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in the act of producing a united sense. This subordination is expressed by an accentual elevation whereby the specific word is raised into a sharp prominence, while the generic word is let down to a low tone. There are some exceptions, as in the word man-kind; but the general rule is that the accent strikes the first or specific part of the compound. This is not the place to speak of accents, any further than just to notice that the accent indicates where is the stress of thought. This will be found to explain the occasional exception.
Out of composition has grown, and by insensible modifications developed itself, that phenomenon so interesting to the philologer, and so frequent in his discourse, namely, FLEXION. The origin of flexion appertains to this eldest group of compounds; but for the action and behaviour of flexion when once established, we may go to the second or middle order of compounds; and indeed, we may speak more generally, and say:—Flexion occupies the middle zone of the whole sphere of human language as it is historically Ánown to us.
A slight indication of the process is all that can be attempted in this place.
The chief attention being usually fixed on the fore-part of the compound, the after-part is left free to undergo alteration. This has been attended with remarkable consequences, in certain instances, where the termination was already of a widely generic character. The slighting of the tone and the generalisation of the sense, go on together and favour one another. At length the termination reaches a symbolic value, and we obtain those forms in which the after-part is merely an abstract or collective sign to the forepart; as childhood, friendship, happiness, kingdom, kindred, warfare, wedlock.
Other cases there are in which the second part passes into a sort of adjectival or adverbial termination; as graceful, careless, froward, contrariwise.
So far we can still regard these as a sort of compounds. But the symbolising process goes on, and with it the waning of the form of the second part, until we are landed in flexion: thus from good-like we at length get goodly.
Such are the steps whereby composition passes into terminal flexion. But there is a sort of flexion which is initial, which takes place at the beginning of a word. And to see how this comes about, we must consider another group of compounds. These are they in which the forepart is an adverb or preposition, as become, belong, forego, foreshorten, forlorn, forward, mistake, purblind, undo, with
“If well thou hast begun, go on fore-right.”
In these the attention as well as the accent is mostly on the second part, and as a consequence the first part, being symbolised to begin with, passes soon into the higher symbolism, which constitutes flexion. The whole class of prefixes (as they are called) lie in the region between compounds and flexion. When the prefix comes to be so destitute of separate meaning as is the a- in the following instances, we may then regard it as an inflection of the word to which it is prefixed:—ajar, akin, along, aloud, away, afteld, aright, afar, astir, abed, athwart. This is a favourite strain of words in the seafaring life, as ahead, astern, alongside, aback, abaft, aloof, aloft, aboard, ashore, aground, aftoat.
A very large majority of the words of a mature language, if we could analyse them correctly, would be found to dissolve into phrases. So that we may reverse the ordinary grammatical view whereby words are regarded as the material of sentences; and we should be philologically justified in this seeming paradox:—The Sentence is the raw material of the Word.
II. CoMPOUNDs of THE SECOND ORDER.
This group consists of those in which the connection of the parts of the compound is indicated by flexion. Many compounds have flexion without belonging to this group, as far-seeing, which I should range with the previous group. But when the inflection is applied in such a manner as to belong only to the combination and not to the latter part by itself, then we have a flexional compound of the most distinct kind. In the above example, seeing is equally an inflected word whether it be in or out of the compound, and the -ing has no more special relation to the compound than the -sul has in the compound all-powerful. But if we take Jong-legged, this is a flexional compound. It is not a combination of long and legged, but rather of long and leg or legs, which are clamped together into one formation by the participial inflection.
‘One show'd an iron coast and angry waves,
Alfred Tennyson, The Palace of Art.
Such are the following, of which the less common are marked with the initials of Milton or Tennyson:—
arrow-wounded (T) large-moulded (T)
This class of compounds is seen in its highest perfection in the Greek language, and the authors who have used this form of speech with the greatest effect and in the most opposite ways are AEschylus and Aristophanes. What was a trumpet to the former was employed as a bauble by the latter. Our modern poets are great performers upon this instrument. Keats handled it very effectively. In his Endymion we read of “yellow-girted bees’; also
‘Twas a lay
“Whereat, methought, the lidless-eyed train
Also Mr. Robert Browning may well be quoted to illustrate this fondness:— - billowy-bosomed.
* Hush l if you saw some western cloud All billowy-bosomed, overbowed By many benedictions.”
Others by the same poet: honey-coloured, fruit-shaped, fairy-cupped, elf-needled. One from a still more recent poem :—
“And all glad things were welcome in thy sight,
Robert Buchanan, Napoleon Fallen, 1870.
In such instances the inflection reacts on the whole compound with a consolidating force. Several words may thus be strung together. When the last member of a linked composite has an inflection, it seems to run back pervadingly through the others, supplying the whole with a thread of coherence. We do not use this power so much as the Germans do. Richard Rothe said of his student life at Heidelberg, that it was ein poetists-religiö3-missendjaftsideå §boss.
In the following quotation, though it is not so printed, yet the word old is part of the compound.
oldfriend-ish-ness. “The author having settled within himself the most direct mode of securing the ear of his readers, throws himself upon their favour with an air of trustfulness and old friend-ish-ness, which cannot fail to secure him welcome and audience.’—Quarterly Review, vol. cxxviii. p. 545. Here also seem to belong those instances in which the last member is a present participle, governing the former members of the compound:
‘As a tool-and-weapon-using being, man stands alone.”—E. T. Stevens, Flint Chips, Preface.