Immagini della pagina

transitions do not take place without some such mental connivance, though the mind be little conscious of its part.

This formative is unknown in the Scandinavian languages.

Examples :--awkwardness, blindness, carelessness, consciousness, darkness, emptiness, fullness, goodness, heaviness, indebtedness, meanness, peaceableness, readiness, suppleness, usefulness, weariness, wilderness, witness. Illustrations :

highmindedness, dejectedness, contentedness. He that cannot abound without pride and high-mindednesse, will not want without too much dejectednesse . . . Frame a sufficiency out of contentednesse—Richard Sibs, Soules Conflict, ch. x. ed. 1658,

composedness. Spiritual composedness and sabbath of spirit.-Id.

But felt through all this fleshly dress,
Bright shoots of everlastingness.

Henry Vaughan (1621–1695), The Retreat.

carelessness. The sole explanation of incongruities in Shakespeare is to be found, I believe, in that sublime carelessness which is characteristic of the genius of this wonderful man.

1.—Sir Henry Holland, Recollections of Past life, ch. ix. The plural -nesses is comparatively rare. The sense being mostly abstract in this group, the plural is the less called for. If however the sense is concrete, the plural is used commonly, as witnesses. Even in abstract words it is also employed, but there is something of demonstration about it. Jeremy Taylor has darknesses, and Paley has consciousnesses :

illuminations, secret notices or directions, internal sensations, or consciousnesses of being acted upon by spiritual influences, good or bad. — Evidences i. 2. I.

Dr. Mozley has grotesquenesses, coolnesses :

In the midst of enemies, Irish and English, Court treacheries and coolnesses, Strafford depended solely upon Laud, and no one other supportArchbishop Laud (1845) in Essays (1878) p. 201.

In such instances, there is something pronounced, there is just a touch of demonstrativeness.

321. There has been a period, dating from the sixteenth century, in which this formative has been less in vogue, whilst the Latin -ation has prevailed; but rivalry between forms is often smoothed into cooperation, in a language that loves the breadth of duplicate expression. Thus we see -ness and -alion yoked amicably together, as

More studious of unity and concord than of innovations and new-fangleness.—Common Prayer, Of Ceremonies.

There is sometimes a touch of humour in -ness :What an unusual share of somethingness in his whole appearance !-Oliver Goldsmith, Citizen of the World, Letter xiv.

Of late years -ness has been much revived, and has furnished some new words, as indebtedness. Indeed the form has become a modern favourite, and many a new turn of speech has been made with it. In the bold novelty of some of them we may almost trace a spirit of rebellion against conventionality


Nor Nature fails my walks to bless
With all her golden inwardness.

James Russell Lowell.

hopefulness, belieffulness. And there is a hopefulness and a belieffulness, so to say, on your side, which is a great compensation.-A. H. Clough to R. W. Emerson, 1853.

missionariness. It is, I think, alarming-peculiarly at this time, when the female inkbottles are perpetually impressing upon us woman's particular worth and general missionariness—to see that the dress of women is daily more and more unfitting them for any mission or usefulness at all.--Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing.

northness. Long lines of cackling geese were sailing far overhead, winging their way to some more remote point of northness.Dr. Hayes, Open Polar Sea, ch. xxxv.

322. As a consequence of its revived popularity, it is now frequently substituted for French or Latin terminations of like significance, and this even in words of Romanesque material. A lady asked me why the author wrote effeminateness and not effeminacy in the following passage.

1812, June 17th. At four o'clock dined in the Hall with De Quince y who was very civil to me, and cordially invited me to visit his cottage in Cumberland. Like myself, he is an enthusiast for Wordsworth. His person is small, his complexion fair, and his air and manner are those of a sickly and enfeebled man. From this circumstance his sensibility, which I have no doubt is genuine, is in danger of being mistaken for effeminateness.Henry Crabb Robinson, Diary, vol. i. p. 391.

Indeed -cy and -ness are good equivalents, and hence they are often seen coupled or opposed, as decency and cleanliness.

Decency must have been difficult in such a place, and cleanliness impossible.— James Anthony Froude, History of England, August, 1567.

The above terminations are of immeasurable antiquity, and we are not in a position to say whether they were ever anything more than terminations, whether they ever existed as independent words. But in the instances which follow, -dom, -red, -lock, -hood, -ship, -ric, we know that the terminations were once separate words, and the earliest examples were therefore once in the condition of compounds, in which the second part was as intentionally selected for the occasion as the first. But this condition has long ago passed away, and the second part has become a traditional appendage to the first, while the two together represent an idea which the mind no longer analyzes.

323. The collective or abstract -dom is found in all the dialects except the Masogothic. It seems to have originally meant distinction, dignity, grandeur, and so to have been chosen to express the great whole of anything. As a separate word it became doom, meaning authority and judgment.


Examples :-Christendom, heathendom, kingdom, martyrdom, serfdom, sheriffdom, thraldom, wisdom. Altered form: halidam or halidame.

The Germans make a variety of words with this formative, as Bisthum bishopdom; Reichthum richdom.

This form has recovered a new activity of late years, and it is now highly prolific. We meet with such new examples as beadledom, fabledom, prigdom, Saxondom, scoundreldom, rascaldom.

Saxondom. How much more two nations, which, as I said, are but one nation; knit in a thousand ways by nature and practical intercourse; indivisible brother elements of the same great Saxondom, to which in all honorable ways be long life !—Thomas Carlyle, in Forster's Life of Dickens, ch. xx.


I doubt very much indeed whether the honesty of the country has been improved by the substitution so generally of mental education for industrial; and the three R's,' if no industrial training has gone along with them, are apt, as Miss Nightingale observes, to produce a fourth R--of rascaldom. – J. A. Froude, at St. Andrew's, March, 1869.

prigdom. Well, and so you really think, that my son will come back improved ; will drop the livery of prigdom, and talk like other people.The Monks of Thelema (1878) ch. iv.

The value of the formative has altered in the case of Christendom. This word is now used to signify the geographical area which is peopled by Christians; but in the early use it meant just what we now mean by Christianity, the profession and condition of a Christian man. It is early days to find the modern sense in Chaucer

And ther to hadde he ryden no man ferre,

As wel in cristendom as hethenesse, Prologue, 49; and rather belated to find the elder sense in Shakspeare. In the graphic dialogue about the new fashions fresh from France, the lord chamberlain says

Their cloathes are after such a Pagan cat too't,
That sure th'haue worne out christendome.

Henry VIII, i. 3. 15. 324. Substantives in -red are, and always were, but few. The formative answers to the German rath in Heirath, marriage, originally meaning design, but in the formative having only the sense of condition. It seems to be the same as the final syllable in the proper names Alfred, Eadred, Æbelred. Of this formation I can only produce two words that are still in current use, unless we may place hundred here.

Examples :-hatred, kindred.
In the fourteenth century we meet with

gossipred. But the enmity between the 'English by blood' and English by birth' still went on, and the former married with the Irish, adopted their language, laws, and dress, and became bound to them also by gossipred' and • fosterage.'—W. Longman, Edward the Third, vol. ii. p. 15.

The words of this formation seem to be specially adapted for the expression of human relationships, whether natural, moral, or social. This is the case with the three already instanced, as well as with others belonging to the Saxon stage of the language. We must not omit the word neighbourhood, which is one of these terms of social relationship, and which was originally 'neighbourred,' as we find it far into the transition period.

Mon sulồe his elmesse penne he heo gefeb swulche mome be he for scome wernen ne mei for nezeburredde.Old English Homilies, p. 137.

Man sells his alms when he giveth it to such a man as he for very shame cannot warn off [= decline giving to] by reason of the ties of neighbourhood.

325. -lock, -leche, -ledge. These are very few now, and were not numerous in Saxon, where the termination was in the form -lac: as brydlac marriage, guðlac battle, reaflac spoil, scinlac sorcery. The word lac here is an old word

« IndietroContinua »