Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

holidays of a school-boy, but in the sixteenth century it was the proper expression for burglary:—

“If a thiefe bee found breaking vp.’—Exodus xxii. 2. “Suffered his house to be broken vp.’—Matthew xxiv. 43. “If he beget a sonne that is a breaker vp of a house.’—Ezekiel xviii. Io (margin). Mr. Froude quotes a letter of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in which a burglary is confessed in these terms:— “With other companions who were in straits as well as myself, I was

forced to give the onset and break up a house in Warwickshire, not far from Wakefield.”—History, vol. xi. p. 28.

Also an old ship is sold ‘to be broken up,' and there is a rich variety of expressions in which up figures in such a character as belongs here, e.g. to be “knocked up, ‘done up,” “patched up,' to be “up to a thing,’ ‘up with a person,’ &c. still.

“Having past from my hand under a broken and imperfect copy, by fre: quent transcription it still run (sic) forward into corruption.”—Thomas Brown, Religio Medici, Preface.

“They are left enough to live on, but not enough to enable them still to move in the society in which they have been brought up.”—John BoydKinnear, Woman's Work, p. 353.

In these two examples the reader should notice that ‘still run' and ‘still to move’ would be mere stultifications if the word still were taken in its original and presentive signification of “stillness.’ This affords a sort of measure of the great change that has passed over the word.

[merged small][ocr errors]

The word rather may serve as an illustration of the grounds on which we assign these words to the pronominal category. In an interesting letter from Sir Hugh Luttrell, in the year 1420, we have this word in its presentive sense. He is in France, and he is displeased that certain orders of his have not been carried out, and he hints that if his commands are not fulfilled, he is alive, and ‘schalle come home, and that rather than som men wolde,’ that is to say, he shall be at home earlier than would be agreeable to some people. Rather is the comparative of an obsolete adjective rathe, which signified “early.” It is found once in Milton, Lycidas, 142 :

‘Bring the rathe Primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted Crow-toe, and pale Gessamine.’

Now compare the way in which we habitually employ this word, and a plainer example could hardly be found of the distinction between the nature of the noun and that of the pronoun. The word is so common that we can hardly read a paragraph in any daily or weekly article without coming across it, and probably more than once.

‘Various appropriate sermons were preached with all desirable promptitude, and the assertion was made in various forms that Mr. Dickens was one of the chief teachers of the day:-he had provided the public with a great quantity of thoroughly innocent literature; Mr. Dickens shewed a thoroughly kindly nature in every line that he wrote. . . Yet all this scarcely entitles a man to the sort of praise which belongs to great moral reformers. It was his chief fault that he played with sentimental situations in a way that seems to imply an absence of very profound feeling. He fails to be truly pathetic because we do not see the agony wrung out of a strong man by the inevitable wrongs and sorrows of the world, but the easy yielding of a nature that rather likes a little gentle weeping. Mr. Pickwick with his love of mankind, stimulated by milk-punch, is not the most elevated type of philanthropy, though it is one which is unfortunately prevalent at the present day. In these respects Mr. Dickens's influence tended rather towards a softening of the moral fibre than towards strengthening it. . . We can only take the morality preached in his published works, of which every man is at liberty to form an opinion And though we may admit it to be perfectly harmless, and to provide a pleasant stock of maxims for people who wish to get through the word quietly and easily, we cannot hold that it was of that invigorating character which is most to be desired or which would entitle its organ to be considered as on that account a great

benefactor of mankind. We rather feel that it is poor food for the soul of man, and that the preachers who have identified it with their own highest aspirations have not raised our opinion of their insight into the wants of the age.”—July 16, 1870. too. ‘Spake I not too truly, O my knights? Was I too dark a prophet when I said To those who went upon the Holy Quest, That most of them would follow wandering fires, Lost in the quagmire?” Alfred Tennyson, The Holy Grail.

That famous pronominal factor so, which has already

been spoken of in both the previous sections, must come in here likewise:—

“And he was competent whose purse was so.”
William Cowper, The Time-Piece.

“A declaration so bold and haughty silenced them and astonished their associates.”

The presentive idea to which this so points back may be found by reference to Robertson's Charles the Fifth, Bk. I., anno 1516, and the abruptness of the clause as it stands, gives a measure of the pronominal nature of the adverb so. further.

“Or dwells within our hidden soul
Some germ of high prophetic power,
That further can the page unveil,
And open up the future hour.’

G. J. Cornish, Come to the Woods, and Other Poems, lxxiii.

jump. “In goodness, therefore, there is a latitude or extent, whereby it cometh to pass that even of good actions some are better than other some; whereas otherwise one man could not excel another, but all should be either absolutely good, as hitting jump that indivisible point or centre wherein goodness consisteth ; or else missing it they should be excluded out of the number of well-doers."—Richard Hooker, Of the Laws, &c., I. viii. 8.

solid.

“You don't mean that l” “I do, solid l’’ (Leicestershire.)

how. ‘How dull sermons are, compared with the brilliant compositions which may be read in the newspapers l’—J. Llewellyn Davies, The Gospel and Modern Life (1869), p. 218. Now we come upon a feature which is inconsiderable in its bulk, unimposing in its appearance, and which is inconspicuous by the very continuousness of its presence; but yet one which covers with its influence half the realm of language, which involves one of the most curious of problems, and which raises one of the most important questions in the whole domain of philological speculation. This is the apparatus of NEGATION. It may be out of our reach to attain to the primitive history of the negative particle; but if we are to judge of its source by the track upon which it is found, if origin is to be judged of by kindred, if the unknown is to be surmised by that which is known, it is in this portion of the fabric of speech—namely, in the flat pronoun-adverbs—that we must assign its birthplace to the negative particle. The negative particle in our language is simply the consonant N. In Saxon it existed as a word NE, but we have lost that word, and it is now to us a letter only, which enters into many words, as into no, not, nought, none, never. In French, however, this particle is still extant as a separate word; as ‘Je ne vois pas.’ The following parallel quotations exhibit this particle both in its pure and simple state, and also in combinations such as we are, and also such as we are not, familiar with:—

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

In Anglo-Saxon this particle was used not only for the simple negative, as in the above quotation, but likewise as our mor; and both of these uses of the particle continued to the fourteenth century. Thus, in the Vision of Piers the

Plowman, Prologue 174:—

“Alle bis route of ratones to pis reson bei assented. Ac po be belle was yboust and on be beige hanged, pere ne was ratoun in alle be route for alle be rewme of Fraunce, pat dorst haue ybounden be belle aboute be cattis nekke, Ne hangen [it] aboute pe cattes hals' al Engelonde to wynne.’

But the second use (= nor) survived the other: it occurs repeatedly in Spenser and other writers of the sixteenth

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

me = not.

“He neuere yit no vilonye ne saide.”
‘That no drop ne fell, upon hir breste.”
“So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie.’

(l. 70.)
(l. 131.)
(l.513.)

« IndietroContinua »