trust; they are evident. How
large a part of true wisdom it is to be able to distinguish between
things that differ, things seemingly, but not really, alike, is very
remarkably attested by our words 'discernment' and 'discretion'; which
are now used as equivalent, the first to 'insight,' the second to
'prudence'; while yet in their earlier usage, and according to their
etymology, being both from 'discerno,' they signify the power of so
seeing things that in the seeing we distinguish and separate them one
from another. [Footnote: L'esprit consiste à connaitre la ressemblance
des choses diverses, et la différence des choses semblables
(Montesquieu). Saint-Evremond says of a reunion of the Précieuses at
the Hotel Rambouillet, with a raillery which is not meant to be
    'Là se font distinguer les fiertés des rigueurs,
     Les dédains des mépris, les tourments des langueurs;
     On y sait démêler la crainte et les alarmes,
     Discerner les attraits, les appas et les charmes.'] Such were
originally 'discernment' and 'discretion,' and such in great measure
they are still. And in words is a material ever at hand on which to
train the spirit to a skilfulness in this; on which to exercise its
sagacity through the habit of distinguishing there where it would be so
easy to confound. [Footnote: I will suggest here a few pairs or larger
groups of words on which those who are willing to exercise themselves
in the distinction of synonyms might perhaps profitably exercise their
skill;--'fame,' 'popularity,' 'celebrity,' 'reputation,' 'renown';--
'misfortune,' 'calamity,' 'disaster';--'impediment,' 'obstruction,'
'obstacle,' 'hindrance';--'temerity,' 'audacity,' 'boldness';--
'rebuke,' 'reprimand,' 'censure,' 'blame';--'adversary,' 'opponent,'
'antagonist,' 'enemy';--'rival,' 'competitor';--'affluence,'
'opulence,' 'abundance,' 'redundance';--'conduct,' 'behaviour,'
'demeanour,' 'bearing';--'execration,' 'malediction,' 'imprecation,'
'anathema';--'avaricious,' 'covetous,' 'miserly,' 'niggardly';--
'hypothesis,' 'theory,' 'system' (see De Quincey, _Lit. Rem._ American
ed. p.229);--'masculine,' 'manly';--'effeminate,' 'feminine';--
'womanly,' 'womanish';--'malicious,' 'malignant';--'savage,'
'barbarous,' 'fierce,' 'cruel,' 'inhuman';--'low, 'mean,' 'abject,'
'base';--'to chasten,' 'to punish,' 'to chastise';--'to exile,' 'to
banish';--'to declare,' 'to disclose,' 'to reveal,' 'to divulge';--'to
defend,' 'to protect,' 'to shelter';--'to excuse,' 'to palliate';--'to
compel,' 'to coerce,' 'to constrain,' 'to force.'] Nor is this habit
of discrimination only valuable as a part of our intellectual training;
but what a positive increase is it of mental wealth when we have
learned to discern between things which really differ, and have made
the distinctions between them permanently our own in the only way
whereby they can be made secure, that is, by assigning to each its
appropriate word and peculiar sign.

In the effort to trace lines of demarcation you may little by little be
drawn into the heart of subjects the most instructive; for only as you
have thoroughly mastered a subject, and all which is most
characteristic about it, can you hope to trace these lines with
accuracy and success. Thus a Roman of the higher classes might bear
four names: 'praenomen,' 'nomen,' 'cognomen,' 'agnomen'; almost always
bore three. You will know something of the political and family life of
Rome when you can tell the exact story of each of these, and the
precise difference between them. He will not be altogether ignorant of
the Middle Ages and of the clamps which in those ages bound society
together, who has learned exactly to distinguish between a 'fief' and a
'benefice.' He will have obtained a firm grasp on some central facts of
theology who can exactly draw out the distinction between
'reconciliation,' 'propitiation,' 'atonement,' as used in the New
Testament; of Church history, who can trace the difference between a
'schism' and a 'heresy.' One who has learned to discriminate between
'detraction' and 'slander,' as Barrow has done before him, [Footnote:
'Slander involveth an imputation of falsehood, but detraction may be
couched in truth, and clothed in fair language. It is a poison often
infused in sweet liquor, and ministered in a golden cup.' Compare
Spenser, _Fairy Queen_, 5. 12. 28-43.] or between 'emulation' and
'envy,' in which South has excellently shown him the way, [Footnote:
_Sermons_, 1737, vol. v. p. 403. His words are quoted in my _Select
Glossary_, s. v 'Emulation.'] or between 'avarice' and 'covetousness,'
with Cowley, will have made no unprofitable excursion into the region
of ethics.

How effectual a help, moreover, will it prove to the writing of a good
English style, if instead of choosing almost at hap-hazard from a group
of words which seem to us one about as fit for our purpose as another,
we at once know which, and which only, we ought in the case before us
to employ, which will prove the exact vesture of our thoughts. It is
the first characteristic of a well-dressed man that his clothes fit
him: they are not too small and shrunken here, too large and loose
there. Now it is precisely such a prime characteristic of a good style,
that the words fit close to the thoughts. They will not be too big here,
hanging like a giant's robe on the limbs of a dwarf; nor too small
there, as a boy's garments into which the man has painfully and
ridiculously thrust himself. You do not, as you read, feel in one place
that the writer means more than he has succeeded in saying; in another
that he has said more than he means; in a third something beside what
his precise intention was; in a fourth that he has failed to convey any
meaning at all; and all this from a lack of skill in employing the
instrument of language, of precision in knowing what words would be the
exactest correspondents and aptest exponents of his thoughts. [Footnote:
La propriété des termes est le caractère distinctif des grands
écrivains; c'est par là que leur style est toujours au niveau de leur
sujet; c'est à cette qualité qu'on reconnaît le vrai talent d'écrire,
et non à l'art futile de déguiser par un vain coloris les idées
communes. So D'Alembert; but Caesar long before had said, Delectus
verborum, eloquentiae origo.]

What a wealth of words in almost every language lies inert and unused;
and certainly not fewest in our own. How much of what might be as
current coin among us, is shut up in the treasure-house of a few
classical authors, or is never to be met at all but in the columns of
the dictionary, we meanwhile, in the midst of all this riches,
condemning ourselves to a voluntary poverty; and often, with tasks the
most delicate and difficult to accomplish,--for surely the clothing of
thought in its most appropriate garment of words is such,--needlessly
depriving ourselves of a large portion of the helps at our command;
like some workman who, being furnished for an operation that will
challenge all his skill with a dozen different tools, each adapted for
its own special purpose, should in his indolence and self-conceit
persist in using only one; doing coarsely what might have been done
finely; or leaving altogether undone that which, with such assistances,
was quite within his reach. And thus it comes to pass that in the
common intercourse of life, often too in books, a certain restricted
number of words are worked almost to death, employed in season and out
of season--a vast multitude meanwhile being rarely, if at all, called
to render the service which _they_ could render far better than any
other; so rarely, indeed, that little by little they slip out of sight
and are forgotten nearly or altogether. And then, perhaps, at some
later day, when their want is felt, the ignorance into which we have
allowed ourselves to fall, of the resources offered by the language to
satisfy new demands, sends us abroad in search of outlandish
substitutes for words which we already possess at home. [Footnote: Thus
I observe in modern French the barbarous 'derailler,' to get off the
rail; and this while it only needed to recall 'derayer' from the
oblivion into which it had been allowed to fall.] It was, no doubt, to
avoid so far as possible such an impoverishment of the language which
he spoke and wrote, for the feeding of his own speech with words
capable of serving him well, but in danger of falling quite out of his
use, that the great Lord Chatham had Bailey's Dictionary', the best of
his time, twice read to him from one end to the other.

And let us not suppose the power of exactly saying what we mean, and
neither more nor less than we mean, to be merely a graceful mental
accomplishment. It is indeed this, and perhaps there is no power so
surely indicative of a high and accurate training of the intellectual
faculties. But it is much more than this: it has a moral value as well.
It is nearly allied to morality, inasmuch as it is nearly connected
with truthfulness. Every man who has himself in any degree cared for
the truth, and occupied himself in seeking it, is more or less aware
how much of the falsehood in the world passes current under the
concealment of words, how many strifes and controversies,
     'Which feed the simple, and offend the wise,'
find all or nearly all the fuel that maintains them in words carelessly
or dishonestly employed. And when a man has had any actual experience
of this, and at all perceived how far this mischief reaches, he is
sometimes almost tempted to say with Shakespeare, 'Out, idle words,
servants to shallow fools'; to adopt the saying of his clown, 'Words
are grown so false I am loathe to prove reason with them.' He cannot,
however, forego their employment; not to say that he will presently
perceive that this falseness of theirs whereof he accuses them, this
cheating power, is not of their proper use, but only of their abuse;
he will see that, however they may have been enlisted in the service of
lies, they are yet of themselves most true; and that, where the bane is,
there the antidote should be sought as well. If Goethe's _Faust_
denounces words and the falsehood of words, it is by the aid of words
that he does it. Ask then words what they mean, that you may deliver
yourselves, that you may help to deliver others, from the tyranny of
words, and, to use Baxter's excellent phrase, from the strife of 'word-
warriors.' Learn to distinguish between them, for you have the authority
of Hooker, that 'the mixture of those things by speech, which by nature
are divided, is the mother of all error.' [Footnote: See on all this
matter in Locke's _Essay on Human Understanding,_ chapters 9, 10 and 11
of the 3rd book, certainly the most remarkable in the _Essay;_ they bear
the following titles: _Of the Imperfection of Words, Of the Abuse of
Words, Of the Remedies of the Imperfection and Abuse of Words._] And
although I cannot promise you that the study of synonyms, or the
acquaintance with derivations, or any other knowledge but the very highest
knowledge of all, will deliver you from the temptation to misuse this or
any other gift of God--a temptation always lying so near us--yet I am sure
that these studies rightly pursued will do much in leading us to stand in
awe of this gift of speech, and to tremble at the thought of turning it to
any other than those worthy ends for which God has endowed us with a
faculty so divine.



At the Great Exhibition of 1851, there might be seen a collection,
probably by far the completest which had ever been got together, of
what were called _the material helps of education_. There was then
gathered in a single room all the outward machinery of moral and
intellectual training; all by which order might be best maintained, the
labour of the teacher and the taught economized, with a thousand
ingenious devices suggested by the best experience of many minds, and
of these during many years. Nor were these material helps of education
merely mechanical. There were in that collection vivid representations
of places and objects; models which often preserved their actual forms
and proportions, not to speak of maps and of books. No one who is aware
how much in schools, and indeed everywhere else, depends on what
apparently is slight and external, would lightly esteem the helps and
hints which such a collection would furnish. And yet it would be well
for us to remember that even if we were to obtain all this apparatus in
its completest form, at the same time possessing the most perfect skill
in its application, so that it should never encumber but always assist
us, we should yet have obtained very little compared with that which,
as a help to education, is already ours. When we stand face to face
with a child, that spoken or unspoken word which the child possesses in
common with ourselves is a far more potent implement and aid of
education than all these external helps, even though they should be
accumulated and multiplied a thousandfold. A reassuring thought for
those who may not have many of these helps within their reach, a
warning thought for those who might be tempted to put their trust in
them. On the occasion of that Exhibition to which I have referred, it
was well said, 'On the structure of language are impressed the most
distinct and durable records of the habitual operations of the human
powers. In the full possession of language each man has a vast, almost
an inexhaustible, treasure of examples of the most subtle and varied
processes of human thought. Much apparatus, many material helps, some
of them costly, may be employed to assist education; but there is no
apparatus which is so necessary, or which can do so much, as that which
is the most common and the cheapest--which is always at hand, and ready
for every need. Every language contains in it the result of a greater
number of educational processes and educational experiments, than we
could by any amount of labour and ingenuity accumulate in any
educational exhibition expressly contrived for such a purpose.'

Being entirely convinced that this is nothing more than the truth, I
shall endeavour in my closing lecture to suggest some ways in which you
may effectually use this marvellous implement which you possess to the
better fulfilling of that which you have chosen as the proper task of
your life. You will gladly hear something upon this matter; for you
will never, I trust, disconnect what you may yourselves be learning
from the hope and prospect of being enabled thereby to teach others
more effectually. If you do, and your studies in this way become a
selfish thing, if you are content to leave them barren of all profit to
others, of this you may be sure, that in the end they will prove not
less barren of profit to yourselves. In one noble line Chaucer has
characterized the true scholar:--

'And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.'

Print these words on your remembrance. Resolve that in the spirit of
this line you will work and live.

But take here a word or two of warning before we advance any further.
You cannot, of course, expect to make any original investigations in
language; but you can follow safe guides, such as shall lead you by
right paths, even as you may follow such as can only lead you astray.
Do not fail to keep in mind that perhaps in no region of human
knowledge are there such a multitude of unsafe leaders as in this; for
indeed this science of words is one which many, professing for it an
earnest devotion, have done their best or their worst to bring into
discredit, and to make a laughing-stock at once of the foolish and the
wise. Niebuhr has somewhere noted 'the unspeakable spirit of absurdity'
which seemed to possess the ancients, whenever they meddled with this
subject; but the charge reaches others beside them. Their mantle, it
must be owned, has in after times often fallen upon no unworthy

What is commoner, even now, than to find the investigator of words and
their origin looking round about him here and there, in all the
languages, ancient and modern, to which he has any access, till he
lights on some word, it matters little to him in which of these, more
or less resembling that which he wishes to derive? and this found, to
consider his problem solved, and that in this phantom hunt he has
successfully run down his prey. Even Dr. Johnson, with his robust,
strong, English common-sense, too often offends in this way. In many
respects his _Dictionary_ will probably never be surpassed. We shall
never have more concise, more accurate, more vigorous explanations of
the actual meaning of words, at the time when it was published, than he
has furnished. But even those who recognize the most fully this merit,
must allow that he was ill equipped by any preliminary studies for
tracing the past history of words; that in this he errs often and
signally; sometimes where the smallest possible amount of knowledge
would have preserved him from error; as for instance when he derives
the name of the peacock from the peak, or tuft of pointed feathers, on
its head! while other derivations proposed or allowed by him and others
are so far more absurd than this, that when Swift, in ridicule of the
whole band of philologers, suggests that 'ostler' is only a contraction
of oat-stealer, and 'breeches' of bear-riches, these etymologies are
scarcely more ridiculous than many which have in sober earnest, and by
men of no inconsiderable reputation, been proposed.

Oftentimes in this scheme of random etymology, a word in one language
is derived from one in another, in bold defiance of the fact that no
points of historic contact or connexion, mediate or immediate, have
ever existed between the two; the etymologist not caring to ask himself
whether it was thus so much as possible that the word should have
passed from the one language to the other; whether in fact the
resemblance is not merely superficial and illusory, one which, so soon
as they are stripped of their accidents, disappears altogether. Take a
few specimens of this manner of dealing with words; and first from the
earlier etymologists. Thus, what are men doing but extending not the
limits of their knowledge but of their ignorance, when they deduce,
with Varro, 'pavo' from 'pavor,' because of the fear which the harsh
shriek of the peacock awakens; or with Pliny, 'panthera' from [Greek:
pan thaerion], because properties of all beasts meet in the panther; or
persuade themselves that 'formica,' the ant, is 'ferens micas,' the
grain-bearer. Medieval suggestions abound, as vain, and if possible,
vainer still. Thus Sirens, as Chaucer assures us, are 'serenes' being
fair-weather creatures only to be seen in a calm. [Footnote: _Romaunt
of the Rose_, 678.] 'Apis,' a bee, is [Greek: apous] or without feet,
bees being born without feet, the etymology and the natural history
keeping excellent company together. Or what shall we say of deriving
'mors' from 'amarus,' because death is bitter; or from 'Mars,' because
death is frequent in war; or 'à _morsu_ vetiti pomi,' because that
forbidden bite brought death into the world; or with a modern
investigator of language, and one of high reputation in his time,
deducing 'girl' from 'garrula,' because girls are commonly talkative?
[Footnote: Ménage is one of these 'blind leaders of the blind,' of
whom I have spoken above. With all their real, though not very accurate,
erudition, his three folio volumes, two on French, one on Italian
etymologies, have done nothing but harm to the cause which they were
intended to further. Génin (_Récréations Philologiques_, pp. 12-15)
passes a severe but just judgment upon them. Ménage, comme tous ses
devanciers et la plupart de ses successeurs, semble n'avoir été dirigé
que par un seul principe en fait d'étymologie. Le voici dans son
expression la plus nette. Tout mot vient du mot qui lui ressemble le
mieux. Cela posé, Ménage, avec son érudition polyglotte, s'abat sur le
grec, le latin, l'italien, l'espagnol, l'allemand, le celtique, et ne
fait difficulté d'aller jusqu'à l'hébreu. C'est dommage que de son
temps on ne cultivât pas encore le sanscrit, l'hindotistani, le
thibétain et l'arabe: il les eût contraints à lui livrer des
étymologies françaises. Il ne se met pas en peine des chemins par où
un mot hébreu ou carthaginois aurait pu passer pour venir s'établir en
France. Il y est, le voilà, suffit! L'identité ne peut être mise en
question devant la ressemblance, et souvent Dieu sait quelle
ressemblance! Compare Ampère, _Formation de la Langue Française_, pp.
194, 195.]

All experience, indeed, proves how perilous it is to etymologize at
random, and on the strength of mere surface similarities of sound. Let
me illustrate the absurdities into which this may easily betray us by
an amusing example. A clergyman, who himself told me the story, had
sought, and not unsuccessfully, to kindle in his schoolmaster a passion
for the study of derivations. His scholar inquired of him one day if he
were aware of the derivation of 'crypt'? He naturally applied in the
affirmative, that 'crypt' came from a Greek word to conceal, and meant
a covered place, itself concealed, and where things which it was wished
to conceal were placed. The other rejoined that he was quite aware the
word was commonly so explained, but he had no doubt erroneously; that
'crypt,' as he had now convinced himself, was in fact contracted from
'cry-pit'; being the pit where in days of Popish tyranny those who were
condemned to cruel penances were plunged, and out of which their cry
was heard to come up--therefore called the 'cry-pit,' now contracted
into 'crypt'! Let me say, before quitting my tale, that I would far
sooner a schoolmaster made a hundred such mistakes than that he should
be careless and incurious in all which concerned the words which he was
using. To make mistakes, as we are in the search of knowledge, is far
more honourable than to escape making them through never having set out
in this search at all

But while errors like his may very well be pardoned, of this we may be
sure, that they will do little in etymology, will continually err and
cause others to err, who in these studies leave this out of sight for
an instant--namely, that no amount of resemblance between words in
different languages is of itself sufficient to prove that they are akin,
even as no amount of apparent unlikeness in sound or present form is
sufficient to disprove consanguinity. 'Judge not according to
appearances,' must everywhere here be the rule. One who in many regions
of human knowledge anticipated the discoveries of later times, said
well a century and a half ago, 'Many etymologies are true, which at the
first blush are not probable'; [Footnote: Leibnitz (_Opp_. vol. v. p.
61): Saepe fit ut etymologiae verae sint, quae primo aspectu
verisimiles non sunt.] and, as he might have added, many appear
probable, which are not true. This being so, it is our wisdom on the
one side to distrust superficial likenesses, on the other not to be
repelled by superficial differences. Have no faith in those who
etymologize on the strength of _sounds_, and not on that of _letters_,
and of letters, moreover, dealt with according to fixed and recognized
laws of equivalence and permutation. Much, as was said so well, is true,
which does not seem probable. Thus 'dens' [Footnote: Compare Max Muller,
_Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. iv. p. 25; Heyse, _System der
Sprachwissenschaft_, p. 307.] and 'zahn' and 'tooth' are all the same
word, and such in like manner are [Greek: chen], 'anser,' 'gans,' and
'goose;' and again, [Greek: dakru] and 'tear.' Who, on the other hand,
would not take for granted that our 'much' and the Spanish 'mucho,'
identical in meaning, were also in etymology nearly related? There is
in fact no connexion between them. Between 'vulgus' and 'volk' there is
as little. 'Auge' the German form of our 'eye,' is in every letter
identical with a Greek word for splendour ([Greek: auge]); and yet,
intimate as is the connexion between German and Greek, these have no
relation with one another whatever. Not many years ago a considerable
scholar identified the Greek 'holos' ([Greek: holos]) and our 'whole;'
and few, I should imagine, have not been tempted at one stage of their
knowledge to do the same. These also are in no way related. Need I
remind you here of the importance of seeking to obtain in every case
the earliest spelling of a word which is attainable? [Footnote: What
signal gains may in this way be made no one has shown more remarkably
than Skeat in his _Etymological Dictionary_.]

Here then, as elsewhere, the condition of all successful investigation
is to have learned to disregard phenomena, the deceitful shows and
appearances of things; to have resolved to reach and to grapple with
the things themselves. It is the fable of Proteus over again. He will
take a thousand shapes wherewith he will seek to elude and delude one
who is determined to extort from him that true answer, which he is
capable of yielding, but will only yield on compulsion. The true
inquirer is deceived by none of these. He still holds him fast; binds
him in strong chains; until he takes his proper shape at the last; and
answers as a true seer, so far as answer is possible, whatever question
may be put to him. Nor, let me observe by the way, will that man's gain
be small who, having so learned to distrust the obvious and the
plausible, carries into other regions of study and of action the
lessons which he has thus learned; determines to seek the ground of
things, and to plant his foot upon that; believes that a lie may look
very fair, and yet be a lie after all; that the truth may show very
unattractive, very unlikely and paradoxical, and yet be the very truth

To return from a long, but not unnecessary digression. Convinced as I
am of the immense advantage of following up words to their sources, of
'deriving' them, that is, of tracing each little rill to the river from
whence it was first drawn, I can conceive no method of so effectually
defacing and barbarizing our English tongue, of practically emptying it
of all the hoarded wit, wisdom, imagination, and history which it
contains, of cutting the vital nerve which connects its present with
the past, as the introduction of the scheme of phonetic spelling, which
some have lately been zealously advocating among us. I need hardly tell
you that the fundamental idea of this is that all words should be spelt
as they are sounded, that the writing should, in every case, be
subordinated to the speaking. [Footnote: I do not know whether the
advocates of phonetic spelling have urged the authority and practice of
Augustus as being in their favour. Suetonius, among other amusing
gossip about this Emperor, records of him: Videtur eorum sequi
opinionem, qui perinde scribendum ac loquamur, existiment (_Octavius_.
c. 88).] This, namely that writing should in every case and at all
costs be subordinated to speaking, which is everywhere tacitly assumed
as not needing any proof, is the fallacy which runs through the whole
scheme. There is, indeed, no necessity at all for this. Every word, on
the contrary, has _two_ existences, as a spoken word and a written; and
you have no right to sacrifice one of these, or even to subordinate it
wholly, to the other. A word exists as truly for the eye as for the
ear; and in a highly advanced state of society, where reading is almost
as universal as speaking, quite as much for the one as for the other.
That in the _written_ word moreover is the permanence and continuity of
language and of learning, and that the connexion is most intimate of a
true orthography with all this, is affirmed in our words, 'letters,'
'literature,' 'unlettered,' as in other languages by words exactly
corresponding to these. [Footnote: As [Greek: grammata, agrammatos],
litterae, belles-lettres.] The gains consequent on the introduction of
such a change in our manner of spelling would be insignificantly small,
the losses enormously great. There would be gain in the saving of a
certain amount of the labour now spent in learning to spell. The amount
of labour, however, is absurdly exaggerated by the promoters of the
scheme. I forget how many thousand hours a phonetic reformer lately
assured us were on an average spent by every English child in learning
to spell; or how much time by grown men, who, as he assured us, for the
most part rarely attempted to write a letter without a Johnson's
_Dictionary_ at their side. But even this gain would not long remain,
seeing that pronunciation is itself continually changing; custom is
lord here for better and for worse; and a multitude of words are now
pronounced in a manner different from that of a hundred years ago,
indeed from that of ten years ago; so that, before very long, there
would again be a chasm between the spelling and the pronunciation of
words;--unless indeed the spelling varied, which it could not
consistently refuse to do, as the pronunciation varied, reproducing
each of its capricious or barbarous alterations; these last, it must be
remembered, being changes not in the pronunciation only, but in the
word itself, which would only exist as pronounced, the written word
being a mere shadow servilely waiting upon the spoken. When these
changes had multiplied a little, and they would indeed multiply
exceedingly on the removal of the barriers to change which now exist,
what the language before long would become, it is not easy to guess.

This fact however, though sufficient to show how ineffectual the scheme
of phonetic spelling would prove, even for the removing of those
inconveniences which it proposes to remedy, is only the smallest
objection to it. The far more serious charge which may be brought
against it is, that in words out of number it would obliterate those
clear marks of birth and parentage, which they bear now upon their
fronts, or are ready, upon a very slight interrogation, to reveal.
Words have now an ancestry; and the ancestry of words, as of men, is
often a very noble possession, making them capable of great things,
because those from whom they are descended have done great things
before them; but this would deface their scutcheon, and bring them all
to the same ignoble level. Words are now a nation, grouped into tribes
and families, some smaller, some larger; this change would go far to
reduce them to a promiscuous and barbarous horde. Now they are often
translucent with their inner thought, lighted up by it; in how many
cases would this inner light be then quenched! They have now a body and
a soul, the soul quickening the body; then oftentimes nothing but a
body, forsaken by the spirit of life, would remain. These objections
were urged long ago by Bacon, who characterizes this so-called
reformation, 'that writing should be consonant to speaking,' as 'a
branch of unprofitable subtlety;' and especially urges that thereby
'the derivations of words, especially from foreign languages, are
utterly defaced and extinguished.' [Footnote: The same attempt to
introduce phonography has been several times made, once in the
sixteenth century, and again some thirty years ago in France. What
would be there the results? We may judge of these from the results of a
partial application of the system. 'Temps' is now written 'tems,' the
_p_ having been ejected as superfluous. What is the consequence? at
once its visible connexion with the Latin 'tempus,' with the Spanish
'tiempo,' with the Italian 'tempo,' with its own 'temporel' and
'temporaire,' is broken, and for many effaced. Or note the result from
another point of view. Here are 'poids' a weight, 'poix' pitch, 'pois'
peas. No one could mark in speaking the distinction between these; and
thus to the ear there maybe confusion between them, but to the eye
there is none; not to say that the _d_ in poi_d_s' puts it for us in
relation with 'pon_d_us,' the _x_ in 'poi_x_' with 'pu_x_,' the _s_ in
'poi_s_' with the Low Latin 'pi_s_um.' In each case the letter which
these reformers would dismiss as useless, and worse than useless, keeps
the secret of the word. On some other attempts in the same direction
see in D'Israeli, _Amenities of Literature_, an article _On Orthography
and Orthoepy_; and compare Diez, _Romanische Sprache_, vol. i. p. 52.
[In the form _poids_ we have a striking example of a wretchedly bad
spelling which is due to an attempt to make the spelling etymological.
Unfortunately the etymology is erroneous: the French word for weight
has nothing in the world to do with Latin _pondus_; it is the phonetic
representative of the Latin _pensum_, and should be spelt _pois_.]]

From the results of various approximations to phonetic spelling, which
at different times have been made, and the losses thereon ensuing, we
may guess what the loss would be were the system fully carried out. Of
those fairly acquainted with Latin, it would be curious to know how
many have seen 'silva' in 'savage,' since it has been so written, and
not 'salvage,' as of old? or have been reminded of the hindrances to a
civilized and human society which the indomitable forest, more perhaps
than any other obstacle, presents. When 'fancy' was spelt 'phant'sy,'
as by Sylvester in his translation of Du Bartas, and other scholarly
writers of the seventeenth century, no one could doubt of its identity
with 'phantasy,' as no Greek scholar could miss its relation with
phantasia. Spell 'analyse' as I have sometimes seen it, and as
phonetically it ought to be, 'annalize,' and the tap-root of the word
is cut. How many readers will recognize in it then the image of
dissolving and resolving aught into its elements, and use it with a
more or less conscious reference to this? It may be urged that few do
so even now. The more need they should not be fewer; for these few do
in fact retain the word in its place, from which else it might
gradually drift; they preserve its vitality, and the propriety of its
use, not merely for themselves, but also for the others that have not
this knowledge. In phonetic spelling is, in fact, the proposal that the
learned and the educated should of free choice place themselves under
the disadvantages of the ignorant and uneducated, instead of seeking to
elevate these last to their own more favoured condition.

On this subject one observation more. The multitude of difficulties of
every sort and size which would beset the period of transition, and
that no brief period, from our present spelling to the very easiest
form of phonetic, seem to me to be almost wholly overlooked by those
who are the most eager to press forward this scheme: while yet it is
very noticeable that so soon as ever the 'Spelling Reform' approaches,
however remotely, a practical shape, the Reformers, who up to this time
were at issue with all the rest of the world, are at once at issue
among themselves. At once the question comes to the front, Shall the
labour-pangs of this immense new-birth or transformation of English be
encountered all at once? or shall they be spread over years, and little
by little the necessary changes introduced? It would not be easy to
bring together two scholars who have bestowed more thought and the
results of more laborious study on the whole subject of phonetic
spelling than Mr. Ellis and Dr. Murray have done, while yet at the last
annual meeting of the Philological Society (May 20, 1881) these two
distinguished scholars, with mutual respect undiminished, had no choice
but to acknowledge that, while they were seeking the same objects, the
means by which they sought to attain them were altogether different,
and that, in the judgment of each, all which the other was doing in
setting forward results equally dear to both was only tending to put
hindrances in the way, and to make the attainment of those results
remoter than ever. [Footnote: [For arguments in defence of phonetic
spelling the student is referred to Sweet's _Handbook of Phonetics_
(Appendix); Skeat's _Principles of English Etymology_, p. 294; Max
Muller's _Lectures on the Science of Language_, ii. 108.]]

But to return. Even now the relationships of words, so important for
our right understanding of them, are continually overlooked; a very
little matter serving to conceal from us the family to which they
pertain. Thus how many of our nouns are indeed unsuspected participles,
or are otherwise most closely connected with verbs, with which we
probably never think of putting them in relation. And yet with how
lively an interest shall we discover those to be of closest kin, which
we had never considered but as entire strangers to one another; what
increased mastery over our mother tongue shall we through such
discoveries obtain. Thus 'wrong' is the perfect participle of 'to
wring' that which has been 'wrung' or wrested from the right; as in
French 'tort,' from 'torqueo,' is the twisted. The 'brunt' of the
battle is its heat, where it 'burns' the most fiercely; [Footnote: The
word _brunt_ is a somewhat difficult form to explain. It is probably of
Scandinavian origin; compare Danish _brynde_, heat. For the dental
suffix -_t_, see Douse, _Gothic_, p. 101. The suffix is not
participial.] the 'haft' of a knife, that whereby you 'have' or hold it.

This exercise of putting words in their true relation and connexion
with one another might be carried much further. Of whole groups of
words, which may seem to acknowledge no kinship with one another, it
will not be difficult to show that they had the same parentage, or, if
not this, a cousinship in common. For instance, here are 'shore,'
'share,' 'shears'; 'shred,' 'sherd'; all most closely connected with
the verb 'to sheer.' 'Share' is a portion of anything divided off;
'shears' are instruments effecting this process of separation; the
'shore' is the place where the continuity of the land is interrupted by
the sea; a 'shred' is that which is shorn from the main piece; a
'sherd,' as a pot-'sherd,' (also 'pot-share,' Spenser,) that which is
broken off and thus divided from the vessel; these not all exhausting
this group or family of words, though it would occupy more time than we
can spare to put some other words in their relation with it.

But this analysing of groups of words for the detecting of the bond of
relationship between them, and their common root, may require more
etymological knowledge than you possess, and more helps from books than
you can always command. There is another process, and one which may
prove no less useful to yourselves and to others, which will lie more
certainly within your reach. You will meet in books, sometimes in the
same book, and perhaps in the same page of this book, a word used in
senses so far apart from one another that at first it will seem to you
absurd to suppose any bond of connexion between them. Now when you thus
fall in with a word employed in these two or more senses so far removed
from one another, accustom yourselves to seek out the bond which there
certainly is between these several uses. This tracing of that which is
common to and connects all its meanings can only be done by getting to
its centre and heart, to the seminal meaning, from which, as from a
fruitful seed, all the others unfold themselves; to the first link in
the chain, from which every later one, in a direct line or a lateral,
depends. We may proceed in this investigation, certain that we shall
find such, or at least that such there is to be found. For nothing can
be more certain than this (and the non-recognition of it is a serious
blemish in Johnson's _Dictionary_), that a word has originally but one
meaning, that all other uses, however widely they may diverge from one
another and recede from this one, may yet be affiliated to it, brought
back to the one central meaning, which grasps and knits them all
together; just as the several races of men, black, white, and yellow
and red, despite of all their present diversity and dispersion, have a
central point of unity in that one pair from which they all have

Let me illustrate this by two or three familiar examples. How various
are the senses in which 'post' is used; as 'post'-office; 'post'-haste;
a 'post' standing in the ground; a military 'post'; an official 'post';
'to post' a ledger. Is it possible to find anything which is common to
all these uses of 'post'? When once we are on the right track, nothing
is easier. 'Post' is the Latin 'positus,' that which is _placed_; the
piece of timber is 'placed' in the ground, and so a 'post'; a military
station is a 'post,' for a man is 'placed' in it, and must not quit it
without orders; to travel 'post,' is to have certain relays of horses
''placed' at intervals, that so no delay on the road may occur; the
'post '-office avails itself of this mode of communication; to 'post' a
ledger is to 'place' or register its several items.

Once more, in what an almost infinite number of senses 'stock' is
employed; we have live 'stock,' 'stock' in trade or on the farm, the
village 'stocks,' the 'stock' of a gun, the 'stock'-dove, the 'stocks,'
on which ships are built, the 'stock' which goes round the neck, the
family 'stock,' the 'stocks,' or public funds, in which money is
invested, with other 'stocks' besides these. What point in common can
we find between them all? This, that being all derived from one verb,
they cohere in the idea of _fixedness_ which is common to them all.
Thus, the 'stock' of a gun is that in which the barrel is fixed; the
village 'stocks' are those in which the feet are fastened; the 'stock'
in trade is the fixed capital; and so too, the 'stock' on the farm,
although the fixed capital has there taken the shape of horses and
cattle; in the 'stocks' or public funds, money sticks fast, inasmuch as
those who place it there cannot withdraw or demand the capital, but
receive only the interest; the 'stock' of a tree is fast set in the
ground; and from this use of the word it is transferred to a family;
the 'stock' is that from which it grows, and out of which it unfolds
itself. And here we may bring in the 'stock'-dove, as being the 'stock'
or stirps of the domestic kinds. I might group with these, 'stake' in
both its spellings; a 'stake' is stuck in the hedge and there remains;
the 'stakes' which men wager against the issue of a race are paid down,
and thus fixed or deposited to answer the event; a beef-'steak' is a
portion so small that it can be stuck on the point of a fork; and so
forward. [Footnote: See the _Instructions for Parish Priests_, p. 69,
published by the _Early English Texts Society_.] When we thus affirm
that the divergent meanings of a word can all be brought back to some
one point from which, immediately or mediately, they every one proceed,
that none has primarily more than one meaning, it must be remembered
that there may very well be two words, or, as it will sometimes happen,
more, spelt as well as pronounced alike, which yet are wholly different
in their derivation and primary usage; and that, of course, between
such homonyms or homographs as these no bond of union on the score of
this identity is to be sought. Neither does this fact in the least
invalidate our assertion. We have in them, as Cobbett expresses it well,
the same combination of letters, but not the same word. Thus we have
'page,' the side of a leaf, from 'pagina,' and 'page,' a small boy;
'league,' a treaty (F. ligue), from 'ligare,' to bind, and 'league' (O.
F. legue), from leuca, a Celtic measure of distance; 'host' (hostis),
an army, 'host' (O. F. hoste), from the Latin hospitem, and 'host'
(hostia), in the Roman Catholic sacrifice of the mass. We have two
'ounces' (uncia and Pers. yuz); two 'seals' (sigillum and seolh); two
'moods' (modus and mod); two 'sacks' (saccus and sec); two 'sounds'
(sonus and sund); two 'lakes' (lacus and lacca); two 'kennels' (canalis
and canile); two 'partisans' (partisan and partegiana); two 'quires'
(choeur and cahier); two 'corns' (corn and cornu); two 'ears' (ohr and
ähre); two 'doles' (deuil and theil); two 'perches' (pertica and
perca); two 'races' (raes and the French race); two 'rocks,' two
'rooks,' two 'sprays,' two 'saws,' two 'strains,' two 'trunks,' two
'burrows,' two 'helms,' two 'quarries'; three 'moles,' three 'rapes'
(as the 'rape' of Proserpine, the 'rape' of Bramber, 'rape'-seed); four
'ports,' three 'vans,' three 'smacks.' Other homonyms in the language
are the following: 'ash,' 'barb,' 'bark,' 'barnacle,' 'bat,' 'beam,'
'beetle,' 'bill,' 'bottle,' 'bound,' 'breeze,' 'bugle,' 'bull,' 'cape,'
'caper,' 'chap,' 'cleave,' 'club,' 'cob,' 'crab,' 'cricket,' 'crop,'
'crowd,' 'culver,' 'dam,' 'elder,' 'flag,' 'fog,' 'fold,' 'font,'
'fount,' 'gin,' 'gore,' 'grain,' 'grin,' 'gulf,' 'gum,' 'gust,' 'herd,'
'hind,' 'hip,' 'jade,' 'jar,' 'jet,' 'junk,' 'lawn,' 'lime,' 'link,'
'mace,' 'main,' 'mass,' 'mast,' 'match,' 'meal,' 'mint,' 'moor,'
'paddock,' 'painter,' 'pernicious,' 'plot,' 'pulse,' 'punch,' 'rush,'
'scale,' 'scrip,' 'shingle,' 'shock,' 'shrub,' 'smack,' 'soil,' 'stud,'
'swallow,' 'tap,' 'tent,' 'toil,' 'trinket,' 'turtle.' You will find it
profitable to follow these up at home, to trace out the two or more
words which have clothed themselves in exactly the same outward garb,
and on what etymologies they severally repose; so too, as often as you
suspect the existence of homonyms, to make proof of the matter for
yourselves, gradually forming as complete a list of these as you
can. [Footnote: For a nearly complete list of homonyms in English see
List of Homonyms at the end of Skeat's _Etym. Dict._; Kock's
_Historical Grammar of the English Language_, vol. i. p. 223; Mätzner's
_Engl. Grammatik_, vol. i. pp. 187-204; and compare Dwight's _Modern
Philology_, vol. ii. p. 311.] You may usefully do the same in any other
language which you study, for they exist in all. In them the identity
is merely on the surface and in sound, and it would, of course, be lost
labour to seek for a point of contact between meanings which have no
closer connexion with one another in reality than they have in

Let me suggest some further exercises in this region of words. There
are some which at once provoke and promise to reward inquiry, by the
evident readiness with which they will yield up the secret, if duly
interrogated by us. Many, as we have seen, have defied, and will
probably defy to the end, all efforts to dissipate the mystery which
hangs over them; and these we must be content to leave; but many
announce that their explanations cannot be very far to seek. Let me
instance 'candidate.' Does it not argue an incurious spirit to be
content that this word should be given and received by us a hundred
times, as at a contested election it is, and we never ask ourselves,
What does it mean? why is one offering himself to the choice of his
fellows called a 'candidate'? If the word lay evidently beyond our
horizon, we might acquiesce in our ignorance; but resting, as
manifestly it does, upon the Latin 'candidus,' it challenges inquiry,
and a very little of this would at once put us in possession of the
Roman custom for which it witnesses--namely, that such as intended to
claim the suffrages of the people for any of the chief offices of the
State, presented themselves beforehand to them in a _white_ toga, being
therefore called 'candidati.' And as it so often happens that in
seeking information upon one subject we obtain it upon another, so will
it probably be here; for in fully learning what this custom was, you
will hardly fail to learn how we obtained 'ambition,' what originally
it meant, and how Milton should have written--

     'To reign is worth ambition, though in hell.

Or again, any one who knows so much as that 'verbum' means a word,
might well be struck by the fact (and if he followed it up would be led
far into the relation of the parts of speech to one another), that in
grammar it is not employed to signify any word whatsoever, but
restricted to the verb alone; 'verbum' is the verb. Surely here is
matter for reflection. What gives to the verb the right to monopolize
the dignity of being 'the word'? Is it because the verb is the
animating power, the vital principle of every sentence, and that
without which understood or uttered, no sentence can exist? or can you
offer any other reason? I leave this to your own consideration.

We call certain books 'classics.' We have indeed a double use of the
word, for we speak of the Greek and Latin as the 'classical' languages,
and the great writers in these as '_the_ classics'; while at other
times you hear of a 'classical' English style, or of English
'classics.' Now 'classic' is connected plainly with 'classis.' What
then does it mean in itself, and how has it arrived at this double use?
'The term is drawn from the political economy of Rome. Such a man was
rated as to his income in the third class, such another in the fourth,
and so on; but he who was in the highest was emphatically said to be of
_the_ class, "classicus"--a class man, without adding the number, as in
that case superfluous; while all others were infra classem. Hence, by
an obvious analogy, the best authors were rated as "classici," or men
of the highest class; just as in English we say "men of rank"
absolutely, for men who are in the highest ranks of the state.' The
mental process by which this title, which would apply rightly to the
best authors in _all_ languages, came to be restricted to those only in
two, and these two to be claimed, to the seeming exclusion of all
others, as _the_ classical languages, is one constantly recurring,
making itself felt in all regions of human thought; to which therefore
I would in passing call your attention, though I cannot now do more.

There is one circumstance which you must by no means suffer to escape
your own notice, nor that of your pupils--namely, that words out of
number, which are now employed only in a figurative sense, did yet
originally rest on some fact of the outward world, vividly presenting
itself to the imagination; which fact the word has incorporated and
knit up with itself for ever. If I may judge from my own experience,
few intelligent boys would not feel that they had gained something,
when made to understand that 'to insult' means properly to leap as on
the prostrate body of a foe; 'to affront,' to strike him on the face;
that 'to succour' means by running to place oneself under one that is
falling; 'to relent,' (connected with 'lentus,') to slacken the
swiftness of one's pursuit; [Footnote: 'But nothing might _relent_ his
hasty flight,' Spenser _F. Q._ iii. 4.] 'to reprehend,' to lay hold of
one with the intention of forcibly pulling him back; 'to exonerate,' to
discharge of a burden, ships being exonerated once; that 'to be
examined' means to be weighed. They would be pleased to learn that a
man is called 'supercilious,' because haughtiness with contempt of
others expresses itself by the raising of the eyebrows or
'supercilium'; that 'subtle' (subtilis for subtexilis) is literally
'fine-spun'; that 'astonished' (attonitus) is properly thunderstruck;
that 'sincere' is without wax, (sine cera,) as the best and finest
honey should be; that a 'companion,' probably at least, is one with
whom we share our bread, a messmate; that a 'sarcasm' is properly such
a lash inflicted by the 'scourge of the tongue' as brings away the
_flesh_ after it; with much more in the same kind.

'Trivial' is a word borrowed from the life. Mark three or four persons
standing idly at the point where one street bisects at right angles
another, and discussing there the idle nothings of the day; there you
have the living explanation of 'trivial,' 'trivialities,' such as no
explanation not rooting itself in the etymology would ever give you, or
enable you to give to others. You have there the 'tres viae,' the
'trivium'; and 'trivialities' properly mean such talk as is holden by
those idle loiterers that gather at this meeting of three
roads. [Footnote: But 'trivial' may be from 'trivium' in another sense;
that is, from the 'trivium,' or three preparatory disciplines,--grammar,
arithmetic, and geometry,--as distinguished from the four more advanced,
or 'quadrivium'; these and those together being esteemed in the Middle
Ages to constitute a complete liberal education. Preparatory schools
were often called '_trivial_ schools,' as occupying themselves with the
'trivium.'] 'Rivals' properly are those who dwell on the banks of the
same river. But as all experience shows, there is no such fruitful
source of contention as a water-right, and these would be often at
strife with one another in regard of the periods during which they
severally had a right to the use of the stream, turning it off into
their own fields before the time, or leaving open the sluices beyond
the time, or in other ways interfering, or being counted to interfere,
with the rights of their neighbours. And in this way 'rivals' came to
be applied to any who were on any grounds in unfriendly competition
with one another.

By such teaching as this you may often improve, and that without
turning play-time into lesson-time, the hours of relaxation and
amusement. But 'relaxation,' on which we have just lighted as by chance,
must not escape us. How can the bow be 'relaxed' or slackened (for this
is the image), which has not been bent, whose string has never been
drawn tight? Having drawn tight the bow of our mind by earnest toil, we
may then claim to have it from time to time 'relaxed.' Having been
attentive and assiduous then, but not otherwise, we may claim
'relaxation' and amusement. But 'attentive' and 'assiduous' are
themselves words which will repay us to understand exactly what they
mean. He is 'assiduous' who sits close to his work; he is 'attentive,'
who, being taught, stretches out his neck that so he may not lose a
word. 'Diligence' too has its lesson. Derived from 'diligo,' to love,
it reminds us that the secret of true industry in our work is love of
that work. And as truth is wrapped up in 'diligence,' what a lie, on
the other hand, lurks in 'indolence,' or, to speak more accurately, in
our present employment of it! This, from 'in' and 'doleo,' not to
grieve, is properly a state in which we have no grief or pain; and
employed as we now employ it, suggests to us that indulgence in sloth
constitutes for us the truest negation of pain. Now no one would wish
to deny that 'pain' and 'pains' are often nearly allied; but yet these
pains hand us over to true pleasures; while indolence is so far from
yielding that good which it is so forward to promise, that Cowper spoke
only truth, when, perhaps meaning to witness against the falsehood I
have just denounced, he spoke of

    'Lives spent in _indolence_, and therefore _sad_,'

not 'therefore _glad_,' as the word 'indolence' would fain have us to

There is another way in which these studies I have been urging may be
turned to account. Doubtless you will seek to cherish in your scholars,
to keep lively in yourselves, that spirit and temper which find a
special interest in all relating to the land of our birth, that land
which the providence of God has assigned as the sphere of our life's
task and of theirs. Our schools are called 'national,' [Footnote: This
was written in England, and in the year 1851.] and if we would have
them such in reality, we must neglect nothing that will foster a
national spirit in them. I know not whether this is sufficiently
considered among us; yet certainly we cannot have Church-schools worthy
the name, least of all in England, unless they are truly national as
well. It is the anti-national character of the Roman Catholic system
which perhaps more than all else offends Englishmen; and if their sense
of this should ever grow weak, their protest against that system would
soon lose much of its energy and strength. But here, as everywhere else,
knowledge must be the food of love. Your pupils must know something
about England, if they are to love it; they must see some connexion of
its past with its present, of what it has been with what it is, if they
are to feel that past as anything to them.

And as no impresses of the past are so abiding, so none, when once
attention has been awakened to them, are so self-evident as those which
names preserve; although, without this calling of the attention to them,
the most broad and obvious of these foot-prints which the past time has
left may continue to escape our observation to the end of our lives.
Leibnitz tells us, and one can quite understand, the delight with which
a great German Emperor, Maximilian I., discovered that 'Habsburg,' or
'Hapsburg,' the ancestral name of his house, really had a meaning, one
moreover full of vigour and poetry. This he did, when he heard it by
accident on the lips of a Swiss peasant, no longer cut short and thus
disguised, but in its original fulness, 'Habichtsburg,' or 'Hawk's-
Tower,' being no doubt the name of the castle which was the cradle of
his race. [Footnote: _Opp._ vol. vi. pt. 2. p. 20.] Of all the thousands
of Englishmen who are aware that Angles and Saxons established
themselves in this island, and that we are in the main descended from
them, it would be curious to know how many have realized to themselves
a fact so obvious as that this 'England' means 'Angle-land,' or that in
the names 'Essex,' 'Sussex,' and 'Middlesex,' we preserve a record of
East Saxons, South Saxons, and Middle Saxons, who occupied those
several portions of the land; or that 'Norfolk' and 'Suffolk' are two
broad divisions of 'northern' and 'southern folk,' into which the East
Anglian kingdom was divided. 'Cornwall' does not bear its origin quite
so plainly upon its front, or tell its story so that every one who runs
may read. At the same time its secret is not hard to attain to. As the
Teutonic immigrants advanced, such of the British population as were
not either destroyed or absorbed by them retreated, as we all have
learned, into Wales and Cornwall, that is, till they could retreat no
further. The fact is evidently preserved in the name of 'Wales', which
means properly 'The foreigners,'--the nations of Teutonic blood calling
all bordering tribes by this name. But though not quite so apparent on
the surface, this fact is also preserved in 'Cornwall', written
formerly 'Cornwales', or the land inhabited by the Welsh of the Corn or
Horn. The chroniclers uniformly speak of North Wales and Corn-Wales.
[Footnote: See _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_, year 997, where mention is made
of the _Cornwealas_, the Cornish people.] These Angles, Saxons, and
Britons or Welshmen, about whom our pupils may be reading, will be to
them more like actual men of flesh and blood, who indeed trod this same
soil which we are treading now, when we can thus point to traces
surviving to the present day, which they have left behind them, and
which England, as long as it is England, will retain.

The Danes too have left their marks on the land. We all probably, more
or less, are aware how much Danish blood runs in English veins; what
large colonies from Scandinavia (for as many may have come from Norway
as from modern Denmark), settled in some parts of this island. It will
be interesting to show that the limits of this Danish settlement and
occupation may even now be confidently traced by the constant
recurrence in all such districts of the names of towns and villages
ending in 'by,' which signified in their language a dwelling or single
village; as Nether_by_, Apple_by_, Der_by_, Whit_by_, Rug_by_. Thus if
you examine closely a map of Lincolnshire, one of the chief seats of
the Danish settlement, you will find one hundred, or well nigh a fourth
part, of the towns and villages to have this ending, the whole coast
being studded with them--they lie nearly as close to one another as in
Sleswick itself; [Footnote: Pott, _Etym. Forsch._ vol. ii. pt. 2,
p.1172] while here in Hampshire 'by' as such a termination, is utterly
unknown. Or again, draw a line transversely through England from
Canterbury by London to Chester, the line, that is, of the great Roman
road, called Watling Street, and north of this six hundred instances of
the occurrence of the same termination may be found, while to the south
there are almost none. 'Thorpe,' equivalent to the German 'dorf' as
Bishops_thorpe_, Al_thorp_, tells the same tale of a Norse occupation
of the soil; and the terminations, somewhat rarer, of 'thwaite,'
'haugh,' 'garth,' 'ness,' do the same no less. On the other hand, where,
as in this south of England, the 'hams' abound (the word is identical
with our 'home'), as Bucking_ham_, Eg_ham_, Shore_ham_, there you may
be sure that not Norsemen but West Germans took possession of the soil.
'Worth,' or 'worthy,' tells the same story, as Bos_worth_,
Kings_worthy_; [Footnote: See Sweet's _Oldest English Texts_ (index).]
the 'stokes' in like manner, as Basing_stoke_, Itchen_stoke_, are Saxon,
being (as some suppose) places _stock_aded, with stocks or piles for
defence. You are yourselves learning, or hereafter you may be teaching
others, the names and number of the English counties or shires. What a
dull routine task for them and for you this may be, supplying no food
for the intellect, no points of attachment for any of its higher powers
to take hold of! And yet in these two little words, 'shire' and
'county,' if you would make them render up even a small part of their
treasure, what lessons of English history are contained! One who knows
the origin of these names, and how we come to possess such a double
nomenclature, looks far into the social condition of England in that
period when the strong foundations of all that has since made England
glorious and great were being laid; by aid of these words may detect
links which bind its present to its remotest past; for of lands as of
persons it may be said, 'the child is father of the man,' 'Shire' is
connected with 'shear,' 'share,' and is properly a portion 'shered' or
'shorn' off. [Footnote: It must be confessed that there are insuperable
difficulties in the way of connecting Anglo-Saxon _scir_ with the verb
_sceron_, to shear, and of explaining it as equivalent to 'shorn off.'
The derivation of 'shire' has not yet been ascertained.] When a Saxon
king would create an earl, it did not lie in men's thoughts, accustomed
as they were to deal with realities, that such could be a merely
titular creation, or exist without territorial jurisdiction; and a
'share' or 'shire' was assigned him to govern, which also gave him his
title. But at the Conquest this Saxon officer was displaced by a Norman,
the 'earl' by the 'count'--this title of 'count,' borrowed from the
later Roman empire, meaning originally 'companion' (comes), one who had
the honour of being closest companion to his leader; and the 'shire'
was now the 'county' (comitatus), as governed by this 'comes.' In that
singular and inexplicable fortune of words, which causes some to
disappear and die out under the circumstances apparently most
favourable for life, others to hold their ground when all seemed
against them, 'count' has disappeared from the titles of English
nobility, while 'earl' has recovered its place; although in evidence of
the essential identity of the two titles, or offices rather, the wife
of the earl is entitled a 'countess'; and in further memorial of these
great changes that so long ago came over our land, the two names
'shire' and 'county' equally survive as in the main interchangeable
words in our mouths.

A large part of England, all that portion of it which the Saxons
occupied, is divided into 'hundreds'. Have you ever asked yourselves
what this division means, for something it must mean? The 'hundred' is
supposed to have been originally a group or settlement of one hundred
free families of Saxon incomers. If this was so, we have at once an
explanation of the strange disproportion between the area of the
'hundred' in the southern and in the more northern counties--the
average number of square miles in a 'hundred' of Sussex or Kent being
about four and twenty; of Lancashire more than three hundred. The Saxon
population would naturally be far the densest in the earlier
settlements of the east and south, while more to west and north their
tenure would be one rather of conquest than of colonization, and the
free families much fewer and more scattered. [Footnote: Kemble, _The
Saxons in England_, vol. i. p. 420; Stubbs, _Constitutional History of
England,_ p. 98.] But further you have noticed, I dare say, the
exceptional fact that the county of Sussex, besides the division into
hundreds, is divided also into six 'rapes'; thus the 'rape' of Bramber
and so on. [This 'rape' is connected by Lappenberg, ii. 405 (1881),
with the Icel. _hreppr_, which according to the Grágás was a district
in which twenty or more peasants maintained one poor person].

Let us a little consider, in conclusion, how we may usefully bring our
etymologies and other notices of words to bear on the religious
teaching which we would impart in our schools. To do this with much
profit we must often deal with words as the Queen does with the gold
and silver coin of the realm. When this has been current long, and by
often passing from man to man, with perhaps occasional clipping in
dishonest hands, has lost not only the clear brightness, the well-
defined sharpness of outline, but much of the weight and intrinsic
value which it had when first issued from the royal mint, it is the
sovereign's prerogative to recall it, and issue it anew, with the royal
image stamped on it afresh, bright and sharp, weighty and full, as at
first. Now to a process such as this the true mint-masters of language,
and all of us may be such, will often submit the words which they use.
Where use and custom have worn away their significance, we too may
recall and issue them afresh. With how many it has thus fared!--for
example, with one which will be often in your mouths. You speak of the
'lessons' of the day; but what is 'lessons' here for most of us save a
lazy synonym for the morning and evening chapters appointed to be read
in church? But realize what the Church intended in calling these
chapters by this name; namely, that they should be the daily
instruction of her children; listen to them yourselves as such; lead
your scholars to regard them as such, and in this use of 'lessons' what
a lesson for every one of us there may be! [Footnote: [Still
etymologically _lessons_ mean simply 'readings, the word representing
French _leçons_ = Latin _lectiones_.]] 'Bible' itself, while we not
irreverently use it, may yet be no more to us than the verbal sign by
which we designate the written Word of God. Keep in mind that it
properly means 'the book' and nothing more; that once it could be
employed of any book (in Chaucer it is so), and what matter of thought
and reflection lies in this our present restriction of 'bible' to one
book, to the exclusion of all others! So strong has been the sense of
Holy Scripture being '_the_ Book,' the worthiest and best, that book
which explains all other books, standing up in their midst,--like
Joseph's kingly sheaf, to which all the other sheaves did obeisance,--
that this name of 'Bible' or 'Book' has been restrained to it alone:
just as 'Scripture' means no more than 'writing'; but this inspired
Writing has been acknowledged so far above all other writings, that
this name also it has obtained as exclusively its own.

Again, something may be learned from knowing that the 'surname,' as
distinguished from the 'Christian' name, is the name over and above,
not 'sire'-name, or name received from the father, as some explain, but
'sur'-name (super nomen). There was never, that is, a time when every
baptized man had not a Christian name, the recognition of his personal
standing before God; while the surname, the name expressing his
relation, not to the kingdom of God, but to a worldly society, is of
much later growth, super-added to the other, as the word itself
declares. What a lesson at once in the growing up of a human society,
and in the contrast between it and the heavenly Society of the Church,
might be appended to this explanation! There was a period when only a
few had surnames; had, that is, any significance in the order of things
temporal; while the Christian name from the first was the possession of
every baptized man. All this might be brought usefully to bear on your
exposition of the first words in the Catechism.

There are long words from the Latin which, desire as we may to use all
plainness of speech, we cannot do without, nor find their adequate
substitutes in homelier parts of our language; words which must always
remain the vehicles of much of that truth whereby we live. Now in
explaining these, make it your rule always to start, where you can,
from the derivation, and to return to that as often as you can. Thus
you wish to explain 'revelation.' How much will be gained if you can
attach some distinct image to the word, one to which your scholars, as
often as they hear it, may mentally recur. Nor is this difficult. God's
'revelation' of Himself is a drawing back of the veil or curtain which
concealed Him from men; not man finding out God, but God discovering
Himself to man; all which is contained in the word. Or you wish to
explain 'absolution.' Many will know that it has something to do with
the pardon of sins; but how much more accurately will they know this,
when they know that 'to absolve' means 'to loosen from': God's
'absolution' of men being his releasing of them from the bands of those
sins with which they were bound. Here every one will connect a distinct
image with the word, such as will always come to his help when he would
realize what its precise meaning may be. That which was done for
Lazarus naturally, the Lord exclaiming, 'Loose him, and let him go,'
the same is done spiritually for us, when we receive the 'absolution'
of our sins.

Tell your scholars that 'atonement' means 'at-one-ment'--the setting at
one of those who were at twain before, namely God and man, and they
will attach to 'atonement' a definite meaning, which perhaps in no way
else it would have possessed for them; and, starting from this point,
you may muster the passages in Scripture which describe the sinner's
state as one of separation, estrangement, alienation, from God, the
Christian's state as one in which he walks together with God, because
the two have been set 'at one.' Or you have to deal with the following,
'to redeem,' 'Redeemer,' 'redemption.' Lose not yourselves in vague
generalities, but fasten on the central point of these, that they imply
a 'buying,' and not this merely, but a 'buying back'; and then connect
with them, so explained, the whole circle of statements in Scripture
which rest on this image, which speak of sin as a slavery, of sinners
as bondsmen of Satan, of Christ's blood as a ransom, of the Christian
as one restored to his liberty.

Many words more suggest themselves; I will not urge more than one; but
that one, because in it is a lesson more for ourselves than for others,
and with such I would fain bring these lectures to a close. How solemn
a truth we express when we name our work in this world our 'vocation,'
or, which is the same in homelier Anglo-Saxon, our 'calling.' What a
calming, elevating, ennobling view of the tasks appointed us in this
world, this word gives us. We did not come to our work by accident; we
did not choose it for ourselves; but, in the midst of much which may
wear the appearance of accident and self-choosing, came to it by God's
leading and appointment. How will this consideration help us to
appreciate justly the dignity of our work, though it were far humbler
work, even in the eyes of men, than that of any one of us here present!
What an assistance in calming unsettled thoughts and desires, such as
would make us wish to be something else than that which we are! What a
source of confidence, when we are tempted to lose heart, and to doubt
whether we shall carry through our work with any blessing or profit to
ourselves or to others! It is our 'vocation,' not our choosing but our
'calling'; and He who 'called' us to it, will, if only we will ask Him,
fit us for it, and strengthen us in it.

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