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ChMliiJ.i.x --^ 

Hamrd UnWersityi 
Child Memorial Library. 

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A SERIES of four lectures which I delivered 
-^^^ last spring to the pupils of King's College 
School, London, supplied the foundation to this 
present volume. These lectures, which I was obliged 
to prepare in haste, on a brief invitation, and under 
the pressure of other engagements, being subsequently 
enlarged and recast, were delivered in the autumn 
somewhat more nearly in their present shape to the 
pupils of the Training School, Winchester ; wkh only 
those alterations, omissions and additions, which the 
diflference in my hearers suggested as necessary or 
desirable. I have found it convenient to keep the 
lectures, as regards the persons presumed to be ad- 
dressed, in that earlier form which I had sketched 
out at the first ; and, inasmuch as it helps much to 
keep lectures vivid and real that one should have 
some well-defined audience, if not actually before 

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VI. Pr^ace, 

one, yet before the mind's eye, to suppose myself 
throughout addressing my first hearers. I have sup- 
posed myself, that is, addressing a body of young 
Englishmen, all with a fair amount of classical know- 
ledge (in my explanations I have sometimes had 
others with less than theirs in my eye), not wholly 
unacquainted with modern languages; but not yet 
with any special designation as to their future work ; 
having only as yet marked out to them the duty in 
general of living lives worthy of those who have Eng- 
land for their native country, and English for their 
native tongue. To lead such through a" more inti- 
mate knowledge of this into a greater love of that, 
has been a principal aim which I have set before my- 
self throughout 

ItchensToke : Feb, 7, 1855. 

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The Enqush Vocabulary 1 

Enqush as it might have been • • • ^7 

Gains op the English Language ... 90 

Gains of the Engmbh Language — continued • . 132 

Diminutions op the Engmsh Language . . 182 


Diminutions op the English Language — con- 
tinued 226 

Changes in the Meaning of English Words . 263 

Changes in the Spelling of English Words . 301 

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' A VERY slight acquaintance with the history of 
Jlx. out own language will teach us that the 
speech of Chaucer's age is not the speech of Skelton's, 
that there is a great diflference between the language 
under Elizabeth and that under Charles the First, 
between that under Charles the First and Charles the 
Second, between that under Charles the Second and 
Queen Anne ; that considerable changes had taken 
place between the beginning and the middle of the 
last centvuy, and that Johnson and Fielding did 
not write altogether as we do now. For in the course 
^of a nation's progress new ideas are evermore mount- 
ing above the horizon, while others are lost sight of 
and sink below it : others again change their form and 
aspect : others which seemed united, split into parts. 
And as it is with ideas, so it is with their symbols, 
words. New ones are perpetually coined to me^t tb? 

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2 I'he Maglish Vocabulary. lect. 

demand of an advanced understanding, of new feel- 
ings that have spning out of the decay of old ones, of 
ideas that have shot forth from the summit of the tree 
of our knowledge ; old works meanwhile fall into dis- 
use and become obsolete ; others have their meaning 
narrowed and defined ; synonyms diverge from each 
other and their property is parted between them ; nay, 
whole classes of words will now and then be thrown 
overboard, as new feelings or perceptions of analogy 
gain ground. A Mstoiy of the language in which all 
these vicissitudes should be pointed out, in which the 
introduction of every new word should be noted, so 
far as it is possible — and much may be done in this 
way by laborious and diligent and judicious research 
— ^in which such words as have become obsolete 
should be followed down to their final extinction, in 
which all the^ most remarkable words should be 
traced through their successive phases of meaning, 
and in which moreover the causes and occasions of 
these changes should . be explained, such a work 
would not only abound in entertainment, but would 
throw more light on the development of the human 
mind than all the brainspun systems of metaphysics 
that ever were written. ' 

These words are not n)y own, but the words of a 
greatly honoured friend and teacher, who, though we 
behold him now no more, still teaches, and will teach, 
by the wisdom of his writings, and the remembered 
nobleness of his life. They are words of Archdeacon 
Hare. I have put thenr in the forefront of my 
lectures; anticipating as they do, in the way of 

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I. Love of Our Own Tongue. S 

masterly sketch, all or nearly all which I shall attempt 
to accomplish ; and indeed drawing out the lines of 
very much more, to which I shall not venture to put 
my hand. At the same time the subject is one which, 
-even with my partial and imperfect handling, will, I 
trust, find an answer and an echo in the hearts of all 
whom I address ; which every Englishman will feel of 
near concern and interest to himself. For, indeed, 
the love of our native language, what is it in fact, but 
the love of our native land expressing itself in one 
particular direction ? If the noble acts of that nation 
to which we belong are precious to us, if we feel 
ourselves made greater by the greatness, summoned 
to a nobler life by the nobleness of Englishmen, who 
have already lived and died, and have bequeathed to 
us a name which must not by us be made less, what 
e;cploits of theirs can well be worthier, what can 
more clearly point out their native land and ours as 
having fulfilled a glorious past, as being destined for 
a glorious future, than that they should have acquired 
for themselves and for us a clear, a strong, an har- 
monious, a noble language ? For all this bears wit- 
ness to corresponding merits in those that speak it, to 
clearness of mental vision, to strength, to harmony, 
to nobleness in them who have gradually shaped and 
fiishioned it to be the utterance of their inmost life 
and being. 

To know concerning this language, the stages which v 
it has gone through, the sources fi-om which its riches 
have been derived, the gains which it has made or is 
now making, the perils which are threatening it, the 
losses which it has sustained, the capacities which 

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4 The English Vocahuhry. lect. 

may be yet latent in it, waiting to be evoked, the 
points in which it transcends other tongues, the points 
in which it comes short of them, all this may weU be 
the object of worthy ambition to eveiy one of us. So 
may we hope to be ourselves guardians of its purity,* 
and not corruptors of it ; to introduce, it may be, 
others into an intelligent knowledge of that, with 
which we shall have ourselves more than a merely 
superficial acquaintance : to bequeath it to those 
who come after us not worse than we received it 
ourselves. ' Spartam naetus es ; banc exoma,' — this 
should be our motto in respect at once of our country, 
and of the speech of our country. 

Nor is a study such as this alien or remote from the 
purposes which have brought us hither. It is true 
that within these walls we are mainly occupied in 
learning other tongues than our own. The time we 
bestow upon it is small as compared with that bestowed 
on those others. And yet one of our main objects in 
learning them is that we may better understand this. 
Nor ought any other to dispute with it the first and 
foremost place in our reverence, our gratitude, and 
our love. It has been well and worthily said by an 
illustrious German scholar, * The care of the national 
language I consider as at all times a sacred trust 
and a most important privilege of the higher orders of 
society. Every man of education should make it the 
object of his unceasing concern, to preserve his 
language pure and entire, to speak it, sa fiir as is in 

his power, in aUite beauty and perfection A 

pation whose language becomes rude and barbarous 

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I. Duty to Our Own Tongue 6 

must be on the brink of barbarism in r^;ard to every- 
thing else. A nation which allows her lai^^s^e 
to go to rain, is parting with the best half of her in- 
tellectual independence, and testifies her willingness 
to cease to exist'* 

But this knowledge, like all other knowledge which 
is worth attaining, is only to be attained at the price 
of labor and pains. The language which at this day 
we employ is the result of processes which have been 
going forward for hundreds and for thousands of 
years. Nay more, — it is not too much to affirm that 
processes modifying the English which we now write 
and speak, have been operating from the first day that 
man, being giiled with discourse of reason, projected 
his thoi^ht from himself, and embodied and contem- 
plated it in his word. Which things being so, if we 
would understand this language as it now is, we must 
know something of it as it has been ; we must be able 
to measure, however roughly, the forces which have 
been at work upon it, moulding and shaping it into 
the forms, and bringing it into the conditions under 
which it now exists. 

At the same time various prudential considerations 
must determine for us how far up we will endeavour 
to trace the course of its history. There are those 

* F. Schlegel, History of Literature, Lecture lo. Milton : 
Verba enim partim inscita et putida, partim mendosa et pcr- 
pcram prolata, quid si ignayos et oscitantes, et ad servile quid- 
vis jam olim paratos incolannn animos haud levi indicio de- 
danuit ? I have elsewhere quoted this remaricable passage in 
fidl (Study of Words, I2th edit. p. 83 ). 

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6 The English Vocabulary. lect. 

who may seek to trace our language to the forests of 
Germany and Scandinavia, to investigate its relation 
to all the kindred tongues that were there spoken ; 
again, to follow it up, till it and they are seen de- 
scending from an elder stock ; nor once to pause, till 
they have assigned to it its proper place not merely in 
that smaller group of languages which are immediate- 
ly round it, but in respect of all the tongues and lan- 
guages of thq earth. I can imagine few studies of a 
more surpassing interest than this. Others, however, 
must be content with seeking such insight into their 
native language as maybe wkhin the reach of all who, 
unable to make this the subject of especial research, 
possessing neither that vast compass of knowledge, 
nor that immense apparatus of • books, not being at 
liberty to yield to it that devotion almost of a life 
which, followed out to the full, it would require, have 
yet an intelligent interest in their mother tongue, and 
desire to learn as much of its growth and history and 
construction as may be fairly within their reach. To 
such I shall suppose myself to be speaking. I assume 
no higher ground than this for mj'self 

I know, indeed, that some, when invited at all to 
enter upon the past history of the English language, 
are inclined to answer — 'To what end such studies 
to us ? Why cannot we leave them to a few anti- 
quaries and grammarians ? Sufficient to us to kn^ow 
the laws of our present English, to obtain an ac- 
quaintance as accurate as we can with the language 
as we now find it, without concerning ourselves with 
the phases through which it has previously passed,' 

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I. The Past Ikplains the Present. 7 

This may sound plausible enough ; and I can quite 
understand a real lover of his native tongue, who has 
not bestowed much thought upon the subject, taking 
up such a position as this. And yet it is one which 
cannot be maintained. A sufficient reason why we 
should occupy ourselves with the past of our lan- 
guage is, that the present is only intelligible in the 
light of the past, often of a very remote past indeed. 
There are in it anomalies out of number, which the 
pure logic of grammar is quite incapable of explain- 
ing ; which nothing but an acquaintance with its his- 
toric evolutions, and with the disturbing forces which 
have made themselves felt therein, will ever enable us 
to understand ; not to say that, unless we possess some 
such knowledge of the past, we cannot ourselves 
advance a single step in the unfolding of the latent 
capabilities of the language, without the danger of 
doing some outrage to its genius, of committing some 
barbarous violation of its very primary laws.* 

The plan which I have laid down for jnyself in 
these lectures will be as follows. In this my first I 
shall invite you to consider the language as now it is, 
to decompose some specimens of it, and in this way 

* littr€ {Hist, de la Langue Franqaise, vol. ii. p. 485) : 
Une langue ne peut 6tre conserve dans sa puret6 qu'autant 
qu'elle est ^tudi^e dans son histoire, ramende k ses sources, 
appuy^ k ses traditions. Aussi I'^tude de la vieille langue 
est un €l6ment n^cessaire, lequel venant h. faire d^faut, la con- 
naissance du langage modeme est sans profondeur, et le bon 
usage sans racines. Compare Pellissier, La Langue Frati' 
gaise, p. 259. 

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8 The Mnglish Vocabulary, lect. 

to prove, of what elements it is compact, and what 
functions in it these elements severally fulfil. Nor 
shall I leave this subject without asking you to admire 
the happy marriage in our tongue of the languages of 
the North and South, a marriage giving to it advan- 
tages which no other of the languages of Europe en- 
joys. Having thus before us the body which we wish 
to submit to scrutiny, and having become acquainted, 
however slightly, with its composition, I shall invite 
you in my next to consider with me what this actual 
language might have been, if that event, which more 
than all other put together has affected and modified 
the English language, namely, the Norman Conquest, 
had never found place. In the lectures which follow 
I shall seek to institute firom various points of view a 
comparison between the present language and the 
past, to point out gains which it has made, losses 
which it has endured, and generally to • call your 
attention to some of the more important changes 
through which it has passed, or is at this present 

I shall, indeed, everywhere solicit your attention not 
merely to the changes which have been in time past 
effected, but to those also which at this very moment 
are going forward. I shall not account the fact that 
some are proceeding, so to speak, under our own 
eyes, a suflficient ground to excuse me from noticing 
them, but rather an additional reason for so doing. 
For, indeed, these changes which we are ourselves 
helping to bring about, are the very ones which we 
are most likely to fail in observing. So many causes 

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I. , Alterations Unobserved. 9 

contribute to withdraw them from notice, to veil 
their operation, to conceal their significance, that, 
save by a very few, they will commonly pass isPholly 
unobserved. Loud and sudden revolutions attract 
and even compel observation ; but revolutions silent 
and gradual, although with issues hr vaster in store, 
run their course, and it is only when their cycle is 
nearly or quite complied, that men perceive what 
mighty transforming forces have been at work un- 
noticed in their very midst 

Thus, in this matter of language, how few aged 
persons, even among those who retain the fullest 
possession of their faculties, are conscious of any 
serious difference between the spoken language of 
then: early youth, and that of their old age ; are aware 
that words and ways of using words are obsolete now, 
which were usual then ; that many words are current 
now, which had no existeiu:e at that time. And yet it 
is certain that so it must be. A man may fairly be as- 
sumed to remember clearly and well for sixty years 
back ; and it needs less than five of these sixties to 
bring us to the age of Spenser, and not more than 
eight to set us in the time of (Shaucer and Wiclif. 
No one, contempiating this whole term, will deny the 
immensity of the change within these eight memories. 
And yet, for all this, we may be tolerably sure that, 
had it been possible to interrogate a series of eight 
persons, such as together had filled up this time, in- 
telligent men, but men whose attention had not been 
especially awakeined to this subject, each in his turn 
would have denied that there had been any change 

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10 TheJEnglish Vocabulary. lect. 

worth speaking o^ perhaps any change at all, during 
his lifetime. It is not the less sure, considering the 
mulfftude of words which have figdlen into oblivion 
during these four or five hundred years, that there 
must have been some lives in this chain which saw 
those words in use at their commencement, and out of 
use before their close. And so too, of the multitud^f 
words which have sprung up in this period, some, nay, 
a vast number, must have come into being within the 
limits of each of these lives. * 

• See on this subject the deeply interesting chapter, the 
23rd, in Sir C. Lyell's Antiquity of Man^ with the title, Ori- 
gin and development of Languages and Species compared, I 
quote a few words : * Every one may have noticed in his own 
lifetime the stealing in of some slight alterations of accent, 
pronunciation, or spelling, or the introduction of some words 
1x)rrowed ixom. a foreign language to express ideas of which 
no native term precisely conveyed the import. He may also 
remember hesoing for the first time some cant terms or slang 
phrases, which have since forced their way into common use, 
in spite of the efforts of the purists. But he may still contend 
that "within the range of his experience '* his language has 
continued unchanged, and he may believe in its immutability 
in spite of minor variations. The real question, however, at 
issue is, whether there are any limits to this variability. He 
will find on further investigation, that new technical terms are 
coined almost daily, in various arts, sciences, professions and 
trades, that new names must be found for new mventions ; 
that many df these acquire a metaphorical sense, and then 
make their way into general circulation, as ** stereotyped " 
for instance, which would have been as meaningless to the 
men of the seventeenth century as would the new terms and 
images derived from steamboat and railway travelling to the 
men of the eighteenth.' 

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I. Qradual Disuse of Words. 11 

Nor is it hard on a little reflection to perceive how 
this going and coming have alike been hid from their 
eyes. In the nature of things, words which go excite 
little or no notice in their going. They drop out of 
use litde by litde, no one noticing the fact The 
student, indeed, of a past epoch of our literature finds 
words to have been freely used in it which are /not 
employed in his own ; and these, when all brought 
into a vocabulaiy, by no means to be few in number. 
But it was only one by one that they fell out of sight, 
and this by steps the most gradual ; were first more 
seldom used, then only by those who affected a some- 
what archaic style, and lastly not at all. And as with 
the outgoers, so in a measure also is it with the 
incomers. The newness and strangeness of them, 
even where there is knowledge and observation suffi- 
cient to recognize them as novelties at all, wears oflf 
veiy much sooner than would be supposed. They are 
but of yesterday ; and men presently employ them as 
though they had existed as long as the language itself. 
Nor is it words only which thus steal out of the 
language and steal into it, unobserved in their coming 
and their going. It is the same with numberSj tenses, 
and moods, with old laws of the language which 
gradually lose their authorily, with new usages which 
gradually acquire the force of laws. Thus it would 
be curious to know how many have had their atten- 
tion drawn to the fact that the subjunctive mood is at 
this very moment perishing in English. One who 
now says, 'If he call, tell him I am out' — many do 
say it still, but they are fewer eveiy day — is Seeking 

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12 The English Vocabulary. lect. 

to detain a mood which the language is determined to 
get rid of. The English-speaking race has come to 
perceive that clearness does not require the mainte- 
nance of any distinction between the indicative and 
subjunctive moods, and has therefore resolved not to 
be at the trouble of maintaining it anymore. But the 
dropping of the subjunctive, important change as it 
is, goes on for the most part unmarked even by those, 
who are themselves effecting the change. On this 
matter, however, I shall have by and by something 
more to say. 

With these preliminaiy remarks I address myself 
to our special subject of* to-day. And first, starting 
from the recognized feet that the English is not a 
simple but a composite language, made up of seveml 
elements, so fer at least as its vocabulary is concerned, 
as are the people who speak it, I would suggest to 
you the profit to be derived from a resolving of it into 
its component parts — fi-om taking, that is, some 
passage of Eiiglish, distributing the words of "w^ich it 
is made up according to the sources whence they are 
drawn ; estimating the relative numbers and propor- 
tion wbich these languages have severally lent us ; 
as well as the character of the words which they have 
contributed to the common stock. 

Thus, suppose the English language to be divided 
into a hundred parts ; of these, to make a rough 
distribution, sixty might be Saxon ; thirty Latin (in- 
cluding of course the Latin which has come to us 
through the French) ; five perhaps would be Greek. 
We should in this way have allotted ninety-five 

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I. Dvich and Scandinavian Words. IS 

parts, leaving the other five to be divided among all 
•> the other languages which have made their several 
smaller contributions to the vocabulary of our English 
tongue. It is probable that, all counted, they would 
not amount to this five in the hundred. They cer- 
tainly would not, unless we include in this list words 
which we owe to languages closely allied to the 
Anglo-Saxon, but which are not found in the Anglo- 
Saxon vocabulary. I refer to those, Scandinavian 
we may call them for convenience, for which we are 
mainly indebted to the Danish settlements in the 
north of*England. Let me speak first of these. It 
would be idle to attempt an exhaustive enumeration 
of them ; but a small selection will show of how 
serviceable a character they are, and what an impor- 
tant part of our eveiy-day working English they form. 
Thus take these nouns, * bag, ' * bole, ' ' booty, ' ' bn^, ' 
'brink,* 'bull,' *cake,' 'cripple,' 'dairy,' 'earl,' 
'fell,' 'fellow,' 'fool,' 'froth,' 'gable,' *gill,' 'gin,' 
'hustings,' 'keg,' 'kid,' 'leg,' 'muck,' 'odds,' 
'puck,' ' rump, " root, "sark," scald, "scull,' 'skill,' 
'sky,' 'sleight,' 'tarn,' 'thrum,' 'tyke,' 'windlass,' 
' window ;' or, again, these verbs, ^to bask,' ' to dip,' 
'to cuff,' 'to curl, "to daze,' 'to droop,' 'to dub,' 'to 
flit,' 'to grovel,' 'to hale,' 'to hug,' 'to Itftk,' 'to 
ransack,' 'to scrub,' 'to skulk,' 'to thrive.' Then 
too there are Dutch words, especially sea-terms, which 
have found their way into' English, as 'boom,' 'dog- 
ger,' 'hoy,' 'lubber,' 'schooner,' 'skates," skipper,' 
'sloop,' 'smack,' 'stiver,' 'tafferel,' 'yacht,' 'to luff,' 
'to smuggle.' 

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14 The English Vocabulary, lect. 

But to look now farther abroad. We have a cer- 
tain number of Hebrew words, mostly, if not entire- 
ly, belonging to religious matters, as ' amen,' ' caba- 
la,' 'cherub,' *ephod,' 'gehenna,' 'hallelujah,' 'ho- 
sanna,' 'jubilee,' 'leviathan,' 'manna,' 'Messiah,' 
'sabbath,' 'Satan,' 'seraph,' 'shibboleth,' 'taimud.' 
The Arabic words in our language are more numer- 
ous ; we have several arithmetical and astronomical 
terms, as 'aldebaran,' 'algebra,' 'almanach,' 'azi- 
muth,' 'cypher,'* 'nadir,' 'talisman,' 'zenith,' 'zero;' 
and chemical no less; for the Arabs were the chem- 
ists, no less than the astronomers and arithmeticians 
of the middle j^es ; as 'alcohol,' 'alembic,' ^alkali,' 

* elixir. ' Add to these the names of animals, plants, 
fruits, or articles of merchandise first introduced by 
them to the notice of Western Europe; as 'amber,' 
'antimonium,' ' apricot, 'f 'arrack,' 'artichoke,' 'bar- 
ragan,' 'boumous,' 'camphor,' 'carmine,' 'coffee,' 
'cotton,' 'crimson,' 'endive,' 'gazelle,' 'giraffe,' 

* henna,' 'jar,' 'jasmine,' * lake,' (lacca) ' laudanum,' 
'lemon,' 'lime,' 'lute,' 'mattress,' 'mummy,* 
'musk,' 'popinjay,' 'saffron,' 'senna,' 'sherbet,' 
'sirup,' 'shrub,' 'sofa,' 'sugar,* 'sumach,' 'talc,' 
'tamarind ;' and some further terms, 'admiral,' 'al- 
cove, 'J ^ alguazil, ' ' amulet, ' ' arsenal, ' . ' assassin, ' 
' barbican ' ' caliph, ' ' caffre, ' ' carat, '§ ' caravan, ' 

* But see J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies p. 985. 

f See Mahn, EtymoL Untersuch, p. 49. 

X See Mahn, p. 156. 

§ This is the Greek xepdriov^ which, having travelled to 

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I. Oriental Words. 15 

'dey/ 'divan/ 'dragoman,'* 'emir/ 'fakir/ 'feluc- 
ca,' 'firman,' 'hanger,' 'harem,' 'iiazard,' 'hegira,' 
'houri,' 'islam,' 'koran,' 'magazine,' 'mamaluke,' 
'marabout,' 'minaret,' 'monsoon,' 'mosque,' 'muf- 
ti,' 'mussulman,' 'nabob,' 'otto,' 'quintal,' 'razzia,' 
'Sahara,^ 'salaam,' 'scheik,' 'simoom,' 'sirocco/ 
'sultan,' 'tarif,' 'vizier;' and I believe we shall have 
nearly completed the list Of Persian words we have 
these : ' azure, ' ' bazaar, ' "* bezoar, * ' caravanserai, ' 
' check, ' ' chess, ' ' dervish, ' ' jackal, ' ' lilac, ' ' necta- 
rine,' 'orange,' 'pdgoda,' 'saraband,' 'sash,' 'scar- 
let, ' ' sepoy, ' ' shawl, ' ' taffeta, ' ' tambour, ' ' turban ;' 

the East, has in this shape come back to us, just as dtjvdptoy 
has returned in the * dinar ' of the Arabian Nights, 

• The word hardly deserves to be called Eng^h, yet in 
Pope's time it had made some progress towards naturalization. 
Of a real or pretended polyglottist, who might thus have served 
as an universal interpreter ^ he says : 

* Pity you was not druggerman at Babel.* 

* Truckman,* or more commonly * truchman,' familiar to all 
readers of our early literature, is only another form of this, 
which probably has come to us through *turcimanno,* an 
Italian form of the word. Let me here observe that in Claren- 
don's History of the Rebellion, b. i. § 75, there can be no 
doubt that for *■ trustman,' as it is printed in all editions which 
I have been able to consult, we should read *truchman.' 
Prince Charles at the time of his visit ^to Spain not speaking 
Spanish, the king, we are told, summoned the Earl of Bristol 
into the coach with them * that he should serve as a trustmany 
— a word yielding no kind of sense ; or rather no word at all, 
but only the ignorant correction of some scribe or printer, to 
whom * truchman ' was strange. 

Digitized by 


16 The JEngluh Vocaluhry. LECt. 

this last appearing in strange forms, ' toiibant ' (Pat- 
tenham), 'tulipant' (Herbert's Trccoels), ^tnrribant' 
(Spenser), ' turbat,' 'turbant,' and at length 'turban;' 
' zemindar,' ' zenana.' We have also a fewTurJcidi, 
such as *bey,' 'caftan,' 'chouse,' 'fez,' 'janisaiy,' 
'odalisk,' 'tulip,' 'xebek.' Of 'civet,' 'mohair/ 
and * scimitar ' I believe it can only be asserted that 
th^ are Eastern. 'Bamboo,' 'cassowary,' 'gong,' 
' gutta-percha, "oiang-utang,' 'rattan,' 'sago,' 'upas,' 
are Malay. The following are Hindostanee : 'avatar,' 
'banian,' 'bungalow,' 'calico,' 'chintz,' 'cowrie,' 
'jungle,' 'lac,' 'loot,' 'muslin,' 'punch,' ^ rajah,' 
'rupee,' 'toddy.' 'Tea,' or 'tcha,' as it was once 
spelt, with 'bohea,' 'hyson,' 'souchong,' is Chinese; 
so too are 'junk,' 'hc«ig,' 'nankeen.' 

To come nearer home — ^we have a certain number 
of 'Italian words, as 'ambuscade,' 'bagatelle,' 'bal- 
cony,' 'baldachin,' 'balustrade,' 'bandit,' 'bravo,' 
'broccoli,' 'buffoon,' 'burlesque,' 'bust' (it was 
' busto ' at first, and therefore from the Italian, not 
from the French), 'cadence,' 'cascade,' 'cameo,' 
'canto,' 'caricature,' 'carnival,' 'cartoon,' 'case- 
mate,' 'casino,' 'catafalque,' 'cavalcade,' 'chariatan,' 
'citadel,' 'concert,' 'conversazione,' 'corridor,' 'cu- 
pola,' 'dilettante,' 'ditto,' 'doge,' 'domino,' 'fiasco,' 
'filagree,' 'fresco,' 'gabion,' 'gazette,' 'generalis- 
simo,' 'gondola,' 'gonfalon,' 'grotto' ('grotta' in 
Bacon), 'gusto,' 'harlequin,' 'imbroglio,' 'inamo- 
rato,' 'influenza,' 'lagoon,' 'lava,' 'lavolta,' 'laza- 
retto,' 'macaroni,' 'madonna,' 'madrepore,' 'madri- 
gal,' 'malaria,' 'manifesto,' 'maraschino,' 'masque- 

Digitized by 


I. Italian and Spanish Words. 17 

rade ' ( * mascarata ' in Hacket), 'mezzotint,' 'motett, 
* motto/ ' moustachio ' ( * mostaccio ' in Ben Jonson), 
' ntmcio/ * opera,' ' oratorio,' ' pantaloon,' ' parapet,' 
' pedant,' 'pedantry,' 'piano-forte,' 'piaster,' 'piazza,' 
' porcelain,' 'portico,' * protocol,' 'proviso,' 'regatta,' 
'rocket,' 'ruffian,' 'scaramouch,' 'sequin,' 'seraglio,' 
'serenade,' 'sirocco,' 'sketch,' 'solo,' 'sonnet,' 
'stanza,' 'stiletto,' 'stucco,' 'studio,' 'terrace,' 'ter- 
racotta,' 'torso,' 'trombone,' 'umbrella,' 'vedette,' 
'vermicelli,' 'violoncello,' 'virtuoso,' 'vista,' 'vol- 
cano,* 'zany.' Others once common enough, as 
'becco,' 'comuto,' 'fantastico,' 'impresa' (the ar- 
morial device on shields), 'magnifico,' 'saltim- 
banco ' (= mountebank), are now obsolete. Sylves- 
ter has ' farfalla ' forTjutterfly, but, so far as I know, 
this use is peculiar to him. 

If this is at all a complete collection of our Italian 
words, the Spanish in the language are nearly as 
numerous ; nor would it be wonderful if they were 
more ; for although our literary relations with Spain 
have been slight indeed as compared with those 
which we have maintained with Italy, we have had 
other points of contact, friendly and hostile, with the 
former much more real than we have known with the 
latter. Thus we have from the Spanish, 'albino,' 
' alligator ' ( ' el lagarto '), ' armada,' ' armadillo,' 
'barricade,' 'bastinado,' 'bolero,' 'bravado,' 'buf- 
h\o ' ( ' buff ' or ' buffle ' is the proper English word), 
'cambist,' 'camisado,' 'cannibal,' 'caracole,' 'cara- 
vel,' 'carbonado,' 'cargo,' 'carrack,' 'cartel,' *cigar,' 
' cochineal,' ' commodore,' ' Creole,' ' desperado/ 

Digitized by 


18 The English Vocabulary. lect, 

'don,' 'duenna/ 'eldorado,' 'embargo,' 'fandango,' 
'farthingale,' 'filibuster,' 'flotilla,' 'gala,' 'garotte,' 
'grandee,' 'grenade,' 'guerilla,' 'hackney,' 'hook- 
er,'* ' indigo," infanta,' 'jennet,' 'junto,' ' maravedi,' 
' maroon, 'f 'merino,' 'molasses,' 'mosquito,' 'mu- 
latto,' 'negro,' 'olio,' 'ombre,' 'palaver,' 'parade,' 
'paragon,' 'parasol,' 'parroquet,' 'peccadillo,' 'pi- 
caroon,' 'pintado,' 'platina,' 'poncho,' 'punctilio' 
(for a long time spelt ' puntillo ' in English books), 
' quinine, ' ' reformado, ' ' sarsaparilla, ' ' sassafras, ' 
' sheny, ' ' soda, ' ' stampede, ' ' stoccado, ' ' strappado, ' 
'tornado,' 'vanilla,' 'verandah.' 'Caprice' too we 
obtained rather from Spain than Italy ; it was written 
* capricho ' by those who used it first Other Spanish 
words, once familiar, are now extinct 'Punctilio' 
lives on, but not 'punto,' which is common enough 
in Bacon. 'Privado,' a prince's favourite, one ad- 
mitted to hv& privacy (frequent in Jeremy Taylor and 
Fuller), has disappeared ; so too have ' quirpo ' 
(cuerpo), a jacket fitting close to the body; ' quellio ' 
(cuello), a ruflf or neck-coW&x ; ' matachin, ' the title 
of a sword-dance ; all frequent in our early dra- 

* Not in our dictionaries ; but a kind of coasting vessel well 
known to seafaring men, the Spanish * urea ;* thus in Oldys* 
^ Life of Raleigh : * Their galleons, galleasses, gallies, ureas, 
and zabras were miserably shattered.' 

+ A * maroon * is a negro who has escaped to the woods, 
and there lives wild. The word is a corruption of * cimar- 
ron,* signifying wild in Spanish. In our earlier discoverers it 
still retains its shape (Drake writes it * symaron *), though not 
its spelling. See Notes and Queries^ 1866, p. 86. 

Digitized by 


I. Celtic and Indian Words. 19 

matists ; and ' flota,' the constant name of the trea- 
sure-fleet from the Indies. 'Intermess,' employed 
by Evelyn, is the Spanish ' entremes,' though not re- 
cognized as such in our dictionaries. 'Albatross,' 
'gentoo,' 'mandarin,' 'marmalade,' 'moidore/ 'pa- 
lanquin,' 'yam,'jare Portuguese. 

Celtic fh'ngs for the most part we designate by 
Celtic words; such as 'bannock,' 'bard,' 'bog,' 
'brogues,' 'clan,' 'claymore,' 'fiUibeg,' 'kilt,' 'pi- 
broch,' 'plaid,' 'reel,' 'shamrock,' 'slogan,' 'usque- 
baugh,' 'whiskey.' The words which I have just 
named are for the most part of comparatively recent 
introduction ; but many others, how many is yet a 
very unsettled question, which at a much earlier date 
found admission into our tongue, are derived from 
this same quarter.* 

Then too the New World has given us a certain 
number of words, Indian and other — 'anana' or 
' ananas ' (Brazilian), ' cacique ' ( ' cassiqui,' in Ra- 
leigh's Guiana), 'caiman,' ' calumet,' 'canoe,' ' cari- 
bou,' 'catalpa,' 'caoutchouc' (South American), 
'chocolate,' 'cocoa,' 'condor,' 'guano' (Peruvian), 
' hamoc ' ( ' hamaca ' in Raleigh), ' hominy,' ' inca,' 
'jaguar,' 'jalap,' 'lama,' 'maize' (Haytian), 'ma- 
nitee,' ' mocassin,' ' mohawk,' ' opossum,' 'pampas,' 
'pappoos,' 'pemmican,' 'pirogue,' 'potato' ('ba- 
tata 'in our earlier voyagers), 'puma' (Peruvian), 
' raccoon.' ' sachem,' 'samp,' * savannah ' (Haytian), 

♦ See Kock, Hist, Gram, der Englischen Sprache^ voL L 
p. 4. 

Digitized by 


20 The English Vocabulary. lect. 

*^unk/ 'squaw/ * tapioca,' 'tobacco/ 'tomaha^/ 
*tomata' (Mexican), 'wampum,' 'wigwam,' If 
^ 'hurricane 'was originally obtained from the Carib- 
bean islanders,* it should be included in this 

We may notice, finally, languages which have be- 
stowed on us some single word, or two perhaps, or 
three. Thus 'hussar' is Hungarian; 'hetman,' 
Polish; 'lirosky,' 'ukase,' Russian; 'caloyer,' Ro- 
maic; * mammoth,' of some Siberian language; 
* taboo,' 'tattoo,' Polynesian ; 'caviar,' and 'steppe/ 
Tartarian; 'gingham,' Javanese; 'assegai,' * chim- 
panzee,' 'fetiscb,' 'gnu,' 'kraal,' 'zebra,' belong to 
various African dialects ; but 'fetisch ' has reached us 
through the channel of.the Portuguese. 

Now I have no right to assume that any among 
those to whom I speak are equipped with that know- 
ledge of other tongues, which shall enable them to 
detect at once the nationality of all or most of the 
wcwds which they meet — some of these greatiy dis- 
guised, and having undergone manifold transform- 
ations in the process of their adoption among us ; but 
only that you have such helps at command in the 
shape of dictionaries and the like, and so much dili- 
gence in the use of these, as will enable you to trace 
out their birth and parentage. But possessing this 
much, I am confident to aflBrm that few studies will 
be more fruitful, will suggest more various matter of 

* See Washington Irving, Life and Voyages of Columbus, 
b. viii. c. 9. 

Digitized by 


I. AncUyms of English. 21 

reflection, will more lead you into the secrets, of the 
English tongue, than an analysis of passages drawn 
from diflerent authors, such as I have just now pro- 
posed. Thus you will take some passage of English 
verse or prose^ — ^say the first ten Hues oi Paradise Lost 
— or the Lord's Prayer— ^r the 23rd Psdm; you will 
distribute the whole body of words which occur in 
that passagie, of course not omitting the smallest, ac- 
cording to their nationalities — ^writing, it may be, A 
over every Anglo-Saxon word, L over eveiy Latin, 
and so on with the (^ets, should any other find room 
in the portion submitted to examiBation. This done, 
you will count up &e number of diose which each 
langu^(« contributes ; again, you will note the char- 
ackr of the words derived firom each quarter. 

Yet here, before passing further, let me DbOte that 
in dealing with Latin words it will be well fiirther to 
mark whether they are directly from it, and such might 
be marked L\ or only mediately, and to us directly 
from the French, which would be L% or Latin at 
second hand. A rule holds generally good, by which 
you may determine this. If a. word be directly fixu» 
the Latin, it will have undexgone little or no modifi- 
cation in its form and shape, save: only in the termi- 
nation!, * Innocentia' will have become *innoccncy,' 
'natio' 'nation,' *firmamentum' 'firmament,' but 
thi& will be alL Ou the other hgthd, if it comes 
thrmigh the French, it will have undergone a process 
of lubrication ; its sharply defined Latin oudine will 
in good part have disappeared; thus ' crown' iafi:om 
corona,' but through 'couronne,' and in itself a 

Digitized by 


22 TAe Mnglish Vocabulary. lect. 

dissyllable, ' coroune,' in our earlier English ; * trea- 
sure' is from 'thesaurus/ but through 'tresor;' 
'emperor' is the Latin 'imperator,' but it was first 
' empereur.' It will often happen that the substantive 
has thus reached us through the intervention of the 
French ; while we have only felt at a later period our 
need of the adjective as well, which we have pro- 
ceeded to borrow direct from the Latin. Tlius 'peo- 
ple' is 'populus,' but it was 'peuple' first, while 
'popular' is a direct transfer of a Latin vocable into 
our English glossary ; ' enemy' is ' inimicus,' but it 
was first softened in the French, and had its Latin 
physiognomy in good part obliterated, while ' inimi- 
cal ' is Latin throughout ; ' parish ' is ' paroisse,' but 
' parochial ' is ' parochialis ;' ' chapter ' is ' chapitre,' 
but ' capitular ' is ' capitularis. ' 

Sometimes you will find a Latin word to have been 
twice adopted by us, and now making part of- our 
vocabulary in two shapes : ' doppelganger ' the Ger- 
mans would call such. There is first the older word, 
which the French has given us ; but which, before it 
gave, it bad fashioned and moulded ; clipping or 
contracting, it may be, by a syllable or more, for the 
French devours letters and syllables ; and there is the 
younger, boirowed at first hand fi"om the Latin. 
Thus 'secure' and 'sure' are both fi-om 'securus,' 
but one directly, the other through the French; 
'fidelity' and 'fealty,' both from 'fidelitas,' but one 
directly, the other at second hand ; ' species ' and 
'spice,' both from 'species, 'spices being properly 
only kinds of aromatic drugs; 'blaspheme' and 

Digitized by 


I. Two Shapes of Words. 23 

* blame,' both from ' blasphemare/* but 'blame,' 
immediately from ' blamer.' Add to these ' granary ' 
and * gamer;' 'captain ' (capitaneus) and ' chieftain ;' 

* tradition ' and * treason ;' * rapine ' and ' ravin ;' 
' abyss ' and ' abysm ;' ' phantasm ' and ' phantom ;'* 
' coffin ' and ' coffer ;' * regal ' and ' royal ;' ' legal ' 
and ' loyal ;' * cadence ' and ' chance ;' ' balsam ' 
and ' balm ;' ' hospital ' and ' hotel ;' * digit ' and 
' doit ;' * pagan ' and ' paynim ;' * captive ' and ' cai- 

■ tiff;' ' persecute ' and 'pursue ;' 'aggravate ' and 
' aggrieve ;' ' ' superficies ' and ' surface ;' ' sacristan ' 
and ' sexton ;' * faction ' and ' fashion ;' ' particle ' 
and 'parcel ;' * redeinption' and ' ransom ;' ' probe ' 
and ' prove ;' * abbreviate ' and ' abridge ;' ' dormi- 
tory ' and * dortoir ' or ' dorter '(this last now obsolete, 
but not uncommon in Jeremy Taylor); ''desiderate ' 
and ' desire ;' * compute' and * count ;' * fact ' and 

* feat ;' ' esteem ' and * aim ;' ' major ' and ' mayor ;' 
' radius ' and ' ray ;' ' pauper ' and ' poor ;' ' potion ' 
and ' poison ;' * ration ' and ' reason ;' ' oration 'and. 

* orison ;' ' penitence ' and ' penance ;' * zealous ' 
and ' jealous ;' ' respect ' and ' respite ;' ' fragile ' and 
' frail ;' ' calix ' and ' chalice ;' ' fabric ' and ' forge ;' 
' tract,' ' treat,' and ' trait 'f I have, in the instancing 

* This particular instance of < dimorphism ' as Latham calls 
it, * dittology ' as Ileyse, recurs in Itajian, * bestemmiare ' and 
*biasimare ;' and in Spanish, 'blasfemar' and 'lastimar.' 

+ Somewhat different from this, yet itself also curious, is the 
piassipg of an Anglo-Saxon word in two different fprms into 
En^ish, and now current in both ; thus * drag * and * draw ;' 
'de^'gnd *dish,* both the Anglo-Saxon *disc,' the Germaa 

Digitized by 


24 I'he English Vocabulary. lect. 

of these^ named always the Latin form before the 
French ; but the reverse has been no doubt in every 
instance the order in which the words were adopted 
by us ; we had ' pursue ' before * persecute/ ' spice ' 
before 'species/ * royalty' before 'regality/ and so 
with the others.* 

*tisch;» 'beech' and ♦book,' both the Anglo-Saxon «boc,' 
our first books being beechen tablets (See Grimm, Woerierbuek^ 
&. TV. «buch,* *buche*) ; * girdle' and *kirtle,' the German 
« gttriel ; ' already in Anglo-Saxon a double spelling, * gyrdel,' 
*cyrtel,' had prepared for the double words ; so too 'shell,' 
'shale,' and 'scale;' 'skiff' and 'ship;' 'tenth' and 
'tithe;' 'shirt' and 'skirt ;' 'school' and 'shoal ;' 'glass' 
and 'glaze;* 'swallow' and 'swill;' 'wine' and* vine;' 
'why' and 'how;' 'kill' and 'quell;' 'bcaccm' and 
'beckon;' 'flesh' and 'flitch;' 'black' and 'bleak;' 
' pond ' and * pound ; ' ' whit ' and * wight ; ' ' deck and 
'thatch;' ' deal ' and ' dole ; ' ' weald ' and ' wood ;' 'dew' 
and ' thaw ; ' ' wayward ' and ' awkward ; ' • dune ' and 
'down;' 'hoo4' and 'hat' ;' 'evil' and 'ill ;' *hcdge* 
and ' hay ; ' ' waggon ' and ' wain ; ' ' heathen '^and 'hoy- 
den ; ' * ant ' and * emmet ; ' * spray ' and ' sprig ; ' ' thew ' 
and 'thigh;' 'bow 'and 'bay,' as in hay window. We 
have, let me add, another form of double adoption. In 
' several instances we possess the same word, first in its more 
proper Teutonic shape, and secondly, as the Normans, having 
found it in France and made it their own, brought it with 
them here. Thus. • wise ' and ' guise ; ' ' wed,* ' wage,' and 
♦gage;' 'wile' and 'guile;' 'warden' and 'guardian;' 
'warranty' and 'guarantee.' 

* We have double adoptions fiom the Greek ; one direct, 
one modified in passing through some other language ; thu8» 
« adamant * and * diamond ; * 'monastery ' Imd ' minster ; ' 
•paralysis ' and * palsy ; ' ' scandal ' and « slander ; ' « thcriac * 

Digitized by 


I. Assimilation of Words. 25 

The explanation of this more thorough change 
which the earlier form has undergone, is not far to 
seek. Words introduced into a language at a period 
when as yet writing is rare, and books are few or, none, 
when therefore orthography is unfixed, or being 
purely phonetic, cannot properly be said to exist at 
all, have for a long time no other life save that which 
they live upon the lips of men. The checks there- 
fore to alterations in the form of a word which a 
written, and still more which a printed, literature im- 
poses are wanting, and thus we find words out of 
number altogether reshaped and remoulded by the 
people who have adopted them, so entirely assimilated 
to iheir language in form and termination, as in the 
end to be almost or quite undistinguishable from 
natives. On the other hand a most effectual check 
to this process, a process sometimes barbarizing and 
defecing, even while it is the only one which will 
make the newly brought in entirely homogeneous 
with the old and already existing, is imposed by th^ 
existence of a much written language and a full- 
formed literature. The foreign word, being once 
adopted into these, can no longer undergo a thorough 
transformation. Generally the utmost which use an^ 

and * treacle ; * * asphodel * and * daffodil,' or * affodil * (see 
I the Fromptorium), as it used to be ; * presbyter * and * priest ; * 
* dactyl ' and * date,' the fruit so called deriving its name from 
its likeness to a * dactyl ' or finger ; in Bacon it is stiU known 
as a 'dactyl;' 'cathedral' and * chair.* 'Cypher' and 
'zero,' I may add, are different adoptions of one and the saiQ^ 
Arabic word. 

Digitized by 


26 The Miglish Vocabulary. lect. 

femiliarity can do with it now, is to cause the gradual 
dropping of the foreign termination ; not that this is 
unimportant ; it often goes far to make a home for a 
word, and to hinder it from wearing any longer the 
appearance of a stranger and intruder.* 

* The French language in like manner * teems with Latin 
words which under various disguises obtained repeated admit- 
tance into its dictionary,' with a double adoption, one popular 
and reaching back to the earliest times of the language, the 
other belonging to a later and more literary period, * demotic ' 
and * scholastic * they have been severally called ; on which 
subject see Gdnin, Ricriations Philohgiques, vol. i. pp. 162- 
166 ; Littr^, Hist, de la Langtie Fran^ise^ vd. i. pp. 24I-244 ; 
Fuchs, Die Roman, Spracken^ p. 125 ; Mahn, EiymoL 
ForschMng,^ pp. 19, 46, and passim ; Pellissier, La Langue 
Frangaise, p. 205. Thus from * separare * is derived * sevrer,' 
to separate the child from its mother's breast, to wfean, but 
also «s€parer,* without this special sense: from 'pastor,' 
' p&tre,' a shepherd in the literal, and < paftteur ' the same in a 
tropica], sense ; from • catena,' * chaine * and * caddnc •, / from 
'fragilis,' *fr§le' and 'fragile;' from *penaare,' ^peser* 
and *penser;' from *gehenna,^ *gSne' and *g^henne;* 
from *captivus,' *caitif,' *ch^tif,* and * captif ; ' from < na- 
tivus,' * natf,' and * natif ; ' from * immutabilis,' * immutable ' 
and 'immuable;' from 'designare,' *dessiner' and *ddsir 
gner ;' from * dedmare,' * dimer ' and * d^cimer ; ' from * con- 
sumere,' *consommer' and 'consumer;' from *simulare,' 
*sembler' and *simuler;' from *sollicitare,' *soucier' and 
*solliciter ;' from *adamftS,' *aimant' (lodestone) and 'ada- 
mant ; from the \ayr Latin *disjejunare,' * diner ' and * d^jeil- 
ner ;* from ^acceptare,' *acheter' and 'accepter;* from 
*hpmo,' ^on' ^iid *homme;' from *paganus,' *payen* 
and 'paysan;' from * obpdieiitift,* * qt?€issance ' and «*ob(5- 

Digitized by 


I. Analysis of JEnglish, 27 

But to return from this digression. I said just aow 
that you would learn much from making an inventorj 
of the words of one descent and those of another 
occurring in any passage which you analyse ; and 
noting die proportion which they bear to one another. 
Thus janalysc the diction of the Lord's Prayer. Of 
the seventy words whereof it consists only the follow- 
ing six claim the rights of Latin citizenship — the 
noun 'trespasses,' the verb 'trespass,^' 'temptation/ 
'deliver/ 'power/ 'glory.' Nor would it be very 
difficult to substitute for any one of these a Saxon 
word Thus for 'trespasses' might be substituted 
'sins ;' for ' tresjMiss ' ' sin ;' for ' deliver ' ' free / 
for 'power' 'might;' for 'glory' 'brightness;' 

dience;' from 'monast^um,' <xi[u>iHier' and ' mooastere ;' 
from *strictus,* *6troit* and * strict;* from 'scintilla,' 
*6tincelle* and *scintilie;* from 'sacramentum,' *sennent' 
and * sacrement ;' from * ministerium,' * metier * and * minis- 
t^re;' from 'parabola,* 'parole* and •parabole ;* from 
'tiata^' *Ko%l* and 'natsd;* from 'rigidus,' <raide* and 
♦rigide ;' from 'sapidus,' 'sade* and 'sapide;* from *pere- 
grinus,* 'pdlerin* and * peregrin;* from *factio,* *&^n* 
and 'faction,* and it has no\/ adopted 'factio* in a third 
shape, that is, in our English * fashion ;* from * pietas,* * piti6 * 
and 'pi^t^ ;' from ^paradisus,* *parvis * and * paradis ;* from 
'capitulum,' *chapitre* and 'capitule,* a botanical term; 
from * cansa,* * chose * and * caose ;* from • movere,' * muer * 
and 'mouYoir^* from 'ponere/ *pos?r* and *pondre;* 
while 'attacher * and *attaquer* oinly difier in pronunciation. 
So too, in Italian we have * manco,* maimed, and * monco,' 
maiined of a hand; * rifutare,' to reftite, and * rifiutare,* to 
refrtse ; * dama ' and * donna,' both forms of * domina.* 

Digitized by 


28 The Mtglish Vocabulary. lect. 

which would only leave 'temptation/ about which 
there could be the slightest diflSculty; and 'trials/ 
though now employed in a somewhat different sense, 
would exactly correspond to it This is but a small 
percentage, six words in seventy, or less than ten in 
the hundred ; and we often light upon a still smaller 
jMToportion. Thus take the first three verses of the 
23rd Psalm : — * The Lord is my Shepherd ; therefore 
can I lack nothing; He shall feed me in a green pas- 
fure, and lead me forth beside the waters (^i comfort ; 
He shall convert my soul, and bring me forth in the 
paths of righteousness for his Name's sake/ Here 
are forty-five words, and only the three in italics are 
Latin ; for each of which it would be easy to substi- 
tute one of 'homer growth ; little more, that is, than 
the proportion of seven in the hundred ; while in 
five verses out of Genesis, containing one hundred 
and thirty words, there are only five not Saxon, — less, 
that is, than four in the hundred ; and, more notably 
still, the first four verses of St John's (jospel, in 
all fifty-four words, have no single word that is not 

Shall we therefore conclude that these are the 
proportions in which the Anglo-Saxon and Latin 
elements of the language stand to one another? If 
they are so, then my former proposal to express their 
relations by sixty and thirty was greatly at fault ; and 
seventy to twenty, or even eighty to ten, would fall 
short of adequately representing the real predomi-- 
nance of the Saxon over the Latin element in the Ian-: 

Digitized by 


L The Miglish Bible, etc. 29 

guage. But it is not so ; the Anglo-Saxon words by 
no means outnumber the Latin in the degree which 
the analysis of those passages would seem to imply. 
It is not that there are so many more Anglo-Saxon 
words, but that the words which there are, being 
words of more primary necessity, do therefore so much 
more frequently recur. The proportions which the 
analysis of the dictionary, that is, of the language a/ 
rest, would furnish, are very different from those 
instanced just now, and which the analysis oi sentences, 
or of the language in motion, gives. Thus if we 
analyse by aid of a Concordance the total vocabulary 
of the English Bible, not more than sixty per cent of 
the words are native ; but in the actual translation the 
native words are from' ninety per cent in some pas- 
sages to ninety-six in others.* The proportion in 
Shakespeare's vocabulary of native words to foreign is 

* See Marsh, Manual of the English Language, Engl, cd., 
p. 88, sqq. 

It is curious to note how very small a part of the language 
writers who wield the fullest command over its resources, and 
who, from the breadth and variety of the subjects which they 
treat, would be likely to claim its help in the most various 
directions, call into active employment. Set the words in the 
English language at the lowest, and they can scarcely be set 
lower than sixty thousand ; and it is certainly surprising to learn 
that in our English Bible somewhat less than a tenth of these, 
about six thousand, are all that are actually employed, that 
Milton in his poetry has not used more than eight thousand 
words, nor Shakespeare, with all the immense range of subjects 
over which he travels, more than fifteen thousand. 

Digitized by 


so The Engilish Vocabulary. lect. 

much the same as in the English Bible, that is, about 
sixty to forty in every hundred ; while an analysis of 
various plays gives a proportion of from eighty-eight 
to ninety-one per cent of native among those in actual 
employment Milton gives results more remarkable 
still. We gather from a Concordance that only thirty- 
three per cent of the words employed by him in his 
poetical works are of Anglo-Saxon origin ; while an 
analysis of a book of Paradise Lost yields eighty per 
cent Q^ such, and of L* Allegro ninety. Indeed a vast 
multitude of his Latin words are employed by him 
only on a single occasion. 

The notice of this fact will lead us to some impor- 
tant conclusions as to the character of the words 
which the Saxon and the Latin severally furnish ; and 
principally to this : — ^that while English is thus com- 
pact in the main of these two elements, their contri- 
butions are of veiy^ different characters and kinds. 
The Anglo-Saxon is not so much what I have just 
called it, one element of the English language, as the 
basis of it. All the joints, the whole articulation, the 
sinews and ligaments, the great body of articles, 
pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, numerals, auxi- 
liary verbs, all smaller words which serve to knit 
together and bind the larger into sentences, these, 
not to speak of the grammatical structure, are Saxon. 
The Latin may contribute its tale of bricks, yea, of 
goodly stones, hewn and polished, to the spiritual 
building ; but the mortar, with all which binds Uie 
different parts of it together, and constitutes them a 

Digitized by 


I. Anglo-Saxon Moments. 31 

house, is Saxon throughout. Sdden in his Tadk 
Talk uses another comparison ; but to the same 
effect : ' If you look upon the language spoken in the 
Saxon time, and the language spoken now, you will 
find the difference to be just as if a man had a cloak 
which he wore plain in Queen Elizabeth's days, and 
since, here has put in a piece of red, and there a piece 
of blue, and here a piece of green, and there a piece 
of ocange-tawny. We borrow words from the French, 
Italian, Latin, as every pedantic man pleases.' Whe- 
well sets forth the same fact under another image : 
* Though our comparison might be bold, it would be 
just if we were to say that the English language is a 
conglomerate of Latin words bound together in a 
Saxoii cement ; the fragments of the Latin being 
partly portions introduced directly from the parent 
quany, with all their sharp edges, and partly pebbles 
of the same material, obscured and shaped by long 
rolling in a Norman or some other channel.' 

This same law holds good in all composite lan- 
guages ; which, composite as they are, yet are only 
such in the matter of their vocabulary. There may 
be a motley company of words, some coming from 
one quarter, some from another ; but there is never 
a medley of grammatical forms and inflections. One 
or other language entirely predominates here, and 
everything has to conform and subordinate itself to 
the laws of this ruling and ascendant language. The 
Anglo-Saxon is the ruling language in our present 
English. This having thought good to drop its 

Digitized by 


32 The Muglish Vocabulary, lect. 

genders, the French substantives which come among 
us must in like manner leave theirs behind them ; so 
too the verbs must renounce their, own conjugations, 
and adapt themselves to ours.* * The Latin and the 
French deranged the vocabulary of our language, but 
never its form or structure/f A remarkable parallel 
to this might be found in the language of Persia, since 
the conquest of that country by the Arabs. The an- 
cient Persian religion fell with the government, but 
the language remained totally unaflfected by the revo- 
lution, and in its grammatical structure and oiganiza- 
tion forfeited nothing of its Indo-germanic character. 
Arabic vocables, the only exotic words found in 
Persian, are found in numbers varying with the object 
and quality, style and taste of the writers, but pages 
of pure idiomatic Persian may be written without 
employing a singJe word from the Arabic. 

* W. Schlegel (Indisclie Bibliothek, vol. i. p. 284) : Coeunt 
quidem pauUatim in novum corpus peregrina vocabula, sed 
grammatica linguarum, unde petitse sunt, ratio perit. 

t Guest, Hist, of English Rhythms^ vol. ii. p. 108. * Lan- 
guages,* says Max Mailer, * though mixed in their dictionaries, 
can never be mixed in their grammar. In the English dic- 
tionary the student of the science of language can detect by his 
own tests Celtic, Norman, Greek, and Latin ingredients ; but 
not a single drop of foreign blood has entered into the organic 
system of the English language. The grammar, the blood 
and soul of the language, is as pure and unmixed in English 
as spoken in the British Isles, as it was when spoken on the 
shores of the German Ocean by the Angles, Saxons, and 
Jutes of the Continent.' 

Digitized by 


I. Its Constitution Saxon. 38 

T'At the same time the secondary or superinduced 
language, though powerless to force its forms on the 
language which receives its words, may yet compel 
that other to renounce a portion of its own forms, by 
the impossibility which is practically found to exist 
of making these fit the new comers ; and thus it may 
exert, although not a positive, yet a negative, influence 
on the grammar of the other tongue. It has proved so 
with us. ' When the English language was inundated 
by a vast influx of French words, few, if any, French 
forms were received into its grammar : but the Saxon 
forms soon dropped away, because they did not suit 
the new roots ; and the genius of the language, from 
having to deal with the newly imported words in a 
rude state, was induced to neglect the inflections of 
the native ones. This for instance led to the intro- 
duction of the s as the universal termination of all 
plural nouns, which agreed with the usage of the 
French language, and was not alien from that of the 
Saxon, but was merely an extension of the termination 
of the ancient masculine to other classes of nouns.'* 
K you wish to make actual pr^of of the fact just 
now asserted,, namely, that the radical constitution of 
the language is Saxon, try to compose a sentence, let 
it be only of ten or a dozen words, and the subject 
entirely of your own choice, employing therein none 
but words of a Latin derivation. You will find it 

J< Grimm, quoted in The Philological Museuwt^ vol. L 

Digitized by 


S4 The Mfiglish Vocabulary, lect, 

. ■ - * I I I ■ ■■ !■■ I I III! I . l it 

in^possil^ or next to impossible, to do this. Which- 
ever way you turn, some obstacle will meet you in 
the face. There are large words in plenty, but no 
binding power ; the mortar which should fill up the 
interstices, and which is absolutely necessary for the 
holding together of the building, is absent altogether. 
On the other side, whole pages might be written, not 
perhaps on higher or abstruser themes, but on femi- 
liar matters of eveiy-day life, jn which every word 
should be of Saxon descent ; and these, pages i&om 
which, with the exercise of a little patience and in- 
genuity, all ai^earance of awkwardness should be 
excluded, so that none would know, unless otherwise 
informed, that the writer had submitted himself to 
this restraint and limitation, and was drawing his 
words exclusively from one section of the English 
langus^e. Sir Thomas Browne has given several 
long paragraphs so constructed. Here is a little 
fragment of one of them : * The first and foremost 
step to all good works is the dread and fear of the 
Lord of heaven and earth, which through the Holy 
Ghost enlighteneth the blindness of our sinful hearts 
to tread the ways of wisdom, and lead our feet into 
the land of blessing.' * This is not stiiFer than the 
ordinary English of his time.f 

* Works f vol. iv. p. 202. 

t *What Ampdre says of Latin as constituting the base of the 
French {Formation de la Langue Franqaise, p 196), we may 
sly of Anglo-Saxcm as constituting the base of English 3 H ne 
s'agit pas ici d'un nombre plus ou moins grand de mots foomis 

Digitized by 


I. Latin in Eaglish. 3& 

But because it is thus possible to write Engli^, 
foregoing altogether the use of the Latin portion of 
the language, you must not therefore conclude this 
latter portion to be of little value, or that we should 
be as rich without it as with it. We should bft very- 
far indeed from so being. I urge this, because we 
hear sometimes regrets expressed that we have not 
kept ^r language more free from the admixture of 
Latin, and suggestions made that we should even now 
endeavor to restrain our employment of this within 
the jiarrowest possible limits. I remember Lord 
Brougham urging upon the students at Glasgow that 

k notre langae ; 11 s'agit de son fondement tt de sa substance. 
II y a en fran^ais, nous le verrons, 4es mots celtiques et 
germaniques ; mais le fran9ais est une langue latine, Les 
mots celtiques y sont restds, les mots germaniques y sont 
venus ; les mots latins n'y sont point rest^s, et n*y sont point 
venus ; ils sont la langue elle-m^me, lis la constituent. H ne 
pent done fttre question de rechercber quels sont les ^Hments 
latins dtt fkan9ais. Ce que j 'aural d, fiEute, ce sera d'indiquer 
ceux qui ne le sont pas. Koch, in some words prefixed to his 
Historic Grammar pf the English Langttag^^ has put all this 
in a lively manner. Having spoken of the larger or smaller, 
contingents to the army of English woifds which the various 
languages iave furnished, he proceeds : Die Hauptarmee, 
besondeis das Volkheet, 1st deutscb, ein grosses franzOsisches 
Htlfe- und Luxuscorps hat sich angeschlossen, ^ie andem 
Romanen sind nur durch wenige UebcrUufer vertreten, und 
sie haben ihre nationale EigenthUmlichkeit seltener bewahrt. 
Ein starkeres Corps stellt das Lateinische ; es hat Truppen 
stossen lassen znm AngelsSchsischen, zum Alt- mid Mittel- 
engliscbeny jand sogar noch zum Neuengllschen. 

Digitized by 


36 The JEnglish Vocabulary. lect. 

they should do their best to rid their diction of long- 
tailed words in 'osity ' and 'ation.' Now, doubtless, 
there was sufficient ground and warrant for the warn- 
ing against such which he gave them. Writers of a 
former age, Samuel Johnson in the last centuiy, 
Henry More and Sir Thomas Browne in the century 
preceding, gave beyond all question undue prepon- 
derance to the learned, or Latin, element in our lan- 
guage ; and there have never wanted those who have 
trod in their footsteps; while yet it is certain that 
very much of the homely strength and beauty of 
English, of its most popular and happiest idioms, 
would have perished from it, had they succeeded in 
persuading the great body ^f English writers to write 
as they had written. 

But for all this we could almosi as ill spare this 
Latin portion of the language as the other* Philo- 
sophy and science and the arts of an advanced civili- 
zation find their utterance in the Latin words which 
we have made our own, or, if not in them, then in 
the Greek, which for present purposes may be grouped 
with them. Granting too that, all other things 
being equal, when a Latin and a Saxon word offer 
themselves to our choice, we shall generally do best 
to employ the Saxon, to speak of 'happiness' rather 
than 'felicity,' 'almighty' rather than 'omnipotent,' 
a * forerunner' rather than 'precursor,' a 'fore- 
father' than a 'progenitor,' still these latter are as 
truly denizens in the language as the former ; no alien 
interlopers, but possessing the rights of citizenship as 

Digitized by 


!• Latin and Saxon Ukments. 37 

fully as the most Saxon word of them alL One part 
of the language is not to be unduly favoured at tiie ex- 
pense of the other ; the Saxon at the cost of the Latin, 
as little as the Latin at the cost of the Saxon. ' Both/ 
as De Quincey, himself a foremost master of Eng- 
lish, has well said, ' are indispensable ; and speaking 
generally without stopping to distinguish as to subject, 
both are equally indispensable. Pathos, in situations 
which are homely, or at all connected with domestic 
affections, naturally move by Saxon words. Lyrical 
emotion of every kind, which (to merit the name of 
lyrical) must be in the state of flux and reflux, or, 
generally, of agitation, also requires the Saxon element 
of our language. And why ? Because the Saxon is 
the aboriginal element ; the basis and not the super- 
structure : consequently it comprehends all the ideas 
which are natural to the heart of man and to the 
elementary situations of life. And although the Latin 
often furnishes us with duplicates of these ideas, yet 
the Saxon, or monosyllabic part, has the advantage of 
precedency in our use and knowledge ; for it is the 
language of the nursery whether for rich or poor, in 
which great philological academy no toleration is 
given to words in ''osity" or '*ation." There is 
therefore a great advantage, as regards the consecra- 
tion to our feelings, settled by usage and custom upon 
the Saxon strands in the mixed yarn of our native 
tongue. And universally, this may be remarked — that 
wherever the passion of a poem is of that sort which 
uses, presumes, oi postulates the ideas, without seeking 

Digitized by 


38 The Maglish Vocabulary. lect* 

to extend them, Saxon will be the " cocoon " (to speak 
by the language applied to silk-worms), which the 
poem spins for itself. But on the other hand, where 
the motion of the feeling is fy and through the 
ideas, where (as in religious or meditative poetry — 
Young's for instance or Cowper's), the pathos creeps 
and kindles underneath the very tissues pf the thinking, 
there the Latin will predominate ; and so much so 
that, whilst the flesh, the blood, and the muscle, will 
be often almost exclusively Latin, the articulations 
only, or hinges of connection, will be Anglo-Saxon. 
On this same matter Sir Francis Palgrave has expressed 
himself thus : * Upon the languages of Teutonic origin 
die Latin has exercised great influence, but most 
energetically on our own. The very early admixture 
of the Langue d'Oily the never interrupted employment 
of the French as 'the language of education, and the 
nomenclature created by the scientific and literary 
cultivation of advancing and civilized society, have 
Romanized our speech; the warp may be Anglo- 
Saxon, but the woof is Roman as well as the em- 
broidery, and these foreign materials have so en- 
tered into the texture, that were they plucked out, 
the web would be torn to rags, unravelled and 

We shall nowhere find a happier example of the 
preservation of the golden mean than in our Author- 
ized Version of the Bible. Among the minor and 

• Histiny of Normandy and England, vol. i. p. 78. 

Digitized by 


I. The Ikgliah Bibk, etc. 39 

secondary blessings conferred by that Version on the 
nations drawing their spiritual Kfe fr<Mn it^ — a blessing 
onFy small by comparison with the infinitely greater 
blessings whereof it is the vehicle to them, — is the 
happy wisdom, the instinctive tact, with which its 
authors have kept clear in this matter from all exag- 
geration. There has not been on their parts any 
futile and mischievous attempt to ignore the full rights 
of the Latin element of the language on the one'side, 
nor on the other any burdening of the Version with so 
many learned Latin terms as should cause it to forfeit 
its homely character, and shut up large portions of it 
fi*om the understanding of plain and unlearned men. 
One of the most eminent among those who in our 
own times abandoned the communion of the English 
Church for that of the Church of Rome has expressed 
in deeply touching tones his sense of all which, in 
renouncing our Translation, he felt himself to have 
foregone and lost. These are his words : ' Who will 
not say that the uncommon beauty and marvellous 
English of the Protestant Bible is not one of the great 
strongholds of heresy in this country ? It lives on the 
ear^ like a music that can never be forgotten, like the 
sound of church bells, which the convert hardly knows 
how he can forego. Its felicities often seem to be 
almost things rather than mere words. It is part of 
the national mind, and the anchor of national serious- 
ness, r . . . The memory of the dead passes into it 
The potent traditions of childhood are stereotyped in 
its verses. The power of all the griefs and trials of a 

Digitized by 


40 The English Vocabulary. lect. 

man is hidden beneath its words. It is the repre- 
sentative of his best moments, and all that there has 
been about him of soft and gentle and pure and 
penitent and good speaks to him for ever out of his 
English Bible. .... It is his sacred thing, which 
doubt has never dimmed, and controversy never soiled. 
In the length and breadth of the land there is not a 
Protestant with one spark of religiousness about him, 
whose spiritual biography is not in his Saxon Bible.'* 
Certainly one has only to compare this Version of 
ours with the Rhemish, at once to understand why he 
should have thus given the palm and preference to 
ours. I urge not here the fact that one translation is 
from the ojiginal Greek, the other from the Latin 
Vulgate, and thus the translation of a translation, 
often reproducing the mistakes of that translation ; 
but, putting all such higher advan^ges aside, only the 
superiority of the diction in which the meaning, be it 

, / correct or incorrect, is conveyed to English readers. 

' / t • r - Thus I open the Rhenish Version at Galatians v. 19, 

. v'^Vv .where the long list of the 'works of the flesh,' and ot 

I y-'l , the 'fruit of the spirit,' is given. But what could a 

mere English reader make of terms such as these — 

' impudicity, ' ' ebrieties, ' ' comessations, ' * longani- 


/ i, c 


* In former editions of this book I used language which 
seemed lo ascribe these words to Dr. Newman, whose I sup- 
posed they were. They indeed occur in an Essay by the late 
Very Rev. Dr. Faber, on * TA^ Characteristics of the Liver 
of the Saints,^ prefixed by him to a Life of St, Francis of 
Assist, p. 116. 

Digitized by 


I. Authorized Version. 41 

mity,' all which occur in that passage? while our 
Version for ' ebrieties ' has ' drunkenness,' for * comes- 
sations' has 'revellings/ for Monganimity' 'long- 
suflfering.' Or set over against one another suoh 
phrases as these, — in the Rhemish, ' the exemplars of 
the celestials ' (Heb. ix. 23), but in ours, ' the patterns 
of things in the heavens.' Or suppose if, instead of 
what z«;^ read at Heb. xiiL 16, *To do good and to 
communicate forget not ; for with such sacrifices God 
is well pleased,' we read as in the Rhemish, 'Benefi- 
cence and communication do not forget ; for with 
such hosts God is promerited ' ! — Who does not feel 
that if our Version had been composed in such Latin- 
English as this, had been fulfilled with words* like these 
' — ' odiblfe, ' ' suasible, ' ' exinanite, ' * contristate, ' ' pos- 
tulations,' 'coinquinations,' 'agnition,' 'zealatour,' 
'donaiy,' — ^>\'hich all, with many more of the same 
mint, are found in the Rhemish Version,— our loss 
would have been great and enduring, such as would 
have been felt through the whole religious life of our 
people, in the ytry depths of the national mind ? * 

There was indeed something deeper than love of 
sound and genuine English at work in our Translators, 
whether they were conscious of it or not, which 
hindered them from presenting the Scriptures to their 
fellow-countrymen dressed out in such a semi-Latin 
garb as this. The Reformation, which they were in 

• There is more on this matter in my book, On the Author^ 
i»ed Version of the New Testament^ pp. 33-35. 

Digitized by 


42 The Unglish Vocabulary. lect. 

this translation so effectually setting forward, was just 
a throwing *t)ff, on the part of the Teutonic nations, of 
that everlasting pupilage in which Rome would fain 
l»ve held them ; an assertion at length that they were 
come to foil age, and that not through her, but directly 
through Christ, they would address themselves unto 
God, The use of Latin as the language of worship, 
as the language in which alone the Scriptures might 
be read, had been the great badge of servitude, even 
as the Latin habits of thought and feeling which it 
promoted had been most important helps to the 
continuance of this servitude, through long ages. It 
lay deep then in the essential conditions of the con- 
flict which they were maintaining, that the Reformers 
should develope the Saxon, or essentially national, 
element in the language ; while it was just as natural 
that the Roman Catholic translators, if they must 
render ^ Scriptures into English at all, should yet 
render them into such English as should bear the 
nearest possible resemblance to that Latin Vulgate, 
which Rome, with a wisdom that in such matters has 
never foiled her, would gladly have seen as the only 
version of the Book in the hands of the faithful.* 

♦ Where the word itself which the Rhemish translators em- 
ploy is a perfectly good one, it is yet instructive to observe 
how often they draw on the Latin portion of the language, 
where we have drawn on the Saxon, — thus * corporal ' where 
we have * bodily * (I Tim. iv. 8), * coadjutor * where we have 
'fellow-worker* (Col. iv. ii), 'prescience' where we have 
* foreknowledge ' (Acts ii. 23), * dominator * where we have 

Digitized by 


r. Latin and Saxon Ulements. 4^ 

Let me again, however, recur to the fact that what 
oar Reformers did in this matter, they did without ex- 
aggeration ; even as they have shown the same wise 
tooderation in matters higher than this. They gave 
to the Latin element of the language its rights, though 
they would not suffer it to encroach upon and usurp 
those of the other. It would be difilcuk not to believe, 
even if many outward signs did not suggest the same, 
that there is an important part in the future for that 
one language of Europe to play, which thus serves as 
connecting link between the North and the South, 
between the languages spoken by the Teutonic 
nations of the North and by the Rotnance nations 
of the South ; which holds on to and partakes of 
both ; which is as a middle term between them^* 
There are who venture to hope that the English 
Church, having in like manner two aspects, looking 
6n the one side toward Rome, being herself truly 
Catholic, looking on die other toward the Protestant 
communions, being herself also protesting and re- 
formed, may have reserved for her in the providence 
of God an important share in that reconciling of a 

« Lord * (Jud€ 4), * cogitation ' where we have * thought * 
(Lake ix. 46), 'fraternity' where we have * brotherhood ' 
(I Pet. ii. 17), * senior* where we have * elder' (Rev. vii. 
13), ^exprobrate * where we have 'upbraid ' (Mark xvi. 14.) 

♦ See a paper, Oh the Probable Future Position of the 
EngHsh Lof^age, by T* Watts, Esq., in the Proceedings of 
tMe Pkiloiogical Society , vol. iv. p. 207 ; and compare the con- 
cluding words in Guest's Aist. of English RJ^tkms^ vol. ii. 
p. 429. 

Digitized by 


44 The English Vocabulary. lect. 

divided Christendom, whereof we are bound not to 
despair. And if this ever should be so, if, notwith- 
standing our sins and unworthiness, so blessed an 
office should be in store for her, it will be no small 
assistance to this, that the language in which her 
mediation will be effected is one wherein both parties 
may claim their own, in which neither will feel that it 
is receiving the adjudication of a stranger, of one who 
must be an alien from its deeper thoughts and habits, 
because an alien from its words, but a language in 
which both must recognize very much of that which 
is deepest and most precious of their own.* 
, Nor is this prerogative which I have just claimed 
for our English the mere dream and fancy of patriotic 
vanity. The scholar most profoundly acquainted with 
the great group of the Teutonic languages in Europe, 
a devoted lover, if ever there was such, of his native 
German, I mean Jacob Grimm, has expressed himself 
very nearly to the same effect, and given the palm 
over all to our English in words which you will not 

• Fowler {English Grammar, p. 135) : The English is a 
medium language, and thus adapted to diflfusion. In the 
Gothic family it stands midway between the Teutonic and the 
Scandinavian branches, touching both, and to some extent 
reaching into both. A German or a Dane finds much in the 
English which exists in his own language. It unites by cer- 
tain bonds of consanguinity, as no other language does, the 
Romanic with the Gothic languages. An Italian or a French- 
man finds a large class of words in the English, which exist 
in his own language, though the basis of the English is 

Digitized by 


I. Jdooh Qrimm on Unglish. 45 

grudge to hear quoted, and with which I shall bring 
this lecture to a close. After ascribing to our language 
*a veritable power of expression, such as perhaps 
never stood at the command of any other language of 
men,' he goes on to say, ' Its highly spiritual genius, 
and wonderfully haj^y development and condition, 
have been the result of a surprisingly intimate union 
of the two noblest languages in modem Europe, the 
Teutonic and the Romance^ — It is well known in 
what relation these two stand to one another in the 
English tongue; the former supplying in far larger 
proportion the material groundwork, the latter the 
spiritual conceptions. In truth the English language, 
which by no mere accident has produced and upborne 
the greatest and most predominant poet of modem 
times, as distinguished from the -ancient classical 
poetry (I can, of course, only mean Shakespeare), 
may with all right be called a world-language ; and, 
like the English people, appears destined hereafter to 
prevail with a sway more extensive even than its 
present over all the portions of the globe.* For in 

* A little more than two centuries ago a poet, himself 
abundantly deserving the title of * well-languaged,' which a 
contemporary or near successor gave him, ventured in some 
remarkable lines timidly to anticipate this. Speaking of his 
native English, which he himself wrote with such vigour and 
purity, though deficient in the passion and fiery impulses 
which go to the making of a first-rate poet, Daniel exclaims : 

* And who, in time, knows whither we may vent 
The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores 

Digftized by 


46 The Mtglidh Vocabulary, lect. i. 

wealdi, good sense, and closeness of structure no 
other of the languages at this day spoken deserves to 
be compared with it — ^not even our German, which is 
torn, even as we are torn, and must first rid itself of 
many defects, before it can enter boldly into the lists, 
as a competitor with the English.' f ^^ 

This gain of our best glory shall be seat, 

To enrich unknowing nations with our stores ? 

What worlds in the yet unformM Occident 

May come refined with the accents that are ours ? 

Or who can tell for what great wotk in hand 

The greatness of our styk is now ofdained? 

What powers it shall bi^g in, what-^irits conunandy 

What thoughts let out, what humours keep restrained, 

What mischief it may powerfully withstand, 

And what fair ends may thereby be attained V 

t U(f6fr den Ursprttng der Sprache^ Berlin, 1832, p. 50. 
Compare Philardte Chasles, Etudes sur rAllemagne, pp. 

Digitized by 


n. English as it might have been. 47 


WE have seen that many who have best rjgfht to 
speak are strong to maintain that English has 
gained far more than it has lost by that violent intenrup- 
tion of its orderly development which the Norman Con- 
quest brought with it, that it has been permanently 
enriched by that immense irruption and settlement of 
foreign words within its borders, which followed, diough 
not immediately, on that ca.tastrophe. But there here 
suggests itself to us an interesting and not uninstructive 
subject of speculation ; what, namely, this language 
would actually now be, if there had beai no Battle of 
Hastings ; or a Battle of Hastings which William had 
lost and Harold won. When I invite you to consider 
this, you will understand me to exclude any similar 
catastrophe, which should in the same way have issued 
in the setting up of an intrusive dynasty, supported 
by the arms of a foreign soldiery, and speaking a 
Bomanic as distinguished from a Gothic langu^e, on 
the throne of England. I lay a stress upon this last 
point — a people speaking a Romanic language ; inas- 
much as the effects upon the language spoken- in 
England would have been quite different, would have 
fallen far short of those which actually found place, if 
the great Canute had succeeded in founding a Danish, 

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48 English as it might have been. leot. 

or Harold Hardrada a Norwegian, dynasty in England 
— ^Danish and Norwegian both being dialects of the 
same Gothic language which was already spoken here, 
Some differences in the language now spoken by 
Englishmen, such issues, — and one and the other were 
at different times well within the range of possibility, — 
would have entailed ; but differences inconsiderable by 
the side of those which have followed the coming in 
of a conquering and ruling rac^ speaking one of the 
tongues directly formed upon the Latin. 

This which I suggest is only one branch of* a fitr 
larger speculation. It would be no uninteresting task 
ifone thoroughly versed in the whole constitutional 
lore of England,^ acquainted as a Pilgrave was with 
Anglo-Saxon England, able to look into the seeds of 
things and to discern which of these contained the 
germs of future development, which would grow and 
which would not, should interpret to us by the spirit of 
historic divination, what, if there had been no success- 
ful Norman invasion, would be now the social and 
political institutions of England, what the relations of 
the different ranks of society to one another, what the 
division and tenure of land, what amount of liberty 
at home, of greatness abroad, England would at this 
day have achieved. It is only on one branch of this 
subject that I propose to enter at all. 

It may indeed appear to some that even in this I 
am putting before them problems which are in their 
very nature impossible to solve, which it is therefore 
unprofitable to entertain ; since dealing, as here we 
must, with what might have been, not with what 

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n. Laws of Language not Capricioits. 49 

actually has been or is, all must be mere guesswork for 
us; and, however ingenious our guesses, we can 
never test them by the touchstone of actual feet, and 
so estimate their real worth. Such an objection would 
rest on a mistake, though a very natural one. I am 
persuaded we can know to a very large extent how, 
under such conditions as I have supposed, it would 
have fared with our tongue, what the English would 
be like, which in such a case the dwellers in this 
island would be speaking at this day. The laws 
which preside over the development of language are 
so fixed and immutable, and capricious as they may 
seem, there is really so little caprice in them, that if 
we can at all trace the course which other kindred 
dialects have followed under such conditions as 
English would have then been submitted to, we may 
thus arrive at very confident conclusions as to the 
road which English would have travelled. And there 
are such languages ; more or less the whole group of 
Gothic languages are such. Studying any one of 
these, and the most obvious of these to study would 
be the German, we may learn very much of the forms 
which English would now wear, if the tremendous 
shock of one ever-memorable day had not changed so 
much in this land, and made England and English 
both so diflferent from what otherwise they would have 

At the same time I would not have you set /ag high 
the similarity which would have existed between the 
English and other Gothic languages, eyen if no such 
huge, catastrophe as that had mixed so many new 

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50 English as it might have been. LfiCT. 

elements in the one which are altogether foreign to 
the other. There are always forces at work among 
tribes and people which have parted company, one - 
portion of them, as in 'this instance, going forth to 
new seats, while the other tarried in the old ; or both 
of them travelling onward, and separating more and 
more from one another, as in the case of those whom 
we know as Greeks and Italians^ who, going forth from 
those Illyrian highlands where they once dwelt 
together, occupied each a peninsula of its own ; 
or, again, as between those who, like the Britons of 
Wales and of Cornwall, have been violently thrust 
asunder and separated from one another by the 
intrusion of a hostile people, like a wedge, between 
them ; there are, I say, forces widening slowly but 
surely the breach between the languages spoken by the 
one section of the divided people and by the other, 
multiplying the points of diversity between the speech 
of those to whom even dialectic diifereaces may once 
have been unknown. This, that they should travel 
daily further from one another, comes to pass quite 
independently of any such sudden and immense revo- 
lution as that of which we have been just speaking. If 
there had been no Norman Conquest, nor any event 
similar to it, it is yet quite certain that English would 
be now a very different language from any at the 
present day spoken in Germany or in Holland, Dif- 
ferent of course it would be from that purely conven- 
tional language, now recognized in Germany as the 
only language of literature ; but very different too 
from any dialect of that Low German, still popularly 

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H. South African English. 51 

spoken on the Frisian coast and lower banks of the 
Elbe, to which no doubt it would have borne a far 
closer resemblance. It was indeed already very dif- 
ferent when that catastrophe arrived. The six hun- 
dred' years which, on the briefest reckoning, had 
elapsed since the Saxon immigration to these shores 
— ^that immigration had probably begun very much 
earlier — had in this matter, as in others, left their mark. 

I will very briefly enumerate some of the dis- 
similating forces, moral and material, by the action 
of which those who, so long as they dwelt together, 
possessed the same language, little by little become 
barbarians to one another. 

One branch of the speakers of a language engrafts 
on the old stock various words which the other does 
not; and this from various causes. It does so by 
intercourse with new races, into contact and con- 
nection with which it, but not the other branch of the 
divided family, has been brought. Thus in quite 
recent times South African English, spoken in the 
presence of a large Dutch population at the Cape, 
has acquired such words as 'to treck,' *to ihspan,' 
'to outspan,' 'spoor,' 'wildbeest,' 'boor' in the sense 
of farmer, of which our English at home knows 
nothing. So too the great English colony in India 
has acquired 'ayah,' 'bungalow,' 'dunbar,' 'loot,' 
'nabob,' 'nautch,' 'nullah,' 'rupee,' 'zeminder,' 
with many more. It is true that we too at home have 
adopted some of these, and understand them alL 
But suppose there were little or no communication 
between us at home and our colony in India, no 

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52 English as it might have been. lect. 

passing from the one to the other, no literature com- 
mon to both, here are the germs of what would grow 
in lapse of years to an important element of diversity 
between the English of England and of India. Or 
take another example. The English-speaking race 
in America has encountered races which we do not 
encounter here, has been brought into relation with 
aspects of nature which are quite foreign to English- 
men. For most of these it has adopted the words 
which it has found ready made to its needs by those 
who occupied the land before it, or still occupies it 
side by side with itself; has borrowed, for example, 
'pampas' and 'savannah' from the Indian ; 'bayou,' 
'cache/ 'crevasse,' 'lev6e,' 'portage,' from the 
French of Louisiana or of Canada ; 'adobe,' 'can- 
yon' (canon), 'chaparral,' 'corral,' 'hacienda,' 
'lariat,' 'lasso,' 'mustang,' 'placer,' 'rancho,' or 
'ranche,' 'tortilla,' the slang verb 'to vamose' (the 
Spanish 'vamos,' let us go), from the Spaniards of 
Mexico and California. In like manner ' backwoods- 
man,' 'lumberer,' 'squatter,' are words bom of a 
natural condition of things, whereof we know nothing. 
And this which has thus happened elsewhere, hap- 
pened also here. The Britons — not to enter into the 
question whether they added much or little — must 
have added something, and in the designation of 
natural objects in 'aber' and 'pen' and 'straith,' 
certainly added a good deal,* to the vocabulary of 

• See Isaac Taylor, Words and Places^ 2nd edit. p. 193. 

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n. How Languages Diverge. 53 

the Saxon immigrants into this island, of which those 
who remained in old Saxony knew nothing. Again, 
the Danish and Norwegian inroads into England were 
inroads not of men only but also of words. In all 
this an important element of dissimilation made 
itself felt. 

Then too, where languages have diverged from one 
another before any definite settlement has taken place 
in the dictionary, out of the numerous synonyms for 
one and the same object which the various dialects of 
the common language afford, one people- will perpe- 
tuate one, and the other another, each of them after 
a while losing sight altogether of that on which their 
choice has not fallen. That mysterious sentence of 
death which strikes words, we oftentimes know not 
why, others not better, it tnay. be worse, taking their 
room, will frequently cause in process of time a word 
to perish from one branch of what was once a common 
language, while it lives on and perhaps imfolds itself 
into a whole feimily in the other. Thus of the words 
which the Angles and Saxons brought with them 
from beyond the sea, some have lived on upon our 
English soil, while they have perished in that which 
might be called, at least by comparison, their native 
soil. Innumerable others, on the contrary, have here 
died out, which have continued U> flourish there. As 
a specimen of those which have found English air 
more healthful than German we may instance 'bairn.' 
This, once common to all the Gothic languages, is 
now extinct in all of the Germanic group, and has 
been so for centuries, ' kind ' having taken its place ; 

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54 English as it might have been. lect. 

while it lives with us and in the languages of the 
Scandinavian family. Others, on the contrary, after 
an existence' longer or shorter with us, have finally 
disappeared here, while they still enjoy a vigorous life 
on the banks of the Elbe and the Eyden A vulture 
is not here any more a ^geir' (Holland), nor a rogue 
a 'skellum ' (Urquhart), nor an uncle (a mother's 
brother) an *eame,' but * geir' and 'schelm' and 
' oheim ' still maintain a vigorous existence there. 
Each of these words which has perished, and they 
may be counted by hundreds and thousands, has 
been replaced by another, generally by one which is 
strange to the sister language, such as either it never 
knew, or of which it has long since lost all recol- 
lection. * Languages,' as Max Miiller has said, *so 
intimately related as Greek and Latin, have fixed on 
different expressions for son, daughter, brother, 
woman, man, sky, earth, moon, hand, mouth, tree, 
bird, &c. It is clear that when the working of this 
principle of natural selection is allowed to extend 
more widely, languages, though proceeding from the 
same source, may in time acquire a totally different 
nomenclature for the commonest objects.' * There 
is thus at work a double element of estrangement of 
the one from the other. In what has gone a link 
between them has been broken ; in what has come in 
its room an element of diversity has been introduced. 

* On the Science of Language^ ist Ser. p. 271, sqq. See 
too on this * divergence of dialects * of which we are treating, 
Marsh, Origin and History of the English Language^ p. 82. 

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n. How Langudges Diverge. 56 

Sometimes even where a word lives on in both lan- 
guages, it will have become provincialin one, while 
it keeps a place in the classical diction of the other. 
Thus *klei' is provincial in German,* while our 
'clay' knows no such restriction of the area in which 
it moves. 

Or where a word has not actually perished in one 
division of what was once a common language, it will 
have been thrust out of general use in one, but not in 
the other* Thus 'ross,' earlier 'hros,' is rare and 
poetical in German, having in eveiy-day use given way 
to 'pferd;' while 'horse' has suffered no parallel 
diminution in the commonness of its use. * Head ' in 
like manner has fully maintained its place ; but not 
so '•haupt,' which during the last two or three cen- 
turies has been more and more giving way to * kopf. 

Again, words in one language and in the other will 
in tract of time and under the necessities of an ad- 
vancing civilization appropriate to themselves a more 
exact domain of meaning than they had at the first, 
yet will not appropriate exactly the same ; or one will 
enlaige its meaning and the other not ; or in some 
other way one will drift away from moorings to which 
the other remains true. Our 'timber' is the same 
word as the German ' zimmer,' but it has not precisely 
the same meaning ; nor ' rider ' as ' ritter,' nor ' hide ' 
as * haut ;' neither is '.beam ' exactly the same as 
'baum/nor 'reek' as 'ranch,' nor 'schnecke' (in 
German a 'snail') as 'snake ;' nor 'tapfer' as 'dap- 

♦ See Grimm's Woerterbuch^ s. v. 

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56 JSnglish as it might have been. lect. 

per,' nor 'deer' as *thier/ nor /acre' as 'acker,' nor 
'to whine 'as 'weinen,' nor 'tide' and 'tidy' as 
' zeit ' and ' zeitig. ' ' Booby ' suggests an intellectual 
deficiency, 'bube' a moral depravity. *Lust' in 
German has ao subaudition of sinful desire ; it has 
within the last two hundred years acquired such in 
English. 'Knight' and 'knecht,' 'knave' and 
'knabe' have travelled in very different directions. 
Much of this divergence is the work of the last two 
or three hundred years, so that the process of es- 
trangement is still going forward. Thus ' elders were 
parents in England not veiy long ago, quite as much 
as 'eltem' are parents to this day in Germany (see 
Luke ii. 41 ; Coh iii. 20, Coverdale). Our 'shine' 
is no longer identical in meaning with the German 
'schein;' but it too once meant 'show' or 'sem- 
blance, ' as the latter does still. * ' Taufer ' in German 
is solemn, 'dipper' in English is familiar. The 
English of England and the English of America are 
already revealing differences of this kind. ' Com ' on 
the other side of the Atlantic means always maize, 
'grain' means always wheat We know nothing 
here of these restrictions of meaning. Nay, the same 
differences may be found nearer home. A ' merchant ' 
in Scotland is not what we know by this name, but a 
shopkeeper ^f while in Ireland by a 'tradesman' is 

* Thus Col. ii. 23 (Coverdale), « which things have a sMne 
of wisdom, 
t KiiCTfXo^i not efiitopoi. 

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u. How Languages Diverge. 57 

indicated not a grocer, butcher, or one following 
other similar occupations, but an artisan, a bricklayer, 
glazier, carpenter, or the like. Here is another ele- 
ment of divergence between sister languages, evermore 
working to make two what once had been only one. 
But further, in the same way as the bulk and 
sinews of an arm rapidly increase, being put to 
vigorous use, while other limbs, whose potential 
energies have not been equally called forth, show no 
corresponding growth, even so it proves with speech. 
It is indeed marvellous how quickly a language will 
create, adapt, adopt words in any particular line of 
things to which those who speak that language are 
specially addicted ; so that while it may remain abso- 
lutely poor in every other department of speech, it 
willj^e nothing less than opulent in this.* It will 

* Pott {Etymol. Forschung^ 2nd edit vol. ii. p. 134) sup- 
plies some curious and instructive examples of this unfolding 
of a language in a particular direction. Thus in the Zulu, a 
CaflOre dialect, where the chief or indeed entire wealth consists 
in cattle, there are words out of number to express cows of 
different ages, colours, qualities. Instead of helping them- 
selves out as we do by an adjective, as a white cow, a red cow, 
a barren cow, they have a distinctive word for each of these. 
We do not think or speak much about cocoa-nuts, and only 
seeing them when they are full ripe, have no inducement to 
designate them in other stages of their growth ; but in Lord 
North's Island, where they are the main support of the in^ 
habitants, they have five words by which to name the fruit in 
its several stages from the first shoot to perfect maturity. In the 
Dorsetshire dialect there are distmct names for the four 

Digitized by 


58 English as it might have been. lect. 

follow that where races separate, and one group or 
both seek new seats for themselves, the industrial 
tendencies of the separated groups, as suggested by 
the different physical aspects and capabilities of the 
regions which they occupy, will bring about a large 
development in each of words and phrases in which 
the other will have no share. Thus the occupants of 
this island became by the very conditions of their 
existence, and unless they were willing to be indeed, 
what the Latin poet called them, altogether divided 
from the whole world, a seafering people. It has 
followed that the language has grown rich in terms 
having to do with the sea and with the whole life of 
the sea, far richer in these than the dialects spoken 
by the mediterranean people of Germany. They, on 
the contrary, poor in this domain of words, are fer 
better furnished than we are with terms relating to 
those mining operations which they pursued m\ich 
earlier, on a scale more extended, and with a greater 
application of skill, than we have done. 

There has been a vigorous activity of political life 
in England which has needed, and needing has 
feshioned for itself, a diction of its own. Germany 
on the contrary is so poor in corresponding term?, 
that when with the weak beginnings of constitutional 
forms in our own day some of these terms became 

stomachs of ruminant animals (Barnes* Glossary, p. 78). In 
Lithuanian there are five different names for five several kinds 
of stubble (Grimm, Gesch, cUr Deutschen Sprache, vol. i. 
p. 69). 

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II. Differences in Pronunciation. 59 

necessary^ it was obliged to borrow the word * bill ' 
from us. It is true that in this it was no more than 
reclaiming and recovering a word of its own, which 
had been suffered to drop through and disappear. 

The same word will obtain a slightly different pro- 
nunciation, and a somewhat more marked difference 
in spellings in the one language and the other. 
Where there is no special philological training, a very 
slight variation in the former will often effectually 
conceal from the ear, as in the latter from the eye, 
an absolute identity, and for all practical purposes 
constitute them not one and the same, but two and 
different Mpst of us in attempting to speak a foreign 
language, or to understand our own as spoken by a 
foreigner, have had practical experience of the obsta- 
cles to understanding or being understood, which a 
very slight departure from the standard of pronun- 
ciation recognized by us will interpose. And quite 
as effectual* as differences of pronunciation for the 
ear, are differences of spelling for the eye, in the way 
of rendering recognition hard or even impossible. It 
would be curious to know how many Englishmen who 
have made fair advances in German, as usually taught, 
have recognized the entire identity of 'deed' and 
'that,' of 'fowl' and 'vogel,' of 'dough' and 'teig,' 
of 'oath 'and 'eid,'of 'durch' and 'through,' of 
' dreary ' and ' traurig, ' of ' ivy ' and ' epheu, ' of ' death ' 
and ' tod, ' of ' quick ' and ' keck, ' of ' deal ' and ' theil, ' 
of 'clean' and 'klein,' of 'enough' and 'genug.' 
It is only too easy for those who are using the very 

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60 English as it might have been. lect. 

same words, to be, notwithstanding, as barbarians to 
one another. . 
^ Again, what was the exception at the time of 
separation will in one branch of the divided family have 
grown into the rule, while perhaps in the other branch 
it will have been disallowed altogether. , So too idioms 
and other peculiar usages will have obtained allowance 
in one branch, which, not finding favour with the other, 
will in it be esteemed as violations of the law of the 
language, or at any rate declensions from its purity. 
Or again idioms, which one people have overlived, 
and have stored up in the unhonoured lumber-room 
of the past, will 'still be in use and honour with the 
other; and. thus it will sometimes come to pass that 
what seems, and in fact is, the newer swarm, a 
colony which has gone forth, will have older idioms 
than the main body of a people which has remained 
behind, will retain an archaic air and old-world feshion 
about the words they use, their way of pronouncing, 
their order and manner of cpmbining them. Thus 
after the Conquest our insular French gradually 
diverged from the French of the Continent. The 
Prioress in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales could speak 
her French ' full faire and fetishly ;' but it was French, 
as the poet slyly adds, 

* After the scole of Stratford atte bow. 
For French of Paris was to hire unknowe.' 

One of our old chroniclers, writing in the reign of 
Elizabeth, informs us that by the English colonists 

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n. Colonies preserve Archaisms. 61 

within the Pale in Ireland numerous words were 
preserved in common use, — *the dregs of the old 
ancient Chaucer English,' as he contemptuously calls 
them, — ^which were quite obsolete and forgotten in 
England itself. Thus they called a spider an *atter- 
cop ' — ^a word, by the way, still in popular use in the 
North ; a physician a * leech,' as in poetry he is still 
styled ; a dunghill a *mixen,' — ^the word is common to 
this day all over England; a quadrangle or base-court a 
*bawn;'* they employed 'uncouth' in the earlier sense 
of 'unknown.' Nay more, their pronunciation and 
general manner of speech was so diverse from that of 
England, that Englishmen at their first coming over 
often found it hard or impossible to comprehend. 
Something of the same sort took place after the Re- 
vocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the consequent 
formation of colonies of French Protestant refugees 
in various places, especially in Amsterdam and other 
chief cities of Holland. There gradually grew up 
among these what was called 'refugee French, 'f 
which within a generation or two diverged in several 
particulars from the classical language of France ; the 
divergence beuig mainly occasioned by the fact that 
this remained stationary, while the classical language 

* The only two writers whom Richardson quotes as using 
this word are Spenser and Swift, both writing in Ireland and 
of Irish matters. 

t There is an excellent account of this 'refugee French ' in 
Weiss* History of the Protestant Refugees of France, 

X Lyell {On the Antiquity of Man, p. 466) confirms this 

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62 JEnglish as it might have been. lect. 

was in motion; this retained words and idioms, 
which the other had dismissed.* So too, there is, 
I believe, a very considerable difference between 
the Portuguese spoken in the Old country and in 

Again, the wear and tear of a language, the using 
up of its forms and flexions, the phonetic decay 
which IS everywhere and in all languages incessantly 

* Lyell (Oft th^ Antiquity of Man, p. 466) confinns this 
from another quarter : — * A German colony in Pennsylvania 
was cut off from frequent communication with Europe, for 
about a quarter of a century, during the wars of the French 
Revolution between 1792 and 1 81 5. So marked had been the 
effect even of tWs brief and imperfect isolation, that when 
Prince Bemhard of Saxe Weimar travelled among them a few 
years after the peace, he found the peasants speaking as they 
had done in Germany in the preceding century, and retaining 
a dialect which at home had already become obsolete (see his 
Travels in North America, p. 123). Even after the renewal 
of the German emigration from Europe, when I travelled in 
1 841 among the same people in the retired valleys of the 
AHeghanies, I found the newspapers ftdl of terms iialf English 
and half German, and many an Anglo-Saxon word which had 
assumed a Teutonic dress, as **fencen" to fence, instead of 
umzaimen, ** flauer " for flour, instead of " mehl," and so on. 
What with the retention of terms no longer in use in the 
mother country and the borrowing of new ones from neigh- 
bouring states, there might have arisen in Pennsylvania in five 
or six generations, but for the influx of new comers from 
Germany, a mongrel speech equally unintelligible to the 
Anglo-Saxon and to the inhabitants of the European father- 
land.' Compare Sir G. C. Lewis, On the Romance Languages^ 
p. 49- 

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II. Phonetic Decay. 63 

going forward, will go forward at a faster rate in one 
branch of the language than in the other ; or, if not 
faster, will light not upon exactly the same forms or 
the same words ; or, if on the same, yet not exactly 
upon the same letters. Thus the Latin ' sum ' and 
the Greek e</ui, the same word, as I need hardly say, 
are both greatly worn away, — worn away in compari- 
son with words of rarer use, as sixpences passing 
oftener from hand to hand, lose their superscription 
faster than crowns, — but they are not worn away in 
precisely the same letters ; each has kept a letter be- 
longing to a more primitive form of the word, which 
the other has not kept, and lost a letter which the 
other has not lost. This too, the unequal action of 
phonetic decay, will account for much. 

Nor may w© leave out of sight that which Grimm 
has dwelt on so strongly, and brought into so clear a 
light — namely, the modifying influence on the throat 
and other organs of speech, and thus on human speech 
itself, which soil and climate exercise— an influence 
which, however slight at any one moment, yet being 
evermore in operation produces effects which are 
very far from slight in the end. We have here in 
great part the explanation of the harsh and guttural 
sounds which those dwelling in cold mountainous 
districts make their own, of the softer and more 
liquid tones of those who dwell in the plains and under 
a more genial sky. These climatic influences indeed 
reach very far, not merely as they affect the organs of 
speech, but the characters of those who speak, which 

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64 English as it might have been. lect. 

characters will not fail in their turn to express them- 
selves in the language. Where there is a general lack 
of energy and consequent shrinking from effort, this 
will very soon manifest itself in a corresponding 
feebleness in the pronunciation of words, while, on 
the other hand, a Dorian strength will show itself 
in a corresponding breadth of utterance. 

But it would lead me too far, were I to attempt to 
make an exhaustive enumeration of all the forces 
which are constantly at work, to set ever farther from 
one another in this matter of language those who 
once were entirely at one. These causes which I 
have instanced must suffice. The contemplation of 
these is enough to make evident that, even could we 
abstract all the influences upon English which the 
Norman Conquest has exercised, it would still re- 
main at this, day a very different language from any 
now spoken by Old-Saxon or Frisian,* that it would 

• In the contemplation of facts like these it has been some- * 
times anxiously asked, whether a day will not arrive when the 
language now spoken alike on this side of the Atlantic and on 
the other, will divide into two languages, an Old English and 
a New. It is not impossible, and yet we can confidently hope 
that such a day is far distant. For the present at least, there 
are mightier forces tending to keep us together than those 
which are tending to divide. Doubdess, if they who went out 
from among us to pec^le and subdue a new continent, had 
left our shores two or three centuries earlier than they did, 
when the language was much farther removed from that ideal 
after which it was unconsciously striving, and in which, once 
reached, it has in great measure acquiesced ; if they had not 

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II. American Mnglish. 65 

be easy to set far too high the resemblance which 
under other circumstances might have existed between 

carried with them to their new hcHnes their English BiUe, their 
English Shakespeare, and what else of worth had been already 
uttered in the English tongue ; if, having once left us, the 
intercourse between Old and New England had been entirely 
broken off, or only rare and partial, there would then have 
unfolded themselves differences between the language spoken 
here and there, which, in tract of time accumulating and 
multiplying, might already have gone far to constitute the 
languages no longer one, but two. As it is, however, the 
joint operation of these three causes, namely, that the separa- 
tion did not take place- in the infancy or early youth of the 
language, but only in its ripe manhood, that England and 
America own a body of literature, to which they alike look up 
and appeal as containing the authoritative standards of the 
language, that the intercourse between the two people has been 
large and frequent, hereafter probably to be larger and more 
frequent still, has up to this present time been strong enough 
effectually to traverse, repress, and check all those forces 
which tend to divergence. At the same time one must own 
that there are not wanting some ominous signs. Of late, above 
all since the conclusion of their great Civil War, some writers 
on the other side of the Atlantic have announced that hence- 
forth America will, so to speak, set up for herself, will not 
accept any longer the laws and canons of speech which may 
here be laid down as of final authority for all members of the 
English-speaking race, but travel in her own paths, add words 
to her own vocabulary, adopt idioms of her own, as may seem 
the best to. her. She has a perfect right to do so. The lan- 
guage is as much hers as ours. There are on this matter some 
excellent remarks in Dwight's Modem Philology^ ist Ser. p. 
141, with which compare Whitney, Language and- the Study of 
Language^ p. 173. Still for our own sake, who now read so 

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66 English as it might have been, lect, 

English and the other dialects of the Gothic stock. 
For all this we may be certain that they would have 
resembled one another far more nearly than now they . 
do. Let us endeavor a litde to realize to ourselves 
English as it might then have been; and in view 
of this consider the disturbing forces which the 
Norman occupation of England brought with it, and 
how they acted upon the language; so we shall be 
better able to measure what the language except for 
these would have been. 

The Battle of Hastings had been lost and won. 
Whether except for the strange and terrible coinci- 
dence of the two invasions of England almost at the 
same instant the Saxon battle-axes might not have 
proved a match for the Norman spears we cannot now 
determine. But the die was cast The invader had 
on that day so planted his foot on English soil, 
that air aft^r efforts were utterly impotent to dis- 
lodge him. But it took nearly three centuries before 
the two races, the victors and the vanquished, who 
now dwelt side by side in the same land, were 
thoroughly reconciled and blended *1nto one people. 

many American books with profit and delight, and look for- 
ward to a literature grander still unfolding itself there, for our 
own sake, that we do not speak of hers, we must hope that 
* to donate,' * to placate,' * to berate,' * to belittle,' *to hap- 
pify,' 'declinature,' 'resurrected,' * factatively,' and the like, 
are not fair specimens of the words which will constitute the 
future differentia between the vocabularies of America and 
of England. 

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n. Nomian Anglo-Saxon. 67 

During the first century which followed the Conquest, 
the language of the Saxon population was, as they 
were themselves, utterly crushed and trodden under 
foot. A foreign dynasty, speaking a foreign tongue, 
and supported by an army of foreigners, was on the 
throne of England ; Norman ecclesiastics filled all the 
high places of the Church, filled probably every 
place of honour and emolument ; Norman castles 
studded the land. During the second century, a 
reaction may very distinctly be traced, at first most 
feeble, but little by little gathering strength, on the 
part of the conquered race to reassert themselves, and 
as a part of their reassertion to reassert the right of 
English to be the national language of England. In 
the third century after the Conquest it was at length 
happily evident that Normandy was forever lost 
(1206), that for Norman and Englishman, alike there 
was no other sphere but England ; this reassertion 
Qf the old Saxondom of the land gaining strength 
every day ; till, as a visible token that the vanquished 
were again the victors, in the year 1349 English and 
not French was the language taught in the schools 
of this land. 

But the English, which thus emerged from this 
struggle of centuries in which it had refused to die, 
was very different from that which had entered into it. 
The whole of its elaborate inflections, its artificial 
grammar, showed tokens of thorough disorganization 
and decay ; indeed most of it had already disappeared. 
How this came to pass I will explain to you in the 

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68 English as it might have been. lbct. 

excellent words of the late Professor of Anglo-Saxon 
at Oxford. ' Great and speedy/ he observes, 'nwist 
have been the eflfect of the Norman Conquest in 
ruining the ancient grammar. The leading men in 
the state having no interest in the vernacular, its 
cultivation fell immediately into neglect The chief 
of the Saxon clergy deposed or removed, who should 
now keep up that supply of religious Saxon literature, 
of the copiousness of which we may judge even in 
our day by the considerable remains that have out* 
liyed hostility and neglect? Now that the Saxon 
landowners were dispossessed, who should patronize 
the Saxon bard, and welcome the max) of song in the 
halls of mirth ? The shock of the Conquest gave a 
deathblow to Saxon literature. The English lan- 
guage continued to be spoken by the masses who 
could speak no other ; and here and there a secluded 
student continued to write in it But its honours and 
emoluments were gone, and a gloomy period of de- 
pression lay before the Saxon language as before the 
Saxon people. The inflection system could not live 
through this trying period. Just as we accumulate 
superfluities about us in prosperity, but in adversity 
we get rid of them as encumbrances, and we like to 
travel light when we have only our own legs to carry 
us-r-just so it happened to the English language. For 
now all these sounding terminations that made so 
handsome a figure in Saxon courts ; the -an, the -um ; 
the -ERA, the -ana ; the -igenne and -igenoum ; all 
these, as superfluous as bells on idle horses, were laid 
aside when the exercise of power was gone.' 

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II. Huin of Anglo-Saxon Qrammar. 69 

But another force, that of external violence, had • 
been at work also for the breaking up of the grammar 
of the language. A conquering race under the ne- 
cessity of communicating with a conquered in their 
own tongue is apt to make very short work of the 
niceties of grammar in that tongue, to brush all 
these away, as so much trumpeiy, which they will not 
be at the pains to master. If they can make their 
commands intelligible, this is all about which they 
concern themselves. They go straight to this mark ; 
but whether, in so doing, adjective agree with sub- 
stantive, or verb with noun, or the proper case be 
employed, for this they care nothing if only they are 
understood ; jior is this all ; there is a certain satis- 
faction, a secret sense of superiority, in thus stripping 
the language of its ornament, breaking it up into 
new combinations, compelling it to novel forms, and 
making thus not merely the wills, but the very speech 
of the conquered, to confess its subjection.* 

Nor was it the grammar only which had thus be- 
come a ruin. Those three centuries had made enor- 
mous havoc in the v^xabulary as well. Rich and c\ 
expressive as this had been in the palmy days of 
Anglo-Saxon literature, abundantly furnished as un- 
doubtedly then it was with words having to do with 
matters of moral and intellectual concern, and in the 
nomenclature of the passions and affections, it was 
very for from being richly supplied with them now. 
Words which dealt with the material interests of every- 

• Compare Sir G. C. Lewis, On the Romance Lofiguages. 
pp. 21-23. 

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70 English as it might have been. lect. 

day life could scarcely help remaining familiar arid 
vernacular ; but those pertaining to higher domains of 
thought, feeling, and passion and to all loftier culture, 
either moral or material, had in vast multitudes dropt 
out of use arid been forgotten. Curious illustrations 
have been given of the destruction which had been 
wrought in some of the most illustrious and far 
branching families of words, so that of some of these 
there did not half a dozen, of others there did not 
one representative survive.* 

The destruction of grammatical forms was, it is true, 
only the acceleration and the more complete carrying 
out of what would anyhow have come to pass, although 
perhaps not so thoroughly, as certainly not at so early 
a date. For indeed there is nothing more certain than 
that all languages in their historical peHod are in a 
continual process of simplifying themselves, dropping 
their subtler distinctions, allowing the mere collocation 
of words in their crude state or other devices of the 
same kind to do that which once was done by inflec- 
tion. To this subject, however, I shall have occasion 
by and by to recur ; I will no£ therefore dwell upon 
it here. But the insuflficiency of the vocabulary, con- 
sequent in part on this impoverishment of it, in part 
on the novel thoughts and things claiming to find 
utterance through it, was a less tolerable result of 
those centuries of depression ; happily too was capable 
of remedy ; which the perishing of grammatical 
forms, even if remedy had been looked for, was not. 
■ ■ ' ' " ■ • 

• Thus see Marsh, Origin and History of the English Z^n- 
^«^^'» pp. "3» 443- . 

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II. ImpoverishmerU of Anglo-Saxon. 71 

Two ways were open here. An attempt might have 
been made to revive and recover the earlier words 
which had been lost and let go ; and where new 
needs demanded expression, to fabricate from the 
vernacular words which should correspond to these 
new needs. Now, if the revival of the English 
nationality had meant the expulsion of the dominant 
Norman race, this would very probably have been the 
course taken ; and the reaction would have put under 
a common ban language and institutions alike. But 
happily it meant no such thing. It meant the blend- 
ing of the two races into one, the forming of a new 
English nation by the gradual coalition of the two, by 
the growing consciousness that this England was the 
equal heritage of both, the welfare of which was the 
common interest of both. It was not on either side 
a triumph, or rather, as are all reconciliations, it was 
on -both sides a triumph. But where under these 
circumstances should a supply of the n^w necessities 
be so naturally looked for as from the French ? That 
was the language of one of. the parties in this.happy 
transaction; of the one which, in respect of language, 
was given up far the most, and which therefore might 
fairly look for this partial compensation. Words of 
theirs, few as compared with those which afterwards 
found an entrance into the English tongue, but not 
few in themselves, had already effected a lodgement 
there ; others, if not adopted, had become more or 
less familiar to English ears; not to say that the 
language which they spoke was in possession of a 
literature far in advance at that time of any other in 

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72 English as it might have been. lect. 

modem Europe, a literature eagerly read here as 
elsewhere in originals or translations more or less free, 
representing, as it did, that new world which was 
springing up, and not, as the Anglo-Saxon did, an 
old world which was passing or had passed away. 

Now it is a very interesting question, and one 
which often has been discussed, What proportion do 
the French words which then found their way into the 
language, or which have subsequently entered by the 
door which was thus opened to them, by the declara- 
tion then virtually made that their admission ^^^as not 
contrary to the genius of the language, bear to the 
original stock of the language, on which they were 
engrafted ? A recent enquirer, who professes to have 
made an inventory of the whole language, has arrived 
at this result, namely, that considerably more than 
one half of our words, not indeed of those which we 
use in writing, still less in speaking, but more than 
one half of those registered in our dictionaries, are 
Romanic,* are therefore the result of the Norman 
Conquest, and but for it with very few exceptions 
would not have found their way to us at all. 

I believe the proportion which he indicates to be 
quite too high, and the data on which his calculation 
proceeds to be altogether misleading. But without 
entering upon this question, and assuming proportions 
which I am persuaded are more accurate, let us sup- 
pose that there are in round numbers one hundred 

• Thommcrel, Recherches sur la Fusion du FroHCO* 
iformand et de PAnglO' Saxon, Paris, 1841. 

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II. Proportion of Romanic Words. 73 

thousand words in the English lauguage, — it is easy 
to make them any number we please, according to the 
scheme of enumeration upon which we start, to bring 
them up to half as many again, or to reduce them, as 
some have done, to less than one half, — and let us 
further suppose that some thirty thousand of 'these 
have come to us through that contact with France into 
which the Battle of Hastings and its consequences 
brought us, and but for these would never have 
reached us at all. Let us, I say, assume this ; and 
a problem the most interesting presents itself to us — 
. namely, how should we, or whoever else might in that 
event have been at this moment living in England, 
have supplied the absence of these words ? What 
would Englishmen have done, if the language had 
never received these additions ? It would be a slight 
and shallow answer,- in fact no answer at all, to reply, 
we should have done without them. We could not 
have done without them. The words which we thus 
possess, and which it is suggested we might have 
done without, express a multitude of facts, thoughts, 
feelings, conceptions, which, rising up before a people 
growing in civilization, in knowledge, in learning, in 
intercourse with other lands, in consciousness of its 
own vocation in this world, mtist find their utterance 
by one means or another, could not have gone with- 
out some words or other to utter them. The problem 
^before us is, what these means would have been ; by 
what methods the language would have helped itself, 
if it had been obliged, like so many sister dialects, to 
draw solely on its own resources, to rely on honi^ 

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74 JEnglish as it might have been. lect. 

manufeaures,^ instead of importing, as it was able to 
do, so many serviceable articles ready made from 
abroad. i^ 

To this question I answer first and generally, and 
shall afterwards enter into particulars, that necessity 
is the mother of invention, and that many powers of 
the language, which are now in a great measure 
dormant, which have been only partially evoked, 
would have been called into far more frequent and 
far more vigorous exercise, under the stress of those 
necessities which would then have made themselves 
felt Take, for example, the power of composition, 
that is, of forming new words by the combination of 
old — a power which the language possesses, though 
it is one which has grown somewhat weak and stiff 
through disuse. This would doubtless have been 
appealed to far more frequently than actually it has 
been. Thrown back on itself, the language would 
have evolved out of its own bosom, to supply its 
various wants, a far larger number of compound 
words than it has now produced. This is no mere 
guess of mine. You have only to look at the sister 
German language — ^^^sister it is now, it would have 
been zvAok sister but for that famous field of Hastings 
— and observe what it has effected in this line, how 
it has stopped the gaps of which it has gradually 
become aware by aid of these compound words, and 
you may so learn what we, under similar condi^ons, 
would have done. Thus, if we had not found it more 
convenient to jujqpf the French 'desert,' if English 
had been obliged, like the spider, to spin a word out 

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n. Compound Words. 76 

of its own bowels, it might have put 'sand-waste' 
together, as the German actually has done. This 
and other words I shall suggest may sound strange to 
you at first hearing, but would have long left oflf their 
strangeness, had they been current lor some hundreds 
of years. If we had not the Low-Latin 'massacre,' 
we might have had * blood-bath,' which would not be 
a worse word in English than in German. Sop too, if 
we had not had 'deluge,' the Latin 'dilmium,' we 
too might have lighted on 'sin-flood,' as others have 
done. A duel might have been a ' two-fight ' or ' twi- 
fig^t,' following the analogy of 'twilight ' and 'twibilL' 
Instead of ' pirate ' we might have had ' sea-robber ;' 
indeed, if I do not mistake, we have the word. We 
should have needed a word for ' hypocrisy ;' but the 
German ' scheinheiligkeit ' at any rate suggests that 
' shewholiness ' might have effectually served our turn. 
This last example is from the Greek, but the Greek 
in our tongue entered in the rear of the Latin, and 
would not have entered except by the door which 
that had opened. 

Let me at the same time observe that the fact of 
the Gennans having fallen on these combinations 
does not make it in the least certain that we should 
have feUen upon the same. There is a law of neces- 
sity in the evolution of languages ; they pursue certain 
courses on which we may confidently count But 
there is a law of liberty no less, and this liberty, 
making itself felt in this region, together with a thou- 
sand other causes, leaves it quite certain that in some, 
and possibly in all these instances;, we should have 

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76 English as it might have been. legt. 

supplied our wants in some other way not travelled 
in exactly the same paths as they have struck out for 
themselves. Thus, nearly allied as the Dutch is to 
the German, and greatly under German influence as it 
has been, it has various compound words of which the 
German knows nothing. "^ Still the examples which I 
have given sufficiently indicate to us the dirution 
which the language would have taken. 

But we are not here driven to a region of conjec- 
tures, or to the suggesting what might have been done. 
We can actually appeal to a very numerous company 
of these compound words, which have been in the 
language ; but which have been suffered to drop, the 
Latin competitors for some reason or other having, 
in that struggle for existence to which words are as 
much exposed as animals, carried the day against it. 
Now we may confidently affirm that all, of very 
nearly all, of these would have survived to the pre- 
sent hour, would constitute a part of our present 
vocabulary, if they had actually been wanted ; and 
they would have been wanted, if competing French 
words, following in the train of the conquering race, 
had not first made them not indispensable, and then 
wholly pushed them from their places. ^ When I say 
this I do not mean to imply that these words were all 
actually bom before the Norman Conquest, but only 
that the Conquest brought influences to bear^ which 
were too strong for them, and in the end cut short 
their existence. 

* See Jean Paul, MstheHk, § S4. 

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n. Words which we have lost. 77 

Thus, if we had not proverb, ' soothsaw ' or * by^ 
word ' would have served our turn ; ' sourdough ' 
would have supplied the place of leaven ; ' wellwill- 
ingness' of beneyolence ; 'againbuying' of redemp- 
tion ; 'againrising' of resurrection; * undeadliness ' 
of immortality ; ' uncunningness' of ignorance ; ' un- 
mildness' of asperity; ' forefighter ' of champion; 
'earthtilth' of agriculture ; ' earthtiller ' of agricul- 
turist; 'comeling' of stranger; 'greatdoingly' of 
magnificently ; ' to afterthink ' (still in use in Laa- 
cashire) might have stood for to repent; 'medeful' 
for meritorious ; 'untellable' for ineffable; 'dearworth' 
for precious ; all which are in Wiclif. Chaucer has 
'foreword' for promise; 'bodeword' for prohibi- 
tion ; and Fters Ploughman 'goldhoard ' for treasure. 
'Tongful' (see Bosworth) would have stood for 
loquacious ; ' truelessness ' for perfidy ; ' footfast ' for 
captive ; ' allwitty ' {Prick ofConscienct) for Omniscient ; 
'witword' for testimony. Jewel has 'foretalk' for 
preface; Coverdale 'childship' for adoption, 'show- 
token' for sign; 'to unhallow' for 'to profane*;' 
Holland 'sunstead' for solstice; 'leechcraft' for 
medicine; ' wordcraft ' for logic ; Rogers^ ' tumagains ' 
for reverses ; as little should we have let go ' book- 
craft' for literature, or 'shipcrafl' for navigation. 
'Starconner' (Gascoigne) did service once side by 
side with astrologer; 'redesman' with counsellor; 
* half-god' (Golding) has the advantage over demi- 
god, that it is all of one piece ; 'to eyebite ' (Holland) 
told its story at least as well as to fascinate ; ' weapon- 

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78 UnglUh as it might have been, leot, 

shew' (the word still lives in Scotland) as review; 
'jearday' {Pron^iorwm) as anniversary; 'shrift- 
fitther ' as confessor ; * earshrift ' (Tyndale) is only two 
syllables, while auricular confession is eight ; * water- 
fright ' is preferable to our awkward hydrophobia. 
The lamprey (lambens petram) would have been, as 
in our country parts it now is, the 'suckstone' or the 
' lickstone ;' and the anemone the * windflower. ' For 
r^norse of conscience we might have had, and it 
exactly corresponds, * ayenbite of inwyt,' being, as this 
is, the title of a remarkable religious treatise of the 
middle of the fourteenth ceritirry ;* in which I ob- 
serve among other noticeable substitutes for our Latin 
words, 'unlusthead' for disinclination. Emigrants 
would everywhere have been called what Uiey are 
now called in districts of the North, * outwanderers ' 
or ' ou^gangers. ' A preacher who bade us to sacrifice 
some of our 'neednots' (the word is in Rogers) in- 
stead of some of our superfluities, to the distresses of 
others, would not deliver his messages less intelligibly 
than now ; as little would he do so if he were to enu- 
merate the many 'pullbacks,' instead of the many 
obstacles which we find in the way of attaining to 
eternal life. It too is a Puritan word. 
Then too with the absence from the language of 

• The Ayenbite of Jtavyt is, in a philologics4 point of view, 
one of the most valuable of the many valuable books which the 
Early English Text Society has rendered accessible at an 
almost inconceivably low price to all who wish to study the 
origins of the' English language. 

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ji. Latin Prefixes. 79 

the Latin prefixes, the Saxon would have come for more 
into play. The Latin which we employ the most fre- 
quently, or rather which are oftenest found in words 
which we have adopted, are *sub' as in 'subdue, 
'subtract;' *de' as in 'descendant,' 'deprive; 
'circum'as in 'circumference,' 'circumvent;' and 
'prae' or 'pro as in 'predecessor,' 'progenitor.' 
Had these been wanting, the Latin words to which 
they are prefixed would have been wanting too. 
How would the language have fared without them ? 
Not so ill. They would have left no chasm which it 
would not have been comparatively easy to fill up. 
Thus if the speakers of English had not possessed 
' subjugate ' they would have had ' undeiyoke,' if not 
' subvert,' yet still 'underturn,' and so on with many 
more now to be found in Wiclif 's Bible and elsewhere. 
There is not at the present moment a single word in 
the English language — one or two may perhaps sur- 
vive in the dialects — beginning with the prefix ' um. ' 
There were once a great many. An embrace was an 
* umgripe ' or a gripe round (um= ^M<P{), a circuit an 
' umgang ;' the circumference or periphery of a circle 
was the umstroke ;' to surround was to 'umlapp' 
{Prick of Conscience) ; to besiege on every side ' to um- 
besiege' (Sibbald, Glossary) The last appearance 
of 'umstroke' is in Fuller, while it would be very 
difficult to find so late an example of any of the 
others. We might have had, and probably should 
have had in the case which I am imagining, a large 
group of such words, instead of those now beginning 

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80 English as it might have been. lect. 

with 'circum.' In the absence of 'prae' or 'pro,' 
*fore/ which even now enters into so many of our 
words, as * foretell,' 'forewarn,' would have entered 
into more. As we have just seen, for preface we 
should have had * foretalk,' or ' forespeech ' (Ayendt/e); 
for predecessor 'foreganger,' for progenitor 'fore- 
elder ,' — in all this I am not guessing, but am every- 
where bringing forward words whicli existed once in 
the language. 

The prefix 'for,' conveymg the idea of privation or 
deterioration, and corresponding to the German ' ver,' 
— not therefore to be confounded with 'fore' — to 
which we already owe several excellent words, 'forlorn,' 
'forbid,' 'forgo,' would have yielded us many more, 
each one of which would have rendered some Latin 
word superfluous. We can adduce the participles, 
' forwandered ' {Piers Ploughman), 'forwearied,' 'for- 
wasted,' ' forpined ' (all in Spenser), 'forwept,' 'for- 
welked,' and the verbs ' forfaren,' to go to ruin, ' for- 
shapen,' to deform {Piers Ploughman), with other 
words not a few, as samples of much more in this 
direction, if need had been, which the language could 
have effected. ' Mis ' too, which already does much 
work, as in ' misplace,' 'mislead,' would have been 
called to do more ; instead of to abuse we should 
have had ' to miscall ;' and the like. ' Out ' would 
have been put to more duty than now it is ; thus 
' outtake ' would have kept the place from which now 
it has been thrust by 'except/ as 'outdrive' has been 
by ' expel ' It would have fared the same with ' after, ' 

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n. 8axon Svhstitules. 61 

Instead of our successors we should speak of our 
' aftercomers ;' consequences would have been * after- 
comings/ posthumous would have been 'afterbom/ 
and a postscript an 'aftertale/ All these too existed 
once. 'To backjaw ' is current in some of our dia- 
lects still, and would have been a vigorous substitute 
for * to retort' 

Something, again, may be concluded of what the 
English-speaking race would have been able to effect, 
if thrown exclusively upon such wealth as it possessed 
at home, by considering the more or less successful 
attempts of some who have chosen, without any such 
absolute necessity, to travel the paths, which in that 
case there would have been no choice but to tread. 
Thus Sir John Cheke, in his Version of St Matthew, 
has evidently substituted, as often as he could, Saxon 
words for Greek and Latin ; thus for proselyte he has 
substituted 'freshman,' for prophet 'foreshewer,' for 
lunatic 'mooned.' Puttenham in the terms of art 
which he employs in his Art of English Poesy has 
made a similar attempt, though with no remarkable 
success. Fairfax, author of a curious and in some 
aspects an interesting book, The Bulk and Selvedge 
of the World, has done better.. He too would fain by 
his own example show how very rarely even in a 
subject of some considerable range it is necessary to 
employ any other words than such as are home- 
growths; that 'moreness,' for example does its work 
as well as plurality, 'findings' as inventions. I ex- 
tract a brief passage from the Introduction, at once for 

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82 English as it might have been. lect. 

its bearing on the subject which we now have in hand, 
and also as itself a testimony of the vigorous English 
which it is. possible under such self-imposed limita- 
tions to write : * I think it will become those of us, 
who have a more hearty love for what is our own, than 
wanton longings after what is others', to fetch back 
some of our own words that have been jostled out in 
wrong, that worse from elsewhere might be hoisted 
in ; or else to call in from the fields and waters, shops 
and workhousen, ^that well fraught world of words 
that answers works, by which all learners are taught 
to do, and not to make a clatter.' 

I remember once, this subject being under familiar 
discussion, and one present vaunting the powers of 
our Anglo-Saxon tongue to produce words of its own 
which should thus answer any and every need, and 
this without being beholden to any foreign tongue, 
another present put him to the proof, demanding a 
sufficient native equivalent for * impenetrability/ The 
challenge was accepted, and without a moment's 
delay * unthoroughfaresomeness ' was produced. The 
word may not be a graceful one, but take it to pieces, 
and you will find that there is nothing wanting to it 
For what is impenetrability ? It is the quality in one 
thing which does not allow il to be pierced or passed 
through by another. And now dissect it3 proposed 
equivalent ; and first, detaching from it its two pre- 
fixes, and affixes as many, you have ' fare ' or passage 
for the body of the word ; you have next ' thorough- 
fare ' or place through which there is a passage ; by 

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n. Powers of ike Anglo-Saxon. 83 

aid of the suffix * some ' you obtain the adjective 
* thoroughferesome, ' or affording a passage through ; 
the negative prefix ' un ' gives you ' unthorough&re- 
some/ the negation of this; and the second suffix 
'ness/ 'unthoroughfaresomeness/ or the state which 
refuses to afford a passage through, — ^in other words, 

We can thus, I think, trace, and not altogether by 
mere guesswork or at random, some of the paths 
along which English would have travelled, had it 
been left to itself, and to its own natural and orderly 
development, instead of being forced by the stress of 
external circumstances into paths in part at least alto- 
gether new. We can assert with confidence that it 
would have been no unserviceable, shiftless, nor 
ignoble tongue ; and this, while we gladly and thank- 
fully acknowledge that it has done better, being what 
it is, that language in which our English Bible is 
written, in which Shakespeare and Milton have 
garnered for the after world the rich treasure of their 

Let us, before quite dismissing this subject, con- 
template two or three points which broadly distinguish 
English as it is from English as it would then have 
been. The language,, we may be quite sure, would 
in that case have been more abundantly supplied 
with inflections than at present it is. It was, as we 
saw just now, during the period of extreme depression 
which followed on the Conquest that it stripped itself 

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84 English as it anight have been. lect. 

so bare of these. I do not of course mean to imply 
that a vast number of inflections would not, according 
to the universal law of all languages, have anyhow 
fallen away. But continuing as it would have done, / 

the language of the Church, the Court, and of litera- 
ture, it would never have become that mere torso 
which it was, when at length it emerged victorious 
from its three hundred years of conflict for supremacy 
on this English soil We should assuredly have 
possessed a much more complex grammatical sys* 
tem, probably as complex or nearly as complex as the 
German possesses at the present day. Foreigners 
complain that even now English is hard enough to 
master ; it would assuredly have been much harder 
then. There would have been many more distinctions 
to remember. Our nouns substantive, instead of 
being all declined in one way, would have been de- 
clined some in one way, some in another; they 
would probably have had their three genders, — ^mascu- 
line, feminine, and neuter; and have modified ac- 
cording to these the terminations of the adjectives in 
concord with them ; and very much more of this 
kind, now dismissed, and on the whole happily dis- 
missed, would have been retained. 

The language is infinitely richer now in synonyms 
than but for this settlement of French and Latin in its 
midst it would have been — in words covering the 
same, or very nearly the same, spaces of meaning. In 
cases almost innumerable it has what we may call 
duplicate words ; there can be very few languages in 

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n. Dwplicaie Words. 85 

the world so amply furnished with these. The way it 
has obtained them is this. It has kept the Saxon 
word, and superadded to this the Latin, or the French 
derived from the Latin. Thus we have kept ' hea- 
venly,' but we have added 'celestial J* we have not 
dismissed ' earthly,' though we have acquired ' terres- 
trial ;' nor ' fieiy,' though we have adopted ' igneous ;' 
* providence ' has not put * foresight ' out of use, nor 
'flower' 'bloom,' nor 'reign ' 'kingdom,' nor 'om- 
nipotent' 'almighty.' I might go on instancing 
these almost without end, but I have dwelt more 
fully on this matter elsewhere,* and here therefore 
will not urge it more. 

Nor can it be said that this abundance is a mere 
piece of luxury, still less that it is an embarrassment 
It gives the opportunity of wearing now a homelier, 
now a more scholarly garment of speech, as may seem 
most advisable for the immediate need. Poetry is 
evidently a gainer by it, in the wider choice of 
expressions which it has thus at command, to meet 
its manifold exigencies, now of rhyme, now of melody, 
and now of sentiment And prose is not less a gainer, 
demanding as it does rhythm and modulation, though 
of another kind, quite as urgently as poetry does, and 
having these much more within its reach through this 
choice of words than otherwise it would have had. 
Thus most of us have admired in Handel's greatest 
composition the magnificent effect of those words 

• Study of Pf'ords, 13th edit p. 229. 

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86 Englisk a^ ii might have been. lect. 

A J .^ I " ■ ! ' J II .1I III— Ml I1MIII. II I I I . 

from the Apocalypse, * For the Lord God (minipoteut 
?eigneth. ' Now the word which our Translators have 
here rendered 'omnipotent/ they have everywhere 
else rendered * almighty ;' but substitute 'almighty' 
here, and how manifest the loss. What a sublime 
variation have they thus found within their reach.* 

These are manifest gains ; but for all this I would 
not affirm that everything is gain. Thus if our Saxon 
had never been disturbed, there would certainly have 
been in the language a smaller number of what our 
ancestors called, 'inkhorn terms,' the peculiar pro- 

• I only know one in modem times, but he is one whose 
judgment must always carry great weight, Dr. Guest, who 
in his History of English Rhythms takes a less favourable 
view of the results of the large importation of French and 
Latin words into the language : — * The evils resulting from 
these importations have, I think, been generally underrated in 
this country. When a language must draw upon its own 
wealth for a new term, its forms and analogies are kept fresh 
in the minds of those who so often use them. But with the 
introduction of foreign terms, not only is the symmetry — the 
science — of the language injured, but its laws are brought less 
frequently under notice, and are the less used, as their aj^- 
cation becomes more difficult. If a new word were added to 
any of the purer languages, such as the Sanscrit, the Greek, 
or the Welsh, it would soon be the root of numerous offshoots, 
substantives, adjectives, verbs, &c., all formed according to 
rule, and modifying the meaning of their root according to 
well-known analogies. But in a mixed and broken language 
few or no such consequences follow. The word remains barren 
and the language is ** enriched " like a tree covered over with 
wreaths taken from the boughs of its neighbour ; which carries 
a goodly show of foliage and withers beneath the shade.. 

Digitized by 


, n, ''Inhhom Terms J^ 87 

petty of the scholar, not used and not understood by 
the poor and the illiterate. More words would be 
what all words ought to be, and once were, ' thought- 
pictures,' transparent with their own meaning, telling 
their own story to everybody. Thus if I say that 
Christ 'sympathizes' with his people, or even if I say, 
*has compassion,' I am not sure that every one 
follows me ; but if I were to say. He * fellow-feels,' 
and the word existed not long ago, as ' fellow-feeling' 
does still, all would understand. * Redemption ' con- 
yeys to our poor the vague impression of some great 
benefit ; but ' againbuying ' would have conveyed a 
far more distinct one. * Middler ' — ^this word also is 
to be found in Wiclif— would have the same advan- 
tage over mediator. Even our Authorized Version, 
comparatively little as we have to complain of there, 
would itself not have lost, but gained, if its authors 
had been absolutely compelled to use the store of 
Saxon vocables at their command, if sometimes they 
had been shut in, so to speak, to these ; for instance, 
if instead of 'celestial bodies- and bodies terrestrial,' 
they had had no choice but to write ' heavenly bodies 
and bodies earthly ' (i Cor. xv. 40). All would have 
understood them then ; I very much doubt whether 
all understand them now. 

Other advantages too might have followed, if the 
language had continued all of one piece. Thus in the 
matter of style, it would not have been so fetally ea^ 
to write bad English, and to fancy this bad to be good, 
as now it is. That worst and most offensive kind of 

Digitized by 


88 English as it might have been. lect. 

bad English, which disguises poverty of thought, and 
lack of any real command over the language, by the 
use of big, hollow, lumbering Latin words, would not 
have been possible. It is true that on the other hand 
the opportunities of writing a grand, sustained, stately 
English would not have been nearly so great, but for 
the incoming of that multitude of noble words which 
Latin, the stateliest of all languages, has lent us. 
Something not veiy different indeed, not immeasurably 
remote from Swift's or Dryden's prose might have 
existed ; but nothing in the least resembling the stately 
march of Hooker's, of Milton's, or of Jeremy Taylor's. 
A good style would have been a much simpler, less 
complex matter than now it is ; the language would 
have been an instrument with not so many strings, an 
organ with fewer pipes and stops, of less compass, 
with a more limited diapason, wanting many of the 
grander resonances which it now possesses ; but 
easier to play on, requiring infinitely less skill ; not 
so likely to betray into gross absurdities, nor to make 
an open show of the incapacity of such as handled it 

On the whole, then, while that Norman Conquest, 
in the disturbing forces which it has exerted on the 
English language, has no doubt brought with it losses 
no less than gains, we may boldly affirm that the gains 
very fer transcend the losses. As so many things have 
wrought together to make England what she is, as 
we may trace in our 'rough island-story' so many 
wonderful ways in which good has been educed from 

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n. Mnglish benefited by the Conquest 89 

evil, and events the most unpromising have left their 
blessing behind them, not otherwise has it been here. 
That which brought down our English tongue from 
its pride of place, stript it of so much in which it 
gloried, condemned it, as might have seemed, if not to 
absolute extinction, yet to serve henceforward as the 
mere patois of an illiterate race of subject bondsmen 
and hinds, it was even that very event which in its 
ultimate consequences wrought out for it a complete- 
ness and a perfection which it would never else have 
obtained. So strange in their ultimate issues are the 
ways of Providence with men. 

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90 Gains of the Unglish Language, lbct. 




IT is with good right that we speak of some 
languages as living, of others as dead. All 
spoken languages may be ranged in the first class ; 
for as men will never consent to use a language with- 
out more or less modifying it in their use, will never 
so far forgo their own activity as to leave it exactly 
where they found it, there follows from this that so 
long as it is thus the utterance of human thought and 
feeling, it will inevitably show itself alive, and that by 
many infallible proofs, by growth and misgrowth, by 
acquisition and loss, by progress and decay. This 
title therefore of living, a spoken language abun- 
dantly deserves ; for it is one in which, spoken as it 
is by living men, vital energies are still in operation. 
It is one which is in course of actual evolution ; 
which, if the life that animates it be a healthy one, is 
appropriating and assimilating to itself what it any- 
where finds congenial to its own life, multiplying its 
resources, increasing its wealth ; while at the same 
time it is casting off useless and cumbersome forms, 
dismissing from its vocabulary words of which it finds 
no use, rejecting by a reactive energy the foreign and 
heterogeneous, which may for a while have forced 

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m. Vital Energy of Languages. 91 

themselves upon it In the process of all this it may 
easily make mistakes; in the desire to simplify, it 
may let go distinctions which were not useless, and 
^ which it would have been better to retain ; the 
acquisitions which it makes are very far from being all 
gains ; it sometimes rejects as worthless, and suflfers 
to die out, words which were most worthy to have 
lived. So far as it commits any of these feults its life 
is not hcaltTiy ; it is not growing richer but poorer ; 
there are here tokens, however remote, of disoi^ganiza- 
tion, decay, and ultimate death. But still it lives, and 
even these misgrowths and malformations, the re- 
jection of this good, the taking up into itself of that 
bad, even these errors are themselves the utterances 
and evidences of life. A dead language knows 
nothing of all this. It is dead, because books, and 
not now any generation of living men, are the 
guardians of it, and what they guard, they guard 
without change. Its course has been completely run, 
and it is now equally incapable of gaining and of 
losing. We may come to know it better; but in 
itself it is not, and never can be, other than it was 
before it ceased from the lips of men. In one sense it 
is dead, though in another it may be more true to 
say of it that it has put on immortality. 

Our own is, of course, a living language still. It 
is therefore gaining and losing. It is a tree in which 
the vital sap is circulating yet; and as this works, 
new leaves are continually being put forth by it, old 
are dying and dropping away. I propose to consider 
some of the evidences of this life at work in it stilL 

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92 Gains of the English Language, lbct. 

In my present lecture and in that which follows I 
shall take for my subject, the sources from which the 
English language has enriched its vocabulary, the 
periods at which it has made the chief additions to 
this, the character of the additions which at different 
periods it has made, and the motives which induced it 
to seek them. 

In my first lecture I dwelt with some emphasis on 
the fact, that the core, the radical constitution, of our 
language, is Anglo-Saxon; so that, composite or 
"^ningled as it is, it is such only in its vocabulary, not 
in its construction, inflections, or generally its gram- 
matical forms. These are all of one piece ; there is 
indeed no amalgamation possible in these ; and what- 
ever of new has come in has been compelled to con- 
form itself to the old. The framework is native; 
only a part of the filling in is exotic ; and of this 
filling in, of these comparatively more recent acces- 
sions, I now propose to speak. 

The first great augmentation by foreign words of 
our Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, and that which in im- 
portance has very far exceeded all the others put 
together, was a consequence, although not an im- 
mediate one, of the Battle of Hastings. You will 
have gathered from what I have said already that I 
am unable to share in the sentimental regrets over 
the results of that battle in which Thierry has led 
the way. With the freest acknowledgment of the 
miseries entailed for a while on the Saxon race by the 
Norman Conquest, I can regard that Conquest in no 
other light than as the making of England ; a judg- 

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in. RemUs of the Noi^man Conquest 93 

ment, it is true, but a judgment and a mercy in one. 
It was a rough and rude, and yet most necessary 
discipline, to which the race which for so many 
hundred years had occupied the English soil was 
thereby submitted ; a great tribulation, yet one not 
undeserved, and which could not have been spared ; 
so grievously relaxed were all the moral energies of 
Saxon England at the time of the Conquest, so fer 
had all the vigour of those institutions by which alone 
a nation lives, decayed and departed. God never 
showed more plainly that he had a great part for 
England to play in the world's story than when He 
brought hither that aspiring Norman race. Heavily 
as for a while they laid their hand on the subject 
people, they did at the same time contribute elements 
absolutely essential to the future greatness and glory 
of the land which they made their own. But it is 
only of their contributions in one particular direction 
that we have here to speak. 

Neither can it be said of these that they followed 
at once. The actual interpenetration of our Anglo- 
Saxon with any large amount of French words did not 
find place till a very much later day. Some French 
words we find very soon after; but in the main 
the two .streams of language continued for a long 
while separate and apart, even as the two nations 
remained aloof from one another, a conquering and 
a conquered, and neither forgetting the fact It was 
not till the middle of the fourteenth century that 
French words began to find their way in any very 
large number into English. Then within a period of 

Digitized by 


94 Qaina of the English Language, lect, 

same fifty years very many more eflfected a permanent 
settlement among us than had so done during the 
three hundred preceding. In the bringing in of these 
too much has been ascribed to the influence and 
authori^of a single man. Some have praised, others 
have blamed^''' Chaucer overmuch for his ^are in this 
work. Standiog in the forefront of his time, he no 
doubt fell in with and set forward tendencies in the 
language, yet these such, it is plain, as were in active 
operation already. To assume that the greater num- 
ber of French vocables which he employed had 
never been employed before, were strange to Engli^ 
ears, is to assume, as Tyrwhitt urges well, that his 
poetry presented to his contemporaries a motley 
patchwork of language, and is quite irreconcilable 
with the fact that he took his place at once as the 
popular poet of the nation, f 
It would be hardlv too much to affirm that there 

* Thus Alexander Gil, head-master of St Paul's School, in 
his book, Lcgonomia Anglica^ 1621, Preface : Hue usque pere- 
grinse voces in lingu4 Anglic4 inauditse. Tandem circa annum 
1400 Galfridas Chaucems, infausto omine, vocabulus GaUicis 
et Latinis poSsin suam .famosam reddidit. The whole passage, 
which is too long to quote, as indeed the whole book, is 

t In his Testament of Love he expresses his contempt of 
Englishmen who would not be content to clothe their thoughts 
in an English garb : * Let these clerkes eudyten in Latyn, for 
they have the propertye in science and the knowinge in that 
facultye, and lette Frenchmen in their Frenche also endyte 
their queynt termes, for it is kyndly to theyr mouthes ; and let 
us shewe our ftntasyes as we leameden of our dames tonge.' 

Digitized by 


in. Chaucer^s Influence and Example, 95 

is quite as large a proportion of Latin words in Piers 
Ploughman as in Chaucer,— certainly a veiy remarkable 
fact, when we call to mind that Piers Ploughman dates 
some twenty or thirty years earlier than Chaucer's 
more important poems, that in form it cleaves to the 
old alliterative scheme of versification, and in sub- 
Stance evidently addresses itself not to the courtier or 
the churchman, but claims to find, as we know it 
actually found, an audience from the commonalty of 
the realm. Its religious, ecclesiastical, and ethical 
terminology is abundant, and with rare exceptions is 
Latin throughout— *which, when we keep in mind the 
opulence in such terras of the earlier Anglo-Saxon^ 
signally attests the havoc which had bden wrought 
during the centuries of depression in all the finer 
elements of the language. We meet there with * ab- 
stinence,' 'ampulle,' *assoil,' 'avarice,' 'benigne,' 
' bount^e, ' * cardinal vertues, ' * conscience, * * charit6e, ' 
*cbastit6e,' 'confession,' 'consistory,' ' contemplatif/ 
' contrition, ' ' indulgence, ' ' leaut^e, ' ' mitigation, ' 
'monial,' 'recreant,' 'relic,' 'reverence,' 'sanctit^e,' 
'spiritual,' 'temporalt^e,' ' unit6e.' Already we find 
in Piers Pht/tghman French words which the English 
language has finally proved unable to take up into 
itself, as 'bienfait,' 'brocage,' 'chibolles,' 'creaunt,' 
'devoir,' 'entremetten,' 'fille,' ' losengerie ;' 'mestier,' 
' pain ' (=4)read), ' prest' (=pret). The real differ- 
ence between Langlande and Chaucer is that the 
former seems to us, as we read, only to have partially 
fused into one harmonious whole the two elements 
whereof the language which he writes is composed ; 

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96 Gains of the English Language leot, 

while the mightier artist, — though he too was a great 
one, — has brought them into so perfect a chemical 
combination, that we never pause to consider from 
what quarter the ore which he has wrought into such 
current money was extracted, whether from the old 
mines of the land, or imported from other new ones, 
opened beyond the sea. But the Romance of William 
of Palerne supplies evidence more remarkable still 
Madden puts J350, nearly half a century earlier than 
the Canterbury Tales, as about the date of this poem. 
Here are some of the words which it yields, 'aunter,' 
'bachelor,' 'defaute,' 'deraine/ 'digne,' 'duresse,' 
'cmperice,' 'eritage,', 'facioun,' 'feyntise,' 'hautcin,' 
'merciabul,' 'mesurabul,' 'paramour,' 'queyntise,' 
'scowmfit,' 'travail,' with very many more of like 

Other considerations will tend to the abating of the 
exclusive merit or demerit of Chaucer in this matter. 
There were other forces beside literature which at this 
time were helping to saturate English with as much 
of French as it could healthily absorb. ' It is,' Marsh 
says, ' a great but very widely spread error, to suppose 
that the influx of French words in the fourteenth 
century was die alone to poetry and other branches 
of pure literature. The law, which now first became 
organized into a science, introduced very many terms 
borrowed from the nomenclature of Latin and French 
jurisprudence; the glass-worker, the enameller, the 
architect, the brass-founder, the Flemish clothier, and 
the other handicraftsmen, whom Norman taste and 
luxury invited, or domestic oppression expelled from 

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in. Quotation from Marsh. 97 

the Continent, brought with them the vocabularies of 
their respective arts ; and Mediterranean commerce — 
which was stimulated by the demand for English 
wool, then the finest in Europe — imported from the 
harbours of a sea where French was the predominant 
language, both new articles of merchandise and the 
French designation of them. The sciences too, medi- 
cine, physics, geography, alchemy, astrology, all of 
which became known to England chiefly through 
French channels, added numerous specific terms to the 
existing vocabulary, and very many of the words, first 
employed in English writings as a part of the technical 
phraseology of these various arts and knowledges, 
soon passed into the domain of common life, in 
modified or untechnical senses, and thus became in- 
corporated into the general tongue of society and of 

It is true that there happened here what will happen 
in every attempt to transplant on a large scale the 
words of one language into another. The new soil 
will not prove equally favourable for all. Some will 
take root and thrive; but others, after a longer or 
shorter interval, will pine and wither and die. Not all 
the words which Langlande or Chaucer employed, and 
for which they stood sponsors, found final allowance 
with us,* At the same time, such an issue as this 

* Plautus in the same way uses a multitude of Greek words, 
which Latin did not want, and therefore refiised to absorb : 
plus, *clepta,' *zamia,' *danista,' *harpagare,' *apolactizare,* 
•nauclerus,* *strategus,' *drapeta,' * moras,' *morologus,* 
fphylaca,* «malacus,' *sycophantia,* *euscheme* (evd^y/iof)^ 

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98 Gains of the JEnglish Language, lect. 

was no condemnation of their attempt. Nothing but 
actual proof could show whether the language needed, 
and would therefore absorb these ; or, not needing, in 
due time reject them. How little in excess Chaucer 
in this matter was, how admirable his choice of words, 
is singularly attested by the fact — I state it on Marsh's 
authority — that there are not more than a hundred 
French words used by him, such for example as 
'misericorde,' 'malure' (malheur), 'penible,' 'ayel,' 
(aieul), 'tas,' 'fine' (fin), 'meubles,' *hautain,' 
'gipon,' 'racine,' which have failed to win a perma* 
nent place among us. I cannot say how many Piers 
Ploughman would yield, but we saw just now that it 
would yield several ; and Gower in like manner — 
such, for example, as 'feblesse,' 'tristesse,' ^mestier,' 
'pelerinage.' Wiclif would furnish a few, as for 
instance 'creansur,' 'roue,' 'umbre;' though very 
far fewer than either of those other ; for indeed the 
non-English element in him, which the language has 
finally refused to take up, does not so much consist 
of words from the French, as of words drawn by him 
directly from his Latin Vulgate, such as had never 
undergone a shaping process in their passage through 
any intermediate language. Of these the necessities, 
or if not the necessities, yet the difiiculties, of the case 

* dulice ' {dovXiXfSi^y [so * scymnus ' by Lucretius], none of 
which, I believe, are employed except by him ; while others, 
as 'mastigia' and *techna,' he shares with Terence. Yet 
only experience could show that they were superfluous ; and it 
was well done to put them on trial. 

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ni» French Words now extinct. 99 

drove him to employ not a few, as *simulacre/ 
'bilibre,' 'cyconye,' 'argentarie/ 'signacle/ 'eruke' 
(enica), 'amfore' (amphora) 'architriclyn/ and 

It is curious to observe to how late a day some of 
those adoptions from the French kept their ground ; 
which, for all this, they have proved unable to keep 
to the end. Thus ' mel ' (Sylvester) struggled hard 
and long for a place. side by side with honey ; 'roy ' 
with king ; this last quite obtaining one in Scotch. 
It has fared not otherwise with ' egal ' (Puttenham) ; 
with 'ouvert,' 'mot,' *baine,' 'mur,' 'ecurie,' 'sacre,' 
'baston,' 'gite,' 'to cass' (all in Holland); with 
'rivage,' 'jouissance,' 'noblesse,' 'tort,' 'accoil' (ac- 
cueillir), 'sell (=saddle), 'conge,' 'surquedry,' 
'foy,' 'duresse,' 'spalles' (^paules), 'gree' (gr^), 
all occurring in Spenser ; with ' outrecuidance ;' with 
'to serr' (serrer), ' vive,' ' brocage,' 'reglement,' used 
all by Bacon; with 'esperance,' 'orgillous' (or- 
gueilleux), 'rondeur,' 'scrimer,' 'amort,' * maugre,' 
'sans' (all in Shakespeare). 'Devoir,' 'dimes,' 
' puissance,' * bruit' (this last used often in our Bible) 
were English once ; they are not so any longer. The 
same holds true of 'dulce,' ' aigredoulce ' (=sour- 
sweat), of 'volupty' (Sir Thomas Elyot), 'volunty' 
(Evelyn), 'medisance' (Montagu)' 'pucelle' (Ben 
Jonson), 'petit' (South), 'aveugle,' 'colline' (both 
in S/aU Papers), of 'defailance' 'plaisance,' 'pay- 
sage,' 'pareil' (all in Jeremy Taylor) ; of 'eloign' 
(Hacket), and of others, more than I can here enu- 

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100 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

But to return. With Chaucer English literature 
had made a burst, which it was not able to maintain. 
Dreary days were before it still. Our morning star, 
he yet ushered in no dawn which was at the point of 
breaking. Chaucer has by Warton been well compared 
to some warm bright day in the very early spring, 
which seems to announce that the winter is over and 
gone ; but its promise is deceitful ; the full bursting 
and blossoming of the spring-time is yet far off. The 
long struggle with France, the hundred years' War, 
which began so gloriously, but which ended so disas- 
trously, even with the loss of our whole ill-won do- 
minion there, the savagery of our wars of the Roses, 
wars which were a legacy bequeathed to us by that 
unrighteous conquest, leave a huge gap in our literary 
history, nearly a century during which very little was 
done for the cultivation of our native tongue, few im- 
portant additions to its wealth were made. 

The period, however, is notable as that during which 
for the first time we received a large accession of 
words directly drawn from the Latin. A small settle- 
ment of these, for the most part ecclesiastical, had 
long since found their home in the bosom of the 
Anglo-Saxon itself, and had been entirely incorporated 
with it The fact that we had received our Christianity 
from Rome, and that Latin was the constant language 
of the Church, sufficiently accounts for these. Such 
were *monk,' 'bishop,' (it was not as Greek but as 
Latin that these words reached us), 'priest,' 'provost,' 
'minster,' 'cloister,' 'candle,' 'devil,' 'psalter,' 
' mass,' and the names of certain foreign animals, as 

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in. Importations from the Latin. 101 

'camel,' *lion,' or plants or other productions, as 
Mily,' 'pepper,', 'fig;' which are all, with slightly 
different spelling, words whose naturalization in Eng- 
land reaches back to a period anterior to the Con- 
quest* These, however, were exceptional, and stood 
to the main body of the language, not as the Ro- 
mance element of it does now to the Gothic, one 
power over against another, but as the Spanish or 
Italian or Arabic words in it stand to the remainder 
of the language, and could not be afiirmed to affect 
it more. 

So soon, however, as French words were brought 
largely into it, and were found to coalesce kindly with 
the native growths, this very speedily suggested the 
going straight to the Latin, and drawing directly from 
it; and thus in the hundred years after Chaucer no 
small amount of Latin had penetrated, if not into our 
speech, yet into our books — ^words not introduced 
through the French, for they are not, and some of 
them have at no time been, French ; but yet such as 
would never have established themselves here, if the 
French, already domesticated among us, had not pre- 
pared their way, bridged over the gulf that would have 
otherwise been too wide between them and the Saxon 
vocables of our tongue ; and suggested the models on 
which these later adoptions should be framed. 

They were not for the most part words which it was 
any gain to acquire. The period was one of great 

* Guest, Hist, of English Rhythms, vol. ii. p. 109 ; Koch, 
iTut, Gramm, der Engl, Sprache, vol. i. p. 5. 

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102 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

depression of the national spirit ; and nothing sym- 
pathizes more intimately with this, rising when it 
rises^ and sinking when it sinks, than does language. 
Not first at the revival of learning, but already at this 
time began the attempt to flood the language with 
pedantic words from the Latin ; take as specimens of 
these *iacundious/ 'tenebrous/ 'solacious,' 'pulcri- 
tude/ 'consuetude' (all these occur in Hawes), with 
a multitude more of the same fashion which the lan- 
guage has long since disallowed ; while others which 
have maintained their ground, and have deserved to 
maintain it, were yet employed in numbers quite out 
of proportion to the Saxon vocables with which they 
were mingled, and which they altogether overtopped 
and overshadowed. Chaucer's hearty English feeling, 
his thorough sympathy with the people, the fact that, 
scholar as he was, he was yet the poet not of books 
but of life, and drew his best inspuration from life, all 
this had kept him, in the main, clear of this fault But 
it]was otherwise with those who followed. The diction 
of Lydgate, Hawes, and the other versifiers, — for to 
the title of poets they have little or no claim, — who 
filled up the interval between Chaucer and Surrey, is 
immensely inferior to his ; being all stuck over with 
long and often ill-selected Latin words. The worst 
offenders in this line, as Campbell himself admits, 
were the Scotch poets of the fifteenth century. ' The 
prevailing feult,' he says, 'of English diction, in the 
fifteenth century, is redundant ornament, and a^ 
affectation of anglicising Latin words. In this 
pedantry and use of "aureate terms" the Scottish 

Digitized by 


ni. Influence of the Reformation. 103 

versifiers went even beyond their brethren of the 

south When they meant to be eloquent, 

they tore up words from the Latin, which never took 
root in the language, like children making a mock 
garden with flowers and branches stuck in the ground, 
which speedily wither.' * It needs but to turn over a 
few pages of the Scotch poetry of the fifteenth and 
sixteenth century to find proof abundant of what 
Campbell has here observed. 

This tendency to latinize our speech received a new 
impulse from the revival of learning, and the familiar 
re-acquaintance with the master-pieces of ancient 
literature which went along with this revival. Happily 
another movement accompanied, or followed hard on 
this ; a movement in England essentially national ; 
and one which stirred our people at far deeper depths 
of their moral and spiritual life than any mere revival 
of learning could have ever done ; I refer, of.course, 
to the Reformation. It was only among the Germa- 
nic nations of Europe, as has often been remarked, 
that the Reformation struck lasting roots ; it found its 
strength therefore in the Teutonic element of the na- 
tional character, which also it in turn further strength- 
ened, purified, and called out. And thus, though 
Latin came in upon us now faster than ever, and in a 
certain measure also Greek, yet this found redress and 
counterpoise in the contemporaneous unfolding of the 
more fundamentally popular side of the language. 
Popular preaching and discussion, the necessity of 

♦ Essay on English Poetry, p. 93. 

Digitized by 


104 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

dealing with truths the most transcendant in a way to 
be understood not by scholars only, but by * idiots ' as 
well, all this served to evoke the native resources of 
our tongue ; and thus the relative proportion between 
the one part of the language and the other was not 
dangerously disturbed, the balance was not de- 
stroyed ; as it might easily have been, if only the 
Humanists had been at work, and not the Reformers 
as well. 

The revival of learning, which made itself first felt 
in Italy, extended to England, and was operative here, . 
during the reigns of Henry the Eighth and his imme- 
diate successors. Having thus slightly anticipated in 
time, it afterwards ran exactly parallel with, the period 
during which our .Reformation was working itself out 
The epoch was in all respects one of immense mental 
and moral acti\'ity, and such epochs never leave a 
language where they found it. Much in it is changed ; 
much probably added ; for the old garment of speech, 
which once served all needs, has grown too narrow, 
and serves them now no more. The old crust is 
broken up, and what was obscurely working before 
forces itself into sight and recognition. ' Change in 
language is not, as in many natural products, conti- 
nuous ; it is not equable, but eminently by fits and 
starts ;' and when the foundations of the mind of a 
nation are heaving under the operation of truths 
which it is now for the first time making its own, more 
important changes will follow in fifty years than in 
two centuries of calmer or more stagnant existence. 
Thus the activities and energies which the Reforma- 

Digitized by 


in. Times of Rapid Change. 105 

tion awakened among us, as they made themselves 
felt far beyond the domain of our directly religious 
life, so they did not fail to make themselves effect- 
ually felt in this region of language among the rest* 
'^/the Reformation had a scholarly, we might say, a 
scholastic, as well as a popular, aspect. Add this fact 
to that of the revived interest in classical learning, 
and you will not wonder that a stream of Latin, now 
larger than ever, began to flow into our language. 
Thus Puttenham, writing in Queen Elizabeth's reign, f 

* Some lines of Waller reveal to us the sense which in his 
time scholars had of the rapidity with which the langus^e was 
changing under their hands. Looking back at changes which 
the last hundred years had wrought in it, he checked with mis- 
givings'such as these his own hope of immortality : 

*Who can hope his lines should long 
Last in a daily changing tongue? 
While they are new, envy prevails, 
And as that dies, our language fails. 

* Poets that lasting marble seek. 
Must carve in Latin or in Greek: 
IVe write in sand ; our language grows, 
And like the tide our work overflows.' 

How his misgivings, which assume that the rate of change 
would continue what it had been, have been fulfilled, every 
one knows. The two centuries which have elapsed since he 
wrote, have hardly antiquated a word or a phrase in his poems. 
If we care very little for them now, this is owing to quite 
other causes— to their want of moral earnestness more than to 
luiy othen 

t In his Art of English Poesy, London, 15S9, republished 

Digitized by 


106 Gains of the JEnglish Language, lect. 

gives a long list of words, some Greek, a few French 
and Italian, but far the most Latin, which, as he 
affirms, were of quite recent introduction into the 
language ; and though he may be here and there 
mistaken about some single word, it cannot be 
doubted that in the main what he asserts is correct. 
And yet some of these it is difficult to understand 
how the language could so long have done without ; 
as 'compendious,' 'delineation,' 'dimension,' 'figur- 
ative,' 'function,' 'idiom,' 'impression,' 'indignity,' 
'inveigle,' 'method,' 'methodical,' 'metrical,' 'nume- 
rous,' 'penetrable,' 'penetrate,' 'prolix,' 'savage,' 
'scientific,' 'significative.' All these he adduces 
with praise. Others, not less commended by him, have 
failed to hold their ground, as 'placation,' ' numero- 
sity,' ' harmonical. ' In his disallowance of 'facun- 
dity,' ' implete/ 'attemptat ' (attentat), he only antici- 
pated the decision of a later day. Other words which 
he condemned no less, as 'audacious,' 'compatible,' 
'egregious,' have maintained their ground. These 
have done the same : ' despicable, ' ' destruction, ' ' ho- 
micide,' 'obsequious,' 'ponderous,' 'portentous,' 
' prodigious ;' all of them by another writer a little 
earlier condemned as ' inkhorn terms, smelling too 
much of the Latin. ' 

It is curious to note the ' words of art,' as he calls 
them, which Philemon Holland, a voluminous transla- 
tor at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the 
seventeenth centufy, counts it needful to explain in 

in Haslewood's Ancient Critical Essa)u upon English Poets 
and Poesy ^ London, i8ii, vol. i. pp. 122, 123. 

Digitized by 


m. Times of rapid Change. 107 

a glossary appended to his translation of Pliny's 
Natural History,^ One can hardly understand how 
any who cared to consult the book at all would be 
perplexed by words like these : * acrimony/ 'austere/ 
'bulb/ 'consolidate/ 'debility/ 'dose/ 'ingredient/ 
'opiate/ 'propitious/ 'symptom/ all of which as 
novelties he carefully explains. Certainly he has 
words in his glossary harder and more technical than 
these ; but a vast majority present no greater diffi- 
culty than those just adduced.f The Rhemish Bible, 

* London, 1601. Besides this work Philemon Holland 
translated the whole of Plutarch's Moralia^ the Cyropadia of 
Xenophon, Livy, Suetonius, Ammianus Marcellinus, and Cam- 
den's Britannia, His works make a part of the * library of 
dulness * in Pope's Dunciad : 

* De Lyra there a dreadful front extends, 
And here the groaning shelves Philemon bends ' — 

very unjustly ; and Southey shows a far juster estimate of his 
merits, when he finds room for two of these, Plutarch's MorcUia 
and Pliny's Natural History ^ in the select library of The 
Doctor, The works which Holland has translated are all more 
or less important, and his versions of them a mine of genuine 
idiomatic English, neglected by most of our lexicographers, 
wrought with eminent advantage by Kichardson ; yet capable 
of yielding much more than they have yielded yet. 

t So too in French it is surprising to find how new are many 
words which now constitute an integral part of the language. 
* D6sint^ressement,' * exactitude,' * sagacity,' * bravoure,' 
were not introduced till late in the seventeenth century. 
'Renaissance/ * emportement,' *S9avoir-faire,' *ind^l€bile,' 
<d€sagr6ment/ were all recent in 1675 (Bouhours) ; 'inddvot,* 
'intolerance/ 'impardonnable,' *irr61igieux,' were struggling 

Digitized by 


108 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

published in 1582, has a table consisting of fifty-five 
terms *not familiar to th.e vulgar reader; among 
which are 'acquisition,' 'advent/ * allegory, ' 'co- 
operate,' 'evangelize,' 'eunuch,' 'holocaust,' 'neo- 
phyte,' 'resuscitate,' 'victim.' More than one of 
these was denounced by the assailants of this Version, 
as for instance by our own Translators, who say in 

into allowance at the end of the seventeenth century, and not 
established till the beginning of the eighteenth. < Insidieux ' 
was invented by Malherbc ; * frivolity * is wanting in the earlier 
editions of the Dictionary of the Academy ; the Abb^ de 
St. -Pierre was the first to employ *bienfaisance,* the elder 
Balzac *fdliciter,* Sarrasin 'burlesque,' Rousseau 'investiga- 
tion * (see Guesses at Truth, 1866, p. 220), the Abb€ de Pons 

* ^rudit.' Mme. de S€vign€ exclaims against her daughter for 
employing * eflfervescence ' (Comment dites-vous cela, ma fille ? 
Voili un mot dont je n'avais jamais oul parler). * Demagogue ' 
was first hazarded by Bossuet, and coimted so bold a novelty 
that for long none ventured to follow him in its use. Mon- 
taigne introduced 'diversion' and 'enfantillage,' the last not 
without rebuke from contemporaries. It is a singularly 
characteristic fact, if he invented, as he is said to have done, 

* enjou6.' Desfontaines first employed * suicide ;* Caron gave 
to the language *avant-propos,' Ronsard 'avidity,* Joachim 
Dubellay 'patrie,* Denis Sauvage 'jurisconsulte,* Manage 
•gracieux' (at least so Voltaire aflirms) and *pros.ateur,' 
Desportes 'pudeur,' Chapelain 'urbanity,' and Etienne first 
brought in, apologizing at the same time for the boldness of it, 
'analogie,* (si les oreilles fran9oises peuvent porter ce mot). 
*Accaparer' first appeared in the Dictionary of the Academy 
in 1787 ; *pr€liber' (pralibare) is a word of our own day ; 
and Charles Nodier, if he did not coin, yet revived the obso- 
lete * simplesse.'— See G6nin, Variations du Langage Frangais, 
PP- 30^319- 

Digitized by 


in. Quotation from Dry den. 109 

their Pre/ace, *We have shunned the obscurity of 
the Papists in the azims, tunicke, rational, holo- 
causts, prepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, 
whereof their late translation is full.' It is curious 
that three out of the six which they thus denounce 
should have kept their place in the language. 

The period during which this naturalization of Latin 
words in the English language was going actively 
forward, extended to the Restoration of Charles the 
Second, and beyond it. It first received a check 
from the coming up of French tastes, fashions, and 
habits of thought consequent on that event The 
writers whose style was already formed, such as 
Cudworth and Barrow, continued still to write their 
stately sentences, Latin in structure, and Latin in 
diction, but not so those of a younger generation. 
We may say of this influx of Latin that it left the 
language vastly more copious, with greatly enlarged 
capabilities, but somewhat burdened with its new 
acquisitions, and not always able to move gracefully 
under their weight ; for, as Dryden has happily said, 
it is easy enough to acquire foreign words, but to 
know what to do with them after you have acquired, 
is the difficulty. 

Few, let me here observe by the way, have borne 
themselves in this hazardous enterprise at once as 
discreetly and as boldly as Dryden himself has done ; 
who has thus admirably laid down the motives which 
induced him to look abroad for words with which to en- 
rich his vocabulary, and the principles which guided 
him in the selection of such , * If sounding words 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

110 Ijfaina of the English Language, lect. 

are not of our growth and manufacture, who shall 
hinder me to import them from a foreign country ? 1 
carry not out the treasure of the nation which is never 
to return, but what I bring from Italy I spend in 
England. Here it remains and here it circulates, for, 
if the coin be good, it will pass from one hand to 
another. I trade both with the living and the dead, 
for the enrichment of our native language. We have 
enough in England to supply our necessity, but if we 
will have things of magnificence and splendour, we 
must get them by commerce. Poetry requires adorn- 
ment, and that is not to be had from our old 
Teuton monosyllables ; therefore if I find any elegant 
word in a classic author, I propose it to be naturalized 
by using it myself ; and if the public approves of it, 
the bill passes. But every man cannot distinguish 
betwixt pedantry and poetry : every man therefore is 
not fit to innovate. Upon the whole matter a poet 
must first be certain that the word he would introduce 
is beautiful in the Latin j and is to consider in the next 
place whether it will agree with the English idiom : 
after this, he ought to take the opinion of judicious 
friends, such as are learned in both languages ; and 
lastly, since no man is infallible, let him use this 
licence very sparingly ; for if too many foreign words 
are poured in upon us, it looks as if they were 
designed not to assist the natives, but to conquer 

♦ Dedication of the translation of the JEneid. I cannot say 
that I have observed very many of these words there. * Ine- 

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ni. Pedantic Words. Ill 

It would indeed have fared ill with the language, if 
all the words which the great writers of this second 
Latin period proposed as candidates for admission 
into it, had received the stamp of popular allowance. 
But happily this was not the case. The re-active 
energy of the language, enabling it to throw off that 
which was foreign to it, did not fail to display itself 
now, as it had done on former occasions ; nor is it 
too much to affirm that in almost every instance 
during this period, where the Alien Act was enforced, 
the sentence of banishment was a just one. Either 
the word violated the analogy of the language, or was 
not intelligible, or was not needed, or looked ill, or 
sounded ill ; or some other valid reason existed for 
its exclusion. A lover of his native tongue might 
well tremble to think what his tongue would have 
become, if all the innumerable vocables introduced 
or endorsed by illustrious names, had been admitted 
to a free course among us on the strength of their 
recommendation; if 'torve' and 'tetric' (Fuller), 
'cecity' (Hooker), 'fastide' and 'trutinate' {Stale 
Papers), 'immanity' (Shakespeare), 'insulse' and 
'insulsity' (Milton, prose), *scelestick' (Feltham), 
' splendidous ' (Drayton), * pervicacy ' (Baxter), * stra- 
mineous,' *ardelion' (Burton), Mepid,' *sufflami- 
nate' (Barrow), *facinorous' (Donne), *immoriger- 
ous,' *funest' 'clancular,' 'ferity,' 'ustulation,' *stul- 
tiloquy,' 'lipothymy' (XetTtoQv^ia) ' hyperaspist ' 

meable * (^n. vi. 575) is the only one which I could adduce 
at the instant. 

Digitized by 


112 Gains of the Baglish Language, lect. 

'deturpate,' Mntenerate,' *efl5giate' (all in Jeremy 
Taylor), if 'mulierosity,' 'subsannation/ *coaxation/ 
Mudibundness/ *delinition/ * sanguinolenqr/ * sep- 
temfluous/ * medioxumous/ *mirificent/ 'palmifer- 
ous' (all in Henry More), * pauciloquy,' 'multiloquy ' 
(Beaumont, Psyche); if *dyscolous' (Foxe), 'ata- 
raxy' (Allestree), * moliminously ' (Cudworth), 'lu- 
ciferously,'. * meticulous,' * lapidifical,' * exenteration,' 
' farraginous ' (Sir Thomas Browne), ' immarcescible ' 
(Bishop Hall), 'exility,' 'spinosity,' *incolumity,' 
'solertiousness,' 'lucripetous,' *inopious,' *eximious,' 
'eluctate' (all in Hacket), 'arride' (ridiculed by 
Ben Jonson), with hundreds of other births, as mon- 
strous or more monstrous than are some of these, had 
not been rejected and disallowed by the sound lin- 
guistic instincts of the national mind. 

Many words too were actually adopted, but not 
precisely as they had been first introduced among us. 
They were compelled to drop their foreign termina- 
tion, or whatever else indicated them as strangers, to 
conform themselves to English ways, and only thus 
were finally incorporated into the great family of Eng- 
lish.* Thus of Greek words take the following : 
* pyramis ' and * pyramides,' forms often employed by 
Shakespeare ( * pyramises ' in Jeremy Taylor), became 
' pyramid ' and ' pyramids ;' ' dosis ' (l^con) ' dose ;' 

♦ J. Grimm ( Woerterbuch, p. xxvi.) : Ffillt von ungefahr ein 
firemdes Wort in den Brunnen einer Sprache, so wird es so 
lange darin umgetrieben, bis es ihre Farbe annimmt, und seiner 
fiemden Art zum trotze wie ein Heimisches aussieht. 

Digitized by 


m. Naturalization of Words. 113 

* aspis ' (Latimer) ' asp ;' ' distichoii ' * distich ' (Hol- 
land), * aristocratia ' and * democratia ' (the same) 
' aristocracy ' and ' democracy ;' ' hemistichon '(North) 
'hemistich;' *apogaeon' (Fairfax) or 'apogeum' 
(Browne) 'apogee;' 'sumphonia' (Lodge) 'sym- 
phony;' 'myrrha' (Golding) 'myrrh;' 'prototypon' 
( Jackson ) ' prototype ;' ' synonymon ' ( Jeremy 
Taylor) or ' synonymum ' (Hacket), and 'synonyma' 
(Milton, prose), became severally 'synonym' and 
' synonyms ;' ' parallelon ' (North) ' parallel ;' * syn- 
taxis' (Fuller) became 'syntax ;'. 'extasis' (Burton) 
'ecstasy;' 'parallelogrammon ' (Holland) 'parallel- 
ogram;' 'programma' (Warton) 'program;' 'epi- 
theton ' (Cowell) ' epithet ;' ' epocha ' (South) 
'epoch;' ' disenteria ' and 'epilepsis' (both in Syl- 
vester) 'dysentery' and 'epilepsy;' 'biographia' 
(Dr)'den) 'biography;' 'apostata' (Massinger) 
' apostate ;' ' despota ' (Fox) ' despot ;' ' misanthro- 
pos' (Shakespeare, &c., 'misamhropi,' Bacon) 'mis- 
anthrope ;' 'psalterion' (North) 'psaltery;' 'chasma' 
(Henry More) 'chasm;' 'idioma' and 'prosodia' 
(both in Daniel, prose) ' idiom ' and ' prosody ;' 
'energia' (Sidney) 'energy,' 'Sibylla' (Bacon) 
'Sibyl; 'zoophyton' (Henry More) 'zoophyte;' 
* enthousiasmos ' (Sylvester) 'enthusiasm;' 'phan- 
tasma ' (Shakespeare) ' phantasm ;' ' paraphrasis ' 
(Ascham) ' paraphrase ;' ' magnes ' (Gabriel Harvey) 
' magnet ;' ' cynosura ' ( Donne) ' cynosure ;' ' galax- 
ias'(Fox) 'galaxy; 'heros' (Henry More) 'hero. 
The same process has gone on in a multitude of 
Latin words which testify by their terminations that 

Digitized by 


114 Gains of the English Language, leot. 

they were, and were felt to be, Latin at their first em- 
ployment ; though now they are such no longer. It 
will be seen that in this list I include Greek words 
which came to us through the medium of the Latin, 
and with a Latin termination. Thus Bacon has * in- 
secta' for 'insects;' aequinoctia' for 'equinoxes;' 
' chylus ' for * chyle ;' Coverdale ' tetrarcha ' for 
' tetrarch ;' Latimer * basiliscus ' for * basilisk ;' Frith 
' syllogi^mus ' for syllogism ;' Bishop Andrews * nar- 
dus ' for * nard ;' Milton * asphaltus ' for * asphalt ;' 
Clarendon * classis ' for * class ;' Spenser ' zephyrus ' 
for * zephyr.' So too 'dactylus' (Ascham) preceded 
*dactyle;' * interstitium ' (Fuller) 'interstice;' *phil- 
trum ' (Culverwell) * philtre;' *expansum' (Jeremy 
Taylor) 'expanse;' 'vestigium' (Culverwell) 'ves- 
tige;' 'preludium' (Beaumont, Psyche) 'prelude;' 

* precipitium ' (Coryat) ' precipice ;' ' aconitum ' and 
' balsamum ' (both in Shakespeare) ' aconite ' and 

* balsam ;' ' idyllium ' (Dryden) ' idyl ;' ' heliotro- 
pium ' (Holland) ' heliotrope ; ' * helleborum ' 
(North) 'hellebore;' 'vehiculum' (Howe) 'vehicle;' 
'trochaeus' and 'spondaeus' (Holland) 'trochee' 
and 'spondee;' 'transitus' (Howe) ' transit ;' and 
'machina' (Henry More) 'machine.' We meet 
'intervalla,' not 'intervals,' in Chillingworth ; *pos- 
tulata,' not 'postulates,' in Swift; 'archiva,' not 
'archives,' in Baxter; 'adulti,' not 'adults/ in 
Rogers ; 'plebeii,' not 'plebeians,' in Shakespeare ; 
'helotae,' not 'helots,' in Holland; 'triumviri,' not 
' triumvirs,' in North ; ' demagogi,' not * dema- 
gogues,' in Hacket ; * elegi,' not 'elegies,' in Holland ; 

Digitized by 


in. Naturalization of Words. • 115 

* pantomimus ' in Lord Bacon and Ben Jonson for 
'pantomime;* 'mystagogus' for * m)rstagogue/ in 
Jackson and Heniy More ; ' atomi ' in Lord Brooke 
for 'atoms.' In like manner, 'aedilis' (North) went 
before 'edile;' 'effigies' and 'statua' (both in Shake- 
speare) before 'effigy 'and 'statue;' 'abyssus' (Jack- 
son) before 'abyss;' ' postscripta ' {State Papers) 
before * postscript ;' ' commentarius ' (Chapman) 
before 'commentary;' 'vestibulum' (Howe) before 
'vestibule;' 'symbolum' (Hammond) before 'sym- 
bol;' 'spectrum' (Burton) before 'spectre;' while 
only after a while ' quaere ' gave place to ' query ;' 
'audite' (Hacket) to /audit;' 'plaudite' (Henry 
More) to ' plaudit ;' ' remanent ' {Paston Letters) to 

* remnant ;' and the low Latin ' mummia ' (Webster) 
became ' mummy.' The change of ' innocency,' ' in- 
dolency/ 'temperancy/ and the large family of words 
with the same termination, into 'innocence,' 'indo- 
lence,' * temperance,' and the like, is part of the 
same process of completed naturalization. So too it 
is curious to note how slowly the names of persons 
drop their Greek or Latin, and assume an English, 
form. Aristotle indeed had so lived through the 
Middle Ages that we nowhere find his name in any 
but this popular shape ; but Ascham speaks of ' He- 
siodus,' Bacon of ' Sallustius,' 'Appianus,' 'Livius,' 
Milton of 'Pindarus,' and this in prose no less than 
verse. It is the same with places. North writes 

* Creta ' and ' Syracusae,' Ascham ' Sicilia ;' while our 
English Bible has 'Palestina,' 'Grecia,' 'Tyrus.' 

Digitized by 


116 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

Spenser speaks of the 'Ilias and *Odysseis/ and 
Dryden, not indeed always of the 'iEneis. ' 

The plural very often tells the secret of the foreign 
light in which a word is still regarded, when the sin- 
gular, being less capable of modification, would have 
failed to do this. Thus when Holland writes ' pha- 
langes,' *bisontes,' *archontes,' 'sphinges,' *ideae,'it 
is clear that 'phalanx,' 'bison/ *archon,' 'sphinx,' 
' idea,' had in no sense become English, but continued 
Greek words for him ; as was 'rhinoceros' for Purchas, 
when he wrote ' rhinocerotes ' for the plural; and 
* dogma ' for Hammond, when he made ' dogmata ' 
the plural.* In the same way Spenser using * heroes ' 
as a trisyllable, f plainly implies that it is not yet 
thoroughly English for him ; indeed, as we have just 
seen, the singular was ' heros ' half a century later. 
'Cento ' is no English word, but a^Latin one used in 
English, so long as the plural is not 'centos,' but 
'centones,' as in the old anonymous translation of 
Augustin's City of God; ' specimen ' in like manner 
is Latin, so long as it owns the plural * specimina ' 
(Howe) ; so too 'asylum,' so long as its plural is 
'asyla,' as in Clarendon it is. Pope employing 
' satellites ' as a quadrisyllable — 

* Have we here an explanation of the * battalia * of Jeremy 
Taylor and others ? Did they, without reflecting on the matter, 
regard * battalion ' as word with a Greek neuter termination ? 
It is difficult to think so ; yet more difficult to suggest any 
other explanation. 

t « And old heroes, which their world did daimt.' 

Sonnet on Scanderheg, 

Digitized by 


ni. Words refuse Naturalization. 117 

* Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove * — 

intimates that it is still Latin for him ; just as 'ter- 
minus,' which the necessities of railways have intro- 
duced among us, will not be truly naturalized till it 
has * terminuses,' and not 'termini' for a plural; 
nor 'phenomenon,' till we have renounced 'pheno- 
mena;' nor 'crisis,' while it makes 'crises.' Some- 
times both plurals have been retained, with only the 
assignment of different meanings to them, as in the 
case of 'indices' and 'indexes,' of 'genii' and 
'geniuses,' of 'stamina' and 'stamens' (botanical). 
The same process has gone on with words from 
other languages, as from the Italian and the Spanish ; 
thus 'bandetto' (Shakespeare), or 'bandito' (Jeremy 
Taylor), becomes 'bandit;' 'porcellana' (so we read 
it in Fuller) becomes 'porcelain ;' 'ruflfiano' (Coryat), 
'ruffian;' 'concerto' 'concert;' 'busto' (Lord Ches- 
terfield) 'bust;' 'caricatura' (Sir Thomas Browne) 
'caricature;' 'princessa' (Hacket) 'princess;' 'scara- 
mucha'.(Dryden) 'scaramouch;' 'pedante' (Bacon) 
'pedant;' 'pedanteria' (Sidney) 'pedantry;' 'mas- 
carata' (Hacket) 'masquerade;' 'impresa' 'impress;' 
'caprichio' (Shakespeare) becomes first 'caprich' 
(Butler), then 'caprice;' 'duello' (Shakespeare) 
' duel ;' ' alligarta' (Ben Jonson) ' alligator ;' ' parro- 
quito ' ( Webster ' parroquet ' Not otherwise ' scalada ' 
(Heylin) or 'escalado' (Holland) becomes 'escalade;' 
'granada' (Hacket) 'grenade;' 'parada' (Jeremy 
Taylor) 'parade;' 'emboscado' (Holland) 'stoccado/ 
*barricado,' 'renegado,' 'hurricano' (all in Shake- 

Digitized by 


118 Gains of the Maglish Language, lect. 

speare), *brocado'(Hackluyt), 'palissado' (Howell), 
these all drop their foreign terminations, and severally 
become 'ambuscade,' * stockade,' 'barricade,' 'rene- 
gade,' 'hurricane,' 'brocade,' 'palisade;' 'croisado' 
(Bacon) in like manner becomes first 'croisade' 
(Jortin), and then * crusade ;' * quinaquina ' or 'quin- 
quina,' 'quinine.' Other modifications of spelling, 
not always in the termination, but in the body of a 
word, will indicate its more entire incorporation into 
the English language. Thus ' shash, ' a Turkish word, 
becomes 'sash;' 'tulippa' (Bacon) 'tulip;' 'quel- 
ques choses,' ' kickshaws ;' * restoration ' was at first 
spelt ' restauration ;' and so long as * vicinage ' was 
spelt 'voisinage'* (Sanderson), 'mirror' 'mhoir' 
(Fuller), ' recoil ' ' recule,' ' voyage ' * viage,' and 
'^ career' 'carriere' (all by Holland), they could 
scarcely be esteemed the thoroughly English words 
which now they are. 

Here and there even at this later period awkward 
foreign words will have been recast in a more 
thoroughly English mould ; ' chirurgeon' will become 
^surgeon;' 'hemorrhoid.' 'emerod;* 'squinancy,' 
first 'squinzey' (Jeremy Taylor), and then 'quinsey ;' 
'porkpisce' (Spenser), or hogfish, will be 'porpesse,' 
and then 'porpoise,' as now. Yet the attempt will 
not always be successful. 'Physiognomy' will not 
give place to 'visnomy,' though Spenser and Shake- 

♦ Skinner {Etymologicon^ 1 671) protests against the word 
altogether, as purely French, and having no right to be con- 
sidered English at all. 

Digitized by 


in. Words refuse Naturalization. 119 

speare employ this familiar form ; nor * hippopotamus ' 
to ' hippodame ' at Spenser's bidding ; nor * avant- 
courier' to 'vancurrier' at Shakespeare's. Other 
words also have finally refused to take a more popular 
shape, although such was current once. Chaucer 
wrote 'sawter* and *sawtrie/ but we 'psalter' and 
* psaltery;' Holland 'cirque,' revived by Keats, but 
we 'circus;' 'cense,' but we ''census;' 'interreign,' 
but we 'interregnum;' Sylvester 'cest,' but we 
'cestus;' 'quirry,' but we 'equerry;' 'colosse' (so 
also Henry More), but we 'colossus;' Golding 'ure,' 
but we 'urus;' 'metropole,' but we 'metropolis;' 
Dampier ' volean,' but this has not superseded 'vol- 
cano ;' nor 'pagod' (Pope) 'pagoda;' nor 'skelet' 
(Holland) 'skeleton;' nor 'stimule' (Stubbs) 'stimu- 
lus.' Bolingbroke wrote 'exode,' but we hold fast to 
'exodus;' Burton 'funge,'but we 'fungus;' Henry 
More 'enigm,' but we 'enigma ;' and 'analyse,' but 
we 'analysis.' 'Superfice* (Dryden) has not put 
'superficies,' nor 'sacrary' (Hacket) 'sacrarium,' 
nor 'limbeck' 'alembic,' out of use. Chaucer's 
' potecary ' has given place to a more Greek forma- 
tion, 'apothecary;* so has 'ancre' to 'anchorite,' 
'auntre'to 'adventure.' Yet these are exceptions; 
the set of language is all in the other direction^ 

Looking at this process of the reception of foreign 
words, with their after assimilation in feature to our own, 
we may trace a certain conformity between the genius 
of our institutions and that of our language. It is the 
very cbarggter pf our institutions to repel none, but 
rather to afford a shelter and a refuge to all, from what- 

Digitized by 


120 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

ever quarter they come ; and after a longer or shorter 
while all the strangers and incomers have been incor- 
porated into the English nation, within one or two 
generations have forgotten that they were ever extra- 
neous to it, have retained no other reminiscence of 
I their foreign extraction than some slight difference of 
name, and that often disappearing or having dis- 
appeared. Exactly so has it been with the English 
language. No language has shown itself less exclu- 
sive ; none has stood less upon niceties ; none has 
thrown open its doors wider, with a fuller confidence . 
that it could make truly its own, assimilate and sub- 
due to itself, whatever it received into its bosom ; and 
in none has this confidence been more fully justified 
by the result 

Such are the two great augmentations from without 
of our vocabulary. All other are minor and sub- 
ordinate. Thus the Italian influence has been far 
more powerful on our literature than on our language. 
In Chaucer it makes itself very strongly felt on the 
former,* but very slightly upon the latter; and, as 
compared with that of French, it may be counted as 
none at all. And this remained very much the 
condition of things for the whole period during which 
the star of Italy was in the ascendant here. When 
we consider how potent its influences were, and how 
long they lasted, it is only surprising that the deposit 
left in the language has not been larger. There was 

♦ See Kessner, Chaucer in seinen Beziehtmgen zttr Itali€i^ 
ischen Literature Bonn, 1867. 

Digitized by 


m. Italian Influence, 121 

a time when Italian was far more studied in England, 
and Italian books far more frequently translated, than 
they are at this present. Thus Ascham complains of 
the immense number of wicked Italian books, such 
as those of that 'poisonous Italian ribald,' Aretine, 
which were rendered into English ; * and it is not less 
abundantly evident that for a period extending from 
the reign of Henry the Eighth to the ^nd of that of 
Elizabeth, it more concerned an accomplished cour- 
tier and man of the world to be familiar with Italian 
than with French. 

Almost every page of Spenser bears witness to his 
intimate acquaintance with Ariosto, and with his. own 
contemporary, Tasso. His sonnets are 'amoretti.* 
In the choice of names for persons in his Fairy 
Queen, such as Orgoglio, Archimago, Braggadocchio, 
Malbecco, Fradubio, Gardante, Parlante, Jocante, 
Fidessa, Duessa, Dispetto, Difetto, Speranza, Hu- 
milti, and the like, he assumes the same familiarity 
with the language of Italy on the part of his readers, 
He introduces words purely Italian, as ' basciomani * 
(handkissings), 'capuccio' (hood), or only not 
Italian, because clipped of their final letter, as ' maU 
talent ' for ill will, ' intendiment ' for understanding, 
* fomiment ' for furniture ; or words formed on 
Italian models, as 'to aggrate' (aggratare), and 
I sometimes only intelligible when referlred to their 
Italian source, as *afFret' (=encounter), from 'affret^ 
tare,' 'to afFrap,' the Italian ' afFrappare ;' or words 

* The Schoolmaster, editecTby Rev. J. E. Mayor, 1863, p. 8?, 

y Google 

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122 Oains of the English Language, lect. 

employed not in our sense, but altogether in an 
Italian, as 'to revolt' in that of *i:ivoltare' {F, Q, 
iii. II, 25). 

Milton in his prose works frequently avouches the 
I)eculiar affection to the Italian literature and language 
which he bore, so that, next to those of Greece and 
of Rome, he was most addicted to these.* And his 
poetry without such declarations would itself attest 
the same. He too calls his poems by Italian names, 
*L* Allegro,* ^11 PenserosoJ His diction is enriched 
with Italian words, as 'gonfalon,' 'libecchio,' or 
with words formed on Italian models, as * to impara- 
dise,' which beautiful word, however, was not of his 
invention ; he employs words in their Italian, not 
their English acceptation; thu3 'to assassinate,' in 
the sense not of to kill, but grievously to maltreat 
His adjectival use of 'adorn,' as equivalent to 
'adorned,' he must have justified by the Italian 
' adorno ;' so too his employment of ' to force ' in that 
of 'sforzare,' to vanquish or reduce {S, A, 1096), 
His orthography, departing fi:om the usual, approxi- 
mates to the Italian ; thus be writes ' arpi^iral ' (am- 
miraglio) for admiral,' 'haralt' (araldo) for herald, 
'gonfalon' for gonfai^on,' sovran' (sovrano) for 
sovereign; 'd^sertrice' (prose) where another would 
have written desertress. 'Soldan,' for sultan, he has 
in common with others who went before him ; so too 

* Thus see his beautiful letter Benedicto Bor^matthaq^ 

Digitized by 


in. Spanish known in England. 123 

* to 'sdeign/ a form no doubt suggested by the Italian 

Jeremy Taylor's acquaintance with Italian, even if 
it were not asserted in his Funeral Sermon^ with his 
assumption of the same acquaintance on the part of 
his readers, is testified by his frequent use of Italian 
proverbs and Italian words. He sometimes gives 
these an English shape, as ' to picqueer ' in the sense 
of to skirmish ; but oftener leaves them in their own. 
It would be easy to gather out of his writings a con- 
siderable collection of these ; such as 'amorevolezza,' 
'grandezza,' 'sollevamento,' 'avisamente,' 'incura- 
bili' (can it be that 'incurables,' was in his time 
wanting in our language?) ; while, scattered up and 
down our literature of the first half of the seventeenth 
century, we meet other Italian words not a few ; as 
'farfalla' for butterfly (Dubartas) ; 'amorevolous,' 
' mascarata,' 'gratioso' (=favourite), ' bugiard ' 
(==liar), all in Hacket, 'leggiadrous,' in Beaumont's 
Psyche and elsewhere. A list, as complete as I could 
make it, of such as have finally obtained a place in 
the language was given in my first lecture ; * they 
are above a hundred, and doubtless many have 
escaped me. 

There is abundant evidence that Spanish was during 
the latter half of the sixteenth and the first half of the 
seventeenth century Teiy widely known in England, 
indeed far more familiar than it eVer since has been. 
The wars in the Low Countries, in which so many of 

• See p. i6. 

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124 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

our countrymen served, the probabilities at one period 
of a match with Spain, the fact that Spanish was 
almost as serviceable at Brussels, at Milan, at Naples, 
and for a time at Vienna, not to speak of Lima 
and Mexico, as at Madrid itself, and scarcely less 
indispensable, the many points of contact, friendly 
and hostile, of England with Spain for well-nigh a 
century, all this had conduced to an extended know- 
ledge of Spanish in England. It was popular at 
court. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were both 
excellent Spanish scholars. A passage in Howell's 
Letters would imply that at the time of Charles the 
First's visit to Madrid, his Spanish was imperfect, 
and Clarendon aflSrms the same ; but at a later date, 
that is in 1635, a Spanish play was acted by a Spanish 
company before him. The statesmen and scholars of 
the time were rarely ignorant of the language. We 
might have confidently presumed Raleigh's acquaint- 
ance with it ; but in his Discovery of Guiana and 
other writings there is abundant proof of this. Lord 
Bacon gives similar evidence, in the Spanish proverbs 
which he quotes, and in the skilful employment 
which'he'sometimes makes of a Spanish word. * It was 
among the many accomplishments of Archbishop 
Williams, who, when the Spanish match was pending, 
caused the English Liturgy to be translated under his 
own eye into Spanish. Whether Shakespeare's know- 
ledge of the language was not limited to the few chance 
words which occasionally he introduces, as 'palabras,' 

* As for instance of * desenvbltura ' in bis Essay, Of Fortune, 

Digitized by 


m. JSfaturaUzation of Words. 126 

' passado, ' ' duello, ' it is difficult to say. But Jonson's 
familiarity with it is evident. More than once, as in 
The Alchemist (Act iv. Sc. 2), he introduces so large 
an amount of Spanish that he must have assunaed this 
would not be altogether strange to his audience. Of 
the Spanish words which have effected a settlement in 
English, so far as I know them, I have given a list 
already.* ^ 

The introduction of French tastes by Charles the 
Second and his courtiers returning froiri their en- 
forced residence abroad, rather modified the struc- 
ture of our sentences than seriously affected our 
vocabulary ; yet it gave us some new words. In one 
of* Dryden's plays. Marriage h la Mode, a lady shows 
her affectation by constantly employing French idioms 
in .preference to English, French words rather than 
native. Curiously enough, of these, thus put into her 
mouth to render her ridiculous, several, as 'repartee,' 
'grimace,' 'chagrin,' to be in the 'good graces' of 
another, are excellent English now, and have nothing 
far-sought or affected about them : for so it frequently 
proves that what is laughed at in the beginning, is by 
all admitted and allowed at the last. * Fougue ' and 
' fraischeur,' which Dryden himself employed — ^being, 
it is true, a very rare offender in this line, and for 
' fraischeur' having Scotch if not English authority — 
have not been justified by the same success. 

Nor indeed can it be said that this adoption and 
naturalization of foreign words has ever wholly ceased. 

See page 17. 

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126 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

There are periods, as we have seen, when a language 
throws open its doors, and welcomes strangers with an 
especial freedom ; but there is never a time, when 
one by one these foreigners and strangers are not 
slipping into it. The process by which they do this 
eludes for the most part our observa,tion. Time, the 
greatest of all innovators, manages his innovations so 
dexterously, spreads them over periods so immense, 
and is thus able to bring them about so gradually, that 
often, while he is effecting the mightiest changes, 
we have no suspicion that he is effecting any at all. 
Thus how nearly imperceptible are the steps by which 
a foreign word is admitted into the full rights of an 
English one. Many Greek words, for example, quite 
unchanged in form, have in one way or another ended 
in obtaining a home and acceptance among us. We 
may in almost every instance trace step by step the 
stealthy naturalization of these. We may note them 
spelt for a while in Greek letters, and avowedly 
employed as Greek and not English vocables. Hav- 
ing .thus won a certain allowance, and ceased to be 
altogether unfamiliar, we note them next exchanging 
Greek for English letters, and finally obtaining recog- 
nition as words which, however drawn from a foreign 
source, are yet themselves English. Thus 'acme,' 
'apotheosis,^ 'euthanasia,' 'iota,' 'criterion,' 'chrysa- 
lis,' 'dogma,' 'encyclopaedia,' 'metropolis,' 'oph- 
thalmia,' 'phenomenon,' 'pathos,' are all English 
now, while yet South with many others always wrote 
dnpt^i, Jeremy Taylor dTeoQeaodiSy evQavadia, ioora, 
Cudworth x/otr^pioy, Heniy More a:/)t;tfaAi5; Ham-, 

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m. Naiuralizalion of Words. 127 

mond speaks of doyfiara, Ben Jonson of ' the know- 
ledge of the liberal arts, which the Greeks call 
iyKVKXoTtaideiav,^ Culverwell writes pirirpoTCoXii 
and 6<p0aXjuia, Preston <paiv6pieyaj Sylvester ascribes 
to Baxter not 'pathos/ but TtdBo^.-^ ^mo% is at the 
present moment preparing for this passage from 
Greek characters to English, and certainly before 
long will be acknowledged as English. The only 
cause which for some time past has stood in the way 
of this is the misgiving whether it will not be read 
'ethos,' and not 'ethos,' and thus not be the word 

Let us endeavor to trace this same process in some 
French word, which is at this moment gaining a foot- 
ing among us. For ' prestige ' we have manifestly no 
equivalent of our own. It expresses something which 
only by a long circumlocution we could express ; 
namely, that real though undefinable influence on 
others, which past successes, as the pledge and 
promise of future ones, breed. It has thus naturally 

• He is not perfectly accurate here ; the Greeks spoke of 
BV KvxXcp TtaiSeia and iyHvxXto^ Ttatdeia but had no 
such compound word as iyKVHXoTtaideia.. We gather, how- 
ever, from his statement, as from Lord Bacon's use of * circle - 
leammg ' (=* orbis doctrinse,* Quintilian), that * encyclopaedia ' 
did not exist in their time. * Monomania * is in like manner 
a modem formation, of which the Greek language knows 

t See the passages quoted in my paper, On some DefidencUs 
in our English Dictionaries^ p. 38, published separately and in 
the Transactions of the Philological Society^ 1857. 

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128 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

passedjnto frequent use. No one could feel that in 
employing it he was slighting as good a word of our 
own. At first all used it avowedly as French, writing 
it in italics to indicate this. Some write it so still, 
others do not ; some, that is, count it still as foreign, 
others consider that it is not so to be regarded any 
more.* Little by little the number of those who 
write it in italics will diminish ; and finally none will 
do so. It will then only need that the accent be 
shifted as far back as it will go, for such is the in- 
stinct of all English words, that for 'prestige,' it 
should be pronounced ' pr6stige,' even as within these 
few years for ' dep(5t' we have learned to say 'd^pot,' 
and its naturalization will be complete. I have no 
doubt that before many years it will be so pronounced 
by the majority of educated Englishmen, — some pro- 
nounce it so already, — and that the pronunciation com- 
mon' now will pass away, just as 'obk^e,' once 
universal, has everywhere given place to ' obhge.'f 

* We trace a similar progress in Greek words which were 
passing into Latin. Thus Caesar {B, G, iii. 103) writes, quae 
Graeci adyra appellant ; but Horace {Carm. i. 16. 5), non 
adytis quatit. In like manner Cicero writes oivmCO^B^ {Acad, 
ii. 39. 123), but Seneca {Ep. 122), * antipodes ;* that is, the 
word for Cicero was still Greek, while in the period that 
elapsed between him and Seneca, it had become Latin. So 
too Cicero writes ci'cJfijApy, but the Younger Pliny *idolon,* 
and'TertuUian *idolum ;' Cicero drpavjjyTfjj.a (//. Z>. 3. 6), 
but Valerius Maximus * strategema.' 

t See in Coleridge's Tad/e Talk^ p. 3, the amusing story of 
John JCemble's stately correction of the Prince of Wales for 
adhering to the earlier pronunciation, 'obk^e,* — *It will 
become your royal mouth better to say obbge.* 

Digitized by 


III. Shifting of Accents. 129 

I observe in passing, that the process of throwing 
the accent of a word as far back as it will go, is one 
which has been constantly proceeding among us. In . 
the time and writings of Chaucer there was much 
vacillation in the placing of the accent; as was to be 
expected, while the adoptions from the French were 
comparatively recent, and had not yet unlearned their 
foreign ways or made themselves perfectly at home 
among us. Some of his French words are still ac- 
cented on the final syllable, thus ' honodr,' 'creatdre,' 
'sentence,' 'pendnce,' 'beaut6,' 'manure,' 'service/ 
others, as 'tr^sour,' 'cdlour,' 'cdnseil,' on the first; 
while this vacillation displays itself still more mark- 
edly in the fact that the same word is accented by him 
sometimes on the one syllable, and sometimes upon 
the other ; he writing at one time ' natdre ' and at 
another ndture,' at one time 'vertde' and at another 
' virtue ;' so too * visage ' and ' visdge,' ' fortune ' and 
'fortdne;' 'service,' and 'service,' with many more. 
The same disposition to throw back the accent is 
visible in later times. Thus 'presdge,' 'captive,' 
'envy,' 'cru^l,' 'trespass,' 'for6st,' in Spenser, and 
these, 'prostrate,' 'advfce,' 'asp6ct,' 'proc&s,' 'in- 
stinct,' 'insdit,' 'impdlse,' 'pretext,' 'contrite,' 'sur- 
face,' 'proddct,' 'upr(5ar,' 'edict,' ' contest,' in Mil- 
ton, had all their accent once on the last syllable ; 
they have it now on the first. So too, ' acddemy ' was 
' academy ' for Cowley and for Butler ;* while ' theatre ' 

♦ In this great academy of mankind.' 

To ike Memory of Du Fa/* 

Digitized by 


130 Gains of the JSnglish Language, lect. 

was * theatre ' with Sylvester, this American pronun- 
ciation being archaic and not vulgar. 'Produce' 
was 'prodiice' for Diyden : '^ssay' was 'essdy' both 
for him and for Pope ; he closes heroic lines with both 
these words ; Pope does the same with ' barrier ' * and 
'eifdrt' We may note the same process going for- 
ward still. Middle-aged men may remember that it 
was a question in their youth whether it should be 
'*rev6nue ' or ' revenue ;' it is always * r6venue ' now. 
' Contemplate ' has in like manner given way to ' cdn- 
template.' Rogers bewailed the change which had 
taken place in his memory from ' balcdny * to * bdl- 
cony.' *Bdlcony/ he complains, * makes me sick ;' 
but it has effectually won the day. Nor is it, I think, 
difficult to explain how this should be. The speaker, 
conscious that somewhere or other the effort must be 
made, is glad to have it over as soon as possible. 
'Apostdlic,' which in Diyden's use was 'apostolic' 
(he ends an heroic line with it), is a rare instance of 
the accent moving in the opposite direction. 

Other French words not a few, besides ' prestige ' 
which I instanced just now, are at this moment 
hovering on the confines of English, hardly knowing 
whether they shall become such altogether or not. 
Such are 'ennui,' * exploitation,' 'verve,' 'persiflage,' 
'badinage,' 'chicane,' 'finesse,' 'm616e' (Tennyson 
already spells it ' mellay '), and others. All these are 
often employed by us, — and it is out of such frequent 
employment that adoption proceeds, — ^because ex- 

♦ « Twixt that and reason what a nice hamVr.' 

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m. Scientific and Technical Terms. 131 

pressing shades of meaning not expressed by any 
words of our own. Some of them will no doubt com- 
plete their naturalization ; others will after a time 
retreat again, like some which were named just now, 
and become for us once more avowedly French. 
* Solidarity/ which we owe to the French Com- 
munists, — it signifies a fellowship in gain and loss, 
in honour and dishonour, in victory and defeat, a 
being, so to speak, all in the same boat, — is so con- 
venient that it would be idle to struggle against it 
It has established itself in German, and in other 
European languages as well. 

Or take an example of this progressive naturalization 
from another quarter. In an English glossary, of date 
1 67 1, 1 do not find 'tea,' but *cha,' 'the leaf of a tree 
in China, whkh being infiised into water, serves for 
their ordinary drink.' Thirteen years later the word 
is no longer a Chinese one, but already a French one 
for us; Locke in his Diary vfuiing it 'th6,' Early 
in the next century the word is spelt in an entirely 
English fashion, in fact as we spell it now, but still 
retains a foreign pronunciation, — ^Pope rhymes it 
with 'obey,' — and this it has only lately altogether 
let go. 

- Greek.and Latin words we still continue to adopt, 
although now no longer in troops and companies, 
but only one by one. The lively interest which 
always has been felt in classical studies among 
us, and which will continue to be felt, so long as 
Ei^lishmen present to themselves a high culture of 
their Realties and powers as an object of ambition, 

Digitized by 


132 Oains of the JSnglish Language, lect. 

80 long as models of what is truest and loveliest in . 
art have any attraction for them, is itself a pledge 
that accessions from these quarters can never cease 
altogether. I refer not here to purely scientific terms ; 
these, so long as they do not pass beyond the thresh- 
old of the science for whose use they were invented, 
have no proper right to be called words at all. They 
are a kind of shorthand, or algebraic notation of the 
science to which they belong ; and will find no place 
in a dictionary constructed upon true principles, but 
will constitute rather a technical dictionaiy by them- 
selves. They are oftentimes drafted into a dictionary 
of the language ; but this for the most part out of a 
barren ostentation, and that so there may be room 
for boasting of the many thousand words by which it 
excels all its predecessors. But such additions are 
very cheaply made. Nothing is easier than to turn 
to modern treatises on chemistry or electricity, or on 
some other of the sciences which hardly existed, or 
did not at all exist, half a century ago, or which have 
been in later times wholly new-named — as botany, 
for example, — and to transplant new terms from these 
by the hundred and the thousand, with which to 
crowd and deform the pages of a dictionary. The 
labour is little more than that of transcription ; but the 
gain is nought ; or indeed is much less than nought ; 
for it is not merely that half a dozen genuine English 
words recovered from our old authors would be a 
truer gain, a more real advance toward^ the complete 
inventory of the wealth which we possess in words 
than a hundred or a thousand of these ; but additions 

Digitized by 


in. Words from the German. 133 

of this kind are mere disfigurements of the work 
which they profess to complete. 

When we call to mind the near affinity between 
English and German, which, if not sisters, are at any 
rate first cousins, it is remarkable that almost since 
the day when they parted company, each to fulfil its 
own destiny, there has been little further commerce, 
little giving or taking, between them. Adoptions on 
our part firom the German have been extremely rare. , 
The explanation of this lies no doubt in the fact that 
the literary activity of Germany did not begin till very 
late, nor our interest in it till later still, nor indeed till 
the beginning of the present centur}'. Literature, 
however, is not the only channel by which words pass 
from one language to another ; thus ' plunder ' was 
brought back from Germany about the beginning of 
our Civil War by the soldiers who had served under 
Gustavus Adolphus and his captains ; while ' trigger ' 
('tricker' inHudibras)^ which reached us at the same 
time, and by the same channel, is manifestly the 
German 'driicker,' though none of our dictionaries 
have marked it as such, ' Crikesman' ( ' kriegsmann' ) , 
common enough in the State Papers of the sixteenth 
century, found no permanent place in the language ; 
and 'braiidshat' ('brandschatz'), being the ransom 
paid to an enemy for not burning down your house or 
your city, as little. * Iceberg' we must have taken 
whole from the German, since a word of our own 
construction would have been not ^ict-herg/ but 
' ict-mountain,' I have not met with it in our earlier 
voyagers. An English 'swindler' is not exactly a 

Digitized by 


134 Gains of the English Language. lect» 

German * schwindler ;' yet a subaudition oT the 
knave, though ntore latent in German, is common to 
both ; and we must have drawn the word from Ger- 
many (it is not in Johnson) late in the last century. 
Why, by the way, do we not adopt 'shwarmer'? 
' Enthusiast ' does not in the least supply its place. 
If ' li/egyxaxd ' was originally, as Richardson sugg;ests, 
* Z?ii5garde,' or * ^^y-guard,' and from that transformed, 
by the determination of Englishmen to make in sig- 
nificant in English, into '///^-guard,' or guard de- 
fending the Ii/e of the sovereign, this will be another 
word from the same quarter. Yet I have my doubts ; 
' leibgarde ' would scarcely have found its way hither 
before the accession of the House of Hanover, or at 
any rate beforfe the arrival of William with his memo- 
rable Guards ; while ' life-guard,' in its present shape, 
is older in the language ; we hear often of the ' Kfe- 
guards' during our Civil War; and Fuller. writes, 
'The Cherethites were a kind of lifegard to king 

There is only one province of words in which we 
are recent debtors to the Germans to any considerable 
extent. Of the terms used by the mineralogist many 
have been borrowed, and in comparatively modem 
times, from them; thus 'quartz,' 'felspar,' 'cobalt,' 
nickel, ''zinc,' ' hornblend ;' while other of the terms 
employed by us are a direct translation from the same ; 
such for instance as 'fuller's earth' (walkererde), 
'pipeclay' (pfeifenthon), 'pitchstone' (pechstein.) 

* Pisgak Sight of Palestine^ 1650, p. 217. 


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in. Recent Acquisitions. 185 

Of very recent importations I hardly know one"; 
unless, indeed, we adopt the ingenious suggestion 
that 'to loaf and * loafer,' which not very long ago 
arrived in England by way of America, are the Oer- 
man Maufen'and Maufer.' 

But if we have not imported, we have been some- 
what given of late to the copying of, German words, 
that is to the forming of words of our own on the 
scheme and model of some, which having taken our 
fancy, we have thought to enrich our own vocabulary 
with the lilie. I cannot consider that we have always 
been very happy in those thus selected for imita- 
tion. Possessing 'manual,' we need not have called 
* hand-book ' back from an oblivion of nine hundred 
years ; and one can only regret that ' standpoint ' 
has succeeded in forcing itself on the language. * Ein- 
seitig ' (itself modem, if I mistake not), is the pattern 
on which we have formed 'one-sided' — z. word to 
which a few years ago something of affectation was 
attached ; none using it save those who dealt more or 
less in German wares ; it has however its manifest 
conveniences, and will hold its ground ; so too, as it 
seems, will ' fatherland,' though a certain note of affec- 
tation cleaves to it still. The happiest of these com- 
pounded words, of which the hint has been taken 
from the German, is ' folk-lore ;' the substitution of • 
this for * popular superstitions,' is an unquestionable 

It is only too easy to be mistaken in such a matter ; 
but, if I do not err, the following words have all been 
bom during the present century, some within quite 

Digitized by 


136 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

the later decades of this century. A distribution of 
them according to the languages from which they are 
drawn will show that Greek and Latin are the lan- 
guages from which at the present day our own is 
mainly recruited; 'abnormal/ 'acrobat/ 'aeon/ 
'aesthetics ' (Tennyson has given allowance to 'aeon ;' 
but it and 'aesthetics' must both renounce their 
initial diphthong, as 'either/ 'economy/ and other 
words have done, before they can be regarded as 
quite at home with us);* 'bus/ 'cab/ 'clipper/ 
'demonetize,' 'demoralize,' 'demoralization,' 'de- 
plete,' 'depletion,' 'desirability,' 'dissimilation,' 'edu- 
cational,' 'eurasian,' 'excursionist,' 'exploitation,' 'ex- 
tradition,' 'fatherland,' '^flange,' 'flunkey,' 'folk-lore,' 
'garotte,' 'garotter,' 'grandiose/ 'hymnal,' 'immi- 
grant,' 'international,' 'linguistic,' 'loot,' 'myth,' 
' neutralization, ' ' normal, ' ' oldster, ' ' one-sided, ' 
' ornamentation, ' ' outsider, ' ' parafl&n, ' ' pervert, ' 
* photograph,' 'prayerful,' 'pretentious,' 'realistic,' 
'recoup,' 'reformatory,' 'reliable,' 'revolver,' 'san- 
itary,' 'sensational,' 'shrinkage,' 'shunt,' 'solidarity,' 
'squatter,' 'standpoint,' 'statistics,' 'stereotype' (the 
word was invented by Didot), 'suggestive,' 'tele- 
gram,' 'tourist,' 'transliteration,' 'utilize,' 'utiliza- 
tion,' 'watershed.' It must be confessed of several 

• A writer in the Philological Museum^ so late as 1832, 
p. 369, was doubtful whether 'aesthetics*- would establish 
itself in the language ; but this it must be confessed to have 

Digitized by 


m. Recent Acquisitions, 137 

among these that we could want them (in the old 
sense of 'to want') without the want being very 
seriously felt ; others like the last in this list are mani- 
fest acquisitions of the language. 

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138 Gains of the English Language, lect. 


(continued. ) 

TAKING up the subject where in my last lecture 
I left off, I proceed to enumerate some other 
sources from which we have made additions to our 
vocabulary. "t)f course the period when absolutely 
new roots are generated will have passed away very 
long indeed before men begin by a reflective act to 
take notice of processes going forward in the language 
which they speak. That pure productive energy, 
creative we might call it, belongs to times quite out 
of the ken of history. It is only from materials 
already existing that it can enrich itself in the later, 
or historical stages of its development 

This it can do in many ways. And first, it can 
bring what it has already, two words or more, into 
new combinations, and form a new word out of these. 
Much more is wanted here than merely to link them 
together by a hyphen ; they must really coalesce and 
grow together. Difierent languages, and even the 
same language at difierent epochs of its life, will 
possess this power in very difierent degrees. The 
eminent felicity of the Greek has been always ac- 
knowledged. * The joints of her compounded words, ' 

Digitized by 


17. Compound English Words. 139 

says Fuller, 'are so naturally oiled, that they run 
nimbly on the tongue, which makes them, though 
long, never tedious, because significant'* Sir Philip 
Sidney makes the same claim for our English, namely 
that ' it is particularly happy in the composition of 
two or three words together, near equal to the Greek.' 
No one has done more than Milton to justify this 
praise, or to show what may be effected by this hap- 
py marriage of words. Many of his compound epi- 
thets, as 'grey-hooded even,' 'coral-paven floor,' 
' flowry-kirtled Naiades,' 'golden- winged host,' 

• Holy Statgy b. ii. c. 6. Latin promised at one time to 
display an almost equal freedom in forming new words by the 
happy marriage of old. But at the period of its highest cul- 
ture it seemed possessed with a timidity, which Caused it 
voluntarily to abdicate this with many of its own powers. In 
the Augustan period we look in vain for epithets like these, 
both occurring in a single line of Catullus : * Ubi cerva 
silvicultrix, ubi aper nemoriuagus /* or again, as his * fluenti* 
sonus ' or as the * imbricitor ' of Ennius. Nay, of those com- 
pound epithets which the language once had formed, it let 
numbers drop: * parcipromus,* * turpilucricupidus,* and many 
more, do not extend beyond Plautus. Quintilian (i. 5. 70) : 
Res totamagis Grsecos decet, nobis minus succ%dit ; nee id. fieri 
nature puto, sed alienis favemus ; ideoque cum xvpravx^ya 
mirati sumus, incurvicervicum vix a risu defendimus. Else- 
where he complains of the little generative power of the Latin, 
its continual losses being compensated by no equivalent gains 
(viii. 6. 32) : Deinde, tanquam consummata sint omnia, nihil 
generare audemus ipsi, quum multa quotidie ab antiquis ficta 
moriantur. Still the silver age of the language did recover to 
some extent the abdicated energies of its earlier times, reas- 
serted among other powers that of combining words, with a 
certain measure of success. 

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140 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

* Night's drowsy-flighted steeds,' ' tinsel-slippered feet,' 
'.violet-embroidered vale,' * dewy-feathered sleep,' 
'sky-tinctured grain,' 'vermeil-tinctured lip,' 'amber- 
dropping hair,' 'night-foundered skiff,' are them- 
selves poems in miniature. Not unworthy to be set 
beside these are Sylvester's 'opal-coloured mom,' 
Drayton's 'silver-sanded shore,' Marlowe's 'golden- 
fingered Ind,' Beaumdnt and Fletcher's 'golden- 
tressed Apollo,' Shakespeare's ' heavy-gaited toad,' 
and Chapman's (for Pope owed it to Chapman) 'rosy- 
fingered mom. ' At the same time combinations like 
these remain to so great a degree flie peculiar prop- 
erty of their first author, they so little pass into any 
further use, that they must rather be regarded as 
augmentations of its poetical wealth than its linguistic. 
Such words as 'intemational,' or as 'folk-lore,' in- 
stanced already, are better examples of real additions 
to our vocabulary. ' Intemational 'we owe to Jeremy 
Bentham, one of the boldest, yet, in the main, least 
successful among the coiners of new words. But 
otrange and formless as is for the most part this pro- 
geny of his brain, lie has given us here a word which 
does such e^fcellent service, that it is diflficult to 
understand how we contrived so long to do without it 
We have further increased our vocabulary by form- 
ing new words according to the analogy of formations 
which in parallel cases have been already allowed. 
Thus upon the substantives, 'congregation,' 'conven- 
tion,' were formed * congregational,' * conventional ;' 
yet these at a comparatively modem date ; ' congrega- 
tional ' first rising up in the Assembly of Divines, or 

Digitized by 


IV. Formation of New Words. 141 

during the time of the Commonwealth.* These 
having found allowance, the process is repeated, not 
always with very gratifying results, in the case of other 
words with the same ending. We are now used to 
* educational,' and the word is serviceable enough ; 
but I can remember when a good many years ago an 
^Educational Magazine ' was started, one's first impres- 
sion was, that a work having to do with education 
should not thus bear upon its front an offensive, at 
best a very questionable, novelty in the English lan- 
guage. These adjectives are now multiplying fast. 
We have 'inflexional,' 'seasonal,' 'denominational,' 
and on this, in dissenting magazines at least, the 
monstrous birth,' ' denominationalism ;' 'emotional' 
is creeping into books ; 'sensational,' name and thing, 
has found only too ready a welcome among us; 
so that it is hard to say whether all words with this 
termination will not finally generate an adjective. 
Convenient as you may sometimes find these, you 
will do well to abstain from all but the perfectly well 
recognized formations. For as many as have no claim 
to be arbiters of the language Pope's advice is good, 
as certainly it is safe, that they be not among the last 
to use a word which is going out, nor among the first 
to employ one that is coming in. 

' Its,' the anomalously formed genitive of ' it,' was 
created with the object of removing an inconvenience, 
which for a while made itself seriously felt in the lan- 

* Collection of Scarce Tracts, edited by Sir W. Scott, voL 
vii. p. 91. 

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142 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

guage. The circumstances of the rise of this little 
word, and of the place which it has secured itself 
among us, are sufficiently curious to justify a treat- 
ment which might seem out of proportion with the 
importance that it has ; but which none will deem so, 
who are at all acquainted with the remarkable facts of 
our language bound up in the story of the word. 

Within the last few years attention has been drawn 
to the circumstance that 'its' is of comparatively 
recent introduction into the language. The earliest 
example which has yet been adduced is from Florio's 
World 0/ Words, 1598 ; the next from the translation 
of Montaigne by the same author, 1603. You will 
not find it once in our English Bible, the office which 
it fulfils for us now being there fulfilled either by 'his' 
(Gen. i. 11 ; Exod. xxxvii. 17; Matt v. 15) or 
'her' (Jon. i! 15; Rev. xxii. 2), these applied as 
freely to inanimate things as to persons ; or else by 
'thereof (Gen. iil 6; Ps. Ixv. 10) or 'of it' (Dan. 
vii. 5). Nor may Lev. xxv. 5 be urged as invalidat- 
ing this assertion, as there will presently be occasion 
to show. To Bacon ' its ' is altogether unknown ; he 
too had no scruple about using ' his ' as a neuter ; as 
in the following passage : ' Learning hath his infancy, 
when it is but beginning and almost childish ; then 
his youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile ; then his 
strength of years, when it is solid and reduced ; and 
lastly his old age, when it waxeth dry and exhaust.' * 
*Its' occurs very rarely in Shakespeare, in far the 

* Essay 58. 

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rr. * /te/ a recent Word in English. 143 

larger number of his plays not once ; indeed, all 
counted, I do not believe more than ten times in the 
whole ; though singularly enough, three of these uses 
occur in one speech of twelve lines in The Winter's 
Tale,*' Milton for the most part avoids it; yet we 
find it a few times in his poetry, f 

It is not hard to trace the motives which led to the 
generation of this genitive, or the causes which have 
enabled it against much tacit opposition to hold its 
own. A manifest inconvenience attended the em- 
ployment of ' his ' both for masculine and neuter, or 
to speak more accurately, for persons and for things ; 
this namely, that the personifying power of 'his,' no 
unimportant power for the poet, was seriously im- 
paired, almost destroyed thereby. It would be often 
difficult, nay impossible, to determine whether such a 
personification was intended or not ; and even where 
the context made perfectly evident that such was 
meant, the employment of the same form where 

* Act I. Sc. 2. 

t As in P. L. i. 254 ; iv. 813. At the same time it is em- 
ployed by him so rarely, that the use of it four times in the 
little poem which has been recently ascribed to him, seems to 
me of itself nearly decisive against his authorship. It is worth 
while, however, to see what has been said on the other side in 
Mr. Morley*s The King and the Commons, Unluckily, neither 
Mrs. Cowden Clarke, to whom we owe so invaluable a Con- 
cordance of Shakespeare's Plays (but why not of his Poems as 
well ? ) nor Mr. Prendergast, to whom we are indebted for one 
of Milton's Poetical Works, were aware of the importance of 
registering the very rare occurrences of * its * in either author, 
and we look in vain for any notice oi the word in them. 

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144 Gains of the Mftglish Language, lbct. 

nothing of the kind was intended, contributed greatly 
to diminish its effect Craik has noticed as a conse- 
quence of this that Milton prefers, wherever it is 
possible, the feminine to the masculine personifica- 
tion,* as if he felt that the latter was always obscure 
from the risk of 'his' being taken for the neuter 
pronoun. There was room too for other confusions. 
When we read of the Ancient of Days, that *hii 
throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as 
burning fire' (Dan. vii. 9), who does not now refer 
the second * his ' as well as the first to * the Ancient 
of Days ' ? It indeed belongs to the throne. 

So strongly had these and other inconveniences 
made themselves felt, that there was already, and had 
been for a long while, a genitival employment of 'it,' 
whereby it was made to serve all the uses which * its ' 
served at a later day. In some dialects, in the West 
Midland for example, this dates very far back.f We 
have one example of ' it,' so used, in the Authorized 
Version of Scripture, Lev. xxv. 5 : * That which grow- 
eth of ^y own accord thou shalt not reap' — ^which has 
silently been changed in later editions to ^tfs own 
accord ;' but ' it ' was the reading in the exemplar 
edition of 161 1, and for a considerable time following. - 
Exactly the same phrase, ' of it own accord,' occurs 
in the Geneva Version at Acts xii. 10. J There are 

♦ Thus, see P. L, ii. 4, I75» 5^4 ; ix. "03 ; Comus, 396, 

f See Guest, Hist, of English Rhythms^ vol. i. p. 280. 

X And also in Hooker, EccUs. Pol. i. 3, 5. In Keble's 
edition this is printed *of its own accord.* Were this tlte 

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IV. * Its ' reluctantly accepted. 145 

several examples, thirteen have been counted, of this 
use of ' it ' in Shakespeare ; thus in The Winter's Tale, 
iii. 2 : * The innocent milk in ii most innocent 
mouth;' and again in King John, ii. 3 : 'Go to it 
grandame.' And they are by no means unfrequent 
in other writers of the eariier half of the seventeenth 
century. Thus in Rogers' Naaman ike Syrian, pub- 
lished in 1642, but the lectures delivered some eight 
years earlier, 'its' nowhere occurs, but a genitival 
' it' often ; thus, ' I am at this mark, to withdraw the 
, soul from the life of it own hand ' {Preface, p. i ) ; 
aijd again, * The power of the Spirit is such that it 
blows at it own pleasure ' (p. 441 ) ; and again, ' The 
scope which mercy propounds to herself of the turn- 
ing of the soul to God, even the glory of it own self 
(p. 442) * 

No doubt we have here m this use of * it ' a step- 
ping-stone by. which the introduction of * its ' was 
greatly aided. And yet for a long while the word 
was very reluctantly allowed, above all in any statelier 
style. It was evidently regarded as a distaste&l 
makeshift not always to be dispensed with, but to 

original leading, then, as tlie book was first published in 1594, 
we shoi^d have an earlier example of * its * by four years than 
that in ^orio pbut in all editions up to that of 1632, * of it 
\ own accord ' is the reading. 

* See upon this whole subject Craik, On the English of 
Shakespeare, 2nd edit. p. 97 ; Marsh, Manual of the English 
Language, lEngl. edit. p. 278 ; Transactions of the Philological 
Society, vol. i. p. 280 ; and Wright, The Bible fVbrdbooh^ 
p, y. 'it.' 

Digitized by 


146 Oains of the English Language, lect. 

■ 'I ' ■ 

which recourse should be had only when this was 
unavoidable. This feeling is not even now extinct 
I remeniber hearing Lord Macaulay'say that he always 
avoided 'its' when he could ; while to every writer of 
English verse, who has any sense of melody, the 
necessity of using it is often most unwelcome. It is 
in fact z. parvenu^ which forced itself into good society 
at last, but not with the good will of those who in the 
end had no choice but to a^mit it 

There is indeed a very singular period in our 
literature, extending over more than the first half of 
the seventeenth century, during which the old gram- - 
matical usages, namely, 'his' applied to neuters as 
freely as to masculines, or instead of this, 'thereof,' 
or 'of it,' were virtually condemned — ^the first as 
involving many possible confusions, the others as 
clumsy and antiquated contrivances for escaping these 
confusions, while yet at the same time the help of 'its ' 
is claimed as sparingly as possible, by some is not 
claimed at all. Thus I have carefully examined large 
portions of Daniel and Drayton— the fiu:st died in 1619, , 
the second in 1631 — ^without once lighting upon the. 
word, and am inclined to believe that -it occurs in 
neither ; but, which is very much more noticeable, I 
have (Jone this without lighting upon more than one 
or two passages where there was even the temptation, 
if the poet shrunk from the employment of ' its,' to 
employ any of the earlier substitutes; so that it is 
hardly too much to say that the whole fashion of their 
sentence^ must have been often shaped by a conscious 
or unconscious seeking to avoid the alternative neces- 

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IV* Noveliy of ' its^ soon forgotten 147 

sities either of using, or else evidently finding a 
substitute for, this unwelcome little monosyllable. 
Diyden, I suppose, had no conscious scruple about 
employing 'its,' and yet how rarely he did so, as 
compared with a modem writer under the same 
inducements, a fact like this remarkably attests, 
namely, that in his rendering of the second book of 
the JEneid^ on which I made the experiment, 'its' 
occurs only three-times, while in Conington's transla- 
tion of the same no fewer times than twenty-six. We 
may further note that many who employ the newly 
invented possessive, ever and anon fall back on 'his,' 
or 'her,' or 'thereof,' as though the other did not 
exist. It is thus continually with Fuller, and, though 
not so often, with Jeremy Taylor. Thus the former 
says of Solomon's Temple : ' Twice was ii pillaged by 
foreign foes, and four times by her own friends before 
the final destruction thereof,' * He turns to ' thereof 
for help ten times for once that * its ' finds allowance 
with him. And in Jeremy Taylor a construction 
such as the following is not unusual : ' Death hath 
not only lost the sting, but ii bringeth a coronet in 
her hand.' 

How soon, with all this, the actual novelty of 'its ' 
was forgotten is strikingly evidenced by the fact that 
when Dryden, in one of his moods of fault-finding 
with the poets of the preceding generation, is taking 
Ben Jonspn to task for general inaccuracy in his 

* Pisgah Sight of Palestine, p. 40. Compare Marsh, Lec- 
tures m thf English Language, New York, i860, p. 399. 

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148 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

English diction, among other counts of his indict- 
ment, he quotes this line from Catiline, 

* Though heaven should speak with all his wrath at once,* 

and proceeds, * heaven is ill syntax with his/ and 
this, while in fact till within forty or fifty years of the 
time when Diyden begau to write, no other syntax 
was known ; and to a much later date was exceed- 
ingly rare. Curious, too, is it to note that in the 
earnest controversy which followed on the publication 
by Chatterton of the poems ascribed by him to the 
monk Rowley, who should have lived in the fifteenth 
century, no one appealed to the following line, 

* Life and all its goods I scom,' 

as at once deciding that the poems were not of the 
age which they pretended., Warton, who denied, 
though with some hesitation, the antiquity of the 
poems,* giving many and sufficient reasons for this 
denial, failed to take note of this little word, which 
betrayed the forgery at once. 

\gain, languages enrich their vocabulary, our own 
has largely done so, by recovering treasures which 
had escaped them for a while. Not that all which 
drops out of use and memory is loss ; there are words 
which it is gain to be rid of, and which none would 
wish to revive ; words of which Dryden says truly, 
though in a somewhat ingracious comparison — ^they 
do * not deserve tiiis redemption, any more than the 

* History of English Toetry^ vol. ii. p. 463 sqq. 

Digitized by 


IV. Recovery of lost Words. 14A 

crowds of men who daily-die, or are slain for sixpence 
in a battle, merit to be restored to life, if a wish could 
revive them/* But there are others which it is a real 
advantage to draw back again from the temporary ob- 
livion into which they had fallen; and such recoveries 
are more numerous than might at first be supposed. 

You may remember that Horace, tracing in a few 
memorable lines the fortune of words, and noting 
that many, once current, were in his time no longer 
in use, did not therefore count that of necessity their 
race was for ever run. So far fi-om this, he confi- 
dently anticipated 2. palingenesy or renewed existence 
for many among them.f They had set, but they 
should rise again : what seemed death was only sus- 
pended animation. Such indeed is constantly the 
fact. Words slip almost or quite as imperceptibly 
back into use as they once slipped out of it There 
is abundant evidence of this. Thus in the contem- 
porary gloss which an anonymous friend of Spenser 
furnishes to his Shepherds Calendar, first publi^ed 
in 1579, 'for the exposition of old words,' as he de- 
clares, he includes the following in his list : 'askance,' 
'bevy,' 'coronal,' 'dapper,' 'embellish,' '&in,' 
'flowret,' 'forlorn,' 'forestall,' 'glee,' 'keen,' 
'scadie,' 'seer,' 'surly,' 'welter,' 'wizard,' with 
others quite as familiar as these. In Speght's Chau- 

* Postcript to his Translation of the jETieid, For Gray's 
judgment on .the words recovered or recalled by Dryden see 
Letter 43, to West. 

t Multa renascentur, quae jam cecidere. 

Ars Poet^ 46-72 ; cf. Ep, ii. 2. 115, 

Digitized by 


150 Gains of the JEnglish Language, legt. 

cer (1667), there is a long- list of 'old and obscure 
words in Chaucer explained ;' these ' old and obscure 
words/ including * anthem/ 'blithe/ 'bland/ 'chap- 
let/ 'carol/ 'deluge/ 'franchise/ 'illusion/ 'prob- 
lem/ 'recreant/ 'sphere/ 'tissue/ ' transcend/ with 
very many easier than these. In Skinner's Etyniolo- 
gicm ( 1 671 ), there is another such list of words which 
have gone out of use,* and among these he includes 
'to [dovetail/ 'to interlace/ 'elvish/ 'encumbred/ 
'phantom/ 'gawd/ 'glare/ 'malison/ 'mas(^ue- 
rade/ (mascarade), 'oriental/ 'plumage/ 'pummel/ 
(pomell), 'shapely/ Again, there is prefixed to 
Thomson's CastU of Indolence^ in which, as is well 
known, he affects the antique, an ' explanation of the 
obsolete words used in this poem. ' They are not very 
many, but they include 'appal,' 'aye,' 'bale,' 'bla- 
zon,' 'carol,' 'deftly,* 'gear,' 'glee,' 'imp,' 'nms- 
ling,' 'prankt,' 'sere/ 'sheen,' 'sweltry,' 'thrall,' 
' unkempt,' ' wight ;' many of which would be used 
without scruple in the prose, the remainder belong- 
ing to the recognized poetical diction, of the present 
day. West, a contemporary of Thomson, whose 
works, have found their way into Johnson's PoeiSy and 
who imagined, like Thomson, that he was writing ' in 
the manner of Spenser,' counts it necessary to explain 
'assay,' 'astound,' 'caitiff,' 'dight,' 'emprise,' 
'guise,' 'kaiser,' 'palmer,' 'paragon,' 'paramour,' 

* Etymologicon vocum omniam antiquarum qua usque a 
Wilheimo Victor e invalueruni et jam ante parentiftn atatem 
in usu esse desierunt. 

Digitized by 


IV. Words come back into Use. 151 

*paynim/ 'prowess,' 'trenchant,' 'welkin;* with all 
which our poetry is familiar now^ 

It is well-nigh incredible what words it has been 
sometimes proposed to dismiss from our English 
Bible on the plea that they 'are now almost or 
entirely obsolete.' Wemyss, writing in 1816, desired 
to get rid of 'athirst,' ' ensample,' ' gamer,' 'haply,' 
'^jeopardy,' 'lack,' 'passion,' 'straightway,' 'twain,' 
' wax,' with a multitude of other words not a whit more 
aloof from our ordinaiy use. Purver, whose New and 
Literal Translation of the Old and New Testament 2:^- 
peared in 1 764, has an enormous list of expressions 
that are ' clownish, barbarous, base, hard, technical, 
misapplied, or new coined ;' and among these are ' be- 
guile,' 'boisterous,' ' lineage,' 'perseverance,' ' poten- 
tate,' 'remit,' 'seducer,' 'shorn,' 'swerved,' 'vigilant,' 
' unloose,' 'unction,' 'vocation.' And the same wor- 
ship of the fleeting present, of the transient feshions of 
the hour in language, with the same contempt of that 
stable past which in all likelihood will be the endur- 
ing future, long after these fashions have passed away 
and are forgotten, manifests itself to an extravagant de- 
gree in the new Version of the American Bible Union. 
It needs only for a word to have the slighest suspi- 
cion of age upon it, to have ceased but for the moment 
to be the current money of the street and the mar- 
ket-place, and there is nothing for it but peremptory 
exclusion. ' To chasten ' and ' chastening, ' ' to better, ' 
'to faint,' 'to quicken,' 'conversation,' 'saints,' 
'wherefore,' 'straitly,' 'wroth,' with hundreds more, 
are thrust out, avowedly upon this plea ; and modem 

Digitized by 


152 Gains of the JEJnglish Language, lect. 

substitutes introduced in their room. I can fancy no 
more effectual scheme for debasing the Version, nor, 
if it were admitted as the law of revision, for the 
lasting impoverishment of the English tongue. One 
can only liken it to a custom of the Fiji islanders, 
who, as soon as their relatives begin to show tokens 
of old age, bury them alive, or by some other means 
put them out of the way. They, however,- might 
plead this, that their old would grow older still, more 
useless, more burdensome, every day. It is nothing 
of the kind with the words which, on somewhat simi- 
lar grounds, are forcibly dismissed. A multitude of 
these, often the most precious ones, after a period of 
semi-obsoleteness, of withdrawal from active service 
for a while, obtain that second youth, pass into free 
and unquestioned currency again. But nothing 
would so eflfectually hinder this rejuvenescence as the 
putting a ban upon them directly they have passed 
out of vulgar use ; as this resolution, that if they 
have withdrawn for ever so brief a time from the 
every-day service of men, they shall never be per- 
mitted to return to it again. A true lover of his native 
tongue will adopt another course : 

Obscurata diu populo bonus eruet, 

and valuable words which are in danger of disappear- 
ing, instead of bidding to be gone, he will do his best 
to detain or recover. 

Who would now afl&rm of the verb * to hallow ' that 
it is even obsolescent ? yet Wallis two hundred years 
ago observed — * it has almost gone out of use ' (fere 

Digitized by 


£7. Dry den on Spenser, etc. 153 

desuevit). It would be difficult to find an example 
of the verb 'to advocate ' between Milton and Burke. 
Franklin, an admirable master of the homelier Eng- 
lish style, considered the word to have sprung up 
during his own residence in Europe. In this indeed 
he was mistaken ; it had only during this period re- 
vived. Johnson says of ' jeopardy ' that it is a ' word 
not now in use ;' which certainly is not any longer 

I am persuaded that in facility of being understood, 
Chaucer is not merely as near, but much nearer, to 
us than he was felt by Dryden and his contemporaries 
to be to them. They make exactly the same sort of 
complaints, only in still stronger language, about his 
archaic phraseology and the obscurities which it in- 
volves, which we still sometimes hear at the present 
day. Thus in the Pre/ace to his Tales from Chancery 
having quoted some not very difficult lines from the 
earlier poet whom he was modernizing, he proceeds : 
* You have here a specimen of Chaucer's language, 
which is so obsolete that his sense is scarce to be 
understood. 'f Nor did it fare thus with Chaucer 

* In like manner La Bruydre {Caractlres^ c. 14) laments 
the extinction of a large number of French words which he 
names. At least half of these have now free course in the 
language, as *valeureux,* *haineux,* *peineux,* *fructueux,* 
*mensonger,' *coutumier,* *vantard,* <courtois,' 'jovial,* 
*f(§toyer,* *larmoyer,* *verdoyer.* Two or three of these 
may be rarely used, but every one would be found in a dic- 
tionary of the living language. 

t But for all this Dryden thought him worth understanding. 
Not so Addison. In a rapid review of English poets he ac- 

Digitized by 


164 Oaina of the English Language, lbot. 

^~~ — p 

only. These wits and poets of the Court of Charles 
the Second were conscious of a greater gulf between 
themselves and the Elizabethan aera, separated from 
them by little more than fifty years, than any of which 
we are aware, separated from it by two centuries more. 
It was not merely that they felt themselves more re- 
moved from its tone and spirit ; their altered circum- 
stances explain this ;* but I am convinced that they 
found more difficulty and strangeness in the language 
of Spenser and Shakespeare than we find at this 
present ; that it sounded more uncouth, more old- 
feshioned, more crowded with obsolete terms than it 
does in our ears at the present Only so can one 
explain the tone in which they are accustomed to 
speak of these worthies of the near past I must 
again cite Dryden, the truest representative for good 
and for evil of literary England during the later de- 

counts * the merry bard * — this is his chai-acteristic epithet for 
the most pathetic poet in the language — as one the whole sig- 
nificance of whose antiquated verse has for ever passed away : 

But age has rusted what the poet writ, 
Worn out his language, and obscured his wit. 
In vain he jests in his unpolished strain, 
And tries to make his readers laugh in vain.' 

• Addison takes credit for this inability of his own age to 
find any satisfaction in that which Spenser sung for the delight 
of his : 

« But now the mystic tale, that pleased of yore, 
Can charm our understanding age no more ; 
The long-spun allegories fulsome grow, 
While the dull moral lies too plain below.' 

Digitized by 


IV. Dryden on Spenser ^ etc. 155 

cades of the seventeenth century. Of Spenser, whose 
death was separated from his own birth by little more 
than thirty years, he speaks as of one belonging to 
quite a different epoch, counting it much to say, 
'notwithstanding his obsolete language, he is still 
intelligible; at least after a little practice.'* Nay, hear 
his judgment of Shakespeare himself, as fer as 
language is concerned : 'It must be allowed to the 
present age that the tongue in general is so much 
refined since Shakespeare's time, that many of his 
words and more of his phrases are scarce intelligible. 
And of those which we understand, some are un- 
grammatical, others coarse ; and his whole style is so 
pestered with figurative expressions, that it is as 
affected as it is obscure. 'f 

Sometimes a word emerges from the lower strata 
of society, not indeed new, but yet to most seeming 
new, its very existence having been forgotten by 
the larger number of those speaking the language ; 
although it must hzve somewhere lived on upon the 
lips of men. - Thus, since the gold-fields of California 
and Australia have been opened, we hear often of a 
' nugget ' of gold ; being a lump of the pure metal ; 
and it has been debated whether the word is a new 
birth altogether, or a popular recasting of ' ingot' It 

* Preface to yteVencU, 

t Preface to Troilus and Cressida. In justice to Dryden, 
and lest he should seem to speak poetic blasphemy, it should 
not be forgotten that < pestered ' had in his time no such offen- 
sive a sense as it has now. It meant no more than incon- 
veniently crowded. See my Select Glossary^ s. v. 

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156 Gains of the Miglish Language, lect. 

is most probably this last ; and yet scarcely a recent 
one, framed for the present need, seeing that ' nugget,' 
or * niggot ' as it is spelt by them, occurs in our elder 
writers.''' There can be little doubt of the identity of 
* niggot ' and ' nugget'; all the consonants, the s/a- 
mina of a word, being the same ; whilst that earlier 
form makes plausible the suggestion that 'nugget' 
is only ' ingot ' a little disguised, since it wants no- 
thing but the very common transposition of the first 
two letters to bring them to an almost absolute iden- 

There is another very fruitful source of increase in 
the vocabulary of a language. What was once one 
word separates into two, takes two forms, or even 
more, and each of these asserts an existence indepen- 
dent of the other. The impulse and suggestion to 
this is in general first given by differences in pronun- 
ciation, which are presently represented by differences 
in spelling ; or it will sometimes happen that what at 
first were no more than precarious and arbitrary 
variations in spelling come in the end to be regarded 
as words altogether distinct; they detach themselves 
from one another, not again to reunite ; just as acci- 
dental varieties in fruits or flowers, produced at hazard. 

* Thus in North's Plutarch^ p. 499: 'After the fire was 
quenched, they found in tdggots of gold and silver mingled 
together, about a thousand talents ;* and again, p. 323 : 
* There was brought a marvellous great mass of treasure in 
tdggots of gold.* The word has not found its way into our 
dictionaries or glossaries. 

Digitized by 


IV. Different Spelling of Words. 157 

have permanently separated off, and settled into dif- 
ferent kinds. They have each its own distinct domain 
of meaning, as by general agreeqxent assigned to it ; 
dividing the inheritance between them, which before 
they held in common. No one who has not watched 
and catalogued these words as they have feUen under 
his notice, would believe how numerous they are. 

Sometimes as the accent is placed on one syllable 
of a word or another, it comes to have different signi- 
fications, and those so distinctly marked, that the 
separation may be regarded as complete. Examples 
of this are the following: 'divers,' and diverse; 
cdnjure' and 'conjiire;' 'dntic' and 'antique;' 
*hdman ' and 'humdne ;' ' drban ' and 'urbdne ;' 
* g6ntle ' ' gentile ' and ' genteel ;' ' cdstom ' and ' cos- 
ttSme ;' ' ^say ' and ' assdy ;' * prdperty ' and ' pro- 
priety.' Or again, a word is pronounced at full, or 
somewhat more shortly : thus ' spirit ' and ' sprite ;' 
' blossom ' and ' bloom ;' * courtesy ' and ' curtsey ;' ' 
' chaloupe ' and ' sloop ; ' nourish ' and ' nurse ;' 
' personality ' and ' personalty';' ' fantasy ' and * fancy; ' 
' triumph ' and ' trump ' (the winning card*) ; * hap- 
pily ' and ' haply ;' * ordinance ' and ' ordnance ; 
' shallop' and ' sloop ;' ' brabble ' and ' brawl ;» 
' syrup ' and ' shrub ;' ' bal^m ' and ' balm ;' ' dame ' 
and ' dam ;' ' cape ' and ' cap ;' ' eremite ' and ' her- 
mit;' 'nighest' and 'next;' 'poesy' and 'posy;' 
'achievement' and 'hatchment;' 'manoeuvre' and 

"^ See Latimer's famous Sermon on Cards, where * triumph * 
and < trump ' are interchangeably used. 

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158 Gains of the English Language, lect* 

'manure;' and, older probably than any of these, 
' other' and * or ;' — or, with the dropping of the first 
letter or letters: 'history' and 'story;' 'harbour' 
and ' arbour ; ' etiquette ' and ' ticket ;' ' escheat ' and 
'cheat;' 'estate' and 'state;' — or with a dropping 
of'the last syllable, as ' Britany ' and ' Britain ;' ' crony ' 
and 'crone;' — or, without losing a syllable, with 
more or less stress laid on the close ; ' regiment ' and 
' regimen ;' ' corpse ' and ' corps ;' ' bite ' and ' bit ;' 
'sire' and 'sir;' 'land' or 'laund' and 'lawn; 
' suite ' and ' suit ;' ' swinge ' and ' swing ;' ' gulph ' 
and 'gulp.;' 'launch 'and 'lance;' 'wealth' and 
' weal ;' * stripe ' and ' strip ;' ' borne ' and ' bom ;' 
'glaze' and 'glass;' 'stave' and 'staff;' 'clothes' 
and 'cloths.' Or sometimes a slight internal vowel 
change finds place, as between ' dent ' and * dint ;' 
' rant ' and ' rent ' (a ranting actor tears or rends a 
passion to tatters) ; ' creak ' and ' croak ;' ' float ' and 
' fleet :' ' lill ' (Spenser) and ' loll ;' ' reel ' and ' roll ;' 
'^cross ' and ' cruise ;' ' sleek ' and ' slick ;' , ' sheen ' 
and ' shine ;' ' shriek ' and ' shrike ;' ' pick ' and 
' peck :' ' peak ' ' pique ' and ' pike ;' ' snip ' ' snib ' 
and ' snub ;' ' plot ' and ' plat ;' ' weald ' and ' wold ;' 
' drip ' and ' drop ; ' wreathe ' and ' writhe ;' ' spear ' 
and ' spire ' (' the least spire of grass, ' South) ; ' trist ' 
and ' trust ;' ' band ' ' bend ' and ' bond ;' ' cope ' 
' cape ' and ' cap ;' ' tip ' and ' top ;' ' slent ' (now 
obsolete). and ' slant ;' 'sweep ' and ' swoop ;' ' wrest ' 
and ' wrist ;' ' neb ' and ' nib ;' ' gad ' (now surviving 
only in gadfly) and 'goad;' 'complement' and 
' compliment ;' ' spike ' and ' spoke ;* ' tamper ' and 

Digitized by 


IV. Different Spelling of Words. 169 

'temper;' 'flutter' and 'flatter;' 'ragged' and 

* rugged ;' ' gai;gle ' and * guigle ;' ' snake ' and 
*^sneak ' (both crawl) ; ' deal ' and ' dole ;' 'giggle ' 
and 'gaggle' (this last is now commonly spelt 
' cackle ') ; ' scribble ' and * scrabble ;' ' flicker ' and 
'flacker' (now obsolete) ; 'gourmand' and 'gor- 
mand ;' ' sip ' ^ ' sop ' ' 50up ' and ' sup ;' ' clack ' 
' click ' and ' clock ;' ' tetchy ' and ' touchy ; ' sauce' 
and ' souse ;' 'spoil ' and ' spill ;' 'halt ' and ' hold ;' 
' vendor ' and * vender ;' ' visitor ' and ' visiter ;' 
\neat ' and ' nett ;' * stud ' and ' steed ;' ' then ' and 
' than ;'♦ ' grits ' and ' grouts ;' ' spirt ' and ' sprout ;' 

* prune ' and ' preen ;' ' mister ' and ' master ;' 'allay ' 
and '-alloy ;' ' ghostly ' and ' ghastly ;' ' person ' and 
'parson;' 'cleft' and 'clift' (now written 'cliff') 
' travel ' and ' travail ;' ' truth ' and ' troth ;' ' pennon ' 
and ' pinion ;' ' quail ' 'quell ' and ' kill ;' ' metal ' 
and ' mettle ;' ' ballad ' and ' ballet ;' ' chagrin ' and 
' shagreen ;' 'can ' and ' ken ;' * Francis ' and ' Fran- 
ces ;'t 'chivalry' and 'cavalry;' 'oaf and 'elf;' 

* thresh ' and ' thrash ;' ' lose ' and ' loose ;' ' taint ' 
and 'tint.' Sometimes the difference is mainly or 
entirely in the initial consonants, as between ' phial ' 

• On these words see a learned discussion in English 
Retraced, Cambridge, 1862. 

t The appropriating of * France * to women and * Franc/s ' 
to men b quite modem ; it was formerly as often Sir France 
Drake as Sir Francis, while Fuller {Holy State, b. iv. c. 14) 
speaks of Francis Brandon, eldest daughter of Charles Bran- 
don, Duke of Suffolk ; and see Ben Jonson, New Itm, Act ii. 
Sc. i. 

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160 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

and ' vial ; ' pother ' and ' bother ;' * bursar ' and 

* purser ;' ' thrice ' and * trice ;' ' fitch ' and * vetch ; 
' strinkle ' (now obsolete) and * sprinkle ; * shatter ' 
and * scatter ;' ' chattel ' and ' cattle ;' ' chant ' and 
' cant ;' * champaign ' and ' campaign ;' ' zealous ' and 

* jealous ;' ' channel ' and * kennel ;* ' quay ' and 

* key ;' ' thrill '' trill' and ' drill ;* — or in the con- 
sonants in the middle of the word, as between * can- 
cer' and 'canker' 'nipple' and 'nibble;' 'tittle' 
and * title ;' * price ' and ' prize ;' * consort ' and 
' concert ;' — or there is a change in both consonants, 
as in ' pipe ' and ' fife.' 

Or a word is spelt now with a final k and now with 
a final ch ; out of this variation two different words 
have been formed, with, it may be, other slight 
differences superadded ; thus is it with ' poke ' and 
' poach ; * dyke ' and ' ditch ;' * stink ' and * stench ;' 
' prick ' and ' pritch ' (now obsolete) ; ' milk ' and 
' milch ;' * break ' ' breach ' and ' broach ;' ' lace ' and 
'latch;' 'stick' and 'stitch;' 'lurk' and 'lurch;' 
' bank ' and ' bench ;' ' stark ' and ' starch ;' ' wake ' 
and 'watch.' So too / and </are easily exchanged ; 
as in ' clod ' and ' clot ;' ' vend ' and ' vent ;' ' brood ' 
and ' brat ;' ' sad ' and ' set ;' ' card ' and ' chart ;' 
'medley and 'motley.' Or there has grown up, 
beside the accurate pronunciation, a popular as well; 
and this in the end has formed itself into another 
word ; thus it is with ' housewife ' and ' hussey ;' 
' ©randfether ' and ' gaffer ;' ' grandmother ' and 
' gammer ;' ' hanaper ' and ' hamper ;' ' puisne ' and 
' puny ;' ' patron ' and ' pattern ;' ' spital ' (hospital) 

Digitized by 


IV. Words in two Forms. 161 

and 'spittle' (house of correction) ; *accompt' and 
' account ;' * polity ' and * policy ;' * donjon ' and 

* dungeon ;' ' nestle' and * nuzzle ' (now obsolete) ; 
'Egyptian 'and 'gypsy ;' 'Bethlehem 'and 'Bedlam;' 
' Pharaoh ' and ' faro ' (this last so called because the 
winning card bore the likeness of the Egyptian king ;) 
' exemplar ' and ' sampler ;' ' procuracy ' and * proxy ;' 
' dolphin ' and ' dauphin ;' ' iota ' and 'jot ;' ' synoda- 
man ' and ' sidesman. ' 

Other changes cannot perhaps be reduced exactly 
under any of these heads ; as between ' ounce ' and 

* inch ;' ' errant ' and ' arrant ;' * slack ' and ' slake ;' 
' twang ' and ' tang ;' ' valet ' and ' varlet ;' * slow ' 
and ' slough ;' ' bow ' and ' bough ;' ' hurl ' and 
'whirl;' 'hew' and 'hough;' 'dies' and 'dice' 
(both plurals of 'die'); 'plunge' and 'flounce;' 
'Q%g* and 'edge;* 'staflf' and 'stave;' 'scull' 
'school' and 'shoal;' 'frith' and 'firth;' 'benefit' 
and ' benefice.'* Or, it may be, the difference is in 

• A singular characteristic trait of Papal policy once turned 
upon the £eict that * beneficium ' contained in itself both < bene- 
fice* and 'benefit.* Pope Adrian the Fourth writing to 
Frederic the First to complain of certain conduct of his, re- 
minded the Emperor that he had placed the imperial crown 
upon his head, and would willingly have conferred even 
greater *beneficia* upon him than this. Had this been al- 
lowed to pass, it would no doubt have been afterwards 
appealed fo as an admission on the Emperor's part, that he 
held the Empire as a feud or fief (for < beneficium * was then 
the technical word for this, though the meaning has much 
narrowed since) from the Pope— the very point in dispute 
between them. The word was indignantly repelled by the 

Digitized by 


162 Gains of the English Language, lbct. 

the spelling only, appreciable by the eye, but escap- 
ing altogether the ear. It is thus with ' draft ' and 

* draught ;' * plain ' and ' plane ;' * coign ' and ' coin ;' 

* flower ' and * flour ;' * check ' and * cheque ;' 
'straight' and 'strait;' * ton 'and *tun;' *road' and 

* rode ;' ' throw ' and * throe ;' ' wrack ' and * rack ;' 
'gait' and 'gate;' 'hoard' and 'horde;' 'knoll' 
and ' noil ;' ' chord ' and ' cord ;' * drachm ' and 
*dram;' 'license' and 'licence;' 'sergeant' and 
'Serjeant;' 'mask' and 'masque;' 'villain' and 

Now, if you will put the matter to proof, you will 
find, I believe, in every case that there has attached 
itself to the different forms of a word a modification 
of meaning more or less sensible, that each as won 
an independent sphere of meaning, which remains 
peculiarly its own. Thus ' divers' implies difference 
only, but ' diverse ' difference with opposition ; thus 
the several Evangelists narrate the same event in 
' divers ' manners, but not in ' diverse.' * Antique' 
is ancient, but ' antic ' is this same ancient regarded 
as overlived, out of date, and so in our days grotes- 
que, ridiculous ; and then, with a dropping of the 
reference to age, the grotesque, the ridiculous alone. 
' Human ' is what every man is, ' humane ' is what 
every man ought to be ; for Johnson's suggestion that 

Emperor and the whole German nation, whereupon the Pope 
appealed to the etymology, that * beneficium * was but * bonum 
factum,' and protested that he meant no more than to remind 
the Emperor of the various 'benefits ' which he had dojie him 
(Neander, Kirck, Geschichtey vol. v. p. 318). 

Digitized by 


IV. Words in two Forms. 163 

'humane' is from the French feminine *humaine,' 
and * human ' from the masculine, is contrary to all 
the analogies of language. * Ingenious ' expresses a 
mental, * ingenuous ' a moral excellence. A gardener 

* prunes * or trims his trees, properly indeed his vines 
{prcmgner), birds * preen' or trim their feathers. We 
'allay' wine with water ; we 'alloy 'gold with platina. 
' Bloom ' is a finer and yet more delicate effloitescence 
even than 'blossom ;' thus the 'bloom,' but not the 

* blossom,' of the cheek. It is now always ' clots ' of 
blood and ' clods ' of earth ; a ' float ' of timber, and 
a 'fleet 'of ships; men 'vend' wares, and 'vent' 
complaints. 'A curtsey ' is one, and that merely an 
external, manifestation of 'courtesy.' 'Gambling' 
may be, as with a fearful irony it is called, play, but 
it is nearly as distant fixnn * gambolling ' as hell is 
frcfm heaven. Nor would it be hard, in almost every 
pair or larger group of words which I have adduced, 
to detect shades of meaning which one word has ob- 
tained and not the other.* 

* The same happens in other languages. Thus m Gre<k 
dydBB/ia and dvdBtffia both signify that which is devoted, 
though in very different senses, to the higher powers ; 
Sdpdo?, boldness, and BpddoSf temerity, were at first but 
different spellings of the same word ; so too yptrioS and 
ypt<poS, sBoi and 77O0S, fipvKon and fip-vx^ • ^^^ probably 
opEkoi and 6/3 0X6?, 6opoi and doopdi. In Latin *penna* 
and < pinna ' differ only in form, and signify alike a * wing ;* 
while yet * penna * has come lo be used for the wing of a bird, 
* pinna' (its diminutive * pinnaculum,* has given us 'pin- 
nacle*) for that of a building; so is it with *Thrax' a 
Thracian, and 'Threx' a gladiator; with 'codex' and <cau- 

Digitized by 


164 Qain^ of the English Language, lect. 

There is another very sensible gain which the 
language has made, although of a different kind alto- 
gether. For a long time past there has been a 
tendency to bring the component parts of a word into 
linguistic harmony, so that it shall not any longer be 
made up of a Saxon prefix or suffix, joined to a Latin 
root, but shall be all homogeneoys ; and if Latin in 
the body of the word, then such throughout This 
evidently was not the case with 'unsatiable,' *un- 
glorious,' ' undiscreet,' * uncredible,' * unvisible,' * un- 
tolerable,' *unreligious ' (all in Wiclif ) ; which have 
now severally given place to ' insatiable,' ' inglorious,' 
'indiscreet,' and the rest ; while * untimely,' 'unwit- 
ting,' and many more, in which there existed no such 
discord between the parts, remain as they were. In 

dex ;* * forfex ' and * forceps ;* * anticus ' and * antiquos ;' 

* celeber ' and * creber ;* < infacetus ' and * inficetus ;* * mulgeo ' 
and *mulceo;* *providentia,' *prudentia,- and 'provincia ;' 

* columen * and * culmen ; * coXtus ' and * coetus ;* * segrimonia * 
and * serumna ;' * Lucina * and * luna ;* * cohors ' and * cors ;' 

* navita * and * nauta ;* in German with • rechtlich * and 
< redlich ;* * schlecht ' and * schlicht ;^ * golden ' and * gulden ;' 

* hOfisch ' and * htibsch ;* * ahnden * and * ahnen * (see a very 
interesting notice in Grimm*s Woerterbttch) ; * biegsam ' and 

* beugsam ;* * f ttrsehung ' and * vorsehung ;* * deich ' and 

* teich ;' * trotz * and * trutz ;* < bom ' and * brunnen ;* * athem ' 
and * odem :* in French with * hamois,* the armour or « har- 
ness * of a soldier, and * hamais ' of a horse ; with * foible ' 
and * faible ;' with * Z^phire ' and * zephyr ; with * chaire * 
and < chaise,' the latter having been at the first nothing else 
but a vicious and affected pronunciation of the former, and 
with many more. 

Digitized by 


IV. Words become homogeneous. 165 

the same way 'unpure' (Barnes) has been replaced 
by * impure/ 'unfirm' (Shakespeare) by 'infirm,' 
'unmoveable' (Coverdale) by 'immoveable/ *un- 
noble' (Drayton) by 'ignoble/ ' unmeasurable ' 
(NorA) by 'immeasurable/ 'uncapable' (Hooker) 
by 'incapable/ 'unpatient' (Coverdale) by 'impa- 
tient/ 'unportial' (Jackson) by impartial/ 'unde- 
cent' (Cowley) by ' indecent/ * unactive ' (Milton) by 
'inactive/ ' Unpossible/ which is the proper read- 
ing of our Authorized Version at Matt xvii. 20 ; xix. 
26, and, I believe, throughout, has been silently 
changed into 'impossible/ Here and there, but very 
rarely, the tendenqr has been in the opposite .direc- 
tion — to create these anomalies, not to jremove them. 
Thus Milton's 'inchastity' (prose), 'ingrateful,' 
have given place to the less correct ' unchastity,' * un- 

And as with the prefix, so also it has fiired with the 
suffix. A large group of our Latin words for a long 
while had not a Latin, but a Saxon terminatioh. We 
have several of these in the Bible and in the Prayer 
Book; 'pureness,' for example, 'fiailness,' 'dis- 
quietness,"perfectness,' and 'simpleness.' 'Pure- 
ness ' may perhaps still survive ; but for the others we 
have substituted ' frailty' (recalled it, we may say, for 
it was already in Piers Ploughman), 'disquietude,' 
'perfection,' 'simplicity.' The same has happened 
with a multitude of others ; ' gayness ' {Piers Plough- 
man) has given way to 'gaiety,' 'poverness {ibid,) to 
'poverty,' 'subtleness' (Sidney) to 'subtlety,' 'able- 
ness ' (Spenser) to ' ability ;' ' ferventness ' (Coverdale) 

Digitized by 


166 Gains of the Mnglisih Language, lect. 

to 'fervency;' 'cruelness' (Golding) to 'craelty;* 
' desolateness ' (Andrews) to 'desolation;' 'partial- 
ness' (Frith) to 'partiality;' 'spiritualness,' 'vain- 
ness/ 'realness,' 'vulgamess/ ' immoralness ' (all in 
Rogers), severally to 'spirituality,' 'vanity,' 'reality,' 
'vulgarity,' 'immorality;' 'stableness' (Coverdale) 
to 'stability;' 'dejectedness' (Bishop Hall) to 'de- 
jection,' ' insensibleness ' (Mahton) to ' insensibility ;' 
'doubleness' (Hawes) to 'duplicity;' so too *furi- 
ousness,' 'terribleness,' 'valiantness,' have all been 
felt to be words ill put together, and have silently 
been dropped; nor would it be difficult to augment 
this list Thus too, though we have not at this day 
altogether rejected words in which the French termin- 
ation ' able ' is combined with a Saxon root, as ' un- 
speakable' and the like, still there has been an evi- 
dent disposition among us to diminish their number. 
There were once far more of these, as 'findable,' 
'unlackable,' ' ungainsayable ' (all in Pecock), 
*matchable' (Spenser), 'mockable' (Shakespeare), 
'woundable' (Fuller), 'speakable' (Milton), than 
there are now. ' The rejection of these hybrid words, ' 
as has been well said,* 'from the modem vocabulary 
is curious, as an instance of the unconscious exercise 
of a linguistic instinct by the English people. The 
objection to such adjectives is their mongrel character, 
the root being Saxon, the termination Romanic ; and 
it is an innate feeling of the incongruity of such al- 

♦ Marsh, Origin and History of the English La$iguage, 
P- 475- 

Digitized by 


IV. Change of Termination. 167 

liances, not the speculative theories of philologists, 
which has driven so many of them out of circulation, ^i^^"^^ 
But changes not unlike to those which I have just • 
noted have come over words, where there was no 
such inducement arising from want of congruity in 
their component parts ; where, on the contrary, they 
were already homogeneous in the quarters from which 
they were derived. In these instances the language 
seems, so to say, to have hesitated for a while before 
it made up its mind which suffix it would employ, and 
has often in later times rejected one which in earlier 
it appeared disposed to adopt, and in the stead of 
this adopted another. The termination * ness,' which, 
as we just now saw, has lost its hold on a great many 
Latin words, with which it certainly had no right to 
be joined, has more than made good these losses by 
gains in other directions. Many words that ended for 
a while in ' ship,' now end in * ness,' as * gladship ' 
(Orinulurn)^ 'mildship,' *meekship,' 'idleship' (all* 
in Halt MeMenhad), ' guiltship ' (Geneva Bible) ; 
which are now severally 'gladness,' 'mildness,' 'meek- 
ness,' 'idleness,' and 'guiltiness.' More numerous ♦ 
are those which, terminating once in 'head ' or ' hood,' 
have finally settled down with that same termination. 
I adduce a few, ' busihede,' ' wearihede,' 'holihede,' 
'newhede,' 'godlihede,' 'swifthede,' 'greenhede,' 
' vilehede, ' ' blisedhede ' (all in The Ayenbite) ; ' wicked- 
hed,' 'pensivehed,' 'lowlihed' (all in Chaucer); 
'manhhed,' 'noblehed' (both in The Tale of Melu- 
sine) ; 'onehed,' ' worldlihood ' (Pecock); 'fulsome- 
hed,' 'fairhed' (both in King Horn); 'sinfulhed,' 

Digitized by 


168 Oains of the English Language, lect. 

'rightwisehed,' 'tamehed,' (all in the Siory of 
Genesis); 'wantonhed,' 'evenhood' {Promptorium 
Parvulomm) ; ' fulhed, ' * mightihed, ' ' filthihed ' 

* drankenhed' (all in Wiclif); 'headlesshood/ 'seem- 
lihed,' 'drearihed/ 'drowsihed,' 'livelihed/ 'goodli- 
hed ' ' beastlihed, ' (all in Spenser). In place of these 
we have * business/ * weariness/ * holiness/ and so on 
with the rest 

Then again, words not a few, once ending in 

* hood,' have relinquished this in fiivour of 'ship;' 
thus 'apostlehood,' 'disciplehood,' 'headhood' (all 
in Pecock), have done this. Others, but they are 
fewer, for *hood' have taken ' dom ;' thus 'Christen- 
hood' (Pecock) is 'Christendom 'now; or for 'rick,' 
which survives only in 'bishoprick' ('hevenriche,' 
or kingdom of heaven, having long since disappeared), 
have taken the same ; thus ' kingrick ' {Piers Plough- 
man) or 'kunneriche' {Proclamation of Henry III.) is 
' kingdom ' now. As between ' head ' and ' hood,' 
which are no more than variations of the same form, 
the latter has seriously encroached on the domain of 
words once occupied by the former. I quote a few 
instances, 'childbed,' 'manhed,' 'womanhed' 'bre- 
thered' (all in Chaucer); 'felsehed' (Tyndal), 
'widowhed' (Sibbald's Glossary). I am unable to 
adduce any instances in which the opposite tendenqr, 
'head' taking the place of 'hood,' has displayed 
itsel£ Then too many adjectives ending in 'ful' 
have changed this for ' ly ' (=like) ; thus 'gastful,' 
'loveful,' 'grisful' (all in Wiclif), are severally now 
'ghastly,' 'lovely,' 'grisly.' I shall note elsewhere 

Digitized by 


IV. Creation of Words. 109 

the extensive perishing of adjectives ending in *some/ 
Many of these, however, still survive, but with some 
other suffix — often with one which brings their com- 
ponent parts into harmony with one another ; thus 
' humoursome ' survives in ' humorous,' ' laboursome' 
in 'laborious,' * clamoursome ' in 'clamorous;' or 
sometimes where no such motive of making the word 
all of one piece can be traced, as in 'hatesum,' 
which is now 'hateful,' friendsome,' which is now 
'friendly,' 'mirksome' (Spenser), which is now 
' murky ;' and ' thoughtsome,' which is now 'thought- 
ful' This part of the history of our language haa 
hitherto attracted almost no attention. No catalogues 
of th^se words, which I know of, have yet been so 
much as attempted. 

Let me trace, before this lecture comes to an end, 
the history of the rise of some words in the lan- 
guage, noting briefly the motives which may have 
first induced their creation br adoption, the resistance 
which they may have met, the remonstrances against 
them which were sometimes made, the authors who 
first introduced them. It is a curious chapter in the 
history of the language, and even a few scattered con- 
tributions to it will not be Without their value. 

Sometimes a word has been created to supply an 
urgent want, to fill up a manifest gap in the language. 
For example, that sin of sins, the undue lo^e of self, 
with the postponing of the interests of all others to 
our own, being a sin as old as the Fall, had yet for a 
long time no word to express it in English. Help 

Digitized by 


170 Oaini of the English Language, lect. 

was first sought from the Greek, and 'philauty' 
(^qrtXavzia) more than once put forward by our 
scholars ; but it found no popular acceptance. This 
foiling, men turned 16 the Latin ; one writer pro- 
posing to supply the want by calling the sin * suicism,' 
and the man a *suist,' as one seeking his cwn things 
(*sua'), but this with no better success; and our 
ethical terminology was here still incomplete, till 
some of the Puritan divines, drawing on native re- 
sources, devised 'selfish' and 'selfishness,' words to 
us seeming obvious enough, but which yet are little 
more than two hundred years old. A passage in 
Racket's Life of Archbishop Williams^ marks the first 
rise of 'selfish,' and the quarter in which it rose: 
* When they [the Presbyterians] saw that he was not 
selfish (it is a word of their own new mint),' &c In 
Whitlock's ZooUmia (1654, p. 364), there is another 
indication of its novelty: 'If constancy may be 
tainted with this selfishness (to use our new wordings 
of old and general actings).' It is he who in his 
Grand Schismatic, <fr Suist Anatomized, puts forward 
the words ' suist' and ' suicism.' ' Suicism ' had not 
in his time the obvious objection of resembling 
' suicide ' too nearly, and being liable to be con- 
fused with it ; for ' suicide ' did not exist in the lan- 
guage till some twenty years later. Its coming up is 
marked by this protest in Phillips' New World of 
Words, 3rd edit, 1671 : 'Nor less to be exploded is 
the word ^'suicide," which may as well seem to par- 

• Part II. p. 144. 

Digitized by 


w. Philauty and Suicism. 171 

ticipate of ^ms a sow, as of the pronoun sui* In the 
Index to Jackson's Works, published two years later, 
it is still ^ sutctdium' — 'the horrid suiddium of the 
Jews at York. '* 

I should greatly like to see a collection, as nearly 
complete as the industry of the collectors could make 
it, of all the notices in our literature, which serve as 
dates for the first appearance of new words in the 
language. These notices are of the most various 
kinds. Sometimes they are protests and remon- 
strances, as that just quoted, against a new word's 
introduction ; sometimes they are gratulations at the 
same; while many, neither approving nor disap- 
proving, merely state, or allow us to gather, the fact 
of a word's recent apparition. Many such notices 
are brought together in Richardson's IHcfionafy.f Nor 

* * Suicide ' is of later introduction into French. G^nin 
{JRicriaiions Philol, vol. i. p. 194) places it about the year 
1738, and makes* the Abb6 Desfontaines its first sponsor. He 
is wrong, as we have just seen, in assuming that we borrowed 
it from the French, and that it did not exist in English till the 
middle of last century. The French complain that the fashion 
of suicide was borrowed from England. It is probable that 
the word was so. 

t Thus one from Lord Bacon under * essay ;' from Swift 
under * banter ;' from Sir Thomas Elyot under *mansuetude ;* 
from Lord Chesterfield under * flirtation ;' from The Spectator, 
No. 537, under * caricature ;* from Davies and Marlowe's* 
Epigrams under * gull ;' from Roger North under * sham ' 
(Appendix) ; from Dryden under * mob,' * philanthropy,' and 
* witticism,' which last word Dryden claims for his own ; from 
Evelyn under *miss;' and from Milton under * demagogue.* 

Digitized by 


172 Gains of the Mfiglish Language, lect. 

■ — -^ 

are they wanting in ToMs Johnson. But the work is 
one which could only be accomplished by many 
lovers of their native tongue throwing into a common 
stock the results of their several studies.* Our Eliza- 

* As a slight sample of what might be accomplished here 
by the joint contributions of many, let me throw together 
references to a few such passages, which I do not think have 
found their way into our dictionaries. Thus add to that which 
Richardson has quoted on * banter ' another from The Toiler, 
No. 230, marking the disfavor with which it was regarded at 
the first. On * plunder ' there are two instructive passages in 
Fuller's Church History, b. xi. §§ 4, 33 ; and b. ix. § 4 ; 
and one in Heylin*s Animadversions thereupon, p. 196 ; on 

* admiralty ' see a note in Harrington's Ariosto, b. xix. ; on 

* maturity ' Sir Thomas Elyot*s Governor, i. 22 ; and on 
'industry' the same, i. 23 ; on * neophyte,' which made its 
first appearance in the Rheims Bible, a notice in Fulke's 
Defence of the English Bible, Parker Society's edition, p. 586, 
where he says * neophyte is neither Greek, X.atin, nor English ;' 
on * fanatic' a passage in Fuller, Mixt Contemplations in 
Better Times, p. 212, ed. 1841, and another in Clarendon's 
History of the Rebellion; and on 'panorama,' and marking its 
recent introduction (it is not in Johnson), a passage in Pegge's 
Anecdotes of the English Language, first published in 1803, 
but my reference is to the edition of 1814, p. 306 ; on * accom- 
modate,' and supplying a date for its first coming into popular 
use, see Shakespeare's 2 Henry IV. Act 3, Sc. 2 ; on * shrub,' 
Junius' Etymologicon, s. v. * syrup ;' on 'sentiment ' and * ca- 
jole,' Skinner, s. w., in his Etymologicon (* vox nuper civitate 
donata ') ; and on * opera,' Evelyn's Memoirs and Diary, 
1827, vol. i. pp. 189, 190 ; on 'umbrella,' Torriano's Italian 
Proverbs, 1666, p. 58 : ' ombrella is a certain canopy that in 
Italy we use to shelter ourselves with from the sun and the 
rain.' ' Starvation ' may have been an old word in Scotland, 
but it was unknown in England until used by Mr. Dundas, the 

Digitized by 


IF. Early Notices of New Words. 173 

bethan dramatists would yield much ; even the worth- 
less plays of Charles the Second's time might prove 
of some service here. Early classical scholars like 
Sir Thomas Elyot, who wrote when Latin words, good, 
bad, and indifferent, were pouring into the language 
like a flood, and who from time to time passed their 
judgment on these ; the early translators, Protestant 
and Roman Catholic, of the Bible, who when they 
had exhausted more serious invective, fell foul of one 
another's English, and charged each other with bring- 
ing in new and un-English words ; the Spectator, the 
Tatter, the Guardian, and even the second and third- 
rate imitations of these, might all be consulted with 
advantage. Indeed it is hard beforehand to say in 
what unexpected quarter, notices of the kind might 
not occur. 

Let me observe that in such a collection should 
be included passages which supply imptidt evidence 
for the non-existence of a word up to a certain date. 
It may be urged that it is difficult, nay impossible, 

first Lord Melville, therefore called * Starvation Dundas,' in 
a debate on American affairs in 1775 (see Letters of Horace 
Walpole and Mamt, vol. ii. p. 396, and Pegge's Anecdotes of 
the English Language, 18 14, p. 38). We learn from a pro- 
test in The Spectator^ No. 165, that * pontoon,' * fascine,* *to 
reconnoitre,' were in 1704 novelties, which under the influence 
of the frequent bulletins were creeping into English. In Bar- 
low's Columbiad, published in 1807, we on this side of the 
Atlantic first made acquaintance with the verb * to utilize.* In 
a review of the poem which appeared shortly after in the 
Edinburgh Review, there is an earnest, but as it has proved an 
ineffectual, remonstcance against the word. 

Digitized by 


174 Gains of the English Language. lect» 

to prove a negative ; yet when Bolingbroke wrote 
as follows, it is certain that ^ isolated ' did not exist 
in our language : ' The events we are witnesses of 
in the course of the longest life, appear to us very 
often original, unprepared, signal and unrekUtDe : if I 
may use such a word for want of a better in English. 
In French I would say tso/es/* Compare Lord Ches- 
terfield in a letter to Bishop Chenevix, of date March 
12, 1767: 'I have survived almost all my contem- 
poraries, and as I am too old to make new acquaint- 
ances, I find myself «-(?/<?/ Fuller would have scarcely 
spoken of a * meteor of foolish fire,'f if * ignis fatuus,' 
which has now quite put out *firedrake,' the older 
name for these meteors, had not been, when he wrote, 
still strange to the language. So too when Sir Walter 
Raleigh spoke of ' strange visions which are also called 
panta terroreSy\ it is tolerably plain that ' panic ' was 
not yet recognized among us. In like manner when 
Holland, translating Pliny's long account of the sculp* 
tors and sculpture of antiquity, never once uses the 
word 'sculptor,' but always * imager' in its room, I 
feel tolerably sure that 'sculptor' had not yet come 
into existence. The use of * noctambulones ' by 
Donne makes me pretty certain that in his time 
'somnambulist' had not been invented. When 
Hacket§ speaks of 'the cimid in our bedsteads,' 
these unsavoury creatures had scarcely gotten the 

• Notes and Queries^ No. 226. f Comm, on Ruth^ p. 38. 
X Hist, of the World, iii. 5, 8. ^ 

§ Life of Archbishop Williams^ vol. ii. p. 182* 

Digitized by 


IV. Early Notices of New Wo^^ds. 176 

name which now they bear. So, too, it is pretty 
certain that ' amphibious ' was not yet English, when 
one writes (in 1618) ; *We are like those creatures 
called afitpipta^ which live in water or on land.' Zojo. 
Xoyia^ as the title of an English book published in 
1649, makes it clear that 'zoology' was not yet in 
our vocabulary, as Zoootpvrov (Jackson) proves the 
same for 'zoophyte,' ^xAcxrtxoif for 'eclectics,' Oco- 
xparia (Jeremy Taylor) for 'theocracy,' aSeot 
(Ascham) for 'atheist,' and itoXvOetdinoi (Gell, it is 
a word of his own invention) for pol}theism.'J 

It is not merely new words, but new uses of old 
ones, which should thus be noted, with the time of 
their first appearing. Thus take the two following 

♦ Rust, Funeral Sermon on J, Taylor. 

t One precaution, let me observe, would be necessary in the 
collecting, or rather in the adopting, of any statements about 
the newness of a word — for the passages themselves, even 
when erroneous, should not the less be noted — namely, that 
no one's aflSrmation ought to be accepted simply and at once 
as to this novelty, seeing that all here are liable to error. 
Thus more than one which Sir Thomas Elyot indicates as new 
in his time, * magnanimity ' for example ( The Governor ^ ii. 
14), are frequent in Chaucer. 'Sentiment,' which. Skinner 
affirmed to«have only recently obtained the rights of English 
citizenship from the translators of French books, continually 
recurs in the same. Wotton, using * character,' would imply 
that it was a novelty in the language {^Survey of Education^ 
p. 321) ; it is of constant recurrence in Spenser, and is used 
by Wiclif. In Notes and Queries, No. 225, there is a useful 
catalogue of recent neologies in our speech, while yet at least 
half a dozen in the list have not the smallest right to be so 

Digitized by 


176 Qaina of the Ikglish Language . lect. 

quotations, in proof that the modem use of 'edify' 
and * edification ' began among the Puritans ; and 
first this from Oldham : 

* The graver sort dislike all poetry, 
Which does not, as they call it, edify ; ' 

and this from South : '■ All being took up and busied, 
some in pulpits and some in tubs, in the grand work 
of preaching and holding forth, and that of edification, 
as the word then went,' &c. Here too the evidence 
may not be positive, but negative. Thus when I read 
in Fuller of * that beast in the Brazile which in four- 
teen days goes no further than a man may throw a 
stone, called therefore by the Spaniards /i^r/]fta,' I am 
tolerably certain that the ai, as the natives call it, had 
not yet found among us the name * sloth,' which now 
it bears. 

A few observations in conclusion on the deliberate 
introduction of words to supply felt omissions in a 
language, and the limits within which this or any 
other conscious interference with it is desirable or 
possible. Long before the time when a people 
begin to reflect upon their language, and to give an 
account to themselves either of its merits or defects, 
it has been fixed as regards structure in immutable 
forms ; the sphere in which any alterations or modifi- 
cations, addition to it, or subtraction from it, deli- 
berately devised and carried out, are possible, is vei}' 
limited indeed. The great laws that rule it are so 
firmly established that almost nothing can be taken 
from it, which it has got ; almost nothing added to it, 

Digitized by 


IV. Mrly Notices of New Words. 177 

which it has not got It will travel indeed in certain 
courses of change ; but it would be almost as easy 
for us to alter the course of a planet as to alter these. 
This is sometimes a subject of regret with those who 
see what appear to them manifest defects or blemishes 
in their language, and at the same time ways by which, 
as they fancy, these could be remedied or removed. 
And yet this is well ; since for once that these re- 
dressers of real or fancied wrongs, these suppliers of 
things lacking, would mend, we may be tolerably 
confident that ten times, probably a hundred times, 
they would mar ; letting go that which would better 
have been retained ; retaining that which was over- 
lived and out of date ; and in manifold ways interfer- 
ing with those processes of a natural logic, which in 
a living language are evermore working themselves 
out The genius of a language, unconsciously pre- 
siding over all its transformations, and conducting 
them to definite issues, will prove a far truer and far 
safer guide, than the artificial wit, however subtle, of 
any single man, or of any association of men. For 
the genius of a language is the sense and inner con- 
viction entertained by all who speak it, of what it 
ought to be, and of the methods by which it will 
most nearly approach its ideal of perfection; and 
while a pair of eyes, or two or three pairs of eyes, 
may see much, a million of eyes will certainly see 

It is only with the words, and not with the forms 
and laws of a language, that any interference is 
possible. Something, indeed much, may here be 

Digitized by 


178 Gains of the English Language, lect. 

accomplished by wise masters, in the rejecting of that 
which deforms or mars, the allowing and adopting of 
that which will complete or enrich. Those who have 
set such objects before them, and who, knowing the 
limits of the possible, have kept within these, have 
often effected much. No language affords a better 
proof and illustration of this than the German. When 
the patriotic Germans began to wake up to a con- 
sciousness of the enormous encroachments which 
foreign languages, Latin, French, and Italian, had 
made on their native tongue, the lodgements which 
they had therein effected, and the danger which lay 
so near, that it should cease to be a language at all, 
but only a mingle-mangle, a variegated patchwork of 
many tongues, without any unity or inner coherence, 
various Societies were instituted among them, at the 
beginning and during the course of the seventeenth 
century, for the recovering of what was lost of their 
own, for the expelling of that which had intruded 
upon it from abroad \ and these with excellent results. 
But more effectual than these learned Societies 
were the efforts of single writers, who in this merited 
eminently well of their country.* Numerous words 
now accepted by the whole nation are yet of such 
recent introduction that it is possible to designate the 
writer who first substituted them for some affected 

• There is an admirable Essay by Leibnitz with this view 
(Operay vol. vi. part 2, pp. 6-51) in French and German, with 
this title, Considirations sur la Culture et la Perfection de la 
Jjmgue AUemande, 

Digitized by 


IV. German Purists. 179 


Gallicism or pedantic Latinism. Thus to Lessing his 
fellow-countrymen owe the substitution of 'zartge- 
fuhr for ' d^licatesse,' of * wesenheit ' for ' essence.' It 
was he who suggested to the translator of Sterne's Sm- 
iimental Journey^ * empfindsam ' as a word which would 
correspond to our * sentimental ;' he too who recalled 
' bieder/ with which every schoolboy is femiliar now, 
from the forgetfulness of centuries. Voss ( 1 786) first 
employed ' alterthtimlich' for 'antik/ Winkelmann 
'denkbild' for 'id6e.' Wieland was the author or 
reviver of a multitude of excellent words, for some of 
which he had to do earnest battle at the first ; such 
were 'seligkeit,' 'anmuth,' * entziickung,' 'festlich/ 
'entwirren,' with many more. But no one was so 
jealous for the cleansing of the temple of German 
speech from unworthy intruders as Campe, the author 
of the Dictionary. For 'maskerade,' he was fiiin to 
substitute ^larventanz,' for 'ballet' 'schautanz,' for 
* lauvine' ' schneesturz, ' for ' detachement' * abtrab, ' for 
'electridtat' 'reibfeuer.' It was a novelty when 
Busching called his great work on geography * Erd- 
beschreibung* (1754) instead of ' Geographic ;' while 
'schnellpost'for 'diligence,'* 'zerrbild' for 'carricatur,' 
are almost of recent introduction. Of ' worterbuch' 
itself Jacob Grirrlm tells us he can find no example 
dating earlier than 171 9. 

Some of these reformers, it must be owned, pro- 
ceeded with more zeal than knowledge, while others 
did what in them lay to make the whole movement ab- 
surd — even as there ever hang on the skirts of a noble 
movement, be it in literature or politics or higher 

Digitized by 


180 Gains of the English Language, usffi 

things yet, those who by extravagance and excess 
contribute their little all to bring ridicule and con- 
tempt upon it Thus in the reaction against foreign 
interiopers, and in the zeal to rid the language of them, 
some would have disallowed words consecrated by 
longest use ; thus Campe, who in the main did such 
good service here, desired to replace 'apostel' by 
* lehrbote ;' or they understood so little what words 
deserved to be called foreign, that they would fain 
have gotten rid of such words as these, ' vater,' 'mut- 
ter,' *wein,' 'fenster,' *meister,' 'kelch;'* the three 
former belonging to the Gothic dialects by exactly 
the same right as they do to the Latin and the Greek ; 
while the other three have been naturalized so long 
that to propose at this day to expel them is as though 
having passed an Alien Act for the banishment of 
all foreigners, we should proceed. to include under 
that name, and drive from the kingdom, the descen- 
dants of the French Protestants who found refuge 
here when Rochelle was taken, or even of the Flem- 
ings who came over in the time of our Edwards. One 
notable enthusiast proposed to create an entirely new 
nomenclature for all the mythological personages of 
the Greek and Roman pantiieons, although these, one 
would think, might have been allowed, if any, to 
retain their Greek and Latin names. Cupid was to 
be 'Lustkind,' Flora 'Bluminne,* Aurora 'Rdthin ;' 

• Fuchs, Zur Geschichte und Beurthdlung der Fremdwoerter 
im Deutschen, Dessau, 1842, pp. 85-91. Compare Jean Paul, 
Msthetik, §§ 83-85. 

Digitized by 


tv. German Purists. 181 

instead of Apollo schoolboys were to speak of 
' Singhold ;' instead of Pan of * Schaflieb ;' instead 
of Jupiter of * Helfevater/ with other absurdities to 
match. We may well beware (and the warning ex- 
tends much further than to the matter in hand) of 
making a good cause ridiculous by our manner of 
supporting it, by taking for granted that exaggerations 
on one side are best r^ressed by ^ual exaggerations 
upon the other. ^ 

Digitized by 


182 DiminiUions of our Language, lect. 



I OBSERVED in my latest lecture but one that it 
is the essential character of a living language to 
be in flux and flow, to be gaining and losing ; and 
indeed no one who has not given some attention to 
the subject, would at all imagine the enormous amount 
of these gains, and not less the enormous amount of 
these losses — or, for reasons already stated, and be- 
cause all that comes is not gain, and all is not 
loss that goes, let us say the enormous additions and 
diminutions which in a few centuries find place in the 
vocabulary of a people. It is not indeed with a lan- 
guage altogether as it is with a human body, of which 
the component parts are said to be in such unceasing 
change, with so much taken from it, and so much 
added to it, that in a very few years no particle of it 
remains the same. It is not, I say, exactly thus. 
There are stable elements, and so to speak, constant 
quantities in a language which secure its identity, and 
attest its continuity ; but at {he same time the fluctuat- 
ing element in it, that is in its vocabulary, is much in 
excess of aught which most of us beforehand would 
have supposed. Of acquisitions which our language 
has made something has been said already. Of the 
diminutions it is now our business to speak. 

Digitized by 


V. Languages gain and lose. 183 

It is certain that all languages must, or at least all 
languages do in the end, perish. They run their 
course ; not all at the same rate, for the tendency to 
change is different in different languages, both from 
internal causes (mechanism and the like), and also 
from causes extemai to the language, and laid in the 
varying velocities of social progress and social decline ; 
but so it is, that, sooner or later, they have all their 
youth, tiieir manhood, their old age, their decrepitude, 
their final dissolution. Not indeed that they dis- 
appear, leaving no traces behind them, even when 
this last has arrived. On tiie contrary, out of their 
death a new life comes forth; they pass into other 
forms, tiie materials of which they were composed are 
organized in new shapes and according to other laws 
of life. Thus, for example,' the Latin perishes as a 
living language ; and yet perishes only to live again, 
though under somewhat different conditions, in the 
four daughter languages, French, Italian, Spanish, 
Portuguese ; or the six, if we count the Proven9al and 
Wallachian. Still in their own proper being they pass 
away. There are dead records of what they were in 
books ; not living men who speak them any more. 
Seeing then that they thus perish, the possibilities of 
this decay and death must have existed in them from 
the beginning. 

Nor is this all ; but in such strong-birilt fabrics as 
these, the causes which thus bring about their final 
dissolution must have been actually at work very long 
before the results are so visible as that they cannot 
any longer be mistaken. Indeed, very often it is 

Digitized by 


184 Diminutions of our Langimge. leot. 
■ ' • ■ ■' ■■ — — .-^— .^______ 

with them as with states, which, while in some respects 
they are knitting and strengthening, in others are 
already unfolding the seeds of their future and, it may 
be, still remote dissolution. Equally in these and those, 
in states and in languages, it would be a serious 
mistake to assume that all up to a certain point and 
period is growth and gain, while all after is decay and 
loss. On the contrary, there are long periods during 
which growth in some directions is going hand in 
hand with decay in others; losses in one kind are 
being compensated, or more than compensated, by 
gains in another ; during which a language changes^ 
but only as the bud changes into the flower, and the 
flower into the fruit A time indeed arrives when the 
growth and gains, becoming ever fewer, cease to 
constitute any longer a compensation for the losses 
and the decay, which are ever becoming more ; when 
the forces of disorganization and death at work are 
stronger than those of life and order. But until that 
crisis and turning-point has arrived, we may be quite 
justified in speaking of the losses of a language, and 
may esteem them most real, without in the least 
thereby implying that its climacteric is passed, and its 
downward course begun. This may yet be far dis- 
tant: and therefore when I dwell on certain losses 
and diminutions which our own has undergone or is 
undergoing, you will not suppose that I am presenting 
it to you as now travelling that downward course to 
dissolution and death. L have no such intention. If 
in some respects it is losing, in others it is gaining. 
Nor is everything which it lets go, a loss ; for this too. 

Digitized by 


IV. Words become extinct. 185 

the parting with a word in which there is no true 
help, Ae dropping of a cumbrous or superfluous form, 
may itself be sometimes a most real gain. English is 
undoubtedly becoming different from what it has 
been ; but only different in tiiat it is passing into 
another stage of its development ; only different, as 
the fruit is different from the fiower, and the flower 
from the bud; not having in all points the same 
excellencies which it once had, but with excellencies 
as many and as real as it ever had ; possessing, it 
may be, less of beauty, but more of usefulness ; not, 
perhaps, serving the poet so well, but serving the 
historian and philosopher better than before. 

With one observation more I will enter on the 
special details of my subject It is this. The losses 
or diminutions of a language differ in one respect \ v^'^ 
from the gains or acquisitions — namely, that those \ 
are of two kinds, while these are only of one. The 
gains are only in words; it never puts forth in the 
course of its later evolution a new power ; it never 
makes, for itself a new case, or a new tense, or a new 
comparative. But the losses are both in words and 
in powers. In addition to the words which it drops, 
it leaves behind it, as it travels onward, cases which 
it once possessed ; renounces the employment of 
tenses which it once used ; forgets its dual ; is con- 
tent with one termination both for masculine and 
feminine, and so on. Nor is this a peculiar feature 
of one language, but the universal rule in all. * In 
all languages,* as has been well said, * there is a con- 
stant tendency to relieve themselves of that precision 

Digitized by 


186 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

which chooses a fresh symbol for every shade of mean- 
ing, to lessen the amount of nice distinction, and 
detect as it were a royal road to the interchange of 
opinion.' For example, a vast number of languages 
had at an early period of their development, besides 
the singular and plural, a dual number, some even a 
trinal, which they have let go at a later. But what I 
mean by a language renouncing its powers I hope to 
make clearer in my next lecture. This much I have 
here said on the matter, to explain and justify a 
division which I propose to make, considering first 
the losses of the English language in words, and then 
in powers, the former constituting my theme in the 
present lecture, and the latter in one that will suc- 
ceed it. 

And first, there is going forward a continual extinc- 
tion of the words in our language — as indeed in every 
other. When we ask ourselves what are the causes 
which have led to this, why in that great struggle for 
existence which is going on here as in every other 
domain of life, this still makes part of the living army 
of words, while that has fellen dead, or been dismissed 
to drag out an obscure provincial existence ; why 
oftentimes one word has- been displaced by another, 
as it seems to us not better but worse ; or, again, why 
certain femilies of words, or words formed after certain 
schemes and patterns, seem exposed to more than the 
ordinary chances of mortality, it is not always easy to 
give a satisfactory answer to these questions. Causes 
no doubt in every case there are. We can ascribe 

Digitized by 


V. Reasons for Perishing of Words. 187 

little, if indeed anything here, to mere hazard or 
caprice. Hazard might cause one man to drop the 
use of a word, but not a whole people to arrive at 
a tacit consent to employ it no more : while without 
tills tacit consent it could not have become obsolete. 
Caprice, too, is an element which may be eliminated 
when we have to do with multitudes ; for in such case 
the caprice of one will traverse and defeat the caprice 
of another, leaving matters veiy much where they 
were. But the causes oftentimes are hard to discover ; 
they lie deep-hidden in the genius of the language 
and in the tendencies of it at particular periods, these 
affecting speakers and writers who are quite uncon- 
scious of the influence thus exercised upon them.* 
Much here must remain unexplained : but some sug- 
gestion may be offered, which shall account for some, 
though by no means all, of the &cts which here come 
under the eye. 

And first, men do not want, or fency that they do 
not want certain words, and so suffer them to drop out 
of use. A language in the vigorous acquisitive periods 

* Dwight {Modem Phonology^ 2nd series, p. 208) : * Great, 
silent, yet determinative laws of criticism, and so, of general 
acceptance or condemnation, are ever at work upon words, 
deciding their position among mankind at large, as if before a 
court without any appeal. Their action is certain, though 
undefinable to our vision, like the seemingly blind laws of the 
weather ; which yet, however multiplied in their sources, or 
subtle in their action, rule infallibly not only the questions of 
human labour and of human harvests, but also, to a great ex- 
tent, those of human health, power, and enjoyment. 

Digitized by 


188, Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

of its existence has generated, or has otherwise got 
together from different quarters, a larger number of 
words, each, it may be, with its separate shade of 
meaning, at all events with its separate etymology, to 
connote some single object, than can be taken into 
actual use, more at any rate than the great body of 
the speakers of a language, with their lazy mental 
habits, are prepared to take up. Thus we speak at 
this day of a ' miser,' and perhaps in popular lan- 
guage of a 'hunks' and a 'skinflint;' but what has 
become of a 'gripe,' a 'huddle,' a 'snudge,' a 
'chinch,' a ' pinch-penny,' a 'penny&ther,'a 'nip- 
cheese,' a nipscreed,' a 'nipfarthing,' a 'clutch- 
fest,' a' kumbix ' {xipifitk) ? They have all or nearly 
all quite dropped out of the living language of men, 
and, as I cannot doubt, for the reason just suggested, 
namely, that they were more and more various than 
men would be at pains to discriminate, and having 
discriminated, to employ.* 

Let me indicate another cause of the disappearance 
of words. Arts, trades, amusements in the course of 
time are superseded by others. These had each more 
or less a nomenclature peculiarly its own. But with 

* Diez {Gram. d. Roman, Sprachcn, vol. i. p. 53) if aces to 
the same cause the disappearance in the whole group of Ro- 
manic languages, of so many words which from their wide use 
in Latin we might have expected to remain ; thus * arx ' was 
rendered unnecessary by *castellum,' *equus* by 'caballus,' 
*gramen' by *herba,* *janua* by 'ostium* and 'porta,' 
*sidus' by *astrum,' *magnus' by *grandis,' *pulcher' by 
*bellus,* *ssevus* by *ferox,* and have thus vanished out of 
the languages descended from the Latin. 

Digitized by 


V. Words which have perished. 189 

these a large number of words, which in the first in- 
stance were proper and peculiar to them, will have 
vanished likewise. Archery in all its more serious 
aspects is how extinct ; and the group of words is by 
no means small, which with it have ceased to belong 
to our living language any more. How many readers 
would need to turn to a glossary, if they would know 
so much as what a ' fletcher Ms.* Or turn to any old 
treatise on hawking. How many terms are there 
assumed as familiar to the reader, which have quite 
dropped out of our common knowledge. Nor let it 
be urged that these can have constituted no very real 
loss, seeing that they were only used within the 
narrow circle, and comparatively narrow it must have 
ialways been, of those addicted to this sport This 
is not the case. Words travel beyond their proper 
sphere ; are used in secondary senses, and in these 
secondary senses are everybody's words, while in their 
primary sense they may remain the possession only 
of a few. 

When I spoke a little while ago of the extinction 
of such a multitude of words, I did not, as you will 
have observed already, refer merely to tentatwe words, 
candidates for admission into the language, offered 
to, but never in any true sense accepted by it, such 
as those of which I quoted some in an earlier lecture ; 
but to such as either belonged to its primitive stock, 
or, if not this, had yet been domiciled in it so long, 
that they seemed to have found there a lasting home. 

• Marsh, Lectures on the English Language^ i860, p. 267. 

Digitized by 


190 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

The destruction has reached these quite as much as 
those. Thus not a few words of the purest old Eng- 
lish stock, some having lived on into the Elizabethan 
period or beyond it, have finally dropped out of our 
vocabulary ; sometimes leaving a gap which has never 
since been filled ; but their places oftener taken by 
others which have come up in their room. That 
beautiful word 'wanhope,' hope, that is, which has 
wholly wanedy or despair, long held its ground ; it 
occurs in Gascoigne ; being the latest survivor of a 
whole family of words which continued much longer 
in Scotland than with us ; of which some perhaps 
continue there still. These are but a few of them : 
* wanthrift ' for extravagance ; * wanluck ' or ' wanhap/ 
misfortune;' 'wanlust,' languor; *wanwit,' folly; 
*wangrace,' wickedness; 'wantrust' (Chaucer), sus- 
picion; *wantruth' {Metrical Homilies), 'falsehood.' 
'Skinker' (no very graceful word), for cupbearer, is 
used by Shakespeare, and lasted to Dryden's time 
and beyond it. Spenser uses often ' to welk ' (welken) 
as to fade, ' to sty ' as to mount, * to hery ' as to glorify 
or praise, 'to halse' as to embrace,' *teene' as vexa- 
tion or grief ; Shakespeare ' to tarre ' as to provoke, 
' to sperr ' as to enclose or bar in. Holland has 
'specht^ for woodpecker, or tree-jobber as it used 
oftener to be called ; ' reise ' for journey, ' frimm ' for 
lusty or strong. 'To tind,' surviving in 'tinder,' 
occurs in Bishop Sanderson ; 'to nimm' (nehmen) 
in Fuller. 'Nesh,' soft through moisture, good 
Saxon-English once, still lives on in some of our 
provincial dialects, with not a few of the other words 

Digitized by 


T. Words which have perished. 191 

which I have just named. Thus ' leer ' for empty, 
and 'heft/ that which only by an eififort can be 
heaved up (used by Shakespeare), 'to fettle' (the 
verb is employed by Swift), are common on the lips 
of our southern peasantry to this day. 

A number of vigorous compounds we have lost and 
let go. Except for Shakespeare we might haye quite 
forgotten that young men of hasty fieiy valour were 
once named 'hotspurs/ and this even now is for us 
rather the proper name of one than the designation 
of all.* Austere old men, such as, in Falstaflf's 
words, 'hate us youth,' were 'grimsirs' or 'grim- 
sires' once (Massinger) ; a foe that wore the sem- 
blance of a friend was a ' heavy friend ;' a mischief- 
maker a ' coal-carrier ;' an impudent railer a ' saucy 
jack;' pleasant drink ' merrygodown ' (all these in 
Golding) ; a cockered favorite was a * whiteboy ' 
(Fuller) ; a drunkard an 'aleknight,' a * maltworm ;' 
an old woman an * old trot ;' an ill-behaved girl a 
' naughty pack ;' a soldier who of evil will (* malin 
gr6') shirked his share of duty ahd danger a 
' malingerer ' — ^the word is familiar enough to military 
men, but not in our dictionaries; — a sluggard a 
' slowback ;' an ignoble place of refuge a * creephole ' 
(Henry More) ; entertainments of song or' music 
were 'earsports' (Holland); a hideous assemblage 
of all most discordant sounds a ' black-sanctus ;' 
well-merited punishment * whipping-cheer ' (Stubbs). 

♦.See Holland, Livy, p. 922; Baxter, Life and Ti$nes, 
p. 39 ; Rogers, Matrimonial Honour, p. 233. 

■Digitized by 


192 DiminiUions of our Langiuige. lect. 

'Double-diligent' (Golding) was as much as ncfed- 
lessly officious; 'snout&ir' an epithet applied to a 
woman who, having beauty, had no other giils men- 
tal or moral to commend her; * mother-naked ' 
(revived by Carlyle) finds its explanation at Job i. 21; 
I Tim. vi. 7. Who too but must acknowledge 
the beauty of such a phrase as 'weeping-ripe' 
(Shakespeare), ready, that is, to burst into tears, the 
drtSaxpvs of Euripides? 

And as words, so also phrases are forgotten. 
'From the teeth outward' to express professions 
which have no root in the heart of him who speaks 
them, has so q)proved itself to Carlyle that he has 
called it bade into use. How expressive too are 
many other of the proverbial phrases which we have 
sufifered to fall through ; as for instance ' to mak^, a 
coat for the moon,' to attempt something in its 
nature every way impossible; 'to tread the shoe 
awry,' to make a /hux pas ; ' to play rex,' to domi- 
neer ; 'to weep Irish,' to affect a grief which is not 
felt within, as do the hired mourners at an Irish wake. 
But these are legion, and quite impossible to enu- 
merate, so that we must content ourselves with the 
examples here given. 

An almost unaccountable caprice seems often to 
preside over tiie fortunes of words, and to determine 
which should live and which die. Of them quite as 
much as of books it may be affirmed, /laden/ sua /a/a. 
Thus in instances out of number a word lives on as 
a verb, but has perished as a noun ; we say ' to em- 
barrass,' but no longer. an 'embarrass;' 'to revile,' 

Digitized by 


V. Mctind English. 193 

but not, with Chapman and Milton, a ' revile ;' ' to 
dispose,' but not a 'dispose;' 'to retire,' but not a 
'retire' (Milton) ; 'to wed,' but not a 'wed;' 'to 
' infest,' but use no longer the adjective ' infest' Or 
with a reversed fortune a word lives on as a noun, 
but has perished as a verb ; thus as a noun substan- 
tive, a Jslug/ but no longer * to slug,' or render sloth- 
ful ; a 'child,' but no longer 'to child' {' childing 
autumn,' Shakespeare) ; a ^ rape, 'but not 'to rape' 
(South) ; a ' rogue, ' but not ' to rogue ;' ' malice, ' but 
not ' to malice ;' a 'path,' but not ' to path ;' or as a 
noun adjective, 'serene,' but not 'to serene,' a beau- 
tiful word, which we have let go, as the French have 
'sereiner;'* 'meek,' but not 'to meek' (Wiclif) ; 
'fond,' but not ' to fond ' (Dryden) ; ' dead,' but not 
'to dead;' 'intricate,' but 'to intricate' (Jeremy 
Taylor) no longer. So too we have still the adjective 
*plashy,' but a 'plash,' signifying a wet place, no 

Or again, the affirmative remains, but the negative 
is gone; thus 'wisdom,' 'bold,' 'sad,' but not any 
more 'unwisdom,' 'unbold,' 'unsad' (all in Wiclif); 

* How many words modem French has lost which are most 
vigorous and admhrable, the absence of which can only now 
be supplied by a circumlocution or by some less excellent 
word — *Oseur,* * affranchisseur ' (Amyot), *m€priseur,' *mur- 
murateur,' * blandisseur ' (Bossuet), *abilseur' (Rabelais), 
*d6sabusement,' *rancoeur,* are all obsolete at the present; 
and so <d6saimer,' to cease to love (*disamare' in Italian), 
*guirlander,* 'steriliser,' 'blandissant,' * ordonn6ment ' (Mon- 
taigne), with innumerable others. 

Digitized by 


194 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

•cunning,' but not * uncunning ;' 'manhood,' 'wit,' 
'mighty,' 'tall, 'but not 'unmanhood,' 'unwit,' 'un- 
might}",' 'untall' (all in Chaucer); 'tame,' but not 
' untame ' (Jackson) ; ' buxom, 'but not * unbuxom ' 
(Dryden) ; 'hasty,' but not 'unhasty' (Spenser) ; 
* blithe,' but not * unblithe ;' ' idle,' but not * unidle ' 
(Sir P. Sidney) ; * base,' but not * unbase ' (Daniel); 
'ease,' but not 'unease' (Hacket) ; 'repentance,' 
but not * unrepentance ;' 'remission,' but not 'irre- 
mission' (Donne); 'science,' but not 'nescience' 
(Glanvill) ; ' to know, ' but not ' to unknow ' ( WicliQ ; 
' to give,' but not 'to ungive ;' 'to hallow,' but not 
'to unhallow' (Coverdale). Or, with a curious 
variation from this, the negative survives, while the 
affirmative is gone ; thus ' wieldy ' (Chaucer) sur- 
vives only in 'unwieldy;' 'couth' and 'couthly' 
(both in Spenser), only in 'uncouth 'and 'uncouthly;* 
'speakable' (Milton), in 'unspeakable;' 'ruly' 
(Foxe), in 'unruly;' 'gainly' (Henry More), in 
' ungainly ;' these last two were serviceable words, 
and have been ill lost ; < gainly ' is still common in 
the West Riding of Yorkshire ; 'exorable ' ( Holland "i 
and ' evitable ' survive only in ' inexorable ' and ' in- 
evitable ;' * fauUless ' remains, but hardly ' faultful ' 
(Shakespeare) ; 'semble' (Foxe), except as a tech- 
nical law term, has disappeared, while 'dissemble' 
continues ; ' simulation ' (Coverdale) in like manner 
is gone, but dissimulation remains. So also of 
other pairs one has been taken, and one left ; ' height, ' 
or 'bighth,' as Milton better spelt it, remains, but 
'lowtb' (Becon) is gone; 'underling' remains, but 

Digitized by 


V. Extinct English. 195 

'overling' has perished. 'Exhort' continues, but 
'dehort/ a word whose place 'dissuade' does not 
exactly supply, has escaped us; 'righteousness,' or 
' rightwiseness,' as once more accurately written, 
remains, but ' wrongwiseness ' has been taken ; ''in- 
road' continues, but 'outroad' ( Holland ^ has disap- 
peared ; 'levant' lives, but 'ponent' (Holland) has 
died ; ' to extricate ' continues, but, as we saw just 
now, 'to intricate' does not; 'parricide,' but not 
' filicide ' (Holland) ; ' womanish,' but not • mannish ' 
(Shakespeare). Again, of whole groups of words 
• formed on some particular scheme it may be only a 
single specimen will survive. Thus 'gainsaj'* 
(=:againsay) survives; but 'gainstrive' (Foxe), 
'gainstand,' 'gaincope' (Golding), and other sim- 
ilarly formed words exist no longer. 'Praiseworthy,' 
'trustworthy,' 'noteworthy,' are the only survivors of 
a family that numbered once ' shameworthy ' (Wiclif), 
'japewprthy' (Chaucer), 'kissworthy' (Sidney), 
'thankworthy' (English Bible), 'crownworthy ' (Ben 
Jonson), ' painworthy ' (Spenser), ' deathworthy ' 
(Shakespeare), and very probably more. In like 
manner ' foolhardy ' alone remains out of at least fiyt 
adjectives formed on the same pattern; thus 'fool- 
large,' as expressive a word as prodigal, occurs in 
Chaucer, and ' foolhasty,' found also in him, lived on 
to the time of Holland ; while ' foolhappy ' is in 
Spenser, and ' foolbold ' in Bale. ' Laughing-stock ' 
we still use; but ' gazing-stock ' (English Bible), 
'wondring-stock,' 'jesting-stock' (both in Cover- 
dale), ' mocking-stock ' (Latimer), ' playing-stock ' 

Digitized by 


196 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

(North), have all disappeared. ' Steadfast ' remains, 
but *shamefast,' 'rootfast,' 'bedfast' (=bed-ridden), 
' homefast/ 'housefast,' * masterfast, ' or engaged to a 
master (Skelton), * weatherfast/ or detained by stress 
of weather (Cleaveland dialect), 'trothfast' (Cum- 
brian), 'handfast' (= betrothed), with others, are all 
gone. We have ' twilight,' but ' twibil ' (=bipennis. 
Chapman), Uwifight' (=duel), are extinct 

It is a real loss that the comparative 'rather' 
should now stand alone, having dropped alike the 
positive, 'rathe,' and the superlative, 'rathest'. 
'Rathe,' or early, though a graceful word, and not- 
fellen quite out of popular remembrance, being em- 
balmed in the Lycidas of Milton, 

* And the rathe primrose, which forsaken dies,' 

might be suffered to share the common lot of so 
many others which have perished, though worthy to 
live ; but the disuse of ' rathest ' is a real loss to the 
language, and the more so, that ' liefest ' is gone too. 
' Rather ' expresses the Latin ' potius ;' but ' rathest ' 
being obsolete, we have no word, unless 'soonest' may 
be accepted as such, to express 'potissimum,' or the 
preference not of one way over another or over 
certain others, but of one over all ; which we there- 
fore effect by aid of various circumlocutions. Nor 
has' ' rathest ' been so long out of use, that it would 
be hopeless to attempt to revive it. Sanderson, in 
his beautiful sermon on the text, * When my father 
and my mother forsake me, the Lord taketh me up,' 
puts the consideration, ' why father and mother are 

Digitized by 


V. Wo7'd$ ending in * some.^ 197 

named the ra/hesf, and the rest to be included in 

I observed just now that words formed on certain 
patterns had a tendency to fall into desuetude, and 
are evidently exposed to more than the ordinary 
chances of mortality. It has been thus with adjec- 
tives ending in 'some/ the Anglo-Saxon and early 
English 'sum/ the German 'sam' ('friedsam/ 'selt- 
sam') ; and reappearing as an independent word in 
'same.' It is true that of these many survive, as 
'gladsome,' 'handsome,' 'wearisome,' 'buxom' 
('bucksome,' in our earlier writers, the German 
' beugsam ' or ' biegsam,' bendable, complaint) ; but 
of these far more than a rateable proportion are nearly 
or quite extinct. Thus 'wansum,' or sorrowful, is 
in the S/ory of Genesis ; while in Wiclif 's Bible you 
may note 'lovesum,' 'hatesum,' 'lustsum,' 'gilsum' 
(guilesome), 'wealsum,' 'heavysum,' 'lightsum,' 
' delightsum ;' of these ' lightsome ' survived long, 
and indeed still survives in provincial dialects ; but 
of the others all save * delightsome ' are gone ; while 
that, although used in our Authorized Version (Mai. 
iii. 12), is now only employed in poetry. So too 
'mightsome' (see Herbert Coleridge's Glossarial 
Index) J ' willsome ' {Prompiorium), ' hearsome ' 
(=obedient), 'needsome,' 'wantsome,' 'brightsome,' 
(Marlowe), 'wieldsome,' ' unwieldsome ' (Golding), 
' unlightsome ' (Milton), 'thoughtsome,' 'growth- 

• For other passages in which * rathest * occurs see the State 
Papers ^ vol. ii. pp. 92, J70. 

Digitized by 


198 J)imimUion8 of our Langudge. lect. 

some' (both in Fairfax), 'healthsome' {JHomUies)^ 
'ugsome/ *ugglesome' (both in Foxe), 'labour- 
some ' (Shakespeare), ' ' friendsome, ' * longsome ' 
(Bacon),' *quietsome,' *mirksome' (both in Spen- 
ser), 'toothsome' (Beaumont and Fletcher), 'glee- 
some' 'joysome' (both in Browne's Pastorals)^ 
' gaysome ' {Mirror for Magistrates), ' likesome ' 
(Holinshed), ' roomsome,' ' bigsome,' ' awsome,' 
'timersome,' 'winsome,' 'viewsome,' 'dosome' 
(=prosperous), 'flaysome' (=fearful), 'aunter- 
some' (=adventurous), ' drearisome,' 'dulsome,' 
'doubtsome,' ' wranglesome,' 'clamorsome' (all 
these still surviving in the North), 'playsome' (em- 
ployed by the historian Hume), ' lissome,' ' meltsome, ' 
'heedsome,' 'laughsome,' 'clogsome,' 'fearsome,' 
have nearly or quite disappeared from our English 
speech. More of them have held their ground in 
Scotland than in the south of the Island. * 

Nor can it be mere accident that of a group of words, 
almost all of them depreciatory and contemptuous, 
ending in ' ard,' the German ' hart,' the Gothic 
' hardus,'"!* more than: one half should have dropped 

♦ Thus see in Jamieson's Dictionary < bangsome,' * freak- 
some,' * drysome,* * grousome,* with others out of number. 

t This, though a German form, reached us through the 
French ; having been early adopted by the Neo-latin languages. 
In. Italian words of this formation are frequent, <bugiardo,' 
•falsardo,* *leccardo,* *testardo,' * vecchiardo ;* and certainly 
not less so in French : *goliart,* *pifart,' *bavard,* *fuyard,' 
with many more ; and in these languages, no less than our 
own, they have almost always, as Diez observes ijGrani, d. 

Digitized by 


V. Rhyming Words. 199 

out of use ; I refer to that group of which ' dotard/ 
'laggard,' 'braggart,' 'sluggard,' 'buzzard,' 'bas- 
tard,' ' wizard,' may be taken as surviving specimens ; 
while 'blinkard' {Homilies), 'dizzard' (Burton), 
'dullard' (Udal), 'musard' (Chaucer), 'trichard' 
{Political Songs), 'haskard,' 'shreward' (Robert of 
Gloucester), * ballard ' (a bald-headed man, Wiclif ) ; 
'palliard,' 'pillard,' * snivtlasdi* {Promptorium Par- 
vularum) ; ' bosard,' ' puggard,' ' stinkard ' (Ben 
Jonson), 'haggard' (a worthless hawk), are extinct 

There is a curious province of our vocabulaiy, in 
which we were once so rich, that extensive losses 
have £iiled to make us poor. I refer to those 
double words which either contain within themselves 
a strong rhyming modulation, such, for example, as 
'willy-nilly,' 'hocus-pocus,' ' helter-skdter,' 'tag- 
rag,' 'namby-pamby,' * pell-mell,' 'hab-nab,' 'hodge- 
podge,' 'hugger-mugger,' 'hurly-burly;'* or, with 

Jiom, Sprachetty vol. ii. p. 359), *eine ungUnstige Bedeutung.* 
Compare M&tzner, vol. i. p. 439. 

♦ The same pleasure in a swiftly recturing rh3rme has helped 
to form such phrases as these : ' scot and lot,' *top and lop,' 
< creep and leap,' * rape and scrape,' * draff and chaff,' *■ shame 
and blame.* Fairly numerous in English, there are far more 
of them in German ; thus *gut und blut,' Mug und trug,' 
*steg und weg,* *httlle und fulle,' 'hege und pflege,' *saus 
und braus,' *rath und that,' *tritt und schritt,' *schutz und 
trutz,' *sack und pack,' *weit und breit,' 'band und rand,' 

* dach und fach,' * sichten und richten,' * handel und wandel,' 

* schalten imd walten,' *leben und weben.' For some earlier 
and mainly juristic forms of the like kind see Grimm, DetUschc 
Rechtsalterthunier^ p. 13. 

Digitized by 


200 Diminviions of our Language, lect. 

a slight difiference from this, those whose characteristic 
feature is not this internal likeness with initial unlike- 
ness, but initial likeness with internal unlikeness ; 
not rhyming, but strongly alliterative, and in every 
case with a change of the interior vowel from a weak 
into a strong, generally from * i ' into ' a ' or ' o ' ; as 
'shilly-shally,' 'mingle-mangle,' 'tittle-tattle,' 'prittle- 
prattle,' 'riff-raiF,' * see-saw,' 'slip-slop.' No one 
who is not quite out of love with the homelier por- 
tions of* the language, but will acknowledge the life 
and strength which there is often in these and in 
others still current among us. But of this sort what 
vast numbers have fallen out of use, some so &llen 
out of all remembrance that it may be difficult to find 
credence for them. Thus take of rhyming the fol- 
lowing : 'kaury-maury,* 'trolly-lolly' {Piers Plough- 
man), ' tuzzie-muzzie ' (Promptorium), ' kicksy-wick- 
sy' (Shakespeare); ' hibber-gibber,' 'rusty-dusty/ 
'horrel-lorrel,' ' slaump-paump ' (all in Gabriel Har- 
vey), 'royster-doyster' {Old Play), 'hoddy-doddy,' 
(Ben Jonson) ; while of alliterative might be in- 
stanced these : 'skimble-skamble,' ' bibble-babble ' 
(both in Shakespeare), ' twittle-twatde,' 'kim-kam' 
(both in Holland), 'trim-tram,' 'trish-trash,' 'swish- 
swash ' (all in Gabriel Harvey), ' whim-wham ' 
(Beaumont and Fletcher), 'mizz-mazz' (Locke), 
'snip-snap' (Pope,) 'flim-flam' (Swift,) 'tric-trac,' 
and others.* 

* A Dictionary of Reduplicated Words in the English Lan- 
guage, by Henry B. Wheatley, published as an appendix to 
The Transactions of the Philological Society, 1865, contains 

Digitized by 


V. Words under Ban. 201 

Again, there is a whole family of words, — ^many of 
them are now under ban, — ^which were at one time 
formed almost at pleasure, the only condition being 
that the combination should be a happy one. I refei* 
to those singularly expressive words formed by a com- 
bination of verb and substantive, the former governing 
the latter; as 'telltale,' 'scapegrace,' 'turncoat,' 
'tumtail,' 'skinflint,' 'spendthrift,' 'spitfire,' 'lick- 
spittle,' 'daredevil' (=wagehals), 'makebate' (=sto- 
renfried), 'marplot,' 'killjoy.' These, with some 
others, have held their ground, and are current still ; 
but how many are forgotten ; while yet, though not 
always elegant, they preserved some of the most gen- 
uine and vigorous idioms of 'the language.* Nor is 

nearly six hundred of these words, and the collector believes 
that there are some hundreds more which he has not ingathered. 
I very much doubt whether he has left any such gleaning to 
those who follow him. I have lighted upon several, in what 
seemed to me out of the way comers of English literature, but 
have invariably found t^m duly registered by him. Words 
constructed on a similar scheme are to be found in the Romance 
languages ; but are less numerous there, and not indigenous ; 
their existence in these being rather the result of Germanic 
influences, which the Neo-latin languages did not altogether 
escape (Diez, Gram, d. Rom» Sprachen^ vol. i. p. 71). 

♦ Many languages have groups of words formed upon the 
same scheme, although, singularly enough, they are altogether 
absent from the Anglo-Saxon (Grimm, Deutsche Gram, vol. ii. 
p. 976). Thus in Spanish a vaunting braggart is a < mata- 
moros,' a slay moor; he is a 'matasiete,' a slayseven (the 
* ammazzasiete ' of the Italians) ; a *perdonavidas,' a spare- 
lives. Others may be added to these, as * azotacalles,* 
*picapleytos,' 'saltaparedes,' < rompeesquinas,' *ganapan,' 
^*cascatreguas.' So in French, *attisefeu,* * coupegorge,' 

Digitized by 


202 Diminutioiis of our Language, lect. 

this strange ; they are almost all words of abuse or 
contempt, and these are invariably among the most 
picturesque and imaginative which a language pos- 
sesses. The whole man speaks out in them, and 
often the man under the influence of passion and 
excitement, which always lend force and fire to his 
speech. Let me of these recount a few: 'smell- 
feast' (Davies),— it may remind us of the Greek 
rpexeSstTtroi, — if not a better, is a more graphic, 
word than our foreign parasite ; 'clawback' (Hacket) 
is stronger, if not more graceful, than flatterer or 
sycophant ; * tosspot ' (Fuller), it is sometimes 'reel- 
pot' (Middleton), or 'swillpot' (Cotgrave), tells its 
tale as well as drunkard; and 'pinchpenny' (Hol- 
land), or * nipfarthing ' (Drant), as well or better 
than miser. 'Spintext,' 'lacklatin,' 'mumblematins,' 
were all applied to ignorant clerics ; ' bitesheep ' (a 
favourite word with Foxe), to bishops who were 
rather wolves tearing, than shepherds feeding, the 
flock ; 'slipstring' (Beaumont^d Fletcher, =pend- 
ard), 'slipgibbet,' 'scapegallows,' were all names 
given to those who, however they might have escaped, 
were justly owed to the gallows, and might still, a£ 
our common people say, 'go up stairs to bed.' 

How many of these words occur in Shakespeare. 
The following list makes no pretence to com- 
pleteness : * martext,' ' can^tale,' ' pleaseman,' 
'sneakcup,' 'mumblenews,' 'wantwit,' 'lackbrain,' 

•faineant,' 'vaurien,' * troublefgte.' In Italian * accattapane,* 
•cercabrighe,' 'rubacuori' (Diez, Gram, d, Rom. Sprachm^ 
vol. ii. p. 410). 

Digitized by 


V. Group of disused Words. 203 

* lackbeard, ' ' lacklove, ' * ticklebiain, ' ' cutpuise, ' 
'cutthroat/ 'crackhemp,' 'tearsheet, 'breedbate/ 
*swingebuckler,' 'pickpurse,' 'pickthank/ 'pick- 
lock,' 'scarecrow/ 'breakvow/ 'breakpromise/ 'find- 
fault/ 'choplogic/ 'makepeace' — this last and 'tell- 
truth' (Fuller) being the only two in the whole 
collection, wherein reprobation or contempt is not 
implied. Nor is the list exhausted yet ; there are 
further 'dingthrift' (=prodigal, Herrick), 'waste- 
good,' 'spendair (both in Cotgrave), 'stroygood' 
(Golding), 'scattergood,' 'wastethrift' (Beaumont 
and Fletcher), 'scapethrift,' 'swashbuckler' (both in 
Holinshed), 'rushbuckler,' 'shakebuckler,' 'rinse- 
pitcher' (both in Becon), 'drawlatch' (Awdeley), 
' crackrope ' (Howell), ' waghalter,' ' wagfeather ' 
(both in Cotgrave), 'blabtale' (Racket), 'get- 
nothing' (Adams), 'tearthroat' (Gayton), 'spit- 
poison' (South), 'spitvenom/ 'marprelate,' 'nip- 
cheese,' 'nipscreed,' 'killman' (Chapman), lack- 
land,' 'pickquarrel,' 'pickfault,' 'pickpenny' (Henry 
More), 'makefray' (Bishop Hall,) 'makedebate 
(Richardson's Letters), 'quenchcoal' (an enemy to 
all zeal in religion, Rogers,) 'kindlecoal,' 'kindle- 
fire' (both in Gumall), 'tumtippet' (Cranmer), 
'swillbowl' (Stubbs), 'smellsmock' (=mulierarius), 
'cumberworld' (Drayton), ' curryfavor,' 'pinchfist,' 
' suckfist,' ' hatepeace ' (Sylvester), ' hategood ' 
(Bunyan), ' clusterfist ' (Cotgrave), ' clutchfist,' 
'sharkguir (both in Middleton), 'makesport' (Ful- 
ler), ' hangdog' (' Herod's hangdcgs in the tapestry,' 
Pope), 'catchpoll,' 'makeshift' (used not imperson- 

Digitized by 


204 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

ally, as now), 'pickgoose' ('the bookworm was 
never but a ptckgoose*), 'killcow ' (these three last in 
Gabriel Harvey), 'frayboggard' (=scarecrow. Cover- 
dale), 'letgame' (=spoilsport, Chaucer), * rake- 
shame ' (Milton, prose), with others which it will be 
convenient to omit 'Rakehell,' which used to be 
spelt 'raker or 'rakle' (Chaucer), a good English 
word, would be wrongly included in this list, although 
Cowper, when he writes 'rakehell' {'rake-hell baro- 
net'),* must evidently have regarded it as belonging 
to this family of words, f 

'VThere is another frequent cause of the disuse of 
words. In some inexplicable way there comes to be 
attached something of ludicrous, or coarse, or vulgar 
to them, out of a sense of which they are no longer 
used in earnest writing, and fall out of the discourse 

* I regret by too much brevity to have here led astray Dr. 
G. Schneider, who has written a History of the English Lan- 
gttage, Freiburg, 1863, and done me the honour to transfer 
with slight acknowledgment whatever he found useful in my 
little book to his own. He has at p. 159, this wonderful para- 
graph : * Rakehell bedeutete ehemals baronet ; bald verl)and 
sich damit der BegrifF von " wohllebender Mensch ;" und da 
derjenige, welcher mehr an's Wohlleben denkt, leicht ein 
Wohlltlstling wird, ging die anfangs gute Bedeutung in diese 
letztere Ober ; der Ausdruck ward desshalb aufgegeben, um 
nicht mit dem Gedanken an baronet stets die Idee von einem 
ausschweifenden wohllttstigen Menschen zu verbinden.' 

t The mistake is far earlier ; long before Cowper wrote the 
sound suggested first this sense, and then this -spelling. Thus 
Stanihurst, Description of Ireland^ p. 28 : * They are taken 
for no better than rakehelsy or the deviPs black guard;* and 
often elsewhere. 

Digitized by 


V. Words and Phrases become vulgar. 205 

of those who desire to speak elegantly. * Not indeed 
that this degradation which overtakes words is in all 
cases inexplicable. The unheroic character of most 
men's minds, with their consequent intolerance of 
that heroic which they cannot understand, is con- 
stantly at work, too often with success, in taking down 
words of nobleness from their high pitch ; and, as the 
most effectual way of doing this, in casting an air of 
mock-heroic about them. Thus *to dub,' a word 
resting on one of the noblest uses of chivalry, has 
now something of ludicrous about it ; so too has 
' doughty.' ' They belong to that serio-comic, mock- 
heroic diction, the multiplication of which, as of all 
parodies on greatness, is evermore a sign of evil 
augury for a nation that receives it with favor, is at 
present such a sign of evil augury for our own. 

'Pate' is now comic or ignoble; it was not so 
once; else we should not meet it in the Psalms 
(vii. 17) ; as little was 'noddle,' which occurs in one 
of the few poetical passages in Hawes. The same 
may be affirmed of 'sconce/ of 'nowl' or 'noil' 
(Wiclif); of 'slops' for trousers (Marlowe's Lucan) ; 
of 'cocksure ' (Rogers), of * smug,' which once meant 
adorned ( ' the smug bridegroom, ' Shakespeare) . ' To 
nap' is now a word without dignity ; while in Wiclif s 
Bible w^ read, * Lo He schall not nappe, neither slepe 
that kepeth Israel' (Ps. cxxi. 4). *To punch,' 'to 
thump,' both occurring in Spenser, could not now 
obtain the same serious use ; as little 'to wag* (Matt 
xxvii. 39), or ' to buss' (Shakespeare). Neither would 
any one now say with Wiclif diat at Lystra Barnabas 

Digitized by 


206 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

and Paul ' ihnt their clothes and shaped out among 
the people ' (Acts xiv. 14) ; nor with Coverdale, ' My 
beloved cometh hopping upon the mountains ' (Cant 
ii. 8); nor yet that *the Lord trounced Sisera and 
all his host/ as it stands in the Bible of 1551. * A sigh/ 
of angels ' (as Tyndale has it at Heb. xiL 22), would 
be felt to be a vulgarism now. ' A blulfbered fiice ' 
(Spenser) would scarcely appeal to our pity. We 
should not call now a delusion of Satan a ^ftam of the 
devil ' (Henry More) ; nor our Lord's course through 
the air to the pinnacle of the temple ' his aery jaunt' 
(Milton). 'Verdant' is tio longer a name which 
Spenser could give to one of the knights of Fairyland. 
It is the same with phrases. 'Through thick and 
thin' (Spenser), 'cheek by jowl' (Dubartas), do not 
now belong to serious literature. In the glorious 
ballad ()i Chevy Chase^ a noble warrior whose 1^ are 
hewn off, is ' in doleful dumps ;' just as, in Holland's 
Lwyy the Romans are 'in the dumps' after their 
disastrous defeat at Cannae. In Grolding's Ovid^ one 
fears that he will 'go to pot.' . In one of the beautiful 
letters of John Careless, preserved in Foxe's Martyrs, 
he announces that a persecutor, who expects a recan- 
tation from him, is ' in the wrong box.' And in the 
sermons of Barrow, who certainly did not seek feimiliar, 
still less vulgar, expressions, we constantly meet such 
terms as 'to rate,' 'to snub,' 'to gull,' 'to pudder,' 
'dumpish,' and the like ; words, we may be sure, not 
vulgar when he used them.. 

Then too the advance of refinement causes words 
to be dismissed, which are felt to speak too plainly. 

Digitized by 


V. Possibility of recalling Words. 207 

It is not here merely that one age has more delicate 
ears than another; and that subjects are freely spoken 
of at one period which at another are withdrawn from 
conversation. There is something of this ; but even 
if this delicacy were at a standstill, there would still be 
a continual disallowing of words, which for a certain 
while have been employed to designate coarse or 
disagreeable facts or things ; or, where not a disallow- 
ing, a relinquishing of them to the lower classes of 
society, with the adoption of others in their stead. 
The former words being felt to have come by long use 
into too direct and close relation with what they de- 
signate, to summon it up too distinctly before the 
mind's eye, they are thereupon exchanged for others, 
which, at first at least, indicate more lightly and 
allusively the offensive thing, rather hint and suggest 
than paint and describe it : although by and by 
these new will in their turn be discarded, and for 
exactly the same reasons which brought about the 
dismissal of those which they themselves superseded. 
It lies in the necessity of things that I must leave this 
part of my subject, curious as it is, without illustra- 
tion ;* but no one even moderately acquainted with 

" • As not, however, turning on a v^ coarse matter, and 
Ulostrating the subject with infinite wit and humour, I might 
refer the Spanish scholar to the discussion between Don Quix- 
6te and his squire on the dismissal of *regoldar' from the 
language of good society, and the substitution of ' erutar ' in 
its roopi (Don OrnxoU^ 4. 7. 43). Li a letter pf Cicero to 
Paetus {Fam, ix. 22) there is a subtle and interesting disquisi- 
tion on the philosophy of these forbidden words. 

Digitized by 


208 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

the early literature of the Reformation can be ignorant 
of words having free course therein, which now are 
not merely coarse, and as such under ban,, but which 
no one would employ who did not mean to speak 
impurely and vilely.* 

I spoke in a former lecture of the many words 
which have come back to us after a temporary 
absence, and of the extent to which the language has 
been reinforced and recruited* by these. For there 
is this difference between words and flexions, that of 
the last what is once gone is gone for ever ; they are 
irrevocable ; no human power could ever recall them. 
A poet indeed may use 'pictai'for 'pictae* (Virgil), 
or 'glitterand' for glittering (Spenser) ; but it is 
not in their power to call these back, even if they 
would ; and when a German writer suggests that to 
abate the too great sibilation of our language we should 
recover the plurals in n, Vejnie/ * housen,' and the like, 
he betrays his ignorance of the inexorable laws of lan- 
guage, and of the impossibility of controlling these. 
But it is not so with words ; and I cannot but think, in 
view of this disposition of theirs to return, in view 
also of the havoc which, as we have seen, various 
causes are evermore effecting in the ranks of a lan- 
guage, that much might be done by writers of autho- 
rity and influence in the way of bringing back deser- 
ters, where they are capable of yielding good service 
still, and placing them in the ranks again ; still more 

* See Grimm's Deutsches Woerterbuck^ s. v. Koih^ for some 
good remarks on this matter. .' 

Digitized by 


V. Words which have been ill Lost 209 

in that of detaining words, which, finding no honour- 
able employment, seem more or less disposed to be 
gone, though they have not as yet actually disap- 
peared. This would be less difficult from the fact 
that in almost every instance these words, obsolete or 
obsolescent, which our literary English knows, or is 
about to know, no more, live on, as has been already 
noted, in one or more of our provincial dialects ; 
they need not therefore, as dead, that life should be 
breathed into them anew; but only, as having re- 
tired into obscurity for a while, some one to draw 
them forth from this Obscurity again. Of these there 
are multitudes. If I instance a very few, it is not as 
specially recommending them for rehabilitation, 
though some of them are well worthy of it, and capable 
of good service still ; but as showing to what kind of 
work I invite. 

It is indeed to the poet that mainly, although not 
exclusively, this task must be committed, 'That 
high-flying liberty of conceit ' which is proper to him 
will justify liberties on his part which would be 
denied to the writer of less impassioned prose. ►* It 
is felt by all that with the task which is-bfefore him, he 

♦ Jean Paul {/Esthetik, § 83) : Ueberhaupt bildet und nahrt 
die Prose ihre Sprachkraft an der Poesie, denn diese muss im- 
mer mit neuen Fedem steigen, wenn die alten, die ihren 
FlOgeln ausfallen, die Prose zum Schreiben nimmt. Wie diese 
aus Dichtkunst entstand, so wachst sie auch an ihr. 

Ewald (Die poet. Bucher des Alten BundeSj p. 55) : * End- 
lich aber ist der Dichter nicht bloss so der freieste Herrscher 
und SchOpfer im Gebiete der Sprache seiner Zeit, er spricht 

Digitized by 


210 Diminutions of our Langunge. lect. 

has a right to all the assistance which the language 
trained to the uttermost is capable of yielding. What- 
ever resources it oflfers, he has a claim to draw upon 
them all. This liberty Tennyson has used. Thus ' to 
burgeon' had pretty nearly disappeared from the 
language since the time of Dryden, but has by him 
on several occasions been employed. But not to the 
poet only is such a privilege conceded. The verb *to 
hearten * was as good as dead till Mr. Grote, by his 
frequent employment of it in his Hisiopy of' Greece, 
gave it life again. * To sagg/ a Shakespearian word, 
and one too good to lose, is alive everywhere in Eng- 
land, except in our literary dialect ; thus a tired horse 
*saggs' his head; an ill-hung gate 'saggs' on its 
hinges. 'To gaster ' and 'to.flayte,' — they are 
synonyms, but the first is rather to terrify, and the 
second to scare, — ^are frequent in the Puritan writers 
of East Anglia ; so is 'to fellow-feel ;' the two former 

auch am warmsten und frischesten aus der Zeit und dem Orte, 
woran seine ^mpfindungen zunOchst geknttpft sind ; seine 
Sprache ist bei aller Wurde und Hohe zugleich die heimischste 
und eigenthtUnlischste, weil sie am reinsten und anspruchlosesten 
aus dem ganzen menschlichen Sein des Einzelnen fliesst. Der 
Dichter kann also freier und leichter abweichende Farben und 
Stoflfe der Sprache seiner nachsten Heimath und seiner eigenen 
Zeit einfliessen lassen, und .wfthrend die Prosa eine einmal 
festgewordene Form schwer andert, bereichert imd veijQngt sich 
die Dichtersprache bestandig durch Aufnahme des Dialect- 
ischen, welches in die herrschendc Prosa nicht tlbergegangen, 
und durch den Eindrang von Stoffen der Volkssprache, welche 
doch immer mannigfaltiger ist, weil die unerschOpfliche Quelle 
lebendiger Sprache auch unvermerkt sich immer verandert und 

Digitized by 


V. Words which have been ill Lost. 211 

are still alive upon the lips of the people. Perhaps 
' to fleck ' is not gone ; nor yet * to shimmer ;' but 
both are certainly in danger of going. Coleridge 
supposed that he had invented ' aloofness ;' it is well 
worthy of acceptance ; but if it has been accepted, 
which is not yet perfectly clear, he only revived a 
word which was in use two hundred years ago. 
* Lithemess/ as expressing a want of moral backbone 
in the character, has gone without leaving a substi- 
tute behind it 'Elfish 'and 'elfishness,' these last 
expressing a certain inborn and mischievous way- 
wardness, have done the same. 

' Damish ' (Rogers) applied in blame to proud im- 
perious women, *wearish' in the sense of small, 
weak, shrunken (thus, *a wearish old man,' (Bur- 
ton), * masterous' or * maistrous,' as Milton spells it, 
in that of overbearing, 'kittle,' an epithet given to 
persons of a cer^in delicate organization, and thus 
touchy and easily offended, * birdwitted,' or incapable 
of keeping the attention fixed for long on any single 
point (Bacon); 'afterwitted,' applied by Tyndale to 
one having what the French now call Vesprii de 
rescalier^ who always remembers what he should have 
said when, having left the room, it is too late to say 
it, with numberless others, may each of them singly 
be no serious loss, but when these losses may be 
counted by hundreds and thousands, they are no 
slight impoverishment of our vocabulary; and as- 
suredly it would not be impossible to win some of 
these back again. There are others, such as Baxter's 
' wordwarriors,' strivers, that is, about words, as Lord 

Digitized by 


212 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

Brooke's ' bookhunger,' as a 'little-ease/ or place of 
discomfortable restraint, as *realmrape ' (=usurpation, 
Mirror /or Magistrates) as *to witwanton' (Fuller 
warns men that they do not ' witwanton with God ') 
' to cankerfret' (*sin cankerfrets the soul/ (Rogers), 
which, though never popular, seem to me happier 
than that they should be allowed to die. 

We have to thank the American branch of the 
English-speaking race that we have not lost 'freshet' 
(an exquisite word and used by Milton), *snag,' 
'bluff,' 'tedge,' ' slick, '♦ 'to whittle,' 'to cave in,' 
'to rile,' 'to snarl' that is, to entangle). They are 
counted as American inventions, but are indeed 
nothing of the kind. There is scarcely one of them, 
of which examples could not be found in our earlier 
literature, and in provincial dialects they are current 
every one to this present day.f Even 'the fall ' as 
equivalent to the autumn is not properly American ; 
being as old as Dryden, J and older. 

* 'Slick* is indeed only another form of * sleek.* Thus 
Fuller {Pisgah Sight of Palestine^ vol. ii. p. 190) : *Sure I am 
this city [the New Jerusalem] as presented by the prophet, was 
fairer, finer, slicker^ smoother, more exact, than any fabric the 
earth afforded.* 

t See Nail, Dialect and Provincialisms of East Anglia^, 
s. w. 

X * What crowds of patients the towndoctor kills^ 
Or how Izsi fall he raised the weekly bills.* 

So in the answer to Marlowe*s Passionate Pilgrim^ ascribed 
to Raleigh: 

* A honey tongue, a heart of gall, 
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fallJ* 

Digitized by 


V. Need of New Words. 213 

But besides these deserters, of which some at least 
might with great advantage be recalled to the ranks, 
there are other words, which have never found a place 
in our literary English, that yet might be profitably 
adopted into it. A time arrives for a language, when, 
apart from the recoveries I have been speaking of 
just now, its own local and provincial dialects are 
almost the only source from which it can derive addi- 
tions, such as shall really constitute an increase of its 
wealth ; while yet such additions from one quarter or 
another are most needful, if it is not daily to grow 
poorer, if it is ta find any compensation for the 
waste which is evermore going forward of the wealth 
that in time past it possessed. We have seen how 
words wear out, become unserviceable, how the glory 
that clothed them once disappears, as the light fades 
from the hills ; how they drop away from the stock 
and stem of the language as dead leaves from their 
parent tree; so that others, a later growth, must 
supply their place, if the foliage is not to grow sparser 
and thinner every day. 

Before, however, we turn to the dialects as likely 
to yield here any effectual help, we must form a 
juster estimate of what these really are, than is com- 
monly entertained ; they must be redeemed in our 
minds from that unmerited contempt and neglect with 
which they are by too many regarded. We too often 

On this matter of American -English compare a very interesting 
paper, with the title, * Inroads upon English,* in Blackwood^ s 
Magazine^ Oct. 1867, p. 399, sqq. 

Digitized by 


214 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

think of a dialect, as of a degraded, distorted, and vul- 
garized form of the classical language ; all its depar- 
tures from this being for us violations of grammar, or 
wrongs which in one kind or another it has suffered 
from the uneducated and illiterate by whom mainly 
it is employed. But it is nothing of the kind. It 
may not have our grammar, but it has a grammar of 
its own. If it have here and there a distorted or 
mutilated word, much oftenerwhat we esteem such 
embodies some curious fact in the earlier histoiy of 
the language. A dialect is one of the many forms in 
which a language once existed ; but one, as an eminent 
French writer has expressed it, which has had misfor- 
tunes ;* or which at any rate has not had the good 
fortune that befell High-German in Germany, Cas- 
tilian in Spain, Tuscan in Italy, that namely of being 

* Sainte-Beuve : Je ddfinis un patois, une ancienne langae 
qui a eu des malheurs. Littr6 {^Hist, de la Langue Fran^se^ 
vol. ii. p. 93) : Les faits de langue abondent dans les patois. 
Parce qu'ils offrent parfois un mot de la langue litt^raire estropi6 
ou quelque perversion manifeste de la syntaxe r^gulidre, on a 
€\& port6 It conclure que le reste est & I'avenant, et qu'ils sont, 
non pas une formation ind^pendante et originale, mais une 
corruption de I'idiome cultiv6 qui, tomb^ en des bouches mal 
apprises, y subit tous les supplices de la distorsion. II n'en est 
rien ; quand on dte ces taches peu nombreuses et peu profondes, 
on trouve un noyau sain et entier. Ce serait se faire une id€e 
erron6e que de consid^rer un patois comme du fran9ais alt^r^ ; 
il n'y a eu aucun moment oti ce que nous appelons aujourd'hui 
le fran9ais ait 6t6 uniform^ment parl6 sur toute la surface de la 
France ; et, par cons^uent, il n*y a pas eu de moment non 
plus oil il ait pu s'alt^rer chez les paysans et le peuple des 
villes pour devenir un patois. Elsewhere the same writer says 

Digitized by 


V. The Importance of Dialects. 215 

elevated above its compeers and competitors to the 
dignity of the classical language of the land. As a 
consequence it will not have received the develop- 
ment, nor undergone the elaboration, which have been 
the portion of its more successful rival ; but for these 
very reasons will have often retained a freedom, a 
freshness, and a natve/e which the other has in good 
measure forgone and lost.* 

(vol. ii. p. 150) : Sauf I'usage des bons ^crivains et de la 
soci6t6 polie, sauf P^laboration grammaticale (double avantage 
que je suis loin de vouloir attdnuer), la langue litt^raire n'est, 
non plus, qu*un patois ou dialecte €\ew6 h la supr^matie, et 
elle a, comme les autres, ses fautes et ses mdprises. 

* Littrd {J/lsi. de la Langue FrauQaise, vol. ii. p. 130) : Un 
patois n'a pas d'^crivains qui le fixent, dans le sens oti Ton dit 
que les bons auteurs fixent une langue ; un patois n'a^pas les 
termes de haute po6sie, de haute Eloquence, de haut style, vu 
qu'il est plac^ sur un plan oti les sujets qui comportent tout cela 
ne lui appartiennent plus. C*est ce qui lui donne une appa- 
rence de familiarity naive, de simplicity narquoise, de rudesse 
grossidre, de grace rustique. Mais, sous cette apparence, qui 
provient de sa condition mSme, est un fonds solide de bon et 
vieux fran9ais, qu'il faut toujours consulter. Compare Ampdre, 
La Formation de la Langue Franqaise^ P* 3^1 » ^iiid Schleicher 
{pie Deutsche Sprache^ p. no) : Die Mundarten nun sind die 
natttrlichen, nach den Gesetzen der sprachgeschichtlichen 
Veranderungen gewordenen Formen der deutschen Sprache, 
im Gegensatze zu der mehr oder minder gemachten und schul- 
meisterisch geregelten und zugestutzten Sprache der Schrift. 
Schon hieraus folgt der hohe Werth derselben fOr die wissen- 
schaftliche Erforschung unserer Sprache ; hier ist eine reiche 
FttUe von Worten und Formen, die, an sich gut und echt, von 
der Schriftsprache verschmaht wttrden ; hier finden wir 
manches, was wir zur Erklftrung der filteren Sprachdenkmale, 

Digitized by 


216 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

Of its words, idioms, turns of speech, many which 
we are ready to set down as vulgarisms, solecisms of 
speech, violations of the primary rules of grammar, do 
no more than attest that those who employ them 
have from some cause or another not kept abreast 
with the advances which the language has made. The 
usages are only local in the fact that, having once 
been employed by the great body of a people, they 
have now receded from the lips of all except those in 
some certain country districts, who have been more 
feiithful than others to the traditions of the past. 
Thus there are districts of England where for * we 
sing' ' ye sing' * they sing,' they decline their plurals, 
'we singen' 'ye singen' 'they singen.' This was 
not indeed the original plural, but was that form of it 
which, coming up about Chaucer's time, was dying 
out in Spenser's. He indeed constantly employs it,* 

ja zur Erkenntniss der jetzigen Schriftsprache verwerthen kOn- 
nen, abgesehen von dem sprachgeschichtlichen, dem lautphy- 
siologischen Interesse, welches die aberaus reiche Mannigfal- 
tigkeit unserer Mundarten bietet. 

* It must be owned that Spenser does not fairly represent 
the language of his time, or indeed of any time, affecting as 
he does a certain artificial archaism both of words and forms. 
Some call in question the justice of this charge, and will fain 
have it that he does but write the oldest English of his time. 
I cannot so regard it. Jonson, bom only twenty years later, 
could not have been mistaken ; and with all its severity there 
is a truth in his observation, * Spenser, in affecting the ancients, 
writ no language.' And Daniel, bom some ten years later, 
implicitly repeats the charge : 

< Let others sing of knights and Paladins 
In aged accents and untimely words.* 

Digitized by 


V. JSarlier and later English 217 

but after him it becomes ever rarer in our literary 
English. In ^the Homilies I have met it once, in 
Drayton,* and even so late as in Fuller; but in his 
time it quite disappears. 

Now of those who retain such forms you should 
esteem not that they violate the laws of the language, 
but that they have taken i\it\r permanent stand at that 
which was only a point of transition for it, and which 
it has now left behind. A countryman will nowadays 
say, 'He made me afeard, or *The price of com 
ris last market-day,' or 'I will axe him his name ;' 
or *I tellj/^,' and you will be tempted to set these 
phrases down as barbarous English. They are not 
such at all. ' Afeard ' is the regular participle of an 
Anglo-Saxon verb ' a-faeran,' as ' afraid ' of ' to affray ;' 

See too the remarkable Epistle prefixed by the anonymous 
Editor to his Shepfurd^s Calendar^ where the writer glories in 
the archaic character of the author, on whom he is annotating. 
In the matter, however, which is treated above, Ben Jonson 
was at one with him, himself expressing a strong regret that 
these flexions had not been retained. * The persons plural,* he 
says {English Gramtnary c. xvii.), 'keep the termination of 
the first person singular. In former times, till about the reign 
of King Henry VIII., they were wont to be formed by adding 
en; thus, loven^ say en, complainen. But now (whatsoever is 
the cause) it hath quite grown out of use, and that other so 
generally prevailed, that I dare not presume to set this afoot 
again ; albeit (to tell you my opinion) I am persuaded that 
the lack hereof, well considered, will be found a great blemish 
to our tongue. For seeing time and person be as it were the 
right and left hand of a verb, what can the maiming bring 
else, but a lameness to"the whole body ? ' 
* < The happy shepherds tninsen on the plain.' 

Digitized by 


218 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

* ris ' or * risse ' is an old preterite of * to rise ;* ' to 
axe' is not a mispronunciation of 'to ask/ but the 
constant form which in eariier English the verb 
assumed. Even such, a phrase as ' Put ihem things 
away/ is not bad, but only antiquated English.* 

* Ourn/ which our rustics in the South of England so 
freely employ (cf. Gen. xxvi. 20, Wiclif), has been 
disallowed by those classes with which rests the final 
decision as to what shall stand in a language, and 
what shall not ; but it is in itself as correct, it would 
hardly be too much to say, more correct than ' ours,' 
You are not indeed therefore to conclude that these 

* G^nin {Kicriations Philologiques^ vol. i. p. 71) says to the 
same effect : II n'y a gudres de faute de fran9ais, je dis faute 
g^n^rale, accr^itde, qui n'ait sa raison d'etre, et ne pflt au 
besoin produire ses noblesse ; et souvent mieux en 
rdgle que celles des locutions qui ont usurps leur place au 
soleil. The French Academy, in the Preface to the last edition 
of the Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue FranqaisCy p. xv., 
has some excellent remarks in respect of acts of similar injus- 
tice, into which in our judgment of old authors, and trying the 
past by the rules of the present, we are in danger of falling : 
Ces ^crivains y seront quelquefois d^fendus contre d*indiscrdtes 
critiques, qui leur ont reproch^ comme des fautes de langage 
ce qui n*^tait que I'emploi legitime d^ la langue de leur temps. 
A chaque 6poque s*6tablissent des habitudes, des conventions, 
des rdgles mgme, auxquelles n'ont pu assur^ment se conformer 
par avance les 6crivains des ^poques ant^rieures, et qu*il n'est 
ni juste ni raisonnable de leur opposer, comme s'il s'agissait de 
ces premiers principes dont Pautorit^ est absolue et universelle. 
C'est pourtant en vertu de cette jurisprudence retroactive 
qu*ont 6t6 condamn^es, chez d'excellents auteurs, des manidres 
de parler alors admises, et auxquelles un long abandon n'a pas 
toujours enlev6 ce qu*elles avaient de gr^ce et de vivacite. 

Digitized by 


V. Mispronunciation. 219 

forms are open to you to employ, or that they would 
be good English now. They would not ; being de- 
partures from that present use and custom, which must 
be our standard in what we speak and write ; just as 
in our buying and selling we must use the current 
coin of the realm, not attempt to pass that which 
long since has been called in, whatever intrinsic value 
it mayj)ossess. 

The same may be asserted of certain ways of pro- 
nouncing words, not now in use, except among the 
lower classes ; thus, *contrdiy,' 'mischievous,' 'blas- 
phemous,' instead of 'cdntrary,' 'mischievous,' 'blas- 
phemous.' It would be eapy to show by quotations 
from our poets that these are no mispronunciations, 
but only the retention of an earlier pronunciation by 
the people, after the higher classes have abandoned 
it,* And let me here say how well worth your while 
it will prove to watch for provincial words and inflec- * 
tions, local idioms and modes of pronunciation. 
Count nothing, in this kind beneath your notice. Do 
not at once ascribe any departure from^what you have 
been used to, either in grammar, or pronunciation, 
or meaning ascribed to words, to the ignorance or 
stupidity of the speaker. If you hear 'nuncheon,'f 
do not at once set it down for a malformation of 

* A single proof may in each case sufiSce : 

* Our wills and fates do so contrdry run.* — Shakespere, 

* Ne let mischiivotis witches with their charms.* — Spenser. 

* O argument blasphimous, false and iproud.^—Mt/^on. 

t This form, which our country people in Hampshire always 
employ, either retains the original pronunciation, our received 

Digitized by 


220 Diminutioyis of our Language, lect. 

'luncheon,' nor 'yeel'* of 'eel/ Lists and collec- 
tions of provincial usage, such as I have suggested, 
always have their value. If you cannot turn them to 
profit yourselves, and they may not stand in close 
enough connection with your own studies for this, 
there always are those who will thank you for them ; 
and to whom the humblest of these collections, care- 

one being a modem corruption ; or else, as is more probable, 
we have confounded two different words, from which confusion 
they have kept clear. In Howell's Vocabulary, 1659, and in 
Co^grave*s French and English Dictionary, both words occur : 
'nuncion or nuncheon, the afternoon's repast,' (cf. Hudibras^ 
i. I. 346 : * They took their breakfasts or their nuncheons^), 
and < lunchion, a big piece,' i,e» of bread ; both giving * cari- 
bot,' which has this meaning, as the French equivalent ; and 
compare Gay : 

* When hungry thou stood'st staring like an oaf, 
I sliced the luncheon from the barley loaf ;' 

and Miss Baker (Northamptonshire Glossary) explains * lunch ' 
as a large lump of bread, or other edible ; " He helped him- 
self to a good lunch of cake." * This * nuntion ' may possTbly 
help us to the secret of the word. Richardson notes that it is 
spelt * noon-shun ' in Browne's Pastorals, which must suggest 
as plausible, if nothing more, that the * nuntion ' was origin- 
ally the labourer's slight meal, to which he withdrew for the 
shunning of the heat of noon : above all when in Lancashire 
we find * noon-scape,' and in Norfolk * noon-miss,' for the time 
when labourers rest after dinner. The dignity at which 
* lunch ' or * luncheon ' has now arrived, as when we read in 
the newspapers of a 'magnificent luncheon,^ is quite modem ; 
the word belonged a century ago to rustic life, and in literature 
had not travelled beyond the * hobnailed pastorals' which 
professed to describe that life. 
* Holland {Pliny , vol. ii. p. 428, and often) writes it so. 

Digitized by 


V. Luncheon^ TeeL 221 

fully and conscientiously made, will be in one way or 
other of real assistance. * There is the more need to 
urge this at the presient, because, notwithstanding the 
tenacity with which our country folk cling to their old 
forms and usages, still these must now be rapidly 
growing fewer ; and there are forces, moral and 
material, at work in England, which will probably 
cause that of those which now survive the greater 
part will within the next fifty years have disappeared. 
Many of them even now are only to be gleaned from 
such scattered and remote villages as have not yet 
been reached by the ravages of the schoolmaster, or 
the inroads of the railway. 

What has been just now said of our provincial 
English, namely, that it is often c?^ English rather 
than dad English, is riot less true of many so-called 
Americanisms, f There are parts of America where 
' het ' is still the participle of * to heat ;' if our Autho- 
rized Version had not been meddled with, we should 
so read it at Dan. iii. 19 to this day ; where ' holp ' 
still survives as the perfect of * to help;' *pled' (as 
in Spenser) of 'to plead.' Longfellpw use3 'dove' 
as the perfect of *to dive;' nor is this a poetical 

* An article On English JYtmouns Personal in the Trans- 
actions of the Philological Society^ vol. i. p. 277, will attest the 
excellent service which an accurate acquaintance with provin- 
cial usages may render in the investigation of perplexing 
phenomena in English grammar. Compare Guest, Hist, of 
English Rhythms, vol. ii. p. 207. 

t See Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms^ passim. 

Digitized by 


222 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

license, for I lately met the same in a well-written 
book of American prose. " 

The dialects then are worthy of respectful attention 
— and if in their grammar, so in their vocabulary no 
less. If the sage or the scholar were required to 
invent a word which should designate the slight meal 
claimed in some of our southern counties by the 
labourer before he begins his mowing in the early 
morning, they might be sorely- perplexed to-do it 
The Dorsetshire labourer, who demands his 'dew- 
bit,' has solved the difiiculty. In the same dialect 
they express in a single word that a house has a 
northern aspect; it is 'backsunned.' You have 
marked the lighting of the sky just above the horizon 
when clouds are about to break up and disappeiar. 
Whatever name you gave it you would hardly improve 
on that of the * weather-gleam,' which in some of our 
dialects it bears. And this is what we find con- 
tinually, namely that the true art of word-making, 
which is hidden from the wise and learned of this 
world, is revealed to the husbandman, the mechanic, 
the child. Spoken as the dialects are by the actual 
cultivators of the soil, they will often be inconceivably 
rich in words having to do with the processes of 
husbandry ; thus ripe com blown about, or beaten 
down by rain or hail, may in East Anglia be said 
either to be 'baffled,' or 'nickled,' or 'snaffled,' or 
'shuckled,' or 'wilted,'* each of these words having 

* See Nail, Dialect of 'East AngH'a^ s. w. * To wilt,' pro- 
vincial with us, is not so in America (Marsh, Lectures, i860, 
p. 668). 

Digitized by 


v. The Richness of Dialects. 223 

its own shade of meaning. Spbken by thos6 who are 
in constant and close contact with external nature, the 
dialects will often possess a fal richer and more 
varied nomenclature to set forth the various and 
changing features of this than the literaiy language 
itself Max Muller has said in a passage 6^ singular 
eloquence on the subject of ' dialectical regene- 
ration,'* and of dialects as the true feeders of a 
language, * We can hardly form an idea of the un- 
bounded resources of dialects. When literary lan- 
guages have stereotyped one general term, these 
dialects will supply fifty, each ^ith its own special 
shade of meaning. If new combinations of thought 
are evolved in the progress of society, dialects will 
readily supply the required names from the store of 
their so-called superfluous words. 'f Thus a brook, 
a streamlet, a rivulet are all very well, but what dis- 
criminating power do they possess as compared with 
a 'beck,' a 'bum,' a 'gill/ a 'force,' North-country 
words, with each a special signification of its own ? 

Words from the local dialects are continually slip- 
ping into the land's language. * Poney,' a northern 
word, has crept into English during the last century ; 
'gruesome,' which has always lived in Scotland, is 
creeping back into English, being used by Browning ; 
and with it not a few other words firom the same 
quarter, as 'blink,' 'canny,' 'douce,' 'daft,' 'feck- 
less ' ' eerie ' ' foregather, ' ' glamour, ' ' gloaming, ' 

^ On the Science of Language, 1st part, p. 60. 

t Compare Heyse, System der Sprackwissensckaft^ p. 229. 

Digitized by 


224 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

'glower/ 'uncanny/ all excellent in their kind. 
Wordsworth has given allowance to ' force/ which I 
just now cited as the North-country name for a water- 
fall ; and, if my memory do not err, to ' beck,' and 
* bum ' as well* * Clever, ' is an excellent example of 
a low-bom word which almost without observation 
has passed into general allowance. Sir Thomas 
Browne noted it two centuries ago as an East Anglian 
provincialism, and Ray as dialectic. Johnson pro- 
tests against it as 'a low word, scarcely ever used but 
in burlesque or conversation.' The fects of the case 
do not quite bear his statement out, but there can be 
no doubt that it is a parvenu, which has little by little 
been struggling up to the position which it has now 
obtained, f *Fun' too, a word not to be found in 

• What use Luther made of the popular language in his 
translation of the Bible he has himself told us, and here is one 
secret of its epoch-marking character. These are his words : 
< Man muss nicht die Buchstaben in der lateinischen Sprache 
fragen, wie man soil deutsche reden ; sondem man muss die 
Mutter im Hause, die Kinder auf den Gassen, den gemeinen 
Mann auf dem Markte darum fragen, und denselben auf das 
Maul sehen, wie sie reden.' Montaigne, who owes not a little 
of his reputation to his wonderful style, pleads guilty to the 
charge brought in his lifetime against him, that he employed 
not a few words and idioms which, till he gave them a wider 
. circulation, belonged to his native Gascony alone. Goethe too 
has given general currency to words not a few, which were 
only provincial before him. 

t Nisard (Curiositis de VEtymol. Franq. p. 90) : Les patois 
sont k la fois I'asile oti s'est r^fiig^^e en partie Pancienne langue 
fran9aise et le d^pdt oti se gardent les 6l6ments de la nouvelle. 

Digitized by 


V. Dialects yield us New Words. 225 

our earlier Dictionaries, was 'a low cant word' in 
Johnson's time and in his estimation. 

So much has been done in this matter, the language 
has been so largely reinforced, so manifestly enriched 
by words which either it has received back after a 
longer or shorter absence^ or which in later days it 
has derived from the dialects and enlisted for the first 
time, as to afford abundant encouragement for at- 
tempting much more in the same direction. But these 
suggestions must for the present suffice. I reserve 
for my lecture which follows the other half of a sub- 
ject which is very fiir from being half exhausted^ 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

226 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 




(continued. ) 

WHAT in my last preceding lecture has been 
said must suffice in respect of the words, and 
the character of the words, which we have lost or let 
go. Of these, indeed, if a language, as it travels on- 
wards, loses some, it also acquires others, and pro- 
bably many more than it loses ; they are leaves, on 
the tree of language, of which if some fall away, a 
new succession takes their place. But it is not so, as 
I already observed, with \}!\t forms or powers of a lan- 
guage, that is, with the various inflections, moods, 
duplicate or triplicate formation of tenses. These 
the speakers of a language come gradually to per- 
ceive that they can do without, and therefore cease 
to employ; seeking to suppress. grammatical intri- 
cacies, and to obtain grammatical simplicity and, so 
far as possible, a pervading uniformity, sometimes 
even at the cost of letting go what had real worth, 
and contributed to the more lively, if not to the 
clearer, setting forth of the inner thought or feeling 
of the mind.* Here there is only loss, with no cdm- 

• It has been well said, « There is nothing more certain than 
tills, that the earlier we can trace l?ack any one language, the 

Digitized by 


VI. No New Forms. 227 

pensating gain ; or, at all events, diminution only, and 
never addition. In this region no creative energy is 
at work during the later periods of a language, during 
'any, indeed, but quite the eariiest, and such as are 
withdrawn from our vision altogether. These are not 
as the leaves, but may be. likened to the stem and 
leading branches of a tree, whose shape, mould, and 
direction are determined at a very early stage of its 
growth ; and which age, or accident, or violence may 
make fewer, but which cannot become more numer- 
ous than they are. I have already slightly referred to 
a notable example of this, namely, to the dropping 
within historic times of the dual in Greek. And not in 
Greek only has it been felt that this was not worth 

more full, complete, and consistent are its forms : that the later 
we find it existing, the more compressed, colloquial and busi- 
nesslike it has become. Like the trees of our forests-, it grows 
at first wild, luxuriant, rich in foliage, full of light and shadow, 
and flings abroad in its vast branches the fruits of a youthful 
and vigorous nature j transplanted to the garden of civilisation 
and trained for the purposes of commerce, it becomes regulated, 
trimmed, pruned — nature indeed still gives it life, but art pre- 
scribes the direction and extent of its vegetation. Always we 
perceive a compression, a gradual loss of fine distinctions, a 
perishing of form^ terminations, and conjugations in the 
younger state of the language. The truth is, that in a language 
up to a certain period, there is a real indwelling vitality, a 
principle acting unconsciously, but pervasively in every part : 
men wield their forms of speech as they do their limbs — spon- 
taneously, knowing nothing of their construction or the means 
by which these instruments possess their power. It may be 
even said that the commencement of the age of self-conscious- 
ness is identical with the close of that of vitality in language.* 

digitized by 


228 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

preserving, or at all events that no serious incon- 
venience would follow from its dismissal. There is 
no such number in the modem German, Danish, or 
Swedish ; in the old German and Norse there was.- 
In other words, the stronger logic of a later day has 
* found no reason for splitting the idea of moreness 
into iwoness and muchness,' as Mommsen has quaintly 
put it 

How many niceties, delicacies, subtleties of lan- 
guage, we, speakers of the English tongue, in the 
course of centuries have got rid of; how bare (whether 
too bare is another question) we have stripped our- 
selves ; what simplicity, for better or for worse, reigns 
in the present English, as compared with the earlier 
forms of the language. Once it had six declensions, 
our present English has but one ; it had three genders, 
English as it now is, if we except one or two words, 
has none ; and the same &ct meets us, at what point 
soever we compare the grammar of the past with that 
of the present Let me here repeat, that in an esti- 
mate of Ihe gain or loss, we mtist not put certainly to 
loss everything which a language has dismissed, any 
more than everything to gain which it has acquired. 
Unnecessary and superfluous forms are no real wealth. 
They are often an embarrassment and an encumbrance 
rather than a help. The Finnish language has fifteen 
cases.* Without pretending to know exactly what it 
can effect by them, I feel confident that it cannot 
effect more with its fifteen than the Greek is able to 

* Barnes, Philological Grammar, p. io6. 

Digitized by 


VI. Mdinction qf Powers. 229 

do with five. The half here may indeed be more 
than the whole. It therefore seems to me that some 
words of Otfried Muller, in many ways admirable, 
exaggerate the disadvantages consequent on a reduc- 
tion of the forms of a language. * It may be ob- 
served/ he says, ' that in the lapse of ages, from the 
time that the progress of language can be observed, 
grammatical forms, such as the signs of cases, moods 
and tenses, have never been increased in number, but 
have been constantly diminishing. The history of the 
Romance, as well as of the Germanic, languages 
shows in the clearest manner how a grammar, once 
powerful and copious, has been gradually weakened 
and impoverished, until at last it preserves only a few 
fragments of its ancient inflections. Now there is no 
doubt that this luxuriance of grammatical forms is not 
an essential part of a language, considered merely as 
a vehicle of thought. It is well known that the 
Chinese language, which is merely a collection of 
radical words destitute of grammatical forms, can ex- 
press even philosophical ideas with tolerable precision ; 
and the English, which from the mode of its forma- 
tion by a mixture of different tongues, has been 
stripped of its grammatical inflections more completely 
than any other European language, seems, neverthe- 
less, even to a foreigner, to be distinguished by its 
energetic eloquence. All this must be admitted by 
every unprejudiced inquirer ; but yet it cannot be 
overlooked, that this copiousness of grammatical 
forms, and the fine shades of meaning which they 
express, evince a nicety of observation, and a faculty 

Digitized by 


230 Diminvtions of our Languctge. lect. 

of distinguishing, which unquestionably prove that 
the race of mankind among whom these languages 
arose was characterized by a remarkable correctness 
and subdety of thought Nor can any modem 
European, who forms in his mind a lively image of 
the classical languages in their ancient grammatical 
luxuriance, and compares them with his mother 
tongue, conceal from himself that in the ancient lan- 
guages the words, with their inflections, clothed as it 
were with muscles and sinews, come forward like 
living bodies, full of expression and character, while 
in the modern tongues the words seem shrunk up 
into mere skeletons.'* 

"Whether languages are as much impoverished by 
this process as is here assumed, may be fairly ques- 
tioned. I will endeavor to give you some materials 
which shall assist you in forming your own judgment 
in the matter ;f not bringing before you forms which 

• Literature of Greece, p. 5. 

t I will also append the judgment of another scholar (Renan, 
Les Langues Sitmtiques, p. 412) : Bien lorn de se reprdsenter 
r^tat actuel comme le d6veloppeinent d'un germe primitive 
moins complet et plus simple que P6tat qui a suivi, les plus 
profonds linguistes sont unanimes pour placer k Penfance de 
Tesprit humain des langues S3mth€tiques, obscures, compliqu^, 
si compliqu€es mSme que c'est le besoin d'un langage plus 
facile qui a port^ les generations posterieures k abandonner la 
langue savante des anc6tres. II serait possible, en prenant 
Tune aprds Tautre les langues de presque tous les pays oii 
Thumanite a une histoire, d'y verifier cette marche constaate 
de la S3mthdse & -I'analyse. Partout une langue ancienne a 
fait place d, une langue vulgaire, qui ne constitue pas, & vrai 

Digitized by 


VI. Terminations in * eas.^ 231 

the language has relinquished long ago, but mainly 
such as it is relinquishing at the present instant ; 
these, touching us so nearly, will have more than a 
merely archaic interest for us. Thus the words which 
retain the Romance female termination in ' ess,'* as 
* heir, 'which makes 'heiress,' and 'prophet' 'pro- 
phetess,' are every day becoming fewer. This has 
already fallen away in so many instances, and is 
evidently becoming of unfrequent use in so many 
more, that, if we may augur of the future from the 
analogy of the past, it will one day wholly vanish from 
our tongue. Thus all these occur in Wiclif s Bible : 
'techeress' (2 Chron. xxxv. 25) ; 'friendess' (Prov. 
vii. 4) ; ' servantess' (Gen. xvi. 2) ; 'leperess' (=sal- 
tatrix, Ecclus. ix. 4) ; 'daunceress' (Ecclus. ix. 4) ; 
^neighboress' (Exod. iii. 22) ; ' sinneress ' (Luke vii. 
37) ; 'purpuress' (Acts xvi. 14) ; 'cousiness' (Luke 
i. 36) ; 'slayeress ' (Tob. iii. 9) ; * devouress ' (Ezek. 
xxxvi. 13); 'spousess' (Prov. v. 19); 'ihralles?' 

dire, un idiome nouveau, mais plutdt une transformation de 
celle qui Pa prdcdd^ : celle-ci, plus savante, chargde de 
flexions pour exprimer les rapports infiniment ddlicats de la 
pens^e, plus riche m6me dans son ordre d'iddes, bien que cet 
ordre fi^t comparativement moins ^tendu, image en un mot de 
la spontaneity primitive, oti I'esprit accumulait les elements 
dans une confuse unite, et perdait dans le tout la vue analy- 
tique des parties ; le dialecte modeme, au contraire, corres- 
pondant k un progrds d'analyse, plus clair, plus cxplicite, 
s^parant ce que les anciens assemblaient, brisant les m^canismes 
de Tancienne langue pour donner k chaque idde et k chaque 
relation son expression isol^e. 
• Diez, Rom, Gram, vol. iii. pp. 277, 326, 344. 

Digitized by 


232 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

(Jer. xxxiv. i6) ; ' dwelleress ' (Jen xxi. 13) ; 'wailer- 
ess ' (Jer. xix. 1 7) ; ' cheseress ' (==electrix, Wisd. viii. 
4); 'singeress' (2 Chron. xxxv. 25); 'breakeress/ 
'waiteress/ this last indeed having recently come up 
again. Add to these * souteress ' {Piers Ploughman), 
' chideress, ' * constabless, ' ' moveress, ' ' jangleress, 
'vengeress/ 'soudaness' (=sultana), 'guideress,' 

* charmeress ' (all in Chaucer). Others reached to far 
later periods of the language ; thus * vanqueress ' 
(Fabyan), *Ethiopess' (Raleigh), * exactress ' (Isai. 
xiv. 4, margin), * inhabitress ' ( Jer. x. 17); 'poisoner- 
ess' (Greneway) ; 'knightess' (Udal) ; 'pedleress,' 

* championess,' 'vassaless,' *avengeress,' 'warriour- 
ess,' 'victoress,' 'creatress,' 'tyranness,' 'Titaness,' 
* Britoness ' (all in Spenser) ; 'offendress,' 'fornica- 
tress,' 'cloistress,' 'jointress' (all in Shakespeare) ; 
' vowess ' (Holinshed) ; * ministress,' ' flatteress ' (both 
in Hplland) ; 'captainess' (Sidney); 'treasuress' 
{The Goldtn Poke)] 'saintess' (Sir T. Urquhart) ; 
'leadress' (F. Thynne) ; 'hcroess,' 'dragoness,' 'but- 
leress,' ' contendress, 'waggoness,' 'rectress' (all in 
Chapman) ; 'shootress' (Fairfax) ; 'archeress' (Fan- 
shawe) ; ' architectress ' (Sandys) ; 'clientess,' 'pan- 
dress' (both in Middleton) ; 'papess,' 'Jesuitess' 
(Bishop Hall); 'incitress' (Gayton) ; 'mediatress' 
(H. More) ; ' fautress,' 'herdess' (both in Browne) ; 
'neatress' (=neat-herdess, Warner); 'soldieress,' 
' guardianess,' ' votaress ' (all in Beaumont and Fletch- 
er) ; 'comfortress,' 'fosteress' (Ben Jonson) ; 'fac- 
tress' (Ford); ' soveraintess ' (Sylvester); 'preser- 
veress' (Daniel; 'hermitress'(Drummond); 'emula- 

Digitized by 


VI. Terminations in ' sterJ 233 

tress' (Skelton) ; * solicitress,' * impostress/ *build- 
ress/ * intrudress ' (all in Fuller) ; * favouresis ' (Hake- 
well) ; ' commandress ' (Burton) ; ' monarchess,' 
*discipless' (Speed) ; 'auditress/ 'cateress/ *chant- 
ress,' 'prelatess' (all in Milton); *saviouress' 
(Jeremy Taylor); 'citess/ *divineress' (both in 
Dryden) ; *deaness' (Sterne) ; 'detractress' (Addi- 
son); * hucksteress ' (Howell); 'tutoress,' 'legisla- 
tress' (both . in Shaftesbury); 'farmeress' (Lord 
Peterborough, Ze//er to Pope) ; * suitress ' (Rowe) ; 
* nomenclatress ' {Guardian) ; 'pilgrimess,' Maddess/ 
still surviving in the contracted form of ' lass ;' with 
others which, I doubt not, a completer catalogue 
would contain.'* 

The same has happened with another feminine 
suffix, with the Saxon *ster,' which takes the place of 
*er,' where a female doer is intended. f 'Spinner' 
and ' spinster' are the only pair of such words which 
still survive. There were formerly many such ; thus 
'baker' had ' bakester,' being the female who baked ; 
' brewer ' had ' brewster ' {Piers Ploughman, 3087) ; 
'sewer' 'sewster;' 'reader', 'readster;', 'seamer' 
'seamster;' 'weaver' 'webster' (Golding, Ovid, 
p. 77); 'hopper' 'hoppester;' 'fruiterer' ' fruitester ;' 
' tumbler ' ' tumblester ' (all in Chaucer) ; ' host ' 

• In Cotgrave's Dictionary I note *praiseress,' *com- 
mendress,' *fluteress,* * possesseress,* *loveress,* *regentess,' 
but have never met them in use. 

t On this termination see J. Grimm, Deutsche Gram,, vol. 
ii. p. 134 ; vol. iii. p. 339 ; Donaldson, New Cratylus, 3rd 
edit. p. 419. 

Digitized by 


234 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

' hotestre ' {Ayenhik) ; 'knitter' ' knitster ' (the word 
still lives in Devon) : * harpster ' I have never met in 
use ; but I have seen it quoted. Add to these * whit- 
ster' (a female bleacher, Shakespeare), 'bandster,'the 
woman who binds up the sheaves (Cleveland dialect), 

* wafrester,' the woman who made wafers for the priest 
( Piers Ploughman) ; * kempster ' (pectrix), ' diyster ' 
(siccatrix), 'brawdster' (=embroideress), and * sal- 
ster' (salinaria).* It is a singular evidence of the 
richness of a language in forms at the earlier stages of 
its existence, that not a few of the words which had, 
as we have just seen, a feminine termination in ' ess,' 
had also a second in 'ster.' Thus, 'daunser,' beside 
*daunseress,' had also 'daunster' (Ecclus. ix. 4) • 
*wailer,' beside 'waileress,' had *wailster' -(Jen ix. 
17); 'dweller' *dwelster' (Jer. xxi. 13); and 

* singer' 'singster' (2 Kin. xix. 35); so too, 
*chider' had *chidester' (Chaucer), as well as 
*chideress,' 'slayer' *slayster' (Tob. iii. 9), as well 
as 'slayeress,' 'chooser' 'chesister' (Wisd. viii. 4), 
as well as 'cheseress,' with others that might be 

It is impossible then to subscribe to Marsh's state- 
ment, high as his authority on a matter of English 
scholarship must be, when he afl&rms, 'I find no 
positive evidence to show that the termination " ster" 
was ever regarded as a feminine termination in Eng- 
lish. 'f It has indeed been urged that th© existence 

* I am indebted for these last four to a Nominale in the 
Naticnal Antiquities y vol. i. p. 216. 
t Matzher, Er^l, Gram, p. 243. 

Digitized by 


VI. Significance of ' ater ' forgotten. 235 

of such words as ' seamstr^jj/ 'songstwj^f,' is decisive 
proof that the ending 'ster' or *estre,' of itself was 
not counted sufficient to designate persons as females ; 
since if 'seanw/^' and * songj/fer ' had been felt to be 
already feminine, no one would have thought of 
doubling on these, and adding a second female ter- 
mination; seamj/r^jj,' *songj/r^j.' But all which 
this proves is, that when the final * ess ' was super- 
added to these already feminine forms, and all exam- 
ples of it belong to a comparatively late period of the 
language, the true significance of this ending had 
been lost sight of and forgotten.* The same may be 
affirmed of such other of these feminine forms as are 
now applied to men, such as * gamester,' 'youngster,' 
•oldster,' *drugster' (South), 'huckster,' *hackster' 
(=swordsman, Milton, prose), 'teamster,' 'throwster,' 
'rhymester,' 'punster' (^Spectator), 'tapster, 'malster,' 
'whipster,' ' lewdster ' (Shakespeare), 'trickster.' 
Either like ' teamster,' and ' punster,' the words did 
not come into being till the force of this termination 
was altogether forgotten ;f or like 'tapster,' which 

* Richardson's earliest example of < seamstress ' is from Gay, 
of * songstress,' from Thomson. I find however * sempstress * 
in Olearius' Voyages and Travels, 1669, p. 43. As late as 
Ben Jonson, * seamster ' and * songster ' expressed the female 
seamer and singer ; in his Masque of Christmas , one of the 
children of Christmas is «Wassel, like a neat sempster and 
songster : her page bearing a brown bowl.* Compare a pas- 
sage from Holland's Leaguer, 1632 : <A tyre-woman of 
phantastical ornaments, a sempster for ruffes, cuffes, smocks 
and waistcoats.' 

t This was about the time of Henry VIII. In proof of the 

Digitized by 


236 Dimiyiviions of our Language, lect. 

was still female in Skelton's time ( ' a tapster like a 
lady bright'), as it is now in Dutch and Frisian, and 
distinguished from * tapper/ the man who has charge 
of the tap, or as *bakester,' at this day used in Scot- 
land for 'baker,' as 'dyester,' for 'dyer,' the word 
did originally belong of right and exclusively to 
women ; ♦ but with the gradual transfer of the occu- 
pation to men, and an increasing forgetfulness of 
what this termination implied, there went also a trans- 
fer of the name,f just as in other words, and out of 

confusion which reigned on the subject in Shakespeare's time, 
see his use of 'spinster' as == 'spinner,* the man spinning, 
Henry VIIL^ Act i. Sc. 2 ; and doubtless too in Othello^ Act i. 
Sc. I. And a little later in HowelPs Vocabulary^ 1659, 
•spinner* and 'spinster* are both referred to the male sex, 
and the barbarous * spinstress ' invented for the female. 

* The Latin equivalent for * malster * in the Promptorium 
Parvidorum is 'brasia/rw:.* 

t In the Nominate referred to, p. 234, the words, *haec 
auxiatrix, a hutister,* occur. That the huckster is properly tjje 
female pedlar is sufficiently plain. * To hawk ' was formerly 

* to huck * — it is so used by Bishop Andrews, and the * hucker * 
or hawker (the German * h5ker * or * hOcker *) is the man who 

* bucks,* * hawks,* or peddles, the * huckster ' the woman who 
does the same. Howell then and others employing * huck- 
ster^xj,* fall into the same barbarous excess of expression, 
whereof we ate all guilty in 'seamstress* and 'songstress.* I 
take the opportunity of noting another curious excess of ex- 
pression that has succeeded in establishing itself in the lan- 
guage. In books of two or three hundred years ago, we find 
'adulter* (Tyndale), 'poulter,* (Shakespeare), 'cater* (Dray- 
ton), ' roystfer * (Gascoigne), * upholster * (Strype), * embroider ' 
(Holland) ; and these all sufficiently justify themselves ; 

* adulter,* a transfer of a Latin word into English, * poulter * 

Digitized by 


VI. Significance of Forms forgotten. 237 

the same causes, the converse finds place; and 
* baker' or 'brewer/ not 'bakester' or 'brewster/ 
would be now applied to the woman baking or brew- 
ing. So entirely has this power of the language 
died out, that it survives more apparently than really 
even in * spinner ' and * spinster ;' seeing that * spin- 
ster ' has now quite another meaning than that of a 
woman spinning ; whom, as well as the man, we 
should call, not a 'spinster,' but a 'spinner.'* It 
would be hard to believe, but for the constant expe- 
rience we have of the fact, how soon and how easily 
the true law and significance of some form, which 
has never ceased to be in everybody's mouth, may 
yet be lost sight of by all. No more curious chapter 

one dealing in poults, 'cater,* in cates, and so on ; but the 
sense of this final * er,* the remnant of the Anglo-Saxon * wer,' 
a man, and of what it indicates, namely the habitual doer of a 
thing, is so strong, that men have not been content without 
adding it a second time to all these words ; and they are sever- 
ally now 'adulterer,' 'poulterer,' 'caterer,' 'roysterer,'^* up- 
holsterer,' ' embroiderer.' ' Launder ' in like manner became 
'launderer,* though both one and the other have now given 
way to ' laundress.' That this superaddition has its root in the 
linguistic instinct of our people is evident from the fact that 
the same has been attempted in other words, though without 
the same success ; thus * fisherer * (it occurs in Cotgrave) is in 
provincial usage for 'fisher' (see Forby and other local glos- 
saries) ; and the same has extended to words of a different 
formation as to 'burglarer' for 'burglar' (^M\\&r' s ffudibras) ; 
to ' musicianer,' * physicianer,' 'masoner' (all in Forby) ; to 
'politicianer,' a vulgar Americanism; to 'poeter,' a vulgar 
Anglicism, and to others. 
♦ Notes and Queries^ No. 157. 

Digitized by 


238 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

in the history of language could be written than one 
which should trace the transgressions of its most 
primary laws, the violations of analogy and the like, 
which follow hereupon ; the plurals, as 'chicken,'* 
which are dealt with as singulars, the singulars, like 
'riches' (richesse),f 'pease' (pisum, pois),J 'alms' 
( ' almesse ' in Coverdale, ) * eaves,' * summons ' 
(summoneas), * Cyclops,' which on the score of the 
final 's' are assumed to be plurals. 

One example of the kind is familiar to us all ; to 
which yet it may be worth adverting as a signal 
example of this forgetfulness which may overtake a 
whole people, of the true meaning of a grammatical 
form which they have never ceased to employ, I 
refer to the mistaken assumption that the * s ' of the 

• When Wallis wrote, it was only beginning to be forgotten 
that * chick' was the singular, and * chicken' the plural: 
< Sunt qui dicutU in singulari '* chicken,'' et in plural! 
"chickens;" and even now the words are in many country 
parts correctly employed. In Sussex, a correspondent writes, 
they would as soon think of saying * oxens ' as * chickens.' 

t See Chaucer, Romance of the Rose^ 1032, where Richesse, 
*an hi^h lady of great noblesse,' is one of the persons of the 
allegory.. In Tyndale's Version of the Bible we read at 
James v. 2, * Your riches is corrupte ;* in the Geneva * is ' 
gives place to * are,' which stands in our Version. This has so 
entirely escaped Ben Jonson, English scholar as he was, that 
in his Grammar he cites * riches as an example of an English 
word wanting a singular ; and at a later day Wemyss {Biblicai 
Gleanings^ p. 212) complains of a false concord at Rev. xviii. 
17 : * For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.' 

X * Set shallow brooks to surging seas. 

An orient pearl to a white /ror^. — Futtenham. 

Digitized by 


VI. The Unglish Genitive. 239 

genitive, as, the king's countenance,' was merely a 
more rapid way of pronouncing *the king his coun- 
tenance,' and that the final 's' in king's was in fact 
an elided 'his.' This explanation for a long time 
prevailed almost universally; I believe there are 
many who accept it still. It was in vain that here 
and there one more accurately acquainted with the 
past history of ojur tongue protested against this 
'monstrous syntax,' as Ben Jonson justly calls it* 
It was in vain that Wallis, another English scholar of 
the seventeenth century, pointed out that the slightest 
examination of the facts revealed the untenable 
character of this explanation, seeing that we do not 
merely say *the king^s countenance,' but *the queen's 
countenance,' where 'the queen his countenance 
cannot be intended ;f we do not say merely ' the child's 
bread,' but 'the ^MtZr^'j' bread,' where it is iio less 
impossible to resolve the phrases into ' the children his 
bread. J Notwithstanding these protests, the error 

• It is curious that, despite this protest, one of his plays has 
for its name, Sefanus Ms Fall, 

t Even this does not startle Addison, or cause him any mis- 
giving ; on the contrary he boldly asserts {^Spectator, No. 135), 
*The same single letter " s " on many occasions does the ofl&ce 
of a whole word, and represents the " his " or " Iter " of our 

X Wallis excellently well disposes of this scheme, although 
less successful in showing what this * s ' does mean than in 
showing what it cannot mean {jGram, Ling, Anglic,^ c. v.) : 
Qui autem arbitrantur illud s, loco his adjunctum esse (priori 
scilicet parte per aphseresim absciss^), ideoque apostrophi 
notam semper vel pingendam esse, vel saltem subintelligendam, 

Digitized by 


240 BiminiUions of our Language, lect. 

held its ground. This much indeed of a plea it could 
make for itself, that such an actual employment of 
* his ' had found its way into the language, as early as 
the fourteenth century, and had been in occasional, 
though rare use, from that time downward.* Yet 
this, which has only been elicited by the researches of 
recent scholars, does not in the least justify those who 
assumed that in the ordinary ' s ' of the genitive were 
to be found the remains of * his ' — an error from which 
the books of scholars in the seventeenth, and in the 
early decade of the eighteenth century are -not a 
whit clearer than those of others. Spenser, Donne, 
Fuller, Jeremy Taylor, all fell into it; Diyden more 
than once helps out his verse with an additional 
syllable in this way gained. It has forced itself into 
our Prayer Book where the * Prayer for all sorts and 
conditions of men, 'added by Bishop Sanderson to the 
last revision of the Liturgy in 1661, ends with these 
words, *and this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake.'f 

omnino errant. Quamvis enim non negem quin apostrophi 
nota commode nonnunquam affigi possit, ut ipsius litterse s usus 
distinctitts, ubi opus est, percipiatur ; ita tamen semper fieri 
debere, aut etiam ideo fieri quia vocem his imiuat, omnino 
nego. Adjungitur ehim et foeminarum nominibus propriis, et 
substantivis pluralibus, ubi vox his sine solcecismo locum 
habere non potest : atque etiam in possessivis ours, yours^ 
th^irs^ herSf ubi vocem his innui nemo somniaret. 

• See the proofs in Marsh, Manual of the English Language^ 
English Edit., pp. 280, 293. 

t It would not exceed the authority of our University Presses, 
if this were removed from the Prayer Book. Such a liberty 
they have already assumed with the Bible. In all earlier edi- 

Digitized by 


VI. Adjectives in ' en/ 241 

I need hardly tell you that this ' s ' is in fact the one 
remnant of flexion surviving in the singular number 
of our English noun substantives; it is in all the 
Indo-European languages the orignal sign of the 
genitive, or at any rate the earliest of which we can 
take cognizance ; and just as in Latin * lapis ' makes 
' lapidis ' in the genitive, so ' king,' ' queen,' ' child,' 
make severally * kings,' 'queens,' 'childs,' the 
apostrophe, an apparent note of elision, being a mere 
modern expedient, *a late a refinement,' as Ash calls 
it,* to distinguish the genitive singular from the 
plural cases, f 

I will call to your notice another example of this 
willingness to dispense with inflection, of this en- 
deavour to reduce the forms of a language to the 
fewest possible, consistent with the accurate commu- 
nication of thought Of our adjectives in ' en, ' formed 
on substantives, and expressing the material or sub- 
stance of a thing, the Greek tvoz, a vast number have 

tions of the Authorized Version it stood at I Kin. xv. 14: 

* Nevertheless Asa his heart was perfect with the Lord ;' it is 

* Asa's heart * now. In the same way * Mordecai his matters * 
(Esth. iii. 4) has been silently changed into * Mordecat's mat- 
ters ;* while * by Naomi her instruction Ruth lieth at Boaz his 
feet,' in the heading of Ruth iii. has been as little allowed to 

* In a good note on the matter, p. 6, in the Comprehensive 
Grammar prefixed to his Dictionary^ London, 1775. 

t See Grimm, Deutsche Gram,y vol. ii. pp. 609, 944 ; and 
on the remarkable employment of it not merely as the sign of 
the genitive singular, but also of the plural, Loth, Angelsach* 
sisck-Englische Grammatih, p. 203. 

Digitized by 


242 JDimintUions of our Language, lect. 

gone, many others are going, out of use ; we having 
learned to content ourselves with the bare juxtaposi- 
tion of the substantive itself, as sufficiently expressing 
our meaning. Thus instead of * go/den pin ' we say 
*goId pin ;' instead of * earthen works ' we say * earth- 
works/ 'Golden' and 'earthen,' it is true, still 
belong to our living speech, though mainly as part of 
our poetic diction, or of the solemn and thus stereo- 
typed language of Scripture ; but a whole company of 
such words have nearly or quite disappeared ; some 
recently, some long ago. * Steelen,' ' flowren,' 
'thomen,' 'clouden,' 'rocken,' 'firen,' belong, so 
for as I know, only to a very early period of the lan- 
guage. ' Rosen ' also went early ; Chaucer is my 
latest authority for it ( ' rosen chapelet ') ; as also for 
* iven,' or of ivy ; * hairen ' is in Wiclif and in Chau- 
cer; 'stonen' in the former (John ii. 6).* 'Silvern' 
stood originally in Wiclif 's Bible ( ' silverne housis to 
Diane,' Acts viv. 24) ; but already in the second re- 
cension this was exchanged for 'silver;' 'homen,' 
still in our dialects, he also employs, with ' clayen ' 
(Job 'w. 19), and 'iverene' (Cant vi. 4) or made of 
ivory. ' Tinnen ' occurs in Sylvester!s Du Bartas ; 
in Bacon it is never ' the Milky Way ' but ' the Milken, ' 
In the coarse polemics of the Reformation the phrase, 
'breaden god,' provoked by the Romish doctrine of 

• The existence or < stony ' (=lapidosus, steinig) does not 
make * stonen * (=lapideus, steinem) superfluous any more 
than ^earthy* makes * earthen' and * earthly.' That part 
of the field in which the good seed withered so quickly (Matt. 
xiii. 5) was * stony ;' the vessels which held the water turned 
into wine (John ii. 6) were * stonen.* 

Digitized by 


VI. Adjectives ending in ^en.^ 243 

transubstantiation, is of frequent recurrence, and is 
found as late as in Oldham. ' Mothern parchments 
is in Fulke ; ' iwiggen bottle ' and * ihreaden sail ' in 
Shakespeare; ^yewen* or ^ewghen bow/ in Spenser ; 
' cedarn alley ' and ' azurn sheen * in Milton ; * boxen 
leaves' in Dryden; *"a corden ladder' in Arthur 
Brooke; *a ireen cup' in Jeremy Taylor; ^eldern 
popguns ' in Sir Thomas Overbury ; * a glassen breast ' 
in Whitlock ; ' a reeden hat ' in Coryat ; ' a wispeti 
garland' in Gabriel Harvey; 'yamen' occurs in 
Turberville; 'fursen' in Holland; while 'bricken,' 
'papem,' *elmen,' appear from our provincial glos- 
saries to be still in use.* 

It is true that some of these adjectives still hold 
their ground ; but the roots which sustain even these 
are being gradually cut away from beneath them. 
Thus * brazen ' might at first sight seem as strongly 
established in the language as ever ; but this is very 
for from the case. Even now it only lives in a trop- 
ical and secondary sense, as * a brazen face ;' or if in 
a literal, in poetic diction or in the consecrated lan- 
guage of Scripture, as * the brazen serpent ;' otherwise 
we say * a brass ferthing,' ' a brass candlestick.' It is 
the same with 'oaten,' 'oaken,' 'birchen,' 'beechen,' 
'strawen,' and many more, whereof some are obso- 
lescent, some obsolete, the language manifestly 
tending now, as it has tended for centuries past, to 
the getting quit of all these, and to the satisfying of 

• For a long list of words of this formation which never 
passed from the Anglo-Saxon into the English, see Loth, 
Afigelsachsisch-EngliscJu Grammatiky p. 332. 

Digitized by 


244 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

itself with an adjectival apposition of the substantive 

There are other examples of the manner in which 
a language, as it travels onward, simplifies itself, 
approaches more and more to a grammatical and 
logical uniformity, seeks to do the same thing always 
in the same manner ; where it has two or more ways 
of conducting a single operation, disuses, and so 
•loses, all save one ; and thus becomes, no doubt, 
easier to be mastered, more handy and manageable ; 
for its veiy riches were to many an embarrassment 
and a perplexity; but at the same time limits and 
restrains its own freedom of action, and is in danger 
of forfeiting elements of strength, variety and beauty, 
which it once possessed. Take for instance the ten- 
dency of our verbs to let go their strong preterites, 
and to substitute weak ones in their room ; or, where 
they have two or three preterites, to retain only one 
of these, and that almost invariably the weak. 

But before proceeding further let me trace the steps 
by which it has come to pass that of our preterites 
some are strong and some weak, and explain what 
these terms, objected to by some, but as I think 
WTongly, severally mean. The Indo-European lan- 
guages at the earliest period that we know formed 
their preterites by reduplication ; of which not incon- 
siderable traces still remain in the Latin, as in *cano' 
' cecini, ' ' tundo ' ' tutudi, * and though not so clearly in 
'video' *vidi' (=*vevidi'), while the same is a 
regular part of the Greek conjugation. But this re- 
duplication only survived in one of the Gothic lan- 

Digitized by 


VI. Strong and weak Preterites. 245 

guages. From the Anglo-Saxon it had died out, and, 
if leaving any, yet certainly the very faintest traces 
behind it, long before it comes within the scope of 
our vision. With the perishing of this, the internal 
vowel-change, or variation of the radical vowel (we 
want some good equivalent for the German 'ablaut') 
which appears to have been properly no more than an 
euphonic process, was adopted as a meatis of marking 
flexion, and as the sign of the past ; thus ' grow 
*grew,' 'cleave* 'clove,' 'dive' 'dove.' At the 
same time there must have been that of indeterminate 
and capricious about this which caused the language- 
speakers to seek for some plainer and more obvious 
sign, and as often as new verbs were introduced into 
the language, they marked the preterite in these by 
adding to the verb in its crude state the auxiliary 
' did ;' thus 'I love,' in the perfect, * I love did,' or 
when the words had grown together, ' I loved ;' 
leaving in most instances the radical vowel unchanged. 
It will follow from this that the strong verbs are in- 
variably the older, the weak the newer, in the lan- 

* J. Grimm ijOetUsche Gram,, vol. i. p. 1040) : Dass die 
Starke Form die altere, kraftigere, innere ; die schwache die 
spatere, gehemmtere und mehr fiusseriiche sey, leuchtet ein. 
Elsewhere, speaking generally of inflections by internal vowel 
change, he characterizes them as a < chief beauty ' (hauptschOn- 
heit) of the Teutonic languages. Marsh {Mamial of the 'Eng- 
lish iMttguage, p. 233, English ed.) protests, though, as it 
seems to me, on no sufficient grounds, against these 'terms 
'strong ' and ' weak,' as themselves fanciful and inappropriate. 

Digitized by 


246 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

But for all this the battle is not to the strong. 
Multitudes of these have already disappeared, many 
more are in process of disappearing. For example, 
'shape' has now a weak preterite, 'shaped,' it had 
once a strong one, ' shope ' (Coverdale) ; ' bake ' has 
now a weak preterite, * baked,' it had once a strong 
one, ' boke ;' the preterite of * glide ' is now ' glided ;' 
it was once *glod^' or *glid;* 'help' makes now 

* helped,' it made once ' halp ' and * holp.' ' Creep ' 
made *crope,' still current in the north of England, 
and * crep ' {S/ory of Genesis) ; * weep ' * wope ' and 
' wep ;' 'yell ' * yoU ;' * starve ' ' storve ;' ' washe ' 

* wishe ' (all in Chaucer) ; * seethe ' * soth ' or ' sod ' 
(Gen. XXV. 29) ; * sheer ' once made * shore ;' as 
' leap ' made ' lep ' and ' lope ' (Spenser) ; *snow ' 
' snew ;' * thaw ' * thew ;' * gnaw ' * gnew ;' ^ sow ' 

* sew ;' ' delve ' ' dalf ' and * dolve ;' * sweat ' * swat ;' 
'yield' 'yold' (both in Spenser) and also *yald;' 

* reach ' ' raught ;' * melt ' ' molt ;' ' wax ' ' wex ' and 
' wox ;' * squeeze ' * squoze ;' ' laugh ' ' leugh ;' 
'knead' 'kned,' 'beat' 'bet' (Coverdale) ; with 
others more than can be enumerated here. * A very 

* The entire ignorance as to the past historic evolution of 
the language, with which some have undertaken to write about 
it, is curious. Thus the author of Observations upon the Eng- 
Usk Language^ without date, but published about 1730, treats 
all these strong preterites as of recent introduction, counting 
*knew' to have lately expelled *knowed,' <rose' to have 
acted the same part » toward *rised,' and of course esteeming 
them so many barbarous violations of the laws of the language ; 
and concluding with the warning that • great care must be 
taken to prevent their increase.' I !— p. 24. Cobbett does not 

Digitized by 


VI. Strong Preterites now escthid. 247 

lai^ge number of these still survive in our provincial 

Observe further that where verbs have not actually • 
renounced their strong preterites, and contented them- 
selves with weak in their room, yet, once possessing 
two, perhaps three of these strong, they now retain 
only one. The others they have let go. Thus * chide ' 
had once *chid ' and *chode,' but though 'chode' is 
in our Bible (Gen. xxxi. 36), it has not maintained 
itself in our speech ; ' sling ' had * slung ' and * slang ' 
(i Sam. xvii. 49) ; only ' slung ' remains ; * fling 'had 
once ' flung ' and * flang ;' * strive ' had * strove ' and 
*strave' (Holland); 'smite' had * smote' and 
'smate;' 'stick' had 'stuck' and 'stack;' 'tread' 
had * trod ' and ' trad ;' * choose ' had ' chose ' and 
'chase' (Elyot) ; 'give' had 'gove' and 'gave;' 
' spin ' ' spun ' and ' span ;' ' steal ' 'stole ' and ' stale ;' 
'lead' had 'lode' 'led' and 'lad;' 'write' 'writ' 
'wrote' and 'wrate.' In these instances, and in 
many more, only one preterite remains in use. 

Observe too that wherever a struggle is now going 
forward between weak and strong forms, which at the 
present shall continue, the weak are carrying the day : 
'climbed' is gaining the upper hand of 'clomb,' 

fall into this absurdity, yet proposes in his English Grammar ^ 
that they should all be abolished as incbnvenient. There are 
two letters in Th^ Spectator, Nos. 78 and 80, on the relations 
between *who,' * which,* and *that,' singularly illustrative of 
the same absolute ignorance of the whole past of the language. 
The writers throughout assume * that ' to have recently dis- 
placed * which,* as a relative pronoun ! 

Digitized by 


248 Diminutiona of our Language, lect. 

* swelled ' of * swoll, ' * hanged ' of * hung. ' There are, 
it is true, exceptions to this ; and these not quite so 
few as at first one might suppose. Thus ' they have 
digged a pit ' stands in our Bibles ; we should now say 

* dug. ' * Shaked ' . shined ' and * shrinked ' in like 
manner are there ; while we only admit ' shook ' 

* shone ' and * shrunk ' or ' shrank ;' ' to catch ' had 
*catched' (Bacon) as well as 'caught;' 'to stick' 
makes 'sticked' in Coverdale's Bible; it has only 
' stuck ' for a preterite now ; in the same ' to swim ' 
had * swimmed ;' it has now only ' swum ^ or * swam.' 
' Growed ' and not ' grew ' is in Piers Ploughman the 
perfect of Ho grow ;' * spended ' and not ' spent ' of 

* to spend ' in Wiclif. But these are the exceptions ; 
and we may anticipate a time, though, still far off, 
when all English verbs will form their preterites 
weakly ; not without serious detriment to the fulness, 
variety, and force, which in this respect the language 
even now displays, and once far more signally dis- 
played. * 

It is found in practice that men care very little for 
a grammatical right or wrong, if by the ignoring of 
this they can procure a handier implement of use. 
The consideration of convenience will override for 
them every other. Our English verbs formed on the 
passive participle past of the Latin verb, as for in- 
stance *to devote,' 'to corrupt,' * to circumcise,' have 

t J. Grimm, Deutsche Gram,^ vol. i. p. 839) : Die starke 
Flexion stufenweise versinkt and ausstirbt, die schwache aber 
um sich greift. Cf. i. 994, 1040 ; ii. 5 ; iv. 509. 

Digitized by 


VI. Strong Preterites disappearing. 249 

in a large number of instances been preceded by 
verbs which formed themselves more correctly from 
the present tense active; thus 'to devove' (Holland) 
preceded 'to devote ;* 'to corrump' (Wiclif, Mai. iii. 
1 1 ) * to corrnpt ;' ' to circumcide ' (Coverdale, Ezek. 
xvi. 30) 'to circumcise;' though these with others 
like them, ' to compromit ' (Capgrave), 'tosuspeck,' 
'to correck,' 'to instruck' (all in Coverdale), have 
been unable to make good . their footing in the lan- 
guage, having every one given place to those which 
we now employ. We need not look hx for the motive 
which led to the taking of the participle past of the 
Latin verb as that on which to form the English. In 
many cases it was difficult, in some apparently impos- 
sible, to form this on the Latin present ' To devove,' 
'to corrump,' 'to circumcide' might pass; but 'to 
suspeck,' ' to correck,' 'to instruck,' did not commend 
themselves much, while yet nothing better could he 
done with 'suspicio,' 'corrigo,' 'instruo ;' not to say 
that other verbs out of number, as 'accipio,' 'exhaurio,' 
'addico,' 'macero,' 'polluo,' lent themselves hardly 
or not at all to the forming in the same way of an 
English verb upon them. But all was easy if the 
participle past were recognized as the starting-point ; 
and thus we have the verbs, * to accept,' ' to exhaust,' 
'to addict,' 'to macerate,' 'to pollute,' with a multi- 
tude of others. It is true that these words could not 
a^ at once forget that they were already participles 
past.; and thus side by side with that other usage they 
continued for a long while to be employed as such ; 
and instead of 'instructed,' 'dejected,' 'accepted,' 

Digitized by 


250 Dimimdions of our Language, lect. 

*■ exhausted,' and the rest, as now in use, we find ' in- 
struct' ('elephants instruct for war/ Milton), 'ex- 
haust' (Bacon), 'distract' (the fellow \% distract* 
Shakespeare), 'attaint' (Holland), 'addict' (Frith), 
'convict' (Habington), ' infect '(Capgrave), 'pollute,' 
' disjoint' (both in Milton), with many more. Little 
by litde, however, it passed out of men's conscious- 
ness that these were past participles already ; and this 
once forgotten, no scruple was then made of adding 
to them a second participial sign, and we thus have 
them in their present shape and use; 'instruct^,' 
'exhaust^^,' and the like. 

I return to the subject from which these last 
remarks have a little led away ; and will uige another 
proof of the manifest disposition in our language to 
drop forms and renounce its own inherent powers ; 
though here also the renunciation, however it may 
threaten one day to be complete, is only partial at 
the present. I refer to the formation of our com- 
paratives and superlatives ; and will ask you to ob- 
serve once more that ever-recurring law of language, 
namely, that wherever two or more methods of attain- 
ing the same result exist, there is always a disposition 
to drop and dismiss all of these but one, so that the 
alternative, or choice of ways, once existing shall not 
exist any more. If only a language can attain -a 
greater simplicity, it seems to grudge no self-im- 
poverishment by which this result may be brought 
about We have two ways of forming our compara- 
tives and superlatives, one inherent in the word itself, 
and derived from our old Gothic stock, thus 'bright,' 

Digitized by 


VI. Comparatives and Swperlatwes. 251 

'brighter,' 'hrightes/; the other supplementaiy to 
this, by aid of the auxiliaries 'more' and 'most.' 
The first, organiq we might call it, the indwelling 
power of the word to mark its own degrees, must 
needs be esteemed the more excellent way; which 
yet, already disallowed in almost all adjectives of 
more than two syllables in length, is daily becoming 
of more restrained application. Compare in this mat- 
ter our present position with our past. Wiclif forms 
without scruple such comparatives as 'g^^evouser,' 
'gloriouser,' 'patienter,' 'profitabler,' such superlatives 
as 'grievousest,' 'famousest,' * preciousest ' We 
meet in Tyndale, 'excellenter,' ' miserablest ;' in 
Roger Aflcham, * inventivest,' 'shiningest ;' in Shake- 
speare, 'ancientest,' ' violentest ;' in Gabriel Harvey, 
'vendiblest,' 'substantialest,' ' insolentest ;' in Ro- 
gers, 'insufficienter,' 'goldenest;' in Beaumont and 
Fletcher, * valiantest ;' in Bacon, ' excellentest ;' in 
Sylvester, * infamousest ;' in North, 'unfortunatest' 
Milton uses *sensualest,' *resolutest,' ' exquisitest,' 
'virtuosest,' and in prose 'vitiosest,' * elegantest,' 
' artificialest,' ' servilest,' ' sheepishest,* * moralist ;' 
Fuller has ' fertilest ;' Baxter * tediousest ;' Butler 
'^dangerouser,' 'preciousest,' ' intolerablest,' 'prepos- 
terousest;' Burnet 'copiousest ;' Gray 'impudentest' 
Of these forms, and it would be easy to adduce almost 
•any number, we should hardly now employ one. In 
participles and adverbs in * ly ' these organic compara- 
tives and superlatives hardly survive at all. We do not 
say * willinger ' or 'lovinger,' and still less 'flourish- 
ingest,' or ' shiningest,' or * surmountingest,' all which 

Digitized by 


252 Diminutions of our Language, lect, 

Gabriel Harvey, a foremost master of the English 
of his time, employs ; ' plenteouslyer,' 'charitablier 
(Barnes), *amplier' (Milton), 'easliest' (Fuller),' 
* plainliest ' (Dryden), *fulliest' (Baxter), would be 
all inadmissible at present 

In the evident disposition of English at the present 
moment to reduce the number of words in which this 
more vigorous scheme of expressing degrees is al- 
lowed, we must recognize an evidence that youthful 
energies in the langu^e are abating, and the stiffness 
of advancing age making itself felt. Still it &res 
with us here only as it fares with all languages, in 
which at a certain stage of their existence auxiliary 
words, leaving the main word unaltered, are preferred 
to inflections of this last. Such preference makes 
itself ever more strongly felt ; and, judging from 
analogy, I cannot doubt that a day, however distant 
now, will arrive, when the only way of forming com- 
paratives and superlatives in the English language will 
be by prefixing *more' and 'most ;' or, if the other 
survive, it will be in poetry alone. Doubtless such 
a consummation is to be regretted ; for our language 
is too monosyllabic already ; but it is one which no 
regrets will avert 

It will not fare otherwise, as I am bold to predict, 
with the flexional genitive, formed in *s' or *es.* 
This too will finally disappear, or will survive only inj 
the diction of poetry. A time will arrive, when it 
will no longer be free to say as now, either ^the king's 
sans,' or *fhe sons of the king* but when the latter will 
be the only admissible form. Tokens of this are 

Digitized by 


VI. The Genitive. * 253 

already evident The region in which the alternative 
forms are equally good is daily narrowing. We 
should not now any more write, 'when man*s son 
shall come ' (Wiclif ), but ' when fhe Son of' man 
shall come ;' nor yet, 'the hypocrite's ^^: shall perish' 
(Job viii. 13), but ^the hope of the hypocrite shall 
perish;' nor Uhe Philistines' land* (Gen. xxi. 34), 
but ^the land of the Philistines / not with Barrow, 

* No man can be ignorant of human life's brevity and 
umertainty* but 'No man can be ignorant of the 
brevity and uncertainty of human life,^ Already in our 
Authorized Version the more modem form displaces 
in passages out of number the earlier. Thus at John 
xviii. 15, it is 'the palace of the High Priest ;' but in 
Coverdale,' 'the High Priest's palace ;' at Heb. ii. 17, 

* the sins of the people,' but in earlier Versions ' the 
people's sins;' at i Pet iv. 13, 'partakers of the 
sufferings of Christ,' but in earlier Versions 'par- 
takers of Christ's passions.' This change finds place 
in cases innumerable, but never, so far as I have 
observed, the converse. The consunmiation which I 
have here anticipated may be centuries off, but with 
other of a like character will assuredly arrive.* 

• Schleicher in his masterly treatise, DU Deutsche Sprache^ 
i860, p. 69, notes the same as going forward in Oerman : Das 
Schwinden der Casus und ihren Ersatz durch Pr^positionen 
kOnnen wir in unsrer jetzigen deutschen Sprache recht deutlich 
beobachten. Anstatt sttssen Weines vol! u. dgl. pflegen wir 
im gewOhnKchen Leben sclion zu sagen, voll Ton sUssem 
Weine ja manche deutsche Volksmundarten haben den Genitiv 
£sist spurlos verloren, und sagen z. B. anstatt * meines Bruders 

Digitized by 


254 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

Then too diminutives are fest disappearing. If we 
desire to express smallness, we prefer to do it by an 
auxiliary word ; thus, a little fist, and not a * fistock ' 
(Ciolding), a litde lad, apd not a Madkin,' a little 
drop, and not a 'droplet' (Shakespeare), a little 
worm, and not a ' wormling * (Sylvester). It is true 
that of diminutives a good many still survive, in all 
our four terminations of such, as * hillock,' * stream- 
let,' * lambkin,' 'gosling;' but they are few as com* 
pared with those which have perished, and are eveiy 
day becoming fewer. Where now is 'kingling' 
(Holland), 'friarling' (Foxe), 'twinling' (si^emel- 
lus, Old Vocabulary^ 'beamling' (Vaughan), 'whim- 
ling ' (Beaumont and Fletcher), 'popeling' (Racket), 
' streamling, ' ' godling, ' ' loveling, ' ' dwarfling, ' 
< shepherdling ' (all in Sylvester), 'chasteling' (Be- 
con), 'niceling' (Stubbs), 'poetling,' 'fosterling' 
(both in Ben Jonson), and * masterling ' ? Where 
now 'porelet' (^rpaupercula, Isai. x. 30, Vulg.), 
' bundelet' (both in Wiclif ) ; ' chastilet' or little cas- 
tle i^Piers Ploughman), 'cushionet' (Henry More), 
'riveret' (Drayton), 'closulet,' 'orphanet,' 'lionet' 
(all in Phineas Fletcher), 'herblet' (Shakespeare), 
'dragonet' (Spenser),' 'havenet' or little haven, 
' pistolet, ' bulkin ' (Holland), ' thumbkin,' ' cana- 
kin,' 'bodikin' (both in Skakespeare), 'ladykin,' 
'slamkin' (a slovenly girl), 'pillock' a little pill 
(Levins), ' laddock;' ' wifock,' and a hundred more ? 
Even of those remaining to us still many are putting 

Sohn * entweder * der Sohn von meinem Brader,' oder * meinem 
Bruder sein Sohn.' 

Digitized by 


VI. DiminiUives growing fewer. 255 

off, or have long since put off, their diminutive 
sense ; a ' pocket ' being no longer a smali poke^ nor 
a 'latchet ' a smali lace, nor a 'trumpet a small trump, 
as formerly they were. 

Once more — in the entire dropping among the 
higher classes, and in some parts of England among 
all classes, of * thou/ except in poetry or in addresses 
to the Deity, and, consequent on this, in the dropping 
of the second singular of the verb with its strongly 
marked flexion, as * lovest,' 'lovedst,' we have another 
example of a power which has been allowed to expire. 
In the seventeenth century ' thou ' in English, as at 
the present * du ' in German, * tu ' in French, was the 
sign of femiliarity, whether that familiarity was of love 
or of contempt* It was not unfrequently the latter. 
ThusatSir Walter Raleigh's trial (1603), Coke, when 
argument and evidence &iled him, insulted, and 
meant to insult, the illustrious prisoner by applying to 
him the. term *thou': — * AH that Lord Cobham did 
was at /^v instigation, Ikou viper! for I /kou thee, 
Zhou traitor ! ' And when Sir Toby Belch in 7^eI//A 
Nighi is urging Sir Andrew Aguecheek to send a 
sufficiently provocative challenge to Viola, he suggests 
' that he taunt him with the licence of ink ; if thou 
thotist him some thrice, it shall not be amiss. ' To 
keep this in mind will throw much • light on one 
peculiarity of the Quakers, and give a certain dignity 
to it, as once maintained, which at present it is veiy 

• Thus WaUis {Gramm. Lwg, Angiic^ 1654): Singulari 
ntiHiero siquis alium compellet, vel dedignantis illud esse solet, 
vel familiariter blandientifi. 

Digitized by 


256 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

fiir from possessing. However needless and unwise 
their determination to * thee ' and * thou ' the whole 
world, this was not then, as it seems now to us, and, 
through the silent changes which language has under- 
gone, as now it indeed is, a gratuitous departure from 
the ordinary usage of society. Right or wrong, it 
meant something, and had an ethical motive : being 
indeed a testimony upon their parts, however mis- 
placed, that they would not have high or great or rich 
men's persons in admiration ; nor render the obser- 
vance to some which they withheld from others. It 
was a testimony too which cost them something. At 
present we can very little understand the amount of 
courage which this *thou-ing' and *thee-ing ' of all 
the woild demanded on their parts, nor yet the 
amount of indignation and offence which it stirred up 
where men were not aware of, or would not allow for, 
the scruples which, as they considered, obliged them 
to this.* It is, however, in its other aspect that we 

* What the actual position of the compellation * thou ' was 
at that time, we learn from Fuller {Church History y Dedication 
of JBookyW.) : 'In opposition whereunto \i.e. to the Qu^er 
usage] we maintain that thou from superiors to inferiors is 
proper, as a sign of command ; from equals to equals is passa- 
ble, as a note of familiarity ; but from inferiors to superiors, 
if proceeding from ignorance, hath a smack of clownishness ; 
if from affectation, a tone of contempt. See a brief but in- 
structive disquisition hi Skeat*s edition of The Romance of 
William of Paleme, p. xli., in proof that in early English 
Literature the distmction between *thou' and *ye,* as here 
laid down, was accurately observed. There is a most inter- 
esting and exhaustive treatment of the past relation between 
* thou ' and * you ' in Guesses at Truth, 1866, pp. 120-133. 

Digitized by 


VI. The Plural in^n^ or * en.' 257 

must chiefly regret the dying out of the use of 'thou' 
— ^that is as the pledge of peculiar intimacy and 
special affection, as between husband and wife, 
parents and children, and such others as might be 
knit together by bands of more than a common love. 
I have more than once remarked that nothing can 
be imagined more stealthy, more calculated to elude 
observation, than the disappearance of an old form, 
and the usurpation of its place by a new. Take for 
instance the getting rid of the plural in 'n' or 'en.' 
This, originally the Saxon plural in ' an ' of the first 
decleasion, had, during the anarchical period of the 
language, spread over a much larger group of words ; 
but, as we all know, has long since given way to *s,' 
which, with a few exceptions, is now the universal sign 
of the plural.* By steps so slow as to be almost im- 
perceptible, diffused as they have been over large 
spaces of time, this dismissing of one and adopting of 
another has been effected. Long before Chaucer, 
' already in the Rhymed Chronicle of Kobert of Glou- 
cester, written before 1300, it is evident that the 
termination in ' n' or 'en' is giving way, and that in 
's' has virtually won the day ; but we do not the less 
meet in this 'arwen' (arrows), 'steden,' .^sterren,' 
'ameten' (emmets), 'chyrchen,' 'massen,' 'been,' 
'heveden' (heads), 'applen,' 'cahdlen,' ^honden,' 
'soulen,' 'unclen,' 'lancen,'and others; as in The 
Romance of King Alexander of the same date we have 
'crabben/ 'hawen,' 'slon' (sloes), 'noten' (nuts). 

See Matzner, p. 220. 

Digitized by 


258 Diminutions of our Language, lect. 

In Chaucer's time they are very far fewer, while yet 
he has * doughteren/ 'sistren/ 'fone,' * ashen,' 'been,' 
*schoon,' ' eyne ;' but all these side by side with our 
present 'daughters,' 'sisters,' 'foes,' 'ashes,' 'bees,' 
'shoes,' 'eyes ;' now one and now the other. Thus 
the plural in ' n ' has narrowed still further the region 
which it occupies, but still is holding a certain ground 
of its own. Two centuries later 'sistem' is still alive, 
it is frequent in Coverdale's Bible and in our early 
Reformers; 'hosen' too appears in our Englidi 
Version (Dan. iii. 21), with 'fone' and 'schoon' and 
' eyne ' in the diction of poetry, but chiefly in that of 
poets who, like Spenser, affect the archaic At the 
present day, setting aside four or five words which 
have preserved and will now probably preserve to the 
end the termination in 'en,' as 'oxen,' 'chicken,' 
'kine' (kyen), 'brethren,' perhaps 'eyne' is the only 
one of tiiese plurals which even the poets would feel 
at liberty to employ; while a few others, as * housen,' 
'fuzzen' (furzes), 'cheesen' (Dorsetshire), and possi- 
bly one or two more, maintain a provincial existence. 
A history very nearly similar might be traced of the 
process by which the southern termination of the 
participle present in ' ing' has superseded and dis* 
placed the northern in 'and,' so that we say now 
'doing,' 'sitting,' 'leaping,' not 'doand,' 'sittand,' 
' leapand. ' We have here, it is true, a further circum- 
stance helping to conceal and keep out of sight the 
progress of the change ; namely, the only gradual 
melting, through intermediate steps, of the one form 
into the other, of 'and' into 'end,' into 'ind,'and 

Digitized by 


VI. Terminations of the Participle. 259 

finally into *ing/ examples of all these four forms 
sometimes occurring side by side in the same poem ; 
for example in The Romance of William of Pakrne, 
of date about 1350. Spenser's 'glitterand ' {F, Q, i. 
7, 29) is about the last surviving specimen of the 
northern form, that is in English ; in Scotch it main- 
tained its ground to a far later day, in some sort 
maintains it still. 

It is thus, and by steps such as these, that a change 
is brought about. That which ultimately is to win all 
comes in, it may be, at first as an exception ; it then 
just obtains a footing and allowance ; it next exists 
side by side and on equal terms with the old ; then 
overbears it ; and finally, it may be, claims the whole 
domain of the language as its own ; so that sometimes 
a single isolated word, like the * paterfamiliar ' of the 
Latins, keeps record of what was once the law of all 
the words of some certain class in a language. 

I will not conclude this lecture without one further 
illustration of the same law, which, as I have sought to 
show, is evermore working, and* causing this and that 
to be dismissed fiom a language, so soon as ever the 
speakers feel that it is not absolutely indispensable, 
that they can attain their end, which is, to convey 
their meaning, without it ; though having dwelt on the 
subject so fully, I shall do little more than indicate 
this. I refer not here to any change in English 
now going forward, but to one which completed 
its course several centuries ago ; namely, to the 
renouncing upon its part, of any distribution of nouns 
into masculine, feminine, and neuter, as in German, 

Digitized by 


260 Dirmnutions of our Language, lect. 

or even into masculine and feminine, as in French : 
and with this, and as a necessary consequence of 
this, the dropping of any flexional modification of 
the adjectives in regimen with them. It was the 
boldest step in the way of simplification which the 
language has at any time taken ; and, after what has 
lately been said, I need not observe was one which it 
took centuries to accomplish. Natural seXy of course, 
remains, being inherent in all language ; but gram- 
matical ^^«^r, with the exception of 'he,' *she,' and 
'it,' and perhaps one or two other fragmentary 
instances, the languge has altogether forgone. An 
example will make clear the distinction between 
these. Thus it is riot the word * poetess ' which is 
feminine, but the person indicated who \^ female. So 
too ' daughter,' * queen,' are in English not feminine 
liouns, but nouns designating /^»w/<? persons. Take 
on the contrary 'filia,' or 'regina,' 'fille' or 'reine,' 
there you have feminine nouns as well as female 
persons. We did not inherit this simplicity from 
others, but, like the Danes, in so far as they have 
done the like, have made it for ourselves. Whether 
we turn to the Latin, or, which is for us more 
important, to the old Gothic, we find gender ; and in 
all the daughter languages which were bom of the 
Latin, in most of those which have descended from 
the ancient Gothic stock, it is fully established to this 
day. Th« practical businesslike character of the 
English mind asserted itself in the rejection of a 
distinction, which in a vast proportion of words, that 
is, in all which are the signs of inanimate objects, and 

Digitized by 


n. No Gender of Nouns in English. 261 

as such incapable of sex, rested upon a fiction, and 
had no ground in the real nature of things. It is 
only by an act and effort of the imagination that sex, 
and thus gender, can be attributed to a table, a ship, 
or a tree ;* and there are aspects, this being one, in 
which the English is among the least imaginative of 
all languages, even while it has been epaployed in some 
of the mightiest works of imagination which the world 
has ever seen, f 

What, ^ it may be asked, is the meaning and ex- 
planation of all this? It is that at certain earlier 
periods of a nation's life its genius is synthetic, an-d at 
later becomes analytic. At earlier periods the ima- 
gination is more than the understanding ; men love 
to contemplate the thing and the moTle of the thing 

• Compare Pott, Etymologis'che Forschungen^ part 2, p. 404. 
The entirely arbitrary character of the attribution of gender to 
sexless things is illustrated well by the way in which different 
genders are ascribed in the same book to one and the same 
thing ; thus in our Authorized Version, * the tree his fruit ' 
(Dan. iv. 14), *the tree her fruit* (Rev. xxii. i) ; and the 
different Versions vary, thus * the vine her roots * (Ezek. xvii. 7, 
E. v.), *the vine his roots' (ibid. Coverdale, *the salt his 
savour * (Matt. v. 13, E. V.), * the salt her saltness ' (ibid. 
Tyndale). But at a much earlier date it had become to a great 
extent a matter of subjective individual feeling whether his 
(masculine and neuter) or her (feminine should be employed. 
The two recensions of Wiclif frequently differ from one 
another ; thus at Job xxxix. 14, the first, * the ostridge her 
eggs,' the second, * the ostridge his eggs ;* so too at Gen, viii. 
9, the first, * the culver his foot,' the second, *the culver her 


t Compare Chasles, Etudes sur PAllefnagne^ p. 25. 

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262 Dimimdions of our Language, lect. 

together, as a single idea, bound up in one. But a 
time arrives when the intellectual obtains the upper 
hand of the imaginative, when the inclination of those 
that speak a language is to analyse, to distinguish 
between these two, and not only to distinguish, but to 
divide, to have one word for the thing itself, and 
another for the quality or manner of the thing ; and 
this, as it would appear, is true not of some languages 
only, but of all. 

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vn. Changed Meaning of our Words. 263 



I PROPOSE in my present lecture a little to con- 
sider those changes which have found or are 
now finding place in the meaning of English words ; 
so that, whether we are aware of it or not, we employ 
them at this day in senses very different from those in 
which our forefathers employed them of old. You 
will observe that it is not obsolete words, such as have 
quite fallen out of present use, which I propose to 
consider ; but such, rather, as are still on the lips of 
men, although with meanings more or less removed 
from those which once they possessed. My subject 
is hx more practical, has fiir more to do with your 
actual }ife, than if I were to treat of words at the 
present day altogether out of use. These last have 
an interest indeed, but so long as they remain what 
they are, and are to be found only in our glossaries, 
it is an interest of an antiquarian character. They 
constitute a part of the intellectual money with which 
our ancestors carried on the business of their lives ; 
but now they are rather medals for the cabinets and 
collections of the curious than current money for the 
service of all. Their wings are clif^d ; they are 

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264 Changed Meaning of Words. lbcTo 

* winged words ' no more ; the spark of thought or 
feeling, kindling from mind to mind, no longer runs 
along them, as along the electric wires of the soul. 
And then, besides this, there is little danger that any 
should be misled by them. They are as rocks which, 
standing out from the sea, declare their presence, 
and are therefore easily avoided ; while those other are 
as hidden rocks, which are the more dangerous, that 
their very existence is unsuspected. A reader lights 
for the first time on some word which has now passed 
out of use, as 'frampold,' or *garboil,'or 'brangle;' 
he is at once conscious of his ignorance ; he has re- 
course to a glossaiy, or if he guesses from the context 
at the signification, still his guess is a guess to him, 
and no more. 

But words that have changed their meaning have 
often a deceivableness about them ; a reader not once 
doubts but that he knows their intention ; he is 
visited with no misgivings that they possess for him 
another force than that which they possessed for the 
author in whose writings he finds them, and which 
they conveyed to his contemporaries. He little 
dreams how far the old life may have gone out of 
them, and a new life entered in. Let us suppose a 
student to light on a passage like the following (it is 
from the Preface to Howell's Lexicon, 1660) : 
'Though the root of the English language be Dutch, 
yet it may be said to have been inoculated afterwards 
on a French stock.' He may know that the Dutch 
is a sister dialect to our own ; but this that it is the 
mother or root of it will certainly peiplex him, and he 

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vn. Former Use of * Dutch.^ 265 

will hardly know what to make of the assertion ; 
perhaps he ascribes it to an error in. his author, who 
is thereby unduly lowered in his esteem. But pre- 
sently in the course of his reading he meets with the 
following statement, this time in Fuller's Holy War, 
being a history of the Crusades: 'the French, 
Dutch, Italian, and English were the four elemental 
nations, whereof this army [of the Crusaders] was 
compounded. ' If the student has suflficient historical 
knowledge to know that in the time of the Crusades 
there were no Dutch, in our use of the word, this 
statement would merely startle him ; and probably 
beforc/he had finished the chapter, having his atten- 
tion once roused, he would perceive that Fuller with 
the writers of his time used * Dutch ' for German ; 
even as it was constantly so used up to the end of 
the seventeenth century, — ^what we call now a Dutch- 
man being then a Hollander, — and as the Americans 
use it to this present day. But a young student 
might very possibly want that amount of previous 
knowledge, which should cause hin^ to receive this 
announcement with misgiving and surprise ; and thus 
he might carry away altogether a wrong impression, 
and rise from a perusal of the book, persuaded that 
the Dutch, as we call them, played an important part 
in the Crusades, while the Germans took little or pp 
I part in them at all. 

And as it is here with an historic &ct, so still more 
often will it happen with the subtler moral and 
ethical transformations which words have undergone. 
Out of these it will continually happen that worcfe 

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266 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

convey now much more reprobation, or convey now 
much less, or of a different kind, than once they did ; 
and a reader not aware of the altered value which 
they now possess, may be in constant danger of mis- 
reading his author, of misunderstanding his intention, 
and this, while he has no doubt whatever that he 
perfectly apprehends and takes it in. Thus when 
Shakespeare makes the gallant York address Joan of 
Arc as a 'miscreant,' how coarse a piece of invective 
this sounds ; how unlike what the chivalrous soldier 
would have uttered ; or what one might have sup- 
posed that Shakespeare, even with his unworthy 
estimate of the holy warrior-maid, would have put into 
his mouth. But the 'miscreant' of Shakespeare's time 
was not the * miscreant ' of ours. He was simply, in 
agreement with the etymolog}' of the word, a misbe- 
liever, one who did not believe rightly the articles of the 
Catholic Faith. This I need not repii^id you was the 
constant charge which the Engli3h brought against the 
Pucelle, — namely, that she Wfis ^ dealer in hidden 
magical art, a witch, and as such had fallen from the 
faith. On this plea they burnt her, and it is this which 
York intends when he calls her a 'miscreant,' and 
not what we should intend by the name. 
\ In poetry above all what beauties are often missed, 
what forces lost, through this assumption that the 
present meaning of a word accurately represents the 
past How often the poet is wronged in our estima- 
tion ; that seeming to \is now flat and pointless, which 
would assume quite another aspect, did we know how 
to read voXo some word the emphasis which it once had, 

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vn. Tinsel, Influence. 267 

but which now has departed from it For example, 
Milton ascribes in Comus the ^ tinsd'sUppered' feet to 
Thetis, the goddess of the sea. How comparatively 
poor an epithet this * tinsel-slippered ' sounds for those 
who know of 'tinsel ' only in its modem acceptation of 
mean and cheap fineiy, affecting a splendour which it 
does not really possess. But learn its earlier use by 
learning its derivation, bring it back to the French 
*6tincelle,' and the Latin ' scintillula ;' see in it as 
Milton and the writers of his time saw, 'the spark- 
ling,' and how exquisitely beautiful a title does this 
become applied to a sea-goddess ; how vividly does 
it call up before our mind's eye the quick glitter and 
sparkle of the waves under the light of sun or moon.* 
It is the 'silver-footed' {dpyvpdieeZa) of Homer; but 
this is not servilely transferred, rather reproduced and 
made his own by the English poet, dealing as one 
great poet will do with another; who w^ill not disdain 
to borrow, yet to what he borrows will add often a 
further grace of his own. 

Or, again, do we keep in mind, or are we even 
aware, that whenever the word ' influence ' occurs in 
our English poetry, down to comparatively a modem 
date, there is always more or less remote allusion to 
invisible illapses of power, skyey, planetary effects, 
supposed to be exercised by the heavenly luminaries 
upon the disposidons and the lives of men ? The ten 

So in Herrick's Electra : 

< More white than are the whitest creams. 
Or moonlight tinselling the streams.' 

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268 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

occasions on which the word occurs in Shakespeare do 
not offer a single exception. How many a passage 
starts into a new life and beauty and fulness of allusion, 
when this is present with us ; even Milton's 

* store of ladies, whose bright eyet 
Rain injluaue^* 

as spectators of the tournament, gain something, 
when we regard them — and using this language, he 
intended we should — as the luminaries of this Iowct 
sphere, shedding by their propitious presence strength 
and valour into the hearts of their knights. 

A word will sometimes even in its present accep- 
tation yield a convenient and even a correct sense ; 
the last I have cited would do so ; we may fell into no 
positive misapprehension about it ; and still, through 
ignorance of its past history and of the force which it 
once possessed, we may miss much of its signifi- 
cance. We are not beside the meaning of our au^ 
thor, but we are short of it Thus in Beaumont 
and Fletcher's King and no King (Act iii. Sc. 2 ), a 
cowardly braggart of a soldier describes the treatment 
he experienced, when, like Parolles, he was at length 
found out, and stripped of his lion's skin : — ' They 
hung me up by the heels and beat me with hazel 
sticks, . . . that the whole kingdom took notice of 
me for a baffled whipped fellow.' Were you reading 
this passage, there is probably nothing which would 
make you pause; you would attach to *bafiled' a 
sense which sorts very well with the context — ' hung 
up by the heels and beaten, all his schemes of being 

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vn. Religion not Godliness. 269 

thought much of were baffled and defeated.' But 
* baffled ' implies far more than this ; it contains allu- 
sion to a custom in the days of chivalry, according to 
which a perjured or recreant knight was either in 
person, or more commonly in effigy, hung up by the 
heels, his scutcheon blotted, his spear broken, and he 
himself or his effigy made the subject of all kinds of 
indignities; such a one being said to be 'baffled.'* 
Twice in Spenser recreant knights are so treated. I 
can only quote a portion of the shorter passage in 
which this infamous punishment is described : . 

* And after all, for greater infamy 
He by the heels him hung upon a tree, 
And baffled so, that all which passed by 
The picture of his punishment might see.* f 

Probably when Beaumont and Fletcher wrote, men 
were not so remote from the days of chivalry, or at 
any rate from the literature of chivalry, but that this 
custom was still fresh in their minds. How much 
more to them than to us, so long as we are ignorant 
of the same, must their words just quoted have con- 
veyed ? 

There are several places in the Authorized Version 
of Scripture, where those who are not aware of the 
changes which have taken place during the last two 
hundred and fifty years in our language, can hardly 
fail of being to a certain extent misled as to the 

* See Holinshed, Chronicles^ vol. iii. pp. 827, 1218 : Ann. 
I5i3» 1570. 
t Fairy Queerty vi. 7, 27 ; cf. v. 2, 37. 

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270 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

intention of our Translators ; or, if they are better 
acquainted with Greek than with early English, will 
be tempted to ascribe to them, though unjustly, an 
inexact rendering of the original; Thus jthe altered 
meaning of ' religion ' may very easily draw after it a 
serious misunderstanding in that well-known state- 
ment of St James, ' Pure religion and undefiled before 
God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and 
widows in their affliction. ' * There !' exclaims one who 
wishes to set up St James against St Paul, that so he 
may escape the necessity of obeying cither, * listen to 
what St James says ; there is nothing mystiail in 
what he requires ; instead of harping on faith as a 
condition necessary to salvation, he makes all religion 
to consist in deeds of active well-doing and kindness 
one to another.' But let us pause for a moment 
Did ' religion,' when our Version was made, mean 
godliness ? did it mean the sum total of our duties 
towards God ? for, of course, no one would deny that 
deeds of charity are a necessary part of our Christian 
duty, an evidence of the faith which is in us. There 
is abundant evidence to show that ' religion ' did not 
mean this ; that, like the Greek Opr^dxeia, for which 
it here stands, like the Latin 'religio,' it meant the 
outward forms and embodiments in which the inward 
principle of piety arrayed itself, the external service 
of God : and St. James is urging upon those to whom 
he is writing something of this kind : * Instead of the 
ceremonial services otthe Jews, which consfeted in 
divers washings and in other elements of this world, 
let our service, our QpT^dxeia, take a nobler shape. 

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vn. Religion not Godliness . 271 

let it consist in deeds of pity and of love ' — ^and it was 
this which our Translators ititended, when they used 
' religion ' here and ' religious ' in the verse preceding. 
How little 'religion' was formerly in meaning co- 
extensive with godliness, how predominantly it was 
used for the outward service of God, is plain from 
many passages in our Homilies, and from other con- 
temporary literature. 

You remember the words in the Sermon on the 
Mount, * Take no thought for your life, what ye shall 
eat or what ye shall drink ' (Mat. vi. 25). They have 
been often found fault widi ; and, to quote one of the 
fault-finders, ' most English critics have lamented the 
inadvertence of our Authorized Version, which in 
bidding us take no thought for the necessaries of life 
prescribed to us what is impracticable in itself, and 
would be a breach of Christian duty even if possible.'* 
But there is no 'inadvertence' here. When our 
Translation was made, 'Take no thought' was a 
perfectly correct rendering of the words of the original. 
'Thought' was then constantly used for painful soli- 
citude and care. Thus Bacon writes, 'Harris an 
alderman was put in trouble and died of thought and 
and anxiety before his business came to an end ; and 
in one of the Somers Tracts (its date is of the reign 
of Elizabeth) these words occur : ' In five hundred 
years only two queens have died in childbirth. Queen 
Catherine Parr died rather of thought,' A still better 
example occurs in Shakespeare's Julius Qssar — ^take 

Scrivener, Notes on the New Testament^ wl. i. p. 162. 

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272 Changed Meaning of Words, leg*, 

thought, and die for Caesar' — where *to take thought 
is to take a matter so seriously to heart that death 

Again, there are some words in our Liturgy which 
are not unfrequently misunderstood. In the Litany 
we ask of God that it would please Him ' to give and 
preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth. ' 
What is commonly understood by these ' kindly fruits 
of the earth'? The fruits, if I mistake not, in which 
the kindness of God or of nature towards us finds its 
expression. This is no unworthy meaning to give to 
the words, but still it is not the right one. The 
* kindly fruits ' are the ' natural fruits,' those which the 
earth according to its kind should naturally bring 
forth, which it is appointed to produce. To show 
you how little ' kindly ' meant once benignant, as it 
means now, I will instance an employment of it from 
Sir Thomas More's Li/e of Richard the Third, He tells 
us that Richard calculated by murdering his two 
nephews in the Tower to make himself accounted ' a 
kindly king' — not certainly a 'kindly' one in our 
present usage of the word ; but, having put them out 
of the way, that he should then be lineal heir of the 
Crown, and should thus be reckoned as king by kind 
or natural descent ; and such was of old the constant 
use of the word. And Bishop Andrews, preaching on 
the Conspiracy of the Gowries, asks concerning the 
conspirators, * Where are they ? Gone to their own 
place, to Judas their brother ; as is most kindly, the 
sons to the fether of wickedness, there to be plagued 
with him forever.' 

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vn. Thought, Kindly. 273 

A phrase in one of our occasional Services, 'with 
my body I thee worships has perplexed and some- 
times offended those who were unacquainted with 
the early uses of the word, and thus with the inten- 
tion of the actual framers of that Service. Clearly 
in our modem sense of ' worship, ' this language would 
be inadmissible. But ' worship ' or ' worthship ' meant 
'honour' in our early English, and *to worship ' to 
honour, this meaning of 'worship' still very harm- 
lessly surviving in 'worshipful^' and in the title of 
'your worship' addressed to the magistrate on the 
bench. So little was it restrained of old to the honour 
which man is bound to pay to God, that it is employed 
by Wiclif to express the honour. which God will render 
to his faithful servants and friends. Thus our Lord's 
declaration, 'If any man serve Me, him will my 
Father honour^' in Wiclif 's translation reads thus: 
' If any man serve Me, my Father shall worship him. ' 
I do not mean that the words, 'with my body I thee 
worships' might not profitably be changed, if only it 
were possible to touch things indifferent in the Prayer 
Book without giving room for a meddling with things 
which could not be touched without extremest hazard 
to the peace of the Church. I think they would be 
very well changed, liable as they are to misconstruc- 
tion now ; but for all this they did not mean at the 
first, and therefore do not now really mean, any other 
than, 'with my body I thee honour ^ and so you may 
reply to any gainsayer here. 

T^ke another example of a misapprehension, which 
lies veiy near. Fuller, our Chufch historian, praising 

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274 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

some &mous divine that was lately dead, exclaims, 
* Oh the pain/ulness of his preaching ! ' How easily 
we might take this for an exclamation wrung out at 
the recollection of the tediousnais which he inflicted 
on his hearers. It is nothing of the kind ; the words 
are a record not of ihtpain which he caused to others, 
bnt of the pains which he bestowed himself; and I 
cannot doubt, if we had more * painful ' preachers in 
the old sense of the word, that is, who took pains them- 
selves, we should have fewer 'painful' ones in the 
modem sense, who came pain to their hearers. So 
too Bishop Grosthead is recorded as 'the painful 
writer of two hundred books ' — not meaning hereby 
that these books were * painful ' in the reading, but that 
he was laborious and ' painful ' in their composing. 

Here is another easy misapprehension. Swift wrote 
a pamphlet, or, as he called it, a Letter to the Lord 
Treasurer y with this title, ' A proposal for correcting, 
improving, arid ascertaining the English Tongue.' 
Who that brought a knowledge of present English, 
and no more, to this passage, would doubt that * ascer- 
taining the English Tongue,' meant arriving at a 
certain knowledge of what it was? Swift, however, 
means something quite different from this. * To as- 
certain the English tongue ' was not with him to arrive 
at a subjective certainty in our own minds of what 
that tongue is, but to give an objective certainty to 
that tongue itself, so that henceforth it should not 
change any more. For even Swift himself, with all 
his masculine sense, entertained a dream of this kind, 
fancied that the growth of a language might be ar- 



vn. PainfulnesSj Ascertaining. 275 

rested, as is more fully declared in the work it- 

In other places unacquaintance with the changes in 
a word's usage~ may leave you sorely perplexed and 
puzzled as to your author's meaning. It is evident 
that he has a meaning, but what it is you are unable 
to divine, even though all the words he employs are 
femiliarly employed to the present day. Thus * courtly 
Waller,' congratulating Charles the Second on his 
return from exile, and describing how men, once his 
bitterest enemies, were now the most earnest to offer 
themselves to his service, writes thus : 

* Offenders now, the chiefest, do begin 
To strive for grace, and expiate their sin : 
All winds blow fair that did the world embroil, 
Your vipers treacle yield, and scorpions oil.* 

Readers not a few before now will have been per- 
plexed at the poet's statement that *v^s treacle yield* 
— ^who yet have been too indolent, or who have npt 
had the opportunity, to search out what his meaning 
was. There is in fact allusion here to a curious piece 
of legendary lore. ' Treacle, ' or * triacle, ' as Chaucer 
wrote it, was originally a Greek word, and wrapped up 
in itself the once popular belief (an anticipation, by 
the way, of homoeopathy), that a confection of the 
viper's flesh was the most potent antidote against the 
viper's bite. * Waller serves himself of this old legend. 

♦ Works (Sir W. Spott's edition), vol. ix. p. 139. 
t &TffnocKij^ from Offpiev, a designation given to the 
viper (Acts xxviii. 4). * Theriac ' is only the more rigid form 

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276 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

familiar enough in his time, for Milton speaks of *the 
sovran treacle of sound doctrine,'* while 'Venice 
treacle,' or * viper-wine,' was a common name for a 
supposed antidote against all poisons ; and he would 
say that regicides themselves began to be loyal, vipers 
not now yielding hurt any more, but rather a healing 
medicine for the old hurts which they themselves had 
inflicted. 'Treacle,' it may be observed, designating 
first this antidote, came next to designate any antidote, 
then any medicinal confection or sweet syrup, and 
lastly that particular syrup, namely, the sweet syrup of 
molasses, to which alone we restrict it now. 

I will draw on Fuller for one more illustration. In 
his Holy War, having enumerated the rabble rout of 
fugitive debtors, runaway slaves, thieves, adulterers, 
murderers, of men laden for one cause or another with 
heaviest censures of the Church, who swelled the ranks, 
and helped to make up the army, of the Crusaders, 
he exclaims, *A lamentable case, that the devil's 
black guard should be God's soldiers 1' What does 

of the same word, the scholarly, as distinguished ftom the 
popular, adoption of it. Augustine {Con, duos Epp, Pelag, iii. 
7) : Sicut fieri consuevit antidotum etiam de serpentibus contra 
venena serpentum. See the Promptorium Parvulorum^ s. v., 
Way's edition. 

* And Chaucer, more solemnly still : 

* Christ, which that is to every harm triacle,* 

The antidotal character of treacle comes out yet more in those 
lines of Lydgate : 

* There is iio venom so parlious in sharpnes. 
As whan it hath of treacle a likenes.' 

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vn. Treacle, Triade. 277 

he mean, we may ask, by *the devil's black guard*? 
The phrase does not stand here alone ; it is, on the 
contrary, of frequent recurrence in the early dramatists 
and others down to the time of Dryden ; in whose 
Dan Sebastian, 'Enter the captain of the rabble, with 
the Black guard,' is a stage direction. What is this 

* black guard ? Has it any connection with a word 
of our homeliest vernacular ? None which is very 
apparent, ahd yet such as may very clearly be traced. 
In old times, the palaces of our kings and seats of our 
nobles were not so well and completely furnished as 
at the present day : and thus it was customary, when 
a royal progress was made, or when the great nobility 
exchanged one residence for another, that at such a 
removal all kitchen utensils, pots and pans, and even 
coals, should be also carried with them where they 
went Those who accompanied and escorted these, 
the meanest and dirtiest of the retainers, were called 

* the black guard ;'* then any troop or company of ' 
ragamuffins ; and lastly, when the word's history was 
obscured and men forgot that it properly belonged to 
a company, to a rabble rout, and not to a single 
person, one would compliment another, not as belong- 
ing to, but as himself being, 'the black guard.' 

These examples are sufficient to prove that it is not 
a useless and unprofitable study, nor yet one altogether 
without entertainment, to which I invite you. It is a 

* *A slave, that within these twenty years rode with the 
iiack guard in the Duke's carriage, *mongst spits and dripping 
pans ' (Webster, White Devil, Act i. Sc. i). , 

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278 Changed Meaning of Words, lbct; 

study indeed so far from unprofitable, that any one 
who desires to read with accuracy, and thus with 
advantage and pleasure, our earlier classics, who 
would not often fell short of, and often go astray from, 
their meaning, must needs bestow some attention on 
the altered significance of English words. And if 
this is so, we could not more usefully employ what 
remains of this present lecture than in seeking to 
indicate those changes which words most frequently, 
undergo J and to trace as far as we can the causes, 
moral and material, which bring these changes about, 
with the good and the evil out of which they have 
sprung, and to which they bear witness. For indeed 
these changes are not changes at random, but for 
the most part are obedient to certain laws, are ca- 
pable of being distributed into certain classes, being 
the outward transcripts and attestations of mental and 
moral processes which have inwardly gone forward in 
those who bring them about Many, it is true, will 
escape any classification of ours ; will seem to us the 
result of mere caprice, and not to be accounted for 
by any principle to which we can appeal. But all this 
admitted freely, a majority will remain which are 
reducible to some law or other, and with these we 
will occupy ourselves now. 

And first the meaning of a word oftentimes is 
gradually narrowed. It was once as a generic name, 
embracing many as yet unnamed species within itself, 
which all went by its common designation. By and 
by it is found convenient that each of these should 

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vn. Altered Significance of Words. 279 

have its own more special sign allotted to it* It is 
here just as in some newly enclosed country, where a 
single household will at first loosely occupy a whole 
district ; this same district being in the course of time 
parcelled out among twenty proprietors, and under 
more accurate culture employing and sustaining them 
all. Thus all food was once called ' meat ;' it is so in 
our Bible, and 'horse-meat' for fodder is still no 
unusual phrase; yet 'meat' is now a name given 
only to flesh. Any little book or writing was a 
* libel ' once ; now only such a one as is scurrilous 
and injurious. Every leader was a *duke' (dux); 
flius * <&/fc? Hannibal ' (Sir Thomas Elyot), ' duJtc 
Brennus' (Holland), 'duke Theseus* (Shakespeare), 
*d«^ Amalek,' with other 'dukes' in Scripture (Gen. 
xxxvi.) Every journey, by land as much as by sea, 
was a ' voyage.' ' Faiiy ' was not a name restricted, 
as now, to the Go/Aic mythology ; thus * the /airy 
Egeria' (Sir J. Harringtcwi). A 'corpse' might 
quite as well be a body living as one dead. In each 
of these cases, the same contraction of meaning, the 
separating ofif and assigning to other words of large 
portions of this, has found place. ' To starve ' (the 
German ' sterben,' and generally spelt * sterve ' up to 
the middle of the seventeeth century), meant once to 
die any manner of death ; thus Chaucer says, Christ 

♦ G€nin {Lexique df la Langm d^ la Molihre^ p. 367) says 
well : En augmentant le nombre des mots, il a fallu restreindre 
lenr signification, et faire aux nouveaux un apanage aux ddpens 
des anciens. 

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280 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

' sferved upon the cross for our redemption ;' it now 
is restricted to the d3dng by cold or by hunger. 
Words not a few were once applied to both sexes alike, 
which are now restricted to the female. It is so even 
with ' girl/ which was once, as in Piers Ploughman, a 
young person of either sex ; * while other words in 
this list, such for instance as ' hoyden ' (Milton, 
prose), 'shrew,' 'harlot,' Meman' (all in Chaucer), 
'coquet' (Phillips, New World of Words), 'witch' 
(Wiclif), 'slut' (Gk)wer), 'termagant' (Bale), 
'scold,' 'jade,' 'hag' (Golding), must, in their 
present exclusive appropriation to the female sex, be 
regarded as evidences of men's rudeness, and not of 
women's deserts. 

The necessities of an advancing civilization demand 
more precision and accuracy in the use of words 
having to do with weight, measure, number, size. 
Almost all such words as 'acre,' 'furlong,' 'yard,' 
'gallon,' 'peck,' were once of a vague and unsettled 
use, and only at a later day, and in obedience to the 
necessities of commerce and social life, exact mea- 
sures and designations. Thus every field was once 
an ' acre ;' and this remains so still with the German 
' acker,' and with us when we "give the name of ' God's 
acre ' to ground where we lay our dead ; it was not 
till about the reign of Edward the First that 'acre' 

* And no less so in French with * dame/ by which form not 
'domina' only, but *dominus,* was represented. Thus in 
early French poetry, • Dame Dieu * for * Dominus Deus ' con- 
tinually occurs. 

Digitized by 


vn. . Aore, Furlong^ &c. 281 

was commonly restricted to a determined measure and 
portion of land . Here and there even now a glebe- 
land will be called ' the acre ;' and this, though it 
should contain not one but many of our measured 
acres. A ' furlong' was a ' furrowlong/ or length of 
a furrow.* Any pole was a 'yard/ and this vaguer 
use survives in ^ssilyard,* * halyard,* and in other 
sea-terms. Every pitcher was a ' galon ' ( Mark xiv. 1 3, 
Wiclif ), while a ' peck * was no more than a * poke ' 
or bag. And the same has taken place in all other 
languages. The Greek ' drachm ' was at first a hand- 
ful, f The word which stood at a later day for ten 
thousand {/ivptoi), implied in Homer's time any 
great multitude ; and, differently accented, retained 
this meaning in the later periods of the lan- 

Opposite to this is a counter-process by which words 
of narrower intention gradually enlarge the domain of 
their meaning, becoming capable of much wider ap- 
plication than any which once they admitted. In- 
stances in this kind are fewer than in the last The 
main stream and course of human thoughts and 
human discourse tends the other way, to discenung, 
distinguishing, dividing ; and then to the permanent 
fixing of the distinctions gained, by the aid of desig- 

♦ * A furlongs quasi furronolong^ being so much as a team 
in England plougheth going forward, before they return back 
again ' (Fuller, Pisgah Sight of Palestine, p. 42). 

t ^paxfJtp = *manipulus,' firom dpdddojitat, to grasp as 
much as one can hold in the fingers. 

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282 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

nations which shall keep apart for ever in word that 
which has been once severed and sundered in thought. 
Nor is it hard to perceive why this process should be 
the more frequent Men are first struck with the 
likeness between those things which are prescoted to 
them ; on the strength of which likeneaB they men- 
tally bracket them under a commcm term. Further 
acquaintance reveals their points of unlikeness, the 
real dissimilarities which lurk under superficial resem- 
blances, the need therefore of a different notation for 
<^>jects which are essentially different It is compa- 
ratively much rarer to discover real likeness under 
what at first appeared as unlikeness; and usually 
when a word moves forward, and from a special ac- 
quires a general significance, it is not in obedience to 
any such discovery of the true inner likeness of things, 
— the steps of successful generalizations being marked 
and secured in other ways — ^but this widening of a 
word's meaning is too often a result of quite other 
causes. Men forget a word's history and etymology ; 
its distinctive features are obliterated for them, with 
all which attached it to some thought or feet which 
by right was its own. All words in some sort are 
feded metaphors, but this is one of which the feding 
has become absolute and complete. Appropriated 
and restricted once to some striking speciality which 
it vigorously set out, it can now be used in a wider, 
vaguer, more indefinite way. It can be employed 
twenty times for once when it would have been 
possible formerly to employ it Yet this is not gain, 
but pure loss. It has lost its place in the disciplined 

Digitized by 


vn. Words enlarge their Meaning. 283 

army of words, and become one of a loose and dis- 
orderly mob,* 

Let me instance 'preposterous/ It is now no 
longer of any practical service at all in the language, 
being merely an ungraceful and slipshod synonyn 
for absurd. But restore and confine it to its old use ; 
let it designate that one peculiar branch of absurdity 
which it designated once, namely the reversing of the 
true order of things, the putting of the last first, and, 
by consequence, of the first last, and whit excellent 
service it would yield. Thus it is * preposterous ' to 
put the cart before the horse, to expect wages before 
the work is done, to hang a man first and try him 
afterwards ; and in this stricter .sense ^ fiqpoB k ao as ' 
was always used by our elder writers. 

In like manner ' to prevaricate ' was never employed 
by good writers of the seventeenth century without 
nearer or more remote allusion to the uses of the 
word in the Roman law courts, where a * praevarica- 
tor ' (properly a straddler with distorted legs) did not 
mean generally and loosely, as now with us, one who 
shuffles, quibbles, and evades ; but one who played 
felse in a particular manner; who, undertaking, or 
being by his office bound, to prosecute a charge, was 
in secret collusion with the opposite party ; and, 
betraying the cause which he affected to support, so 

* The exact opposite of this will sometimes take place. 
Beaucoup de mots, qui du temps de Comeille se pliaient k 
plusieurs significations, se sont, de la fa9on la plus bizarre, 
immobilises et petrifies, si Ton ose le dire, dans des sens ^troits 
et restreints (Lexique de Id Langue de ComdUe^ p. xxii.). 

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284 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

managed the accusation as to obtain not the condem- 
nation, but the acquittal, of the accused ; a ' feint 
pleader,' as in our old law language he would have 
been termed. How much force would the keeping of 
this in mind add to many passages in our elder 

Or take 'equivocal,' 'equivocate,' 'equivocation.' 
These words, which belonged at first to logic, have 
slipped into common use, and in so doing have lost 
all the precision of their first employment * Equivo- 
cation ' is now almost any such ambiguous dealing in 
words with the intention of deceiving, as &lls short of 
an actual lie ; but according to etymology and in 
primary use 'equivocation,' this fruitful mother of so 
much error, is the calling by the same name of things 
essentially diverse, hiding intentionally or otherwise 
a real difference under a verbal resemblance.* Nor 
let it be urged in defence of the present looser use, 
that only so could it serve the needs of our ordinary 
conversation ; so far from this, had it retained its 
first use, how serviceable an implement of thought 
might it have been in detecting our own fallacies, or 
those of others ; all which it can now be no longer. 

What now is ' idea' for us I How.infinite the fell 
of this word since the time when Milton sang of the 
Creator contemplating his newly created world, 

* how it showed, 
Answering his great idea^^ 

* Thus Barrow : * Which [courage and constancy] he that 
wanteth is no other \Htaji equivocally a gentleman, as an image 
or a carcass is a man.' 

Digitized by 


VII. Equivocation^ Idea. 285 

to the present use, when this person * has an idea that 
the train has started, ' and the other ' had no no idea that 
the dinner would be so bad.' But * idea ' is perhaps 
the worst treated word in the English language. 
Matters have not mended since the times of Dr. John- 
son ; who, as Boswell tells us, 'was particularly indig- 
nant against the almost universal use of the word idea 
in the sense of notion or opinion, when it is clear that 
idea can only signify something of which an image can 
be formed in the mind.' There is perhaps-no word in 
the whole compass of the language so seldom em- 
ployed with any tolerable correctness ; in none is the 
distance so immense between what properly it means, 
and the slovenly uses which popularly it is made to 

This tendency in words to lose the sharp, rigidly 
defined outline of meaning which they once possessed, 
to become of wide, vague, loose application instead of 
fixed, definite, and precise, to mean almost anything, 
and so really to mean nothing, is among the most 
fetally effectual which are at work for the final ruin of 
a language, and, I do not fear to add, for the demor- 
alization of those that speak it. It is one against 
which we shall all do well to ^tch ; for there is none 
of us who cannot do something in keeping words 
close to their own proper meaning, and in resisting 
their encroachments on the domain of others. 

The causes which bring this mischief about are not 
hard to trace. We all know that when a piece of our 
silver money has for a long time been fulfilling its 
part as * pale and common drudge 'tween man and 

Digitized by 


286 Changed Meaning of Words, lbct. 

man/ whatever it had at first of sharper outline and 
livelier impress is in the end nearly or altogether worn 
away. So it is with words, above all with words of 
science and theology. These, getting into general 
use, and passing often from mouth to mouth, lose the 
'image and superscription' which they had before 
they descended firom the school to the market-place, 
from the pulpit to the street Being now caught up 
by those who understand imperfectly and thus in- 
correctly their true value, who will not be at the 
pains of learning what that is, or who are incapable of 
so doing, they are obliged to accommodate themselves 
to the lower sphere in which they circulate, by laying 
aside much of the precision and accuracy and- fulness 
which once they had ; they become weaker, shallower, 
more indistinct; till in the end, as exponents of^ 
thought and feeling, they cease to be of any. service 
at all. 

Sometimes a word does not merely narrow or ex- 
tend its meaning, but altogether changes it ; and this 
it does in more ways than one. Thus a secondary 
figurative sense will quite put out of use and ex- 
tinguish the literal, urIlU in the entire predominance 
of that it is altogether forgotten that it ever possessed 
any other. In 'bombast' this forgetfulness is nearly 
complete. What * bombast * now means is ^miliar to 
us all, namely inflated words, ' full of sound and fury,' 
but 'signifying nothing.' This, at present the sole 
meaning, was once only the secondary and superin- 
duced; 'bombast' being properly the cotton plant, 

Digitized by 


VII. Words change their Meaning. 287 

and then the cotton wadding with which garments were 
stuffed out and lined. You remember perhaps how 
Prince Hal addresses Falstaff, * How now, my sweet 
creature of bombast ; using the word in its literal 
sense ; and another early poet has this line : 

* Thy body's bolstered out with bombast and with bags.' 

' Bombast ' was then transferred in a vigorous image 
to the big words .without strength or solidity where- 
with the discourses of some were stuffed out, and has 
now quite forgone any other meaning. So too * to 
garble ' was once ^to cleanse from dross and dirt, as 
grocers do their spices, to pick or cull out'* It is 
never used now in this its primary sense, and has 
indeed undergone this further change, that while once 
* to garble ' was to sift for the purpose of selecting the 
best, it is now to sifl with a view of picking out the 
wojst f * Polite ' is another word which in the figurative 
sense has quite extinguished the literal. We still speak 
of * polished ' surfaces ; but not any more, with Cud- 
worth, of * polite bodies, as looking glasses.' Neither 
do we now 'exonerate 'a ship (Burton); nor 'stigma- 
tize,' otherwise than figuratively, a 'malefactor' (the 
same) ; nor * corroborate ' our health (Sir Thomas 
Elyot) any more. 

Again, a word will travel on by slow and regularly 
progressive courses of change, itself a faithful index 

♦ Phillips, New World of Words, 1706. 

t * But his [Gideon's] army must be garbled, as too great for 
God to give victory thereby ; all the fearful return home by 
prpcljimation ' (Fuller, Pisgah Sight of Palestinf^ b. ii. c 8). 

Digitized by 


288 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

of changes going on in society and in the minds of 
men, till at length everything is changed about it 
The process of this it is often very curious to observe ; 
being one which it is possible to watch as step by step 
it advances to the final consummation. There may 
be said to be three leading phases which the word 
successively presents, three stages in its history. At 
first it grows naturally out of its own root, is filled with 
its own natural meaning. Presently it allows another 
meaning, one foreign to its etymology, and superin- 
duced on the earlier, to share possession with this, on 
the ground that where one exists, the other commonly 
exists with it. At the third step, the newly intro- 
duced meaning, not satisfied with a moiety, with 
dividing the possession of the word, has thrust out 
the original and rightful possessor altogether, and 
reigns henceforward alone. The three successive 
stages may be represented by a, ab, b ; in which series 
bj which was wanting altogether at the first stage, and 
was only admitted as secondary at the second, does at 
the third become primary, and indeed remains in sole 
and exclusive possession. 

We must not suppose that in actual feet the tran- 
sitions from one signification to another are so 
strongly and distinctly marked, as I have found it 
convenient to mark them here. Indeed it is hard to 
imagine anything more gradual, more subtile and im- 
perceptible, than the process of change. The manner 
in which the new meaning first insinuates itself into 
the old, and. then drives out the old, can only be 
compared to the process of petrifaction, as rightly 

Digitized by 


vn, Ghradual Change in Meaning. 289 

understood — the water not gradually turning what has 
fallen into it to stone, as we generally take the opera- 
tion to be ; but successively displacing each several 
particle of that which is brought within its power, and 
depositing a stony particle in its stead, till, in the end, 
while all appears to continue the same, all has in fact 
been thoroughly changed. It is precisely thus, by 
such slow, gradual, iind subtle advances that the new 
meaning filters through and pervades the word, little 
by little displacing entirely that which it formerly 

No word would illustrate this process better than 
that old example, familiar probably to us all, of * vil- 
lain.' The * villain ' is, first, the serf or peasant, * vil- 
lanus,' because attached to the * villa' or farm. He 
is, secondly, the peasant who, it is further taken for 
granted, will be churlish, selfish, dishonest, and gen- 
erally of evil moral conditions, these having come 
to be assumed as always belonging to him, and to be 
permanentiy associated with his name, by those 
higher classes of society, the xdkoi xdXaBoi, who in the 
main commanded the springs of language. At the 
third step, nothing of the meaning which the etymo- 
logy suggests, nothing of * villa,' survives any longer ; 
the peasant is wholly dismissed, and the evil moral 
conditions of him who is called by thi^ name alone 
remain ;* so that the name would now in this its final 

• Epigrams and proverbs like the following, and they are 
innumerable in the middle ages, sufficiently explain the succes- 
sive phases of meaning through which * villain ' has passed : 

Digitized by 


290 Changed Meaning of Words, lbot. 

stage be applied as freely to peer, if he deserved it, as 
to peasant ' Boor ' has had exactly the same history ; 
being first the cultivator of the soil ; then secondly, 
the cultivator of the soil, who, it is assumed, will be 
coarse, rude, and unmannerly ; and then thirdly, any 
one who is coarse, rude, and unmannerly. So too 
* pagan ; which is first villager, then heathen villager, 
and lastly heathen.* You may trace the same pro- 
gress in 'churl,' 'clown,' 'antic,' and in numerous 
other words. The intrusive meaning might be likened 
in all these cases to the ^g^ which the cuckoo lays 
in the sparrow's nest ; the young cuckoo first sharing 
the nest with its rightful occupants, but not resting till 
it has dislodged and ousted them altogether. 

I will illustrate by the aid of one word more this 
part of my subject I called your attention in my 
last lecture to the true character of several words and 
forms in use among our country people, and claimed 
for them to be in many instances genuine English, 
although English now more or less antiquated and 
overlived. * Gossip ' is a word in point This name 
is given by our Hampshire peasantry to the sponsors 
in baptism, the godfathers and godmothers. We have 
here a perfectly correct employment of 'gossip,' in 
fact its proper and original one, one involving more- 
over a very curious record of past beliefs. ' Gossip ' 
or * gossib,' as Chaucer spelt it, is a compound word. 

Quando mulcetur villanusf pejor habetur : 
Ungentem pungit, pungentem rosticus ungit. 
+ See my Study of Words^ 13th edit., p. 119. 

Digitized by 


vn. History of Gossip. 291 

made up of the name of 'God,' and of an old Anglo- 
Saxon word, 'sib,' still aliva in Scotland, as all 
readers of Walter Scott will remember, and in some 
parts of England, and which means, akin ; they 
being *sib,' who are related to one another. But 
why, you may ask, was the name given to sponsors ? 
Out of this reason : — in the Middle Ages it was the 
prevailing belief (and the Romish Church still affirms 
it), that those who stood as sponsors to the same 
child, besides contracting spiritual obligations on 
behalf of that child, also contracted spiritual affinity 
one with another ; they became sid, or akin, in God, 
and thus 'gossips ;' hence 'gossipred,' an old word, 
exactly analogous to 'kindred.' Out of this feith 
the Roman Catholic Church will not allow (unless 
by dispensation), those who have stood as sponsors 
to the same child, afterwards to contract marriage with 
one another, affirming them too nearly related for 
this to be lawful. 

Take ' gossip ' however in its ordinary present use, 
as one addicted to idle tittle-tattle, and it seems to 
bear no relation whatever to its etymology and first 
meaning. Jhe same three steps, however, which we 
have traced before will bring us to its pre^gnt-^use, 
- Gossips' are, first, the sponsors, brought by the act of 
a common sponsorship into affinity and near familiarity 
with one another; secondly, these sponsors, whp 
being thus brought together, allo^y themselves with 
one another in familiar, aiid then in trivial and idle, 
talk ; thirdly, they are any who allow themselves in 
this trivial and idle talk^ — called in French 'copfj? 

Digitized by 


292 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

mirage,' from the fact that 'comm^re' has run 
through exactly the same stages as its English equi- 

It is plain that words which designate not things 
and persons only, but these as they are contemplated 
more or less in an ethical light, words which are 
tinged with a moral sentiment, are peculiarly exposed 
to change ; are constantly liable to take a new colour- 
ing or to lose an old. The gauge and measure of praise 
or blame, honour or dishonour, admiration or abhor- 
rence, which they convey, is so purely a mental and 
subjective one, that it is most difficult to take accurate 
note of its rise or of its fell, while yet there are causes 
continually at work to bring about the one or the 
other. There are words not a few, ethical words 
above all, which have so imperceptibly drifted away 
from their former moorings, that although their posi- 
tion is now veiy different from that which they once 
occupied, scarcely one in a hundred of casual readers, 
whose attention has not been specially called to the 
subject, will have observed that they have moved at 
all. Here too we observe some words conveying less 
of praise or blame than once, and some more ; while 
some have wholly shifted from the one to the other. 
Some were at one time words of slight, almost of 
offence, which have altogether ceased to be so now. 
Still these are rare by comparison with those which 
once were harmless, but now are harmless no more ; 
which once, it may be, w*re terms of honour, but 
which now imply a slight or even a scorn. It is only 
too easy to perceive why these should exceed those in 

Digitized by 


vn. /mp, Brat. 293 

Let us take an example or two. To speak now of 
royal children as 'royal imps,' would sound, and ac- 
cording to our present usage would be, impertinent ; 
and yet *imp' was once a name of dignity and 
honour, and not of slight ol of undue familiarity. 
Thus Spenser addresses the Muses, 

* Ye sacred imps that on Pamassa dwell ;' 

and ' imp ' was especially used of the scions of royal 
or illustrious houses. More than one epitaph, still 
existing, of our ancient nobility might be quoted, 
beginning in such language as this, ' Here lies that 
noble imp,* Or what should we say of a poet who 
commenced a solemn poem in this fashion, 

* Oh Israel, oh household of the Lord, 
Oh Abraham's brats^ oh brood of blessed.seed ' ? 

Could we conclude but that he meant, by using low 
words on lofty occasions, to turn sacred things into 
ridicule ? Yet this was veiy far from the intention of 
Gascoigne, the poet whose liijes I have just quoted. 
'Abraham's brats' was used by him in perfect good 
faith, and without the slightest -feeling that anything 
ludricous or contemptuous adhered to 'brat,' as indeed 
in his time there did not, any more than now adheres 
to 'brood,' which is another form of the same word 

Call a person 'pragmatical,' and you now imply 
not merely that he is busy, but over-husyj officious, 
self-important and pompous to boot Biit it once 
meant nothing of the kind, and a man ' pragmatical ' 
(like itpayjuATtxoi) was one engaged in affairs, and the 

Digitized by 


294 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

title an honourable one, given to a man simply and 
industriously accomplishing the business which prop- 
erly concerned him.* So too to say that a person 
'meddles' or is a 'meddler' implies now that he 
interferes unduly in other men's matters, without a 
call mixing himself with them. This was not in- 
sinuated in the earher uses of the word. On the 
contrary three of our earlier translators of the Bible 
have, * Meddle with your own business ' (i Thes. iv.' 
ii) ; and Barrow in one of his sermons draws 
at some length the distinction between 'meddling' 
and * being meddlesome,* and only condemns the 

Or take again the words, * to prose ' or a ' proser. 
It cannot indeed "be affirmed that they involve any 
moral condemnation, yet they certainly convey no 
compliment now ; and are almost among the last 
which any one would desire should with justice be 
applied either to his talking or his writing. For ' to 
prose,' as we all now know too well, is to talk or 
write heavily and tediously, without spirit or anima- 
tion ; but once it was simply the antithesis of to 
versify, and a ' proser ' the antithesis of a versifier or 
a poet It will follow that the most rapid and live- 
liest writer who ever wrote, if he did not write in 
verse would have 'prosed' and been a 'proser,' in 

* * We cannot always be contemplative, or pragmatical 
abroad: but have need of some delightful intermissions, 
wherein the enlarged soul may leave off awhile her severe 
schooling* (Milton, Tetrachordon). 

Digitized by 


vn. Proser, Knave^ ViUain. 295 

the language of our ancestors. Thus Drayton writes 
of his contemporary Nashe : 

* And surely Nashe, though he z.proser were, 
A branch of laurel yet deserves to bear ;' 

that is, the ornament not of a *proser' but of a poet 
The tacit assumption that vigour, animation, rapid 
movement, with all the precipitation of the spirit, 
belong to verse rather than to prose, and are the 
exclusive possession of it, must explain the changed 
uses of the word. 

Still it is according to a word's present signification 
that we must employ it now. It would be no excuse, 
having applied an insulting epithet to any, if we 
should afterwards plead that, tried by its etymology 
and primary usage, it had nothing offensive or insult- 
ing about it ; although indeed Swiil assures us that in 
his time such a plea was made and was allowed. * I 
remember,' he says, 'at a trial in Kent, where Sir 
George Rooke was indicted for calling a gentkman 
"knave " and ** villain," the lawyer for the defendant 
brought off his client by alledging that the words were 
not injurious ; for ** knave" in the old and true sig- 
nification imported only a servant ; and " villain " in 
Latin is villicus, which is no more than a man em- 
ployed in a country labour, or rather a baily.' The 
lawyer may have deserved his success for the ingenuity 
and boldness of his plea ; though, if Swift reports 
him aright, not certainly on the ground of the strict 
accuracy either of his Anglo-Saxon or his Latin. 

The moral sense and conviction of men is often at 
work upon their words, giving them new turns in 

Digitized by 


296 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

obedience to these convictions, of which their changed 
use will then remain a permanent record. The history 
of * sycophant ' will illustrate this. You probably are 
acquainted with the story which the Greek scholiasts 
invented by way of explaining a word of whose history 
they knew nothing,— namely that the ' sycophant ' was 
a 'manifester of figs,' one who detected and de- 
nounced others in the act of exporting figs from 
Attica, an ,act forbidden, they asserted, by the 
Athenian law ; and accused them to the people. Be 
this explanation worth what it may, the word obtained . 
in Greek a more general sense ; any accuser, and 
then zxsf false accuser, was a ' sycophant ;' and when 
the word was first adopted into English, it was in 
this meaning : thus an old poet speaks of * the railing 
route of sycophants ;' and Holland : * The poor man 
that hath nought to lose, is not afraid of the sycophant,^ 
But it has not kept this meaning; a 'sycophant' is 
now a fawning flatterer ; not one who speaks ill of 
you fcehind your back ; rather one who speaks good 
of you before your face, but good which he does not 
in his heart believe. Yet how true a moral instinct 
has presided over this changed signification. The 
calumniator and the flatterer, although they seem so 
opposed to one another, how closely^ united they 
really are. They grow out of the same root. The 
same baseness of spirit which shall lead one to speak 
evil of you behind your back,, will lead him to fawn 
on you and flatter you before your face. There is a 
profound sense in that Italian proverb, ' Who flatters 
me before, spatters me behind.' 

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VJi. Shrew, Shrewd, Shrewdness, 297 

But it is not the moral sense only of men which is 
thus at work, modifying their words ; but the immoral 
as well. If the good which men have and feel, pene- 
trates into their speech, and leaves its deposit there, 
so does also the evil. Thus we may trace a constant 
tendency — in too many cases it has been a successful 
one — to empty words employed in the condemnation 
of evil, of the depth and earnestness of the moral 
reprobation which they once conveyed. Men's too 
easy toleration of sin, the feebleness of their moral 
indignation against it, brings this about, namely that 
the blame which words expressed once, has in some 
of them become much weaker now than once, from 
others has vanished altogether. *To do a shrewd 
turn,' was once to do a wicked turn ; Chaucer employs 
' shrewdness ' to render the Latin * improbitas ;' nay, 
two murderers he calls two ' shrews,' — for there were, 
as has been already noticed, male * shrews ' once as 
well as female. But *a shrewd turn' now, while it 
implies a certain amount of sharp dealing, yet implies 
nothing more ; and ' shrewdness ' is applied to men 
rather in their praise than in their dispraise. And 
not these only, but a multitude of other words,— I 
will only instrance 'prank,' 'flirt,' 'luxury,' 'luxu- 
rious,' 'peevish,' 'wayward,' 'loiterer,' 'uncivil,' — 
involved once a much more earnest moral disappro- 
bation than they do at this present 

But i must bring this lecture to a close. I have 
but opened to you paths, which you, if you are so 
minded, can follow up for yourselves. We have 
learned lately to speak of men's 'antecedents ;' the 

Digitized by 


298 Changed Meaning of Words, lect. 

phrase is newly come np ; and it is common to say 
that if we would know what a man really now is, we 
must know his 'antecedents/ that is, what he has 
been and what he has done in time past This is 
quite as true about words. If we would know what 
they now are, we must know what they have been ; 
we must know, if possible, the date and place of their 
birth, the successive stages of their subsequent history, 
the company which they have kept, all the road which 
they have travelled, and what has brought them to 
the point at which now we find them ; we must know 
in short their antecedents. 

And let me say, without attempting to bring back 
school into these lectures which are out of school, 
Xhat, seeking to do this, we might add an interest to 
our researches in the lexicon and the dictionary which 
otherwise they could never have ; that taking such 
words for example as ixxXT/dia, or leaXivyyeyedia, or 
evrpaieeXtaj or do^ptdiif?, or 6xoXadrtM6i in Greek ; as 
*religio,'or *sacramentum,'or 'imperator,' or *ur- 
banitas,' or 'superstitio,' in Latin ; as 'casuistry/ 
or 'good-nature,' or 'humorous,' or 'danger,' or 
' romance,' in English, and endeavoring to trace the 
manner in which one meaning grew out of and super- 
seded another, and how they arrived at the use in 
which they have finally rested (if indeed before these 
English words there be not a fiiture still), we shall 
derive, I believe, amusement, I am sure, instruction ; 
we shall feel that we are really getting something, in- 
creasing the moral and intellectual stores of our 
minds ; furnishing ourselves with that which may 

Digitized by 


vn. Changed Meaning of Words. 299 

hereafter be of service to ourselves, may be of service 
to others — than which there can be no feeling more 
pleasurable, none more delightful.* 

* For a fuller treatment of the subject of this lecture, 
my Select Glossary ^ 3rd ed., 1865. 

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300 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 



THE subject of my lecture to-day will be English 
orthography, and it will be mainly taken up 
with notices of some changes which this has under- 
gone. You may think perhaps that a weightier, or at 
all events a more interesting, subject might have 
claimed our attention to-day. But it is indeed one 
wanting neither in import?ince nor in interest Un- 
important it is not, having often engaged the attention 
of the foremost scholai^ among us. Uninteresting it 
may be, through faults in the manner t)f its treatment ; 
but would never prove so in competent hands.* Let 
me hope that even in mine it may yield some pleasure 
and profit. 

It is Hobbes who has said, *The invention of 
printing, though ingenious, compared with the inven- 
tion of letters is no great matter.' Use and £imiliarity 
had not obliterated for him the wonder of tha^ at 
which we probably have loilg ceased to wonder, if 

• Let me refer in proof, to a paper, On Orthographical 
ExpedUfUs^ by Edwin Guest, Esq., in the Transactions of the 
Philological Society y vol. iii. p. I. 

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vni. Writing and Printing. 301 

indeed the marvel of it ever presented itself to our 
minds at all — the power, namely, of representing 
sounds by written signs, of reproducing for the eye 
what existed at first only for the ear. Nor was the 
estimate which he formed of the relative value of 
these two inventions other than a just one. Writing 
stands more nearly on a level with speaking, and 
deserves better to be compared with it, than with 
printing ; which last, with all its utility, is yet of quite 
another and inferior type of greatness : or, if this be 
too much to claim for writing, it may at all events be 
affirmed to stand midway between the other two, and 
to be ias much superior to the one as it is inferior to 
the other. 

The intention of the written word, the end whereto 
it is a mean, is by aid of signs agreed on beforehand, 
to represent to the eye with as much accuracy as 
possible the spoken word. This intention, however, 
it never fulfils completely. There is always a chasm 
between these two, and much going forward in a 
language to render this chasm ever wider and wider. 
Short as man's spoken word often falls of his 
thought, his written word falls often as short of his 
spoken. Several causes contribute to this. In the 
first place, the marks of imperfection and infirmity 
cleave to writing, as to every other invention of man. - 
It feres with most alphabets as with our own. They 
have superfluous letters, letters which they do not 
want, because others already represent their sound ; 
thus ' q ' in English is perfectly useless,' * c ' ' k ' and 
's' have only two sounds between them; they have 

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302 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

dubious letters, such, that is, as say nothing certain 
about the sounds they stand for, because more than 
one sound is represented by them, our own ' a ' for 
example ; they are deficient in letters, that is, the 
language has elementary sounds such as our own * th ' 
which have no corresponding letters appropriated to 
them, and can only be represented by combinations 
of letters. This then, being, as one called it long ago, 
*an apendix to the curse of Babel,' is one reason of 
the imperfect reproduction of the spoken word by the 
written. But another is, that the human voice is so 
wonderfully fine and flexible an organ, is able to mark 
such subtle and delicate distinctions of sound, so 
infinitely to modify and vary these sounds, that were 
an alphabet complete as human art could make it, did 
it possess twice as many letters as our own possesses, 
— the Sanscrit, which has fifty, very nearly does so, — 
there would soon remain a multitude of sounds which 
it could only approximately give back. 

But there is a further cause for the divergence which 
little by little becomes apparent between men's spoken 
words and their written. What men do often, they 
will seek to do with the least possible trouble. There 
is nothing which they do oftener than repeat words ; 
they will seek here then to save themselves pains ; 
they will contract two or more syllables into one ; 
' vuestra merced ' will become ' usted ;' and * topside 
the other way,' 'topsy-turvy;'* or draw two or 
three syllables together,' 'itiner'will become 'iter,' 

• Sec StanihursVs Ireland, p. 33, in Holinshed's ChromcUs. 

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vin. Spohen and written Words. 303 

*hafoc' 'hawk/ 'cyning' 'king, 'and 'almesse' 'alms;' 
they will assimilate consonants; * subfero ' will become 
* sujQfero ;' they will slur over, and thus after a while 
cease to pronounce certain letters, especially at the 
close of words, where the speaking effort has in a 
manner exhausted itself; for hard letters they will 
substitute soft; for those which require a certain 
effort to pronounce, they will substitute those which 
require little or almost none.* Under the operation 
of these causes a gulf between the written and spoken 
word will not merely exist; but it will have the 
tendency to grow ever wider and wider. This ten- 

• Schleicher (Die Deutsche Spracke^ p. 49) : Alle Verand- 
erung der Laute, die im Verlaufe des sprachlichen Lebens 
eintritt, ist zun^lchst und unmittelbar Folge des Strebens, 
unseren Sprachorganen die Sache leicht zu machen. Bequem- 
lichkeit der Aussprache, Ersparung an Muskelth&tigkeit ist 
das hier wirkende Agens. Who does not feel, for instance, 
how much the miter es of Greek, with its thrice recurring * e,' 
has gained in facility of being spoken over the earlier tnataras^ 
with its thrice recurring * a,' of the Sanscrit ? Ampdre {For- 
motion de la Langue Frangaise) describes well the forces, and 
this among the rest, which are ever at work for the final 
destruction of a language : Les mots en vieillissent, tendent 
d. remplacer .les consonnes fortes et dures par des consonnes 
faibles et douces, les voyelles sonores, d'abord par des voy^lles 
muettes. Les sons pleins s'^teignent peu & peu et se perdent. 
Les finales disparaissent et les mots se contractent. Par suite, 
les langues deviennent moins mdlodieuses ; les mots qui 
charmaient et remplissaient I'oreille n'offrent plus qu'un signe 
mn^monique, et comme un chiffre. Les langues en g6n6ral 
ccmmencent par 6tre une musique et finissent par ^tre une 

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804 Changed Spelling of Words, legt. 

dency indeed will be partially traversed by approxi- 
mations which from time to time will by silent consent 
be made of the written word to the spoken ; abso- 
lutely superfluous letters will be got rid of ; as the 
final *k ' in 'civic/ 'politic,' and such like words ; 
the * Engleneloande ' of Henry the Third's famous 
proclamation (1258) will become the England 'which 
we now write, seven letters instead of thirteen ; here 
and there a letter dropped in speech will be dropped 
also in writing, as the * s ' in so many French words, 
where its absence is marked by a circumflex ; a new 
shape, contracted or briefer, which a word has taken 
on the lips of men, will find its representation in their 
writing ; as ' chirurgeon * will not merely be pro- 
nounced, but also spelt, 'surgeon,' 'squinancy' 
'quinsey,' and 'Euerwic' 'York.' Still, notwith- 
standing these partial readjustments of the relations 
between the two, the anomalies will be infinite ; there 
will be a multitude of written letters which have 
ceased to be sounded letters ; words not a few will 
exist in one shape upon our lips, and in quite 
another in our books. Sometimes, as in such proper 
names as ' Beauchamp ' and * Belvoir,' even the pre- 
tence of a consent between the written word and 
the spoken will have been abandoned. 

It is ine\atable that the question should arise — Shall 
these anomalies be meddled with? shall it be at- 
tempted to remove them, and to bring writing and 
speech into harmony and consent — a harmony and 
consent which never indeed in actual fact at any 
period of the language existed, but which yet may be 

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VIII. Phonetic Words. 305 

regarded as the object of written speech, as the idea 
which, however imperfectly realized, has, in the re- 
duction of spoken sounds to written, floated before 
the minds of men ? If the attempt is to be made, it 
is clear that it can only be made in one way. There 
is not the alternative here that either Mahomet shall 
go to the mountain, or the mountain to Mahomet 
The spoken word is the mountain ; it will not stir ; it 
will resist all attempts to move it Conscious of 
superior rights, that it existed the first, that it is, so to 
say, the elder brother, it will never consent to become 
diflferent from what it has been, that so it may more 
closely conform and comply with the written word. 
Men will not be persuaded to pronounce 'wou/d'and 
*de^t,' because they write these words severally with 
an 'T and with a *.b'; but what if they could be 
induced to write 'woud' and 'det,' because they so 
pronounce ; and to adopt the same course wherever a 
discrepancy existed between the word as spoken, and 
as written ? Might not the gulf between the two be 
in this way made to disappear ? 

Here we have the explanation of that which in the 
history of almost all literatures has repeated itself 
more than once, namely, the endeavour to introduce 
phonetic writing. It has certain plausibilities to rest 
on; it appeals to the unquestionable fact that the 
written word was intended to picture to the eye what 
the spoken word sounded to the ear. For all this I 
believe that it would be impossible to introduce it ; 
and, even if possible, that it would be most unde- 

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306 Changed Spelling of Words. lecjt. 

sirable, and this for two reasons ; the first being Aat 
the losses consequent upon its introduction would far 
outweigh the gains, even supposing those gains as 
large as the advocates of the scheme promise ; the 
second, that these promised gains would themselves 
be only very partially realized, or not at all. 

I believe it to be impossible. It is clear that such 
a scheme must begin with the reconstruction of the 
alphabet The first thing that the phonographers 
have perceived is the necessity for the creation of a 
vast number of new signs, the poverty of all existing 
alphabets, at any rate of our own, not yielding a 
several sign for all the several sounds in the language. 
Our English phonographers have therefore had to 
invent ten of these new signs or letters, which are 
henceforth to take their place with our a, 3, r, and to 
enjoy equal rights with them. Rejecting two {q, x), 
and adding ten, they have raised their alphabet from 
twenty-six letters to thirty-four. But to procure the 
reception of such a reconstructed alphabet is simply 
an impossibility, as much an impossibility as would be 
the reconstitution of the structure of the language in 
any points where it was manifestly deficient or illogical. 
Sciolists or scholars may sit down in their studies, and 
devise these new letters, and prove that we need them, 
and that the introduction of them would be a manifest 
gain ; and this may be all very true : but if they 
imagine that they can persuade a people to adopt 
them, they know little of the ways in which its alpha- 
bet is entwined with the whole innermost life of a 

Digitized by 


vra. Spelling by the Ear. 307 

people.* One may freely own that most present 
alphabets are redundant here, are deficient there ; 
our English perhaps is as greatly at fault as any, and 
with that we have chiefly to do. Unquestionably it 
has more letters than one to express one and the 
same sound ; it has only one letter to express two or 
three sounds ; it has sounds which are only capable 
of being expressed at all by awkward and roundabout 
expedients. Yet at the same time we must accept 
the fact, as we accept any other which it is out of our 
pow^r to change — with regret, indeed, but with a 
perfect acquiescence : as one accepts the fact that 
Ireland is not some thirty of forty miles nearer to 
England — that it is so difficult to get round Cape 
Horn — ^that the climate of Africa is so fatal to Euro- 
pean life. A people will no more quit their alphabet 
than they will quit their language ; they will no more 
consent to modify the one at a command from with- 
out than the other. Caesar avowed that with all his 
power he could not introduce a new word, and 

• Of course it is quite a diflferent thing when philologers, 
for their own special purposes, endeavour to construct an 
alphabet which shall cover all sounds of human speech, and 
shall enable them to communicate to one another in all parts 
of the world what is the true pronunciation, or what they 
believe to be true pronunciation, of the words with which they 
are dealing. But alphabets like these are purely scientific and 
must remain such. A single fact will sufficiently prove this. 
The Standard Alphabet of the German scholar Lepsius, in- 
tended, it is true, to furnish written equivalents for sounds, not 
of one human speech, but of all, has two hundred and eighty- 
ux signs, every one of them having a distinct phonetic value. 

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308 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

certainly Claudius could not introduce a new letter. 
Centuries may bring about and sanction the intro- 
duction of a new one, or the dropping of an old. But 
to imagine that it is possible suddenly to introduce a 
group of ten new letters, as these reformers propose — 
they might just as feasibly propose that the English 
language should form its comparatives and superla- 
tives on some entirely new schemo, say in Greek 
feshion, by the terminations ' oteros ' and ' otatos ;' or 
that we should agree to set up a dual ; or that our 
substantives should return to our Anglo-Saxon declen- 
sions. Any one of these or like proposals would not 
betray a whit more ignorance of the eternal laws which 
regulate human speech, and of the limits within which 
deliberate action upon it is possible, than does this 
of increasing our alphabet by ten entirely novel signs. 
But grant it possible, grant our six and twenty 
letters to have so little sacredness in them that Eng- 
lishmen would endure a crowd' of upstart interlopers 
to mix themselves on an equal footing with them, 
still this could only arise from a sense of the great- 
ness of the advantage to be derived from this intro- 
duction. Now the vast advantage claimed by the 
advocates of the system i^ that it would facilitate the " 
learning to read, and wholly save the labor of learning 
to spell, which 'on the present plan occupies,' as they 
assure us, ' at the very lowest calculation from three 
to five years.' Spelling, it is said, would no longer 
need to be learned at all ; since whoever knew the 
sound, would necessarily know also the spelling, these 
being in all cases in perfect conformity with one an- 

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vra. Spelling by the Ear. 309 

other. The anticipation of this gain rests upon two 
assumptions which are tacitly taken for granted, but 
both of them erroneous. 

The first of these assumptions is, that all men pro- 
nounce all words alike, and thus that whenever they 
come to spell a word, they will exactly agree as to 
what the outline of its sound is. Now we are sure 
men will not do this from the fact that, before there 
was any fixed and settled orthography in our language, 
when therefore everybody was more or less a phono- 
grapher, seeking to write down the word as it sounded 
io htm, (for he had no other law to guide him, ) the 
variations of spelling were mfinite. Take for instance 
the word ' sudden ;' which does not seem to promise 
any great scope for variety. I have myself met with 
this word spelt in the following sixteen ways among 
our early writers : *sodain,' *sodaine,' 'sodan,' 'so- 
dane,' 'sodayne,' 'sodden,' 'sodein,' 'sodeine,' 
*soden,' 'sodeyn,' 'suddain,' 'suddaine,' 'suddein,' 
* suddeine, ' * sudden, ' ' sudeyn. ' Shakespeare's name 
is spelt I know not in how many ways, and Raleigh's 
in hardly fewer. The same is evident from the spell- 
ing of uneducated persons in our own day. They 
have no other rule but the sound to guide them. 
How is it that they do not all spell alike ; erroneously, 
it may be, as having only the sound for their guide, 
but still falling all into exactly the same errbrs ? What 
is the actual fact They not merely spell wrongly, 
which might be laid to the charge of our perverse 
system of spelling, but with an inexhaustible diversity 
of erfor, and that too in the case of simplest words. 

Digitized by 


810 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

Thus the town of Woburn would seem to give small 
room for caprice in spelling, while yet the postmaster 
there has made, from the superscription of letters that 
have passed through his hands, a collection of two 
hundred and forty-four varieties of ways in which the 
place has been spelt* It may be replied that these 
were all or nearly all collected from the letters of the 
ignorant and uneducated. Exactly so ; — but it is for 
their sakes, and to place them on a level with the 
educated, or rather to accelerate their education by 
the omission of a useless yet troublesome discipline, 
that the change is proposed. I wish to show you that 
after the change they would be just as much, or 
almost as much, at a loss in their spelling as now. 

Another reason would make it quite as necessaiy 
then to learn orthography as now. Pronunciation, as 
I have already noticed, is oftentimes fer too'subtie a 
thing to be more than approximated to, and indicated 
in the written letter. Different persons would attempt 
by different methods to overcome the difficulties which 
the reproduction of it for the eye presented, and thus 
different spellings would arise ; or, if not^o, one must 
be arbitrarily selected, and would have need to be 
learned, just as much as spelling at present has need 
to be learned. I .will only ask you, in proof of this 
which I affirm, to turn to any Pronouncing Dictionary. 
Thatabsurdest of all books, a Pronouncing Dictionary, 
may be of some service to you in this matter ; it will 
certainly be of none in any other. When you mark 

• NoUs and Queries, No. 147. 

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vm. Spelling hy the Ear. 311 

the elaborate and yet ineflfectual artifices by which it 
toils after the finer distinctions of articulation, seeks 
to reproduce in letters what exists, and can only 
exist, as the spoken tradition of pronunciation, ac- 
quired from lip to lip by the organ of the ear, capable 
of being learned, but incapable of being taught ; or 
when you compare two of these Dictionaries with one 
another, and note the entirely different schemes and 
combinations of letters which they employ for repre- 
senting the same sound to the eye ; you will then 
perceive how idle the attempt to make the written in 
language commensurate with the sounded ; you will 
own that not merely out of human caprice, ignorance, 
or indolence, the former falls short of and differs firom 
the latter ; but that this lies in the necessity of things, 
in the fact that man's voice can effect so much more 
than ever his letter can. * You will then perceive that 
there would be as much, or nearly as much, of arbi- 
trary in spelling which calls itself phonetic as there is 
in our present We. should be as little able to dismiss 
the spelling card then as now. But to what extent 
English writing would be transformedr-whether for 
the better or the worse each may judge for himself— 
a single specimen will prove. Take as the first sample 
which comes to my hand these ibur lines of Pope, 
which hitherto we have thus spelt and read, 

* But errs not nature from this gracious end. 
From burning suns when livid deaths descend. 

♦ See Boswell, Ufe of Johnson^ Croker's edit., X84S; 
P- 233. 

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312 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep 
Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep ? * 

Phonetically written, they present themselves to us in 
the following feshion : 

' But ^ erz not netiw from dis greens end, 
from bnniiQ siiiiz when livid debs disend, 
when erbkweks swol«r, or when tempests swip 
tonnz tD won grtv, hcrl neconz tu de dip.* 

The scheme would not then fulfil its promises. The 
gains ^hich it vaunts, when we come to look closely at 
them, disappear. And how for the losses. There are 
in every language a vast number of words, which the 
ear does* not distinguish from one another, but which 
are at once distinguishable to the eye by the spelling. 
I will only instance a few which are the same parts of 
speech ; thus * sun ' and * son ;* ' viige ' ( * virga,' now 
obsolete) and 'verge;' 'reign,' 'rain,' and 'rein;' 
„ ' hair ' and ' hare ;' ' plat^ ' and ' plait ;' ' moat ' and 
'mote;' 'pear' and 'pair;' 'pain' and 'pane;' 
'raise' and 'raze;' 'air' and 'heir;' 'ark' and 
'arc;' 'mite 'and 'might;' 'pour 'and 'pore;' 'tail' 
and ' tale ;' ' veil ' and 'vale ;' ' knight ' and * night ;' 
' knave ' and ' nave ;' ' pier ' and ' peer ;' ' rite ' and 
'right,;' ' site ' and ' sight ;' ' aisle ' and ' isle ;' 'con- 
cent' and 'consent;' 'signet' and 'cygnet' Now, 
of course, it is a real disadvantage, and may be the 
cause of serious confusion, that there should be words 
in spoken language of entirely different origin and 
meaning, which yet cannot in sound be differenced 
from one another. The phpnographers simply pro- 

Digitized by 


vra. Phonetic Spelling. 313 

pose to extend this disadvantage already cleaving to 
our spoken language, to the written language as well. 
It is fault enough in the French language, that ' m^re ' 
a mother, ' mer ' the sea, ' maire ' a mayor of a town, 
should have no perceptible difference between them 
in the spoken tongue; or again that there should be 
nothing to distinguish 'sans,' 'sang,' 'sent,' 'sens,' 
's'en,' 'cent;' and as little 'ver,' 'vert/ 'verre'and 
'vers.' Surely it is not very wise to propose gra- 
tuitously to extend the same imperfection to the 
written language as well. 

This loss in so many instances of tbe power to dis- 
criminate between words, which, however liable to 
confusion now in our spoken language, are liable to 
none in our written, would be serious enough ; but 
more serious still would be the loss which would con- 
stantly ensue, of all which visibly connects a word 
with the past, which tells its histor)', and indicates the 
quarter from which it has been derived. In how 
many English words a letter silent to the ear, is yet 
most eloquent to the eye — ^the 'g' for instance in 
'deign,' 'feign,' 'reign,' 'impugn,' tellingas it does of 
'dignor,' 'fingo,' 'regno,' 'impugno;' even as the 'b' 
in 'debt,' ' doubt,' is not idle, but tells of ' debitum ' 
and 'dubium.' 

It is uiged indeed as an answer to this, that the 
scholar does not need these indications to help him 
to the pedigree of the words with which he deals, that 
the ignorant is not helped by them ; that the one 
knows without, and that the other does not know with 
tb^m ; so that in either case they are profitable for 

Digitized by 


314 ' Changed SpeUing of Words, lect. 

nothing. Let it be freely granted that this in both 
these cases is true ; but between these two extremes 
there is a multitude of persons, neither accomplished 
scholars on the one side, nor yet wholly without the 
knowledge of all languages save their own on the 
other ; and I cannot doubt that it is of great value 
that these should have all helps enabling them to 
recognize the .words which they are using, whence 
they came, to what words in other languages they 
are nearly related, and what is their properest and 
strictest meaning. 

At present it is the written word which in all lan- 
guages constitutes their conservative element In it 
is the abiding witness against the mutilations or other 
capricious changes in shape which affectation, folly, 
laziness, ignorance, and half-knowledge would intro- 
duce. Not seldom it proves unable to hinder the 
final adoption of these corrupter forms, but it does not 
faiVXo oppose to them a constant, and often a success- 
ful, resistance. ^ In this way for example the ' coco- 
drill ' of our earlier English has given place to the 
' crocodile ' of our later. With the adoption of phb- 
netic spelling, this witness would exist no longer. 
Whatever was spoken would have also to be written, 
were it never so barbarous, never so wide a departure 
from the true form of the word. Nor is it nierely 
probable that such a barbarizing process, suqh an 
adopting and sanctioning of a vulgarism, might take 
place, but among phonographers it has taken place 
already. There is a vulgar pronunciation of the word 
* Y^nrope, * as though it were * Eur«/. ' Now it is quite 

Digitized by 


vm. Losses of Phonetic Spelling. 315 

possible that a larger number of persons in England 
may pronounce the word in this manner than in the 
right ; and therefore the phonographers are only true 
to their principles when they spell it 'Eurup/ or, 
indeed, omitting the first letter, 'Urup,' the life of the 
first syllable being assailed no less than that of the 
second. What are the consequences ? First, all con- 
nection with the old mythology is entirely broken off* ; 
secondly, its most probable etymology from two Greek 
words, signifying ' broad' and 'face,' — Europe being 
so called fi'om the droad line or /ace of coast which it 
presented to the Asiatic Greek, — ^is totally obscured. * 
But so &r from the spelling servilely following the 
pronunciation, I should be bold to affirm that if 
ninety-nine out of every hundred persons in England 
chose to call Europe * Urup,' this would be a vulgar- 
ism still, against which the written word ought to 
maintain its protest, not lowering itself to their level, 
but rather seeking to elevate them to its own.*}* 

* Ampdre has well said, Eflfacer les signes ^tymologiques 
d*une langue, c*est effacer ses titres g^n^alogiques ct gratter 
son 6nisson. 

t Quintilian has expressed himself with the true dignity of a 
scholar on this matter {Inst, i. 6. 45) : Consuetudinum ser- 
mon is vocabo consfftsum eruditorum ; sicut vivendi consensum 
bonorum. — How different from innovations like this the changes 
in German spelling which J. Grimm, so far as his own example 
may reach, has introduced ; and the still bolder which in the 
Preface to his DetUsches Woerterbuch^ pp. liv.-lxii., he avows 
his desire to see introduced ; — ^as the employment of /, not 
merely where at present used, but wherever v is now em- 
ployed ; the substituting of the v^ which would be thus dis- 

Digitized by 


316 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

Then too, if there is much in orthography which is 
imsettled now, how much more would be unsettled 
then I Inasmuch as the pronunciation of words is 
continually altering, their spelling would of course 
have continually to alter too. What I here assert, 
namely, that pronunciation is undergoing constant 
changes, although changes for the most part unmarked, 
or marked only by a few, it would be abundantly ea^ 
to prove. Take a Pronouncing Dictionary of fifiy or a 
hundred years ago ; in almost every page, you will 
observe schemes of pronunciation there recommended 
which are now merely vulgarisms, or which have been 
dropped altogether. We gather from a discussion in 
Boswell's Life o/yohnson* that in his time * great ' was 
by some of the best speakers of the language pro- 
nounced 'gr^rt,'not 'gr^zte; Pope usually rhymes it 
with 'cheat,' 'complete,' and the like; thus in the 

• Here swells the shelf with Ogilby the great. 
There, stamped with arms, Newcastle shines complete /* 

while Spenser's constant use a century and a half 
earlier, leaves no doubt that such was the established 
pronunciation of his time. Again, Pope rhymes 
' obliged ' with * besieged ;' and it has only ceased to 

engaged, for w, and the entire dismissal of w. These may be 
advisable, or they may not ; it is not for strangers to ofifer an 
opinion ; but at any rate they all rest on a deep historic study 
of the language, and of its true genius ; and are not a seeking 
to give permanent authority to the fleeting accidents of the 
present hour. 
♦ Croker's edit., 1848, pp. 57, 61, 233. 

Digitized by 


VIII. Pronunciation Alters. 317 

l>e ' obk^ed ' almost in our own time. * Key ' in our 
Elizabethan literature always rhymes with such words 
as ' survey ' (Shakespeare, Sonnets), Who now drinks 
a cup of 'tay'? yet it is certain that this was the 
fashionable pronunciation in the first half of the last 
century. This couplet of Po^'s is one proof out of 

* Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey^ 
Dost sometimes comisel take, and sometimes tea*^ 

Rhyme is a great detector of changes like these, which 
but for the help that it affords we should faiil to 
detect, which indeed we should often have no means 
of detecting, which not seldom we should not sus- 
pect in the least. Thus when * should ' rhymes with 
'cooled' (Shakespeare), with 'hold' (Daniel), with 
'cold' (Ben Jonson), 'would 'with 'bold' (Ford), 
with 'mpuld' (Chapman), with 'old' (Fletcher), 
'could' with 'gold' (Ben Jonson), it is plain that 
our ' shou'd,' ' wou'd,' ' cou'd,' had not yet established 
themselves in the language. And how little our words 
ending in ' ough ' are pronounced now as they were 
once we gather from the fact that Golding in his trans- 
lation of Ovid's Metamorphoses rhymes ' tough ' and 
'through,' 'trough' and 'through,' 'rough' and 
' plough.' Or a play on words may inform us how 
the case once stood. Thus there would be no point 
in the complaint of Cassius that in all Rome there was 
room but for a single man, 

* Now is it Rome indeed, and rootn enough,' 

if Rome had not been pronounced in Shakespeare's 

Digitized by 


318 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

time, as some few pronounce it still, as I believe John 
Kemble pronounced it to the last, but as the educated 
classes of society have now consented not to pro- 
nounce it any more. Samuel Rogers assures us that 
in his youth * everybody said **Lonnon," not "Lon- 
don ;" that Fox said ^* Lonnon " to the lasL'- 

Swift long ago urged the same objection against the 
phonographers of his time : * Another cause which 
has contributed not a little to the maiming of our 
language, is a foolish opinion advanced of late years 
that we ought to spell exactiy as we speak : which, 
besides the obvious inconvenience of utterly destroy- 
ing our etymology, would be a thing we should never 
see an end o£ Not only the several towns and coun- 
ties of England have a different way of pronouncing, 
but even here in London they clip their words after 
one manner about the court, another in the city, and 
a third in the suburbs ; and in a few years, it is 
probable, will all differ from themselves, as fancy or 
fashion shall direct ; all which, reduced to writing, 
would entirely confound orthography/* 

Let this much suffice by way of answer to those 
who would fain revolutionize our English orthography 
altogether. Dismissing them and their rash innova- 
tions, let me call your attention now to those changes 
in spelling which are constantly going forward, at 
some periods more rapidly than at others, but which 
never wholly cease; while at the same time I en- 

* A proposal for correcting^ improving and ascertaining the 
English Tongue, 171 1, Works ^ vol. ix. pp. 139-159. 

Digitized by 


vni. Alterations in. Spelling. 319 

deavor to trace, where this is possible, the motives 
and inducements which bring them about It is a 
subject which none can neglect, who desire to obtain 
an accurate acquaintance with their native tongue. 
Some principles have been laid down in the course of 
what has been said already, ^ that may help us to 
judge whether these changes are for better or for 
worse. We shall find, if I mistake not, of both 

There are alterations in spelling which are for the 
worse. Thus an altered spelling will sometimes 
obscure the origin of a word, concealing it from those 
who would else at once have known whence and what 
it was, and would have found both pleasure and 
profit in this knowledge. In all those cases where the 
earlier spelling revealed the secret of the word, told 
its history, which the latter defaces or obscures, the 
change has been injurious, and is to be regretted ; 
while yet, where this is thoroughly established, any 
attempt to undo it would be absurd. Thus, when 
^ grower' was spelt 'grojjer,' it was comparatively easy 
to see that he first had his name, because he sold his 
wares not by retail, but in the gross, ' Co.rcomb ' tells 
us nothing now ; but it did when spelt 'co^^comb,' 
the comb of a cockhting an ensign or token which the 
fool was accustomed to wear. In ' grogra;» ' we are 
entirely to seek for the derivation ; but in ' grogra;* ' 
or *grogra/*«,' as earlier it was spelt, one could 
scarcely miss 'grosgrain,' the stuff of a coarse grain or 
woof. What a mischievous alteration in spelling is 
'devest' instead of 'd^est.' The change here is so 

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320 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

recent that surely it would not be impossible to return 
to the only intelligible spelling. 

*P/gmy' used once to be spelt 'pygmy/ and no 
Gteek scholar could then fail to perceive that by 
'pigmies' were indicated manikins of no greater 
height than that of a man's arm from the elbow to the 
closed fist* Now he may know this in other ways ; 
but the word itself tells him nothing. Or again, the 
old spelling, 'diama«/,' was preferable to the modem 
'diam^wflf/ It was so, because it told more of the 
past history of the word. ' Diamant ' and ' adamant ' 
are in fact no more than different adoptions by the 
English tongue, of one and the same Greek, which 
afterwards became a Latin, word. The primary 
meaning of 'adamant' is, as you are aware, the 
indomitable, and it was a name given at first to steel 
as the hardest of metals ; but afterwards transferredf 
to the most precious among all the precious stones, as 
that which in power of resistance surpassed everything 

Neither are new spellings to be commended, which 

* Pygmaei, quasi cubitales (Augustine). ' 

t First so used by Theophrastus in Greek, and by Pliny in 
Latin. The real identity of the two words explains Milton's 
use of * diamond * in Paradise Lost, b. vi. ; and also in that 
sublime passage in his Apology for Smectymnuus : * Then Zeal, 
whose substance is ethereal, arming in complete diamond 
ascends his fiery chariot.* — Diez {Woerterbuch d. Roman, 
Sprachen, p. 123) supposes, not very probably, that it was 
under a certain influence of *d/afano,' the translucent, that 
* adamante * was in the Italian, from whence we have derived 
the word, changed into * ^/omante.* 

Digitized by 


vni. Cousin, Bran-new, Scrip. 321 

obliterate or obscure the relationship of a word with 
others to which it is teally allied; separating from 
one another, for those not thoroughly acquainted 
with the subject, words of the same family. Thus 
when V^w' was spelt 'rhaw,' no one could miss its 
connection with the verb 'to chew.' Now probably 
ninety-nine out of a hundred are unaware of any 
relationship between theto. It is the same with 
* cousin' (consanguineus), and 'to cozen/ 1 do not 
say which of these should conform to the spelling of 
the other. The spelling of both was irregular from the 
first ; while yet it was then better than now, when a 
permanent distinction has established itself between 
them, keeping out of sight that 'to cozen' is in all 
likelihood to deceive under show of affinity ; which 
if it be so, Shakespeare's words, 

* Cousins indeed, and by their uncle cozened 
Of comfort,* * 

will contain not a pun, but an etymology. The real 
relation between ' bliss ' and to ' bless ' is in like man- 
ner at present obscured. 

The omission of a letter, or the addition of a letter, 
may each effectually work to keep out of sight the 
true character and origin of a word. Thus the 
omission of a letter. When for 'bran-new,' it was 
'branflf-new' with a final ' d,' how vigorous was the 
image here. The 'brand 'is the fire, and 'brand- 
new,' equivalent to 'fire-new' (Shakespeare), is that 
which is fresh and bright, as being newly come from 

♦ Richard IIL Act iv. Sc. 4. 

Digitized by 


322 Changed Spelling of Words. lect. 

the forge and fire. As now spelt, it conveys to us no 
image at all. Again, you have the word ' scrip ' — as 
a 'scrip' of paper, -government 'scrip.' Is this the 
Saxon 'scrip,' a wallet, which has in some strange 
manner obtained these meanings so diflferent and so 
remote ? Have we here only two different applica- 
tions of one and the same word, or two homonyms, 
wholly different words, though spelt alike? It is 
sufficient to note how the first of these * scrips ' used 
to be written, namely with a final 't,' not ' scrip ' but 
'scrip/,' and the question is answered. This 'scrip' 
is a Latin, as the other is an Anglo-Saxon, word, and 
meant at first simply a writien (scripta) piece of paper 
— a circumstance which since the omission of the final 
* t ' may easily escape our knowledge. ' Afraid ' was 
spelt much better in old times with the double ' ff,' 
than with the single ' f ' as now. It was then clear 
that it was not another form of ' afeared,' but wholly 
separate from it, the participle of the verb ' to affray,' 
'affrayer,' or, as it is now written, 'effrayer.' 

In these cases it has been the omission of a letter 
which has clouded and concealed the etymology. 
The intrusion of a letter sometimes does the same. 
Thus in the early editions oi Paradise Lost, and in the 
writings of that age, you will find 'scent,' an odour, 
spelt ' sent. ' It was better so ; .there is no other noun 
substantive 'sent,' with which it is in danger of being 
confounded ; while its relations with 'sentio/ with 
' rejw^//* ' ^\%sent* ' consent* and the like, is put out 

How close the relationship was once, not merely in respect 

Digitized by 


vm. Whole, Island. 323 

of sight by its novel spelling ; the intrasive ' c ' serving 
only to mislead. The same thing was attempted with 
'site,' 'situate/ 'situation,' spelt for for a time by 
many, 'snte, 'sntuate,' 'situation;' but it did not 
continue with these. Again, 'whole,' in Wicliflf's 
Bible, and indeed much later, sometimes as £ir down 
as Spenser, is spelt 'hole,' without the 'w'at the 
beginning. The present orthography may have the 
advantage of at once distinguishing the word to the 
eye from any other ; but at the same time the initial 
'w' hides its relation to the verb 'to heal.' The 
' whole ' man is he whose hurt is ' healed ' or covered 
(we say of the convalescent that he 'recovers') ; 
' whole ' being closely allied to * hale ' (integer), 
from which also by its modem spelling it is divided. 
' Wholesome ' has naturally followed the fortunes of 
' whole :' it was spelt ' holsome ' once. 

Of * island ' too our present spelling is inferior to 
the old, inasmuch as it suggests a hybrid formation, as 
though the word were made up of the Latin * insula,' 
and the Saxon ' land.' It is quite true that ' isle ' is 
in relation with, and descent from 'insula,' *isola/ 
' lie ;' and hence probably the misspelling of 'island. 
This last however has nothing to do with 'insula,' 

of etymology, but also of significance, a passage like this will 
prove : * Perchance, as vultures are said to smell the earthiness 
of a dying corpse ; so this bird of prey [the evil spirit which, 
according to Fuller, personated Samuel, i Sam. xxviii. 14] 
resented a worse than earthly savor in the soul of Saul, as 
evidence of his death at hand ' (Fuller, Tke Profane State, 
b. v. c. 4). 

Digitized by 


324 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

being identical with the German ieiland,' the Anglo^ 
Saxon * ealand/ and signifying either the land apart,* 
or land girt round with the sea. And it is worthy of 
note that this ' s ' is of quite modem introduction. 
In the earlier Versions of the Scriptures, and in the 
Authorized Version as first set forth it is 'iland;' 
which is not accidental, seeing that * isle ' has the * s,' 
which * iland ' has not (see Rev. i. 9) ; and the cor- 
rect spelling obtained far down into the seventeenth 

One of the most frequent causes of alteration in 
the spelling of a word is a wrongly assumed deriva- 
tion ; as has been the case with the word which we 
dealt with. It is then sought to bring the word into 
harmony with, and to make it by its spelling suggest, 
this derivation, which has been erroneously thrust 
upon it Here is a subject which, followed out as it 
deserves, would form an interesting and instructive 
chapter in the history of language. Very remarkable 
is the evidence which we have here to the way in 
which learned and unlearned alike crave to have a 
meaning in the words which they employ, to have 
these not body only, but body and souL Where for 
the popular sense the life has died out from a word, 
men will put into it a life of their own devising, rather 
than that it should henceforth be a mere dead and 
inert sign for them. Much more will they be tempted 
to this in the case of foreign words, which have been 
adopted into the language, but which have not 

* Eiland ' for < einlant,' see Grimm» Woerterbtuky s. v. 

Digitized by 


Till. Pyramid, JEKerosolyma. 325 

brought with them, at least for the popular mind, the 
secret of their origin. These shall tell something 
about themselves ; and when they cannot tell what is 
true, or when that true is not intelligible any more, 
then, rather than that they should say nothing, men 
compel them to suggest what is false, moulding and 
shaping them into some new form, until at least they 
shall appear to do this.* 

There is probably no language in which such a 
process has not been going forward ; in which it is 
not the explanation, in a vast number of instances, of 
changes in spelling and even in form, which words 
have undergone. I will offer a few examples of it 
from foreign tongues, before adducing any from our 
own. 'Pyramid' is a word, whose spelling was 
affected in the Greek by an erroneous assumption of 
its derivation ; the consequences of this error sur- 
viving to the present day. It is spelt by us with a * y ' 
in the first syllable, as it was spelt with the corre- 
sponding letter in the Greek. But why was this? It 
was because the Greeks assumed that the pyramids 
were so named from their having the appearance of 
fiame going up into a point, f and so they spelt ' E>Ta- 
mid,' that they might find TCvp or *pyre ' in it ; while 
in fact * pyramid ' has nothing to do with flame or fire 
at all ; being, as those best qualified to speak on the 

* Ammianus MarceUinus, xxii. 15, 28. 

t Diez looks with much favour on this process, and calls 
it, cin sinnreiches Mittel Fremdlinge ganz heimisch zu machcn. 
Compare Schleicher, Die DetUsche Sprache, pp. 114-117; 
M&tzner, EngL Gramtnatik^ vol. i. p. 483. 

Digitized by 


826 Changed SpeUing of Words. lbct. 

matter declare to us, an Egyptian word of quite a 
different signification, and the Coptic letters being 
much better represented by the diphthong 'ei' than 
by the letter *y/ as no doubt, but for this mistaken 
notion of what the word was intended to mean, they 
would have been. 

Once more — the form ' Hierosolyma, ' the Greek 
reproduction of the Hebrew * Jerusalem,' was in- 
tended in all probability to express that the city so 
called was the sacred city of the Solymu^ At all 
events the intention not merely of reproducing the 
Hebrew word, but also of making it significant in 
Greek, of finding Up6v in it, is plainly discernible. 
For indeed the Greeks were exceedingly intolerant of 
foreign words, till these had laid aside their foreign 
appearance, — intolerant of all words which they could 
not quicken with a Greek soul; and, with a very 
characteristic vanity and an ignoring of all other 
tongues but their own, assumed with no apparent 
misgivings that all words, from whatever quarter de- 
rived, were to be explained by Greek etymologies, f 

♦ Tacitus, Hist. v. 2. 

t Let me illustrate this by further instancies in a note. Thus 
fiovTvpov^ from which, through the Latin, our * butter * has 
reached us, is borrowed (Pliny, II, JV, xxviii, 9) from a Scythian 
word, now to us unknown : yet it is sufficiently plain that the 
Greeks so shaped and spelt it as to contain apparent allusion to 
caw and cheese ; there is in fiovrvpov an evident feeling after 
fiovi and rvpdv, Bozra, meaning citadel in Hebrew and 
Phoenician, and the name, no doubt, which the citadel of 
Carthage bore, becomes Bvpda on Greek lips ; and then the 

Digitized by 


vm. Tartar, Tartarus. 327 

'Tartar' is another word, of which it is at least 
possible that a wrongly assumed derivation has modi- 
fied the spelling, and not the spelling only, but the 
veiy shape in which we now possess it To many 
among us it may be known that the people designated 
by this appellation are not properly 'Tartars,' but 
* Tatars ;' and you may sometimes have noted the 
omission of the *r' on the part of some who are 

well-known legend of the ox-hide was invented upon the 
name ; not having suggested, but being itself suggested by it 
Herodian (v. 6) reproduces the name of the Syrian goddess 
Astarte in a shape significant for Greek toxs—^AdrpodpxVt 
The Star-ruler or Star-queen. When the apostate hellenizing 
Jews assumed Greek names, • Eliakim * or * Whom God has 
set,' became *Alcimus* (aXxtjiioi) or The Strong (i Mace, 
vii. 5), Latin examples in like kind are <comtssatio,' spelt 
continually ^conurssatio,* and * com^ssation ' by those who 
sought to naturalize it in England, as though connected with 

* comedo,* to eat, being indeed the substantive from the verb 

* comissari ' {=:x(ojiidt^£tv), to revel; as Plutarch, whose Latin 
is in general not very accurate, long ago correctly observed ; 
and <orichalcum,' spelt often ^azmchalcum,* as though it were 
a composite metal of mingled gv/d and brass ; being indeed the 
ntotmtain brass (opfiz;farAxoS). The miracle play, which is 

* mystSre * in French, whence our English * mystery,' was 
originally written *mistdre,' being derived from *ministdre,' 
and having its name because the clergy, the minisierium or 
ministri Ecclesise, conducted it. This was forgotten, and it 
then became 'mystery,' as though so called because the mys- 
teries of the faith were in it set out. The mole in German was 
*moltwurf,' our English *moldwarp,' once, one that cast up 
the mould ; but * molte ' faded out of the language, and the 
word became, as it now is, * maulwurf,' one that casts up with 
the * maul * or mouth ;— which indeed the creature does not. 

Digitized by 


828 Changed Spelling of Words, lbct. 

curious in their spelling. How then, it may be asked, 
did the form * Tartar ' arise ? When the terrible 
hordes of middle Asia burst in upon civilized Europe 
in the thirteenth century, many beheld in the ravages 
of their innumerable cavaliy a fulfilment of that pro- 
phetic word in the Revelation (chap. ix. ) concerning 
the opening of the bottomless pit ; and from this 
belief ensued the change of their name from * Tatars ' 
to 'Tartars,' which was tiius put into closer relation 
with * Tartarus' or hell, whence their multitudes were 
supposed to have proceeded.* 

Another good example in the same kind is the 
German word 'siindflut,' the Deluge, which is now 
so spelt as to signify a 'sinflood,' the plague ox flood 
of waters brought on the world by the sins of man- 
kind ; and some of us may before this have admired 
the pregnant significance of the word. Yet the old 
High German word had originally no such intention ; 
it was spelt 'sinfluot,' that is, the gjeat flood; and 
as late as Luther, indeed in Luther's own translation 
of the Bible, is so spelt as to make plain that the 
notion of a ' J7«-flood ' had not yet found its way 
into, as it had not affected the spelling of, the word.f 

♦ We have here, in this bringing of the words by their sup- 
posed etymology together, the explanation of the fact that 
Spenser {Fairy Queen^ i. 7, 44), Middleton ( Works^ vol. v. 
pp. 524, 528, 538), and others employ * Tartary * as equivalent 

t For a full discussion of this matter and fixing of the period 
at which « sinfluot * became 'sttndflut,' see the TheoL Stud, u, 
Krii,j vol. ii. p. 613 ; and Delitzsch, Genesis, 2nd ed. vol. ii. 
p. 210. 

Digitized by 


vm. Transformation of Words. 329 

But to look nearer home for our examples : ' Ceil- 
ing' was always 'sealing,' that which seals or closes 
the roof, in our early English ; but, as is easy to 
explain, coelum (ciel) made itself unconsciously felt, 
intruded into the word and changed the spelling to 
our present The little raisins brought from Greece, 
which play so important a part in one of our national 
dishes, the Christmas plum-pudding, used to be 
called * corinths ;' and this name they bear in mer- 
cantile lists of a hundred years ago : either that for 
the most part they were shipped from Corinth, the 
principal commercial city in Greece, or because they 
grew in large abundance in the immediate district 
round about it Their likeness in shape and size and 
general appearance to our own currants, working 
together with the ignorance of the great majority of 
English people about any such place as Corinth, 
soon transformed ' corinths ' into * currants,' the name 
which now with a certain unfitness they bear ; being 
not currants at all, but dried grapes, though grapes of 
diminutive size. 

* Courf-csLidSy' that is, the^king, queen, and knave 
in each suit, were once ' coaf-csiids ;' * having their 
name from the long splendid * coat ' with which they 
were arrayed. Probably * coat ' after a while did not 
perfectly convey its original meaning and intention ; 
being no more in common use for the long garment 
(the vestis talaris) reaching down to the heels ; and 
then 'coat' was easily exchanged for 'court,' as the 

* Ben Tonson, TA^ New Jtm^ Act i. Sc. i. 

Digitized by 


330 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

word is now both spelt and pronounced, seeing that 
nowhere so fitly as in a Court should such' splendidly 
arrayed personages be found. A public house in the 
neighbourhood of London having a few years since 
for its sign *The George Cannings' is already 'The 
George and Cannon,* — so rapidly do these transfor- 
mations proceed, so soon is that forgotten which we 
suppose would never be forgotten. * Welsh rarebit ' 
becomes 'Welsh rabbit; and ^farced* or stuffed 
* meat ' becomes * forced meat. ' Even the mere deter- 
mination to make a word look English, to put it into 
an English shape, without thereby so much as seem- 
ing to attain any result in the way of etymology, is 
often sufficient to bring about a change in its spelling, 
and even in its form. * It is thus that ' sipahi ' has 
become ' sepoy ; and only so could * weissager ' have 
taken its present form of ' wiseacre ;'f or 'hausen- 
blase ' become ' isinglass. ' 

* * Leghorn ' is sometimes quoted as an example of this ; 
but erroneously ; for, as Admiral Smyth has shown (^TAe 
Mediterranean, p. 409), * Livomo ' is itself rather the modem 
corruption, and * Ligomo ** the name foimd on the earlier 

t Exactly the same happens in other languages ; thus, * arm- 
brust,' a crossbow, looks German enough, and yet has nothing 
to do with *ann* or *brust,' being a contraction of 'arcuba- 
lista,' but a contraction under these influences. As little has 
abenteuer * anything to do with * abend ' or * theuer,* however 
it may seem to be connected with them, being indeed the 
Proven9al * adventura.* And * weissagen ' in its earlier forms 
had nothing in conmion with * sagen.' On this subject see 
Schleicher, Die Deutsche Sprache, p. 116. 

Digitized by 


vm. Transformation of Words. 331 

Not uncommonly a word, derived from one word, 
will receive a certain impulse and modification from 
another. This extends sometimes beyond the spell- 
ing, and where it does so, would hardly belong to our 
present theme. Still I may notice an instance or two. 
Thus our * obsequies' is the Latin 'exequiae,' but 
formed under a certain impulse of 'obsequium,' and 
seeking to express and include the observant honour 
implied in that word. * To refuse' is 'recusare,' 
while yet it has derived the * f ' of its second syllable 
from * refutare ; it is a medley of the two. The 
French 'rame,' an oar, is *remus,' but that modified 
by an unconscious recollection of * ramus.' The 
old French * candekr^r^ ' is 'candelabrum/ but with 
' arbre ' seeking to intrude itself into the word. So 
too the French has adopted the German 'sauerkraut,' 
but in the form of * chou<xo\xity* of which the explana- 
tion is obvious. The Italian * convitare ' is the Latin 
* invitare,' but with * convivium ' making itself felt in 
the first syllable. ' Orange' is a Persian word, which 
has reached us through the Arabic, and which the 
Spanish ' naranja ' more nearly repres^ts than the 
form existing in other languages of Europe. But 
what so natural as to contemplate the orange as the 
golden fruit, especially when the ' aurea mala ' of the 
Hesperides were femiliar to all antiquity? In this 
way ' aurum,* ' oro,' 'or,' made itself felt in the various 
shapes which the word assumed in languages of the 
West, and we have here the explanation of the change 
in the first syllable, as in the low Latin 'aurantium,' 

Digitized by 


832 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

in 'orangia,' in the French 'orange/ and in our 

It is foreign words, or words adopted from foreign 
languages, as already has been said, which asre es- 
pecially subjected to such transformations as these. 
The soul which they once had in their own language, 
having, for as many as do not know that language, 
departed from them, men will not rest till they have 
put another soul into them again. Thus — to take 
first one or two popular and ^miliar instances, than 
which none serve better to illustrate the laws which 
preside over human speech, — ^the Bellerophon be- 
comes for our sailors the ' Billy Rufl&an,' for what can 
they know of the Greek mythology, or of the slayer 
of Chimaera ? an iron steamer, the Hirondelle, which 
plied on the Tyne, was the 'Iron Devil' * Confre- 
danse,' or dance in which the parties sta.nd/ace/o/'aci 
with one another, and which ought to have appeared 
in English as ^counter dance,' becomes ^country 
dance, 'f as though it were the dance of the country 

* See Mahn, Etym. Unlersuch. p. 157. 

t On this word De Quincey {JJfe and Manners^ p. 70, 
American Ed.) says well : * It is in fact by such corruptions, 
by off-sets upon an old stock, arising through ignorance or 
mispronunciation originally, that every language is frequently 
enriched ; and new modifications of thought, unfolding them- 
selves in the progress of society, generate for themselves con- 
currently appropriate expressions. ... It must not be 
allowed to weigh against a word once fairly naturalized by all, 
that originally it crept in upon an abuse or a corruption. 
Prescription is as strong a ground of legitimation in a case of 
this nature, as it is in law. And the old axiom is applicable — 

Digitized by 


vra. TransformaMon of '^(ords. 333 

folk and rural districts, as distinguished from the 
quadrille and waltz and more artificial dances of the 
town.* A well-known rose, the rose of the four 
seasons, or 'rose des quatre saisons,' becomes on 
the lips of our gardeners, the * rose of the quarter 
j^jj-w^r,' though here the eye must have misled, rather 
than the ear. The cherry of M6doc becomes pres- 
ently a 'may-duke/ 'Dent de lion' (it is spelt 

* dentdelyon ' in our early writers) becomes ' dande- 
lion,' chaude m616e,' or an affray in hot hloo^y 

* chancemtdXtyy' ' causey ' (chauss^e, or via calceata) 
becomes 'causeway,' 'rachitis' 'rickets,* 'mandra- 
gora ' in French ' main de gloire,' and ' hammock ' 
(a native Indian word) is in Dutch ' hangmat' 

'Necromancy' for a long time was erroneously 
spelt, under the influence of an erroneous derivation ; 
which, perhaps even now, has left traces behind it in 
our popular phrase, 'the Black Art' Prophecy by 
aid of the dead, as I need not tell you, is the proper 
meaning of the word ; assuming as it does that these 
may be raised by potent spells, and compelled to give 
answers about things to come. Of such ' necromancy' 

Fieri non debuit, factum valet. Were it otherwise, languages 
would be robbed of much of their wealth.* 

* Unless indeed according to the rights of the case it should 
prove the exact converse of this, and the French * contredanse * 
be derived from our country dance : see ChappelPs argument 
to prove this in his Popular Music^ vol. ii. p. 627, with his 
reference to the Encyclopidie Mithodique of 1791. Whether 
we derived from the French, or the French from us, the 
illustration of the matter in hand remains equally good. 

Digitized by 


334 Changed Spelling of Words, lbct. 

we have a very awful example in the story of the 
witch of Endor, and a very horrid one in Lucan.* 
But the Latin medieval writers, whose Greek was 
either little or none, spelt the word, *«/^^mantia/ 
while at the same time getting round to the original 
meaning, though by a wrong process, they understood 
the dead by these 'nigri,' or blacks, whom they had 
brought into the word.f Down to a late day we 
find ' negrom2Jicei * and * negromBXicy ' frequent in 

'Pleurisy' used often to be spelt (it is hardly so 
now) without an * e ' in the first syllable, evidently on 
the tacit assumption that it was from plus pluris. 
When Shakespeare ^Is into an error, he ' makes the 
offence gracious ;' yet, I think, he would scarcely 
have written, 

* For goodness growing to 2^plurisy 
^ Dies of his own too much^* 

but that he too derived 'plurisy' irom pluris. This, 
even with the 'small Latin and less Greek,' which 
Ben Jonson allows him, he scarcely would have done, 
had the word presented itself in that form, which by 
right of its descent from TtXsvpd (being a pain, stitch, 
or sickness tn the side) it ought to have possessed. 
Those who for * crucible ' wrote 'chrysoble ' (Jeremy 
Taylor does so), must evidently have assumed that 

♦ JPhars, vi. 720-830. 

t Thus in a Vocabulary ^ 1475 • Nigromansia dicitur divin- 
atio facta /^r nigros. 

Digitized by 


vni. Pleurisy, Crucible. 335 

the Greek for gold, and not the Latin for cross, lay at 
the foundation of the word. ' Anthymn ' instead of 
'anthem' (Barrow so spells it), rests plainly on a 
wrong etymology, even as this spelling clearly be- 
^ trays what that wrong et}Tnology is, * Lanthorn ' 
(Fuller) for 'lantern,' not less clearly does the same. 

* Rhyme ' with a * y ' is a modem misspelling ; and 
would never have been but for the undue influence; 
which the Greek 'rhythm' has exercised upon it' 
Spenser and his contemporaries spelt it 'rime.' 
'Abominable' was not unfrequently in the seven- 
teenth century spelt *ab^ominable,' as though it were 
that which departed from the human {a5 komine) into 
the bestial or devilish. * Posthumous ' owes the * h ' 
which has found its way into it to the notion that, 
instead of being a superlative of 'posterus,' it has 
something to do with 'post humum.' 

In all these instances but one the correct spelling 
has in the end resumed its sway. Not so however 
'frontispfke,' which ought to be spelt * frontispi be, ' 
(it was so by Milton and others, ) being the low Latin 

* frontispicium,' from ' frons ' and ' aspicio,' the fore- 
front of the building, that side which presents itself 
to the view. The entirely ungrounded notion that 
' piece ' constitutes the last syllable, has given rise to 
our present orthography.* 

* As * orthography ' itself means ^ right spelling/ it might 
be a curious question whether it is permissible to speak of an 
incorrect otho^xz:^y, that is, of a wrong r/^^/-spelling. The 
question thus started is one of frequent recurrence, and it is 

Digitized by 


336 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

• • • '' 

You may, perhaps, wonder that I have dwelt so 
long on these details of spelling ; but I have bestowed 
on them so much of my own attention, that I have 

vrorthy of note how often his contradictio in adjecto is found to 
occur. Thus the Greeks, having no convenient word for rider, 
apart from rider on a horse, did not scruple to speak of the 
bfrsexoasi {),fCicevi) upon an elephant. They are often as inac- 
curate and with no necessity ; as in using dvdpidi of the sta- 
tue of a woman,' where eixoov or dyaX/ia would have 
served as well. So too their table {rpcLTteZa^sTerpdieeZa) 
involved probably the/<7«r feet which commonly support one ; 
yet they did not shrink from speaking of a Mr^^-footed ta- 
ble (rpiieovi rpdiCEt^a), in other words, a * three-iooitdifour* 
footed ;' much as though we should speak of a < Mr^^-footed 
qtiadru^^,^ Homer's < hecatomb' is not of a hundred^\iQ\. 
of twelve, oxen ; and elsewhere of Hebe he says, in words not 
reproducible in English, yixvap koovox^Bt. His ixriderf 
xwitj, a helmet of weasel-skin, but more strictly a weaselskin 
dogskin, contains a like contradiction. *'Axparoi, the un- 
mingle^y had so come to stand for wine, that St. John speaks 
of *ixxparo% xexepad/iavoi (Rev. xiv. lo), or the mingled 
unmingled. Boxes to hold precious ointments were so com- 
monly of alabaster, that they bore this name whether they were 
so or not ; and Theocritus celebrates * golden alabasters ;* as 
one might now speak of a * silver pyx,' that is a silver boxwood, 
or of an iron box. Cicero has no choice but to call a water- 
clock a w^i/^.XMM-dial (solarium ex aqu^)^ Columella speaks 
of a ^vintage of honey ' (vindemia mellis), and Horace invites 
his friend to ivapede, not his foot, but his head, with myrtle 
{caput iTdpeditQ myrto). A German who should desire to tell 
of the golden shoes with which the folly of Caligula adorned 
his horse, could scarcely avoid speaking of golden hoof-irons. 
Ink in some German dialects is * blak,' but red ink is 'rood 
blak,' or red black. The same inner contradiction is involved 
in such language as our own, a */alse verdict,* a * steel pen ' 

Digitized by 


vm. Wrong Spelling. 337 

claimed for them. so much of yours ; yet in truth I 
cannot regard them as unworthy of our very closest 
heed. For indeed of how much beyond itself is 
accurate or inaccurate spelling the certain indication. 
Thus when we meet *s^en,'for *s/ren/ as so strangely 
often we do, almost always in newspapers, and often 
where we should hardly have expected (I met it lately 
in the Quarterly J^ezfiew, znd again in Gifford's Mas- 
singer), how difficult it is not to be * judges of evil 
thoughts,' and to take this slovenly misspelling as the 
specimen and evidence of an inaccuracy and ignorance 
which reaches very far wider than the single word 
which is before us. But why is it that so much signi- 
ficance is ascribed to a wrong spelling ? Because 
ignorance of a word's spelling at once argues igno- 
rance of its origin and derivation. I do not mean that 
one who spells rightly may not be ignorant of it too, 
but hd who spells wrongly is certainly so. We are 
quite sure that he who for 's/'ren' writes 'syren/ 
knows nothing of the magic knots and entanglements 
{deipai) of song, by which those Mr enchantresses 
were supposed to draw those that heard them to their 
ruin ; and from which they most probably had their 

Correct or incorrect orthography being, then, this 
note of accurate or inaccurate knowledge, we may 

(penna), a * steel cuirass * (* coriacea * from corium, leather), 

* antics new ' (Harington*s Ariosto\ * Xo^mg-glasses of brass * 
(Exod. xxxviii. 8), a * sweet sauce ' (salsa), an * erroneotis ety- 
mology,* * rat/ter /ate,' * rather * being the comparative of 

* rathe ;* and in others. 

Digitized by 


338 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

confidently conclude where two spellings of a word 
exist, and are both employed by persons who gene- 
rally write with precision, that there must be some- 
thing to account for this. It will be worth your while 
to inquire into the causes which enable both spellings 
to hold their ground and to find their supporters, not 
ascribing either one or the other to mere carelessness 
or error. You will commonly find that two spellings 
exist, because two views of the word's origin exist, 
which those two spellings severally express. The 
question therefore which way of spelling should con- 
tinue, and wholly supersede the other, and which, so 
long as both are allowed, we should ourselves employ, 
can only be settled by determining .which of these 
etymologies deserves the preference. It is thus with 
'clp^mist' and 'chnnist,' neither of which has ob- 
tained in our common use a complete ascendancy 
over the other. It is not here, that one mode is cer- 
tainly right, the other certainly wrong : • but they 
severally represent two different etymologies of the 
word, and each is correct according to its own. When 
we spell * chemist' and *ch>inistry,' we implicitly 
afl&rm the words to be derived from the Greek x^Moi, 
sap ; and the chymic art will then have occupied itself 
first with distilling the juice and sap of plants, and 
will from this have drawn its name. Many however 
object to this, that it was not with the distillation of 
herbs, but with the amalgamation of metals, that 
chemistry occupied itself at the first, and find in the 
word a reference to Egypt, the land of Ham or 

Digitized by 


vm. Wrong 8pelliiig. 339 

*Cham/* in which this art was first practised with 
success. In this case 'chonist/ and not 'ch>inist/ 
would be the only correct spelling. 

Of how much confusion the spelling which used to 
be so common, * satyr' for 'satire/ is at once the 
consequence, the expression, and again the cause. 
Not indeed that this confusion first began with us ; f 
' sat>Ticus ' in the Latin was no less continually written 
for ' sat/ricus ' ; and this out of an assumed identity 
of the Roman satire and the Greek satyric drama ; 
while in fact satire was the only form of poetry which 
the Romans did not borrow from the Greeks. The 
Roman 'satira,' — I speak of things familiar to many 
of my hearers, — is properly 2. full dish (lanx being 
understood) — a dish heaped up with various ingre- 
dients, a *ferce,' or hodge-podge ; the name being 

* Xijfiia^ the name of Egypt ; see Plutarch, De Is, ei Os. 
c. 33. For reasons against this, the favorite etymology at pre- 
sent, see Mahn, EtymoL Untersueh, p. 8i. There is some 
doubt about the speUing of * hybrid.* If from vfipi^t this 
would of course at once settle the question. 

t We have a notable evidence how deeply rooted this error 
was, of the way in which it was shared by the learned as well 
as the unlearned, in Milton's Apology for Smectymnuus^ sect. 
7, which everywhere presumes the identity of the * satjrr * and 
the *" satirist.' It was Isaac Casaubon who first effectually dis- 
sipated it even for the learned world. The results of his inves- 
tigations were made popular by Dryden, in a. very instructive 
Discourse on Satirical Poetry ^ prefixed to his translations from 
Juvenal ; but the confusion still survives, and * satyrs ' and 
* satires,' the Greek * satyric ' drama, the Latin * satirical ' poet- 
ry, are still assumed by many to have something to do with 
one another. 

Digitized by 


340 Changed Spelling of Words, lect. 

transferred from this to a form of poetry which at first 
admitted the utmost variety in the materials of which 
it was composed, and the shapes into which these 
materials were wrought iip. Wholly different from 
this, having no one point of contact with it in form, 
history, or intention, is liie 'satyric' drama of Greece, 
so called because Silenus and the 'satyrs' supplied 
the chorus ; and in their naive selfishness, and mere 
animal instincts, held up before men a mirror of what 
they would be, if only the divine, which is also the 
truly human, element of humanity, were withdrawn ; 
what man, all that properly constituted him such 
being withdrawn, would prove. 

And then what light, as we have already seen, does ' 
the older spelling often cast upon a word's etymology ; 
how often clear up the mystery, which would other- 
wise have hung about it, or which had hung about it 
till some one had noticed and turned to profit this its 
earlier spelling. Thus ' dirge ' is always spelt * dirige ' 
in early English. Now this * dirige ' may be the first 
word in a Latin psalm or prayer once used at funerals ; 
there is a reasonable likelihood that the explanation 
of 'dirge '.is here ; at any rate, if it is not here, it is 
nowhere. The derivation*of 'midwife' is uncertain, 
and has been the subject of discussion ; but when we 
find it spelt 'medewife' and 'meadwife,' in Wiclifs 
Bible, this leayes hardly a doubt that it is the wife or 
woman who acts for a tnead or reward. In cases too 
where there was no mystery hanging about a word, 
how often does the early spelling make clear to all 
that which was before only known to those who had 

Digitized by 


vin. Midwife, Nostril 341 

made the language their special study. Thus if an 
early edition of Spenser should come into your hands, 
or a modem one in which the early spelling is re- 
tained, what continual lessons in English might you 
derive from it Thus ' nostril ' is always spelt by him 
and his contemporaries * nosethrill ;' a little earlier it 
was 'nosethirle.' Now *to thrill' is the same as to 
drill or pierce ; it is plain then here at opce that the 
word signifies ^the orifice or opening with which the 
nose is thrUhd^ drilled, or pierced. We might have 
read the word for ever in our modem impelling without 
being taught this. ' Ell * gives us no clue to its own 
meaning; but in *eln,' used in Holland's translation 
of Camden, we recognize 'ulna' at once. Again, 
the 'morris' or * morrice-dance,' of which in our 
early poets we hear so much, as it is now spelt tells us 
nothing about itself; but read ^moriske dance,' as 
Holland and his contemporaries spell it, and you will 
scarcely fail to perceive, that it was so called either 
because it was really, or was supposed to be, a dance 
in use among the moriscoes of Spain, and from Spain 
introduced into' England.* Once more, we are told 
that our *cray-fish,'or * craw-fish,' is the French *dcre- 
visse.' This is quite trae, but it is not self-evident 
Trace it however through these successive spellings, 
* krevys ' (Lydgate), 'crevish' (Gascoigne), 'craifish' 
(Holland), and the chasm between *cray-fish* or 

* I have seen him 
Caper upright, like a wild MoriscOy 
Shaking the bloody darts, as he his bells.' 

Shakespeare, 2 Henfy VL Act iii. Sc. i. 

Digitized by 


842 Chaiiged Spelling of Words, lect. 

* craw-fish ' and ' 6crevisse ' is by aid of these .three 
intermediate spellings bridged over at once ; and in 
the fact of our Gothic * fish ' finding its way into this 
French vocable we see one example more of a law, 
which has been already abundantly illustrated in this 

* In the reprinting of old books it is often hard to determine 
how far the earlier spelling of words should be retained, how 
far they should be conformed to present usage. It is compara- 
tively easy to lay down as a rule that in books intended for 
popular use, wherever the form of the word is not affected by 
the modernizing of the spelling, there it shall take place ; (who, 
for example, would wbh pur Bibles to be now printed letter 
for letter after the edition of 161.1, or Shakespeare with the or- 
thography of the first folio ?) but wherever the shape, outline, 
and character of the word have been affected by the changes 
which it has undergone, there the earlier form shall be held fast. 
The rule is a judicious one ; but in practice it is not always easy 
to determine what affects the form and essence of a word, and 
what does not. About some words there can be no doubt ; and 
therefore when a modem editor of Fuller's Church Hisiorycom- 
placently announces that he has changed * dirige * into * dirge,' 

* barreter ' into * barrister,' * synonyinas * into * synonymous ' 1, 
'extempory' into 'extemporary,' *scited' into 'situated,' 

* vancurrier ' into * avant-courier,' and the like, he at the same 
time informs us that for all purposes of the study of English 
(and few writers are for this more important than Fuller), his 
edition is worthless. Or again, when modem editors of Shake- 
speare print, giving at the same time no intimation of the fact, 

* Like quills upon the fretfal forcupim^* 
the word in his first folio and quarto standing, 

* like quilk upon the firetful parpetUine^ 

Digitized by 


vm. Strange Words naturalized. 343 

In other ways also an accurate taking note of the 
successive changes which words have undergone, v/ill 
often throw light upon them. Thus we may know, 
others having assured us of the fact, that ' emmet ' 
and ' ant ' were originally only two different spellings 
of the same word ; but we may be perplexed to 
understand how two forms, now so different, could 
ever have diverged from a single root When how- 
ever we find the different speUings, 'emmet,' * emet,' 
*amet,' *amt,' * ant, 'the gulf which appeared to sepa- 
rate 'emmet' from 'ant' is bridge^ over at once, and 
we not merely accept on the assurance of others that 
these two are identical, but we perceive clearly in 
what manner they are so. 

Even apart from any close examination of the 
matter, it is hard not to suspect that 'runagate' is 
another form of 'renegade,' this being slightly trans- 
formed, as so many words, to put an English significa- 
tion into its first syllable; and then the meaning 
gradually modified under the influence of the new 
derivation, which was assumed to be its original and 
true one. Our suspicion of this is strengthened (for 
we see how very closely the words approach one 
anothei:), by the fact that 'renegade' is constantly 
spelt ' renega/e ' in our old authors, while at the same 
time the denial of feith, which is now a necessary 

and this being in Shakespeare's time the current form of the 
word, they have taken an unwarranted liberty with his text ; 
and no less, when they substitute * Kenilworth * for * Killing- 
worth,* which was his, Marlowe's, and generally the earlier 
form of the name. 

. Digitized by 


344 Changed Spelling of Words, lbot. 

element in 'renegade/ and one differencing it in- 
wardly from * runagate/ is altogether wanting in early 
use — the denial of country and of the duties thereto 
owing being all that is implied in it Thus it is 
constantly employed in Holland's Lrvy as a render* 
ing of ' perfuga ;' * while in the one passage where 
* runagate ' occurs in the Prayer Book Version of the 
Psalms (Ps. Ixviii. 6), a reference to the original will 
show that the Translators could only have employed 
it there on the ground that it also expressed rebel, 
revolter, and not runaway merely. 

I might easily occupy your attention much longer, 
so little barren or unfruitful does this subject of 
spelling appear likely to prove ; but all things must 
have an end ; and as I concluded my Ifirst lecture with 
a remarkable testimony borne by an illustrious German 
scholar to the merits of our English tongue, I will 
conclude my last with the words of another, not 
indeed a German, but still of the great Germanic 
stock ; words resuming in themselves much of which 
we have been speaking upon this and upon former 
occasions: *As our bodies,' he says, *have hidden 
resources and expedients, to remove the obstacles 
which the very art of the physician puts in its way, so 
language, ruled by an indomitable inward principle, 
triumphs in some degree over the folly of gram- 
marians. Look at the English, polluted by Danish 

* * The Carthaginians shall restore and deliver back all the 
remgates [perfugas] and fugitives that have fled to their side 
from us.* — ^p. 751. 

Digitized by 


vni. Strange Words Naturalized. 345 

and Norman conquests, distorted in its genuine and 
noble features by old and recent endeavours to mould 
it after the French fashion, invaded by a hostile 
entrance of Greek and Latin words, threatening by 
increasing hosts to overwhelm the indigenous terms. 
In these long contests against the combined power 
of so many forcible enemies, the language, it is true, 
has lost some of its power of inversion in the structure 
of sentences, the means of denoting the difference of 
gender, and the nice distinctions by inflection and 
termination — almost every word is attacked by the 
spasm of the accent and the drawing of consonants to 
wrong positions ; yet the old English principle is not 
overpowered. Trampled down by the ignoble feet of 
strangers, its springs still retain force enough to 
restore itself It lives and plays through all the veins 
of the language ; it impregnates the innumerable 
strangers entering its dominions with its temper, and 
stains them with its colour, not unlike the Greek, 
which, in taking up Oriental words, stripped them of 
their foreign costume, and bid them to appear as 
native Greeks.'* 

• Halbertsma, quoted by Bosworth, Origin of the English 
and Germanic Languages, p. 39. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 




Abenteuer 330 

Abnormal 235 

Abomioable 33^^ 





Adamant 320 

Admiral xas 

Admiralty 172 

Adorn 223 

Advocate 153 

JEon X36 

Esthetics X36 

Afeard , 3x7, 333 

Affirap xax 

Affiret «•• ••.........•, xax 

Afraid 137 

Afterthink 77 

Afterwitted axx 

Aldmus 337 

Alcove X5 

Aleknight xqx 

Aloofness ,, 3xx 

Amphibious X75 

Analogic. xo8 

Ant 343 

Antecedents 398 

Anthem 355 j 

Antipodes. xsB 

Apotheosis 126 

Apricot X4 

Armbrust *•...« 330 

Arride. xxa 


Ascertain 274 

Ask 2x7 

Assassinate ,. xas 

Astarte 327 

Atheist X7S 

Attercop..4 6x 

Aurantium 331 

Aurichalcum 337 

Asee 2x7 

Backjaw 8x 

Backstmned. , 333 

BaflBe 268,369 

Bairn 53 

Baker, bakester 333 

Balcony' 130 

Banter. X7x 

Barrier 130 

Battalion* xx6 

Bawn 6x 

Benefice, benefit x6x 

Bieder X79 

Birdwitted axx 

Bitesheep 203 

BlackArt ',. 333 

Bladcgtiard 276 

Black-sanctus X9X 

Blasphemous 2x9 

Blubbered 206 

Bombast 286 

Booby 56 

Book * 24 

Boor ago 

Digitized by 



Index of Words. 


Borra i 3^6 

Brandshat 133 

Bran-new 321 

Brat 393 

Brazen 343 

Breaden ; 343 

Bruit. ..>.... ..* 99 

Buffalo %7 

Burgeon t^. aio 

Bust x6 

Butter 336 

Buxom X97 

Candelarbre 331 

Cankerfret..... 3ia 

Caprice x8 

Carat 14 

Casuistry 398 

Causey 333 

Ceiling 329 

Chagrin 159 

Chaise 164 

Chance-medley 333 

Character 175 

Chemist 338 

Chicken ^ 338 

Chou-croute 331 

Chymist, chymistry ......... . 338 

Cimici X74 

Clawback aos 

Clever. 334 

Coal-carrier. X9X 

Cocodrill 314 

Commiteitio 397 

Commdrage 292 

Congr^ational 140 

Contrary 3x9 

Com 56 

Corpse 379 

Countrydance ^. 322 

Court*card 329 

Coxcomb* ••...... «... 319 

Cozen .••*•••.... .••.. 32Z 

Crawfish* .••**.•*•*• 34X 

Creansur..*. 98 


Creephole X9X 

Crikesman 133 

Criteri<m - 126 

Crone, crony* X58 

Crucible 334 

Crusade.... zx8 

Cuirass 337 

Currant. « 329 

Cypher. 14.25 

Daffodil 35 

Dame 380 

Damish 2zx 

Dandelion 333 

Dearworth 77 

Deh«rt X95 

Demagogue. .\ xo8 

Denominatibnalism X4X 

Depot. X38 

Desenvoltura X24 

Dewbtt 323 

Diamond 320 

Dinar xs 

Dirge 340 

Dive, dove.* . . .' aax 

Divest 39 

Dorter 35 

Double-diligent 192 

Doughty 305 

Drachm 381 

Druggerman 15 

Dub 305 

Duke 379 

Dumps 306 

Dutch ..^.* 364 

Earsport 191 

Eclectics. c X75 

Edify, edification. X76 

Educational X4Z 

Effervescence r xo8 

EInseitig 135 

Elfish, elfishnesB. 3xx 

Kliakim ^37 

EU 34f 

Digitized by 


Index of Words. 



Eltern 65 

Emmet 343 

Emotional X41 

Empfindsam 179 

Encyclopaedia zaj 

Enfantillage. 108 

Equivocation 284 

Erutar aoj 

Europe 3x4 

Eyebite 77 

Fairy 279 

Fall 2X2 

Fanatic 172 

Farfalla X7» Z93 

Faro. x6z 

Fascine X73 

Fatherland Z36 

Fellow-feel 87,2x0 

Fetisch so 

Flam : 906 

Flayte 2x0 

Fleck 9XZ 

Flota Z9 

Folklore 136 

Foolhappy 195 

Foolhardy 195 

Foolhasty 195 

Foollarge X95 

Force 224 

Forced meat 305 

Foretalk 80 

Fougue X25 

Fraischeur 125 

Frances. 159 

Francis 159 

Frimm z^z 

Frivolite xo8 

Frontispiece 335 

Fun 224 

Furlong 28x 

Gainly Z94 

Gallon ....* 280 


Garble 287 

Gaster , 2x0 

Girdle 24 

GirU 280 

Glassen..^ 243 

Goldhoard 77 

Gonfalon 122 

Gossip 29X 

Grain 56 

Great 3x6 

Grimsire Z9Z 

Grocer •• 3x9 

Grogram 3x9 

Gruesome. 223 

Halfgod \ 77 

Hallow.... X52 

Hammock 333 

Handbook X35 

Hangdog 203 

Hearten 2x0 

Heat,het » 22z 

Heavy friend Z9Z 

Heft i Z9Z 

Hero zz6 

Hery Z90 

Hierosolyma 326 

Hippodame ZZ9 

His 239, 24Z 

Hooker z8 

Hotspur Z9Z 

Huck 236 

Huckster, hucksteress 236 

Hurricane 20 

Iceberg. Z33 

Idea 285 

Idolum Z28 

Ignis fatuus 174 

InTager -» X74 

Imp ; 293 

Imparadise zaa 

Incurabili Z23 

Industry • Z72 

Digitized by 



Index of Words. 


Interm«ss 29 

International ,r... 140 

Island 334 

Isle 323 

Isolated 174 

It i44» X4S 

Its Z4X, 146 

Jaw , «. 321 

Jeopardy «... 153 

Kenilworth.. 343 

Kindly 272 

Kirtle 34 

Kittle 3IZ 

Klei 55 

Knave 295 

Knitster 334 

Lantern 335 

Leech 6z 

Leghorn 330 

Libel 379 

Lifeguard.... « 184 

Lithemess 2zz 

Loaf , Loafer Z35 

London 318 

Lunch, luncheon 2Z9, 320 

Malingerer. Z9Z 

Makter 235 

Maltworm Z9Z 

Mandragora.... 333 

Maroon x8 

Matachin z8 

Matamoros 20Z 

Maulwurf 327 

Mayduke 333 

Meat 279 

Meddle, meddlesome 394 

Mel 99 

Mellay Z30 

Merrygodown Z9Z 

Middler 87 

Midwife 340 


Milken 349 

Mischievous 3Z9 

Miscreant 266 

Mixen 6z 

Morris-dance 34Z 

Mother-naked Z92 

Mystery, mystere 327 

Myth 136 

l*fap 205 

Naughty pack X9Z 

Necromancy 334 

Neednot..... 78 

Nemorivagus Z39 

Neophyte Z72 

Nesh Z90 

Niggot Z56 

Nim Z90 

Noctambulo X74 

Noddle 305 

Noonscape 320 

Noonshun^ 220 

Normal Z36 

Nostril 34Z 

Nugget 156 

Nuntion 2x9 

Oblige Z2B 

Obsequies..... 33Z 

Old trot Z9Z 

Omnipotent 85 

Opera 272 

Orange 33Z 

Orichalcum 327 

Ornamentation Z36 

Orthography 335 

Oum 2z8 

Outganger 78 

Outwanderer 78 

Pagan 290 

Painful, painf ulness 274 

Panic Z74 

Panorama ; Z7S 

Pate S05 

Pease 338 

Digitized by 


Index of Words. 



Peck 380 

Pester X5S 

Philauty 170 

Photograph 136 

Picqueer p 123 

Pigmy.... 320 

Pinchpenny 202 

Plead, pled aaz 

Pleurisy 334 

Plunder 233, 172 

Polite * 287 

Poly tjieism •175 

Poney 233 

Pontoon 173 

Porcupine 343 

Porpoise zi8 

Posthumous 335 

Potecary 2x9 

Praevaricator 383 

Pragmatical 393 

Pr61iber r. xo8 

Preposterous 383 

Prestige .« 137 

Prevaricate 383 

Privado x8 

Prose, proser 394 

PuUback 78 

Punctilio x8 

Punto x8 

Pyramid 335 

Quellio x8 

Quinsey iz8 

Quirpo x8 

Quirry 2x9 

Rakehell 304 

Rame 332 

Rathe, rathest 296 

Realmra^ 3x3 

Reconnoitre 173 

Refuse 332 

Regoldar 307 

Reise 190 

Religion.... 370 


Renegade. ..i 343 

Resent 333 

Revenue 230 

Revolt X33 

Rhyme • 335 

Riches 238 

Righteousness X95 

Rome 317 

Rosen 343 

Roy...... 99 

Ruly X94 

Runagate 343 

Sagg ,••—«•>« 320 

Sa^. 2x8 

Satellites 226 

Satire, satirical 339 

Satyr, satyric 339 

Saucyjack 292 

Scent..... 333 

Schwftrmer 234 

Scrip 323 

Sculptor 274 

'Sdeign 223 

Seamster, seamstress 235 

Selfish, selfishness X70 

Sentiment i, X72 

S«poy 330 

Serene 193 

Shew<»token 77 

Shine 56 

Shrewd, shrewdne^ «.. 297 

Shrub « 272 

Silvern 243 

Silvicultrix 239 

Siren 337 

Skinker 290 

Skip ao6 

Slick 322 

.Sloth 176 

Slowback 191 

Smellfeast soa 

Smug 905 

Snoutfair 293 

Soldan 223 

Digitized by 



Index of Words. 


Solidarity X3x 

Somnambulist 174 

Songster, songstress 335 

Specht X90 

Sperr 190 

Spinner, spinster 336 

Standpoint 136 

Starconner 77 

Starvation i ij2 

Starve 379 

Stereotype. » 136 

Stonen 343 

Suckstone ^ 78 

Sudden 309 

Suicide xjo 

Suicism, suistt.. 170 

Sum 63 

Sttndflut 338 

Sunstead...^ jj 

Swindler. , 133 

Sycophant 396 

Tapster 335 

Tarre , 190 

Tartar 327 

Tartarus 338 

Tartary 328 

Tea x3r, 317 

That 247 

Theocracy , X75 

Theriac 375 

Thou 355,357 

Thought 371 

Tind X90 

Tinnen 343 

Tin^l 367 

Tinsel-slippered 367 

Topsy-turvy 303 

Tosspot ao3 

Tradesman 56 

Treacle 376 

Trigger 133 

Trounce 306 

Truchman 15 


Turban x6 

Umbrella 173 

Umgripe jg 

Umstroke. jg 

Uncouth 61 

Unthoroughfaresomeness 83 

Utilixe X73 

Varndse 53 

Vancurrier 119, 343 

Verdunt 306 

Vicinage xx8 

Villain 389, 395 

Voyage 379 

Wanhope 190 

Waterfright 78 

Weaponshew 77 

Wearish 3x6 

Weather-gleam 333 

Weeping-ripe 193 

Welk X90 

Welsh rabbit 330 

Which. 347 

Whiteboy X9X 

Whole. 333 

WUt 333 

Windflower 78 

Wiseacre 330 

Witwanton 3x3 

Wobum 3x0 

Wordwarrior. 3x1 

Worship 373 

Woerterbuch X79 

Yard 381 

Yeel 330 

York 304 

Youngster 335 

Zero 35 

Zoology X75 

Zoc^hyte 175 

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