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cation, and from this point making a fresh start, have thrown out new preterites of the weak type. This is the history of all in the subjoined column, except the last.
could ÞEARF, thar ÞORFTE dare
moste, must shall
These verbs, it will be seen, are destitute of participles; and this is merely because they have dropped off through disuse. In like manner, and from the same cause, few of them have infinitives. Indeed, none of them have infinitives of symbolic use. As symbolics, it has been their function to serve the participles and infinitives of other verbs, and to have none of their own. We can indeed say “to will’and 'to dare’; but in neither instance would the sense or the tone of the word be the same as when we say, “it will rain,' or “I dare say
292. ÞEARF, thar, þORFTE. This verb has been supplanted by such phrases as it behoveth, it needs, there is ground for, call for. Even in Chaucer, it is used less as of the poet's own speech, than as the set words of a proverb or old traditional saw :
And therfore this proverb is seyd ful soth,
Canterbury Tales, 4317. That is to say :—' It is not for him that doeth evil, to indulge flattering expectations'; or, 'He that doeth evil needn't fancy all right.'
293. May has long been without an infinitive, but there was one as late as the sixteenth century, in the form mowe
An example may be seen above, 71; and in the Secret Instructions from Henry VII respecting the young Queen of Naples :
And to knowe the specialties of the title and value therof in every behalf as nere as they shall mowe.- -National Manuscripts, Part I, 20 Hen. VII.
294. Can originally meant 'to know,' and in this presentive sense we meet with an infinitive which appears as konne in the fourteenth, and as to con in the fifteenth century.
Thanne seyde Melibe, I shal nat konne answere vn to so manye reasons as ye putten to me & shewen.—Chaucer, Tale of Melibeus.
To mine well-beloved son, I greet you well, and advise you to think once of the day of your father's counsel to learn the law, for he said many times that whosoever should dwell at Paston, should have need to con [i.e. know how to] defend himself.—Paston Letters, Letter x. (A.D. 1444-5).
The French equivalent for this con would be savoir, and in fact the English auxiliary can, could, is largely an imitation of the conduct of that French verb.
In the following quotation we see can in both senses, in the elder presentive and in the later symbolic.
That can I wel, what shold me lette? I can wel frenshe latyn englissh and duche, I haue goon to scole at Oxenford; I haue also wyth olde and auncyent doctours ben in the audyence and herde plees, and also haue gyuen sentence; I am lycensyd in bothe lawes :—what maner wrytyng that ony man can deuyse I can rede it as perfyghtly as my name. William Caxton, Reynart (1481), ed. Arber, p. 62.
295. Some auxiliaries have become obsolete. Such is mote the present, of which must is the preterite. It lingered till recent times as a formula of wishing well or ill, and indeed an extant example has been given above, at 210, note. Its place has now been taken by may.
In a ballad on the Battle of Flodden Field, A.D. 1513, this benison is bestowed on the Earl of Surrey :
In the myddyll warde was the Erle of Surrey,
296. Gan is quite extinct : it was used as now we use did, and was probably extinguished by the preference for the latter. This auxiliary must not be too closely associated with the more familiar word began. The latter is a compound of gan, but the sense of commencing is the property of the compound rather than of the root.
Of a wryght I wylle you telle
The Wryght's Chaste Wife (A.D. 1460). 297. Let in early times signified the causation of some action. Thus it is said of William the Conqueror by the vernacular historian that he 'let speer out’ all the property of the country so narrowly that there was never a rood of land or a cow or a pig that was not entered in his bookswa swyde nearwelice he hit lett ut aspyrian". This ‘let' is the same word and yet a very different thing from the light symbol now in use, as when one says to a friend, 'Will you let your servant bring my horse?'
To this levity of symbolism it had already arrived in the Elizabethan era :
Let Gryll be Gryll, and have his hoggish minde;
The Faery Queene, Bk. ii. end. 298. There are two verbs of a character so peculiar that they are for distinction sake reserved to a place at the end of this section of Mixed verbs. The first is the verb which, though common to German and the other dialects, is yet in one sense peculiar to English, namely as an auxiliary. Speaking generally, we share our auxiliaries with the rest of the Gothic family, but there is one all our own.
It is do, did, done. The peculiarity of its form has been touched on at the close of the former section, 285.
As a symbolic verb it has been treated above, 242: here
1 Two Saxon Chronicles Parallel, p. 218.
it only remains to observe its twofold character (1) as an auxiliary, in which use it has no participle, and (2) as a general substitute or representative verb, in which it is complete in all its parts. In both characters it has acquired its large place in our language through imitation of the French faire.
299. The other is the verb get, got, got, which is a more peculiarly English auxiliary, and is singular in this respect, that its participle has an auxiliary function; and further, it is remarkable for that which it expresses, as it gives to the English language a Middle Voice, or a power of verbal expression which is neither active nor passive. Thus we say to get acquitted, beaten, confused, dressed, elected, frightened, killed, married, offended, qualified, respected, shaved, washed. This is an instance of a mixed verb that has detached itself from the ranks of the strong verbs, where we must continue to retain in its due place the elder conjugation-get, gat, gotten.
300. The power of expression which our language enjoys by means of the auxiliaries is commended to the student's attention. The disproportionate study which men of learning have devoted to the inflected languages, has prevented our own verbal system from receiving the appreciation which is due to it. The following quotation from Southey may tend to redress the balance:
I had spoken as it were abstractedly, and the look which accompanied the words was rather cogitative than regardant. The Bhow Begum laid down her snuff-box and replied, entering into the feeling as well as echoing the words, “It ought to be written in a book,-certainly it ought.'
They may talk as they will of the dead languages. Our auxiliary verbs give us a power which the ancients, with all their varieties of mood and inflections of tense, never could attain. “It must be written in a book,' said I, encouraged by her manner. The mood was the same, the tense was the same; but the gradation of meaning was marked in a way which a Greek or Latin grammarian might have envied as well as admired.—The Doctor, ch. vii. A. I.
3. WEAK VERBS.
301. The third class of verbs are those which form both their preterite and their participle by the addition of -ed (-ADE), as I hope, I hoped, I have hoped. In some verbs it takes the form of changing d into 1, as send, sent; wend, went; bend, bent. We must consider this -nt as a commutation for -ND-ADE, or, as it was sometimes written, -NDE; modern -nded. The preterite of the Saxon SENDAN was not sendade but SENDE. This condensed formation takes place not only with verbs in -nd but also with those in -ld, -rd, -ft.
Other modes of condensation are used, as made, short for maked, Saxon MACODE.
These succinct forms of the weak verb must not lead to a confusion with either of the foregoing classes. Most of them are contained in the following list :