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Tear her limb-meal.
W. Shakspeare, Cymbeline, ii. 4.
Alfred Tennyson, The Holy Grail. 438. Accusative formation occurs in that which has the greatest adverbial vogue, namely the termination -ly; as, I
gave him sixpence willingly. In modern English the adverbial -ly is identical in form with the adjective -ly, but in Saxon the forms differed, the adjectival being -Lîc and the adverbial - LÎCE; by a difference which constantly signalised the adverbs in Anglo-Saxon. This -e was the sign of an old accusative neuter, as in Latin we have the adverb multum.
When we consider how much has been absorbed in this adverbial termination, we can understand why the last syllable of the adverb in -ly was pronounced so full and long down to the sixteenth century; as the following shews :
Ye ought to be ashamed,
Skelton, Colyn Clout. At the very opening of The Canterbury Tales the importance of this remark is apparent; for, without attention to it, we cannot catch the rhythm of the fifteenth line of the Prologue :
And specially | from euery shires ende.
When this adverbial -ly was sometimes superadded to the adjectival, the latter shrank into tonelessness, as comelely in Chaucer, Blaunche 848.
439. This adverbial form has become so exceedingly prevalent above all others, as to eclipse them and cause them to be almost forgotten: and withal, the great dominance of this form as an adverb has cast a shadow over the adjective of the same form. Sometimes the two functions come into an uncomfortable coll rith one another; as, “Their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed,' where the first ungodly is an adjective and the second an adverb. As a general rule it is better to keep these two functions well apart, and not to say, for instance, of the father of Goethe, that he was 'passionately orderly.'
440. What was said in the last section about social adjectives, applies also to adverbs, though in a more superficial way. Adverbs do not root themselves so firmly as adjectives do. In the last century a frequent adverb was vastly: thus, in Mansfield Park, when Edward was resolute that 'Fanny must have a horse,' we read :
Mrs. Norris could not help thinking that some steady old thing might be found among the numbers belonging to the Park, that would do vastly well.
At the present moment it may be said that awfully is the adverb regnant. 'How do?' 'Awfully jolly, thanks.'
441. In chiefly and verily a French base has received a Saxon formative. These adverbs are memorials of the bi-lingual period of our language. Verily is our substitute for the French vraiment, Italian veramente, Latin, or rather Roman, vera mente. It is curious to observe that the Romanesque languages should have taken the word for Mind as the material out of which they have moulded a formula for the adverbial idea; while the Saxon equivalent has grown out of the word for Body; Lîc being body, German Leich.
Like seasoned timber, never gives ;
442. Before we pass from this, one of the most dominant forms of our language, we may glance for a moment at the feeling and moral effects with which it is associated. As the substantive is the most necessary of words, so the adverb is naturally the most decorative and distinguishing. And as it is easiest to err in that part of your fabric which is least necessary, so a writer's skill or his incapacity comes out more in his adverbs than in his substantives or adjectives. It is no small matter in composition to make your adverbs appear as if they belonged to the statement, and not as mere arbitrary appendages. Hardly anything in speech gives greater satisfaction than when the right adverb is put in the right place.
Dickens, describing the conversation of two men at a funeral as they discuss the fate or prospects of various neighbours, past and present, says, with one of his happiest touches, that they spoke as if they themselves were 'notoriously immortal.'
How happy is this 'notoriously'! how delicately does it expose that inveterate paradox of self-delusion whereby men tacitly assume for themselves an exception from the operation of general laws! How widely does this differ from the common tendency to be profuse in adverbs, which is a manifestation of the impotènt desire to be effective at little cost. The following is not a strong example, but it will indicate what is meant :Most heartily do I recommend Mr. Beecher's sermons
they are instructively and popularly philosophical, without being distractingly metaphysical.
443. As in art the further an artist goes in embellishment the more he risks a miscarriage in effect, so it is in language. It is only the master's hand that can safely venture to lay on the adverbs thick. And yet their full capability only then comes out when they are employed with something like prodigality. When there is a well-ballasted paragraph, solid in matter and earnest in manner, then, like the full sail of a well-found ship, the adverbs may be crowded with glad effect. In the following passage how free from adverbs is the body of the paragraph ; and when we come to where they are lavishly displayed at the end, we feel that the demonstration is justified. If we quoted only the termination of this passage, the adverbs would lose their raison d'étre.
I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean by humility, doubt of his own power, or hesitation in speaking his opinions; but a right understanding of the relation between what he can do and say, and the rest of the world's sayings and doings. All great men not only know their business, but usually know that they know it; and are not only right in their main opinions, but they usually know that they are right in them; only, they do not think much of themselves on that account. Arnolfo knows he can build a good dome at Florence; Albert Dürer writes calmly to one who had found fault with his work, 'It cannot be better done'; Sir Isaac Newton knows that he has worked out a problem or two that would have puzzled anybody else ;-only they do not expect their fellow-men therefore to fall down and worship them; they have a curious under-sense of powerlessness, feeling that the greatness is not in them, but through them; that they could not do or be anything else than God made them. And they see something divine and God-made in every other man they meet, and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.- John Ruskin, Modern Painters, Part IV. c. xvi. § 24.
The author of Friends in Council, describing, and at the same time illustrating, what a weighty sentence should be, though he says nothing about the distribution of the adverbs, has nevertheless determined that point in the most effectual manner by his example:Sir Arthur. Pray lay down the lines for us, Ellesmere
Pray tell us what a weighty sentence should be.
Ellesmere. It should be powerful in its substantives, choice and discreet in its adjectives, nicely correct in its verbs : not a word that could be added, nor one which the most fastidious would venture to suppress: in order lucid, in sequence logical, in method perspicuous; and yet with a pleasant and inviting intricacy which disappears as you advance in the sentence: the language, throughout, not quaint, not obsolete, not common, and not new : its several clauses justly proportioned and carefully balanced, so that it moves like a well-disciplined army organised for conquest: the rhythm, not that of music, but of a higher and more fantastic melodiousness, submitting to no rule, incapable of being taught: the substance and the form alike disclosing a happy union of the soul of the author to the subject of his thought, having, therefore, individuality without personal predominance: and withal there must be a sense of felicity about it, declaring it to be the product of a happy moment, so that you feel it will not happen again to that man who writes the sentence, or to any other of the sons of men, to say the like thing so choicely, tersely, mellifluously, and completely.—Realmah, ch. vii.
444. Unless thus used, with skill and discretion, the reiteration of the formal adverb is apt to generate fulsomeness. Ordinarily it will not bear a very heavy charge; and when the weightiest demonstrations of this kind have to be made, it is found by experience that the requisite display of adverbiality is accomplished with another sort of instrument.
As a bridge from this section to the next, the variation 'not grudgingly or of necessity,' 2 Cor. ix. 7, will do very well. Or the following line from The Man of Lawes Tale, where, be it said in passing, the first word consists of four syllables :
Solempnely with euery circumstance. Instances of this kind are very frequent, in which an adverb of the formal kind is coupled with one of the phrasal, to the consideration of which we now proceed.
(3) Of the Phrasal Adverb. 445. The Phrasal Adverb is already considerably developed, and it is still in course of development; but it attracts the less attention because the thing is going on under our eyes.
As the general progress of language