Immagini della pagina

• The lonely wand'rer under other skies

Thinks on the happy fields he may not see,
The home-enfolding landscape seems to rise
With sunlight on the lea.'

Horace Smith.

Indeed, wherever there is a verbal government between the parts of a compound, I would reckon that compound as belonging to this section, because rection, though not necessarily connected with flexion, has ever been found as its close companion and ally. In the above examples, we have however an unequivocal trace of the work of flexion, in the displacement of the governed word and its being put before the verb. But even where such grounds are wanting, if only government exists between the parts, I should regard it (at least in our own language) as presumable that the compound had its roots in a former state of flexional syntax. Accordingly, I range here such compounds as makeshift, makeweight, makebelieve, marplot, pickpocket, pickpurse, pickthank.


Here belong all those compounds which are formed by an accentual union of phrases wherein the syntactical connection is entirely or mainly symbolic. There was a mediæval English expression for vain regret, which was made up of the words ' had I wist,' that is to say, 'Oh, if I had only known what the consequence would be.' It was variously written, and the variations depend on the degree of accentual intensification :

hadde-y-wiste. * And kepe be well from hadde-y-wiste.' Babees Book, p. 15, ed. Furnivall, Early English Text Society.

• When dede is doun hit ys to lat;
be ware of hady-wyst.'

The chief symbol which threads together these compounds is the preposition of,' as will-o'-the-wisp, cat-o'-ninetails, man-of-war, light-o'-love.

The distinction between compounds and constructs is a delicate one, so much so that two persons of like birth and education may

be found to differ upon it. When however we see the of abraded to o', or when we hear it in speech, as we often hear man-o'-war, then there is no doubt of the compound state of that expression.

This class of compounds is essentially French, and it is from our neighbours that we have caught the art of making them. Thus, we say after them :

[blocks in formation]

But the instances in which we make use of it are far less numerous than those in which we keep to our natural compound, that of the first order. It is only necessary to offer a few examples by which it will appear how very far we are from overtaking the French in the use of their compound :


master-piece maison-de-campagne country-house chemin-de-fer

rail-road bonnet-de-nuit night-cap tête-de-pavot

poppy-head culottes-de-peluche plush-breeches Bureau-de-Poste Post-Office

And if we are slow to adopt their compounds with de, still less do we concern ourselves to imitate those which they so readily make with other prepositions; as :arc-en-ciel

rain-bow verre à vin

wine-glass manche à balai broom-stick So strong is our preference for our own old hereditary compound, that even where we substantially adopt the ex.pression of a French compound, we alter it to the world-old form, as in the case of coup-de-Bourse, which in the following newspaper-cutting is turned into

Exchange-stroke. ‘Secretary Boutwell was in New York almost on the eve of the outbreak. He was aware, as indeed the whole city was, that a conspiracy was brewing —that what we might call an " Exchange stroke was contemplated.'

The transition from the construct to the compound state is a slight and delicate thing, but it takes time to accomplish. The symbolic syntax has produced few as yet; the flexional syntax has produced far more, for the compounds of the second order have been greatly fostered by the study of Greek. But the great shoal of English compounds is derived from the eldest form of syntax, and they have their roots in a time immeasurably old. They claim kindred with Red-Indian compounds like Tso-mec-cos-tee and Tso-me-coste-won-dee and Pah-puk-keéna and Pah-Puk-Keewis and other such, of which the ready and popular repertory is the Song of Hiawatha.

[ocr errors][merged small]



• Point not these mysteries to an Art
Lodged above the starry pole ;
Pure modulations flowing from the heart
Of divine Love, where Wisdom, Beauty, Truth,
With Order dwell, in endless youth?'

William Wordsworth, On the Power of Sound.

The first of these chapters was on the Alphabet, out of which, by a multiplicity of combinations, a conventional garb has been devised for the visible representation of language. By the artifice of literature, speech is presented to the eye as an object of sight. Partly in consequence of the pains which we are at to acquire literary culture; partly also, perhaps, in consequence of the greater permanency of the visual impressions upon the mind;-certain it is, that the cultivated modern is apt to think of language rather as written than as a spoken thing. And this, although he still makes far greater use of it by the oral than by the literary process. It is, however, quite plain that writing is but an external and necessarily imperfect vesture, while the true and natural and real form of language is that which is made of sound, and addressed to the ear.


Human speech consists of two essential elements, and these are Voice and Meaning. I say 'meaning' rather than thought,' because it seems a more comprehensive term, including the whole sphere of emotion, from its innermost and least explored centre to its outermost frontiers in physical sensation.

Voice will, moreover, be found to consist of two parts, by a distinction worthy to be observed. For, in the first place, there is the voice which is the necessary vehicle of the meaning; and, in the second place, there is the voice which forms a harmonious accompaniment to the meaning. It is the former of these which is represented in literature; for the latter literature is almost silent. Here the mechanical arts of writing and printing can do but little.

One may put her words down, and remember them, but how describe her sweet tones, sweeter than musick ?'-W. M. Thackeray, Esmond, Bk, ii. ch. xv.

Poetry, which is the highest form of literature, makes great efforts to express this finest part of the voicing of language. All the peculiar characteristics of poetry, such as verse, rhythm, metre, rhyme, alliteration, assonance, are directed towards this end. In prose this is only faintly and remotely indicated by such means as punctuation and italics and parentheses. But the distinction here drawn applies to prose as well as to poetry. It is perfectly well known, and generally recognised. It lies at the base of the demand for 'good reading. A man may articulate every word, pronounce faultlessly, read fluently, and observe the punctuation, and

be far from a good reader. So much of voice as is the vehicle of sense is given, but the harmony is wanting, and there is no pleasure in listening to him. It is felt that, besides the sound which conveys the sense of the words, there is a further and a different kind of sound due as an


« IndietroContinua »