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pounded by Dean Alford in Queen's English, § 208 and following: We are now concerned only to illustrate the movement from presentiveness to symbolism.
How greatly the word will is felt to have changed its power in the last three centuries may be judged from the following. In Matthew xv. 32, where our Bible has ‘I will not send them away fasting,' it is proposed by Dean Alford as a correction to render, 'I am not willing to, &c.' Again, in Matthew xx. 14, ‘I will give unto this last even as unto thee,' the same critic finds it desirable to substitute 'It is my will to give, &c.' It should be noticed that in neither of these criticisms is there any question of Greek involved. It is simply an act of fetching up the expression of our Bible to the level of modern English. Whether such alterations would or would not be really improvements of our version, is a question which does not come under our consideration. As evidence that a change is come over the word will, it is all the more valuable as being undesignedly supplied.
Both will and shall are seen in their presentive power in the familiar proposal to carry a basket, or to do any other little handy service, I will if I shall, that is, I am willing if you will command me; I will if so required.
There are still intermediate uses of the word shall which belong neither to the presentive state when it signified owe, nor to the symbolic state in which it is a mere imponderable auxiliary. In the following quotation it has a sense which lies between these two extremes.
* If the Reformers saw not how or where to draw the fine and floating and long-obscured line between religion and superstition, who sball dare to arraign them ?'—Henry Hart Milnian, The Annals of St. Paul's, p. 231.
What has been said about shall applies equally to its preterite should. Its common symbolic use is illustrated in the following quotation,
• Labourers indeed were still striving with employers about the rate of wages—as they have striven to this very day, and will continue to strive to the world's end, unless some master mind should discover the true principle for its settlement.'—William Longman, Edward III, vol. ii. ch. iii. Let the reader fully comprehend the nature of this should, that he may be prepared to appreciate the contrast of the examples which follow. I found the first near my own home. I was ‘borneing' out some allotment ground, and Farmer Webb having driven a corner ‘borne' into the ground very effectively, exclaimed, “There, that one 'll stand for twenty years, if he should !' To a person who knows only the English of literature, the condition would seem futile—if he should ! It would seem to mean that the 'borne’ would stand if it happened to stand.. But this was not our neighbour's meaning. The person who should so misunderstand him, would do so for want of knowing that the word should has still something extant of its old presentive power. In this instance it would have to be translated into Latin, not thus-si forle ita evenerit; but thussi debuerit, si fuerit opus : if it ought; if it be required to stand so long; or, in the brief colloquial, if required.
Connected with this thread of usage, and equally derived from the radical sense of owe, is another power of shall and should, which is of a very subtle nature.
It is one of the native traits of our mother tongue of which we have been deprived by the French influence. German scholars well know that soll has a peculiar use to express something which the speaker does not assert but only reports. Er soll es gethan haben, literally, 'he shall have done it,' signifies, ‘he is said to have done it.' In Saxon this use was well known.
Thus in the Peterborough Chronicle, A.D. 1048 (p. 178), we read : ' for þan Eustatius hæfde gecydd þam cynge þet hit SCEOLDE beon mare gylt þære burhwara bonne his '—' forasmuch as Eustace had told the king that it was (forsooth !) more the townsmen's fault than his.' Twice in the same Chronicle it is recorded that a spring of blood had issued from the earth in Berkshire, namely, under the years 1098 and 1200. In both places it is added, “swa swa manige sædan be hit geseon SCEOLDAN '—'as many said who professed to have seen it, or were believed to have seen it.' But now this usage is only provincial. It is very common in Devonshire. "I'm told such a one should say.' How ancient it is, we may form an estimate by observing that it exists not only in German but in Danish also. Some specimens of Holberg are given in the North British Review (July, 1869, p. 426), from one of his dramas, entitled Erasmus Montanus. The pedantic student is at home for vacation, and complaining that there is no one in the town who has learning enough to be a fit associate for himself. At this point he says, according to the translator, who is substantially correct: The clerk and the schoolmaster, it is reported, have studied; but I know not to what extent.' The original Danish is, Degnen og Skolemesteren skal have studeret, men jeg reed ikke hvorvidt det strækker sig'-literally, the clerk and the schoolmaster shall have studied.' These illustrations are so many traces of the course which this ancient verb has described in its passage from the presentive to the symbolic state. And, taken as a whole, they form so beautifully varied a series of phases, that had they been found in a classical language they would have been much admired.
The different powers of would are illustrated in the following quotation, where the first would has absolutely nothing remaining of that original idea of the action of Will, which is still present though unobtruded in the second would.
' It would be a charity if people would sometimes in their Litanies pray for the very healthy, very prosperous, very light-hearted, very much bepraised.'—John Keble, Life, p. 459.
May, Might. Like will, would, shall, should, this word in its auxiliary character is not presentive but symbolic. But we get it in its presentive function in our early poetry, as in the following from Chevelere Assigne, 1. 134,
I myzte not drowne hem for dole,'
the meaning of which is, I was not able to drown them for compassion. Here myzte, which is the same as might, is presentive and means 'potui,' 'I was able.'
This word originally meant, not ability by admission or permission (as now), but by power and right, as in the noun might and the adjective mighty. We no longer use the verb
But ti makes a characteristic feature of the fourteenthcentury poetry :
• There was a king that mochel might
Confessio Amantis, Bk. i. vol. i. p. 1316, ed. Pauli. This would be in Latin, ‘Rex quidam erat qui multum valebat, cui nomen Nabugodonosoro.'
Some traces of its presentive use linger about may. We use it in its old sense of to be able in certain positions as, 'It may be avoided. But, curious to note, we change the verb for the negation of this proposition, and say 'No, it cannot.' None but the book-learned would understand 'No, it may not.' Some. As
As in Mrs. Barbauld's apostrophe to Life:
• Say not good night, but in some brighter clime,
Bid me good morning.' Or as the following :
"So valuable a means of research has this new process of analysis proved itself to be, that since its first establishment, some seven short years ago, no less than four new chemical elements have by its help been discovered.' — Henry E. Roscoe, Spectrum Analysis, 1868, init.
• The Old Testament will still be a New Testament to him who comes with a fresh desire of information,'-Fuller.
More. This is now generally known to us as a symbolic word, a mere sign of the comparative degree. But it is presentive in Acts xix. 32, the more part knew not wherefore they were come together;' and in that sentence of Bacon's discretion in speech is more than eloquence.'
Now. In this word we may illustrate the aërial perspective which exists in symbolism. At first it appeared as an adverb of time, signifying at the present time.' Even in this character it is a symbolic word, but it is one that lies very near the presentive frontier. It is capable of light emphasis, as in Now is the accepted time! But then it moves off another stage, as, Now faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Here the now is incapable of accent; one hardly imagines the rhetorical emergency which would impose an emphasis on this now. Thus we see there is in symbolism a near and a far distance. And this second now, the more rarefied and symbolic of the two, is gradually undermining the position of the other. The careful writer will often have found it necessary to strike out a now which he had with the weightier meaning set at the head of à sentence, because of its liability to be accepted by the reader for the toneless now.
Many years of my life was I puzzled to know what the now meant in i Corinthians xiii. 13, “And now abideth faith; hope, charity,' &c. Why now? I supposed, or had been taught (I cannot say which), that some special adaptation or appropriation was intended of these virtues to the present dispensation. At length, by maturer familiarity with Greek, it became clear that the now is not one of time at all, but the merest symbolic, and that it ought not to have that