Skip to main content

Full text of "Leaves from a word-hunter's note-book"

See other formats

a§ ' §55§ ■;"''-■■■■•.■..■ -:' : • ' 



583 ■•'■ •"■••■.■: - BbBSBHiB 




" .■..-■■'''.■.•■.■.- 

jtgWfrCiiwg m&i* ECS 




S lou|{«b BJBSB SSS2 BBtHI KB 




fip a PWa b fti iii 



BBMfPg : 

' Hn i 

5, %as§ 








; onu Contributions to (Etujlisjj (Ktnmologtr. 




" Philologists, who chase 
A panting syllable through time and space, 
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark, 
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark." 

Cowper, Retirement. 

' Polonius. What do you read, my lord ? 
Handet. Words, words, words." 

Hamlet, act ii. sc. 2. 



[All rights reserved.'] 




GTijis Book 





In the following papers I have endeavoured to 
give a full, and, so far as it lay in my power, an 
exhaustive, examination of certain words in the 
English language, the derivations of which, being 
curious and recondite, present some special features 
either of interest or of difficulty. With that ob- 
ject I have freely availed myself of the labours of 
my predecessors in the same field, and have tried 
to concentrate in one view the results obtained by 
many independent and scattered investigations. 
Indeed, all the best authorities that lay within my 
reach have been had recourse to. I may mention 
the names of MM. Littre, Scheler, Pictet, and 
Renan, among French philologists; of Benfey, 
Diez, Diefenbach, Ebel, Grimm, Ed. Miiller, M. 
Miiller, &c, among the German. The English 
writers from whom I have received most help are 
Cleasby, Farrar, Ferrar, Garnett, Haldeman, La- 
tham, Morris, Skeat, Wedgwood, Monier Williams, 
and the contributors to the < Philological Society's 


Transactions.' From the old dictionaries of Cot- 
grave (French), Fiorio (Italian), Minsheu (Span- 
ish), and the ' Promptormm Parvulorum ' (Eng- 
lish), much latent word-lore of a valuable nature 
has been dug out. 

With lights so many and various coming to me 
from different sources, it will not be thought, I 
hope, that my ' word-hunting ' has been prose- 
cuted altogether ' in the dark.' That in every 
case I have been successful in running down my 
quarry would be too much to expect. The most 
enthusiastic lover of the chase must be prepared 
for some blank days. This I may say, however, 
that if I have not dogged every word which I 
have started through all its doublings till it has 
taken cover at last in ' Noah's ark,' I have at 
least never desisted from the pursuit, nor rested 
content till I have run it to earth in a Sanskrit 
root ; and that, in the eyes of a philologist, is 
pretty much the same as winning its brush. 

It should be understood that, notwithstanding 
my acknowledged obligations, many of the deriva- 
tions here adopted are now advanced for the first 
time, and differ from the conclusions arrived at by 
previous writers. In most cases, I have adduced 
copious illustrations from all periods of our litera- 
ture, and confirmatory proofs from the cognate 
languages, either in the way of verbal parallels or 
analogous usages. 


In a few instances, where the evidence for two 
conflicting etymologies seemed almost equally 
balanced, I have stated both sides of the question 
without prejudice, and left the decision to others. 

I should perhaps apologise for printing here 
the rather long chapter which treats of the super- 
stitious beliefs connected with the West and 
North as regions of darkness. That discussion, 
though it belongs rather to the province of folk- 
lore, was suggested by the preceding chapter on 
the word ' Night,' and arose naturally out of it. 
The interesting nature of the subject may perhaps 
render its appearance excusable. 

Every page of the volume, it will be seen, 
bears witness to the title that these are truly 
' Leaves from a Note-Book.' If, however, they 
are found to be at all interesting, aud not devoid 
of information, the candid reader will not be so 
unjust as to condemn them for not being other 
than they pretend to be. 

Though I have striven to be accurate in my 
quotations and references, some mistakes will, 
in all probability, have escaped my observation. 
These, when pointed out, I shall be thankful and 
happy to correct. 

St John's Hill, 

Wandsworth Common. 

February 12*/*, 1876. 




THE WORDS ' BODY ' — ' CARCASS ' — ' COAT ' — ' HOOD ' — ' CHAS- 


THE WORDS ' FLIRT ' — ' FLUNKEY ' — ' SCORN ' .... 32 






— 'BAD ' — ' VETCH,' ' WICKER/ ' WEAK,' AND ' WICKED ' . 73 



' POLTROON,' ETC. . . . . . . . .115 



' FRET ' — ' CHAGRIN ' ' TO NAG ' — ' NIGGARD ' — ' TEASE ' — 


— 'ETRE GRIS,' ETC 142 



WORDS 'TOE' — 'DOTE,' ETC 174 




NUT ' — ' FOOL ' — ' BOAST ' — ' BUFFOON ' 


-'skull' — 'coco- 

-' FATUOUS,' ETC. 198 


MENT ' — ' LOZENGE ' — ' BLAZON ' — ' TIMBRE ' — ' HALO ' — 
' AUREOLE ' 223 







devil's quarter 27 G 

INDEX 313 

The following contractions have occasionally been used : — 

A.S. or A. -Sax for Anglo-Saxon (i.e., 


for Latin. 

the oldest 

form of the 


L. Lat. 

,, Low Latin. 



,, Lettish. 


for Compare. 


,, Lithuanian. 


,, Danish. 

0. N. 

„ Old Norse. 


,, Dutch. 

0. H. G. 

,, Old High German 


,, French.- 


,, Persian. 

G. or Ger. 

,, German. 

Pg. or Portg. 

,, Portuguese. 


„ Greek. 


,, Provencal. 


,, Hebrew. 

Sk. or Sansk. 

,, Sanskrit. 

Ic. or Icel. 

,, Icelandic. 


,, Spanish. 


,, Irish. 


,. Swedish. 


,, Italian. 


„ Welsh. 






1 The derivation of words is like that of rivers — 
there is one real source, usually small, unlikely, 
and difficult to find, far up among the hills ; then, 
as the word flows on and comes into service, it takes 
in the force of other words from other sources, and 
becomes itself quite another word after the junction 
— a word, as it were, of many waters, sometimes 
both sweet and bitter.' * If the origin of the 
word be undiscovered hitherto, then, owing to this 
confluence of vocables and commixture of meanings, 
any attempt to mount the stream is attended with 

1 Mr Ruskin in Fraser's Magazine, April 1863. 


2 BODY. 

perplexity as to which is the main river and which 

is only the tributary. It is with words as with a 

winding river ; not only do they change the colour 

and characteristics which they once possessed when 

near the fount, but often reverse the very direction 

of their former current. 

1 A word that comes from olden days, 
And passes through the peoples ; every tongue 
Alters it passing, till it spells and speaks 
Quite other than at first.' x 

Thus, when we are engaged in exploring the 
hidden source of some word which has challenged 
our attention, it sometimes happens that we do 
not proceed far in our research until we find our- 
selves brought face to face with an unexpected 
difficulty. A divergent path presents itself which 
branches away in two different directions, and the 
puzzling thing is, that each of these directions 
promises almost equally fair to lead us to the de- 
sired object of our inquiry. It sometimes happens, 
too, that the reasons in favour of adopting one of 
these courses in preference to the other are so evenly 
balanced, that an impartial investigator will feel 
bound to suspend his judgment, and will hesitate 
to pronounce an absolute decision in a case where 
much may be advanced on either side of the ques- 
tion, and definite certainty seems hardly attainable. 
Such a difficulty meets us when we make the 

1 Tennyson, Queen Mary, act iii. sc. 5. Thus the verbs 
' blacken, ' ' blanch/ and ' bleach, ' are radically identical. 

BODY. 3 

word c body ' the subject of examination, and pro- 
pose to ourselves to trace out its primary and 
radical significance. 

6 Body ' is (A. -Sax.) bodig, (Gaelic) bod/iag, (0. 
Ger.) botah. In Bavarian, the words botic/i, pottich, 
and potacka, which mean ' body/ are only different 
forms of bottig, potig, potacka, which mean a 
1 cask.' Wedgwood therefore suggests that our 
6 body ' is etymologically akin to the German 
bottich (a cask), and appeals to the parallel in- 
stances of 'trunk'' and (Ger.) rump/, which 
signify a hollow case as well as the body of an 
animal. We may compare also the Spanish 
barriga (the belly), identical with barrica (a 
cask), French barrique, and we still call the 
round part of a horse's body the 6 barrel.' 
i Kedgy ' and ' kedge-belly ' in provincial Eng- 
lish are used for a ' pot-bellied ' person (Wright), 
literally, one whose stomach resembles a keg or 
cask (Norse, kaggje). 

The following quotation from the old chronicler 
Speed, in which the word ' cask ' is used for ' body, 
gives much probability to this derivation : — 

' Onely the heart and soule is cleane, yet feares the taincture 
of this polluted caske, and would have passage (by thy 
reuenging hand) from this loathsome prison and filthy 
truncke.' Speed, Hist. G. Britain, p. 379 (1611). 

It may be noticed in confirmation that panze 

4 BODY. 

in Carinthian and panzl in Bavarian denote 
both a cask and a paunch or stomach, and that 
the Grisons buttatsck, stomach or belly, is from 
butt, a barrel. Similarly, ' cqffre ' in French, and 
' chest ' in English (It. casso), are used for the 
breast or trunk ; areas in Spanish, a coffer, is also 
'a man's chest or breast ' (Minsheu) ; and the word 
breast itself (Ger. trust) means the box or trunk 
in which the vitals are enclosed, being near akin 
to (Prov.) brostia, brustia (a box). Compare also 
6 bust,' 'busk,' (Fr.) buste, busck, connected with 
(Sp.) buche (breast), bucka (a chest or box), (L. 
Lat.) busta (a box). Shakspere frequently em- 
ploys ' case ' for l body,' e.g., when speaking of the 
lifeless Antony, " This case of that huge spirit 
now is cold" (Antony and Cleop. iv. 15). 

On the whole, then, we need not hesitate to 
bring our word i body ' (Bavarian, bodi) into con- 
nection with the Bavarian boding (a barrel), bottich, 
&c, as meaning a round hollow vessel; cf, (Erse) 
bodhaigh (body), (Irish) bold (a cask). 

All these words Pictet (Orig. Indo-Europ., ii. 
275) traces up to the Sanskrit bandha (1, a barrel, 
2, a body), from bandh (to bind, tie, or hoop in). 1 

1 The M&heswaras, a sect of the Hindus, term the living soul 
pdsu, i.e.,/astened or fettered, conceiving it to be confined in bandha, 
the bondage of sense (Colebrooke, Essays, vol. i. p. 431). In Per- 
sian, bandha is (1) a binding or fetter; (2) a body ; (3) a building. 
Another word for body in that language is badan. Cf. ' His soul is 
wrapped in the truss of his senses ' ( Adams, Sermon on the 

BODY. 5 

Cf. i Thou hast fenced me with bones and 
sinews' (Job x. 11), (A.-Sax.) feorh-loca, i life's 
enclosure/ the body. 

If the above account were not so satisfactory as 
it is, we would be tempted to see in * body ' only 
another form of ' bothy,' Gaelic, bothag, both (a 
hut, cottage), Welsh, bod (a house), bwth (a booth). 
In this case it would be connected with (Irish) buth, 
both, (Ger.) bude, (0. H. Ger.) boda, (Polish) buda, 
(Lith.) budd, (Scand.) bildh, (Dut.) boede, (Icel.) 
bud, (Bohem.) bauda, budka, (Russ.) budka, (Pers.) 
bud — all meaning a house, hut, or dwelling-place, 
and traceable to the root bhu (to exist). — Pictet, 
Origines Indo-Europeenes, ii. 239. Cf. German 
leib (body), from leiben (to exist). The Welsh bod, 
bodau, besides meaning a house, is also used for a 
living being ; and there is no figure more common 
than that by which the human frame is compared 
to a building or mansion, in which the immortal 
spirit has been placed to dwell as a tenant for life. 
For instance, in Gen. ii. 22, where it is said 
that God i made the woman,' the original says He 
' builded ' her (Heb. banah). Compare Gk. demas, 
dome (a body, Be'/ias, Bo/jlti) derived from demo (to 
build, Befico), the Sanskrit dhaman, a house, also 
the body ; and it will be remembered that St Paul 

Soul's Sickness). In Sanskrit the body is also called deha, * what de- 
files or envelopes ' the soul, from the root dih, cognate with which 
are the Gothic leik, Ger. Iciche, 0. Eng. lich. See, however, M. 
Miiller, Chips, iv. 

6 BODY. 

(2 Cor. v. 1) calls our body a tabernacle, house, 
or building (cf. 2 Pet. i. 13, 14) ; and Eliphaz 
long before had described men as * them that 
dwell in houses of clay ' (Job iv. 19). Compare 
Dryden's well-known lines — 

* A fiery soul, which, working out its way, 
Fretted the pigmy body to decay, 
And o'er-informed the tenement of clay.' 

Absalom and Achitophel, 11. 156-158. 

The prophet Daniel, using a somewhat similar 
figure, declares (ch. vii. 15) — ' I, Daniel, was 
grieved in my spirit in the midst of its sheath ' 
(Heb. nidneh, A. V. c my body '), as if the active 
working of his mind, like a sharp sword, was 
wearing through the case that held it ; which re- 
minds us of a saying recorded of the good George 
Herbert, that his wit, ' like a penknife in too 
narrow a sheath, was too sharp for his body.' 1 
Compare also the following from Lilly's play of 
1 Mother Bombie ' — c So faire a face cannot bee the 
scabbard of a foolish mind ' (act ii. sc. 3). 2 

1 Sidney Smith's bon-mot is not very different — ' There is my 

little friend , who has not body enough to cover his mind 

decently with ; his intellect is improperly exposed.' 

a Was Dickens conscious of the plagiarism when he put these 
almost identical words into the mouth of the redoubtable Mrs Harris 
in one of his fragmentary sketches ? ' Your mind is too strong for 
you, Sairey. It is useless to disguise the fact ; the blade is a wear- 
ing out the sheets ' (sheath). Forster, Life of Dickens, vol. ii. p. 346. 

Lord Byron in a letter says of himself that ' the sword is wearing 
out the scabbard.' Carlyle, in his ' Life of John Sterling,' observes 
that ' he wore holes in the outward case of his body ' by his restless 
vitality, which could not otherwise find vent. 

BODY. 7 

la a similar manner the ' fur ' of an animal is 
etyniologically the sheath in which it is comfort- 
ably encased. It is the Spanish and Portuguese 
forro, Icel. Jodr, and identical with the Gothic 
fodr, It. fodero, Fr. fourreau, G-er. /utter, which 
signify a sheath or scabbard. 

Cotgrave gives the proverb, JS T, admirons lefour- 
reau pour mespriser la lame, c Let not a faire 
outside make the inside less esteemed of.' 

How extensively the Scripture metaphor of the 
body being a house has been adopted by our best 
English writers will be seen by the quotations 
which I now subjoin. 

' It is commonly seen that misshapen trunks are houses of 
the sharpest wits.' Thomas Adams ( Works, vol. i. p. 19). 

1 Our great Landlord hath let us a fair house, and we suffer 
it quickly to run to ruin. That whereas the soul might dwell 
in the body as a palace of delight, she finds it a crazy, sickish, 
rotten cabinet, in danger every gust of dropping down.' 
Thomas Adams, DeviFs Banquet. 

* The body is the soule's poore house, or home, 
Whose ribs the laths are, and whose flesh the loame.' 
Herrick, Hesperides (ed. Hazlitt), ii. 299. 

Browning, in hi3 poem of 'The Statue and the Bust,' has the 
same idea when he represents Duke Ferdinand as being 
•Empty and fine, like a swordless sheath.' 

So the term cullion for a long, lank, lubberly coward, a fool, Fr. 
couillon, It. coglione, has been connected with the Lat. coleus, Gk. 
KoKeos, a sheath, as much as to say, the outward semblance of a man, 
a case without its treasure, a 'soulless clay.' The innuendo here, 
however, may be different {vide Diez, s.vv. Coglione, Minchia). 

Compare the Icelandic skauftir (A.-Sax. scea%, Ger. schote, Dan- 
skede), meaning, first, 'a sheath,' and then, as a term of abuse, ' a 
poltroon,' skavti, akin probably to our ' scut.' 

8 BODY. 

1 The Body indeed is not the Man, but the House or Taber- 
nacle of the diuiner Spirit, and both together make up Man ; 
the one as the Shell; the other, the Kernel. . . . One the Tene- 
ment, the other the Tenant' Purchas,Microcosmus (1619), p. 18. 

(God the Son) 

* Forsook the courts of everlasting day, 
And chose with us a darksome house of clay.' 

Milton, Ode on Christ's Nativity. 
1 The body is domicilium animce, her house, abode, and 
stay ; ... as wine savours of the cask wherein it is kept, 
the soul receives a tincture from the body through which it 
works.' Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 173. 


' All unawares, with his cold-kind embrace, 
Unhoused 1 thy virgin-soul from her fair hiding-place.' 
Milton, On the Death of a Fair Infant. 
1 If thou beest not so handsome as thou wouldst have been 
... be glad that thy clay cottage hath all the necessary 
forms thereto belonging, though the outside be not so fairly 
plaistered as some others.' Fuller, Holy State, iii. c. 15. 

' Lord, be pleased to shake my clay cottage before thou 
throwest it down. May it totter a while before it doth 
tumble.' Fuller, Good Thoughts, p. 19 (ed. Pickering). 

' I hold from God this clay cottage of my body (a homely 
tenement, but may I in some measure be assured of a better 
before outed of this).' Ibid., p. 128. 

' God . . . hath shaked the house, this body, with agues 
and palsies, and set this house on fire, with fevers and calen- 
tures, and frighted the Master of the house, my soule, with 
horrors, and heavy apprehensions, and so made an entrance 
into me.' Donne, Sermons (fol. 1640), p. 777. 

When the good Sir Guyon found the fair lady 
Amavia slain, and wallowing in blood, 

1 Chaucer, if I remember right, somewhere uses the phrase, 
' spirit changing house ' for dying. Cf. 2 Cor. v. 1. 

BODY. 9 

' He hoped faire 
To call backe life to her forsaken shop.' 

Faerie Queene, II. i. 43. 
1 I looked upon my Body but as the Instrument, the Vehicu- 
lum Animce, and not so much given for its own sake, as to be 
an Engine for the exercise of my Soul, and a Cottage, wherein 
it might inhabit and perfect itself.' 

Sir Matt. Hale, Contemplations, p. 305 (1685). 
' The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed, 
Lets in new light, through chinks that time has made ; 
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become, 
As they draw near to their eternal home.' 

Edmund Waller. 

Compare — 

" Through the chinks of an unhighted flesh we may read a 
neglected soul." — Adams, 1629 (Works, vol. iii. p. 143). 

The Sanskrit word for body, de/ia, meaning 
literally that which envelopes the soul, is used 
also for a rampart or surrounding wall. The root 
from which it comes, dik, to shape, is seen also 
in dehiy a wall, Gk. toichos, Pers. dik, a village. 
Compare — 

' Within this wall of flesh 
There is a soul counts thee her creditor.' 

Shakspere, King John, act iii. sc. 3. 
' Weak cottage where our souls reside ! 

This flesh a tottering wall ! 
With frightful breaches gaping wide, 

The building bends to fall.' x Br Isaac Watts. 
1 A white, pure, innocent spirit may be shadowed under 
the broken roof of a maimed corpse.' 

Adams's /Sermons, The White Devil. 
' The Soul, in the Body or out of the Body, differs no more 

1 Compare Toplady's hymn, 'When languor and disease invade.' 

10 BODY. 

than the Man does from himself when he is in his House or 
in open air.' Spectator, No. 90 (1712). 

' How ruinous a farm hath man taken, in taking himself. 
How ready is the house every day to fall down,' &c. 

Dr Bonne's Devotions, xxii. (1624). 

Hogarth, giving a humorous account of Mr 
Wilkes, who was notoriously ugly, says — 

' I believe he finds himself tolerably happy in the clay cot- 
tage to which he is tenant for life, because he has learnt to 
keep it in pretty good order. "While the share of health and 
animal spirits which heaven has given should hold out, I can 
scarcely imagine he will be one moment peevish about the out- 
side of so precarious, so temporary, a habitation ; or will ever 
be brought to our Ingenium Galbce male habitat : — Monsieur 
est mal loge? Quoted in JSouthey's Doctor, p. 472. 

Compare Spenser's c Hymne in Honour of Beau- 
tie ' (passim), Globe ed. p. 59 6. x 

I will finish this long list of illustrations with 
these curious verses of Francis Quarles, prefixed as 
a suitable introduction to that curious anatomical 
poem, Fletcher's ' Purple Island ' — 

1 Man's Body 's like a House : his greater Bones 
Are the main Timber ; and the lesser ones 
Are smaller Splints : his Ribs are Laths, daub'd o'er, 
Plaster'd with Flesh and Blood : his Mouth 's the Door, 
His Throat 's the narrow Entry ; and his Heart 
Is the Great Chamber, full of curious Art.' 2 

1 See also Bp. Andrewes' Sermon (1595) on John ii. 19, 'The 
Temple of the Body,' a text which is itself an illustration ; and Dr 
Donne's Works, vol. vi. p. 61 (ed. Alford). 

5 * The House I Live in,' a popular account of the human body, 
published by Parker, 1S46, treats the subject from the same point of 
view, and has chapters on the Framework, the Sills, the Windows, 
the Furniture, the Hinges, &c. 

BODY. 11 

The nose he makes the chimney, the eyes the 
windows, the stomach the kitchen, &c. Cf. Pur- 
chas, Microcosmus, v. ix. 

Keaders of Spenser's ' Faerie Queene ' will re- 
member his elaborate allegorical description of the 
body as a goodly castle ' not built of bricke ne yet 
of stone and lime,' inhabited by a virgin bright, 
Alma (i.e., the soul, so called in the Italian, 
Spanish, and Portuguese, Latin anima), with its 
five bulwarks of the senses ever besieged by temp- 
tations night and day. The head is the turret 
ascended by ten alabaster steps, wherein ' two 
goodly beacons, set in watches stead, gave light 
and flamed continually.' The mouth is the 
porch, in which l twise sixteen warders satt, all 
armed bright and strongly fortifyde,' leading to 
the hall, where ministered the steward Diet, and 
the marshall Appetite. The stomach is the kitchen, 
with its ' caudron wide and tall,' and ' fornace that 
brent day and night, ne ceased not,' its ' maister 
cooke 'Concoction, and ' kitchen clerke that hight 
Digestion/ while a ' huge great payre of bellows ' 
(the lungs) ' did styre continually and cooling 
breath, inspyre.' 1 

In the Book of Ecclesiastes (xii. 3 seq.), the 
frame which the spirit is ready to desert is repre- 
sented under the image of a tottering house, of 

1 Book II., cantos ix., xi. 

12 BODY. 

which the windows (the eyes) are darkened, the 
doors (the ears) are shut, and the mill (the mouth) 
lies idle with its grinders (the teeth). 1 A similar 
idea is probably meant to be conveyed by ' the 
golden bowl being broken ' (v. 6), the body being 
conceived as the precious reservoir (as in Zech. 
iv. 3), which contains the oil of life that keeps the 
flame burning. 2 

In Greek, tezichos, a vessel, is found with a like 

All these passages make it probable that ' body ' 
might come from a word meaning house (Welsh 
bod, &c), by showing that the transition of mean- 
ing is easy and natural. This view, moreover, 
derives strong confirmation from the very similar 
account that has to be given of another word of 

1 Hengstenberg, in he. Speaker's Commentary, in loc. 
5 Henry More compares the relation of the soul to the body to 
that of a light enclosed within a lantern. 

' Like to a Light fast lock'd in Lanlhorn dark, 
"Whereby, by night, our wary Steps we guide 
In slabby streets, and dirty Channels mark, 
Some weaker rays through the black top do glide, 
And flusher streams perhaps from the horny side : 
But when we've past the peril of the way, 
Arriv'd at home, and laid that case aside, 
The naked light, how clearly doth it ray, 
And spread its joyful beams as bright as summer's day. 

Even so the Soul, in this contracted state, 

Confin'd to these strait instruments of Sense, 

More dull and narrowly doth operate : 

At this hole hears, the Sight must ray from thence ; 

Here tasts, their smells : But when she's gone from hence, 

Like naked lamps, she is one shining sphear, 

And round about has perfect cognoscence 

"Whate'ra in her Horizon doth appear ; 

She is one Orb of Sense, all Eye, all airy Ear.' 

Antidote against Atheism, Bk. III. ch. iv. 


like signification. I mean the word c carcass/ 
which we will next proceed to examine. 

1 Carcass,' which is now used for a body, espe- 
cially the lifeless body of a beast, when traced to 
its origin, is found to mean a ' house of detention 
or constraint,' a 6 prison.' 

Carcass — (Fr.) carquasse, (It.) car came, (It. 
and Port.) carcassa (= a skeleton) — is another 
form of (Fr.) carquois, (Sp.) carcax, (It.) carcasso 
(= a quiver). In modern Greek karkasi has both 
meanings, (1) a quiver, (2) a skeleton. All these 
words are connected with (Welsh) carchar (re- 
straint, prison), (Gaelic) carcair (prison, coffer), 
(Ir.) car car, (Goth.) karkara, (Ger.) kerker, (Gk.) 
kdrkaron, (Lat.) career (an enclosure, or prison), 
(Sans.) cdraka, kdrdgara, from the root kar (to 
wound, punish). It is curious, though perhaps 
only a coincidence, that the Talmudic word for the 
case in which written rolls were commonly kept is 

The old derivation, which once passed current, 
that c carcase ' is compounded of the two Latin 
words caro and casa, as if it meant ' fallen-flesh ' 

1 A ' carcanet ' is an ornament that confines or imprisons the 
neck — ' Oarcan, a carkanet, or collar of gold, &c. , worne about the 
necke ; Also an Iron chain e, or collar, wherein an offender is tyed by 
the necke to a post ' (Cotgrave). Compare the following, from an 
old play : — 

* Did you not see the key that's to unlock 
My carcanet and bracelets ? 

Till you give it back, my neck and arms 

Are still your prisoners. Webster, vol. iii. p. 281. 


(which, indeed, is the primitive meaning of cadaver 
from cado, and of the Greek ptoma from pipto, to 
fall), is alluded to in the following passage from 
Samuel Ward, wherein the writer, unknown to 
himself, has a much truer conception of the word's 
etymological significance. Speaking of the unim- 
paired powers of the mind at death, he asks — 

' Do they not tell the body, the soul means not to fall with 
the carcase (which hath the name of falling), lies not a dying 
with it, but erects itself, means only to leave it as an inhabi- 
tant doth a ruinous house, or as a musician lays down a lute 
whose strings are broken, a carpenter a worn instrument unfit 
any longer for service and employment, and as a guest makes 
haste out of his inn to his long home and place of abode.' 

The Life of Faith in Death. 

From meaning a i prison ' the word came after- 
wards to be applied in a secondary sense to the 
body, as being the structure wherein the soul is 
incarcerated, while 

1 This muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close it in,' 

like the ' bone-enclosure ' or i bone-cloister ' of our 
remote ancestors, (A. -Sax.) ban-loca, ban-cofa. 
Compare the following, also from Shakspere : — 

' My heart all mad with misery 
Beats in the hollow prison of my flesh.' 

Titus Andronicus. 

1 A grave unto a soul 
Holding the eternal spirit against her will 
In the vile prison of afflicted breath.' 

King John. 


1 My soul's palace is become a prison.' 

3d Ft. Henry VI., ii. 1. 

Plato frequently calls the body the prison-house 
of the soul ; * and Virgil, when philosophising on 
the doctrine of the one great spirit of nature (iEn. 
vi. 734), explains that in the case of men, while 
confined within ' these walls of flesh/ it is clogged 
and blinded, being shut up in the darkness of a dun- 
geon (' clauses tenebris et carcere caeco'), or as we 
might render it with etymological literalness, ' in 
the darkness of a sightless carcass.'' A belief 
almost identical with this was held by the Jews. 
The Hebrews consider (we are told in ' The Con- 
ciliator ' of Rabbi Manasseh Ben Israel, trans, ii. 
22) that souls were created in the six days of the be- 
ginning, and not together with bodies. They com- 
pare its state (1st) prior to coming into the world, 
to a king seated on his throne ; (2d) when inspired 
into the body, to a king placed in confinement ; 
(3d) when released by death, and it returns to its 
former regions, to a king returning to his kingdom 
after being delivered from prison. Compare— 

1 Is there no charitable hand will sever 
My well-spun thread, that my imprisoned soul 
May be deliver'd from this dull dark hole 
Of dungeon flesh ] ' Quarks, Emblems, Bk. V. Emblem 7. 

' What need that house be daub'd with flesh and blood ? 
Hang'd round with silks and gold ? repair'd with food ? 

1 E.g., Cratylus, p. 400 C ; Phasdo, p. 62 B. 


Cost idly spent ! that cost doth but prolong 

Thy thraldom. Fool, thou mak'st thy jail too strong.' 

Quarks, Emblems, Bk. V. Epig. 8. 
1 The soul once fled 
Lives freer now than when she was cloystered 
In walls of flesh — 

But an imprison' d mind, though living, dies, 
And at one time feels two captivities ; 
A narrow dungeon which her body holds, 
But narrower body which her self enfolds. 

Death is the pledge of rest, and with one bayl 
Two prisons quits, the Body and the Iayl.' 1 

Bp. Henry King's Poems (1657, ed. Hannah), p. 12. 

' He that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts, 
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun ; 
Himself is his own dungeon. 5 Milton, Comus, 347. 

'My body is my prison, and I would be so obedient to 
the law as not to break prison : I would not hasten my 
death by starving or macerating this body ; but if this pri- 
son be burned down by continual fevers, or blown down with 
continual vapours, would any man be so in love with that 
ground upon which that prison stood, as to desire rather to 
stay there than to go home.' 

Br John Bonne (Selections from), Oxford, 1840, p. 14. 

. . . ' The Body is the Soules Prison ; that I mention not 
that Hell-darke Prison of the Graue, nor that darke Hell- 
Prison of the Damned.' Purchas, Microcosmus (1619), p. 298. 

We might also adduce here an exclamation re- 
ported to have been made by Archbishop Leigh ton 
(d. 1684), who was himself slender in person, 
when informed that a corpulent friend had pre- 

1 In language almost identically the same Howell speaks of his 
twofold imprisonment when writing from the Fleet, 1643. Vide 
Familiar Letters, Bk. I. sect. vi. 48. 


deceased liim — c How is it that A has broke 

through these goodly brick walls, while I am kept 
in by a bit flimsy deal ? ' 

* Our soden feete stick in the Clay, 
Wee thro' the bodye's Dungeon see no day/ 

Evelyn, Life of Mrs Godolphin, p. 227. 

' who shall from this dungeon raise 
A soul enslaved so many ways ? 
"With bolts of bones, that fettered stands 
In feet, and manacled in hands ; 
Here blinded with an eye, and there 
Deaf with the drumming of an ear ; 
A soul hung up, as 'twere, in chains 
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins 1 ' 

Andrew Marvell, Dialogue between Soul and Body. 
' Great Muse, thou knowest what prison 
Of flesh and bone, curbs, and confines, and frets 
Our spirits' wings.' Keats 1 Endymion, Bk. IV. 

' How weak the prison is where I dwell ! 

Flesh but a tottering wall ! 

The breaches cheerfully foretell 

The house must shortly fall. 

* Now let the tempest blow all round, 

Now swell the surges high, 

And beat this house of bondage down 

To let the stranger fly ! ' Dr Watts. 

' The soul contending to that light to fly 
From her dark cell, we practise how to die.' 

Waller, Of Divine Love. 

The comparison in the last three extracts of the 
sonl to a captive bird, 1 eager to escape, but encaged 

1 ' They who prink, and pamper the Body, and neglect the Soul, 
are like one, who having a Nightingale in his House, is more fond 
of the Wicker Cage than of the Bird.' 

Howell, Familiar Letters, Bk. IV. 21. 


within the body, from which it is only permitted 
to take flight at its dissolution, is made explicitly 
in the following from Quarles : — 

1 My soul is like a bird, my flesh the cage, 
Wherein she wears her weary pilgrimage. . . . 
The keys that lock her in and let her out, 
Are birth and death ; 'twixt both she hops about 
From perch to perch, from sense to reason ; then 
From higher reason down to sense again.' 

Bk.Y. Emblem 10. 

The same thought is found in the c Silex Scintil- 

lans ' of Henry Yaughan, the Silurist (1655). 

And so Pope — 

* Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age, 
Dull, sullen prisoners in the body's cage : 

Like Eastern kings, a lazy state they keep, 
And, close confined to their own palace, sleep/ 

Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady. 

And Adams — 

'The imprisoned bird, when she sees no remedy, sings 
in her cage ; but she flies most and highest when she is 
at liberty. Set the soul once at freedom, she will then 
most cheerfully sing the praises of her Maker. Yet the 
common course is to fortify this prison, and to boast in 
corporal abilities. But qui gloriatur in viribus corporis, 
gloriatur in viribus career is.' Meditations upon the Creed. 

It is curious to observe that in Sanskrit the 
word for cage, 1 pa?ijara y is actually used for the 

1 Cf. 'Ex corporum vinculis tanquam e carcere evolaverunt ' 
(Cic. Rep. vi. 14). It is a widespread and ancient superstition that 
the soul escapes from the dead body under the form of a bird or 
other winged creature. Grimm, D. Myth., 214, 478 ; Kelly, Indo- 
Furop. Tradition, p. 103 ; Trevor's Egypt, 192 ; Didron, Christian 


skeleton or body. The same idea has, I suppose 
unconsciously, been used by an American writer, 
Dr Holmes — 

'They said the doctors would want my skeleton when 
I was dead. . . . Don't let 'em make a show of the cage, 
I have been shut up in, and looked through the bars 
of, for so many years.' 

Professor at Breakfast- Table, p. 105. 

Compare ban-hus (bone-house), ban-sele (bone- 
hall), ban-loca (bone-enclosure), A.-Sax. terms for 
the body; 1 Icelandic beina-grind (' bone-lattice'), 
the skeleton. 

As our ancestors show by their nomencla- 
ture that they had formed a true estimate 
of this perishing dust-built frame, the c body of 
our humiliation ' (Phil. iii. 21), whether on the 
one hand they called it a c cask ' or ' chest,' or on 
the other, a ' house ' or l prison ; ' so they would 
seem, on the testimony of other words, not to have 
forgotten what a ' treasure ' we have in these 

Iconography, 460. A graphic delineation of the imprisoned soul 
looking out through its cage of bones, and intended to represent 
the idea contained in Rom. vii. 24, 'Who shall deliver me 
from the body of this death ? ' will be found in Quarles, Bk. V. 
Emblem 8. 

1 'The flames consumed the bone-Jwuse of the mighty -handed 
chief ' is Mr Jones' paraphrase of the burning of Be6wulf (Popular 
Romances of the Middle Ages, p. 398). 

« This body then, I say, is like 
An house in each degree ; 
The soule the owner of the house 
I do account to bee.' 

Ro. Vn. {temp. James I.) 


' earthen vessels.' If the body was to them no 

more than a case or coffer, still it was one, they 

felt, that guarded the most precious of possessions, 

a house of clay indeed, but one that harboured the 

most exalted of inhabitants. In the Anglo-Saxon, 

besides the words 'feorh-kus ' (i.e., ' life-house ') = 

'body,' (cf. Shakspere's 'bloody house of life '),and 

i feorh-cofcC 1 (i. e., mind's cave, or sours chamber) 

== breast, we meet the very poetical term ' breost- 

hord' for the soul, i.e., the hoard or treasure of 

the breast — a word upon which no more fitting 

commentary could be made than these verses of a 

little-remembered poet — 

' ignorant poor man ! what dost thou bear 
Lock'd np within the casket of thy breast ? 
What jewels, and what riches hast thou there ? 
What heavenly treasure in so weak a chest.' 

Sir John Barnes (d. 1626). 

Beside this we may set the scarcely less poetical 

prose of Bishop Hall — 

* This body, if it bee compared to the soule, what is it, but 
as a clay wall that encompasses a treasure ; as a wodden boxe 

1 (A.-Sax.) cof (a cave or receptacle), (Bret.) kdf, 1c6v (belly), 
(Fr. ) coffre (1, a coffer; 2, chest of the body). Compare (Heb.) 
guph, (jupha (a body), from the root guph (Cpi), to be hollow, shut 
in). The Heb. Mb hah (stomach), and ' alcove,' (Sp. ) alcoba, (Arab.) 
al-qobbah (a hollow recess), (Heb.) Kubbah (translated ' tent,' Num- 
bers xxv. 8), are of kindred origin. Cp. ' We are so composed, 
that if abundance or glory scorch and melt us, we have an earthly 
cave, our bodies, to go into by consideration and cool ourselves/ 
(Donne, Letters, p. 63). Synonymous are A.-Sax. hrether-cofa and 
hrether-loca (mind's cave or inclosure), Icelandic hug-borg, 'castle 
of thought,' a poetical term for the breast ; 6dhar-rann, * mind's- 
house ; ' fjor-rann, ' life's-house ;' hjarta-salr t ' heart-hall.' 


of a jeweller ; as a coorse case to a rich instrument ; or as a 
niaske to a beautifull face ? ' 

Contemplations, Bk. I. Cont. 2 (1634). 

The same thoughts, expressed in the very same 

words, are to be found in the treatise of another 

divine whom Hall much resembled. Thomas 

Adams, in his ' Meditations on some Parts of the 

Creed/ 1629, moralises thus : — 

1 The body is to the soul as a barren turf to a mine of 
gold, as a mud wall about a delicate garden, as a wooden 
box wherein the jeweller carries his precious gems, as a 
coarse case to a fair and rich instrument, as a rotten hedge 
to a paradise, as Pharaoh's prison to a Joseph, or as a mask 
to a beautiful face.' ' We love the cabinet for the jewel's 
sake, esteem it for that it contains. . . . Yet how many 
men pollute this fair house, by drunkenness making it a 
swine-sty, by uncleanness a brothel, by worldliness a dung- 
hill, by oppression a lion's den, by voluptuousness a boar's 
frank, by malice a stove or burning furnace, and by con- 
tinual sin a barricaded jail to imprison the soul ! ' 1 

Nichol's edition, vol. iii. pp. 142, 146. 

Compare the following from Shakspere : — 

1 (I have) mine eternal jewel 
Given to the common enemy of man.' Macbeth, iii.l. 

'A jewel in a ten-times-barred up chest 
Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast.' Richard II. ,i. 1. 

' They found him dead and cast into the streets, 
An empty casket, where the jewel of life 
By some damn'd hand was robb'd and ta'en away. 7 

1 Howell (1635) has the same similitude, — ' Whereas my Creator 
intended this Body of mine, though a Lump of Clay, to be a 
Temple of His Holy Spirit, my Affections . . . turn it often to a 
Brothel-house, my Passions to a Bedlam, and my Excesses to an 
Hospital.' Fam. Letters, Bk. I. 6, xxii. 


' (My heart) A jewel, lock'd into the wof ull'st cash 

That ever did contain a thing of worth.' 
2d PL Henry VI., iii. 2. 

We have seen that the body was called a 
1 house,' as being the outward shell or case wherein 
the spiritual part of man was appointed to dwell. 
This bodily 6 house ' was also regarded sometimes 
as the clothiDg wherein he was invested, e.g., by 
St Paul in 2 Cor. v. 2, 3, where he expresses an 
earnest desire to 'be clothed upon'' with a better 
house from heaven — i.e., a house 6 to be put on as 
an outer garment over this fleshly body' (e-n-evSv- 
cracrOai). Immediately afterwards he uses the cor- 
relative phrase ' to put off one's clothing ' for i to 
become disembodied,' i to die.' In the ancient 
Gothic version the apostle's expression c to be 
clothed ' with the body is rendered by the verb, 
ufar-hamon, ana-kamon, and the ' stripping off' of 
it by the verb af-hamon, — hamon being to clothe. 
It is not a little interesting to observe that this 
same radical, which is still traceable in the German 
hemd, a shirt or garment, supplies a name for the 
body in many kindred languages. It is seen in 
the latter part of the A. -Saxon lic-lwma, 0. H. 
German lik-hamo, German leichnam, Old Norse 
lik-hamr, — i.e., i the garment of flesh,' the un- 
tenanted body, or corpse; A.-Saxon Jtcesc-hama. 1 

1 Cognate with A.-Sax. hama, homa, Dan. ham, Icel. hammr, 
the covering, skin, or shape of the body, are the Sansk. carnima ; 
Hind, cam, camra, of similar meaning ; and the It. camisa, Fr. 


Such was the poetical conception that found favour 
with the old Teutonic and Scandinavian races. At 
death the weary spirit slips off its clinging raiment, 
our Maker (to use the language of an old poet) 

1 Thresh the husk of this our flesh away, 
And leave the soul uncovered,' l 

and then the divested remains or exuvice is the 
lifeless corpse — the body-clothes, lie-harm; Old 
Eng. lie-am. 

This idea has received a feeling expression in 
the following pretty verses by the Duchess of 
Newcastle : — 

1 Great Nature she doth cloathe the soul within 
A Fleshly Garment which the Fates do spin ; 
And when these Garments are grown old and bare, 
With sickness torn, Death takes them off with care, 
And folds them up in Peace and quiet Best ; 
So lays them safe within an Earthly Chest, 
Then scours them and makes them sweet and clean, 
Fit for the soul to wear those cloths again.' 

Poems, p. 135. 

Compare these lines from Herrick's * Epitaph on 
Sir Ed. Giles '— 

1 But here's the sunset of a tedious day. 
These two asleep are ; I'll but be undrest, 
And so to bed. Pray wish us all good rest.' 

chemise. Cleasby & Vigfusson, Icel. Diet. ; B.-Gould, Book of 
Werewolves, pp. 47, 163. The same word is seen in ' yellow- 
Jiammer,' 1 Ger. gelb-ammer, and in 0. Swed. hamber, prov. Eng. 
an article of clothing (Atkinson, Cleveland Glossary, s.v. ) 
1 George Wither. 

24 COAT. 

The bodily tenement is here regarded as being 
the raiment in which the spirit was enveloped ; by 
a somewhat similar association of related ideas, 
but from a directly opposite point of view, the 
literal clothing of the body was conceived as being 
to it a kind of portable dwelling, and so the 
covering or vestment wherein the entire man is 
wrapped was in many instances, we shall find, 
quaintly styled his ' house.' The idea that under- 
lay this use of the term is well brought out by this 
query of Carlyle's — 

' Hast thou always worn them [thy clothes] perforce, and as 
a consequence of Man's Fall ; never rejoiced in them as in a 
warm movable House, a Body round thy Body, wherein that 
strange Thee of thine sat snug, defying all variations of 
climate ? ... In vain did the sleet beat round thy temples ; 
it lighted only on thy impenetrable, felted or woven, case of 
wool.' Sartor Resartus, ch. ix. p. 39 (ed. 1871). 

Now take the word c coat,' (Fr.) cotte, (It.) cotta. 

It is plainly identical with i cote ' * (a shelter for 

animals), 'cot,' and 'cottage,' (A. -Sax.) cote, (Dut.) 

kot, (Ir.) cotta, (Welsh) cwt, (Fin.) kota, koti (a 

house); and so it meant originally the 6 house' or 

shelter wherein the monk on his travels (it was 

especially a monkish garment at first), or the 

working-man in the field, encased himself as a 

protection against the inclemency of the weather. 

Thus l coats ' served almost as well as 

1 * Coat' was formerly spelt 'cote,' e.g., Chaucer, Rom. of Rose, 
461; and 'cote' was spelt 'coat,' e.g., ' Bordieux, little cottages, 
coats ' (Cotgrave). 

COAT. 25 

' Cotes that did the shepherds keep 
From wind and weather.' Chapman, Horn. II. , xviii. 535. 

and hence they got their name. 

Verstegan, one of the best and earliest of our 

English etymologists, pointed this out long ago. 

He says — 

' A cote in our language is a little slight built country habi- 
tation (such as after the French we call a cottage). . . . TVe 
also use this word cote for a garment, but it seemeth to have 
been at first metaphorically brought in use, in regard of being 
shrowded therein, as in the little house or cote of the body, 
but anciently we so used it not, for our ancient word for a cote 
in this sence was a reaf.' 

Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, p. 286 (1634). 

The cota mor l (great coat) of the. ancient Irish, 
which seems to have been a kind of mantle, was 
one of their national peculiarities. It is to it, pro- 
bably, that Spenser refers when he says — 

'The out-lawe. . . . maketli his mantell his howse, and 
under it covereth himself from the wrath of heaven, from the 
offence of the earth, and from the sight of men. When it 
rayneth it is his pent-howse ; when it blowes, it is his tent ; 
when it freezeth it is his tabernacle.' 

State of Ireland (1643). Globe ed. p. 631. 

Other instances of the same word being used for a 
house and an article of clothing are the following — 
(Fr.) caban, gaban, (It.) gabbano, cabarino, (a 
cloak), (Eng.) i gabardine. ,' (Bohem.) habane (a 
jacket), the same word as (Fr.) cabane, (It.) ca- 
panna, (Welsh) caban (a booth, hut), our ' cabin.' 

1 Cf. Castle Rackrent (Miss Edgewortb), 1815, p. 2. A repre- 
sentation of it will be found in Plauche's ' British Costume/ p. 369. 


The heavy Maltese cloak worn by the farmers in 
Sardinia they call their ' cabbanu.' 

i Cape ' and i cap,' (Fr.) chape, chapeau, (Sp.) 
capa, (It.) cappa, is the 0. Sp. cappa, (1) a hut, 
(2) a mantle, according to Isidore so called quia 
totum capiat hominem, because it takes in, or con- 
tains, the whole man. 

'Hood/ (Ger.) hut, (Welsh) hotan, (Dut.) 
hoed (lit. a covering, shelter), is identical with 
' hut,' (Dut.) hut, hutte, (Sans.) kuti (a house), 
hot (a hut), (Egypt.) kdti (a circuit, and to surround). 

c Cassock/ (Fr.) casaque, (It.) casacca, (Gael.) 
casag (a long coat), is from the Latin casa (a house). 
Cf. (Gk.) kdsson (tcdaaov, Hesjxh., a thick garment), 
(Pers.) kdshah (hut), all connected with (Sans.) 
kakshd (enclosure). 1 

Another ecclesiastical vestment, the l chasuble,' 
(Sp.) casulla, (Fr.) chasuble, (It.) casupola, (M. 
Lat.) casula, is of the same origin, and means a 
little house or hut, for so the Roman labourer 
called the smock-frock in which he shut himself 
up when out at work in bad weather. 

(Ir.) rocan, (1) a cot, (2) a cloak. Cf. (Ger.) 
rock (a coat). 

It is open to doubt whether i hose,' (Fr.) house, 
houseau, (Ger.) kosen, (A.-Sax.) hosa, (Welsh) hosan 
(covering for the leg), and ' housing,' (Fr.) housse, 

1 Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ., ii. 255. 


(Welsh) hws (covering, housing), are connected 
with ' house. ' 1 

In Coptic one and the same root is still serving 
for ' house ' and ' garment.' 2 

The same comparison which led Shakspere to 
speak of the body as the soul's c vesture,' and St 
Paul as its i clothing,' was implicitly made long 
before by the author of the 139th Psalm, where he 
breaks into a fine ascription of praise to the 
Creator on contemplating the marvellous structure 
of his own frame — 

' I will praise Thee ; for I am fearfully and wonderfully 
made. . . . My substance was not hid from Thee, when I 
was made in secret, and curiously ivrought in the lowest parts 
of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance yet being un- 
perfect ; and in Thy book all my members were written [drawn 
out, as it were, in pattern], which, in continuance, were 
fashioned, when as yet there was none of them ' (vv. 14-16). 

The word here rendered i curiously- wrought' 
has a definite and much more expressive force in 
the original Hebrew, viz., ' wrought-with-a- 
needle.' 3 It is the very same word which is used 
in Exodus xxviii. 39, with reference to the em- 
broidered garments of the high priest, and in 
Exodus xxvi. 36 for the hangings of the Taber- 

1 But cf. 2 Kings xxiii. 7, ' hangings,' marg. c houses.' So, per- 
haps, (Gk.) ndaas (housings) is connected with (Pers.) Mshah, (Lat.) 

2 Dr Abel in Philolog. Soc. Trans. (1855), p. 57. 

3 Vide Lowth, Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, in loc. 


nacle made of fine-twined linen, and various 
colours wrought with needlework ; Heb. rdkaM f 
Arab, raqama, which may still be traced in the 
Spanish reca?nar, It. ricamare, Fr. reca?ner, to 
embroider. 1 

And when we consider the wonderful ingenuity 
and manifold marks of design displayed in the 
fabric of man's body, the closely interwoven fibrous 
appearance of the cellular tissue, the interlacing 
and ramifications of the blood-vessels, the impli- 
cations of the muscles, the knots or ganglions of 
the nerves, the exquisite embroidery of the veins, 
the gauze-like membrane of the skin, technically 
termed ' network' (rete mucoswri) — we cannot but 
perceive how true and appropriate is this meta- 
phor of the Psalmist by which the texture of the 
human structure is likened to a piece of tapestry 
or needlework, elaborated with subtle varieties of 
colour and material by the hand of a skilful arti- 
ficer. Even so curiously wrought are the curtains 

1 It is radically the same word rlhndh which is found in Ezek. 
xvi. 18, ' broidered garments;' and Psalm xlv. 14, 'raiment of 

'Such is the human body, ever changing, ever abiding. A 
temple, always complete, and yet always under repair. A mansion, 
which quite contents its possessor, and yet has its plan and its 
materials altered each moment. A machine which never stops 
working, and yet is taken to pieces in the one twinkling of an eye, 
and put together in the other. A cloth of gold, to which the needle 
is ever adding on one side of a line, and from which the scissors 
are ever cutting away on the other. Yes ! Life, like Penelope of 
old, is ever weaving and unweaving the same web ; whilst her 
grim suitors, Disease and Death, watch for her halting.' 

Br George Wilson, Edinburgh Essays (1856), p. 316. 


of the tabernacle wherein we dwell. There is 
scriptural authority for so styling our bodies. The 
inspired apostle employs the phrase, declaring that 
the Eternal Word, when He vouchsafed to take our 
flesh, ' tabernacled among us ' (la/crjvcoaev, John i. 
14). When Job (iv. 21) speaks of the death of 
man, and the soul being separated from the body 
which it upholds, he likens it to the ropes of a 
tent being loosened or severed, using the same 
word that in Exodus is applied to the cords of the 
Tabernacle, 6 Are not the cords of their tent torn 
away ? ' where the rendering in our authorised 
version is diluted into 6 Doth not their excellency 
which is in them go away ? ' x 

Our bodies, it is implied, constituted as they are 
at present, are intended but for a temporary habi- 
tation while passing through the wilderness. They 
are removable at any time, like a shepherd's tent 
(Isa. xxxviii. 12). Shortly we must put off this 
our tabernacle (2 Pet. i. 14). When the Yoice is 
heard saying, c Arise ye, and depart, for this is 
not your rest ; because it is polluted ' (Micah ii. 
10), the life which is in us will be taken up from 
us like the pillar of cloud, and will pass away like 
an expiring vapour. Then the house of this 
earthly tabernacle will be taken down — the silver 
cord will be loosed — this curious frame, with its 

1 Delitscb, in loc. 


mortices, its tenons, its woven coverings, and all 
its cunning work, will be levelled to the dust. 
Then it will he said of each — 

1 His spirit with a bound 

Burst its encumbering clay ; 
His tent, at sunrise, on the ground 
A darken'd ruin lay.' l 

But He who undoes His own work is able to 
raise it up again, and has pledged Himself to do 
so. * Though He slay us, yet we may trust in Him ' 
(Job xiii. 15). ' He will show wonders to the dead ; 
the dead shall arise and praise Him. His loving- 
kindness shall be declared in the grave, and His 
faithfulness in destruction. His wonders shall be 
known in the dark, and His righteousness in the 
land of forgetfulness ' (Ps. lxxxviii. 10-12). Even 
in the tomb our substance is not hid from Him. 
In His book are still all our members written ; 
not one of them will be overlooked or forgotten ; 
but we will be made again in secret, and curiously 
wrought (like needlework), even in the lowest parts 
of the earth — even in those dark places the Divine 
Work-master can renew His handiwork. 

' He which numbereth the sands of the sea, knoweth all 
the scattered bones, seeth into all the graves and tombs, 
searcheth all the repositories and dormitories in the earth, 
knoweth what dust belongeth to each body, what body to 
each soul. Again, as His all-seeing eye observeth every par- 
ticle of dissolved and corrupted man, so doth He also see 

] Montgomery. 


and know all ways and means by which these scattered parts 
should be united, by which this ruined fabric should be re- 
composed : He knoweth how every bone should be brought to 
its old neighbour- bone, hoiv every sinew may he re-embroidered 
on it ; He understandeth what are the proper parts to be con- 
joined, what is the proper gluten by which they may become 
united.' l 

Not only will He reform our bodies, but He 
will transform them. Natural, earthly, perishing, 
they will be raised up spiritual, incorruptible, im- 
mortal. The Lord Jesus Christ ' will change the 
body of our humiliation, that it may be fashioned 
like unto His glorious body, according to the work- 
ing whereby He is able even to subdue all things 
unto Himself (Phil. iii. 21), and this will be 'a 
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens' 
(2 Cor. v. 1). 

1 Pearson, The Resurrection of the Body. 

( 32 ) 



How sadly deficient even our best dictionaries are! 
Monuments though, they be for the most part 
of patient and laborious industry — Latham, and 
"Richardson, and Todd's Johnson, Worcester, and 
Webster, ponderous tomes as they are — how often 
will we turn to their pages in vain if we need 
something out of the trite and beaten track, or 
put them to the test by anything more than very 
moderate requirements in matters of verbal lore. 
It has been the fortune of most people, I should 
think, at some time or other, to consult those 
standard works of reference in hopes to obtain 
some conclusive, or at least satisfactory, iuformation 
as to the etymology and primitive signification of 
a word which has refused to yield its secret to their 
own unassisted efforts — but only to encounter a 
vexatious disappointment. The oracle is found 
dumb just at the moment when its response was 
most earnestly desired. A note of interrogation, 
or the curt remark, ' origin unknown,' is all the 
reward vouchsafed to our unsatisfied curiosity. In 

FLIRT. 33 

many cases, of course, these blanks and silent gaps 
are unavoidable. They are a part of the necessary 
imperfection of all human knowledge. Still, many 
of these deficiencies would disappear if only a 
more careful research and diligent investigation 
were brought to bear upon them ; and it may 
well be believed that not a few neglected 
nooks and corners of the philological field still 
remain to recompense the industry of future 

One of these words, of which no satisfactory 
account has as yet been given, is 6 flirt.' What- 
ever we may think of the thing which it denotes, 
it must be admitted that the word itself is pic- 
turesque and pretty enough when we trace it to 
its origin. It is a matter of surprise to me that 
Wedgwood and our other professed etymologists 
have quite failed to discover it. Dr Johnson — 
whom we may in general depend upon for our 
definitions — tells us that ' to flirt ' is 6 to run about 
perpetually, to be unsteady and fluttering.' He 
makes no allusion, however, to its now more com- 
mon signification of coquetting — trifling with the 
affections of another, or amusing one's self at the 
expense of one's admirers. And yet that use of 
the word is of considerable antiquity. In the 
' Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions,' 1578, we 
find a lover complaining to his mistress in the 
following terms : — 

34 FLIRT. 

1 Hath light of love held you so softe in her lap ? 

Sing all of greene willow ; 
Hath fancy provokte you ? did love you intrap 1 

Sing willow, willow, willow ; 
That now you heflurting, and will not abide, 

Willow, willow, willow, willow, 
To mee which most trusty in time should have tride 
Willow, willow, willow, willow.' 

Eel 1814, p. 133. 

' Flirt,' 1 or, as we see it used to be spelt formerly, 
c flurt,' is in fact nothing else but a slightly con- 
tracted form of the French fleureter (from fleur) 
to go a-flowering, or, as old Cotgrave gives it in 
his dictionary (1660), ' Fleureter, lightly to pass 
over ; only to touch a thing in going by it {meta- 
phorically from the little Bee's nimble shipping from 
flower to flower as she feeds) ; ' and so the cognate 
word in Spanish, florear, means c to dally with, 
to trifle' (Stevens, 1706). Any one who has 
observed a butterfly skimming over a gay parterre 
on a hot summer's day will admit that its c airy 
dance ' is no unapt comparison for the course of 
that frivolous and ephemeral creature, whether 
male or female, which is known as a ' flirt.' 2 

1 The word may have been insensibly affected by, perhaps blended 
with, the A.-Sax. fleardian, to trifle. In Scotch, flyrd is to flirt, and 
fiivd to flutter ( Jamieson). Compare the German flattern, to flutter, 
rove about, and flatterhafi, flirting, fickle. 

2 ' Comme un papillon voletant de fleurette en fleurette.' Yver 
(16th cent.) Compare the use of papilloner. 

Some verses which appeared in ' Punch ' in the summer of 1875 
speak of one who, 

' A butterfly vagrant, 
Flits light o'er the flower-beds of Beauty in June.' 

FLIRT. 35 

It is the very ideal of inconstancy — it veers and 
flickers 1 about hither and thither in the most fickle 
and uncertain way imaginable ; and when it does 
light upon some favoured flower, and closes its 
wings over it, and we think that now at last, 
having found what it had long been seeking, it 
will rest and sip its sweets contentedly — lo ! in a 
moment it is off and away as unsettled and un- 
captivated as ever. This hovering of insects from 
flower to flower seems to have suggested the same 
idea to the people of different countries. For 
instance, in Sanskrit, bhramara, which primarily 
means a bee, is used also for ' a lover, a gallant, a 
libertine.' The bee-like humming-bird is said to be 
called ' the kiss-flower ' by the Brazilians, as if it 
were enamoured of their beauty. Similarly, far- 
falla, a butterfly in Italian, is also applied to a 
fickle man, and in the Parisian argot, an an- 
tiquated beau who keeps up the airs and graces of 
youth is termed an ' old butterfly ' (papillon vieux). 

In the following lines the word ( butterfly' 
seems to be employed in very much the same 
sense : — 

* Amongst that fine Parterre of handsome Faces, 
Do any like a Joynture in Parnassus ? . . . 
Will Beaus and Butterflies then please your Fancies 

1 The Scotch flicker, according to Jamieson, also means to flirt. 

'I flycker, as a birde dothe whan he hovereth, Jevolette. 
I flycker, I kysse togyther, Je baise.' 

Palsgrave, Lesclarcissement. 

36 FLIRT. 

"Well vers'd in Birthrights, Novels and Romances 
Scandal, Plays, Operas, Fashions, Songs and Dances, 
We'll show you those that most politely can, 
Or tap the Snuff-box, or gallant the Fan.' 

The Music Speech, spoken at the Public Commencement in 
Cambridge, 1714, by Roger Long, M.A. 

A word which we had occasion to use above may 
be noted in passing as embodying a like concep- 
tion. ' Fickle,' A.-Sax. jicol, is a derivative from 
0. Eng. fyke, North Eng. feek, < to fidget/ Scot. 
fike y to be restless, to move from place to place 
unsteadily, also to dally with a girl, to flirt ; and 
is akin to 0. Norse fika, Dut. Jlcken, to move 
rapidly to and fro, Swiss Jltsc/ien, to flutter about. 

In the following, from a poem entitled t Why 
the Rose is Red,' which appeared in the ' Temple 
Bar Magazine ' some years ago (No. cxxvi. p. 285), 
the word we are discussing will be found used 
with perfect propriety, and in its original signifi- 
cation : — 

1 The rose of old, they say, was white, 
Till Love one day in wanton flight, 
Flirting away from flower to flower 
A rose-tree brushed in evil hour/ — 

lines which recall Spenser's comparison of the 
little god of the restless wing to a bee (Globe ed., 
p. 586). 

The subjoined quotations, indeed, will show that 
this ' flirting ' of insects is quite a commonplace 
with our English poets ; they will also serve to 

FLIRT. 37 

illustrate how easy the transition was to the 

present use of the term : — 

* For love's sake, kiss me once again ! 
I long, and should not beg in vain ; 

I'll taste as lightly as the Bee 
That doth but touch his flower, and flies away.' 

Ben Jonson. 

' The flow'r enamoured busy bee 
The rosy banquet loves to sip ; 

But Delia, on thy balmy lips 
Let me, no vagrant insect, rove ; 

O let me steal one limpid kiss, 

For, oh ! my soul is parched with love.' 


1 My youth ('tis true) has often ranged, 

Like bees o'er gaudy flowers ; 
And many thousand loves has changed, 
Till it was fixed in yours.' 


' When the first summer bee 

O'er the young rose shall hover, 
Then, like that gay rover, 
I'll come to thee. 
He to flowers, I to lips, full of sweets to the brim — 
What a meeting, what a meeting, for me and for him ! 
Then to every bright tree 
In the garden he'll wander ; 
While I, oh, much fonder, 
Will stay with thee. 
! In search of new sweetness through thousands he'll run, 
While I find the sweetness of thousands in one.' 

T. Moon. 

In one of Sir John Suckling's love-poems occur 
these lines, with an amatory significance : — 

38 FLIRT. 

1 If where a gentle bee hath fallen, 

And laboured to his power, 
A new succeeds not to that flower 

But passes by, 
Tis to be thought the gallant elsewhere loads his thigh. 

But still the flowers ready stand, 

One buzzes round about, 
One lights, one tastes, gets in, gets out ; 

All always use them, 
Till all their sweets are gone, and all again refuse them/ 
Vol. i. p. 24 (reprint, 1874). 

When a bee came sipping at the lips of Her- 
rick's l sweet lady-flower ' Julia, he excuses himself 
by urging, with pretty gallantry — 

* I never sting 
The flower that gives me nourishing : 
But with a kisse, or thanks, doe pay 
For honie, that I bear away.' 

Hesperides, vol. i. p. 73 (ed. Hazlitt). 

1 The bee through all the garden roves, 

And hums a lay o'er every flower, 
But when it finds the flower it loves 
It nestles there and hums no more.' 

* I'd be a butterfly born in a bower 

Where roses and lilies and violets meet, 
Koving for ever from flower to flower, 
And kissing all buds that are pretty and sweet.' 

T. H. Bayly. 

1 Oh say not woman's false as fair, 

That like the bee she ranges ! 
Still seeking flowers more sweet and rare, 

As fickle fancy changes. 
Ah no ! the love that first can warm, 

Will leave her bosom never ; 

FLIRT. 39 

No second passion e'er can charm ; 
She loves, and loves for ever.' 

Isaac Pocock. 

In illustration of the formation of the word, I 
might adduce the term C flurt-Bilk 9 > i.e., i floret 
silke, cowrse silke ' (Cotgrave, s.v. Filoselle), from 
the French fleuret t Ger. Jioret-seide, and so = 
' flowered ' silk ; likewise the heraldic term < crosse 
JlurV (Fuller, Church History, ii. 227-228, ed. 
Tegg), q.d., croix JleureUe, a flowered cross, i croix 
Jlorencde ' (Cotgrave). It is curious to note that 
the French within these last few years have bor- 
rowed back from us the word which originally was 
altogether their own. In the ' Dictionnaire de 
1' Argot Parisien ' appears i Flirtation, badinage 
galant, manege de coquetterie, Anglicanisme,' 
with two quotations from works published in 1872 ; 
' Flirter, se livrer a la flirtation.' 

From the assiduity of his attentions to the 
heather, Thomas Hood concluded that 

' The broom's betroth'd to the bee,' 

forgetting that he is a 6 chartered libertine ' 
pledged to no flower in special, but wooing them 
all in turn. 1 Lever, we cannot but think, showed 

1 M. Littre, apparently unconscious of the close relationship to 
our English word, traces the history of fieureter somewhat differ- 
ently, as follows : — 

Fleurette, a little flower, (2) anything trifling, fig. < Propos galant. 
C'est par une mdtaphore facile a saisir que des propos galants out 


much truer insight into the character of this in- 
constant insect when he wrote the playful doggrels 
which will furnish a suitable illustration where- 
with to conclude these remarks — 

' And as for the bee 
And his industry, 

I distrust his toilsome hours, 
For he roves up and down 
Like a '* man upon town," 

"With a natural taste for flowers.' 1 

1 Flunkey ' is the Old French Jlanchier, one who 
waited, or ran, at his master's Jtanc, or side, and 
so is literally ' a flanker,' just asjianqueur denotes 
one who fights on the flank. It is from Jianquer, 
6 to run aloDg by the side of, to be at one's elbow for 

ete* assimiles a une petite et jolie fleur. II y avait un verbe fleureter, 
qui signifiait babiller, dire des riens.' 

Fleurelte also = ' Conteur de fleurettes, homme volage qui en 
conte a toutes les femrnes. En general, compliments, choses 

1 ' One of Them,' ch. vii. Quite recently we have seen much more 
serious charges brought against the bee than that of being merely 
' a flirt.' Apropos of the ravages which he has been convicted of 
making on peaches and other wall-fruit, and the ill-repute into 
which he has fallen in some quarters in consequence of his incon- 
tinence, we are told, 'The fairy-like recesses of the purple bloom of 
the heather no longer content this newly-developed rake ; and, to 
the shame of his origin and his backers, he turns his wings from 
the broad masses of borage, whose blue flowers have been purposely 
cultivated for him, and plunges his dainty tooth into the ripening 
cheek of a prize nectarine.' Accordingly the once favourite * busy 
bee ' is denounced not only as ' a cormorant, an idler, and & flaneur,' 
but as ' a sensualist, a greedy loafer, — in fact, a roue of the worst 
and most dangerous sort.' See adively article in the ' Standard' of 
Oct. 4, 1875. 


a help at need ' (Cotgrave). 1 ' And flunkies shall 
tend you wherever you gae' (Auld Robin Gray). 
The phrase tegere latus in Latin is of quite the 
same import, and we might with the most literal 
accuracy translate Horace's query, ' Utne tegam 
spurco Damre latus ? ' — Am I to flunkey filthy 
Dama? Martial actually uses latus, side, for a 
companion or constant attendant — 

' Inter Bajanas raptus puer occidit undas 
Eutychus, ille tuum, Castrice, dulce latus.' 2 

Compare our c sides-men/ parish-officers ap- 
pointed to assist the churchwardens. Legate a 
latere, a cardinal whom the Pope sends as his am- 
bassador to foreign courts, is as much as to say a 
' counsellor always at his elbow ' (Bailey). 

Similar expressions are c henchman,' 3 he who 
stands at a person's haunch to support and second 
him ; c ambassador,' It. ambasciadore, from the 
Low Latin ambactia, charge, business, and this 
again from ambactus, a servant. Ambactus repre- 
sents the 0. H. Ger. ambaht, Goth, andbahts, which 
Grimm resolves into and, and bak, back. So it 

1 Mr Wedgwood surely let himself be led away by the dazzling 
appearance of the superfine menial of modern Belgravia when he 
connected the word with Ger. flunke, a spark, Dutch flonkeren, to 

2 Epigrams, vi. 68, ' De Morte Eutychi,' 11. 3, 4. 

3 Formerly sometimes spelt 'hancheman,' e.g., among the dresses 
prepared for the coronation of Edward VI. were ' two cotts of 
hanchemen ' (The Losely MSS., p. 68). To kench, on the other 
hand, in Cumberland is to jerk a stone from the haunch. 

42 SCORN. 

means originally a * back-man,' one who backs up 
and supports another. Cf. It. codiatore, a man's 
follower or attendant, from coda, the tail or back. 
The verb ' to side ' was once used like Jianquer 
in the sense of accompanying. 

* Every masquer was invariably attended by his torch-bearer, 
who preceded his entrance and exit, and sided him (though at 
a distance) while in action.' B. Jonson, vol. vii. p. 7. 

Compare the Old French term costereauls, i a 
nickname given unto certain footmen that served 
the kings of England in their French wars ' 
(Cotgrave), which is akin to the verb costoyer, 6 to 
accoast, side, abbord ; to be, or lie, by the side of:' 
Eng. 'to coast,' to go by the side of, approach ; ' 
6 to cote,' to go by the side of, pass by {e.g., i We 
coted them on the way,' Hamlet, ii. 2), all from 
Fr. cote, anciently coste, Lat. costa, the side. 

6 Scorn ' is the Italian scornare, Fr. escorner, 1 
to ruin, deface, or disgrace. The original mean- 
ing of the latter, as we find it given in Cot- 
grave, is 'to unhorn, dishorn, or deprive of horns ; 
to cut, pull, or take from one a thing which is 
(or he thinks is) an ornament or grace unto him ; 
to lop or shred off the boughs of trees.' The past 
participle escornt, unhorned, means also, he tells 
us, ' melancholike, out of heart, out of countenance, 
ashamed to shew himself, as a Deere is, when he 

1 We need not, perhaps, suppose any direct connection with the 
German sckerno, 0. H. Ger. skernon, Fr. escharnir. 

SCOKN. 43 

hath cast his head ; l . . . and hence, defaced, 
ruined, scorned, disgraced.' So Pliny, in his 
account of that animal — 

* The males of this kind are horned, and they (aboue all 
other liuing creatures) cast them euery yeare once, at a cer- 
taine time of the Spring : and to that purpose, a little before 
the very day of their mewing, they seek the most secret cor- 
ners, and most out of the way in the whole forest. When they 
are pollards they keep close hidden, as if they were disarmed.' 
Holland's Trans., vol. i. p. 214 (1634). 

Florio, in his i New World of Words,' 1611, gives 
a like account of the Italian scornare, 'tounhorne, 
to dishorne. Also to scorne, to mocke, to vilifie, 
to shame.' 

Both these words come from a Low Latin form, 
discornare or excornare, to render ex-cornis, or 
destitute of horns. And inasmuch as to deprive an 
animal of its horns is to deprive it of its chief 
glory and ornament, to render it quite defenceless 
and despicable, 2 the word by an easy transition be- 
came applicable to any species of contemptuous and 
dishonourable treatment, e.g., c Sothli Eroude with 
his oost dispiside him and scornyde him clothid 
with a whit cloth' (WyclifTe, Luke xxiii. 11). 

1 Camden, in his ' Remains,' mentions an imprese he had seen, ' a 
Bucke casting his homes with inermis defoemis over him ; and 
under him cur dolent habentes '' (p. 358, ed. 1637). * Escorchie 
I'ont comme buef escorne ' (Jourdains de Blaivies). In the French 
argot, ecorner=injurier (Fr. Michel, Etude sur 1' Argot). 

a The expression an ' humble ' deer, an ' humble ' ewe, is applied 
to one without horns ; but this is a corruption of hummel' d, from 
prov. Eng. hummel, hammel, 0. N. hamla, to mutilate, lop, A. -Sax. 
hamelan, to hamstring. 

44 SCORN. 

In Spenser's i Faerie Queene,' when. Diana and 
her nymphs detected the prying Faun, 

' Forth they drew him by the homes, and shooke 
Nigh all to peeces, that they left him nought ; 
And then into the open light they forth him brought.' 

Or, in other words, as his treatment is described 

a little afterwards — 

' They mocke and scorne him, and him fonle miscall ; 
Some by the nose him pluckt, some by the taile, 
And by his goatish beard some did him haile,' 

Bk. VII. canto vi. 47, 49. 

The secondary sense of the word — not so much 

to make one hornless, as to regard him as such, 

to despise him as unarmed — may be illustrated by 

a passage from the Epigrams of the same author, 

in which Cupid exclaims, when smarting from the 

sting of a bee, before heedlessly set at nought by 

him — 

' The Fly, that I so much did scorne, 
Hath hurt me with his little home.' 

It will be remembered that amongst the Hebrews 
the horn was regarded as the natural symbol of 
power and honour, 1 and to break or bring down 
one's horn was to degrade and humble him, e.g., 
" All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off, 
but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted ' 

1 ' The horn, the horn, the lusty horn 
Is not a thing to laugh to scorn.' 

As You Like It, iv. 2. 
Cf. ' Addis cornua pauperi.' 

Hor. Od. iii. 21, 18. 

SCORN. 45 

(Ps. Ixxv. 10), q.d., < I will scorn the "wicked.' 
Similarly, to cut off the hair and beard, which are 
the natural ornament of the human head, just as 
horns are that of the beast, was an act expressive 
of contempt and mockery (2 Sam. x. 4), and to 
have one's head so denuded was to be made a sub- 
ject of derision (2 Kings ii. 23). In Jeremiah 
(ix. 25; xxv. 23; xlix. 32, marg.), a common 
term of reproach for the Arabian nations is, l the 
men with shorn-off whiskers ' (Gesenius). So the 
Sanskrit munda, shorn, hornless (from mund, to 
shave), a baldpate, means also low and mean. 
The Gaelic maol, without horns, bald, is also 
i foolish, silly ; ' maol-ckeannack, bald-headed, 
stupid, sheepish ; Irish maol, shaved, bald, also 
obtuse, humble, a servant. Compare the Eng. 
word ' dod,' ' Doddyd, wythe-owte hornysse, De- 
cornutus, incornutus' (Prompt. Parv.) ; of trees = 
lopped of its foliage, decomatus ; i dodderel,' a 
pollard ; ' doddypate ' or ' doddipoll,' a blockhead 
or numskull ; - 1 Frisian dodd, a simpleton. We 
may also, perhaps, compare ' to contemn/ Lat. 
contemno, temno, which is the representative of the 
Greek Umno (refiva)), to cut off; and the Greek 
verb koldzo (fcoXafo), to check or chastise, coming 
from kolos (koXos), docked, clipped, hornless. 

1 ' Doddy-poll was originally applied to a person who had his hair 
cut very short, or to a tonsured priest.' 

Atkinson, Cleveland Dialect, b.v. ' Dodded.'' 

( 46 ) 



Words, like photographs of our friends, have a 
natural tendency in process of time to fade and 
lose the sharpness of their outlines. Many, which 
once on a time conveyed to the mind a distinct 
and vivid picture, lose their chief characteristics 
after a while ; and thus, as the lights grow dark 
and the shadows grow pale, a word becoming quite 
general and undefined in its meaning assumes an 
inexpressive aspect of colourless monotony, like 
one of those blanched and pallid likenesses which 
have ceased to interest us. It is only with effort, 
and by holding the word, as it were, in a favour- 
able light, that we can trace again the imprint of 
individuality which formerly it possessed. Of the 
multitudes of such dulled and exhausted words 
which are stored up in the crowded album of faded 
pictures which we call a dictionary, we will bring 
out one for examination in the present chapter. 
We will take the word ' try,' in such a sentence 
as i Jack is trying to skate' — a use of the word, 

TRY. 47 

by the way, which appears to be quite modern ; 
for often as it occurs in the authorised version, it 
is never found with a dependent infinitive in the 
sense of attempting to do a thing. The verb here 
is so simple and transparent in its mere auxiliary 
position, that we would not expect it to have been 
impressed once with a graphic and full-toned 
significance. Let us see if we can revive the 

To 'try' is the French trier, (Pro v.) triar (to 
pick, cull out), (0. It.) triare, (It.) tritare (to 
triturate, sift, examine), from (Lat.) tritare, fre- 
quentative of terere (to thrash). 

The original meaning therefore of i to try,' or, 
according to the old phrase, i to try out,' was to 
separate the grain from the straw and chaff by 
thrashing and winnowing, to distinguish the 
worthless from the good ; then, in a secondary 
sense, to sift out the truth by examination, to put 
to the test, to make assay or experiment of, to 
attempt. 1 

Accordingly, in our pattern sentence the full 
and fundamental meaning would be, Jack is dis- 
criminating, or learning by experience the differ- 
ence, between skating and not skating — distin- 

1 "With ' trial' = affliction, &c, cf. the very similar word 'tribu- 
lation.' Trench, Study of Words, Lect. II. 
Milton speaks of a life 

* Tried in sharp tribulation, and refined 
By faith and faithful works.' Far. Lost, xi. 63. 

48 TRY. 

guishing what is from what is not in his power 

— and following up the discovery thus made by a 

correspondent effort, perhaps a painful one. 

The word is frequently used in its primary sense 

in old writers, e.g. — 

' Euentilare, to winnow or trie in the wind. 1 

Florio, New World of Words, 1611. 

' The wylde come, beinge in shape and greatnesse lyke to 

the good, if they be mengled, with great difficultie wyll be 

tryed out, but either in a narowe holed seeve they wyl stil 

abide with the good corne,' &c. 

Sir T. Elyot, The Governor. Bk. II. c. 14 (Richardson, Diet.) 

' I let all go to losse, and count the as chaffe or refuse (that 
is to say, as thinges which are purged out and refused when a 
thyng is tryed and made perfect), that 1 might wynne Christ.' 
Tyndall, Works, p. 219 (Richardson). 

' Alas, now when the trial doth separate the chaff from the 
corn, how small a deal it is, God knoweth, which the wind 
doth not blow away.' 

Ridley, quoted in Palmer's Eccles. Hist, p. 272. 

' Gods (temptation) is like the tryall of gold, 1 Pet. i. 7, 
which the oftener it is tryed, the purer it waxeth ; the devils, 
like that of Manna, which stinketh and corrupteth by tryall. 
Gods is like the tryall of the fanne, Matth. iii. 12, the devils 
like that of the scive, Luke xxii. 31, which lets goe the flower 
and keepes the branne.' 

Bp. Andrewes, Temptation of Clirist, p. 11 (1642). 

Compare this also, from the works of Isaac 
Williams — 

' The fidelity of Luke here appears in sad contrast with the 
falling away of Demas. . . . Now the trial had sifted the 
chaff and the wheat, and they are parted asunder. How awful 
is this separation ever going on between the good and the 
bad ! ' Sermons on Saints 1 Days, p. 332. 

TRY. 49 

So ' a try' is an old word for a sieve or riddle. 1 
i This breaking of his has been but a try for his 
friends ' (Shakspere, Tirnon, v. 1), meaning his 
bankruptcy is only a device for distinguishing his 
true friends from the false. ' To try tallow ' is, 
I believe, still the technical phrase for separating 
the fat from the refuse by melting it. This word 
was also used especially for the testing and purify- 
ing of gold by smelting it in a furnace, and thus 
separating it from all dross and baser admixture. 
Then in a figurative sense it was applied to the 
testing of a man's faith and patience under the 
fiery heat of temptation (1 Pet. i. 7). In the Old 
Testament Scriptures the Hebrew word tzdrap/i, 2 
to melt a metal, and so free it from dross (Ps. xii. 
7 ; Isa. i. 25), is often used for the proving and 
purifying of the human heart (Ps. xvii. 3, xxvi. 2, 
cv. 19; Dan. xi. 35), and our word £ try/ when 
employed to translate it in those passages, must 
no doubt be understood in its proper and original 
sense — ' to sift and separate from impurity.' 

* Compare their temptations to a fire which burns out dross 
and corruption, and makes the metal purer, and so God may 
he said to tempt, " I will sit as a refiuer and purifier of 
silver ; " because by this fiery trial the virtues of His children 
are made the clearer, their vicious inclinations beiug separated 

1 Vide quotation from Holland in Trench, Deficiencies in English 
Dictionaries, p. 17. 
2 C^ # 

50 TRY. 

and removed. " When He hath tried me, I shall come forth 
as gold."' Bp. Nicholson on the Catechism, 1661. 

A comparison of the following verses in our 
authorised version, in each of which the word we 
are examining occurs, will show conclusively that 
the primary meaning was ever present to the minds 
of the translators : — Job xxiii. 10 ; Ps. xii. 6, 
lxvi. 10, cxix. 140 (marg.) ; Prov. xvii. 3 ; Jer. 
ix. 7 ; Dan. xii. 10 ; Zech. xiii. 9 ; 1 Cor. iii. 13 ; 
1 Pet. i. 7 ; Eev. iii. 18. 

In each and all of these passages there is a 
direct reference to the refining of silver or gold 
in the furnace, and this idea, though few persons 
know or remember it when reading them, is accu- 
rately conveyed by our verb ' to try.' So Shaks- 
pere, in his lines on the silver casket — 

* The fire seven times tried this : 
Seven times tried that judgment is, 
That did never choose amiss.' 

Merchant of Venice, ii. 9. 

' Shall I think in silver she's immured 
Being ten times undervalued to tried gold 1 ' 

Ibid. ii. 7. 

Similarly, to c put a person to the test/ or to 
'test' him, meant originally to place him in the 
test, which is an old word for the crucible or melt- 
ing-pot of the refiner, wherewith he assayed the 

TRY. 51 

quality or value of a metal submitted to him (It. 
testo, Lat. testa, an earthen vessel). 1 
Those who have 

* Beguiled with a counterfeit, 
. . . which, bei: 
Proves valueless,' 2 

which, beiug touch'd and tried, 

and whose virtue, therefore, has failed under the 
test or fiery trial, carrying out the figure, were 
called c reprobate ' — a word properly applied to 
metals which do not stand the proof, and are 
therefore condemned as adulterate, or rejected as 
spurious (Lat. reprobus), 3 e.g. — 

1 Keprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord 
hath rejected them.' Jer. vi. 30. 

This comparison of trials or afflictive dispensa- 
tions to the fierce action of fire, which exercises, 
nevertheless, an ameliorating and purifying virtue, 
by consuming whatever of worthless may be mingled 
with the good, is common to many languages. 
For example, Kidd, in his work on China (p. 44), 
tells us that the Chinese symbol meaning < to 
refine metals ' is ' compounded of ho, fire, and keen, 
to separate, which exhibits both the act of 

1 Cf. It. coppellare, * to refine or bring gold or silver to his right 
and due test or loye ' (Florio), from copjoella, a cupel or melting- 

2 Shakspere, King John, hi. 1. 

3 Eastwood and Wright, Bible Word-Book, sv. It translates 
Gk. ddoKi/xos, opp. to doKifios, and So/ct^udfw, which latter is the word 
for trying and proving a metal, &c, in 1 Cor. iii. 13 j 1 Pet. i. 7, &c. 

52 TRY. 

separating the dross from the pure metal, and the 
agent (fire) by which that separation is effected ; 
the moral use of which, collated with that beauti- 
ful passage, 1 " He will sit as a refiner's fire," is 
illustrated in the (Chinese) phrase, " to try men's 
hearts," by afflictive events or prosperous circum- 
stances ; that is, to test human character by means 
of providential dispensations.' 'Another symbol 
is formed of metal and to separate. This is expres- 
sive not only of refining metals in the furnace, but 
of man undergoing a trial for the purpose of 
proving and benefiting him : whence it is used 
to denote experience, maturity, expertness, but 
whether in a good or bad sense depends upon the 
context ' {Id. p. 45). 

' By many a stern and fiery blast 
The world's rude furnace must thy blood refine.' 

Keble, Christian Year. 

The same idea is beautifully developed in Miss 
Proctor's well-known poem of ' Cleansing Fires ' — 

1 Let thy gold be cast in the furnace, 
Thy red gold, precious and bright ; 
Do not fear the hungry fire, 

With its caverns of burning light : 
And thy gold shall return more precious, 

Free from every spot and stain ; 
For gold must be tried by fire, 

As a heart must be tried by pain ! ' 

Poems, i. 63. 

1 Mai. iii. 2, 3. 

T RY. 53 

These lines, and still better the following — 

1 The fettered spirits linger 
In purgatorial pain, 
With penal fires effacing 
Their last faint earthly stain/ 

Poems, ii. 190. 

bring out in a very clear and striking manner the 
connection and ultimate identity of the words 
' fire,' ' pain,' l penal,' ' pure/ and c purgatory,' all 
of which have sprung, philologists tell us, from 
one and the same root — the Sanskrit root pu (to 
purify). For hence come (1) Lat. purus, ' pure,' 
pur go (i.e.,pur-igo), Ho cleanse/ ' purgatory ' x (the 
place of cleansing) ; (2) (Sans.) puna, punt, (Lat.) 
punire, (to make pure, punish — cf. castigo, to make 
chaste, chastise), Gk. poine (jroivrj), Lat. poena, 
'pain/ 'penal/ (Goth.) /on (gen. funins) = fire; 
(3) Gk.pur (irvp), (A.-Sax.) fyr, 'fire.' 

Max Miiller quotes from the ancient Sanskrit 
Hymns, entitled the i Atharva-Veda/ an address to 
the God of Fire — * The prophets carry thee as the 
Purifier (pavitram) : purify (puniM) us from all 
misdeeds ' (Chips, vol. iv. p. 228). 

And how true it is that fires, which seemed only 
to punish, are overruled and made to purify and 
refine — that the fiery heat of pain, persecution, 
and temptation, if entered into, and borne, with a 

1 With the penal fires of pwrgatory compare, 

'Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuriturigni.' 

Virgil, JEn. Lib. VI. 742. 

54 TRY. 

faithful and unswerving heart, will be made unto 
us, not only an effectual means of deliverance from 
bondage and oppression, but even of furtherance, 
and advancement to heights hitherto unattainable, 
we may learn from the history of the Three Holy 
Children. When they were i tried as the gold in 
the fire,' and their faith and allegiance to God 
were tested in the glare of the seven-times heated 
furnace, so far from destroying them, it became 
to them the very presence-chamber of their God, 
wherein He revealed Himself to them sensibly, as 
He had never done before ; it served but to burn 
away the bonds with which they were before held 
fast, for whereas they were cast in bound, they now 
walked about loose; and eventually it restored 
them unharmed, so that all men marvelled, many 
were turned to believe in Him that had such 
power to save, and they themselves were pro- 
moted to very great honour. When they called, 
therefore, upon the whole creation to join them in 
their song of thanksgiving — that earliest anthem 
of Te Deum — well might they address that con- 
suming element above all, which, in their hour of 
sorest need, had sheltered them in a canopy of 
flame, and say, " ye fire and heat, bless ye the 
Lord ; praise Him, and magnify Him for ever ! ' 
Accordingly the lesson which this word ' trial ' has 
for us in the fulness of its meaning, as literally 
exemplified in the case of the Three Children, may 


be drawn out in these words of the wise Son of 
Sirach — i My son, if thou come to serve the 
Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation. For 
gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men 
in the furnace of adversity.' 1 For though, in 
the words of another apocryphal writer, ' He hath 
not tried us in the fire, as He did them, for the 
examination of their hearts, neither hath He taken 
vengeance on us,' yet, ' the Lord doth scourge 
them that come near unto Him, to admonish them.' 2 
' But the souls of the righteous are in the hand 
of God, and there shall no torment touch them. 
And having been a little chastised, they shall be 
greatly rewarded ; for God proved them and found 
them worthy for Himself. As gold in the furnace 
hath He tried them, and received them as a burnt- 
offering. And in the time of their visitation they 
shall shine.' 3 

If, as may be conjectured, the word ( search,' 
though itself of quite another origin, 4 has been ap- 
proximated both in form and meaning to the Old 
English c searce,' a sieve, it would afford a close 
parallel to the words ' try,' to sift, ' try/ a riddle. 
Compare the French c sasser, to sift, searce ; ' ' sas, 
a ranging sieve, or searce ; ' tamiser, to searce, to 
boult, to pass or strain through a searce' (Cotgrave). 

1 Ecclus. ii. 1,5. 2 Judith vii. 27. 3 Wisdom iii. 1, 5-7. 

4 From the Fr. ckercher, It. cercare, Lat. circare, to go around, 
from circus, a circle. 


' The men of Bercea would not receive Pauls Doctrin 
before they had tried it : and how did they try it ? It is said 
that they searched the Scripture. 

II. Smith, Sermons, p. 145 (1657). 

They sifted and examined the apostle's 
statements, and only accepted them when they 
had been passed through the scarce of Scrip- 

■ Let vs search deepe and trie our better parts.' 

Sir John Beaumont (d. 1623), The Miserable 
State of Man. 

6 To sift, to search, also to chuse or cull out,' is 
Florio's definition of the Italian cernere. 

The synonymous word in Latin yields us our 
verb ' to discern ' (Lat. dis-cernere), meaning origi- 
nally to sift apart, or separate by riddling, the 
good from the refuse. 1 A person who is careful 
in thus making a difference, who knows how to 
discriminate in doubtful cases, refusing the evil 
and choosing the good, is said to have ' discretion ' 
(Lat. discretio). Fuller, in his ' Church History,' 
says of a certain legendary story of doubtful 
credit, that it ' calleth aloud to the discretion of 
the reader to fan the chaff from the corn ; and to 
his industry, to rub the dust from the gold which 

1 Compare the Sp. cernir, to sift meal, cierna, the flower or 
best of anything; It. cerna, a culling or choosing out; Lat. 
cribrum, a sieve, whence Fr. cribler, to sift, our ' garble.' Akin 
is the Gk. krino> to separate, distinguish between good and bad, 
decide, try ; Sans. Jcri, to separate. But see Pictet, i. 203. 

SKILL. 57 

almost of necessity will cleave to matters of such 
antiquity' (vol. i. p. 23, ed. 1868). Many other 
instances might be adduced of words which, having 
a primitive signification of winnowing, separating, 
or dividing, have come to be used in ordinary 
language in the sense of examining, trying, un- 
derstanding, or perceiving. For example, if we 
say one is a man of science, of skill, or of intelli- 
gence ; i science ' (Lat. scientia, knowledge) is from 
scio, to know, which is from Sanskrit root k'hd, to 
divide, seen also in the Greek verbs keid, kedzo, 
to cleave ; 1 ' skill ' is the 0. Norse skil, separation, 
discrimination, Dan. skille, to sever, put asunder. 2 
To skill in Old English means to matter, or make 
a difference, as well as to know or understand ; in 
some of the provincial dialects it signifies to hull 
oats ; and spelt skile, it means to separate. While 
' intelligent,' from the Latin intelligere {i.e., inter- 
legere, to pick out here and there), is applicable 
to a person who exercises judgment in select- 
ing, and putting this and that together. A 
schoolboy who is quick in construing, in picking 
out the verb and the nominative and dependent 
genitive, when dispersed over a long and involved 
Latin sentence, might be accurately described as 
i intelligent.' With ' skill ' we may compare the 

1 Ferrar, Comparative Grammar, vol. i. p. 71. 

2 Scale, shell, skull, shield, and inauy other words are con- 

58 discuss. 

Sanskrit word patu, skilful, coming from pat, to 
divide (originally j^cirt, Lat. par(t)-s)} 

In Hebrew, bin, to separate, means also to dis- 
cern, distinguish, understand, or know ; and the 
participle ndbon means intelligent, skilful. Simi- 
larly, Lat. video, to see, akin to Gk. vid-ein 
(fiSelv), Ger. wissen, our l wit,' Sans, vid, to know, 
probably signified originally to separate or dis- 
tinguish one thing from another. Compare Lat. 
divido, to divide. In Hebrew, bdqar, to cleave, in a 
secondary sense means to inspect, consider, think 
upon. In the passage Psalm cxxxix. 3, rendered 
by Gesenius, ( Thou hast searched me in my walk- 
ing and in my lying down,' the verb in the ori- 
ginal implies ' Thou hast winnowed me,' — zdrdh, to 
winnow, then to shake out and examine thoroughly. 
Beside this we may set our word c to discuss,' 
coming, as it does, from the Latin verb discutio 
(dis-quatio), to shake asunder. Its proper signifi- 
cation is to separate and loosen by shaking, to 
disentangle and clear a subject by getting rid of 
the extraneous matter with which it has been 
encumbered. Spenser uses the word in its primi- 
tive sense — 

'All regard of shame she had discusV {i.e., shaken off). 

Faerie Queene, III. i. 48. 

In old medical writers it means to disperse 

1 Ferrar, Comparative Grammar, vol. i. p. 337. 


humours. Holland tells us that a decoction of 
Parthenium is good ' to discusse all inflammations ' 
(< Translation of Pliny,' vol. ii. p. Ill, 1635). 

Our verb ' to canvass ' meant originally to sift 
or examine by passing through canvas. 

1 Wening it perhaps no decorum that shepheards should be 
seene in matter of so deep insight, or canvase a case of so 
doubtful judgment.' 

General Argument to the Shepheard's Calender. 

Compare Fr. ' berner, to vanne or winnow corn, 
also to canvass or toss in a sive ' (Cotgrave). 

Somewhat similarly, Lat. putare, to think, comes 
from the adjective putus, pure, unmixed, clean, 
and this from the root pu, above. It meant first 
to expurgate or cleanse from all superfluous ad- 
mixture ; then to clear up a matter, to reckon up 
and balance an arithmetical account, as we speak 
of clearing fractions, or liquidating accounts; then, 
of mental operations, to distinguish clearly. 

The verb to ' distinguish ' itself meant once on 
a time to prick off, 1 as the markers at the uni- 
versity, when calling the roll, mark off with a pin 
the students who answer to their names. A man 
of ' distinction ' is one separated from the com- 
mon herd, and set apart as superior to his fellows. 
Compare Heb. ndqad, to prick, mark with points, 

1 Stinguo, to prick, is from the root stig, which is also seen 
in ' stimulate/ Lat. sti(g)mulus, ' instigate,' ' instinct,' ' extinct,' 
'stake,' 'sting,' Gk. stizo, 'stigma,' &c. 


also to select or set apart things which are of a 
better quality than the rest by marking them 
off (Gesenius). In like manner, when we give 
special attention to anything that comes under 
our notice, affixing, as it were, a mental asterisk 
to it, or ticking it off in the tablets of ourmemorj', 
we are said to ' mark,' or ' remark ' it, Ger. 

To take another case of a word which had 
once a sensible image, that now eludes general 
cognisance, but which only needs to have a de- 
veloping solution applied to it (so to speak) in 
order to bring out the latent picture, let us sub- 
mit the verb 6 flatter ' to the philological ' bath,' 
and note the interesting results of the process as 
it grows into a concrete distinctness. 

* Flatter,' the French flatter x (to pat, stroke, 
caress, flatter) audflater (' to flatter; sooth, smooth; 
also, to claw, stroke, clap gently] Cotgrave), (Pro v.) 
flatar, is a derivative from ' flat ' (A.- Sax. and 0. 
Norse) flat, (0. H. Ger.) A*, (Gk.) pldx (77-Aaf), 

1 Placare would probably be in Latin the etymological represen- 
tative oi flatter, with a primitive meaning of flattening or smoothing. 
"We frequently read of a sea-god in Ovid or Virgil cequora placat, he 
smoothes the waters. Compare plac-enta, a flat cake ( = 0. Eng. 
Jlathc, 0. H. Ger. flado), pldga, a flat surface, planus for plac-nus, 
planca for plac-na, a flat board, a ' plank.' The root is plac or 
plag, seen in Gk. plak-s, Fr. plaque and plat, Ger. flach, ' flat,' 
jlachen, to flatten. Of the same origin, beyond doubt, and affording 
an interesting parallel to ' flatter,' are the words Jlatch, in the dialect 
of Cleveland a flatterer, Danish flegrc, Swed. Jleha, Scotch fleech or 
flcich, to flatter. 


(Fr.) plat (flat), ' Bailler du plat de la langue, 
to sooth, flatter ', A metaphor from a dog's licking ■ 

The form i to flat • is found in Gawin Douglas's 
translation of the < JEneid ' (1553)— 

* Quhat sliclit dissait quentlie to flat and fene.' 

Prologue of the Fourth BoJce. 

Accordingly the meaning of the word would 
have passed through the following transitions : — 
(1) To make flat or even ; (2) to smooth down the 
hair of an animal, to lick; (3) to stroke, caress; 1 
(4) not to go against the grain, but to humour a 
person's weaknesses, to flatter, or as Burns ex- 
presses it — 

' For G — d sake, sirs ! then speak her fair, 
An' straiJc her cannie wi } the hair.'' 

Tennyson, therefore, would seem to have divined 
the true force of the word when he wrote — 

1 Then to his proud horse Lancelot turn'd, and smooth'd 
The glossy shoulder, humming to himself. 
Half-envious of the flattering hand, she drew 
Nearer and stood.' 

Idylls of the King, p. 165 (ed. 1859). 

So ' to stroke ' in prov. Eng. means to soothe, 
to flatter (Wright, Prov. Diet.), and * stroker ' is 

1 Gk. Karappifa. M. Littre quotes the following instances of 
flatter being used in this sense : — ' Ton cou nerveux [d'un cheval] de 
sa main fid flatte' (Millev.); * De la main qui leflatte il se croit 
redoute' (Voltaire). 


used for a flatterer by Ben Jonson. 1 Compare 

the following : — 

'Campian . . . being excellent at the flat hand of 
Ehetorick (which rather gives pats then blows), but he could 
not bend his fist to dispute.' 2 

Fuller, Holy State, p. 60 (ed. 1648). 

1 This is a fairing, gentle sir, indeed, 
To soothe me up with such smooth flattery.' 

Greene, Friar Bacon (1594), p. 157 (ed. Dyce). 

' His [the flatterer's] Art is nothing but a delightful coozen- 
age, whose rules are smoothing, and garded with perjurie ; 
whose scope is to make men fooles, in teaching them to over- 
value themselves, and to tickle his friends to death.' 

Bp. Hall, Characterismes of Vices, p. 173 {Works, 1634). 

' Let not his smoothing ivords 

Bewitch your hearts 

. . . . . for all this flattering gloss 
He will be found a dangerous protector.' 

Shahs., 2d Ft. Henry VI., i. 1. 

1 Dangerous peer 
That smoothest it so with king and common-weal.' 

Shake., 2d Ft. Henry VL, ii. 1. 

'His [Henry III.'s] expression, "licking the chancery," hath 
left posterity to interpret it, whether taxing him for ambition, 
liquorishly longing for that place; or for adulation, by the 
soft smoothing of flattery making his way thereunto.' 

Fuller, Worthies, vol. i. p. 117 (repr. 1811). 

There are numerous instances of words expres- 

1 Magnetic Lady, iv. 1. Cf. ' To wipe a person down,' to flatter 
or pacify (Slang Dictionary). 

2 There is an evident reference here (as pointed out by the 
brothers Hare, ' Guesses at Truth,' 1st Ser. p. 137, 3d ed.) to Zeno's 
illustration, ' Cum autem diduxerat, et manum dilataverat, palmse 
illius similem eloquentiam esse dicebat ' (Cic. de Orat., 32). 


sive of the idea of flattering having originally 
meant to smooth, 1 or stroke down, e.g. — 

1. ' To claw ' is very commonly used in old writers 
for to flatter — 

1 Claw no man in his humour.' 

Shaks., Much Ado About Nothing, i. 3. 

1 Some object that he [Cambden] claws and natters the Gran- 
dees of his own age.' Fuller, H. State, p. 137 (1648). 

'Why the King cajoleth the great Monasteries ... in the 
foresaid preamble the King fairly claweth the great Monas- 
teries.' Fuller, Church Hist, ii. 211 (ed. 1842). 

So c clawback ' was used for flatterer, e.g. — 

1 Parasite, a clawback, flatterer, soother, smoother, for good 
chear sake.' Cutgrave. 

2. 6 To curry/ or c curry favour,' originally to 
e currg Javel, 2 (Fr.) etriller fauveau, to curry the 
chestnut horse, to soothe an animal by rubbing 
him down and combing him, to flatter. 

' Thei curreth kynges and her back claweth.' 

P. P. Creole, c. iii. 

So we meet (Dut.) streelen, to flatter, soothe, 
from sir eel, a curry-comb. 3 

3. ' To glaver,' or 6 glafTer ' (prov. Eng.) = to 
flatter, connected with (Welsh) glaf (= smooth), 
(prov. Bug.) glafe^ (Lat.) glaber (smooth), 'glib.' 

1 So the Latin verb calvor, to deceive (whence calumnia), seems 
to contain the root of calvus, smooth. 

2 Vide Douce's Illustrations of Shakspere, p. 291. 

3 Philolog. Soc. Proceedings, g vol. iii. p. 149. 


4. (Russ.) gladit (to flatter, smooth, stroke), 
(Boliem.) Idaditi, connected with (Dut) glad, (Ger.) 
glatt, (Bohem.) hladhj (= smooth), cf. l glatte 
worte' = flattery (Ger., Prov. ii. 16). So (Swed.) 
sliita ord (smooth, i.e., flattering, words), from slkt 
(smooth), (Goth.) slaihts, (Ger.) slicht, l sleek.' * 

Compare — 

' The schilling vissage of the god Cupicle, 
And his dissimilit slekit wourdes quhyte.' 

Gawin Douglas, Bulces of Eneados (1553). 

5. (Fr.) palper (' to handle gently, stroak 
softly, also to flatter, sooth, cog,' Cotgrave), (Lat.) 

6. (Fr.) chatouiller, 'to tickle, touch gently, 
also to flatter, claw, smooth, please with faire 
words/ (Cotgrave). 

7. (It.) lisciare (' to smooth, to sleeke, to 
stroke, or claw smoothly and softly. Also, to flatter 
or cog withall,' Florio), from liscio (smooth), 
Gk. \iaaos. 

8. (Prov. Eng.) rchane (to stroke, to coax), 
Tchanter (to flatter), (North). — Wright. (Cleve- 
land) wholly, to stroke the back of an animal gently, 
also to wheedle or cajole a person (Atkinson). 

1 Cf. Ps. xii. 2 ; Prov. vi. 24, where the original implies smooth 
speeches, &c. 

2 Cf ' Cui male si palpere recalcitrat undique tutus' (Hor. Sat. 
ii. 1, 20). So Buttmann connects Gk. airarav (to deceive) with 
d.Tra.(petv and dirreadai (to touch, handle), (Lexilogus, s. v.) 


9. (Ir.) sliomaim, (Gael.) sliom (to flatter), 
from sliom (smooth, sleek, ' slim '). 

10. (Lat.) mulcere (1, to stroke down ; 2, soothe, 
flatter), connected with mulgere (to milk a cow), 
dfieXyco, (Ir.) miolc (milk) ; and near akin are the 
(Ir.) miolcaim} (to flatter, soothe) and 

11. (Lith.) milzu (1, to stroke down, milk; 2, 
cajole, persuade). 

12. (Ir.) bladairim (I flatter), bladar (flattery, 
soothing), {cf, 6 blether ' and ' blather') from 
bladh (smooth, flat, also flattery). With n inserted, 
blandar, blandaraim, which seem to account for 
the Latin blandus, blandior (to flatter.) ' Blan- 
disseur, sl soother, smoother, flattering sycophant, 
or claw-back ' (Cotgrave). 

13. (Ger.) schmeicheln, (Dut.) smeecken, (Dan.) 
smigre (= to flatter), Eng. ' smicker,' (Swed.) 
smeka (to stroke, caress), smickra, to flatter. 
Skinner (Etymologicon, 1671) gives Eng. to 
6 smuckle ' = to flatter. 

14. (Heb,) chdlaq 2 (to be smooth), Hiphil 
(1) to smooth, (2) to flatter (Prov. xxix. 5 ; 
Ps. xxxvi. 3), (? cf. Ko\a%). A cognate word 
is — 

1 Cf. (Ir.) bleacktaire (1, a milker; 2, a soother), Ueachd (milk), 
&c. Similarly (Gk.) dwirrio (to flatter, orig. to caress or stroke with 
the hand), has been traced to the Sanskrit root duh (to milk). 
M. Miiller quoted by Pictet, Orig. Ind. ii. 25. 
2 P?n. 



15. (Heb.) cMld/c 1 (to be smooth), Piel (1) to 
stroke or smooth anyone's face, (2) soothe, caress, 
flatter. Thus we are told in a curious anthropo- 
morphic phrase in Zech. vii. 2, that Sherezer and 
others were sent ' to stroke the face of Jehovah, i.e., 
to conciliate or entreat His favour. 2 

16. (Esthon.) libbe (smooth, flattering), con- 
nected with libbama (to lick). Cf (Prov.) lepar (1, 
to lick ; 2, to cajole, flatter). 

17. (Prov.) lagot (flattery), (Sp.) lagotear (to 
flatter), connected with (QoW\.)\>i-laigo7i (to lick), 
Diez. Compare 

' I learn that smooth-tongu'd flatteries are 
False language.' Quarks, Grammar of the Heart. 

And the German proverb, ' Schmeichler sind 
Katzen, die vorne lecken und hinten kratzen.' 
And so Macaulay — 

' The amiable king had a trick of giving a sly scratch with 
one hand, while patting and stroking with the other.' 

Essay on Frederick the Great. 

* It is observable that which way soever a wicked man 
useth his tongue, he cannot use it well. Mordet detrahendo, 
lingit adulando : He bites by detraction, licks by flattery ; 
and either of these touches rankle ; he doth no less hurt by 
licking than by biting.' 

Thos. Adams, Sermon on the Taming of the Tongue. 

1 n ^- 

2 Vide, Keil on Minor Prophets, in he, vol. i. (Clark, Trans.) 


Synonymous with flattery is i adulation/ the 
Latin adulatio, from adulor. This last word has 
sorely perplexed almost every etymologist that 
has attempted to analyse it ; and yet, if I am not 
mistaken, the true explanation of it is neither dif- 
ficult nor recondite. The most absurd and con- 
flicting derivations have been suggested; for 
example, ad aulam (from i standing in the hall ') 
by Wedgwood, ad and a supposed word via (= 
Greek ovpa, ' tail '), from a dog wagging its tail, 1 
by Donaldson (Varron., p. 259), adoro (pray to) 
by others. It is much more probable, I think, 
that adulor represents the Greek d&uXlfo (Jiadulizo), 
from aSvkos (Jiddulos), Doric forms of rjBu\l^co, 

1 As 'wheedle 'is the (Ger.) wedeln (to wag the tail), cf. (It.) 
codiare (Florio). This is the origin that Wedgwood adopts for 
'flatter,' connecting it with (0. Norse) Jladra (to wag the tail). 
He might have quoted in support of his view the following 
from Bp. Keynolds, where, speaking of the ' flattery of dogs,' he 
quotes — 

1 Ovprj fih p 6y Zo-yve, xal oUara /ca/3/3a\ev &fj.(pu. Od. p. 302. 

For wanton joy to see his master near, 

He wav'd h\s, flattering tail, and toss'd his ear.' 

Works, vi. 32 (ed. 1826). 

Beaumont and Fletcher speak of 

' Lying, or dog flattering, 
At which our nation's excellent.' The Mad Lover. 

King Charles I. confessed to Sir Philip Warwick that he loved 
greyhounds better than spaniels, ' for they equally love their 
masters, and yet do not flatter them so much ' (Mem. of Charles I. 
p. 365). The type of the 'flattering sycophant,' says the great 
puritan divine Thomas Adams, is ' the fawning spaniel, that hath 
only learned to fetch and carry, to spring the covey of his master's 
lusts, and to arride and deride him ' (Works, vol. ii. p. 119, 
Kichol's ed.) 


?;8u\o?, from rjSvs (sweet), and so means to say 
sweet things, "be sweet upon a person (cf. rjSuvco, 
rjSvXoyeco). 1 

So our ' soothe ' is without doubt the verbal 
form of (0. Eng.) ' soote,' ' sote ' (sweet), 2 Dan. 
sod, and meant originally to sweeten ; (Goth.) 
sutkjan, connected with sutis (sweet), (Dut.) zoet, 
(A. -Sax.) swet, swaes, (Ger.) suss, (Gk.) tfSvs, 
(Sans.) svddu (sweet, tasty), from the root svdd (to 
taste, eat). Hence also ' to soother ' (Devon.), 
i sooter ' (to court) ; (A.-Sax.) swadkrian, from 
swaes (sweet). Cf. — 

1 Witli sothery butter theyr bo-dyes anoynted.' 

The Four P's, 0. PL v. 87 (i.e., sweet, savoury. 
"Wright, Prov. Diet., s.v.) 

1 Jellies soother than the creamy curd.' 

Keats, Eve of St Agnes, xxx. 

And Shakspere uses ' words of sooth ' for ' words 
of sweetness' (Richard II. iii. 3.) 

The (Sans.) svddu (sweet) also appears in the 
Latin suadere (lit. to soothe or sweeten), per- 
suadere, ( to persuade ' (lit. to sweeten thoroughly 
and effectually, per intensive) corresponding to an 
Eng. ' to for-soothe.' ' To sweeten ' was once used 
pretty nearly in the same sense, e.g. — 

1 Since writing the above, I have found that the same origin had 
been previously suggested in Richardson's Diet. The long u in 
adulor, it must be admitted, remains a difficulty. 

* ' The rose wexeth soote, smooth, and soft.' 

Chaucer, Trollus and Creseide. 


* Amadouer, To flatter, to smooth, to gloze with . . . ; to 
sweeten, or appease a harsh or angry spirit with faire words.' 

Gotgrave, 1660. 

1 The Holland Embassador here do endeavonr to sweeten us 
with fair words.' Pepys' Diary, June 16, 1664. 

Closely akin is the Latin suavis (sweet, for suad- 
vis, (Sans.) svad, svddu), which gives us our 
■ assuage ' (from the 0. Fr. assouager, through a 
Latin assuaviare), ( to sweeten, soothe, or soften.' 

1 Al my breste Bolleth* for bitter of my galle ; 
May no Suger so swete' a-swagen hit vnnethe.' 

Vision of P. Plowman (1362), Pass. v. 1. 100 
(E.E.T.S., Text A). 

As flattery pleases, or, as we sometimes say, 
tickles a person's vanity and self-esteem pretty 
much in the same way that sweetmeats and dain- 
ties gratify his palate, it was a natural mode of 
expression to call such plausive language ' sweet 
or sugared speech,' i soothing,' ' soft sawder ' (pro- 
bably for 6 soother '), ' suasion,' or 6 adulation,' 
words all having in common the same idea of 
sweetness, and all springing from the same root. 
Compare also (A.- Sax.) swaes-sprdec (sweet-speech) 
= flattery, swaes-laecan (make-sweet), to flatter. 

1 Sin, the mind's harlot,' says Thomas Adams, ' preaches 
according to the palate of her audience, placentia ; nay, it is 
placenta, a sweet cake, whose flour is sugar, and the humour 
that tempers it honey, sweet, pleasant.' 

TJie Fatal Banquet. 


In the curious old comedy of ' The Conibate of 
the Tongue and the Five Sences for Superiorities 
the heroine soliloquises as follows : — 

'Fie Lingua wilt thou now degenerate? 
Art not a woman 1 do'st not loue reuenge ? 
Delightful speeches, sweete persuasions ? 

Oft have I seasoned sauory periods 

With sugred words, to delude Gustus taste.' 

Lingua, i. 1 (1632, sig. A 3). 

(She) ' The selie soul ycaught hath in her nette 
Of her sugred mouth alas ! nothing ware.' 

Chaucer, Remedy of Love. 

Phineas Fletcher describes Colax the flatterer 
as one that 

' All his words with sugar spices.' 

The Purple Island, canto viii. 44. 

' Her she soone appeas'd 
With sugred words, and gentle blandishment.' 

Spenser, F. Q., Bk. III., canto vi. 25. 

1 Your fair discourse hath been as sugar, 
Making the hard way sweet and delectable.' 

Shaks., Richard II, ii. 3. 

1 Hide not thy poison with such sugar d words* 

U Ft. Henry VI., iii. 2. 

{ So I have seen an unblown virgin fed 
With sugar'd words.' 

Quarks, Emblems, Bk. I. ii. 

Other examples are the following : — 

1 Amieller, To sweeten ; intice, allure, inveagle with honeyed 
words ; ' 



' Emmieller, To behoney, to sweeten, . . . pacifie, or ap- 
pease, with sweet means.' Cotgrave. 

Both from miel. So c to honey ' was used by the 
Elizabethan writers with the signification of coax- 
ing or flattering. 

' Cans't thou not honey me with fluent speach.' 

Antonio and 3/ellida, A 4 (in Nares). 

Compare the Gk. ixeCkiaao), fjueXlaaco (to soothe), 
connected with fiekca-aa, fiiki (honey) ; and the 
phrase, < Tiro t y\vKaLveLv pyjuarcoh ixayeipiicois, i.e., as 
De Quincey renders it, ' to wheedle the people with 
honeyed words dressed to its palate ' (Aristophanes, 
Knights, 216). 

(0. Norse) milda (to soothe, appease), mildr 
(gentle, 'mild'), are connected with (Gael.) mills 
(sweet), (Ir.) mills, and mil (honey), (Lat.) mel. 
So (Lat.) mulceo, mulsus (to soothe, flatter, also to 
sweeten drinks, &c), would seem to have been in- 
fluenced by, if not directly derived from, mel, 
mulsum (mead). ' Indulge,' (Lat.) indulgere, is 
for indulcere (to be sweet to a person), connected 
with dulcis (sweet) ; and (Fr.) adouclr, (Sp.) 
adulcir, (It.) addolcire, from a Latin form dulcire, 
' to sweeten, smooth, asswage, appease, pacifie ' 
(Cotgrave), 1 are similar formations. In like man- 
ner, douceur (a gift) is the Lat. dulcor (sweet- 

1 From adoucir, through a Swiss form adauhir, comes the 0. 
Eng. ' adaw ' in Spenser, to abate, soften (Wedgwood). Cf. ' as- 
suage,' supra. 


ness), 0. Eng. dolce, a gift, 1 and exactly corre- 
sponding to this is the Gk. ehva (gifts), from the 
Sanskrit svad, sv&du (sweet), lit. ' sweet things 
wherewithal to "persuade.'' Cf. (Fr.) pot-de-vin 
and our l bribe,' which originally meant a piece of 
bread, (Fr.) bribe, as it were a ' sop to Cerberus,' 
(Gk.) fjieiXia, gifts, lit. i soothers.' See fjueiXicraa 

The following apt illustration is to be found 
in Lord Campbell's ' Life of Lord Lyndhurst ' 
(1869) :— 

'He never condescended to anything like direct flattery, 
but he felicitously hit upon the topic which he knew would 
tickle the amour propre of those whom he wished to dulcify ' 

— i.e., to soothe, l swage,'' persuade, or sweeten. 

1 I give this word on the authority of Wright's ' Dictionary of 
Obsolete and Provincial English.' 

[ 73 ] 


' AND 

AND ' TRUE' — ' VICE, 
VITIS ' — ' BAD ' — ' VETCH, 

' VITIUM ' AND ' VITIS ' — ' BAD - 

What a noble object is a full-grown tree ! How 
stalwart in its gnarled bulk, how lofty in its sturdy 
independent growth ! What a staid and reverend 
aspect they wear, i those green-robed senators of 
mighty woods/ hoary with eld, wrinkled and 
scarred by numberless years ! Stand at the foot 
of an ancient tree, whether it be a stately elm or 
a rugged oak ; look up at its towering expanse of 
branches, observe its whelked and furrowed bole, 
and try to clasp it round. 1 One feels overwhelmed 
almost with a sense of his own weakness and di- 
minutiveness, compared with the grandeur of its 
majestic height, its massive proportions, its sem- 
piternal duration. It seems, too, the very emblem 
of stability. Let the stoutest athlete try his 
strength against a tree (like Milo of old), and with 

1 The Marton Oak at Prestbury, in Cheshire, is no less than 64 
feet 5 inches in girth at the bottom (N. and Q., 5th S. ii. 366). 


what a grim stolidity of indifference it smiles down 
at his puny efforts — contemptuous in its immo- 
bility. And it is almost the same in its warfare 
with the forces of nature. It may indeed so far 
comply with ' the season's difference ' as to sur- 
render its crown of leaves ; but the powers of life 
are still strong at its heart, and are ever adding 
new circles to its girth. A tree is no time-server. 
The veteran of the forest lifts its head as erect 
into the azure calmness of the summer sky, as 
towards the threatening gloom of winter when the 
heavens are gathering blackness ; when the storm 
breaks and roars against its branches, it seems to 
exult in its unshaken might — as the winds bluster 
and spend their force, the rooted giant, swaying its 
huge arms aloft, seems to grapple with its adver- 
sary and return blow for blow. It may, perhaps, 
be altogether overborne and laid prostrate by the 
violence of the tempest; but it is incapable of bend- 
ing, it scorns to yield to hostile pressure. If it 
falls, we deplore its untimely fate with something 
of human sympathy, accounting it an irreparable 
loss when a lordly tree is torn up from its roots 
and stretched along upon the earth, battered and 
disfigured. It seems like the overthrow of a 
mighty man of valour, of a king who had survived 
a hundred well-fought battles, and has now met 
his doom at last, and fallen in the fulness of his 


Indeed, this heroic vigour and strength of 
character so apparent in trees has often been com- 
pared to the corresponding qualities in men. 
1 Some men/ says George Fox, the founder of the 
Quakers, ' have the nature of tall, sturdy oaks, to 
flourish and spread in wisdom and strength.' As 
we delight in applying the phrase 6 hearts of oak ' 
to our brave sailors, so did the Eomans apply the 
word robur, expressive of the strength or robustness 
of the oak, to the courage of their invincible 
soldiery; and in Italian, according to Florio's 
definition, robore is ' an oake, also courage, hardi- 
nesse or stoutnesse of minde.' In his i Essay on 
Gardening,' Shenstone the poet remarks that ' all 
trees have a character analogous to that of men : 
oaks are in all respects the perfect image of the 
manly character: in former times I should have 
said, and in present times I think I am authorized 
to say, the British one: As a brave man is not 
suddenly either elated by prosperity or depressed 
by adversity, so the oak displays not its verdure 
on the sun's first approach, nor drops it on his 
first departure. Add to this its majestic appear- 
ance, the rough grandeur of its bark, and the wide 
protection of its branches.' He further expresses 
the opinion, in which most people will coincide 
with him, that i a large, branching, aged oak, is 
perhaps the most venerable of all inanimate objects.' 
That these heroic qualities of vigour and strength 


so remarkable in trees were shared by them in 
common with men was noticed by the most ancient 
writers, and it was even supposed that the stoutest 
warriors derived their origin from certain of the 
hardest kinds of trees. Thus Hesiod 1 states that 
the third generation of articulately-speaking men 
were made by Father Zeus out of ash-trees — a 
proper material for a tough and hardy race. It 
was out of the sacred ash, Yggdrasil, that the first 
man was believed to have been created in the 
Northern mythology ; and in Anglo-Saxon, cesc, an 
ash, is also the word for a man, a warrior. The 
Arcadians 2 were said to be a race of men sprung 
from the trunks of hard oaks ; while Isaiah, it may 
be remembered, styles the warriors of the invading 
Assyrian army ' trees of the forest ' (Ch. x. 19. 
Compare Amos ii. 9). 3 

Of things endued with life, the largest, and 
beyond all question the longest-lived, is a tree. 
So far as any earthly thing can be, it is the 
emblem of changeless duration, of immortality. 4 

1 Works and Days, 11. 143-145. 

2 Virgil, ^En. VIII. 315. 

3 In Icelandic, skati, a poetical term for a towering, lordly man, is 
said to be cognate with the Swedish skata, the top of a tree 
(Cleasby, Diet, s.v.) 

4 Hence, doubtless, it was that such trees as the 

' Trusty yew, 
Cheerless, unsocial plant, that loves to dwell 
Midst skulls and coffins, epitaphs, and worms/ 

have been from time immemorial adopted as appropriate denizens 
of Christian burying-places. 


The way in which it seems to defy tne attacks 
of all-destroying Time is perfectly marvellous. 
Generations of men may come and go, but it 
makes no difference to it. Dr Holmes, speaking 
of a leafy veteran blown down in the year 1852, 
and counting its years by its rings, moralises as 
follows : — 

'Here are some human lives laid down against the periods 
of its growth to which they corresponded. This is Shake- 
speare's. The tree was seven inches in diameter when he was 
born ; ten inches when he died. A little less than ten inches 
when Milton was born ; seventeen when he died. Then comes 
a long interval, and this thread marks out Johnson's life, dur- 
ing which the tree increased from twenty-two to twenty-nine 
inches in diameter. Here is the space of Napoleon's career ; 
the tree doesn't seem to have minded it. ... It remembers 
all human history as a thing of yesterday in its own dateless 
existence.' x Autocrat of the Breakfast- Table. 

One or two instances of their remarkable longe- 
vity may be mentioned. The tree known as the 
Tortworth Chestnut is calculated to be not less 
than 1100 years old. 2 

A fir-tree near Mont^ Blanc, called the Chamois 
Stable, has been ascertained to be more than 1200 
years of age. 3 

1 Compare Cowper's address to the Yardley Oak — 

' By thee I might correct, erroneous oft, 
The clock of history, facts and events 
Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts 
Recov'ring, and misstated setting right — 
Desp'rate attempt, till trees shall speak again » ' 

2 Notes and Queries, 1st S. iv. 401-403, 488. 3 Id. vi. 45. 


The Salcey-Forest Oak, in Northamptonshire, is 
believed to have weathered the gales of more than 
fifteen centuries. 1 

A few of the olive-trees at present to be found 
at Gethsemane, it is supposed, may have been 
witnesses of the Agony in the Garden. Even a 
greater antiquity has been claimed for some of the 
cedars of Lebanon ; and the gigantic terebinth, or 
' oak,' of Mamre, beneath which the Patriarch 
Abraham pitched his tent (Gen. xiii. 18), used to 
be pointed out in the time of Josephus, was still 
standing and revered in the days of Constantine 
the Great, and its trunk was actually still visible, 
it is said, in the seventeenth century. 2 Evelyn 
mentions a cypress in Persia which was reputed to 
be 2500 years old (Silva, Bk. III. ch. 3). 

1 Grindon, Trees of Old England, p. 18. Other historic tree3 
are the ' Shire Oak ' at the meeting of York, Nottingham, and 
Derby shires ; and ' Orouch Oak ' at Addlestone, Surrey, beneath 
which Wicliffe is said to have preached. 

2 Stanley, Jewish Church, vol. i. p. 33. 

* II y a aux bains de Casciano, en Toscano, entre Pise et Florence, 
un cheue qui e"tait de'ja fameux par sa masse et par sa vetuste dans 
les guerres de 1300 entre les Pisans et les Toscans. II n'a pris un 
jour ni un cheveu blanc depuis ces cinq siecles. Sa tige s'eleve 
aussi droite, sur des racines aussi saines, a quatre-vingts pieds du 
sol : et ses bras immenses, qui poussent d'autres bras iunombrables 
comine un polype terrestre, n'ont pas une brauche seche a leurs ex- 
tremites. II a mille ou douze cents ans, et il est tout jeune. C'est 
assis sous ce chene de Casciano que j'ecrivis cette Harmonic, en 
1826. J'ai vu depuis le platane de Godefroi de Bouillon, dans la 
prairie de Constantinople ; les croises camperent a ses pieds, et un 
regiment de cavalerie tout entierpeut encore aujourd'huis'y ranger 
a l'ombre en bataille. J'ai vu depuis les oliviers de la colline de 
Golgotha, vis-a-vis de Jerusalem, qui passent peur avoir etc* temoins 
de l'agonie et de la sueur de sang du Christ.' 

Lamai'tine, Harmonies Poetiques, p. 137 (Paris, 1863). 


The sacred Bo-tree of Ceylon (Ficus religiosa) 
is still reverenced as the identical one planted on 
the introduction of Buddhism, 307 years before 
the Christian era (Tennent, Christianity in Ceylon, 
p. 335). 

But even these, ancient as they were, are but babes 
compared with others that naturalists make men- 
tion of. Humboldt, in his 6 Yiews of Nature ' (pp. 
268 seq., ed. Bohu), records an instance of a bao- 
bab-tree estimated to have reached the astonishing 
age of 5150 years, 1 while that known as the dragon- 
tree, and found in Madeira and the other ' islands 
of Atlantis,' is put down by the same writer as 
attaining to just double^that number of years. One 
particular tree of the latter species, which existed 
4000 years ago, is declared to be in life at this 
day, identified by historical description. This 
dragon-tree is a vegetable relic of an earlier world, 
says M. Pegot-Ogier, and cohabitant with the 
monstrous animals which have long since vanished 
from the scene. 2 And such is Mr Macmillan's 
opinion with respect to the still living gigantic 
cedars of the Sierra Nevada — ' They seem relics of 
" the reign of gymnosperms," a fragment of the an- 

1 Dr Livingstone called attention to the extraordinary vitality of 
the baobab-trees he met in South Africa, some continuing to grow 
even after they were cut down. One which he measured at three 
feet from the ground was eighty-five feet in circumference. 

Missionary Travels in S. Africa, p. 162. 

2 The Fortunate Isles ; or. The Archipelago of the Canaries. 


cient carboniferous epoch preserved in this lonely 
solitude, amid all the cosniical changes elsewhere 
going on, keeping in their annual rings of wood 
the imperishable record of their growth, while 
human races and dynasties sprang up and perished 
around them. And still, though the shadows of 
forty centuries are sleeping under their boughs, 
their vital processes are as active as ever, they 
exhibit no signs of what can be regarded^ physio- 
logically as old age.' 1 

The same to-day that they were at the beginning, 
we discern something of absolute excellence in 
their ' serene and invulnerable perfection.' And 
therefore, as Dr Grindon truly remarks, ' trees are 
adapted by their original and inalienable constitu- 
tion to serve as metaphors for almost everything 
great and good and wise and beautiful in human 
nature. Hence the countless citations of trees in 
Holy Writ ... on account of their being the 
absolute representations and pictured forms in the 
temporal world of the high and sacred realities 
that belong to the invisible and eternal.' 2 * They 
stand still in quiet dignity while we talk of four- 
score as a wonderful lifetime, and for their own 
part watch the rise and fall of nations. . . . 
Hence it is that the grand scriptural image acquires 
such richness and force, "As the days of a tree 

1 Macmillan, Bible Teachings in Nature, p. 88. 

2 The Trees of Old England, by Leo Grindon, p. 3. 


are the days of my people " (Isa. lxv. 22). Hun- 
dreds of trees are standing at this moment that 
were alive when those words were written.' 1 

It is not surprising, therefore, that among the 
heathens, and sometimes even, as we know, among 
the early Christian converts, trees were regarded 
with religious veneration as the aptest emblems of 
eternity and changeless existence, ' tanquam sacras 
ex vetustate.' 2 

' Eelics of ages ! Could a mind, imbued 
With truth from Heaven, created thing adore, 
I might with reverence kneel, and worship thee. 
It seems idolatry with some excuse, 
"When our forefather Druids in their oaks 
Imagined sanctity.' 3 

Another most striking feature in the growth of 
many kinds of trees is their exact uprightness. It 
is so in the poplar, the fir, the cedar, and the pine. 
Mr Ruskin 4 calling attention to the straightness 
and rounded uprightness of the last as its two 
chief characteristics, observes that, placed nearly 
always among scenes disordered and desolate, it 
brings into them all possible elements of order 
and precision. c Let storm and avalanche do their 
worst, and let the pine find only a ledge of vertical 
precipice to cling to, it will nevertheless grow 

1 The Trees of Old England, by Leo Grindon, p. 5. 

2 Quintilian, vide Evelyn's Silva, ch. 3. 

3 Cowper, The Yardley Oak. 

4 Modern Painters, v. Pt. VI. ch. 9. 


straight. Thrust a rod from its last shoot down 
the stem ; it shall point to the centre of the earth 
as long as the tree lives. . . . Other trees/ he 
adds, in his usual eloquent style, ' tufting crag or 
hill, yield to the form and sway of the ground, 
clothe it with soft compliance, are partly its sub- 
jects, partly its flatterers, partly its comforters. 
But the pine rises in serene resistance, self-con- 
tained ; nor can I ever without awe stay long under 
a great Alpine cliff, far from all house or work of 
men, looking up to its companies of pine, as they 
stand on the inaccessible juts and perilous ledges 
of the enormous wall, in quiet multitudes, each 
like the 'shadow of the one beside it — upright, 
fixed, spectral, as troops of ghosts standing on the 
walls of Hades, not knowing each other, dumb for 
ever. You cannot reach them, cannot cry to them; 
those trees never heard human voice ; they are far 
above all sound but of the winds. No foot ever 
stirred fallen leaf of theirs. All comfortless they 
stand, between the two eternities of the Vacancy 
and the Rock ; yet with such iron will, that the 
rock itself looks bent and shattered beside them — 
fragile, weak, inconsistent, compared to their dark 
energy of delicate life, and monotony of enchanted 
pride ; — unnumbered,, unconquerable. ' In another 
place he speaks of ' their right doing of their hard 
duty.' And therefore in the pine, to use the words 
of a more recent writer, i we have the highest 


moral ideal of trees, 1 which is dependent on their 
right fulfilment of their appointed functions amid 
the greatest difficulties. . . . Poverty - stricken, 
hunger-pinched, and tempest-tortured, it maintains 
its proud dignity, grows strong by endurance, and 
symmetrical by patient struggle.' 2 No marvel 
that the early settlers in India honoured the loftiest 
and noblest of the conifers they there met with, 
with the title of the 'deodara,' i.e., devaddru, the 
divine or godlike tree, even as David styled the 
cedars of Lebanon ' the trees of the Lord ' (Ps. civ. 
16; lxxx. 10). 3 

That these noble qualities of uprightness, dura- 
bility, stability, and strength, so conspicuously 
displayed by the ' kings of the woods,' and gene- 

1 As an instance of a moral conception being embodied in the 
name of a tree may be mentioned the aspen, A. -Sax. aepse, if, as 
seems very probable, that be the same word as A. -Sax. ajse 
trembling, aepsenys disgrace, dishonour, shame. There is a common 
tradition that the cross of our Lord was constructed out of the 
wood of this tree, and that ever since it has never ceased to shiver 
like a guilty thing at the remembrance of the crime to which it was 
made accessary. (French, le tremble.) 

2 Macmillan, Bible Teachings in Nature, p. 69. 

3 Hengstenberg observes that the cedar, as the loftiest among 
created things, symbolises the elevation and majesty of God ; the 
hyssop, on the contrary, as the least, His lowliness and condescen- 
sion ; and hence he supposes they were both symbolically employed 
in the Sacrifice of the Red Heifer (Num. xix. 6). — Egypt and 
the Books of Moses, p. 175. Other instances of trees similarly 
consecrated are the bogaha or god's tree of Ceylon, the shejcret 
allah of the Arabs, the diu-dar of the Persians, the jambu of the 
Buddhists, 'Jove's stout oak' (Tempest, v. 1), which Herrick 
calls the ' holy-oke or gospel tree ' (H. C. Barlow, Essay on Sym- 
bolism, p. 92 seq.) 


rally characteristic of ' treeship,' should have been 
present to men's minds, and influenced them in 
selecting an appropriate name for the entire class, 
is no more than might have been expected. Thus 
in Hebrew itz, the word for a tree, is derived from 
a root dtzdh, to be hard and firm, which also sup- 
plies the word dtzeh for the backbone, so called 
from its firmness and erectness. Similarly, the 
English ' tree,' A.-Sax. tre, Goth, triu, Gk. drus, 
Sans, dru, come without doubt from the root 
drih, to be firm and strong, 1 to increase, dru, to 

There is another root of the same significance as 
drik, and differing but slightly in the initial letter, 
which may probably be regarded as ultimately 
identical with it. This is the root dhri, to be firm 
and stable, other forms being dhru, dhruv, d/iar, 
to stand fast, be established. Thence comes the 
Sanskrit word dhruva, meaning (1) what is firm, 
stable, solid, lasting, permanent ; (2) what is 
true ; (3) a post, stock, the trunk of a tree, cer- 
tain plants. 

We thus arrive at the curious and interesting 
result that the word i tree ' and the word c true ' 
are at bottom really the same, and contain the one 

1 The derivation of dru, a tree, from the root dri, dar, to divide, 
rend, or split, either supposing it to mean that which is fissile 
(as Pictet), or that which can be stripped of its bark (as Kuhn), 
seems very improbable. Vide also Ebel, Celtic Studies, p. 110. 


radical conception of permanence and stability. 1 
That which cannot be shaken, but is unalterably 
fixed and unchangeable by time, is i truth.' That 
which cannot be shaken, but is unalterably fixed 
and unchangeable by time is a ' tree.' Of all 
things that excel in strength, truth, as King 
Darius rightly gave his decision, is strongest — 

'As for the truth, it endureth, and is always strong : it 
liveth and conquereth for evermore. . . . She is the strength, 
kingdom, power, and majesty of all ages. . . . Great is truth, 
and mighty above all things.' 2 1 Esdras iv. 38, 40, 41. 

Truth, says a Spanish proverb, is an evergreen, 
La verdad es siempre verde. In fact, says Dr 
Holmes, with exact, but no doubt unconscious, 
etymological insight, * there's nothing that 
keeps its youth, so far as I know, but a tree and 

truth.' 3 

1 Les sillons, oil les bles jaunissent 
Sous les pas changeants des saisons, 

1 1 am not aware that this relationship of ' tree ' and ' true ' has 
been made the subject of remark by any of the great German 
philologers. A competent scholar of our own, however, Dr Prior, 
has noted it in his ' Popular Names of British Plants,' s.v. Tree. 
It was a happy guess of Dr Richardson, though certainly nothing 
more, when he suggested that 'tree' was akin to the A. -Sax. 
treowan (confirmare), and defined it as ' a plant advanced to firm 
growth, strong, steadfast, established — with a strong stem, trunk, 

2 ' Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon 
the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing 
and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood 
grapple ; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open 
encounter?' MUton, Areopagitica. 

3 Autocrat of the Breakfast- Table. 


Se de'pouillent et se vetissent 
Comme un troupeau de ses toisons ; 
Le fleuve nait, gronde et s'ecroule ; 
L'hiver effeuille le granit ; 
Des generations sans nombre 
Vivcnt et meurent sous son ombre : 
Et lui 1 voyez, il rajeunit ! ' 

What Lainartine, in these lines, has said of a tree 
may with equal correctness be affirmed of the 
truth — it also possesses the secret of rejuvenescence. 
Heaven and earth may pass away, but the truth 
is immortal, and doth not pass away. 

1 Truth crushed to earth shall rise again : 

The eternal years of God are hers ; 

But Error, wounded, writhes with pain, 

And dies among his worshippers.' 1 

Accordingly, the early Aryan, as he roamed the 
primeval forests, not only, like the lover of the 
greenwood, found < tongues in trees/ but further- 
more, found truth there, the notion of a stable and 
immutable principle ; and evolving two kindred ex- 
pressions from a verbal radical which he already 
possessed, the principle he called l truth,' the 
subtantial type he called a ' tree.' 

For ' true,' Sanskrit d/iruva, stands in the same 
relation to d/iri, dkru (firm, stable), that ' tree,' 
Sanskrit dru, does to drih (firm, stable), 2 two roots 
whose approximation and identification has been 

1 Bryant, The Battle-field. 

2 Hearue would seem to have had some hazy notion of the cog. 


proposed above. As to the form of the two words 
in question, a striking correspondence is observable 
in most of the Indo-European languages. In Old 
English, to begin with our own, treowe 1 is true, 
and treow a tree; treu is faith, trust, and 
treu a tree ; trywe is true, and tryw a tree ; truwa 
is trust, faith, and trurcung a prop or stay, (compare 
;he Hebrew dman (1) to prop or stay, (2) to be 
firm, (3) be true). When Moses cast the tree into 
the bitter waters of Marah, according to the * Story 
cf Genesis and Exodus' (1. 3301, ab. 1250)— 

' A funden trew ^or-inne dede Moyses.' 
In other lan^ua^es the words are found as 

dar, derw. 

nation of the words * tree ' and ' true,' when he jotted down in hi3 
journal the remark — ' Some groves now in Scotland held sacred ; 
nor will they permit the trees to be cut down ; stones in some of 
them. Dru, alias trou, in the German and British tongue signifies 
faith ; and the old Germans called God Drutin or Trudin; hence 
Drutin signifies a divine or faithful person. 

Reliquce Eearniance, Oct. 15, 1718. 

From the same root come the A.-Sax. trum, firm, strong, sound ; 
trymian, trymman, to strengthen, confirm, set in order, dispose 
fitly, 'trim.' Whether the Irish trean, treun, strong, be related 
is questionable. Compare French dru, thick, close, luxuriant. 

1 Treoioe is frequently applied to things that are immovable, sure 
and steadfast. It is used of a hill in an old luue ron, or love- 
song, where it is said of a house, ' Hit stont vppon a treowe mote ' 
(Old English Miscellany, E.E.T.S. p. 97). 

follows : — 


0. Icel. 











Irish dir, dior, direach. 

dair, darach (cf. Pers. dirach). 

Goth. triggivs, tranan. 


0. Fris. triuwe, trouwe. 


0. L. Ger. triuui. 


0. Eng. treowe, trewe, triwe, trig. 

treo, trcou, trew } treowe, trowc. 

0. H. Ger. trtiwer. 

Bav. ~der, -ter. 

With ' true ' we may also compare the Irish 
drotk, constant (Pictet, Langues Celtiques, p. 69). 

In the identification of these words we mar 
adduce, as strongly confirmatory of it, the Sanskrit 
word bhaw/a, denoting that which is, what exists, 
the truth, 1 and also a tree. That the truthfulness 
of trees has not failed to attract attention, ths 
following extract from a letter of Horace Walpole 
proves. Writing from Houghton in 1743, he 
says — 

c My flatterers here are all mutes. The oaks, the beeches, 
the chestnuts seem to contend which shall best please the lord 
of the manor. They cannot deceive. They -will not lie.' 

Our surprise at discovering that the word ex- 
pressive of a high moral conception, 2 and the term 

1 So ' sooth,' A. -Sax. sddh, is for santh, Lat. sens (part, of sum 
in prcB-sens, Sec.) = being, existing. Cf. ' tooth ' and dens, ' goose ' 
and gans, &c. 

2 Other ethical words yielded by the root dhri, dhar (to stand 
firm), are the Sanskrit dharma, something established as an in- 
variable rule, law, justice, duty, virtue ; dhdrd, custom ; dhrtvan, 
virtue; dhtra, firm; Irish dir, just, dior, direach, just, honest, 
dior, law ; Lith. dora, dermic, duty, doras, virtuous. (Pictet, Orig. 
Indo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 427). 

Compare statue and statute, something set up for a memorial or 


for the mere vegetable product of the earth, are of 
kindred origin, is lessened when we find that in 
Hebrew the words for a tree and for the Divine 
Being Himself are quite as intimately connected. 
For there the name El, God, and eldh the terebinth, 
elon the oak, Slim trees, come alike from the root 
ul or il, strong, mighty. 1 On this no better com- 
mentary is needed than the exclamation of the 
same poet already quoted as he stood beneath the 
branches of an aged oak — 

' Seigneur, c'est toi seul, c'est ta force, 

Ta sagesse et ta volonte, 

Ta vie et ta fecondite, 

Ta prevoyance et ta bonte ! 
Le ver trouve ton nom grave sous son ecorce, 
Et mon oeil, dans sa masse et son eternite ! ' 

He adds in a note — 

1 II n'y a pas plus de mesure a la force et a la duree de la 
vegetation qu'il n'y eu a la puissance de Dieu. II joue avec 
le temps et avec l'espace. L'homme seul est oblige de compter 
par jours. Ces arbres comptent per siecles, les rockers par la 
duree d'uu globe, les etoiles par la duree du firmament. Qu'est- 
ce done de Celui qui ne compte par rien, et pour qui toutes 
ces durees relatives sont un jour qui n'a pas encore com- 
mence ? ' 

The ' truth ' of the Almighty is an expression 

a rule, Sanskrit stheya, a judge, all from sthd, to stand, the radical 
idea being the fixedness of legal decisions. So the Hebrew shophet, 
a judge, Punic suffes, is traced to a root meaning to set up, to 

1 In Johnson's ' Persian Dictionary ' the word ddr is said to be 
a name of God, as well as meaning a tree. 


frequently used in Holy Scripture to denote the 
constant, stable, and unchangeable nature of His 
mercy and goodness (e.g., Gen. xxiv. 27, xxxii. 10 ; 
Deut. xxxii. 4). It would be fanciful, perhaps, 
to see an allusion to the similitude of a tree in 
other expressions, such as these, that His truth 
'shall spring out of the earth' (Ps. Ixxxv. 11), 
1 reacheth unto the clouds ' (Ps. lvii. 10), ' is fallen 
in the street' (Isa. lix. 14). At all events, there 
is no doubt that Abraham planted a tree at Beer- 
sheba as an appropriate sign of the perpetual 
troth 1 and covenant between himself and ' the 
Everlasting God,' El-olam (Gen. xxi. 33). « The 
hardiness of the tree, its long endurance, and the 
perpetual greenness of its leaves, rendered it a fit 
emblem of Him to whom the place was dedi- 
cated.' 2 Joshua's dying act of setting up the 
tables of the law as a memorial under an oak, 
according to Mr Grindon, had a similar meaning. 
That tree was chosen, because of its symbolic sig- 
nificance of permanence and endurance, to be a 

1 ' The Tree of Troth ' was an appellation given to a tree in the 
garden of Sir Thomas More, at which, if Fox the niartyrologist is 
to be believed, several of the Reformers underwent flagellation 
under his superintendence. See Lord Campbell's ' Lives of the 
Chancellors,' vol. i. It is very remarkable that in Hebrew the 
same word dldh, elah, is used for an oath, a covenant confirmed by 
an oath {e.g., Gen. xxvi. 28) and for the oak. Mr H. C. Barlow 
observes that this tree is the natural symbol of the divine presence 
and a divine covenant, and that for this reason we find frequent 
instances in Germany of decrees being ratified and dated beneath 
its branches, sub quercu (Essays on Symbolism, p. 89). 

2 Bishop Wordsworth, Comm., in loc. 


witness to the people that the ' laws of truth ' 
K v)l w&ZQ given to last for ever (Joshua xxiv. 26). 
* y ^The Shemitic conception of truth seems to have 
LP - been primitively that of straightness and steadfast- 
^n ess*}) such as might be suggested by a pine or 
^"palni-tree. For instance, the Hebrew emeth, truth, 
£ is from dman, to be firm and unshaken, whence 
also amen, truly, a word naturalised by the Church ; 
tzddaq, to be just, righteous, originally to be 
straight, in the Arabic to be stiff and rigid like 
a lance, means also to be true ; qoshet, truth, 
from qdshat, to be hard, inflexible, unwavering. 
Compare these words from an ancient poem sup- 
posed to have been made on Eobert Vere, Earl of 
Oxford — 

1 He hovyth ne lie wanyth for wynde ne Waste, 
He dredeth no mystys, ne stormys, ne schowrys ; 
But standyth styffe in tryeuth, stronge as a maste.' 1 

The Egyptian tr, ( the shoot of a palm-tree,' 
corresponds to the Coptic tar, i the shoot of a 
tree,' and tor, 6 to stand upright,' ' fixed in the 
ground ' (Osburn, Monumental History of Egypt, 
vol. i. p. 157). 

' Upright as the palm-tree ' is the comparison 
that naturally occurs to Jeremiah (x. 5). In early 
Christian art it was the recognised symbol, some 

1 Todd, Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer (1810), p. 304, 8vo. 


say, of strength, durability, and virtue ; 1 and from 
a notion that the more heavily its branches were 
weighted the more rapidly it increased in stature, 
this tree was especially adopted as an emblem of 
virtue oppressed and suffering wrongfully, but 
lifted heavenwards by the very means employed to 
keep it down. 2 

Home Tooke's well-known heretical views as to 
the nature and origin of truth have often been re- 
futed. 3 Supposing that 6 truth ' is only what each 
man c troweth,' he maintained that it had no objec- 
tive existence per se, and that it was only relatively 
to the percipient that any proposition could be pro- 
nounced to be true or not true. What is true to 
one man is false to another, and so the same thing 
may be true and not true at the same time. 
Thence he inferred that there can be no truth 
apart from mankind of a necessary and immutable 
nature. If it has any existence, it must be a re- 
lative, not an absolute and essential, one. This 
attempt to prop up bad philosophy by bad philology 
was, in the fullest sense of the term, preposterous. 
A thing is truth, not merely because a man troweth 
it ; but on the contrary, a man troweth it when he 

1 M. Tournal, in Didron's * Christian Iconography,' vol. i. p. 357. 

2 An instance of the palm-tree, with the motto Crescit siibpondcrt 
virtus, emblematically applied to the royal captive Charles I., will 
he seen in the frontispiece to the ' Eikon Basilike,' 1649; the notion 
is embodied in Vaughan's ' Silex Scintillans,' Pt. II. p. 12. 

3 See his Diversions of Purley, p. 401 (4to, 1798). 


believes or holds it to be truth— trowan from trow, 
not trow from trowan. His conception of what 
is fixed and immutable may change and fluctuate, 
and still the fixed and immutable loses none of its 
essential attributes. His subjective truth is uncer- 
tain, variable, and often false ; the objective truth 
is steadfast, consistent, and always true. 

As we drive rapidly by the skirts of a wood, the 
trees, according to their nearness or remoteness, 
seem to our eyes to shift their relative positions, 
and thread the figure of a mazy dance. The panic- 
stricken tyrant believed that he saw Birnam Wood 
in motion, and advancing to hem him in. The in- 
experienced eyes of the man but newly gifted with 
sight knew not whether in the moving objects be- 
fore them they beheld menlike trees, or treelike 
men. It would be a hasty conclusion, however, 
to take these as the standards of correct vision, 
and assume that trees may forego their rooted 
fixedness and share in the weakness of human 
mobility, moving hither and thither as men run to 
and fro. It was only the hastiness, the passion, 
the ignorance of the observers that made those im- 
passible natures seem like our own. And so it is 
with truths — which partake (as their name im- 
ports) of the stability and steadfastness of trees. 
They may seem to move and vacillate, they may 
appear to change their nature and veer from their 
own position ; but if they do ; the fault lies in our- 


selves, the observers, we may be sure, and not 
in them. Truth rests unmoved, the same in all 
times and places, being the Sanskrit d/iruva, fixed, 
established, certain. 

That the word, however, was occasionally used 
by early English writers in a sense such as Tooke 
would assign to it as its primary one, and denoted 
any belief whether correct or otherwise, may be 
proved by many passages. In Langland's 6 Vision 
concerning Piers the Plowman ' (1393) we even 
meet a phrase so strange to modern ears as 6 false 

When Lechery armed himself 

1 He bar a bowe in hus honde, and meny brode arwes 
Were fetherede with faire by-heste and many a fals treuthe.' l 

So in Hampole's i Pricke of Conscience ' (ab. 

1340), Antichrist says — 

' Thai ly ved in fals troivthe alle 
That has bene fra the worldes bygynnyng 
Until the tyme of his commyng.' LI. 4228-30. 

Dr Morris quotes a parallel to this from the 
Harleian MS. — 

< That fals Crist as I telle the 
In the flum sal baptist be, 
To save man sWles he salle be send, 
And alle fals trowth he salle defend.' 

The Three Kings, therefore, in the 6 Cursor 

Mundi' (ab. 1320), were guilty of no tautology 

1 Pass, audit 11. 117, 118, E.E.T.S., ed. Skeat, text C. 

vice. 95 

when they declared that they were come to the 

new-born Saviour, prepared to 

1 Honur him wit tiicthes tru. 1 

In the following, from the prose treatises of 

Richard Rolle de Hampole (died 1349), ' truth ' 

occurs where we now would use i faith.' 

1 Sayne Paul sais that als lange als we ere in this "body we 
ere pilgrymes fra owre Lorde. ... we go by trouthe, noghte 
by syghte, that es we lyff in trouthe, noghte in bodily 
felynge.' 1 

Burke, in his ' Treatise on the Sublime and 
Beautiful,' observes that trees generally manifest 
much more of the former quality than of the latter, 
being deficient in those features of delicacy and 
softness which he holds as essential to the true 
ideal of beauty, and remarks as conspicuous in 
flowers and women. ' It is not the oak,' he says, 
' the ash, or the elm, or any of the robust trees 
of the forest, which we consider as beautiful ; 
they are awful and majestic, they inspire a sort 
of reverence/ Though i the excellence of a strong, 
independent life, which is the exception among 
flowers, is the rule among trees/ 2 there are cer- 
tain of these latter, however, of a smaller stature, 
and less harsh and rugged outlines, which par- 
take more of the character of womanish softness 
and pliability than of masculine sternness and in- 

!P. 34. E.E.T.S. 

2 Saturday Review, Oct. 2, 1869, p. 439, Tree v. Flowers. 

96 vice. 

flexibility. Such are the drooping willow, the 
feathery larch, the limber sallow, the clinging 
vine, the golden-chain laburnum, the soft-leaved 
lilac, and many others of those which bear fruit 
and flowers. These are suggestive of feminine 
beauty and bending grace. Their characteristics, 
for the most part, are weakness and buxomness, 
contrasted with the strength and rough rigidity of 
their forest brethren. The vine, as is well known, 
was regarded by the Latin poets as standing to- 
wards the supporting elm in the dependent rela- 
tion of a wife wedded to a husband, and suggested 
to the Psalmist a similar comparison (Ps. cxxviii. 
3). So Spenser speaks of i the cedar proud 
and tall/ but l the eugh obedient to the bender's 
will.' 1 

Again, it has been said that c no one can look 
at the Norfolk Island pine without being angry 
with it that so much beauty should be combined 
with so much effeminacy. Perhaps we blame and 
punish other weaknesses and unrobust idiosyncracies 
with the same degree of reason and justice as we 
should exercise in scolding the delicate araucaria 

1 Faery Queen, I. i. 8, 9. Compare the following, which I ex- 
tract from Mr Jacox's 'Shakspere Diversions :' — ' Lady Percy has 
alone been characterised as one of those women that Shakspere has 
painted — timid, restless, affectionate, playful, submissive — " a lovely 
woodbine hanging on the mighty oak " (p. 336). Miss Broughton 
pictures one of her characters as ' standing by the tea-table, slim 
and willowy, ladling tea into the deep-bodied pot ' (Nancy, vol. i. 
p. 64). 

vice. 97 

excelsa because it is not gifted with the obstinate 
temper of a Norway fir.' l 

And Mr Kuskin in a very similar passage ob- 
serves that trees present the varying characteristics 
of t fragility, or force, softness, and strength, in 
all degrees and aspects ; unerring uprightness, as 
of temple pillars, or undivided wandering of feeble 
tendrils on the ground ; mighty resistances of 
rigid arm and limb to the storm of ages, or wav- 
ings to and fro with faintest pulse of summer 
streamlet.' 2 

If then that superior growth of tree be (as we 
have shown above) notionally and nominally akin 
to the virtue of moral strength, straightness, and 
steadfastness, it is nothing strange if we shall find 
that the inferior growth bears an analogous relation 
to the ideas of moral weakness and instability, of 
effeminacy and frailty. 

Now vitis, the Latin name for ' the gadding 
vine,' and vitex, the name of a species of willow, 
contain the same radical as the word vitiutn, faulti- 
ness, vice, the idea common to all three being that 
of bendingness, pliability, weakness, deflection, 
crookedness. 3 In German, whatever be the point 

1 Quarterly Review, vol. xc. pp. 41, 42. 

2 Modern Painters, vol. v. Pt. VI. i. 

3 The difference of quantity in vitis and vitium is no valid objec- 
tion to this approximation, as is proved by another word on the 
same page of the dictionary, vltellus, evidently a diminutive of 
vita, the life, quick, punctum saliens, or yolk of the egg. 



of contact (if any), rank is an evasion, shuffle, or 
artifice, ranke the shoot of a vine. 

Vitis, according to Columella, is from vieo (to 
bind, twist, plait, tie), l either because it needs to 
be tied to a prop in order that it may stand, or 
(and this is the correct view) because it is pliant 
and easily bent.' 1 Compare the Hebrew sorek, a 
vine, from sdrak, to intertwine or plait. The vine, 
says Cicero, is naturally apt to fall, and sinks to 
the earth unless propped up. He notices also its 
habit of manifold and erratic creeping, which 
needs to be checked by the knife of the vine- 
dresser. 2 

Vitis, therefore, is literally the binding, twining 
plant, from the verbal stem vit-, i bend,' seen in 
vit-ex, the bending, pliant tree, the willow ; vit-ilis, 
easy to bend, made of osiers, ' wattled ;' Greek 
(v)it-6a (-FLT-ea) ; Eng. c withe,' ' withy ; ' A.-Sax. 
widhig, Dan. vidie, Ger. weide, 0. H. Ger. wida, 
Scand. vidhir, Goth, vithan? Also in Sanskrit 
viti, a climbing-plant (le betel), vita, a bough (which 
word < bough ' itself means l the bender '), Lith. 

1 ' Vitis est a vieo, alligo, vincio, quia, ut stet, pedamento in- 
diget cui adalligetur : vel quia lenta est, et facile flectitur.' So 
the German rebe, a vine, is probably akin to the A.-Saxon roepan, to 

2 ' Vitis qua? natura caduca est, et nisi fulta sit, ad terrara 
fertur, . . . quam serpeutem multiplici lapsu et erratico, ferro 
amputans ccercet ars agricolarum. ' 

3 See Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. pp. 223, 253; vol. ii. p. 166. 
Stokes, Irish Glosses, p. 47. 


roytis, branch, osier, wyti, to plait ; Sanskrit vetasa, 
the calamus rotang, and perhaps vata, a rope, 
Indian fig-tree, vat, to tie. 1 

Vit itself seems to be a participial form from a 
root 0t, to bend, plait, interweave, Sanskrit ve, to 
weave, seen in the Latin vieo, to bend, plait, weave ; 
vietus, bent, shrunken, withered ; vi-men, an osier ; 
A. -Sax. we/an, to weave, weed (woven) clothes, 
' weeds ;' Ger. weifen and weben, Goth, weipan, 
0. Fr. guiper, i guipure ' lace. 

Vitium, a fault, containing the same stem, would 
originally mean something bent, crooked, or de- 
flected from being straight and upright ; 2 a bending 
or giving way of what should be firm and strong, 
as a wall, one's limbs. Cicero tells us that it was 
the proper term for a crookedness or deformity of 
the latter. Vitium (appellant) quum partes cor- 
poris inter se dissident, ex quo pravitas membrorum, 
distortio, deformitas (Tusc. 4, 13, 29). 

When we Englishmen would express a high 
opinion of anything worthy to be relied on, we say 
i as true as steel :' 1 for we know that the well- 

1 From the same stem apparently comes Lat. vitare, to bend 
aside from, avoid. Compare ' eschew,' Fr. eschever, to turn askew 
(Dut. scheef), or bend away from. Sofugio, Gk. pheugo, to flee, is 
identical with Sk. bhug. Goth, biuga, to bend, A.-Sax. bugan, to 
bow, bend, also to avoid, flee, 0. Eng. bowen, e.g., ' Apology for 
Lollards,' Camden Soc. p. 62 — ' Forsothe Jhesu boivvde him fro the 
company,' John v. 13 (Wycliffe); ' Se Hselend sdthlice beah fram 
dhaere gegaderunge (Ibid. A.-Sax. version). 

2 Key, Philological Society Proceedings, vol. v. p. 94. 


tempered metal, bend as it may, will never break, 
and so deceive ns, when put to the trial; and a 
sword of such metal we call a ' trusty sword.' Our 
ancestors, however, the early Aryans, framed a 
finer comparison, as we have seen, when they con- 
ceived * truth ' as bearing a resemblance in some 
sort to the uncompromising rigidity of the forest 
tree, the patient, stout-hearted giant which never 
sways aside under any adverse influences, never 
stoops to the storm, but holds itself erect, un- 
changed, unshaken, in one generation of men as in 

On the other hand, the weakness of a timid, 
time-serving spirit has found its type in the pliancy 
of plants of a feebler growth, which bow their 
heads without resistance to every passing breeze. 
Instances are * the reed shaken by the wind ' in 
the Gospel, the yielding bramble in the fable, 
the vine, whose branches are in some provincial 
dialects called ' Souple- Jacks.' Compare the fol- 
io wins: from Howell's i Familiar Letters ' — 

1 E.g. In Chaucer's ' Legend of Good Women,' where the poet is 
charged that he 

I Maketh men to women lesse trist, 
That ben as trewe as ever was any stele.' 

The Prologue. 

' This abbes trowed hir ful wele, 
And wend that scho war treu als stele.' 

Eng. Metrical Homilies of the \Wi Century (ed. Small), p. 167. 

I I am trew as steylle alle men waytt.' 

Towneley Mysteries, Pastores. 


1 There being divers Bandy in gs and Factions at Court in his 
[Marquis Pawlet's] Time, yet he was beloved by all Parties, 
and being asked how he stood so right in the Opinion of all, 
he answered, By being a Willow and not an Oak' l — 

meaniDg that lie complied with all, and bent to 
circumstances. With this we may contrast the 
proverbial Latin expression for one made of more 
stubborn stuff and of more steadfast character, 
Ortus a quercu, non a salice, ' He is sprung from 
the oak, and not from the willow ;' and may note 
the use made of a similar comparison by the poet 
Burns in the words wherewith he reproaches 
< Dame Life ' for her want of stability and con- 
stancy — 

' Oh ! flickering, feeble, and unsicker 

I've found her still, 

Aye wavWing like the willow wicker, 

'Tween good and ill.' 

Foem on Life. 

As we have seen that the stern virtue of * truth ' 
is akin to the sturdy '.tree,' so now we may per- 
ceive that the yielding pliancy of 'vice,' Fr. vice, 
Latin vitium, is own brother to vitis, the voluptuous, 
drooping vine, which, by reason of the frailty of 
its nature, cannot keep itself upright. 2 That the 

1 Howell, Familiar Letters, p. 293, Bk. I. sec. 6, Letter 5i 
(1644). Of. Bailey, Life of Fuller, p. 318. 

2 The vine, regarded as a timber tree, and compared with all 
other trees of the forest, was used as a byword for worthlessness:— 

' The vine fruitless is of all trees most useless. ... If barren, 
it is good for nothing ; not so much as to make a pin to hang 


transition of meaning from being weak, bent, or 
twisted, to being wicked, vicious, or wrong, is one 
of very frequent occurrence in all languages the 
annexed instances will sufficiently prove. The 
Romans used to speak of ' depraved legs' (depravata 
crura), i a depravity of the feet or joints ' {pedum, 
articulorum, depravatio), while we have now limited 
the word altogether to moral crookedness and 

Similarly ' luxury,' which, in Shakspere and 
his contemporaries, commonly bears the definite 
meaning of wantonness, lewdness, lechery (the 
Latin hixuria signifying the luxuriance and rank- 
ness of vegetation, as well as the uncurbed extra- 
vagance of riotous living), is the immediate 
derivative of luxus, excess, originally a ' luxation ' 
or dislocation of a limb. The radical idea is 
swerving or turning aslant from the line of recti- 
tude, luxus being the Greek loxos, slanting. 1 

When Hamlet is still labouring under the ex- 

a hat on. Oaks and cedars are good for building, poplars for 
pales, very bushes for hedging, doted wood for firing ; but the 
fruitless vine is good for nothing.' 

Adams, The Barren Tree. 

1 The practice and use of all operative arts is all in all ; in 
divinity, the chief of all, which else is as the vine, excellent only in 
the sweet juice of it, otherwise fit not so much as for pin or peg.' 
Ward, The Happiness of Practice. Cf. Ezek. xv. 

1 If Mr/os, a withe, or willow-twig, a tree of the willow species, is 
akin to loxds, that rapprochement would fall in admirably with the 
subject of the present paper. Compare luglzd, to bend or twist, 
Ger. liigen, to lie, and vide ' Lie ' infra, p. 105. 


citement of the supernatural disclosure that the 
royal bed of Denmark had become 

' A couch for luxury and damned incest,' 

he exclaims — 

' The time is out of joint ; cursed spite, 
That ever I was born to set it right ! Hamlet, i. v. 

Bishop Taylor, in his ' Life of Christ/ speaks 
of a 6 luxation of a point of piety.' 

' Wrong ' is primarily applicable to something 
crooked, twisted, or wrung, when it should be 
straight or right (rectus). 

1 Crokyd or wronge, curvus, tortus, Crokyn', or makyh' 
wronge, Curbo.' Prompt. Parvulorum. 

Compare the following from Fuller : — 

1 An act which the judicious behold, not as a crooked deed 
bowing them, from their last, but as an upright one straighten- 
ing them to their first and best, oath.' 

Church History, vol. i. p. 304 (ed. 1842). 

So l worse,' ' worst/ Goth, vairs, seems to answer 
to the Latin versus (per-versus), turned aside, 
twisted, or declined, from an original rectitude, 
from verto, to turn. 

Tort, a legal and Old English term for a wrong, 
denotes a tortuous or crooked course of action, 
being the French tort, Latin tortus, twisted, past 
participle of torqueo, to twist. Spenser speaks of 
some who were 

' Long opprest with tort, 
And fast imprisoned in sieged fort.' 

Faerie Queen, I. xii. 4. 


' Twisted ' and ' twisty ' are provincial words for 
a perverse, cross, or Wrong-headed person. Dutch 
twistig, quarrelsome, from twist, a quarrel (the 
original meaning, however, perhaps, being standing 
at two or at variance, not at one). 

6 Queer,' originally a cant term meaning bad, 
naught, is the G-er. quer, oblique, athwart, cross, 
Welsh gwyr, crooked. Compare Dutch dwars, 0. 
Norse thwerr, A.-Sa.x. tkweor, cross, crooked, 
bad. So the Dutch verkeerd, wrong, wicked, der 
praved, is from verkeeren, to turn aside ; Eng. 
' froward,' perverse, is ' fromward/ turned away, 
that will not listen, just as i wayward' is 'away- 
ward,' opposite to ' toward,' turned to one, tract- 
able ; 1 Fr. revecke, harsh, intractable, cross, is the 
Portuguese revesso, It. rivescio, from reversus, 
turned away; and the Italian ritroso, stubborn, 
is from the Latin retrorsus, i.e., relroversus, turned 
away back (Diez). 

To slant or slent in provincial and Old English 
is to deviate from truth, to lie, equivocate, jest. 
Thus Fuller speaks of one c using sometimes slent- 
ing, seldome downright railing ' (Holy State, p. 
60, 1648, 4to). 

An interesting illustration of this word is afforded 
by the deaf and dumb sign for truth and falsehood 

1 In the provincial dialects, a person of reluctant, stubborn, or 
contrary disposition is similarly described as awlc, awTcert, * awk- 
ward,' or as tharf, tharth, ' thwart.' 


respectively, the former being denoted by moving 
the finger straight forward from the lips, while to 
signify a lie the finger is moved to one side. 

The word ' lie ' itself, pro v. Eng. lig, A. -Sax. 
leogan, Dut. liegen, Goth, Hug an, Ger. lilgen, has 
its fundamental meaning exhibited in the cognate 
Lettish word leeks, false, wrong, originally crooked, 
from leekt, to bend, 1 Esthon. liig-paiatus, crooked 
speech, falsehood, and all may no doubt be 
traced to the Sanskrit root ling, to bend, seen 
in Gk. lugizo, Lat. ligare, ob-liqu-us. Compare 
Loxias, in Greek, the oracular god of indirect and 
crooked (loxos) utterances. 

' Insidious sly Report, 
Sounding oblique, like Loxian oracles, 
Tells double-tongued (and -with the self-same voice !) 
To some new gladness, new despair to some.' 

Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Clytemnestra. 

' Kam,' as in Shakspere's ' This is clean kam ' 
(Cor. iii. 1), i.e., altogether wrong (< Eebours ob- 
likely, awry, quite contrary . . . cleane kamme ' — 
Cotgrave) is the Irish cam, Welsh cam, crooked, 
wry, wrong. 

A.-Sax. wok, a bend, twist, or turning, is also 
used for error, wrong, wickedness, depravity, and 

1 Wedgwood, Origin of Language, p. 148. It is instructive to 
compare with this the parallelism of ' lie,' to be recumbent, 0. 
Eng. to ligge, A.-Sax. Megan, liggan, Dut. liggen, Ger. liegen, Goth. 
ligan, Ir. luighim, Gk. legtimar, lechos, a bed, Lat. lectus, Goth. 
liuga, marriage, all from a root form lanfi, la?). Vide Pictet, Orig. 
Indo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 270. 


comes from the Sanskrit root va?ik, to be crooked, 
move tortuously. 1 

0. Eng. ' wrench/ a trick or deception, A.-Sax. 
wrence, is a proceeding wrenched or wrung aside 
from the straightforward course (traceable pro- 
bably to the Sanskrit root vrij, to bend). 

1 It [the world] ledes a man with wrenlces and wyles.' 

Prick of Conscience, 1. 1360 (about 1340 a.d.) 

(JTn Hebrew, dvdJi, to bend, twist, distort, also 
signifies to act perversely, to s'mT)Pdthal, to twist, 
in one of its moods means to be crafty, deceitful, 
to act perversely, and its derivative jjethaltol (Deut. 
xxxii. 5) is perverse, deceitful, ' twisty.' 

Latin scelns, crime, wickedness, is akin to the 
Greek shelos or skellos, crooked-legged, s/wlios, 
crooked, and also unrighteous, wrong, skalcnos, 
halting, limping. 2 Compare the North of England 
shelled, warped, twisted, crooked, skelly? to look 
awry ; A.-Sax. sceol-eged, scul-eaged, squinting or 
scowling ; 0. Norse skoela, to twist awry ; all cog- 

1 ' Wench ' a young woman, a word once free from the con- 
temptuous implication now attaching to it, is from the same root, 
being the A.-Sax. wencle, a maid, akin to wencel, a weakling ; 
Prov. Eug. winkle, feeble ; A.-Sax. wincian, to bend one's self, to 
' wince,' from the Sanskrit vank, to go crooked, to bend. The 
primitive idea seems to have been that of a weak, pliant, and 
buxom being. 

2 Cockayne, Spoon, and Sparrow, p. 316. 

3 Compare Cleveland shell, skeel, to tilt or turn obliquely (Atkin- 
son) ; Cumberland shelled, distorted, awry, and shawl, to walk 
crookedly, 0. Eng. shayle; all akin to Ger. schel, Dut. scheel, 


nate with the Sanskrit skhal, to stumble, fall, err, 
go wrong, skhalana, a transgression. 

' Slim,' with the provincial meaning of distorted, 
worthless, sly, crafty, is the Dutch slim, slem, 
transverse, oblique, distorted, bad, cunning ; Ba- 
varian schlimm, wry, Old Norse sloemr, weak, worth- 
less. Wedgwood thinks that the original meaning 
of the word may be flagging, flaccid, then hanging 
down, sloping, leading to the idea of obliquity 
and depravity. 

We have seen that vitis, the vine, as its name 
imports, is the twisting or bending plant, being 
cognate with the Anglo-Saxon wi%ie, our ' withy,' 
which latter seems sometimes to have denoted any 
tree of a crooked or twisted growth, for Stow in 
his i Survey ' speaks of i the fetching in of a twisted 
tree, or with, as they termed it . . . into the 
king's house,' in the week before Easter. The 
same root has been traced in the word vitium in 
the sense of a crookedness or twist. It exists 
also, it is more than probable, in the Persian bid 
and bit (? the vine), Hindostani bed, the willow, 
Persian bide. A curious parallel to the relation 
between vitis and vitium is afforded by the kindred 

crooked, 0. N. slccela, to turn awry. So Cumberland scafe, a wild 
youth, a scamp, is connected with 0. Norse skeifr, Dan. skieve, (1) 
to be askew or crooked, (2) to go wrong (Ferguson). Stem, in Cleve- 
land, Dan., Swed., and Norse, Ger. schlimm, Dut. slim, bad, worth- 
less, are akin to Swed. slimm, slemmer, crooked. Ir. fiar, (1) 
crooked, (2) wicked. 


words in Persian. Bed not only means the willow 
or aspen, but also worthless, useless ; bada is the 
willow, and also wickedness; while bad is naughty, 
wicked, < bad.' 1 

Another plant deriving its name from its twin- 
ing and winding habit is the ' vetch,' It. veccia, 
Ger. ?vicke, Dan. vihhe, Lat. vicia, i.e., 6 the binder' 
(compare ' wood-bine,' i.e., 6 wood-bind,' and ' bind- 
weed), from the stem vie, to bind, seen in the Ger. 
Tvickeln, to bind around, or wrap; Dan. vikle ; Lat. 
vinca, pervinca, ' periwinkle ' (' the binder ') ; 0. 
Eng. pervinkle ; Dan. vceger, a willow; vegre, a 
pliant rod, a withy ; veg, pliant ; our ' wicker ; ' 
Swed. wika, to plait, fold, yield, give place to, turn 
aside ; and probably the provincial English word 
6 winkle,' meaning feeble. This stem vie, occurring 
in Indo-European words, has been traced up to the 
Sanskrit root vinch, and may be discerned in the 
Greek (v)eikein (retfceiv), to yield ; Lat. vincere, to 
cause to yield, to conquer ; vincire, to bind ; vic-is, 

1 Some instances of the employment of bad in Persian are bad- 
nam, a bad name, infamous; bad-dil (weak heart), cowardly, 
timid ; bad-pidar (bad father), a step-father ; jdmasi bad, a torn 
or worn-out garment. The resemblance of the two words in 
Persian and English (far removed as are those languages) is cer- 
tainly not a coincidence, but a real family likeness. Compare 
as other instances Pers. band = Eng. 'band,' Pers. bud = Eng. 
1 booth.' 

At all events, if we repudiate the Persian bad, our English word 
will stand perfectly isolated. As an instance of the unhappy shifts 
that etymologists have been driven to, Matzner deduces ' bad' from 
the A. -Sax. bedling, an effeminate person, one who keeps his bed. 
(Ed. Miiller, s.v.) 


a turn ; * 0. H. Ger. wichan ; 0. Norse vikja, to 
turn, give place; Swed. vika ; Dan. vige; Ger. 
weichen ; A. -Sax. wican, to give way, yield, to be- 
come soft or weak. With these latter words are 
immediately connected Dan. veg, pliant ; Swed. 
wek, yielding, soft, tender; Ger. welch; A. -Sax. 
wac, yielding to pressure, ' weak y also c wicked,' 
which is a collateral form of l weak/ 0. Eng. wik, 
wicke, and only in comparatively modern times 
distinguished from it as an independent word. 2 

' Wick,' originally signifying weak, yielding, 
pliant, opposed to that which is strong, steadfast, 
and durable, came afterwards to be used of any 
thing worthless, evil, or bad of its kind. 

1 It [hell] sal be fulle of brunstane and pyk, 
And of other thyng J>at es wyk' 

Prick of Conscience (ab. 1340) 11. 6693-4. 

' Grete stormes wex with weders wik.' 

MS. Earl. 4196. 

1 Cleasby is of opinion that the word ' week/ A. -Sax. wica, weoce, 
Icel. vika, was adopted from the Latin vice. Compare the Gothic 
in wikon kunyis seinis (Luke i. 8), said of Zacharias officiating 
in his turn or course. It might be conjectured that the root vinch, 
mentioned above, is a collateral form of the Sanskrit vank, to go 
tortuously, be crooked, bend, seen in the Latin vacillare, vacuus, 
vacare ; A. -Sax. wincian, wincel, wince, waeg, woy,&c. 

2 Of kindred origin, and strikingly similar in their mutual rela- 
tions, are the words following : — (1) Scot, sioack, limber, pliant, 
weak ; Ger. schwa-/' ; Dut. sioack, easily bent, weak ; Dan. Swed. 
svag, weak ; pro v. Eng. to sweg, sway ; 0. Norse sveigja, to incline, 
bend, give way : cognate with (2), 0. Norse svigi, a twig : and 
with (3), Dan. svig, 0. Norse svik, Scot, swick, A.-Sax. swic, mean- 
ing fraud, deceit, treachery ; A.-Sax. swican, to weaken, deceive ; 
Cumberland swyke, a thin, weak animal, a worthless, deceitful 


' For tliilke grund that berith the wedis wyk 
Berith eke thes holsom herbis.' 

Chaucer, Troilus and Creseide, Bk. I., 1. 947. 

* Til god men sal he [Christ] be quern, 
And to the wik ful grisli sem.' 

Eng. Metrical Homilies of the \4th Cent. 
(ed. Small), p. 20. 

1 Thou werm with thi wylys wyk.'' 

Coventry Mysteries, p. 29. 

1 Hire hadde lever a knif 
Thurghout hire brest, then ben a woman wikke.'' 

Canterbury Tales, 1. 5448. 

1 Sire, I did it in no wikke entente.' 

Id. 1. 15429. 
4 Hit semeth that no wyght 
Wot ho is worthi for wele other for wicke, 
"Whether he is worthi to wele other to wickede pyne.' 
Vision of P. Plowman (1393), Pass. XII. 
1. 272 (Text C), E.E.T.S. 

' Noght swa wikked man, noght swa, 
Bot als dust that wind the erthe tas fra. 
And therefor, wick in dome noght rise, 
Ne sinfulle in rede of right wise. 
For Louerd of right wise wot the way 
And gate of wick forworth sal ay.' 

Ancient Version of Ps. i. 4-6, quoted in Weever's 
Funeral Monuments (1631), p. 154. 

In c Havelok the Dane ' we meet the phrases 
< wikke clothes ' and ' wicke wede ' (11. 2458 and 
2825) for what in another place is called * feble 
wede ' (1. 323), i.e., bad, poor, or mean clothing. 


Compare the Icelandic sunde klasde, torn clothes, 
from sund, synd'e, injured, broken, ' sundered/ 
near akin to synd, a breach of law, guilt ; Ger. 
sunde, our ' sin ' (Wedgwood, s.v.) 1 

' Wick ' or ' wik,' as used in all these passages, 
corresponds to the provincial German week (soft, 
mean), wiken ; Ger. weichen (e.g., Luther's version 
of 1 Sam. xii. 20; Prov. v. 7); A. -Sax. wican, to 
be soft, yielding, or 'weak 7 (A. -Sax. wcec, wac, 
Ger. weick). 2 

In 6 wicked,' therefore, we have an instance of a 
great moral truth being implicit and wrapped up 
in a word, and not so much, perhaps, as suspected 
till that word be unfolded and laid bare to its very 
central meaning. The ' wick ' or f wicked ' man is 
in name as well as in nature, etymologically as 
well as essentially, the l weak J man, the man who, 
instead of resisting temptations, has yielded to 
them, who has been vanquished (vic-tus) in the 
spiritual combat, and instead of bridling his evil 
passions, follows and is led by them, confessing 
that they are too strong for him. Overcoming 
and conquering, it will be remembered, is in Scrip- 
ture the usual figure for exercising continence and 

1 In Cleasby's Icelandic Dictionary, however, synd 'sin,' is 
connected with syyi, A.-Sax. syn, a negation or denial, as if an 

2 Dr Morris compares ' nasty, ' 0. Eug. nasky, which comes from 
hnesc, soft. 


self-restraint, and withstanding the natural im- 
pulses to evil. 1 

For in the words of one of the sacred books of 
Buddha, ' he who lives looking for pleasures only, 
his senses uncontrolled, idle, and weak, — Mara (the 
tempter) will certainly overcome him, as the wind 
throws down a weak tree.'' 2 He will have no more 
pith 3 or strength of character to stand against the 
storm of temptation when it comes, than has the 

1 Cf. ' Vinciam dicebant continentem ' (Festus). Ger. weiclding, 
a voluptuary or effeminate person, one who cannot govern his 
passions. A ' passionate ' man, it has been truly observed, ' is suf- 
fering not doing, suffering his anger, or what other evil temper it 
may be, to lord over him without control. Let no one then think 
of "passion" as a sign of strength. As reasonably might one 
assume that it was a proof of a man being a strong man that he 
was often well beaten ; such a fact would be evidence that a strong 
man was putting forth his strength on him, but of anything rather 
than that he himself was strong. The same sense of passion and 
feebleness going together, of the first being born of the second, 
lies, as I may remark by the way, in the twofold use of the Latin 
word " impotens," which, meaning first weak, means then violent, 
and then often weak and violent together ' (Trench, Study of 
Words, Lect. III.) 

' Strong passions mean weak will.' Coventry Patmore. 

' The union of the highest conscience and the highest sympathy,' 
says Mrs Jamieson, ' fulfils my notion of virtue. Strength is essen- 
tial to it ; weakness incompatible with it. 

' We too often make the vulgar mistake that undisciplined or 
overgrown passions are a sigu of strength ; they are the signs of 
immaturity, of " enormous childhood." ' In this respect it seemed 
to her that the Indians of a tribe of Chippawas were ' less niched ' 
than the depraved ' barbarians of civilisation ' to be met with in 
great towns. Commonplace- Book, pp. 8 and 242. 

' Virtue,' Lat. virtus, properly denoting manlin-.-s or strength of 
character, is near akin to vir, a hero ; vireo, to be strong. 

2 Vide Clodd, Childhood of Religions. 

3 Compare Burns — 

' Come, firm Resolve, take thou the van, 
Thou stalk o' carl-hemp in man I ' 

To Dr Blacklod:, Globe ed. p. 103. 


woodbine or acacia that is driven to and fro in the 
autumnal blast. 

Thus as vitis, the winding plant, the vine, and 
Dan. vidie, the willow, Eng. ' withy,' are related 
to vitium, meaning first a bend, weakness, or faulti- 
ness in the limbs, a deformity, and then a moral 
fault, a ' vice ;' so are the c vetch/ Ger. wicke, 
the twining plant, and our c wicker,' akin to the 
Danish veg, pliant ; Swed. wek, yielding, soft ; 
Fin. wika, a bodily defect, also a moral fault, 
' weakness,' ' wickedness.' 

As a result of this relationship between vitis and 
vitium, it might be demonstrated that ' vice ' the 
mechanical instrument, and ' vice ' the ethical 
term expressive of moral turpitude, are words not 
merely superficially alike, but radically and funda- 
mentally connected. The latter is obviously the 
French vice, Lat. vitium ; the former, which was 
originally and properly applicable only to the screw 
of the implement, is the French vis, a screw, so 
called from its resemblance to the tendril of a vine, 
vitis. Compare the Italian vite, a vine, also any 
kind of winding screw or vice ; Fr. vrille (for 
verille), a gimlet, also the screwlike tendril of a 
vine (It. verrina, a gimlet, both, perhaps, from 
the Latin veru) ; Gk. lugos, a willow- twig, also a 
screw-press, a screw. 

It follows that when Hood approximated the 



two terms in one of his comic poems for the sake 
of a pun — 

* As harden'd in vice as the vice of a smith/ — 

he was really bringing together words which, how- 
ever long separated and widely divergent in point 
of meaning, still contained the same stem vit, and 
the same latent signification of being bent, curved, 
or deflected. 

( 115 ) 



In most languages the type of a fool or simpleton 
has been sought amongst the race of what So- 
phocles calls ' light-minded birds.' l Everybody 
has observed the solemn stupidity of the owl, the 
air of profoundest wisdom and imperturbable gra- 
vity with which it blinks its unspeculative eyes — 
the absurd pomposity of the strutting turkey-cock 
as he ruffles to the full extent of his feathers, 
and inflates his gorge with that lofty air of self- 
importance which first suggested the word i gor- 
geous/ Who has not felt irritated at the utter 
insensibility to danger that the hen exhibits till it 
is just upon her, and the altogether dispropor- 
tionate amount of panic and commotion with 
which she then shrieks away from before it — at 
the aggressive hiss with which the braggadocio 

1 Kovcpovowv (pv\ov opvidwv (Antig. 342, Wunder). ' He was far 
from one of the volatile or bird-witted,' says Dr Jebb in his ' Life of 
Nich. Ferrar,'p. 272. 


goose strains out her neck after a retreating foe, 
and proclaims her imbecility ? Who has not 
smiled at the swelling vanity and ostentation 
wherewith the peacock mantles and distends his 
splendid train, 1 

i With all his feathers puft for pride ; ' 

and who, as he observed them, has not been re- 
minded of their counterparts for silliness and 
stupidity that he has sometimes met amongst the 
unfeathered bipeds ? 2 

If a person does anything particulary foolish, we 

1 Compare the Portuguese pavonear-se, ' to play the fop or beau, 
to strut and show one's self about as the peacock does his feathers ' 

2 ' That unfeathered two-legged thing, a son.' 

Dryden, Absalom and AchitopheL 

In the following curious passage from Thomas Adams' sermon 
entitled ' Lycanthropy ' we have different sorts of men likened to 
fowls : — ' There is the peacock, the proud man ; stretching out his 
painted and gaudy wings. The desperate cock, the contentious ; 
that fights without any quarrel. The house-bird, the sparrow ; the 
emblem of an incontinent and hot adulterer. The lapwing, the 
hypocrite ; that cries, " Here it is, here it is ;" here is holiness 
when he builds his nest on the ground, is earthly-minded, and runs 
away with the shell on his head ; as if he were perfect when he is 
his once pipient. There is the owl, the night-bird, the Jesuited 
seminary ; that skulks all day in a hollow tree, in some Popish vault, 
and at even hoots and flutters abroad, and shrieks downfall and 
ruin to king, church, and commonwealth. There is the bat, the 
neuter ; that hath both wings and teeth, and is both a bird and a 
beast ; of any religion, of no religion. There is the cormorant, the 
corn-vorant, the mire-drumble, the covetous ; that are ever rooting 
and rotting their hearts in the mire of this world. There is also 
the vulture, that follows armies to prey upon dead corpses ; the 
usurer, that waits on prodigals to devour their decaying fortunes. 
Some men have in them the pernicious nature of all these foul 
fowls. ' 


say he is a c goose ; ' if lie is awkward, stupid, 
inexperienced, and generally 6 callow,' we say that 
he is a gawk, an owl, an oaf, a booby, a pigeon, a 
daw, a gull, a dotterel. Now i gawk ' is the A. -Sax. 
geac, (1) a cuckoo, (2) a beardless boy, a simpleton. 

Skeg, a name which the Northampton folk have 
for a fool or stupid fellow, has the same meaning. 
It is only a mutilated form of suck-egg, which is 
also applied to the cuckoo. {Vide Sternberg, s.v.) 

' Oaf,' 1 formerly spelt auf, ouphe (Shakspere), 
aupk (Dryden), 2 aulf (Drayton), is probably iden- 
tical with auf (an owl), 0. H. Ger. ufo, (Lett.) 
ukpis, (A.-Sax.) uf huf, (Pers.) kuf. z 

Compare the Italian gofo, gufo, guffo, c an owle ; 
also a simple foole or grosse-pated gull, a ninnie 
patch ' (Florio). Fr. goffe, dull, sottish ; Cumber- 
land goff, guff, a simpleton ; 0. Eng. ' gofish,' 

t Beware of gofisslie peoples speck' 

Chaucer, Troilus and Creseide, III. 1. 585. 

i Booby ' was once the name of some species of 
bird noted for its stupidity. Thus we read in the 
' Travels of Sir Tho. Herbert' (1665)— 

1 The word is complicated by its resemblance to the prov. Encr. 
olf, olph, or alp (a bull-finch). — Systema Agricultures, 1687. 
' Alpe, a bryde ' (i.e., a bird). — Prompt. Parv. It also occurs iu 
Chaucer. Wedgwood connects 'oaf ' with ' elf.' 

2 ' You Auph you, do you not perceive it is the Italian seignior ? ' 

Limberham, i. 1, Plays, vol. iv. p. 302 (1763). 

3 Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ., voL i. p. 471. 


' At which time some Bodbycs pearcht upon the Yard Arm of 
our Ship, and suffered our men to take them, an Animal so 
very simple as becomes a Proverb ' (p. II). 1 

The dodo also, it would seem, was given its 
name, probably by the Dutch, on account of its 
well-known obtusity. Cf. Frisian dod (a simple- 
ton), (Dut.) duty (Scot.) dutty to doze, (Fr.) 
doduy i doddypoll,' a blockhead. ' The Dodo, a 
Bird the Dutch call Walgh-vcgel or Dod-eersen ' 
(Herbert, p. 402). 

Of similar origin is c dotterel/ a bird proverbial 
for its doting stupidity. It was supposed to be so 
intent in imitating the motions of the fowler that 
it allowed itself to be taken without an effort to 

' Dotterels, so named (says Camden) because of their dotish 
foolishnesse, which being a kinde of birds as it were of an apish 
kinde, ready to imitate what they see done, are caught by 
candle-light according to fowlers gesture : if he put forth an 
arme, they also stretch out a wing : sets he forward his legge, 
or holdeth up his head, they likewise doe theirs : in brief e, 
what ever the fowler doth, the same also doth this foolish bird 
untill it bee hidden within the net.' 

Britain (Trans. Holland, 1637), p. 543. 

1 From a like insensibility to danger, another bird is commonly 
known as the ' foolish guillemot,' or the him ; Scot, lungie. Loon 
(dolt or booby, ' He called the tailor lown,' Othell©,. ii. 3) was an old 
Eng. name for the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), and is 
probably a corruption of the name lumme, which, also found in the 
form loom, loon, is in some places given to the diver (colymbus), 
Dan. lorn, Fin. leomme, Urn. Cf. Dut. loen, Ger. liimmel, a booby 
or clown. The name is said to have been applied to the Colymbidse 
on account of their lame and awkward gait in walking. 

GULL. 119 

* This is a mirthmaking bird, so ridiculously mimical that 
he is easily caught (or rather catcheth himself) by his over 
active imitation.' Fuller, Worthies (1662), p. 149. 

' For as you creep, or cowr, or lie or stoop, or go, 
So marking you with care the apish bird doth do, 
And acting everything, doth never mark the net, 
Till he be in the snare, which men for him have set/ 
Drayton, Polyolbion, Song 25. 1 

In Latin it is called morinellus, from morio, 
morus (a fool). i To dor the dotterel ' is an old 
phrase meaning to hoax, cheat, or make a fool of. 
And so ' dotterel ' came to be used for a greenhorn, 
a simpleton, a dupe, as, for instance, in the old 
play quoted by ISTares — 

E. Our dotterel then is caught. 

B. He is, and just 

As dotterels used to be : the lady first 
Advanc'd toward him, stretch'd forth her wing, and he 
Met her with all expressions. Old Couple, x. 483. 

1 Gull,' 2 denotes any young unfledged bird while 
covered with yellow down (' golden guls,' Sylvester ; 
Shakspere's 'golden couplets ' of the dove), being 
near akin to the Swedish gul (yellow), (It.) giallo, 
(Ft.) jaune, i.e., jalne, (0. H. Ger.) gelo, 'yellow,' 
and Eng. 'gold.' So the French bejaune, i.e., bec- 

1 Quoted in Tooke's 'Diversions of Purley,' p. 464, ed. 1840. 

2 As an inexperienced person that cannot shift for himself is 
called a gull, i.e., callow, so a knowing, wide-awake person in slang 
terminology is said to be 'fly,' ' pretty fly.' This is the Old English 
4 flygge,' fledged, mature, able to fly; pro v. Eng. Jligged, from 
A.-Sax. fliogan (to fly). ' Flygge, as bryddys, Maturus, volatilis" 
(Prompt. Parv., c. 1440). 

120 PIGEON. 

jaune (} r ellow-beak), 1, a young bird ; 2, c a novice, 
ninny, doult, noddy ' (Cotgrave). Cf. our ' green- 
horn.' Fr. niais (a nestling, from nidus), i a 
noddy, cockney, dotterell, peagoose ; a simple, 
witless, and inexperienced gull ' (Cotgrave). 

Cf. ' pigeon ' (a soft, gullible fellow, a dupe), 
the Italian pigione, pippione (from pipire, to chirp), 
(1) a pigeon, (2) a credulous gull; pippionare, to 
gull or dupe a person ; dindon, in the Parisian 
argot, a fool ; dindonner, to dupe. ' Daw,' ' wood- 
cock/ and i widgeon ' were also proverbial expres- 
sions for simplicity and foolishness, e.g. — 

' In these nice sharp quillets of the law 7 , 
Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw.' 

Shakspere, 1st Ft. Henri/ VI. iL 4. 

' this woodcock ! what an ass it is ! ' 

Taming of Shrew, i. 2. 

' The witless woodcock.' Drayton. 

' Woodcocke beware thine eye.' 

Percy Folio, i. 44. 

(Fr.) beccasse, a woodcock, i beccassd, gulled, 
abused (i.e., deceived), woodcockised' (Cotgrave). 

'Oh Clnysostome thon deservest to be stak'd ... for being 
such a goose, widgeon, and niddecock to dye for love.' 

Gayton's Festivous Notes} 

1 Cf. (Scot.) 'sookin* turkey,' a simpleton (Jamieson). (Fr.) 
dindon and linotte, a blockhead, (Fr.) butor, butorde, (1) a bittern, 
(2) a stupid lout. (Sp.) loco, stupid, (It.) locco, a fool; alocco, (1) 
an owl, (2) a simple gull (Florio), from Latin ulucus, an owl ; 
Sp.) paparo, a simpleton, (It.) papcro, a gosling ; (Gk.) niircpos, 

DUPE. 121 

The foregoing remarks have been made in order 
to show that the comparison of a simple person 
easily deceived to some one or other of the orni- 
thological species was customary and general. We 
now come, at length, to the word ' dupe.' The 
French verb duper (to deceive) does not occur in 
Cotgrave's 6 French Dictionary ' (1660), but we find 
in it ' dupe, duppe, l a whoop, or hooper , a bird 
that hath on her head a great crest or tuft of 
feathers, and loves ordure so well, that she ever 
nestles in it.' It is another form of c hupe, fiuppe, 
the whoope or dunghill cock/ which was supposed 
to derive its name from the crest or tuft of feathers, 
(hupe), which is its most conspicuous feature. It 
really corresponds to the Latin upupa (the hoopoe), 
(Gk.) epops (eTTo-v/r), (Copt.) kukupka, (Pers.) bubu, 
(Syr.) kikup/ia, (Heb.) dukipkatk. 2 

(1) a seabird, (2) a featherbrained simpleton, a booby, noddy (L. 
and Scott) ; (Gael.) dreollan, (1) a wren, (2) a silly person, a ninny. 
The Arabs have a proverb ' Stupid as an ostrich.' When we use 
1 buzzard,' however, as an emblem of obtuseness, the reference is 
not to the hawk so called, but to a buzzing beetle of the same name. 
Cf. the French proverb, ' Estourdi comme un haneton ' (Cotgrave), 
(As dull or heedless as a cockchafer). So prov. Eng. dumbledore, a 
cockchafer, also a stupid fellow. 

1 It. upupa, Prov. upa, Berry patois dube. For the prefixed d com- 
pare 'daffodil,' 0. Eng. affodilly, affodyle (Prompt. Parv.) (Lat. Gk.) 
asphodelus ; 'dappled' = (Fr.) pommele, as it were streaked like an 
apple, cf. the Icelandic apalgrdr, apple-grey (and yet in that lan- 
guage depill is a spot). 

2 All these words, as well as our ' hoopoe ' are evidently intended 
to imitate the cry of the bird, which 'utters at times (Mr Yarrell 
tells us) a sound closely resembling the word hoop, hoop, hoop ' 
(Penny Cycl. vol. xxvi. p. 34). In Ozell's translation of Rabelais it is 

122 DUPE. 

(Heb.) duktpkath (the hoopoe) according to some 
is compounded of duk and pkatk, literally i the 
dung-cock.' At all events the bird was considered 
notoriously unclean in its feeding and way of liv- 
ing generally. Thus Pliny says — 

1 The Houpe or Vpupa ... is a nasty and filthy bird other- 
wise, both in the manner of feeding and also in nestling : but 
a goodly faire crest or comb it hath, that will easily fold and 
be plaited : for one while she will draw it in, another while 
set it stiffe upright along the head.' 

Holland's Trans., vol. i. p. 287 (1634). 

Compare these old French verses — 

1 Dedans un creux avec fange et ordure 
La Huppe fait ses oeufs et sa niaison.' l 

1 La Hupe. Manger ne veux sinon ordure, 
Car en punaisie ie me tiens, 
Si ie suis de belle figure, 
Beaute sans bonte ne vaut rien.' 2 

That a bird of so fine an appearance should live 
in so squalid an abode, and on such foul fare, 
was the reason, no doubt, why it passed into 
a byword for simplicity and gullibility. For 

called whoop. The Arabic name for it hud-hud, the French put-put 
and prov. German wut-wut have a like onomatopoetic origin. The 
Greeks thought they recognised in its cry the transformed Tereus 
exclaiming irov, trod (where, where). Cf. Farrar, Chapters on Lan- 
guage, p. 29. 

1 Portraits d'Oyseaux, quoted in ' Penny Cycl.' vol. xxvi. p. 35. 

2 From ' Le Grand Calendrier et Compost des Bergers ' (1633), a 
very curious old French almanack, of which Nisard gives an 
account in his ' Histoire des Livres Populaires,' vol. i. p. 84 seq. 

DUPE. 123 

while the French have a proverb, l Sale comme 
une huppe, there lies in the background a remem- 
brance that it is un oiseau Impp6, i.e., crested, 
high-crowned, and along with this perhaps an 
ironical innuendo that it is noble, distinguished, 
intelligent. 1 For kuppe also has this meaning, 
' proud, lofty, stately, that bears himself high, 
that thinks well of himselfe ' (Cotgrave). Now it 
was most probably this pretentious air of the hoo- 
poe 2 with its lofty crest, which certainly does give 
it an air of grotesque importance, contrasted with 
its reputedly low and filthy habits, that caused it 
to be selected as the type of a humbug, a stupid 
pretender, who claims to be considered fine and 
clever when he is really quite the contrary, a simple 
person easily deceived, or in one word — a dupe. 
This metaphorical use of the word is not, as Wedg- 
wood remarks, without its parallels in other lan- 
guages, for in Polish dudek, a hoopoe, is also a 
simpleton, a fool ; in Italian bubbola is a hoopoe, 
bubbolare, to cheat, or (to use the old cant term) 
' to bubble ' one. Thus it appears that to gull, to 

1 E.g. e Les plus huppes y sont pris,' a French proverb quoted 
by M. Littre in his great dictionary, s.v. (The most skilful are 

1 Bien huppe qui pourra m'attraper sur ce point.' 

Moliere, £cole des Femmes, i. 1. 

8 ' In spite of the martial appearance of its crest, it is said to be 
excessively timid, and to fly from an encounter with the smallest 
bird that opposes it.' Johns, British Birds in their Haunts, p. 31 1. 

12-4 DUPE. 

pigeon, to bubble, or to dupe a person means lite- 
rally to delude and ensnare him like a simple bird. 
' To cajole ' is of a like signification. It is the 
French cajoler (also enjoler), to encage, or entice 
into a cage, being from the Old French jaiole, (Sp.) 
gay old, (It.) gabbhiola, (Lat.) caveola, cavea, (a 

I may add as a supplement to the previous 
remarks the following curious legend about the 
hoopoes, which traces back their traditional folly 
to an ancient date. Mr Curzon, from whose very 
interesting c Visits to Monasteries in the Levant ' I 
quote it, heard it from the lips of a Mussulman cob- 
bler. One day, when the great King Solomon was 
on a journey, he was sorely distressed by the heat of 
the sun. Observing a flock of hoopoes flying past, 
he begged them to form a shelter between him and 
the fiery orb. The king of the hoopoes immediately 
gathered his whole nation together, and caused 
them to fly in a cloud above his head. King 
Solomon, grateful for this service, offered to bestow 
on his feathered friends whatever reward they 
might ask. After a day's consultation, the king of 
the hoopoes came with his request. 

1 Then Solomon said, " Hast thou considered well what it is 
that thou desirest ? " And the hoopoe said, " I have considered 
well, and we desire to have golden crowns upon our heads." 
So Solomon replied, " Crowns of gold shall ye have : but, 
behold, thou art a foolish bird ; and when the evil days shall 
come upon thee, and thou seest the folly of thy heart, return 

DUPE. 125 

here to me, and I will give thee help." So the king of the 
hoopoes left the presence of King Solomon, with a golden 
crown upon his head. And all the hoopoes had golden crowns ; 
and they were exceeding proud and haughty. Moreover, they 
went down by the lakes and the pools, and walked by the 
margin of the water, that they might admire themselves as it 
were in a glass. And the queen of the hoopoes gave herself 
airs, and sat upon a twig ; and she refused to speak to the 
merops her cousin, and the other birds who had been her 
friends, because they were but vulgar birds, and she wore a 
crown of gold upon her head. 

1 Now there was a certain fowler who set traps for birds ; 
and he put a piece of a broken mirror into his trap, and a 
hoopoe that went in to admire itself was caught. And the 
fowler looked at it, and saw the shining crown upon its head ; 
so he wrung off its head, and took the crown to Issachar, the 
son of Jacob, the worker in metal, and he asked him what it 
was. So Issachar, the son of Jacob, said, " It is a crown of 
brass." And he gave the fowler a quarter of a shekel for it, 
and desired him, if he found any more, to bring them to him, 
and to tell no man thereof. So the fowler caught some more 
hoopoes, and sold their crowns to Issachar, the son of Jacob ; 
until one day he met another man who was a jeweller, and he 
showed him several of the hoopoes' crowns. Whereupon the 
jeweller told him that they were of pure gold ; and he gave 
the fowler a talent of gold for four of them. 

' Now when the value of these crowns was known, the fame 
of them got abroad, and in all the land of Israel was heard the 
twang of bows and the whirling of slings ; bird-lime was made 
in every town ; and the price of traps rose in the market, so 
that the fortunes of the trap-makers increased. Not a hoopoe 
could show its head but it was slain or taken captive, and the 
days of the hoopoes were numbered. Then their minds were 
filled with sorrow and dismay, and before long few were left 
to bewail their cruel destiny. At last, flying by stealth through 
the most unfrequented places, the unhappy king of the hoopoes 
went to the court of King Solomon, and stood again before the 
steps of the golden throne, and -with tears and groans related 
the misfortunes which had happened to his race. 


' So King Solomon looked kindly upon the king of the 
hoopoes, and said unto him, " Behold, did I not warn thee of 
thy folly in desiring to have crowns of gold? Vanity and 
pride have been thy ruin. But now, that a memorial may 
remain of the service which thou didst render unto me, your 
crowns of gold shall be changed into crowns of feathers, that 
ye may walk unharmed upon the earth." Now when the 
fowlers saw that the hoopoes no longer wore crowns of gold 
upon their heads, they ceased from the persecution of their 
race ; and from that time forth the family of the hoopoes have 
flourished and increased, and have continued in peace even to 
the present day ' (p. 152). 1 

Their namesakes, the ( dupes,' likewise continue 
a numerous family unto this day. That they 
flourish and walk unharmed upon the earth because 
they are merely feather-headed, unfortunately can- 
not be asserted with equal truth. So long as they 
can afford a golden spoil they are sure to be 
marked down, entrapped, and plucked by Mr 
Affable Hawk, his relation Sir Mulberry, and 
other professional fowlers. Dupes with crowns of 
gold have indeed much to contend with. They, 
too, however, lose their attractiveness, and cease to 
be persecuted when relieved of their perilous pos- 

When the ' dotterel ' was adduced above as an 
instance of a bird proverbial for its foolishness, it 
was implied that it derived its name from its 
doting obtuseness. This was Camden's opinion, 

1 One name for the bird in Persian is murghi Sulaymdn, * Solo- 
mon's bird.' 

DUNCE. 127 

and has been adopted by Mr Wedgwood. There 
is some reason to believe, however, that the term 
6 dotterel ' was originally applicable to a person 
conspicuously foolish and silly, and only in a secon- 
dary sense to the bird of a similar character. 1 

It was borrowed apparently from the Italian, 
where dottorello is ' a silly clarke, a sir John lacke 
Latine ' (Florio), and this is a contemptuous 
diminutive of dottore, a doctor, a learned man. 
Compare dottoruzzo, c a sillie or dunzicall Doctor ' 

That there is no greater fool than the learned 
fool, and that the bookish pedant in the affairs of 
practical life is no better than a solemn idiot, has 
often been remarked ; and that opinion has found 
utterance in the word < dotterel,' a doctorling. 

6 A fool unless he knows Latin is never a great 
fool,' is the witness of a Spanish proverb. 2 

We are reminded here how the name of ' the 
Subtle Doctor,' which was once suggestive of 
nothing but intellectual acuteness and philosophic 
discrimination, has in later times become a by- 
word for crass ignorance and stupidity ; how Duns 

1 So early as 1440 the * Promptorium Parvulorum' has the 
word with both meanings, a ' byrde,' and also the same as 
• dotarde. ' 

2 Cf. Trench, Proverbs and their Lessons, Lect. IV.; "Warter, 
Parochial Fragments, p. 69 ; Overbury, Characteristics (Lib. 
Old Authors), p. 269 ; H. Tooke, Diversions of Purley, p. li. (ed. 

128 DUNCE. 

Scotus, the glory of the Fransciscan order, the 
oracle of the Realists, now lives only in the 
mouths of men as the opprobrious epithet 
t dunce.' 

The reaction that took place at the time of the 
Reformation against the elaborate quibbling and 
hair-splitting of mediaeval theology aroused a feeling 
of scornful impatience against the Schoolmen, and 
chiefly against him who was their most conspicuous 

Accordingly, when Dr Layton, with others, was 
sent down to the University of Oxford in the 
reign of Henry VIII. to introduce sundry improve- 
ments into that seat of learning, we find him 
reporting to Cromwell us one result of his visita- 
tion — 

' We have sett Dunce in Bocardo, and have utterly banisshede 
hym Oxforde for ever, with all his blinde glosses, and is nowe 
made a comon servant to evere man, faste nailede up upon 
postes in all comon bowses of easment : id quod oculis meis 
vidi. And the seconde tyme we came to New Colege, affter 
we hade declarede your injunctions, we fownde all the gret 
quadrant court full of the leiffes of Dunce, the wynde blowyng 
them into evere corner.' 1 

Dr Colet, the famous Dean of St Paul's, held 
him and his followers in no higher estimation. 

' The Scotists, to whom of all men the vulgar attribute 
peculiar acumen, he used to say appeared to him slow and 

1 Letter3 relating to the Suppression of Monasteries (Camcleu 
Society), p. 71. 

DUNCE. 129 

dull, and anything but clever ; for to argue about the ex- 
pressions and words of others, to object first to this and then 
to that, and to divide everything into a thousand niceties, was 
the part only of barren and poor talents/ l 

Richard Stanihurst remarks that in his time 
Duns had become so trivial and common a term 
in schools, that s whoso surpasseth others either in 
cavilling, sophistry, or subtle philosophy, is forth- 
with nicknamed a Duns.' 2 

1 JScotista, a follower of Scotus, as we say a Dunce/ 

Florio (1611). 

The allusion, doubtless, is the same in a phrase 

given by Cotgrave (s.v. Joannes) — 

1 C'est un Joannes, He is a Pedant, or poor Schoolmaster/ 

A phrase of similar import in the English of a 
former day was 6 a sir John.' Thus Latimer, in 
the dedication of one of his sermons, speaks of 
' a Sir John who had better skill in playing at 
tables, or in keeping a garden, than in God's 

6 Come nere thou preest/ said the host, in the 

Prologue to * Nonnes Preestes Tale ' — 

; Come hither, thou Sire John, 
Telle us swiche thing as may our hertes glade/ 

6 1 praye thee,' demands Palinode of his fellow 
in the ( Shepheards Calender ' — 

1 Erasmus, Pilgrimage to St Mary of Walsingham, &c. (ed. J. G. 
Nichols), p. 143. 
s Description of Ireland, p. 2. 


130 DUNCE. 

c Lette me thy tale borrowe 
For our Sir John to say to-morrowe 
At the Kerke, when it is holliday ; 
For well he meanes, but little can say.' 

E. K. remarks in his note that this is spoken 

6 to taunte unlearned Priestes.' 

* Blind and ignorant consciences . . . love to live under 
blind Sir Johns, seek dark corners, say they are not book- 
learned.' Sam. Ward, Balm from Oilead. 

This term ' Sir ' was once applied generally to 
every parish priest, especially to one who had 
graduated at one of the universities, and translates 
the Latin title of dominus given to those who had 
obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts — e.g.. Sir 
Hugh Evans, the curate in Shakspere. Sir Brown 
or Sir Smith may still be heard used in this sense 
in the University of Dublin, and Sira Fritzner in 
Iceland. Compare the Scotch dominie, a contemptu- 
ous name for a minister or pedagogue. Italian don, 
' a word abridged of JDonno, it was a title wont to 
be given to country priests or Munkes ' (Florio). 
In early English this latter word took the form of 
dan, and thus it comes to pass that we read in 
Chaucer of dan Piers, dan Arcite, dan John, and 
even of dan Salomon, dan Caton. 

It is curious to find the same term turning up 
in the far North with something of the sense of 
6 dunce ' attached to it. For in Icelandic doni is 
the name by which the students of the old colleges 

COWARD. 131 

call outsiders, as opposed to collegians, like the 
Philister of German universities. 1 This use of the 
word ' don,' dominus, is evidentally ironical, some- 
what like that of the name ' literates ' among our- 
selves. Thus, by a whimsical fate, the same 
identical word which denotes for us the incarna- 
tion of collegiate discipline and the pedantry of 
the l gown,' denotes to the Icelander the despised 
ignoramus of the 'town.' 

< Coward.'— With but slight difference of form 
this word is to be found in more than one lan- 
guage of modern Europe, and in each the dif- 
ference of forms seem to have arisen from an 
attempt to trace a connection and educe a meaning 
which did not really belong to it. For instance, 
the French couard, 0. French coard, was regarded 
as cognate with the 0. Spanish and Prove DQal coa 
(Fr. queue) a tail, as if the original signification 
was a tailer, one who flies to the rear or tail of 
the army. Thus Cotgrave translates the phrase, 

1 In the very valuable ' Icelandic Dictionary ' by Cleasby and 
Vigfusson, doni is identified with a (supposed) early Eng. word 
done, and there is adduced in confirmation these lines from the 
' Boke of Curtesy ' (c. 1500)— 

' In thi dysch sette not thi spone, 
Nother on the brynke, as unlernyd done.' 

These latter words are interpreted as an illiterate clown / The true 
meaning of course is * do not as the unlearned do,' done or doen 
being the old plural of do. There is no evidence of such a word as 
done for a clown having ever existed in English, and the sentence 
corresponds to this of Wiclif's — ' Thei snokiden not fro hous to 
hous, and beggiden mete, as freris doon.' 

132 COWARD. 

'/aire la queue] ( to play the coward, come or drag 
behind, march in the rere.' 

The Italian codardo in like manner was brought 
into connection with the verbs ' codare, to tail, 
codiare, to follow one at the taile ' (coda) 

The Portuguese form is cobarde, also covarde 
(= couard), which seems to have resulted from an 
imagined relationship with cova, It. covo, sil-cova, 
Sp. alcoba, Arab, al-qobbah (the recess of a room, 
' alcove '). A coward was so called, says Yieyra, 
* from cova, a cave, because he hides himself.' 
Identically the same account is given of the Spanish 
cobarde in Stevens' Diet. (1706), s.v. 

According to this explanation, when Benhadad, 
after being defeated at Aphek, ' fled, and came 
into the city into an inner chamber' (Heb. a 
chamber within a chamber, 1 Kings xx. 30), he 
might with strict etymological accuracy be described 
as cobarde, a coward ; Zedekiah likewise, if ever he 
fulfilled Micaiah's prediction in the day of invasion 
by betaking himself i into an inner chamber to 
hide himself (1 Kings xxii. 25). 1 As to our 

1 Compare Macbeth's address to the ghost of Banquo — 

' Be alive again, 
And dare me to the desert with thy sword ; 
If trembling I inhabit then, protest me 
The baby of a girl. ' Act iii. sc. 4. 

I.e., if I skulk within the house when challenged to the combat, 
call me a coward. 

COWARD. 133 

English word, some persons, I would venture to 
assert, have looked upon the coward as one who 
has ignominiously cowered beneath the onslaught 
of an enemy, comparing the Italian covone, c a 
squatting or cowring fellow/ c from covare, to 
squat or coure ' (Florio) ; just as the i craven ' was 
supposed to be one who acknowledged himself 
beaten, and craved for mercy. Both deriva- 
tions, however, are equally incorrect. Another 
origin, more improbable still, was once pretty 
generally accepted, and the form of the word was 
twisted so as to correspond. The coward, it 
was thought, must surely be a cow-heart, one 
who has no more spirit or courage than the 
meek and mild-eyed favourite of the dairy-maid. 
c Cowheart,' indeed, is still the word used in 
Dorsetshire, and ( cow-hearted ' occurs in Lu- 
dolph's Ethiopia, p. 83 (1682). Compare also 
' corto de cor aeon, cow-hearted,' (Stevens' Sp. 
Diet., 1706). l Couard, a coward, a dastard, a 
cow ' (Cotgrave). ' The veriest cow in a com- 
pany brags most' (Ibid., s.v. Crier), 6 Craven, 
a cow ' (Bailey). 

' It is the cowish terror of his spirit 
That dares not undertake.' King Lear, iv. 2. 

The French and Italians, though they erred in 
their explanations, were certainly right in recog- 
nising queue and coda respectively (Lat. cauda) as 

134 COWARD. 

the source of couard and coclardo. 1 It is not, 
however, because he tails off to the rear that the 
dastard was so called, nor yet — for this reason 
also has been assigned — because he resembles a 
terror-stricken cur who runs away with his tail 
between his legs. It is true that c in heraldry a 
lion borne in an escutcheon, with his tail doubled 
or turned in between his legs, is called a lion 
coward,' 2 still it was not the heraldic lion, nor 
the fugacious dog, nor even the peaceful cow, but 
a much more timid and un warlike animal, which 
was selected as the emblem of a person deficient 
in courage. It was the hare — ' the trembler,' as 
the Greeks used to call her ; 3 ' timorous of heart/ 
as Thomson characterises her in the \ Seasons ' 
(Winter); ' the heartless hare,' as she is styled in 
the ' Mirror for Magistrates,' ii. p. 74 (ed. Hasle- 

1 As with us ' skinned/ ' boned/ mean bereft of skin and bone, 
bo caudatus, * tailed/ in medieval Latin meant deprived of a tail. 
1 Caudatos autem dicebant quibus ablata erat cauda/ says Du 
Cange. He quotes from Matthew of Paris the expression, ' 
timidorum caudatorum formidilositas ! ' 

8 Bailey, s.v. Cf. ' Couard — se dit d'un lion qui porte sa queue 
retrousse'e en dessona entre les jambes' (Armorial Universal, Paris, 
1844. N. & Q., 2d S. V. 126, p. 442). 

Cf. Icelandic draga halann (to drag the tail), to sneak away, play 
the coward. 

' Oft have I seen a hot o'erweening cur 
Run back and bite because he was withheld ; 
Who, being suffer'd with the bear's full paw, 
Hath clapp'd his tail between his legs and cried.' 

x 2d Pt. Henry VI^ t. 1. 

3 PtCx, from ptossd, to crouch or cower from fear. 

COWARD. 135 

As the rabbit got its name of i bunny ' from its 
short tail being its conspicuous feature (' bun/ 
Gael, bun), and the word ( rabbit' itself seems akin 
to the Spanish rabo (a tail), rabadilla (the scut), 
rabon (a curtal), so the hare appears to have been 
familiarly known in days of yore by the nickname 
of ' coward,' i.e., scutty or short-tail, and this is 
her distinctive appellation in the popular ( Roman 
de Renart.' 1 Compare i Kuwaerd, lepus, vulgo 
cuardus . . . timidus ' (Kilian). 2 

That the hare, being proverbially timid and 
easily scared, 3 became an apt byword for a spirit- 
less faint-hearted man, the following quotations 
will suffice to show: — 

1 Similarly the ' coot ' or water-rail, Welsh cwt-iar, owes her 
name to the shortness of her tail ; cf. Welsh cwtyn, anything short or 
bob-tailed, a plover ; cwta, bob-tailed ; cwt, a short tail or ' s-cut.' 
1 Cutty ' is a provincial name for the wren. Other animals, 
again, derived their names from their appendages being conspicu- 
ously long and bushy, e.g., Hungarian farkas, a wolf, from farJc, a 
tail ; Cymric llostawg, a fox, from Host, a tail.' ' Fox ' itself, 
O. H. Ger. foha fuhs, Pictet connects with Sanskrit pu6c7ia, tail, 
comparing its Scandinavian name dratthali, i.e., 'draw-tail.' So 
' squirrel,' from the Lat. sciurulus, dim. of sciurus, Greek sciouros, 
i.e., 'shadow-tail,' from its large bushy tail serving it as a 
parasol ! 

2 In Wedgwood, s.v. Other forms of the name are coars, coart, 
cuwaert. See Grimm, Reinhart Fuchs, pp. ccxxiii-ccxxvii. 

3 Compare ' If fearefull immagination oppresse them, as they 
oftentimes are very sad and melancholy, supposing to heare the 
noise of dogges when there are none such sturring, then doe they 
runne too and fro, fearing and trembling, as if they were fallen 

Topsell, Of the Rare, Four-footed Beasts, fol. p. 269. 

136 COWARD. 

* Thone ungemetlice cargan thu miht hatan hara.' 1 The 
immoderately timid thou mayest call hare. 

1 The black and white monks are really brutes ; that is, lions 
in pride, foxes in cunning, hogs in gluttony, goats in luxury, 
asses in sloth, and hares in cowardice.* 

Fables by Odo de Ceriton (12th cent.) 2 

* Lievres morionnez [hares in armour], silly artificers or 
cowardly tradesmen turned watchmen.' 

Cotgrave, French Diet., s.v. Morionne. 

1 This too, a covert shall insure 

To shield thee from the storm; 
And coward maukin sleep secure (hare) 
Low in her grassy form.' 

Burns, Humble Petition of Bruar Water. 

1 If some such desp'rate hackster shall devise 
To rouse thine hare's-heart from her cowardice, 
As idle children striving to excell 
In blowing bubbles from an empty shell .' 

Hall's Satires, iv. 4 (1597). 

' His base son, . . . called from his swiftness Harold 
Harefoot — belike another Asahel in nimbleness, 2 Sam. ii. 18, 
but hare's-heart had better befitted his nature, so cowardly his 
disposition.' 3 Fuller, Church Hist., i. p. 216 (ed. Nichols). 

1 The Saxons were no hare-hearted folk, their arms were as 
stalwart and their thews as strong as those of the men whom 
they met at Hastings.' 

Dasent, Intro, to Burnt JVjal, i. p. clxxx. 

1 Quoted in Rask's Anglo-Saxon Grammar. 

2 Vide Douce, Illustrations of Shakspere, p. 526. 

The Latin original of Odo's fable, 'De Ysingryno,' is given in Jacob 
Grimm's 'Reinkart Fuchs,' p. 447 (Berlin, 1834), as follows : — In 
magno conventu sunt bestie multe, videlicet, leones per superbiam, 
vulpes per fraudulenciam, ursi per voracitatem, hirci fetentes per 
luxuriam, asini per segniciem, hericii per asperitatem, lejoores per 
metum, quia trepidaverunt timore, ubi non erat timer. 

a Uase and Hasenherz in German are used in a similar sense. 

COWARD. 137 

* How do Ahitophel and Judas die the death, of cowardly 
harts and hares, pursued with the full cry of their sins, that 
makes them dead in their nest before they die. 5 

Sam. Ward, Balm of Gilead. 
i Plus coiiard qu'un lievre, More heartlesse than a hare! 


( Manhood and honour 
Should have but hare-hearts would they but fat their thoughts 
With this cramm'd reason/ 

Shakspere, Tro. and Ores., ii. 2. 

' He that trusts to you, 
When he should find you lions, finds you hares ; 
When foxes, geese.' Coriol, i. 1. 

1 You are the hare of whom the proverb goes, 
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard.' 

King John, ii. 1. 

* Edward and Richard, like a brace of greyhounds 
Having the fearful flying hare in sight.' 

2d Ft. Henry VI., ii. 5. 1 

When a distinguished Polish patriot, who re- 
cognised the uselessness and mischief of a projected 
revolution in the year 1863, ventured to raise his 
voice against it in warning, his indignant fellow- 
countrywomen, who have always been the soul of 
the national movement in Poland, sent him a pre- 
sent of hare-skins as an emblem of cowardice. 

Professor Pictet, comparing the Greek logos, a 
hare, with the synonymous Persian word lagkun, 

1 ' The Mourning of the Hare,' a poem describing the manifold 
dangers that threaten this pretty animal, and her constitutional 
timidity in consequence, is printed in Hartshorne's Ancient 
Metrical Romances, p. 165. 


observes that the latter is i allie sans doute a Idgh, 
poltronnerie, legerete a fuir.' 1 

The word l hare ' itself, A.-Sax. Kara, Ger. hase, 
Fr. hase, 0. H. Ger. haso, means literally ' the 
to-tener,' ' the jumper,' being the Sanskrit sasa, 
from sas, to leap, a root which is also found in our 
' haste,' Fr. haster, Ger. hasten. 

So in the medieval beast epics the hare was 
surnamed Galopins, the swift leaper, and Sauterez, 
the jumper. 2 Its Latin name, lepus, seems to 
correspond to the German laufer, Eng. 'leaper,' 
and to be connected with the Greek elaphros, 
Sans, lahgh, to jump. 3 

i Poltroon,' which is generally given as a 
synonym of * coward,' when submitted to the 
philological crucible, is found to yield a residuum 
essentially different. If ' coward ' is significant of a 
person who is prone to take to flight at the first sus- 
picion of danger, like the timorous hare, i poltroon,' 
on the other hand, describes originally and properly 
a lazy heavy-heeled rascal that can with difficulty 
be aroused to any exertion, like the lethargic sloth. 
For the French poltron, It. poltrone, is defined 
to mean, not only ' a dastard or base coward ' in 
the older dictionaries, but also 6 a sluggard, a 

1 Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. 446. 

2 Grimm, Reinhart Fuchs, pp. ccxsxv. ccxxxvi. 

3 Benfey. Cf. Philological Soc. Trans., 1862, p. 30. 


lazie-back, an idle fellow ; ' and that this is the 
radical meaning we may see when we compare 
these words with the Italian verbs poltrare, pol- 
trire, poltroneggiare, ' to loll and wallow in sloth 
and idleness, to lye lazilie in bed as a sluggard ' 
(Florio). All are derivatives of the Italian poltra, 
a couch or bed, a word which is akin to the Ger- 
man polster, A. -Sax. bolster, 0. H. Ger. polstar, 
bolstar, Milanese poller} The correlative word 
spoltrare, to spring from the bed, meant also ' to 
shake off sloth or cowardize, and become valiant ' 

6 Poltroon,' therefore, according to its funda- 
mental notion, denotes one who is too fond of his 
pillow or bolster, a lazy day-dreamer, zfaindant, a 
useless lounger ; a lown or lungis, as such a person 
was called in early English ; a 'bed-presser,' 2 or l a 
slug-a-bed,' 3 as he is still called in the provincial 

1 'Bolster,' &c, are connected by Herbert Coleridge with Dut. 
hoi, 0. Eng. poll and hall, the head, as if, like the Gk. proskepka- 
laidn, it denoted the place of the head. Wedgwood sees its origin 
in the Dut. hult, Sp. bulto. It can scarcely be doubted, however, 
since poltro, poltra, signify a colt or filly, as well as a bed, that the 
real etymon is pullus, Gk. polos, the common idea being 'that 
which bears one.' See other instances under the word 'Hearse,' 
infra. Compare 

' Omai convien che tu cosi ti spoltre, 
Disse '1 maestro ; che seggendo in piuma 
In fama non si vien, ne sotto coltre. ' 

Dante, Inferno, xxiv. 

2 "Wright, Provincial and Obsolete Dictionary. 

3 Sternberg, Northampton Glossary. 


Compare the A. -Saxon bedling, an effeminate 
person, from which Maetzner very improbably de- 
duces the word 'bad.' 

Portuguese madraco, a sluggard, an idle rascal, 
cognate with Fr. materas, It. materasso, Port, and 
Sp. almadraque, a bed or mattress, Arab, al-mdtrdk 

French loudier, c a leacherous knave ' (Cot- 
grave), meant originally one who lies abed, be- 
ing only another use of loudier, lodier, 6 a quilt 
or counterpoint for a bed ' (Lat. lodix, A. -Sax. 
lo%a, a blanket). Loudiere, sl woman of the same 
class as Shakspere's Doll Tearskeet. 

So in Italian pagliardo, 6 a filthie letchard ' 
(Florio), is from paglia, straw, pagliato, a straw 
bed, a c pallet.' 

The corresponding word in French, paillard, 
1 a knave, rascall, varlet, scoundrell, filthy fel- 
low ' (Cotgrave), is from paille, straw, paillasse, 
a straw bed ; and paillarde, a drab, is own 
cousin to Mistress Margery Daw of sluttish 

The older theory, which is now generally given up, 
was that as i cagot, 1 the pariah of Southern France, 
was compounded of the two words cards Gothicus, 
a dog of a Goth, similarly i pol-tron ' was made 
up of the two first halves of pol-lice trun-catus, 
maimed in the thumb, a term applied to a con- 
script who wilfully lopped off that essential part of 


the hand * in order that he might be exempted as 
unfit for service, and so has shirked the war and 
proclaimed himself a coward. 2 

The French expression faucon poltron, denoting 
a bird which has had its talons clipped, might seem 
to lend some probability to this opinion. The 
likelihood is, however, as M. Littre remarks, that 
this name was given to it on account of the 
cowardice which it was observed subsequently to 
manifest as the result of that mutilation. 

1 On the all importance of the thumb to man, see Kidd, Bridge- 
water Treatise, Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Con- 
dition of Man, p. 17 (ed. Bohn). 

2 Farrar, Chapters on Language, 1865, p. 238. Sullivan, Dic- 
tionary of Derivations, s.v. 

( 142 ) 



A common symptom of insanity well known to 
medical men is the flitting of phantasms or 
spectres before the eyes of the unhappy patient. 
Dr Winslow, amongst other cases of persons 
afflicted by these spectral illusions that came 
under his notice, mentions that of a lady who 
was constantly tormented by a number of singular 
grotesque figures dressed in most fantastic cos- 
tumes, which danced around her during the day, 
and at night appeared about and in her bed. So 
plain and distinct, indeed, were these ghostly 
visitors, that sometimes she was able to make 
sketches of them and show them to the doctor. 1 
So intense was the illusion of vision, in another 
instance referred to by the same authority, that 

1 Obscure Diseases of the Mind and Brain, p. 238. 


although the patient closed his eyelids, he could 
not even then dispel the lively images of demons 
that haunted his bed. 1 Now, the Latin word for 
a ghost is larva, and the victim of such a dis- 
eased imagination was termed larvatus, i ghost- 
haunted/ and sometimes lymphatics, i.e., nym- 
phatus, ' nymph-seized,' Gk. nympkoleptos. 2 

Just as * bug/ the name of the noxious insect 
the cimex, meant originally and properly a bogie, 
hobgoblin, or phantom to scare children ; 3 as coco 
in Spanish, a ' bugbeare,' meant also a c wevill ' 
(Minsheu) ; as baco in Italian, a i boe-peepe or 
vainefeare,' is also a i silkworme ' (Florio) ; so 
larva, originally expressive of the fantastic crea- 
tion of the imagination, became subsequently 
applicable to certain material objects of a hideous 
and repulsive aspect, such as the ugly masks of 
pantomime, and the grubs of insects. The A. -Sax. 
grima (from grim, horrible) corresponds to larva 
in all these significations, denoting a ghost, a 
mask, and also a chrysalis or caterpillar. 4 Some- 

i Id., p. 578, cf. pp. 309, 589, 607. Phantasmata, Dr R. R. 
Madden, vol. ii. pp. 282, 357. 

2 0. Eng. ' taken.' Compare Fr. fee, taken, bewitched (Cot- 
grave). 0. Fr. faee, * taken as chyldernes lymmes be by the fayriea ' 

3 ' All that here on earth we dreadfull hold, 
Ee but as bugs to fearen babes withall.' 

Spenser, F. Q., II. sii. 25. 
4 Fear boys with bugs.' Shakspere. 

4 With ' bug ' compare Russ. buTcashha, a bugbear, a bug, maggot, 


what similarly a certain insect, from having some- 
thing gruesome and reverend in its appearance, 
has been named ' the praying mantis ' — mantis 
meaning a prophet — and Santa Caterina in Italian. 1 
Larvatus, i ghostified/ and larvarum plenus, 
c full of ghosts/ being terms applied to the insane 
from their being commonly haunted by phan- 
toms ; 2 and these expressions, in consequence of 
the ambiguity of the word larva just noted, being 
capable of a twofold construction — as either ' in- 
fested by grubs/ or 6 infested by imps ' — it is 
possible that we may find here the explanation of 
sundry curious phrases in which a crazy person is 
popularly said to have his head full of maggots, 
of flies, bees, crickets, or grasshoppers. Phrases 
of this kind are observable in many modern lan- 
guages, and it is suggested that they may be the 
result of a mistaken or too literal rendering of 
the words larvarum plenus, as if they meant c full 
of grubs.' For instance, 'maggot* was the term 
very frequently employed by a bygone generation for 

or beetle, from buka, a bugbear ; Welsh bwcai, something dreadful, 
also a maggot ; Limousin bobaou, bobal, a bugbear and an insect, 
and the Albanian boube having like meanings ; Hung, bubus, a bug- 
bear ; Serv. buba, vermin ; Lap. rabme, a ghost, bugbear, also an 
insect, a worm (Wedgwood). 

1 Vide History of Christian Names, by Miss Yonge, vol. i. p. 

2 Compare Maury, La Magie et l'Astrologie, pp. 263, 288. He 
holds mania to be properly the condition of being haunted by the 
ghosts of the dead, manes. Mana, mania, was the ruler of the 
under-world (Taylor, Etruscan ^Researches, pp. 116-124). 


a whim, or some crotchety notion that has got into 
a person's head ; and a whimsical person that be- 
trayed such a weakness was said to be ' maggoty,' 
or ' maggot-headed.' A fantastic man is described 
in an old volume as c wholly bent to fool his estate 
and time away ... in maggot-pated whimsies.' 1 
A musical composition, such as we might nowa- 
days call a fantasia, or capriccio, was then known 
as a ' maggot/ 2 Similarly in French, according 
to Cotgrave, verreux, wormy, worm-eaten, is also 
6 hot, cholerick, hasty, light-headed, odd-humoured, 
haire-brain'd/ and verue is an c odd humour in a 
man, a worm in the head.' ' II lug a pris une 
verue, he is grown very fantasticall, humorous, 
giddy-brain'd, the worm pricks him, the toy hath 
taken him in the head/ 

Avoir des moucherons en teste, to have flies in 
the head, we are informed on the same authority, 
means ' to be humorous, moody, giddie-headed ; 
or to have many proclamations or crotchets in the 
head.' 3 < Giddy' itself is provincially applied to 

1 Bishop's Marrow of Astrology, p. 60, in Nares, s.v. "Maggot- 
pated. Cf. l There 's a strange Maggot hath got into their Brains, 
which possesseth them with a kind of Vertigo. . . . Our Preach- 
men are grown Dog-mad, there 's a worm got into their Tongues, as 
well as their Heads ' (Howell, Fam. Letters, 1645, Bk. II. 33). 
In the Cleveland dialect, mav:h=(l) a maggot, larva of a flesh-fly ; 
(2) a whim or foolish fancy : mauiky, (1) maggoty j (2) given to 
fancies or absurd whims. 

2 Brewer, Diet, of Phrase and Fable, s.v. 

3 Conrad, one of the medieval princes of Ravenna, was nicknamed 
Musca in Cerebro, ' Fly-brained,' because he was generally con- 
sidered mad. Vide Wedgwood, s.v. Muse. 



a dizziness in the head to which sheep are liable, 
the result, it is said, of having hydatides on the 
brain. Perhaps it is these latter that are alluded 
to in Heywood's ' Spider and Flie,' where he 
says — 

■ As gidds cum and go, so flies cum and are gone.' ! 

When we say that a person out of spirits has 
the blues or the dumps, the French say that he 
has the black butterflies, les papillons noirs. In 
Italian, grillo, a cricket, is also ' a fond hum- 
our or fantasticall conceit. ' ' Grilli, crickets, 
also toyes, crikets or bees-neasts in one's head ' 
(Florio). Gabbia da grilli, sorgii, 6 a cage for 
crickets or for mice, a self-conceited gull/ 2 An 
equally curious expression is found in Dutch. 
A musard, or moody person, is said in that lan- 
guage to be like ' a pot full of mice,' een pott vull 
milse, or to have c mouse-nests in his head,' milse- 
nester in koppe kebben. Mr Wedgwood points out 
that the verb muizen, to muse, was erroneously 
supposed to be derived from muize, muse, a mouse, 
and then muizenis, musing, was converted into 
muizenest, mouse-nest. Compare the French ' avoir 
des rats, to be maggoty, to be a humorist ' (Boyer). 
In the argot of Paris, avoir une dcrevisse dans le 

1 Wright, Provincial Diet., s.v. Gid. 

3 Another leaping insect is substituted for the cricket in the 
Scotch phrase ' He has a flea in his lug,' meaning he is a restless, 
giddy fellow (Jamieson). 


vol-au-vent (i.e., dans latete) means to be deranged 
or crazy. 

A Scotch expression for one who is confused, 
stupefied, or light-headed, is ' His head is in the 
beis,' or bees ; and i bee-headit ' means hair- 
brained, unsettled. c Wyll, my maister, hath bees 
in his head,' occurs in the old play of 6 Damon 
and Pithias ;' and i He has a head full of bees,' in 
Ben Jonson's ' Bartholomew Fair,' i. 4. Compare 
the Polish roj, a swarm, and rojanie, musing, 
reverie, dreaming. 

With a slight variation of the phrase, the cover- 
ing of the head was substituted for the head itself ; 
and a person that was considered crotchety, crazy, 
or obfuscated by drink, was said to ' have a bee 
in his bonnet ' or cap. 1 

Spenser, in his allegorical description of the 
body as the Castle of Alma (i.e., the soul), speaking 
of the head, says — 

( All the chamber filled was with flyes 
Which buzzed all about, and made such sound, 
That they encombred all men's eares and eyes ; 

1 The word martel in the French phrase, avoir martcl en tete, to 
have a bee in one's bonnet, to be crotchety, is asserted by Dr 
Brewer (Diet, of Phrase and Fable) to be a corruption of martin, 
an ass ! It can hardly be doubted, however, that it is identical with 
martel, a hammering, and then a throbbing or beating of the pulse 
under excitation of feeling. Cf. ' Martel, Jealousie, suspition, 
throbbing or panting upon passion ; a buzze in the head, a flie 
in the ear ' (Cotgrave). It. martello, ' a hammer, also jealousie in 
loue, panting or throbbing of the heart ' (Florio). 


Like many swarmes of Bees assembled round, 
After their hives with honny do abound. 
All those were idle thoughtes and fantasies, 
Devices, dreames, opinions unsound, 
Shewes, visions, sooth-sayes, and prophesies, 
And all that famed is, as leasings, tales, and lies/ 

Faerie Queene, Bk. II. canto ix. 51. 

The rise and diffusion of the curious notion that 
the disordered brain is so strangely haunted may 
have been favoured, perhaps, by that vague sensa- 
tion, which is sometimes experienced, of there 
being something whirring or moving inside the 
head, and which, in an old French phrase, was 
likened to the shifting and running of sand in an 
hour-glass — 

1 II a la teste pleine de sablon mouvant. His head is full of 
crotchets, his braine fraught with odde conceits ; he hath a 
running, or a giddy pate of his own.' Cot grave. 

The original idea, however, may have been that 
the brain was infested and preyed upon by some 
hidden insect, and that the sudden accesses of 
eccentricity or insanity were due to causes not 
greatly different from the gnawing of a worm 1 or 
the stinging of a gadfly. 2 Such beliefs were once 
widely prevalent at a time when little or nothing 
was known of diseases and their exciting causes, 

1 Some have supposed that by the scriptural expression of the 
undying worm (Isa. lxvi. 24; Mark ix. 44) are to be understood the 
pangs of remorse and a guilty conscience. 

2 The Greek word oUtros denotes the gadfly, and also madness, 


and similar superstitions linger even still among 
the ignorant. Thus, in Manx, beiskteig being a 
worm or maggot, beisktyn, the plural of beiskt 
(literally i a little beast,' Lat. bestia) is a word for 
the toothache, from an opinion that the pain is 
produced by a worm in the tooth. According to 
a Rabbinical tradition, Titus, after the siege of 
Jerusalem, was punished by an insect named 
yattush, a fly or gnat, which entered through his 
nostrils, and preyed upon his brain. 1 

Somewhat similar is the meaning underlying 
the French verb four miller, to tingle with pain, to 
have a pricking or creeping sensation, its original 
import being to swarm with ants, Lat. formiculare, 
formicare, from formica, an ant. ' Formication ' 
still means a tingling sensation, and ' formica ' is 
an old medical term for a species of wart and a 
certain disease in a hawk's bill. 2 Compare the 
Greek murmekia, warts, murmekizo, to itch, from 
miirmex, an ant; the Esthonian kiddisema, to 
swarm, to creep, tickle, or itch. 

Indeed it may be noted that not unfrequently 
the inroads of certain diseases which seem to gnaw 
and fret the flesh are likened to the ravening of 
beasts of prey, and the very names of these latter 
are given to those diseases. For example, ' the 
wolf (it occurs in the sermons of Jeremy Taylor, 

1 Vide Cornhill Magazine, * The Talmud,' Aug. 1875, p. 209. 
s Bailey, Diet., s.v. 

150 FRET. 

and in other old writers) is a common word for a 

sort of eating ulcer, which in Italian is also named 


'They [the sacrilegious] lie in the bosom of the church, as 
that disease in the breast called the cancer, vulgarly the wolf; 
devouring our very flesh, if we will not pacify and satisfy them 
with our substance.' 

Adams, Sermons, Lycanthropy. 

1 Hunger is like the sickness called a wolf, which, if thou 
dost not feed, will devour thee and eat thee up.' 

Lewis Bailey, Practice of Piety (1743), p. 201. 

In German, wolf is a wen, and wolf am finger, a 
whitlow. In French, loup is ' a malignant and 
remedilesse ulcer, a canker in the legs which in the 
end it wholly consumes ' (Cotgrave). ' Canker ' 
itself, as well as ' cancer,' Fr. chancre, is the Latin 
cancer, a crab, and similar is the twofold meaning 
of the German krebs. ' Scrofula ' being a Latin 
word derived from scrofa, a sow, and akin to scrobs, 
a trench, and scribo (originally to scratch), seems 
to denote the disease which grubs up, tears, and 
devours the flesh of its victim, 1 even as 

* The sow freting the child right in the cradel.' 2 

1 So the Spanish comer, to itch, is from the Latin comedere, to de- 
vour, the French rogne, the mange, is from rogner, to gnaw or fret, 
and our ' mange,' from the French manger, to eat. 

Demangeaison, the itch, a derivative of the latter, is used figura- 
tively of mental irritation, as in Boursault's little play of ' Le 
Pluriel des Mots en Al,' ' Tax des dimangeaisons de te cesser la 
gueule,' — I am itching (i.e., have a stroDg desire) to break your 

2 Chaucer, The Knight's Tale, 1. 2021. 

FRET. 151 

The occurrence of the word i fret ' in this line 
from Chaucer, and in another passage shortly 
afterwards which tells of Acteeon — 

' How that his houndes have him caught 
And freten him, for that they knew him naught ' — 

reminds us that mental disease, as well as bodily, 
is frequently compared, in respect of its wasting 
and ravaging power, to the action of gnawing and 
devouring. When a person under the influence of 
grief is said to be c fretted,' 1 the expression pro- 
perly implies that his substance is being eaten 
away by corroding care 2 just as a garment (in the 
language of our Authorised Version) is fretted by a 
moth. i Tristitia enim/ says Yan Helmont, ( non 
secus atque tinea vestem vitam roditS Compare the 
following passages : — 

1 And ever against eating cares 
Lap me in soft Lydian airs.' 

Milton, L 1 Allegro. 

1 ' Fret,' notwithstanding its simple appearance, is really a com- 
pound word, to for-eat, (Goth. )fra-itan, (Ger.) ver-essen, to eat up 
(Garnett, Philological Essays, p. 108). In connection with fretting, 
and its ordinary accompaniment, tears, it may be observed that the 
latter word (A.-Sax.) taer, (0. H. Ger.) zahar, (Goth.) tagr, is near 
akin to the Swedish tdra, to consume, corrode, eat, wear away, 
tara sig sjelf, to fret one's self, (0. H. Ger.) zeran, (Ger.) zehren, (Eng.) 
' to tear.' Precisely similar is the relation of its congeners the Greek 
ddkru, to the verbal root dak- (ddknd), to bite, (Sans. ) damg, and 
of the Latin lacryma, to the verb lacero, to tear. 

2 The Greek meled&ne, care, sorrow (cf. melein, to be anxious), ac- 
cording to Max Muller, means a consuming, a melting away, or 
grinding to dust, being from the root mar, to grind or pound, and 
so cognate with the Latin mordeo, to bite. 

152 FRET. 

' Gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite 
The man that mocks at it and sets it light.' 

Shakspere, Richard II., i. 3. 

' I can feel my forehead crost 
By the wrinkle's fretful tooth. 

Lord Lytton, Spring and Winter, 

And so the afflicted Lear found — 

' How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is 
To have a thankless child.' Lear, i. 4. 

When, on the other hand, we say of a person 
that he ' frets himself ' about anything, we use a 
phrase almost equivalent to the Homeric one, i He 
devoureth his own heart ' (6v/jl6v 16V), and similar 
to that employed by the Royal Preacher, ' The fool 
foldeth his hands together, and eatethhis own flesh'' 
(Eccles. iv. 5), i.e., wasting his energies, vexes and 
disquiets himself in vain. Compare the Danish 
gnave, to gnaw, also to fret, to be peevish. So in 
old English writers, < corsive ' and ' corsey,' a con- 
tracted form of a ' corrosive,' is found repeatedly 
with the meaning of a gnawing care, anxiety, or, 
as Burns calls it, ' heart-corroding care and grief. ' 1 
The Russians have a like saying — ' Rust eats away 
iron, and care the heart.' 

1 And that same bitter corsive which did eat 
Her tender heart and made refraine from meat.' 

Spenser, Fairie Queene, IV. ix. 14. 

Epistle to Davie, Globe ed., p. 58. 


' For eVry cordiall that my thoughts apply 
Turns to a corsive, and doth eat it farder/ 

B. Jonson, Every Man out of Rumour. 

'He feels a corzie cold his heart to knaw.' 

Harrington, Ariosto, xx. 97. 1 

' Chagrin/ French chagrin, cark, care, vexation, 
is that which gnaws and frets the mind, just as 
e shagreen ' (Fr. chagrin), the shark-skin, wears 
away the wood or other material which it is used 
as a rasp to polish, It. zigrino. i Shagreen, out of 
humour, vexed ' (Bailey). The Genoese sagrind is 
to gnaw, and sagrindse, to fret, consume with 
anger. 2 

Very similar is the use of the Italian verb 
limare, to fret, to gnaw, originally to file, from the 
Latin lima, a file, while the same word lima is the 
Italian name for the plaice or bret, French limande, 
on account of its rough skin when dried being em- 
ployed for wood polishing. So ' attrition ' and 
c contrition/ theological terms for sorrow for sin, 

1 Vide Nares, who gives the above quotations s.v. 

2 Diez. The spelling ' chagrin ' would seem to countenance the 
derivation of the word from carcharus, a shark, Gk. Jcdrcharos, sharp, 
jagged, through a form carcharinus ; and so Haldeman, Affixes, p. 
114. Compare the Greek rhlne, which denotes both a file or rasp, 
and a shark whose rough skin is used for the same purpose. It is 
really, however, the Persian saghri, a kind of leather made from 
the ass's skin. Tavernier, in his Travels in Persia, says — 'Cespeaux 
de chagrin se font du cuir de cheval, d'asne, ou de mule, et seule- 
ment du derriere de la beste, et celuy qui se fait de la peau de 
l'asne a le plus beau grain. ' Cf. ' Cufsh sagri I have translated sha- 
green slippers. Sagri is the skin of a wild ass's back ' (Hajji Baba in 
England, vol. ii. p. 125 ; Southey, C.-P. Book, vol. ii. p. 464). 


the one denoting a lower, the other a higher and 
more perfect, degree of repentance, meant origin- 
ally a rubbing or wearing away, and then figu- 
ratively a fretting of the heart and mind, being 
derivatives of the Latin verb tero, to rub or bray 
to pieces. ' Remorse,' from the Latin remordeo, 
to bite again, 0. Eng. ' again-bite/ reminds us 
that conscience, when awakened, has sharp teeth 
that do not remain idle. 1 

By an analogous figure of speech the idea of 
vexing and harassing another with reproaches, 
taunts, or accusations is often conveyed by words 
expressive of tearing, gnawing, and biting. Thus 
' back-biting,' the graphic term by which we 
characterise slanderous charges brought against a 
person in his absence, 2 has its exact parallel in the 
Latin phrases, ?nordere, rodere, dente carpere, to 
bite, gnaw, or tear one with the teeth. The ex- 
cellent maxim in which St Augustine employs one 
of these latter words in this sense might appropri- 
ately be written over the portals of every dining- 
room — 

* Quisquis amat dictis absentem rodere amicnm, 
Hanc mensam vetitam. noverit esse sibi.' 
Who loves to bite with words an absent friend 
No welcome findeth here. 

1 Samuel Ward, in his sermon ' Balm from Gilead,' speaks of the 
reproofs of conscience ' gnawing more than any chestworm ' {i.e., 
coffin- worm). 

2 ' And oft in vain his name they eloselv bite.' 

P. Fletcher, Purple Island, c. 10. 


In Hebrew a synonymous expression is c to eat 
one piece-meal' (akal kartze), that is, to calumniate 
him, and fritter away his character by groundless 
accusations, and that is the phrase used in Daniel 
(iii. 8), where it is recorded that the Chaldeans 
' came near and accused the Jews.' So in the 35th 
Psalm David complains that his enemies ' did tear 
him, and ceased not' (v. 15), i.e., they ' spoke 
daggers,' even cutting words, or as Gesenius in- 
terprets it, they rebuked and cursed him, the word 
here employed being kdratz, to rend or tear 
asunder. Nakabh, to pierce or cut through, is 
similarly used for to curse in Job iii. 8 ; Prov. xi. 
26, &c. Compare the following usages, i To pique 
a person,' Fr. piquer, to vex, urge, exasperate with 
sharp or biting words, meant originally to prick or 
pierce (Cotgrave) ; Eng. i to give one a cutting up.' 

6 To exasperate ' is to make one rough, as by the 
application of a rasp or grater. 

' To harass,' Fr. karasser, is apparently 6 to 
harrow ' and hurt his feelings, as the harrow with 
its jagged projections hurts the earth, being akin 
to harcer, fiercer, to harrow. 

' A sarcasm,' in contrast with what Dr South 
has termed i the toothless generalities of a common- 
place,' is i a biting taunt, a cutting quip, a nip- 
ping scoff' of a bitter and personal nature, which, 
as it were, draws blood, and leaves a scar behind. 
It is the Greek sarkasmos, from sarkdzd, to tear 

156 NAG. 

the Jtesk (sdrx). i Cynics ' (from the Greek kudn, 
kunos, a dog), as might be expected from persons 
with sharp teeth and a currish, snarling disposition, 
are much given to this cruel amusement. 

6 Nag/ to keep up a continual course of railing 
and irritating remarks, ' nagging,' worry, is the 
same word as * gnaw,' Norse nagga, to gnaw, irri- 
tate, or plague, Ger. nagen, prov. Eng. nag, to eat, 
naggle, to gnaw, Dut. knagen. So Dan. gnaven, a 
gnawing, is likewise a scolding or chiding. Of 
similar origin is the word ' niggard,' for a parsi- 
monious, cheese-paring fellow — a skinflint, as he is 
sometimes termed — who gnaws and scrapes his 
bones till the dogs despise the reversion of them, 
being a derivative from the Icelandic ngggja, to 
rub, scrape, or gnaw. 1 The Old English word 
was nygun; and Pers the usurer is described in 
Mannyng's ' Handlyng Synne ' as ' a nygun and 
auarous ' (1. 5578). 

The following passage, which also illustrates 

what has been said above about ' fret,' is put in 

the mouth of Anamnestes in the old comedy of 

Lingua (1632) — 

'A company of studious paper-worms, & leane schollers, 
and niggardly scraping Vsurers, and a troupe of heart-eating 

1 With this we may compare the provincial English 'near' 
(Sternberg, Northampton Glossary, s.v.), exactly equivalent to the 
Danish gnicr, 'a griping, stingy, penurious fellow' (Wolff), gnidsk, 
niggardly, which is a derivative of gnider, to scrape ; (Cumberland) 
$croby, niggardly, akin to Dut. schrobben, Gael, sgriob, to scrape. 

TEASE. 157 

enuious persons, and those canker-stomackt spiteful creatures, 
that furnish vp, common place-books with other men's faults " 

(Act iii. sc. 2). 

Another instance of the same figure is afforded 
by the verb ' to tease/ which in everyday language 
is used more commonly in its metaphorical sense 
of annoying or vexing a person, ruffling his temper 
by a series of petty and repeated provocations, 
than in its original one of pulling out matted wool 
or hair, and loosening it by plucking and tearing, 
A. -Sax. tcesan, Dut. teesen, Ger. zausen. The 
plant which was frequently used for the purpose of 
raising the nap of cloth, and teasing it to a proper 
degree of roughness, was called the c teasel ' (A.- 
Sax. tcesal). This was a species of thistle, in Latin 
carduus, as we are reminded by our word i card ' 
for dressing wool. Hence, too, comes the Portuguese 
cardo, the fuller's thistle, which c is also a symboli- 
cal word for torment, pain, affliction, &c.' (Vieyra). 
Compare the Spanish escolimoso, hard, obstinate, 1 
from the Latin scoli/mus, a thistle, Greek skol- 
umos, the original conception being that of a person 
whose manner, rough as a burr, and bristling, is 
suggestive of the motto Nemo me impune lacessit. 
Similarly, when a rude and abrupt manner is de- 
scribed as being brusque, it is implied that, so far 
from being soft and polished, it is sharp-pointed 
andrepellent,like the prickly shrub called butcher's- 

1 Pineda, Span. Diet., s.v. 


broom. For the French brusque (formerly brusc), 
Spanish and Italian brusco, uncivil and sharp, also 
denote that plant, and are derived from its Latin 
name ruscum. The first ' brushes ' were besoms 
made of this material (Ger. brusc/i). Compare the 
two meanings of c broom.' 

We have seen above that the name of the cricket 
or grasshopper has sometimes been used as synony- 
mous with a whim, caprice, or eccentric humour, 
and obviously it was the fitful movements of those 
insects by sudden and unexpected bounds which 
afforded the point of comparison. Grillo is thus 
employed in Spanish and Italian, and grillon in 
French. ' II a beaucoup de grillons en la teste, he 
is in his dumps ; his head is much troubled, full 
of crotchets, or of Proclamations ' (Cotgrave). 

In German die grille is a whim or vagary, grillen 
fangen, to catch crickets, is to indulge in useless 
thoughts, and grillenf anger, a capricious person. 
All these are from the Latin grgllus, a cricket. 
Now this word was also used as an art term to 
signify a caricature or grotesque composite figure. 1 
Grilli, or crickets, are frequently found depicted on 
ancient gems engaged in various human occupations, 

1 Antiphilus jocosis (tabulis) nomine Gryllum deridiculi habitus 
pinxit, unde id genus picturse grylli vocantur' (Pliny xxv. 37). 
See ' Handbook of Engraved Gems,' C. W. King, p. 96. It is curious 
to find the Icelandic gryla meaning an ogre or bugbear, but gryl, 
grille is an 0. Eng. word for grim, terrible. 


as porters, gladiators, and so forth ; and it was 

probably this fantastic use of the insect, as well as 

its irregular movement, which helped to make it 

a synonym for a capriccio, or curious fancy. 

Similarly ' caprice/ Fr. caprice, It. capriccio, 

signified originally the sudden spring of the goat, 

so that Chapman uses the word, in his time not 

yet fully naturalised, with perfect propriety when 

in his translation of the c Hymn to Pan ' he depicts 

the motions of the goat-footed god as follows : — 

* Sometimes 
(In quite opposed capriccios) he climbs 
The hardest rocks and highest, every way 
Running their ridges.' x LI. 15-18. 

The word is a derivative of the Latin caper, 2 a 
goat, as is also our verb 6 to caper,' to skip about 
like that playful animal. Compare Horace's simi- 
lem ludere caprece ; W. gafrio, to caper, from gafr, 
a goat. 

That Shakspere was familiar with this derivation 
is evident from the words which he makes Touch- 
stone address to Audrey — 

1 Homeric Hymns, &c, translated by Geo. Chapman, Library of 
Old Authors, p. 107. Cf. Genin, Recreations Philologiques, vol. i. 
p. 272. 

* Caper, Etruscan capra, corresponds to A.-Sax. hcefer, 'heifer,' 
Scand. hafr, Irish qabhar, Welsh gafr, Corn, gavar, Alban. skap, 
and is akin to the Persian dapish, 6apush, Sans, kampra, agile. It 
comes from the root cap, camp, to move (? bound), and probably 
originally meant ' the skipper.' In Lapp, habra is a goat, kapa, 
Finn, kipa, to skip, Turkish 6apuk, swiftly, Pers. cabHk (Pictet, 
Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. 368 ; I. Taylor, Etruscan Kesearches, 
p. 317). Cf. Egypt, abr. 


1 1 am here with thee and thy goats, as the most capricious 
poet, honest Ovid, was among the Goths.' 

As You Like It, iii. 3. 

Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton) describes the fit- 
ful disposition of the animal just as it must have 
struck our ancestral word-makers — 

1 Every goat objects to sameness, 
And peaceful plenty cloys at last ; 
Without adventure ease is tameness : 
Away the wild thing scampers fast. 

He scrambles up the pebbly passes : 
He leaps the wild ravines : in vain 

To woo him wave the choicest grasses — 
He nibbles, and is off again. 

The good St Peter, to whose keeping it has 

been committed, puffs after it till he is fairly 

exhausted, and resigns his capricious charge with 

the words — 

' Take back, Lord, this wilful creature, 
And from its whimsies set me free.' 

Cynips Terminalis. 

' Goats,' observes Fuller, < are when young most 
nimble and frisking, whence our English word to 
caper. .' When Boyle therefore speaks of one 
' dancing and capering like a kid,' the expression, 
though accurate, is almost pleonastic. 

The French forms of the word are cabrer, c to 
reare, or stand upright on the hinder feet, as a goat 
or kid thatbrouzes on a tree ' (Cotgrave) ; cabrioter, 
to caper. From the same source, through the 
diminutival form capreolus, a kid, comes the verb 


' to capriole.' It. capriola, ' a kid, a caper in 
dancing, also a sault, a goates leape that cunning 
riders teach their horses ' (Florio). 

The French word was cabriole, and hence a light, 
two- wheeled vehicle, which, as it were, bounds along, 
was called a cabriolet, which we now have shortened 
into ' cab/ 1 The same conveyance in slang phrase- 
ology is styled a ' bounder,' 2 which is suggestive 
of a kindred expression in the authorised version 
of Nahum iii. 2, ' the jumping chariots.' 

With 6 caprice ' we may compare the provincial 
English word gaiting, signifying frolicsome, from 
gait, a goat. So in the Comasque dialect of the 
Italian mice is a caprice, and nucia a kid ; ticc/do, 
the Italian word for a freak or whim, is from the 
0. H. Ger. ziki, a kid (Diez) ; and the French 
verve, spirit, fancy, comes probably from a Latin 
word verva, a ram's head, vervex, a wether. 3 

1 Cabriolets were introduced into England in 1755. Horace 
"Walpole speaks of ' la f ureur des cabriolets, Anglice one horse 
chairs, a mode introduced by Mr Child ' (Wright, Caricature 
History of the Georges, p. 253). 

2 Hotten, Slang Dictionary, s.v. 

3 Another word expressive of a mental conception derived from 
the goat is 'chimera,' a monstrous fancy or groundless imagination, 
that word being the Greek chimaira, (1) a goat ; (2) a composite goat- 
shaped monster; (3) something unreal or non-existent. Chimaira, 
chimaros, is properly a winterling goat, and connected with ckeimdn, 
winter, just as the provincial Eng. term, a ' quinter,' is a sheep 
of two winters, corresponding to the Erisian twinter, a two- 
year-old horse, enter, a one-year-old, cf, Latin bimus, two years 
old, trimus, three years old, i.e., li-himus, tri-himus, akin to litems, 

162 LARK. 

Similar is the Italian vitellare, l to skip and 
leape for joy as a yonge calfe ' (Florio), the Latin 
vitulari, to make merry, originally to skip like a 
calf (vitulus). An interesting parallel is afforded 
by the ancient Egyptian, for in that language a 
bounding calf .is said to be the ideograph, or little 
picture, determinative of the verb ab, which signifies 
to rejoice as well as to thirst ; and in the list of 
hieroglyphical signs given by Baron Bunsen in his 
great work, 1 the head of a calf is the determinative 
of the word for joy (rck). Compare also the Ger- 
man kdlbern, to be wanton, to romp, to frisk about 
in a calf-like manner, from kalb, a calf; the Greek 
arneuo, to frisk, from arnos, a lamb; ortalizo, to 
frolic like a young animal, ortalis ; and paizo, to 
dance or play, originally to sport like a child, 
pais, (compare the French gar Conner, to be wanton); 
the provincial and Old English verb, to colt, 
meaning to frisk about and kick up one's heels, to 
wanton, a word employed by Spenser in his ' View 
of the State of Ireland,' which in Devonshire 
takes the shape coltee, to be skittish. 

It might perhaps be supposed, at the first view, 
that the vulvar English word i to lark ' was 
another instance in point, and that in its primary 
significance it meant to disport one's self with the 
abandon of that bird which has often been regarded 

1 Egypt's Place in Universal History, vol. i. p. 543. 

LARK. 163 

as the very type of light-heartedness and joyous 

freedom. 1 If the frisking columbine, with her 

pirouettes and glissades, bears an appellation 

shared in common with the tumbling pigeon 

columbus, columbinus (Greek kolumbdn, to tumble) 

and if the public figurant or pantomimic dancer 

arneuter, introduced by Homer (II. xvi. 742) 

owns a kinship with the skipping lamb, arnos 

then why should not a frolic, accompanied as it 

often is by dance and jest and song, and enacted 

though it be for the most part during the hours 

when gambling is rife but gambolling is still, by 

revellers — 

1 Awake when the lark is sleeping, 

Ere Flora fills her dewy cup ; 
When the festive beetle's homeward creeping, 
Before the early worm is up,' — 

why should it not, by an analogous process, 
derive its name from the merry bird of morning ? 
This, however, would be quite a groundless assump- 
tion, as the word is only a modern corruption of 
the verb to laik, which is common in Old English, 
and still current in the provincial dialects. 

< Thai mett 
With men that sone thaire laykes lett ' — 

Minot, Political Songs, 1352. 

One of the aspirations of the cheerful man in ' L'Allegro,' as he 
invokes Sport and Laughter and Mirth to be his companions, is — 

1 To hear the lark begin his flight, 
And singing startle the dull night, 
From his watchtower in the skies 
Till the dappled dawn doth rise.' LI. 41-44. 


i.e., hindered their larks. Of the giants be- 
fore the flood we are told 

' That for her lodlych layke^ alosed tliay were ' — 

Alliterative Poems (ed. Morris) 

they were destroyed for their loathsome larks. 

So Hampole says that proud man takes no heed 

to himself 

'"When he es yhung and luffes layking.' 

Priche of Conscience, 1. 593. 

< Lark,' therefore, is the Old English laih, A. -Sax. 
Mc, play, sport, lacan, to play, Goth, laiks, sport, 
dancing, laikan, to skip or leap for joy, Swed. leka, 
Dan. lege, 0. Norse leika, from the Sanskrit root lahgh, 
to jump, which is also seen in A. -Sax. leax, the sal- 
mon, i.e., c the leaper,' locusta, and lepus, the hare. 
It is with these creatures, if any, that the frolic- 
some ' lark' is allied, and not with the bird which 
is its homophone — the ' laverock,' ' la'rick,' or lark. 

Amongst the animals which by reason of their 
liveliness of disposition and quickness of motion 
have been made types of hilarity and cheerfulness, 
and become proverbial in popular phraseology, is 
the c grig.' 

Cotgrave, for example, explains gouinfre, ' a 
madcap, merry grig, pleasant knave,' gringalet, ' a 
merry grig, pleasant rogue, sportfull knave.' We 
still say ' as merry as a grig,' and the word has 
been generally understood to mean a small, wriggling 
eel, so called perhaps from its colour, A. -Sax. 


grceg, gray, just as another fish has been named a 
i grayling/ As c grig,' however, is a provincial term 
also for the cricket, 1 as it were the gray insect , in Ice- 
landic grd-magi, ' gray-maw ' (compare the c gray- 
fly ' of Milton's < Lycidas '), it is more natural to 
suppose that the phrase is synonymous with another 
equally common, c as merry as a cricket ; ' the 
cheerful note of the cricket, even more than its 
lively movements, causing it to be adopted as an ex- 
emplification of merriment. But c grig ' may have 
had still another meaning. Grec, gregeois, griescke, 
gregue, are various French spellings of the word 
Greek (compare 'gregues, foreign hose [i.e., Greek], 
wide slops, gregs,' Cotgrave), and the word grin- 
galet, a merry grig, may be only another form of 
grigalet or gregalet, a diminutive of grec, i.e., a greek- 
ling, grcsculus, n being inserted as in the old French 
term for holy water, gringoriane, a corrupted form 
of gregoriane, c so termed,' says Cotgrave, ' because 
first invented by a Pope Gregory.' 

From the effeminacy and luxurious living into 
which the later Greeks degenerated after their 
conquest by the Romans, their name became a by- 

l ' The high-shoulder'd grig, 
Whose great heart is too big 
For his body this blue May morn.' 

Lord Lytton. 
So ' the grygynge of the daye ' is an Old English expression for 
the dawn, i.e. , the graying or gray of the morning. Frisian gr&vding, 
the twilight. Scot, gryking, greking, the peep of day. 


word for bon-vivants, good fellows, or convivial 
companions ; just as the Teuton or German has 
supplied a sobriquet for a toper, It. tedesco, Neap. 
todisco, among the people of Southern Europe. 

' The boonest companions for drinking are the Greeks and 
Germans; but the Greek is the merrier of the two, for he will 
$dng, and dance, and kiss his next companion ; but the other 
will drink as deep as he." 

Howell, Fam. Letters (1634), Bk. II. 54. 

6 No people in the world,' it has been said, ' are 
so jovial and merry, so given to singing and 
dancing, as the Greeks/ 1 So Bishop Hall, in his 
1 Triumphs of Koine,' having spoken of the wakes, 
May games, Christmas triumphs, and other con- 
vivial festivities kept up by those under the Roman 
dition, adds these words — ' In all which put together, 
you may well say no Greek can be merrier than 
they.' In Latin, grcecari, to play the Greek, meant 
to wanton, to eat, drink, and be merry. Shakspere 
says of Helen, i Then she's a merry Greek indeed ' 
(Troilus and Cressida, i. 2), and the phrase occurs 
repeatedly in other writers of the same period. 
Cotgrave defines averlan to be ( a good fellow, a 
mad companion, merry Greek, sound drunkard ; ' 
while Miege gives ' a merry grig, un plaisant com- 
pagnonf 2 and i They drank till they all were as 

1 Patrick'Gordon, quoted in Brewer's ' Dictionary of Phrase and 
Fable,' s.v. Grig, where it is also stated that 'grig ' is a slang term 
for a class of vagabond dancers and tumblers. 

a Cited in Wright's ' Provincial Dictionary,' s.v. Grig. 

£tre gris. 16? 

merry as grigs ' occurs in ' Poor Robin's Almanac/ 
1764. We can easily perceive that the latter 
phrase, both in sound and signification, arose 
out of, or was at least fused with, the older one 
6 as merry as a Greek.' That the connection be- 
tween the two was remembered and recognised so 
late as 1820 is proved by the following quotation, 
which I take from Nares — 

' A true Trojan and a mad merry grig, though no Greek'' 

Barn. Journ. vol. i. p. 54. 

The French have a phrase etre gris, to be drunk, 
which is of the same origin, if Genin be correct 
in his assertion that gris is an old French form of 
grcecus, 1 and that the verb se griser exactly repro- 
duces Horace's grcecari, meaning properly ' to be 
Greekish,' just as they say ivre, or boire, comme un 
Polonais, or as we might say, ' to be drunk as a 
Dutchman.' Synonymous with this, and likewise 
derived from the language of the learned, is the 
jocular expression II savait f Hebrew. This is a 
mere calembour on the resemblance between the two 
Latin words ebrius, drunken, and Ebrceus, Hebrew. 
' II entend VHebrieu, he is drunk, or (as we say) 
learned : (from the Analogy of the Latine word 
Ebrius).'' — Cotgrave. In an old French song 
occur the words — 

1 Recreations Philologiques, vol. i. p. 137. Gris, it seems, was 
also written griu, and thence came grive, the thrush, because it is 
wont se griser among the vines. Cf. ' saoul comme une grive,' and 
grivois, a term for a tipsy soldier. 


1 Je suis le docteur toujours Ivre, 

Notus inter Sorboxiicos ; 
Je n'ai jamais lu d'autre livre 

Qu'Epistolam ad Ebrios.' 1 

Phrases like these evidently owe their origin to 
the scholastic slang of the university or monastic 
common-roorn,and to the same source may be attri- 
buted the facetious name that used formerly to be 
given to an earthen jug or tankard, a ' Bellarmine,' 
— the works of that great doctor being the handbook, 
or vade-mecum, into which the student should con- 
tinually be dipping, whose contents he should be 
constantly imbibing. Rabelais tells us that the 
monks had flagons actually made in the shapes 
of books; these they called their breviaries, 
and in these, we need not doubt, they were deeply 

Many can remember a kind of jug that was for- 
merly in use constructed in the shape of a squat- 
ting or dwarf-like figure graced with a long beard 
— Toby Philpots, I think they were called — speci- 
mens of which may still be seen in out-of-the-way 
nooks and corners. The ancient ' Bellarmine/ 
we may suppose, resembled these bearded jugs, 
which the Scotch called ' greybeards. ' 2 'Ye may 

1 Notes and Queries, 4th S. vol. ii. No. 28, p. 42 ; No. 29, p. 71. 

2 Vide Halliwell, Popular Rhymes, p. 143 ; Chambers, Book of 
Days, i. 371. For some whimsical reason vessels of large capacity 
have received names from two kings of Israel, and are termed in 
some parts of England Jorams and Jeroboams. 


keep [for the pilgrims] the grands of the last 
greybeard, says Peter Bridge- Ward to his wife in 
6 The Monastery,' ch. ix. Similarly, in Icelandic 
skcgg-karl is a i bearded carl,' and skegg-brusi is an 
earthen jug, while brusi, an earthen jar, meant 
originally a bearded he-goat. 

But the merriness of the Greek was not his only 
proverbial characteristic. He was also regarded as 
a personification of artfulness and cunning, qualities 
faithfully delineated in the typical character of 
Virgil's Sinon ; and still, in modern times, he is 
said to be ' most of all remarkable for his shrewd- 
ness and sharpness in business. 1 In French 
il est Grec is, according to Cotgrave, another 
way of saying, i He is a most crafty or subtill 
Courtier. ' 

There are many other instances of this use of 
words by which the name of various nationalities 
are used as common nouns descriptive of persons 
of a certain disposition, or of certain occupations 
which were considered specially characteristic of 
those nationalities. For example, a Sybarite, or 
native of Sybaris, has become another name for an 
effeminate voluptuary. A Cyprian is a votary of 
Venus — Cyprus being one stronghold of her wor- 
ship — a woman of light character : and Corinthian 
is almost the same, a person in old time being 

1 C. L. Brace, Races of the Old World, p. 272. 


said to Corinthianise when he led a life of loose 
debauchery ; while Bougre, a Bulgarian, has fallen 
to a still more degraded meaning. A Gypsy, i.e., 
a Gyptian 1 or Egyptian, is now the vernacular 
name for the nomad Zingaro ; but Bohemian, the 
term once applied to the same race, now denotes 
a social nonconformist, one that claims the right 
to order his mode of living at his own pleasure, 
and refuses to submit to the trammels of an 
established code of etiquette; and a homeless 
wanderer of the city we call a street Arab. The 
word Ephesians, as used in' Shakspere, is a cant 
term for topers or boon companions, men that 
were certainly no devout worshippers of that 
chaste goddess whom their city delighted to 
honour. ' It is thine host, thine Ephesian, calls,' 
says the host to FalstafF (Merry Wives of Windsor, 
iv. 5). Welcher, a swindler who absconds from 
the ring when he has lost his bet, seems to be 
an invidious allusion to the land of Taffies, who 
in nursery tradition have long lain under the im- 
putation of being thievish. Similarly, a Switzer 
was, till comparatively lately, a common name for 
any mercenary soldier (vide Pope, The Dunciad, 
Bk. II. 1. 358), while Srcisse in French is now 
only a house-porter or a beadle. Coolie, the 
Anglo-Indian name for a porter or water-carrier, 

* ' Like a Gipsen or a Juggeler.' 

Spenser, Mother Hubberds Tale. 


was originally one of the Koles or Kola, 1 a tribe 
of the Vindhya race of India employed in that 
capacity. Conversely, in Fiji all black men are 
called kuke, cooks, from the profession which they 
commonly follow on board ship. 

In Greek, Indos, an Indian, was given as an 
appellation to every elephant-driver, and Carian 
was synonymous in the same language with a 
mercenary, a venal slave. So Geta and Davus, 
the ordinary names for slaves in the Roman 
comedy, are said to have denoted respectively a 
Goth and a Dacian, and the word ' slave ' itself 
meant originally a member of the great Slavonic 
people, or race of Slaves, whose very name was 
significant of glory (slava). 2 

A Lombard, owing to the financial skill and re- 
putation of that people, was once another term for 
a banker, and their name still clings to the great 
banking street in London which they once fre- 
quented, as well as to every lumber-room where a 
pawnbroker stores his pledges, in German called 
ein lombard. 

1 By their Profession they [the Jews] are for the most part 
Brokers and Lombardeers? 

Howell, Fam. Letters (1633), Bk. I., vi. 14. 

Among the Romans, a person engaged in banking 

1 C. L. Brace, Paces of the Old World, p. 103. 
2 Pictet, Orig. Iudo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 204. 


was styled a Babylonian (' BabyloJ Terence, 
Adelphi, v. 7), just as among ourselves a Jew 
is another name for a money-lender or usurer, 
and as in the French argot, anglois is synonymous 
with creancier. In Cotgrave's time anglois was 
used for ' a creditor that pretends he hath much 
money owing, which is never like to be paid 

The name of the Canaanite is repeatedly used 
for a trader in the Hebrew Scriptures, and it is 
this word which is translated l merchant ' in Job 
xli. 6; Prov. xxxi. 24; Hosea xii. 7; and 
' trafficker ' in Isa. xxiii. 8. In the passage of 
Zechariah (xiv. 21), where he predicts that in the 
day of the Lord ' there shall be no more the 
Canaanite in the. house of the Lord,' this in the 
Targum of Jonathan is interpreted ' trader,' 1 the 
allusion apparently having reference to the sym- 
bolical action performed by the Saviour when He 
came to the Temple, and drove out the money- 
changers, and them that sold and bought therein 
(John ii. 15). It is noteworthy, indeed, that 
Canaanites were a party to the earliest transaction 
on record in the way of buying and selling, that, 
namely, which took place between Abraham and 
' the people of the land, even the children of 
Heth,' about the purchase of the field of Machpelah 

1 Farrar, Life of Christ, vol. i. p. 189. 


(Gen. xxiii. 16). The commercial activity of this 
people was proverbial in antiquity, whether they 
were known as Canaanites or Phoenicians; and 
there is evidence that the latter name, Phoinix, 
had acquired in Greek the meaning of one who 
barters or exchanges, 6 giving with one hand and 
taking with the other.' 1 c Assassin/ as is well 
known, was originally the name given to a fana- 
tical sect of Ismaslians, a people of Persia, 
whose daggers were ever at the service of their 
leader, and who were so called probably from their 
intoxicating themselves with the drug hashish? 
Similarly, in Horace's time Chaldean was al- 
most another name for a magician, and the words 
Boeotian, Abderite, Goth, Yandal, are synonymous 
with stupidity and barbarism. 

1 Kenrick, Phoenicia, p. 191. 

2 See Spelman, Glossary, s.v.; Walker's Selections from the 
Gentleman's Magazine, vol. ii. p. 145. 




Any one who bestows a thought at all on the value 
and meaning of the words he uses must some time 
or other, I should think, have paused to wonder 
how it comes to pass that one and the same word, 
' pupil/ is applied indifferently to objects so unlike 
as the aperture of the eye * and a person under 
instruction ; for saving that analogy ingeniously 
suggested by some humorist, that they are both 
perpetually under the lash, there seems little in 
common between them. The point of connection 
certainly is curious, and not immediately obvious. 
< Pupil ' (one under tutors or guardians, a ward) 
is the Latin pupillus, pupulus (a little hoy),pupilla, 
papula (a little girl), diminutives of pupus 2 (boy), 
pupa (girl). These words were also commonly 

1 Cf. Heb. ' gate of the eye ' = pupil, Zech. ii. 8 (Gesenius). 

2 Pupus connected with puer, pusus, pullus, ttujXos, (Goth.) 
fula(n), 'foal,' (Pers.) ptisr (boy), (Sans.) putra (a child). — Monier 
Williams, Sanskrit Diet. s.v. 

pupil. 175 

used for any small figure, such as a 6 puppet,' doll, 
or baby — * doll ' itself, it may be remarked in 
passing, being only a modern substitute for < baby,' 
which had once the same meaning. Shakspere 
tells us that 

* The beauty that is borne here in the face 
The bearer knows not, but commends itself 
To others' eyes ; nor doth the eye itself, 
That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself, 
Not going from itself ; but eye to eye opposed 
Salutes each other with each other's form/ l 

Now, when two parties are thus tete-a-tete — or, 
as the Italians express it, more appropriately for 
our purpose, c at four eyes ' together, a quattro 
occhi — the diminutive reflection which each observer 
beholds in the convex mirror of the other's eye as 
he gazes into it was called pupilla or papula (a 
little puppet), and eventually the dark centre of 
the iris which forms that miniature image was 
designated the 'pupil.' The Persian dubu, the 
pupil of the eye, may perbaps be compared. The 
common meaning, therefore, to which both uses 
of the word converge is that of a person of dimi- 
nutive size — in the one case, a person young and 
immature, and so requiring instruction and guar- 
dianship — in the other, a person dwarfed in appear- 
ance by the medium through which he is viewed. 

We would scarcely have expected beforehand 

1 Troilus and Cressida, iii. 3. 

176 pupil. 

that this characteristic of the eye being a little 
natural mirror would have so powerfully arrested 
the attention of mankind as to give a name to the 
organ, or a part of it, amongst races and peoples 
the most different. And yet so it undoubtedly 
did. For instance, in Hebrew the words which 
we translate ' the apple of the eye ' 1 (Deut. xxxii. 
10 ; Prov. vii. 2) in the original are ishon ayin, 
6 the little man of the eye,' i.e. pupil (diminutive 
of ish, a man). 2 In the ancient Egyptian iri 
denotes a child as well as the pupil of the eye. 
Compare ' iris ' (Greek Ipt?). 3 The Coptic lilou, 
a child, and allou, pupil of the eye, are akin to 
each other and to the Egyptian rr, a child. 4 The 
Arabic kak is a man or boy, also the pupil of the 

So in Greek, kore (fcopr)) — (1) a girl, (2) a 

1 What we call the ' apple ' the French call the ' plum ' of the 
eye {prunclle). 

2 Gesenius tells us that a similar expression is found in the 
Arabic, Persian, Syriac, Coptic, and Ethiopic. He also gives as an 
alternative explanation of bdbliah (pupil), Zech. ii. 8, ' little boy ' of 
the eye. I have an impression on my mind that the A. -Sax. man- 
lica (man's image) is applied to the pupil, but I cannot find that 
signification in Bosworth. 

The Macusi Indians of Guiana have a strange idea that although 
the body will decay, ' the man in our eyes ' will not die, but wander 
about. The disappearance of this image from the dim eyeballs 'f 
a sick man was considered a sign of approaching death, Grimm 
observes, even in European folk-lore (Tylor, Prim. Culture, vol. i. 
p. 389). 

3 Vide Bunsen, Egypt's Place in History, vol. i. p. 561. Alu is 
a boy, allu the eye (Ibid., vol. v. p. 748). 

4 Ibid., vol. i. p. 475. 

pupil. 177 

doll, (3) the pupil of the eye. Glene (yXrjvrj) , l 
(1) a little girl, (2) the pupil of the eye. 

In Spanish, nina, (1) a child or infant, (2) the 
pupil, ' the sight of the eye, so called because it 
represents the person looking on it in so little a 
figure' (Stevens, Diet., 1706). 

I believe that the Portuguese mejtina, 1 Venetian 
putina, Bomagnol bamben, Sicilian vavareda, Picar- 
dian papare, all mean, (1) a baby, (2) the pupil 
or apple of the eye (Diez). Compare Prov. 
anha, (1) a little lamb, (2) the pupil. 

Our word i baby ' was formerly applied in a 
similar manner to the image in the eye, as will 
appear from the annexed passages — 

' But wee cannot so passe the centre of the Eye, which wee 
call Pupilla, quasi Puppa, the babie in the eye, the Sight.'' 
Purchas, Microcosmus, p. 90 (1619). 

' She clung about his neck, gave him ten kisses, 
Toy'd with his locks, look'd babies in his eyes.' 

Heywood, Love's Mistress, p. 8 (1636). 

' Can ye look babies, sister, 
In the young gallant's eyes ? ' 

Beaumont and Fletcher, Loyal Subject, ui. 2. 

' When I look babies in thine eyes, 
Here Venus, there Adonis lies.' 

Cleveland, On, a Hermaphrodite, p. 19. 

1 Liddell and Scott (Lexicon) are certainly wrong in giving a re- 
versed order of meaning. Pictet suggests a connection between 
yXrjvri and 7aXcbs, glos, &c. (Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 375). 

2 A little girl, also the sight of the eye (Vieyra, s.v.) 


1 78 pupil. 

As might be expected, the expression occurs fre- 
quently in Herrick's Anacreontic lyrics, e.g. — 

' You blame me too, because I cann't devise 
Some sport, to please those babies in your eyes.' 

Hesperides (ed. Hazlitt), vol. i. p. 12. 

1 It is an active flame, that flies 
First to the babies of the eyes.' 

Ibid.,]). 138. 

v . ' Cleere are her eyes, 

Like purest skies. 
Discovering from thence 

A babie there 

That turns each sphere 
Like an intelligence.' Ibid., p. 207. 

Pope has it also in his imitation of Cowley — 

1 The Baby in that sunny Sphere 
So like a Phaethon appears, 
That Heav'n, the threaten'd World to spare, 
Thought fit to drown him in her tears,' — 

the sphere, it must be understood, being Celia's eye. 
In order to ' see babies ' thus in each other's 
eyes, the two faces must be in such close proximity 
that the phrase virtually came to mean kissing 
and embracing. 

' No more fool, 
To look gay babies in your eyes, young Koland, 
And hang about your pretty neck.' 

Beaumont and Fletcher, The Woman's Prize, v. 1. 

'They may then kiss and coll, lye and look babies in 
one another's eys.' 

Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Part III., sec. 2, 
mem. 6, subs. v. 

pupil. 179 

1 We will ga to the Dawnes and slubber up a sillibub, and I 
will looke babies in your eyes.' 1 

Braithwaite, Two Lancashire Lovers (1640), p. 19. 

' He that daily spies 
Twin babies in his Mistress' Gemini's.' 

Quarles, Emblems, Bk. II. 4. 

Drayton further improves the idea and makes 
the ' babies ' Cupids — 

1 While in their chrystal eyes he doth for Cupids look.' 

Polyolbion, song xi. 

In an ancient Irish Glossary edited by Whitley 
Stokes for the Irish Archaeological Society (p. 45), 
we meet the curious term, mac imresan (apparently 
6 son of exceeding brightness,' ' son of the eye ' ?) 
to denote the ' pupil.' 

A form of expression strikingly similar occurs 
in the Hebrew of Psalm xvii. 8, where the t apple 
of the eye ' is styled in the original < the pupil, 
daughter of the eye ' {Bath ay in)? A very bold 
figure of speech, though it does not appear in our 

1 Quoted in Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. iii. p. 47. 

2 Generally, in the languages of the East, as is well known, what- 
ever springs from, or is intimately connected with, anything else is 
called its son or daughter, e.g., ' the daughters of a tree ' (Gen. xlix. 
22) are its branches; ' sons of the quiver' (Lam. iii. 13), i.e., arrows, 
cf. ' sons of the bow ' (Job xli. 28) ; ' sons of lightning ' (Job v. 7), 
sparks, or more probably ' swift birds ; ' ' the firstborn of death ' 
(Job xviii. 13), i.e., a most deadly malady ; (Arab.) 'daughter of 
death,' i.e., a fatal fever; (Arab.) 'daughters of howling,' i.e., jackals; 
so 'Boanerges,'' 'sons of thunder,' i.e., men of fiery zeal; 'sons 
of Belial' or 'of worthlessness ' (1 Sam. ii. 12), i.e., worthless 
fellows; 'son of perdition' (John xvii. 12), i.e., one utterly lost ; 
cf. ' mother of the way ' (Ezek. xxi. 21), i.e., a road whence others 
spring, the parting of the . way ; niatres lectionis (mothers of the 


English version, results from trie use of this 
Hebrew term for pupil (iskon) in Proverbs vii. 9, 
where a young man is represented as passing 
through the street ' in the pupil of the night,' i.e., 
in the central darkness of it, in the midnight hour, 
when the gloom is deepest — ' the dead waste and 
middle of the night.' In like manner we speak 
of the ' eye of the wind,' the 6 eye of the furnace,' 
meaning the most central and intensest part of it. 
This expression in Proverbs may remind us of the 
very poetical phrase for daybreak employed by Job 
(iii. 9, and xli. 18), 6 the eyelids of the morning, 1 
the Dawn being conceived to raise her eyelids after 

reading), i.e., the vowel letters, which serve as guides in reading. 
Exactly similar is the Irish idiom, e.g., mac alia (the son of the rock), 
is the highly poetical term for an echo, as it were the sound springing 
from the rock ; cf. the Jewish Bath-kol, 'daughter of a voice,' i.e., 
an echo, ' the original sound being viewed as the mother, and the 
reverberation, or secondary sound, as the daughter ' (De Quincey). 
So Milton calls Echo the 'daughter of the sphere' (Comus, 241). 
'Born of a great cry' (Tennyson, Holy Grail, p. 157, ed. 1870). 
Mac-leabhair, 'son of a book,' i.e., a copy of it; macratha, 'son 
of prosperity,' i.e., a prosperous man; macstroigh, 'son of prodigality,' 
i.e., a spendthrift. Hence it would appear that the slang phrases 
' the father of a beating,' ' the mother of a shower,' ' son of a 
gun,' in form at least, are Hebraisms. Vide Harmer, Observations, 
iv. 207. 

1 This figure was adopted by the old dramatist Middleton in his 
* Game of Chess,' and by Milton iu his ' Lycidas ' — 

' Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd 
Under the opening eyelids of the morn, 
We drove afield.' 25-27. 

With c pupil of the night ' we may compare the similar Shaks- 
perian phrases ' dark-eyed night ' (Lear, ii. 1), ' black-browed night ' 
(Midsummer-Night's Dream, iii. 2). 

' Why here walk I in the Hack brow of night 
To find you out.' King John, v. 6. 

TOE. 181 

the slumber of the night, and to dart forth her 
beaming glances in the first rays of the rising sun. 

* Pupil ' was still imperfectly naturalised in 1658, 
when Sir Thomas Browne writes the word ' pu- 
pilla ' (Garden of Cyrus). The older words were 
' eye-ring ' (A.-Sax. edg-ring), and ' eye-apple ' 
(A.-Sax. edg-aeppel) ; ' pupilla, happulle ' (Gloss. 
14th cent.) 

6 Toe.' — If we set down side by side the words 
for c toe ' and for ' twig ' respectively in the Teu- 
tonic languages, we are at once struck by the 
family likeness they bear to each other — 

Toe. Twig or Branch. 

A.-Sax. ta (pi. tan). tdn. 

Dut. teen. teen. 

L. Dut. taan (Goth.) tains, (0. Eng.) tein. 
0. Norse ta. teinn. 

Now there is no doubt whatever that the -toe in 
mistle-toe means twig, (A.-Sax.) mistel-tan, (0. 
Norse) mistil-teinn {i.e., mistle-twig) ; and it 
would appear that our Teutonic ancestors, being 
endowed with a lively imagination, saw some re- 
semblance to twigs or offshoots in the branching 
termination of the hand and foot, and called both 
by the same name, tan or toes. In Icelandic, il is 
the sole of the foot, and il-kvister, c sole-twigs/ il- 
thorn, l sole-thorns,' are poetical terms for the toes. 
We may compare the Sanskrit word pani-pallava, 
< a finger,' literally < a hand-twig.' Similarly, the 

182 TOE. 

Greek poet Hesiod calls the hand c a five-brancher,' 
or ' five-twigged ' (7reWo£b9), and so our own 
Shakspere, reversing the figure, speaks of ' the 
Larky fingers of the elm ' ( Midsummer-Night's 
Dream, iv. I). 1 The Romans had the one word, 
planta, for a shoot or twig and the foot, in later 
times especially the sole of it. 

Palets, the word for finger in Russian, has been 
regarded, and no doubt correctly, as another form 
of palka, a stick, palitsa, a club, and so descrip- 
tive of a finger or toe, ' as one of the twigs into 
which the hand or foot branches.' 2 We may per- 
haps compare the Latin palus, a stake or pale, 
and pollex, the thumb, toe, or finger, a word which 
was also used for a twig. Malchik-s-palchik, l the 
finger-long mannikin,' or Tom Thumb of Slavonic 
folk-lore, received his name from having sprung 
from his mother's little finger (palckik, a diminu- 
tive of palets), which she chopped off in slicing 

When Herrick sustained the loss of a finger, 
he moralised over his misfortune in language as 

1 Sans, -pancha^dhha, * the five-branched,' is a name for the hand. 
So the Persian penjth (the hand), connected with the Sans, pancha 
(five), is equivalent to the slang English expression, a man's ' fives,' 
or ' bunch of fives.' The game of ' fives ' is so called because the ball 
is struck with the open hand (Tylor, Prim. Culture, vol. i. p. 235). 

2 Saturday Review, vol. xxxix. p. 632. Pictet observes that 
palka, palitsa, Welsh palis, Lat. palus, all had the primitive meaning 
of ' branch.' He suggests a Sanskrit form pallaTca, synonymous with 
paliava, a branch (Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. li>9). 


quaintly characteristic as usual, adopting the same 
mode of expression — 

1 One of the five straight branches of my hand 
Is lopt already ; and the rest but stand 
Expecting when to fall : which soon will be ; 
First dyes the leafe, the bough next, next the tree.' 

Hesperides (ed. Hazlitt), vol. i. p. 218. 

To us unimaginative moderns, the comparison 
of the body with its members to a tree and its 
branches may seem a fanciful and farfetched 
conceit. 1 We may feel inclined to smile with won- 
der at the ocular hallucination of those word- 
makers who, like the newly-healed of Bethsaida, 
could see 6 men as trees, walking ; ' or at most, it is 
only in ( the idle moods ' of conscious poetry that 

1 We seem to see 
A human touch about a tree, 7 

yet it is certain that bygone generations were 

strongly impressed by that resemblance. 

f In the construction of each/ says Jones of Nayland, ' there 
are some general principles which very obviously connect 
them. It is literally, as well as metaphorically, true that 
trees have limbs, and an animal body branches. A vascular 
system is also common to both, in the channels of which 
life is maintained and circulated. When the trachea, with 
its branches in the lungs, or the veins and arteries, or the 
nerves, are separately represented, we have the figure of a tree. 
The leaves of trees have a fibrous and fleshy part ; their bark 
is a covering which answers to the skin in animals.' 2 

1 ' For who ever saw 
A man of leaves, a reasonable tree ?' Giles Fletcher. 

2 Quoted in Southey's 'Doctor,' p. 581. Cf. Milton's 'corporal 
rind' (= skin). Comus. 


And so says that quaint divine who has been 
styled the Shakspere of the Puritans, in his ser- 
mon entitled ' Mystical Bedlam ' — 

* The heart in man is like the root in a tree ; the organ or 
lung-pipe that comes of the left cell of the heart is like the 
stock of the tree, which divides itself into two parts, and thence 
spreads abroad as it were sprays and boughs into all the 
body, even to the arteries of the head.' 

Thos. Adams, Works, vol. i. p. 258. 

If all that the old traveller Evlia asserts be true, 
it is nothing surprising that the arboreal frame 
should, in certain respects, resemble ours, inasmuch 
as we spring from a common origin, and must own 
their kinship. The palm-tree, it appears, was 
created from the remainder of the clay out of 
which Adam was made. { This is said to be the 
cause why the palm-trees are straight and upright 
like the stature of man. If you cut its branches, 
it not only does no harm to it, but grows even 
more, like the hair and beard of men : but if you 
cut off the head of the palm-tree, it gives a red- 
dish juice like blood, and the tree perishes like a 
man whose head is cut off. The palm-trees are also 
male and female,' and have certain peculiarities 
of constitution, which he mentions, quite human 
in their character — 

* From the same clay God created also the tree Wakwak, 
found in India, the fruit of which resembles the head of 
man, which, shaken by the wind, admits the sound of Wak- 
wak' (vol. iv.) Quoted in Southey, G.-P. Book, vol. ii.p. 434. 


Accordingly, Alfieri styles man c lapianta umana.' 
There is a very curious and interesting passage 
in the religious poem called ' The Pricke of Con- 
science/ written by Eichard Kolle, a monk of 
Hampole, near Doncaster, about 1340, in which he 
works out in detail the various points of likeness 
between man and a tree. Quoting from 'the 
grete clerk Innocent,' he says — 

1 What es man in shap bot a tre 
Turned up that es doun, als men may se, 
Of whilk (which) the rotes (roots) that of it springes, 
Er (are) the hares (hairs) that on the heved (head) hynges 

(hangs) ; 
The stok nest (next) the rot (root) growand (growing) 
Es (is) the heved (head) with neck followand (following) ; 
The body of that tre thar-by 
Es the brest with the bely ; 

The bughes (boughs) er the armes with the handes 
And the legges with the fete (feet) that standes : 
The braunches men may by skille call 
The tas (toes) and the fyngers alle.' LI. 672-683. 

with a good deal more to the same purpose. 
In the last lines, it will be observed, we have ex- 
actly what we want — the toes identified with the 
branches. Andrew Marvell must have had the 
same idea in his mind when he wrote, in his poem 
' On Appleton House ' — 

1 Turn me but, and yon shall see 
I was but an inverted tree! x 

1 Compare chesne fourchu (Rabelais), the attitude of standing on 
the head, and Varbre fourchu, infra, p. 189. 

The Persian punishment of burying criminals alive up to the 


But indeed this grotesque notion of man being 
only a tree turned upside down, with the fibres 
of the roots on his head for hair, his body being 
the trunk, his arms and legs the branches, and 
his fingers and toes the twigs, is one of the 
highest antiquity. It appears first in the Vedas, 
which date back at least 1000 years B.C. 

' Man is indeed like a lofty tree : his hairs are the leaves, 
and his skin the cuticle. From his skin flows blood, like 
juice from bark ; it issues from his wounded person, as juice 
from a stricken tree. His flesh is the inner bark ; and the 
membrane near the bones is the white substance of the wood. 1 
The bones within are the wood itself, and marrow and pith 
are alike. If, then, a felled tree spring anew from the root, 
from what root does mortal man grow again when hewn 
down by death ? Do not say from prolific seed ; for that 
is produced from the living person. Thus a tree, indeed, 
also springs from seed ; and likewise sprouts afresh [from 
the root] after [seemingly] dying ; but if the tree be torn 
up by the root, it does not grow again. From what root 
then does mortal man rise afresh when hewn down by 
death?' 2 

The Vedas, or the Sacred Writing of the Hindus. 
Colebrooke, Essays, vol. i. p. 63. 

The comparison is to be found also in Plato, in 
Eabelais, in Novalis, Antonio Perez, Letrado 

neck goes by the name of 'tree-planting.' Herodotus mentions 
that Cambyses inflicted it upon twelve of the noblest Persians (Bk. 
III. ch. xxxv.) 

' I must decidedly plant a tree in my garden,' was the significant 
hint given by another monarch to a courtier who had offended him 
(Rawlinson, in loc.) 

1 Snava and hindta, answering to the 'periosteum and alburnum. 

2 Cf. Jobxiv. 7-i0. 


del Cielo, and Olivia Sabuco (vide Southey's 
< Doctor,' pp. 581-583). 

' L'homme est un arbre renverse'/ says an old 
French adage, quoted by Genin (Recreations 
Philologiques, vol. ii. p. 243). And so Taylor, 
the Water Poet — 

' I a wise man's sayings must approve 
Man is a tree, whose root doth grow above.' 

The last quotation I will make is this from Pur- 

chas's ' Microcosmus, or 'Historie of Man' (1619) — 

'Thus wee are Trees (not onelyin that naturall unlike like- 
nesse, whereby Man is said to be Arbor inversa, a Tree with 
Root upwards, because Sense and Motion are from the head), 
nor Trees good for meat, but Trees which bring not forth good 
fruit, like the fruitlesse accursed Figge-tree ; yea, evill Trees, 
which bring forth evill Fruit ' (p. 340). 

Other instances of the body and its members 
being called by names derived from the corres- 
ponding parts of a plant or tree are the following : — 

' Corpse,' formerly used of a living body quite 
as much as of a dead, Lat. corpus, is ultimately 
traceable to korpos, the iEolic form of kormos, the 
Greek word for the trunk of a tree. The Coptic 
kaf, 6 body ' (Egyptian hieroglyphics kef), likewise 
denotes the ' trunk of a tree.' 1 

6 Belly ' is the Welsh bol, holy, Icel. bolr, ori- 
ginally the bole or round part of a tree. 

6 Buck,' a provincial English word for the breast 

1 Osburn, Monumental History of Egypt, vol. i. p. 288. 


or belly, 0. Eng. bouhe, Ger. bauch, is the A.-Sax. 
buce, Icel. biikr, the trunk or body of an animal, 
said to be another form of butr, a log or trunk of 
a tree. ' Bulk,' which seems formerly to have 
denoted the chest, may be the same word. Florio, 
in his 'New World of Words' (1611), defines 
Epigastric* to be i all the outward part of the belly 
from the bulke ' downwards. 

' Leg ' is the Old Norse leggr, a stalk or stem. 
So in Irish lorga denotes the stalk of a plant as 
well as the leg ; in Manx lurgey is the shin or 
shank, and lorg a stick or staff. Ger. bein, Dut. 
been j Icel. bein, the leg, our ' bone,' A.-Sax. ban, is 
connected with the Welsh bon, a stem, stock, or 
trunk, A.-Sax. bune, a reed or pipe. Similarly, the 
Sanskrit nala is a reed, nalaka a bone ; Hebrew 
kane/i, a reed or stalk, also the arm-bone. The 
Italian cannella has an exactly similar bifurcation 
of meaning. Compare the German roJirbein, 

The Arabic sdk signifies the leg as well as the 
stem, stalk, or stock of a tree. The Persian term is 
shack, a branch, Sanskrit cdkhd, a branch, an arm. 

The Polish reka, the hand, Slav, rdka, Lith. 
ranka, the arm and hand, is connected by Pictet 
with the German ranke, a twig or vine-branch, 
Sans, lanka, a branch, and more remotely with 
the Latin lancea, Irish lang} 

1 Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. 198. 


The ' groin/ or, as it was sometimes spelt for- 
merly, the \ grine,' denotes that part of the body 
where it bifurcates or branches off into the legs, 
Fr. fourchure, and is identical with the north- 
country word grain, the branch of a tree, 0. Norse 
grein, Swed. gren, Dan. green, a bough, literally 
' that which separates from the tree ' (0. Norse 
greina, to separate). In the Cleveland dialect, 
graining is the fork or division of a tree into 
branches ; in the Swedish dialects, gren, grajn, is 
the fork made by two shoots of a tree, or by the 
thighs, greinar, the two thighs with the angle 
between them (Atkinson). What ' a poor, bare, 
forked animal,' exclaimed Lear, is < unaccommo- 
dated man,' i.e., man without his clothes (act iii. 
sc. 4). Compare ' Varbre fourchu, a standing on 
the hands with out-stretcht legs ' (Cotgrave), and 
chesne fourchu in Kabelais, the attitude of stand- 
ing on the head. M. Michel informs us that it 
was once customary in the slang phraseology of 
the Continent to call a man's body a tree — 6 Dans 
l'ancienne Germania arbol, qui signifie arbre en 
castillan, avait le sens de cuerpo (corps).' — i£tude 
sur 1' Argot, s.v. Chene. 

Synonymous with < groin ' is the old term 
' twist,' and this also denoted a bough, originally 
the fork in a branch. Cf — 

1 He slepit as foul on twist.' 

Barbour's Bruce, Bk. VII. 1. 188. 


By the converse process the different parts of a 
tree were often compared to human limbs. We 
have seen already how Shakspere calls the twigs 
of the elm its * barky fingers.' 1 * Branch,' origin- 
ally ' an arm,' is connected with ' brace,'' Lat. 
brachium, an arm (Wedgwood). Thus the French 
name Male-branche is explained to be of like signi- 
fication with Malemeyn, ' Badhand ' or ■ Mainied- 
hand.' 2 Cf. ' limb,' A.-S. lim, 0. N. Urn, a branch. 

< Bough/ (A.-Sax.) bog, boh, meant originally 
1 an arm ;' cf. elbow, (A.-Sax.) elboga. 

In Sanskrit tola not only denotes the palm- 
tree, but the open hand with fingers extended, the 
palm, while talangule is the toe. 

(Heb.) kapk, a palm-branch, was originally the 
palm or hollow of the hand. Similarly, the 

' Palm'- (tree) was so called * because the leaves 
are like a hand opened wide,' (Lat). jpalma, (Gk.) 
TraXdjirj, and its fruit in like manner was called 

< Date/ (Fr.) clatte, (0. Fr.) dacte, (Sp.) datil, 
from its resemblance to a finger, (Lat.) dactylus, 3 
(Gk.) SdfcrvXos. Cotgrave gives also ' Bactyle, the 

1 Sir John Sinclair mentions a disease that carrots are subject to, 
called ' Fingers and Toes.' I do not know the nature of it, but 
suppose it is a tendency to degenerate into dactyloid excrescences 
(Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 301 j. ' Deadman's fingers ' is the popular 
name of the orchis mascula, from the handlike shape of its pale- 
coloured tubers. 

s Bardsley, English Surnames, p. 386. 

3 The Dutch tak, a twig, perhaps represents the dak of the Greek 
ddk-tulos, (Lat.) dig-itus, a finger or toe. 


Date-grape or Finger- grape.'' And to conclude 
with an instance from the Latin, coma (the hair) 
is often used poetically for the leaves or foliage of 

So Spenser, in the i Shepheards Calender ' 
(Februarie), speaks of a goodly oak 

* With amies full strong and largely display d,' 
' The bodie bigge, and mightely pight ; ' 

and describes it in its age as one that 

' Oft his hoarie lochs down doth cast.' 

I may remark that in the ancient proverbial 
saying which I have given above, ' L'homme est 
un arbre renverse,' the meaning seems to have 
been c the mouth, which in man is in the head, in 
the tree is in the foot,' i.e., its roots (' Porque 
las raices en el arbol son la boca en el hombre,' 
Hernan Nunez, 1555, from whom Genin quotes 
it). Aristotle has the same idea (al Se pit,ai t&> 
(tto/jlcltl avaXoyov k. t. X.) And in Sanskrit we 
meet the word anghri-pa for a tree, literally l drink- 
ing with the foot.' The poet Carew, on the other 
hand, speaking metaphorically of his mistress, 
calls her foot 

1 The precious root 
On which the goodly cedar grows.' 

I might add that in Isaiah lxvi. 14, 6 Your 
bones shall nourish (sprout, or branch forth) like 
an herb,' if we accept Hitzig's interpretation of 


the passage, the human frame is likened to a tree, 

of which the bones are the branches, and the 

muscles, flesh, and skin, the leaves. 1 

The above use of words whereby the frame of 

man is structurally assimilated to that of a tree 

must not be confounded with another use, which i3 

equally common, whereby he is merely figuratively 

compared in respect of his growth and natural 

descent to a shoot or branch springing from the main 

trunk. In the Scriptures offspring is frequently 

styled a rod, a stem, a branch ; and we still use 

such phrases as a ' sprig of fashion,' * the scion of 

a noble house.' 

1 Thy father, had he lived this day, 
To see the brauncke of his bodie displaie, 
How would he have joyed at this sweete sight ! " — 

says the Goat to her Son in the ' Shepheards Calen- 
der ' (Maye). 

1 From the resemblance of the double root of the mandrake, or 
mandragora, to the shape of the ' poor, bare, forked animal ' man, 
it was called anthropomorphon by Pythagoras, and semikomo by 
Columella. The Chinese name for it is jin-seng, * resemblance of 
man,' and the Iroquois dbesoutchenza, 'a child.' Hence, according 
to the doctrine of signatures, arose the widely-spread superstitious 
notion that the mandrake was efficacious in promoting the procrea- 
tion of children, which prevails among the Oriental nations, the 
Chinese, and the North American Indians, and led Rachel of old to 
long for this plant when as yet she had no child (Gen. xxx. 14). So 
striking is the form, that ' fraudulent dealers usually replaced its 
roots with those of the white bryony cut to the shape of men and 
women, and dried in a hot sand-bath ' (Prior, Popular Names of 
Plants, p. 143). Vide also Browne's ■ Popular Errors, 'Bk. II. ch. 6; 
Smith, B. Diet. s.v. ; Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 123 ; 
Gerard's Herbal, p. 281 (1597). 


Other instances of this use of words are the 
following : — 

6 Imp,' formerly applied to a child or offspring 
generally, is the Welsh imp, impyn, a scion, 
shoot, Ger. impfen, A. -Sax. impan, to graft. Com- 
pare Fr. c peton, the slender stalk of a leaf or 
fruit ; mon peton, my pretty springall, my gentle 
imp ' (Cotgrave). 

' An angel's trumpe from heauen proclaimed his name 
Iesus, who came lost Adam's impes to saue.' 

England's Welcome to James (1603). 

Spanish chaborra, a young maiden, chahasca, a 
twig or rod, both from Lat. clava, a graft (Diez). 

A ' gallant/ Scot, callan, callant, a youth, Irish 
gallan, a youth, meant originally a branch, Port. 
galho, a shoot or sprig. 

Irish ogdn, a branch or twig, is also a young 
man. Pictet identifies this word with the Sanskrit 
uhani, a broom. 1 Irish geug, a branch, also a girl. 

Irish gas, gasan, a stalk or bough, is commonly 
used for a boy, the Anglo-Irish c gossoon.' In 
Welsh grcas, gwassan is a youth, a servant, and 
thence comes the Middle Lat. vassus, a retainer, 
our ' vassal,' 0. Fr. vaslet and varlet, a boy, our 
; varlet ' and ' valet.' 

Fr. gargon, 0. Fr. gars, a boy, garce, a girl, Sp. 
garzon, It. garzone, Diez has shown to be from 

1 Langues Celtiques, p. 66. 



the Lat. cardials (a thistle), used in the general 
sense of a bud or stalk. Compare the Milanese 
garzon, a thistle, also a boy, garzoeu, the bud of a 
vine [It. garzatore = cardatore, a wool-carder]. 

The Greek moschos and koros denote both a 
branch and a boy, and the Italian toso, a boy, 0. 
Fr. tosel, is a corrupted form of torso, a bud or 
stem. Compare Fr. petit trognon, a term of en- 
dearment for a child. 

' Chit,' a contemptuous term for the same, 
originally signified a shoot or sprig. Compare 
chit, a provincial term for a sprout, chat} a twig, 
A. -Sax. ci%, a shoot or sprig. It. cita is a girl, 
cito a little boy. These words may perhaps be 
connected with It. cica, Sp. chico, anything small, 
Fr. ckicot, a sprig or stump. 

6 Lackey/ Fr. laqicais, Sp. and Port, lacayo, 
Prov. laccai, which also means a branch (Diez). 

Gaelic clann, children, our 'clan,' corresponds 
to the Welsh plant, offspring, children. Compare 
planu, to shoot, to plant, Lat. planta, a plant. 

6 Lad,' Welsh llarcd, what shoots out, a lad, Goth. 
-lauths is from liudan, to grow (deduced by Benfey 
from the Sanskrit ruh, to grow), and so probably is 
akin to Ger. lode, a sprig or shoot, lath, a rod or 
young tree, Welsh Hath, a rod or yard, our i lath,' 
Sans, lata, a branch. Compare the Old English 

1 Cumberland chats, small branches, metaphorically applied to 
Btripling youtbs (Ferguson). 


word springald for a youth, the original meaning of 
which was probably a shoot or branch (Wedgwood). 

The Latin pellex, Gk. pdllax, a youth, pallake, 
a girl, according to Pictet, meant originally a 
branch or shoot, from a Sanskrit form, pallaka, 
the same as pallava, a branch. 1 

The Welsh llanc, a youth, llances, a girl, are 
akin to the Sanskrit lanka, a branch, Lat. lancea. 

The Icelandic grdr, a poetical word for a man, 
seems to have signified primarily a twig, from 
groa, to grow (Cleasby, Icelandic Dictionary, s.v.) 

Yet one other point remains to be noticed in 
which man has sometimes been regarded as the 
fantastic counterpart of a tree. When he is dry 
and shrivelled with age, and stiffened in his 
joints, he becomes suggestive of the gnarled and 
sapless trunk of i the gouty oak,' ' with scir- 
rhous root and tendons.' And so a person well 
stricken in years is called by Greek and Roman 
authors ' an oak' (' drusj i arida quercus'), 'an 
aged oak ' (gerdndryori) ; by the French, tayon, 
which denotes, as Cotgrave informs us, ' a grand- 
father, also an oak of 60 years' growth.' A 
female of advanced age is disrespectfully styled by 
the Scotch ' an auld runt,' this being also the 
term for the trunk of a tree, or any hardened stalk 
or stem. 2 In vulgar parlance, 6 an old rampike ' is 

1 Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. 199. 

2 ' Hunt,' being also applied to an old cow (cf. Ger. rinde), it must 
be admitted that the above identification is open to some doubt. 

190 DOTARD. 

an expression that may frequently be heard with a 
similarly opprobrious significance. It seems to have 
been originally and properly applied to a tree 
which has begun to decay at the top from age, 
being so used frequently by Drayton in the form 
6 ranpike ' and ' ranpick tree/ and then in a 
secondary sense to a crazy hag. 

Similarly, c dotard,' which in standard Eng- 
lish means only a stupid or imbecile old man, in 
provincial English is used of an aged tree that 
has begun to show symptoms of decadence, and a 
tree of this sort is said to be ' doatecV This 
word is either from the Scotch dottar, to become 
stupid, doited, stupid, dutt, to doze, be sleepy (just 
as I have heard the word ' sleepy ' itself applied 
to an over-ripe pear verging towards decay), and 
so a doddered oak is a lifeless oak, while doddi- 
poll is a blockhead, and the Frisian dodd is a 
simpleton; or else, as Mr Wedgwood is inclined 
to think, it is akin to the Icelandic daud/ir, Dan. 
dod } dead, dull, Goth, daut/is, ' dead.' 

i In vain doth any man in forrests poak, that 
takes a dotard for a timber oake,' says Cotgrave 
under the word marrein. The following quota- 
tions are from that excellent old divine Thomas 
Adams — 

' Oaks and cedars are good for building, poplars for pales, 
very bushes for hedging, doted wood for firing ; but the fruit- 
less vine is good for nothing.' Vol. ii. p. 184 (NiclioPs ed.) 

DOTARD. 197 

1 Go into your grounds in the dead of winter, and of two 
naked and destitute trees you know not which is the sound, 
which the doted.' Ibid., p. 239. 

And this from Howell — 

'With the Bark they make Tents, and the dotard Trees 
serve for firing.' Fam. Letters, Bk. II. p. 54 (1634). 

When a man or a tree begins to dote, in both 
alike the first symptoms of failing of the vital 
powers will frequently be observed to manifest 
themselves in the head. Everybody will remember, 
as an interesting parallel, the pathetic observation 
of Dean Swift, when under a presentiment of his 
own melancholy fate he pointed out a blasted elm 
to a friend — c I shall be like that tree, and die first 
at the top.' The tree was a c dotard,' and the 
great wit's foreboding fears were but too truly 
fulfilled ; he was such himself before he died. 

A similar comparison is suggested in the second 
eclogue of the ' Shepheards Calender,' already re- 
ferred to. Cuddie, the herdsman's boy, pours 
contempt on the aged Shepherd Thenot for his 
feebleness and unlustiness — 

' I deeme thy braine emperished bee 
Through rusty elde, that hath rotted thee.' 

Thereupon the wise old shepherd reproves the 
forward youngster by the apologue of the Oak and 
the Briar, in the course of which, however, he 
tacitly admits that the proper resemblance to him- 
self is to be found in the aged tree, whose 

' Toppe was bald, and wasted with wormes, 
His honor decayed, his braunches sere.' 

( 198 ) 


1 SKULL ' — ' COCO-NUT ' — ' FOOL ' — ' BOAST ' — 

6 Chignon.' — This, like most other of our c out- 
landish' fashions (I use the term in its good old 
English sense of foreign, without, at the same 
time, discarding its modern innuendo), came to us 
from the land of milliners, and brought its native 
name along with it. Everybody knows what a 
chignon is, at least outwardly, an abnormal pro- 
tuberance, sometimes of monstrous proportions, 
composed of hair and other materials unknown, 
and erected by ladies for the adornment of their 
polls, — but everybody perhaps does not know why 
it is called so. 

Chignon in French is defined to be c les cheveux 
que les femmes frisent sur la derriere de la tete,' 
but originally it was ' la derriere de la tete ' itself. 
Just as the word ' head/ in the Georgian era, 
meant the elaborate and cumbrous structure of 
the coiffeur? which was, in his estimation, the head 

1 Some idea of the heavy burdens which the tyranny of the hair- 


par excellence^ the raison d'etre, and final cause 
that skulls were made at all; so the French chignon, 
the poll, came to mean the hair that grew thereon, 
especially when dressed d la mode. Now chignon, 
in Old French ckaignon, chaignon, means the nape 
of the neck, but it also meant the link or ring of 
a chain, and comes from chaine, which again comes 
from the Latin catena, a chain. So chainon du col, 
(Languedoc) cadena daou col, is the vertebra, or, 
to use a pure English word, the 6 whirl-bone ' 2 of 
the neck, the pivot on which the head turns, being 
the last link, as it were, of the knotted chain of 
bones which forms the spine. We find in Cotgrave 
(1660), ' Chainon, a linke of a chaine ; chainon du col, 
the naupe, or (more properly) the chine bone, of 
the neck ; chignon, the chine, or chinepiece of the 

Curiously similar is the derivation of the 
word ' noddle,' Old English < nodyle.' It is now 
used ludicrously for the entire head, but pro- 
perly and originally it meant the projecting part 
at the back of the head (occiput), the nape of 
the neck, and corresponds to the Italian nodello, 

dresser imposed on our great grandmothers may be obtained from 
the illustrations in Wright's Caricature History of the Georges, p. 
255 seq. 

1 Similarly, the toupee of 1775, a high detached tuft of hair, like 
a cockatoo's crest, Horace Walpole mentions in his Letters, was 
called la physiognomic 

2 ' Whyrlebone, or hole of a joynt, vertebra' (Prompt. Parvulorum). 
' fatelle, the whirle-bone of the knee ' (Cotgrave). 

200 NODDLE. 

from nodo, a knot, also l the turning joynt in the 
chine or backe-bone ' (Florio) ; nodo del collo, the 
nape of the neck, (Dut.) knod, (0. Norse) /mod, 
(Lat.) nodus, a knot, also a vertebra or back-bone, 1 
{e.g., in Pliny, i cervix articulorum nodis jungitur). 
The word cer-vix, the neck, which we have here 
lighted on incidentally, is itself illustrative, 
meaning, as it does, c the head-binder,' what ties 
on the head; cer- corresponding to cava, (Gk.) 
Kcipa, (Zend.) cava, (Sans.) ciras, the head, and 
-vix (vies), being the root of vincire, to bind. 
Another Sanskrit word for neck is cirodhard, 
literally < the head-bearer,' from ciras, the head, 
and dkri, to bear, which reminds us of the poeti- 
cal term which the Latin anatomists devised for 
the first and topmost vertebra of the neck, ' atten- 
tion,' the Atlas bone, because like that Titan of 
old it supported the globe. ' This joint (of the 
ridge-bone) or knot abouesaid they call Atlantion, 
and it is the very first spondyle of them all ' 
(Pliny xxviii. 8, Holland Trans, ii. 310, 1634). 
Hamlet, it may be remembered, calls the head 
the globe — 

' Kemember thee ! 
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat 
In this distracted globe. Act i. sc. 5. 

If we examine some of the different names 

1 Perhaps ' nott-pated,' (Shakspere) * nott-headed,' A.-Sax. Jinot, 
are connected. 


which have been given to the head, it will be 
found that most of them, e.g., ' pate/ 'mazzard/ 
6 skull,' ' sconce/ i nut/ * fc?te/ &c, have been de- 
rived from various common articles which are 
round and hollow, such as a cup, a bowl, a shell, 
a gourd, or a coco-nut, which the skull was 
thought to resemble. 

' Pate/ for instance, means the hmm-pan, and is 
akin to the French pate (a plate), (Lat.) patina (a 
plate or pan), cf. (Ger.) platte (a plate, and pate), 
(Irish) plaitin (a little plate, a skull). 1 This word, 
like noddle, and most of the others I have men- 
tioned, has now acquired a ludicrous or burlesque 
signification which it had not formerly, witness 
the use of it in the Prayer-Book version of the 
Psalms (vii. 17). In Old English, i pan/ i panne/ 
means the skull, and is equivalent to the word 
' brain-pan/ which occurs in Shakspere — 

' Many a time, but for a sallet, my brain-pan had been cleft 
with a brown bill.' 2d Pt. Henry VI., iv. 10. 

(Friesic) breinpanne, (prov. Eng.) ham-pan (from 
A. -Sax. hcernes — brain). Compare the Italian 
bacinetto, 'a little bason, also a skull' (Florio), 
and 'poll/ (Old Eng.) 'boll' and 'ball/ (Dut.) 
pol and bol, the head, which is another form of 
(Icel.) bolli, (Fr.) boule, a c bowl.' 

6 Mazzard/ another Shaksperian word — 

1 Wedgwood, s.v. 


' Let me go, sir, 
Or I'll knock you o'er the mazzard,' 

Othello ii. 3. 

anciently ' mazer,' has been identified 1 with the Old 
English word * mazer,' which means a cup, bowl, or 
goblet. So the German kopf (the head) in Old 
German means a cup ; 2 ' nape ' (originally the 
back of the head), (A. -Sax.) cncep, answers to the 
Welsh cnap, a knob, boss, (Ger.) knop/ and nap/, 
(Lang.) nap, a bowl or porringer. 

Compare also the Greek skuphion (aKvcjylov), 
a cup, also a skull. Lith. kiausza, the skull, 
from kauszas, cup, goblet, Sans, koska, cup, 
vessel. Sp. colodrillo, c the noddle or hinder 
part of the head ' (Minsheu), from colodra, a 
pail, vessel. It. coppa, ' any cup, bowle, mazer or 
goblet — also the nape of the head ' (Florio). 

The French tete, anciently teste, testa in Italian, 
Spanish, Portuguese, and Provencal, is the Latin 
testa, an earthen pot, also the skull. Compare the 
French tet, a potsherd, It., Sp., Port, testo, from 
Lat. testum. 

Hence our words c testy,' Fr. testu, heady, head- 
strong, irascible; ' a tester,' i.e., a sixpenny-piece, 
anciently testerne, teston, so called from the mon- 

1 Fares, Glossary, s.v. 

1 Cf. Gk. kube {kv{3t)), the head,, a cup, (Ger. humpe), kum- 
bachos (KVfi^axos), headforemost. Heb. gulgoleth, a skull (compare 
Golgotha), gvJMh, a bowl (compare Eccles. xii. 6, where this word 
seems to be used figuratively for the skull), Gk. gaMos, from the 
root gulal, to roll. Gk. kotta, head (It. cottula), Tcotulc, a cup, Lat. 

SKULL. 203 

arch's head stamped upon it, just as < penny,' 

according to some, is from the Celtic pen, a head ; 

6 tester,' Fr. tetiere, the head of a bed, a word 

which Sylvester absurdly enough applies to the 

canopy of heaven — 

' He th' Azure Tester trinim'd with golden marks 
And richly spangled with bright glistering sparks.' 

Du Bartas, Div. Weekes, p. 74. 

The French and Italians, on the other hand, call 
the canopy or tester of a bedstead its sh/, del, 
cielo. ( Himmel ' in German has both meanings. 

< Skull' is Scotch 'skull' (a bowl ordrinking-cup), 1 
0. Eng. sc/ialj 0. Norse skal, Swed. skull, skoll (a 
bowl), skalle (a skull), and skal (a shell), Dan. 
skal (a shell), Irish sgala, a bowl or goblet, Sans. 
caluka, a vessel. 2 So the Sanskrit gankka, a shell or 
conch, means also the temporal bone, Lat. concha, 
Gk. kongche (kojxv) &n& kongckos (/coy^o?), a shell, 
also the upper part of the skull, the i sconce. '(?). 

1 The once generally received notion that our northern ancestors 
used to drink at their banquets out of the skulls of their enemies, 
appears to have arisen from not understanding that sJcidl was a 
genuine old Teutonic word for a cup. The belief that the heroes of 
Valhalla drank their ale out of literal skulls, or as Southey puts it — 

■ Thought 
One day from Ella's skull to quaff the mead 
Their labour's guerdon ' — 

is equally erroneous. In the death-song of King Ragnar Lodbrok, 
he consoles himself with the prospect of drinking beer in Odin's 
palace ' out of curved horns.' This Professor Rask has shown to be 
the true rendering, and not c out of the skulls of our enemies,' as it 
used formerly to be translated. Mallet, N". Antiq., p. 105; D'Israeli, 
Amenities of Literature, i. 36. 

2 Pictet, Langues Celtiques, p. 43. 

204 coco. 

From the Lat. concha (a shell) just mentioned 
comes the Sardinian conca, the head, 0. Sp. coca, 
Sp. cogotc, Prov. cogot (back of the head); 1 and 
through the adjectival form concheus, the It. coccio 
(potsherd) ,coccia (the head), Sp. cuezo, whence with 
j)0st prefixed comes Sp. pescuezo, Port, pescoco, the 
nape of the neck, literally ' hind-cask.' 2 

At a first glance it might be supposed that the Old 
Spanish word coca, for the head, was derived from 
the coco-nut, just as the French nnque, in the other 
Romance languages nuca, the nape of the neck, is 
probably identical with the Latin nux (nuc-s) a nut, 
just as in English slang ' nut ' is used for the head. 3 
But the reverse is really the case. It is the coco- 
nut that derives its name from coca ; c Children call 
the head by this name — so in Old Spanish,' says 
Stevens in his Dictionary (1706), and cocar, he tells 
us, is ' to make mouths or gestures like a monkey.' 
When the Portuguese made settlements in the 
Indies, they were struck by the resemblance which 
the brown nuts of the palm-tree, with their hairy 
covering and three black marks not unlike to 
features, bore to the head and wizzened face of 
the monkeys which they saw gambolling around 

1 Also Fr. coque (egg-shell), cocon, e cocoon,' It. cocca, Sp. coca, 
0. Fr. coque, Eng. ' cock '-(boat). 

2 So Sp. casco, (1) an earthen pot, cup, or cask; (2) a head, a 
pate, a sconce (Minsheu). 

3 The Greek Mruon (icdipvov), a nut, seems to contain the root of 
kiira (icdpa), the head, Sans, ciras. 

COCO-NUT. 205 

them, and so they styled them * monkey-heads/ 
coca or coco, the original meaning of that word 
being an ugly face or mash, a bugbear. 1 This 
comparison seems to have been made in the very 
earliest times, for in Sanskrit munda-pkala, ' skull- 
producer ' (from tminda, a bald pate), is a name 
for the coco-nut tree, the fruit being regarded as 
one step towards the human head made by Visva- 
mitra when he proposed attempting a creation in 
opposition to that of Brahma (M. Williams). 

According to a Polynesian legend, the coco-nut 
was created from a man's head, 2 the chestnuts from 
his kidneys, and the yams from his legs (Tylor, 
Prim. Culture, i. 367). 

The old traveller Evlia affirms that the cocoa- 
tree, or kullserr, as he calls it, was formed by 
the Creator, according to the opinion of the old 
historians and the commentators of the Koran, 
from the remainder of the clay of which Adam 
was made. It produces, he says, a round black 
nut, on which [for this reason, apparently] c all 
the parts of a man's head may be seen, mouth, 
nose, eyebrows, eyes, hair, and whiskers. A 
wonderful sight ! ' (Sou they, C.-P. Book, vol. ii. 
p. 434). 

1 Philolog. Soc. Trans., 1862-63, p. 162. Marsh, Lectures on 
English (ed. Smith), p. 100. 

2 In Parisian slang coco is still a popular term for the head, 
and a contemptuous one for an inconsiderable and mean person, 
while its diminutive, coccdes, denotes a ridiculous young dandy. 


c Honour your paternal aunt, the date-palm,' says 
Mohammed, ' for she was created in Paradise of 
the same earth from which Adam was made.' 

Other vegetable products, generally those of a 
round form, and filled with soft pulp of a watery 
and insipid nature, have furnished ludicrous and 
uncomplimentary names for the human skull, es- 
pecially those skulls of overgrown dimensions 
which are considered to contain brains more re- 
markable for their quantity than quality. For 
instance, in Italian, ' zucca, any kind of Gourd or 
Pumpion, used also metaphorically for a mans 
head, sconce, nob, pate, or scull ' (Florio) ; * 
cocuzza, a gourd, cocuzzolo, the crown of the 
head. 2 Cucozzone (gourd-head) was the nickname 
by which Cardinal Patrizi was popularly known 
in Rome some years ago ; cf. Latin, ( cucurbitce 

Sumpk, a Scotch term for a dull and stupid 
fellow (it may be met in Black's ' Daughter of 
Heth,' vol. i.), denotes originally a blockhead, 
whose brain is as soft and spongy as a toacl- 

1 The French gourd (numb, senseless, dull, heavy) has no con- 
nection, however, with gourde (a gourd). It is from the Latin 
gurdus, stupid, (Sp.) gordo, while gourde, gouhourde, gougourde is 
from cucurbita, (It.) cucuzza. 

2 Genin (Re'creations Philolos:. vol. i. p. 295) remarks that the words 
melon, concombre, cornichon, citronille, coloquinte, are similarly used 
in French. He also quotes the popular saying Bete comme un chou. 
Cf. Latin bliteus, insipid, foolish, from blitum (p\irov), a pot-herb, 
orache, and the Italian too, bizzocco, bizzoccone, a blockhead, which 
appears to be the modern representative of bliteus. 


stool. Cf. Cumberland sap-head, a simpleton. 
It is the same word as the Danish and Swedish 
svamp, (Goth.) swamms, (Ger.) schwamm, (Dut.) 
zwam, (A. -Sax.) swamm, (Icel.) svampr, all of 
which mean a sponge or fungus, and so is near 
akin to the German sump/, soft plashy ground, 
a bog, our 6 swamp,' Greek somphos, spongy, loose, 
porous. In a similar manner the Italian tartufo, 
a fungus or truffle, is used to designate a base and 
worthless fellow. Genin remarks that it was from 
that language that Moliere adopted the name of 
Tartufe for the hypocrite in his celebrated comedy, 
citing in confirmation Plautus' use of fungus for a 
dolt or idiot — 

' Adeem' me fuisse fungum ut qui illi crederem.' 

Bacchid. II. 3, 49. 

Those fungi, which, like puff-balls, are round in 
shape, and filled with dust or corruption, would 
afford an apt comparison for the empty-headed, 
addle-pated fool — ' The mouldy chambers of the 
dull idiot's brain.' Cf Milan., tartuffol, (1) a 
truffle, (2) a dotard; Neapol. taratufolo, a simple- 
ton. See also Spelman, Glossary, s.v. Arga, 
where he attempts to identify ' cuckold ' with Fr. 

6 Costard,' a species of large apple, 1 is frequently 
employed by the Elizabethan dramatists for a 

1 Hence : costermonger, ' originally an apple-seller. 


man's head, and it is one of Shakspere's jests that 
the character who bears that name in ' Love's 
Labour's Lost' (v. 2), when enacting the part of 
Pompey in the interlude of the Nine Worthies, 
imagines that he is standing for ' Pompion the 
Great,' i.e., the Great Pumpkin. Our word 
' bumpkin,' for a stupid country lout, seems to be 
only another form of this pompion, pumpion, or 
pumpkin. 1 In the ' Merry Wives of Windsor,' 
Mistress Ford styles FalstafT, ' This gross watery 
pumpion,' though the special reference there is to 
the phlegmatic corpulence of the unwieldy knight. 
It is the French pompon, (It.) popo?ie, pepone, 
(Lat.) pepo(n), (Gk.) pepon (Tre-ircov), a gourd. In 
later Latin pepo(?i) came to denote a foolish or 
stupid person, 2 and in Greek, likewise, it was a 
term of reproach and contempt. 

The sounding hollowness of the gourd when 
dry was also a point of comparison in this con- 
nection. i Cascos de Calabaga (calabash- skull), that 
is, rattle-headed or empty skull ' (Stevens, Sp. 
Diet., 1706), It. zucca at vento (gourd full of 

1 Cf. The form 'tainkin,' from 'tampion.' 

2 E.g., ' Cur non magis et pepo tarn insulsus, et chamaeleon tam 
inflatus?'(Tertullian, De Anima, xxxii., ed.Semler, vo . iv. p. 240). 
Etrc un melon, is to be as soft-headed as a squash, to be 'green ' or 
stupid. Dr Brewer remarks that melon in the school-slaug of St 
Cyr denotes a new-comer fresh from home, a ' molly-coddle ' (Diet. 
Phrase and Fable, s.v.), while cocons is the corresponding term for 
the first-year students at L'ficole Polytechnique. The Persian 
hdlak denotes a fool as well as an unripe melon. 

FOOL. 209 

air), c a witlesse-scull, an addle-head, or shallow- 
braine ' (Florio). 

It was an appropriate title, therefore, that was 
conferred on the foolish braggart Oliver Proudfute 
in the ' Fair Maid of Perth,' when he fell in with 
the band of mummers on Fastern's E'en, and was 
dubbed a Knight of the Calabash, with the salu- 
tation, ' Eise up, sweet Sir Oliver Thatchpate, 
Knight of the Honourable Order of the Pumpkin 
— rise up, in the name of Nonsense ' (ch. xvi.) 

Almost identical is the conception which lies at 
the bottom of the word ' fool.' Let us examine it 
at length, and we shall find that Jacques was not 
so far wrong in affirming that such < strange beasts' 
as Touchstone and Audrey — the professional jester 
and the mere simplician — c in all tongues are 
called fools ' (As You Like It, v. 4) ; and that 
the learned Southey was clearly mistaken when 
he said that 6 the name for fool seems to be 
original in every language' (Common- Place 
Book, vol. iv. p. 577). 

'Fool' is the French fou, folle; Corn. fol 9 
Welsh ffol, Armor, foil, It. folle, Prov. and 0. 
Sp. fol, Mid. Lat. follus. 1 All these words 
are cognate with the Latin follis (= Gk. 6v\- 
\t?), ' an inflated bladder, a bellows' — which, 
in later times, from the notion of tumid 

1 Hence, also, (Fr.) affoler, to make a fool of, (Eng. ) ' to foil. 

210 FOOL. 

inflation inseparable from the term, came to 
be applied in a reproachful sense to persons 
6 purled up, light and empty-headed, foolish.' 1 
Thus the primary meaning of i fool ' would be 
' blown up with self-conceit, vacant, witless ; ' or 
to define it exactly by a provincial word, still 
used, I believe, in some parts of England, ' blad- 
der-headed.' We find similar forms of expression 
in other languages ; in Italian, sacco di vento, l a 
bag of winde, also an idle boaster, a vaunting 
gull ' (Florio) ; in German, windbeutel (a braggart 
or idle talker), which Carlyle imitates in his ' pru- 
rient windbag ' (Heroes, Lect. VI); in Hebrew, 
Rabat, meaning a fool (' Nabal is his name, and 
folly is with him,' 1 Sam. xxv. 25), near akin to 
the word nebel, a bottle of skin (LXX. aa/cos). 

Compare the Manx bleb, a fool, an idiot, origi- 
nally a pustule, a blister; (Scot.) bleib, blob, any- 
thing tumid and circular, like a bubble; (Eng.) 
< bubble, a bladder in water, also a silly fellow, 
a cully ' (Bailey) ; the Italian ' nocchio, any bosse, 
bladder, puffe — also a gull, a ninnie, a foole ' 
(Florio), and the following quotations: — 

1 'Folic decet pueros ludere ' (Martial, 14, 74) — Boys may play 
at foot-ball. The post-classical use of the word is illustrated by Du 
Cange— ' Infollare proprie est buccam inflare; et quia folles inflan- 
tur quasi quadum re inani, inde est quod Follis dicitur stultus, 
superbus, vanus, inflatus.' He quotes from a MS. of the ninth 
century, ' Hie more gallico sanctum senem increpitans follem,' and 
from the interpreter of Joannes de Garlandia, ' Non opus est 
Folio suspendere tympana collo.' So in the ' Promptorium Parvu- 
loruin,' ¥ollet,follus. 

FOOL. 211 

1 If there be here any of these empty bladders, that are puft up 

with the wind of conceit, give me leave to pricke them a little.' 

The Righteous Mammon, Bp. Hall, Works (fol. 1634), p. 670. 

' I would embowell a number of those wind-puft bladders 
[i.e., authors' patrons], and disfurnish their bald pates of the 
perriwigs poets haue lent them.' 

Nash, Pierce Penniless 1 s Supplication to the Devil (1592, 
Shaks. Soc), p. 91. 

Similarly in Phineas Fletcher's poem of i The 

Purple Island,' Chaunus, the arrogant fool, is 

described as being 

' With his own praise like windy bladder blown.' 

C. viii., st. xxxvi. 

And so in French, a foolish story, nonsense, used 

to be called billevesdes — i.e., belle and vessie, a 

bladder full of wind, 1 ' a tale told by an idiot, 

full of sound and fury, signifying — nothing.' 

1 C'est lui qui dans des vers vous a tympanisees'; 
Tous les propos qu'il tient sont des billevesees. > 

Moliere, Les Femmes Savants, ii. 7. 

Intimately related to i fool ' is the Old Spanish 
follon, a braggart, from the Latin follis, and follere, 
to swell like a bellows. Just as Spenser, develop- 
ing the same idea, describes a ' losell ' i puffed up 
with smoke of vanity ' — 

1 Trompart, fitt man for Braggadochio,' 

who did 

1 Cf.'A widemouthed poet that speakea nothing but bladders 
an d burabast.' 

Sir Thos. Overbury, Characters (Library of Old Authoi-s, p. 98). 

212 BOAST. 

< With fine flattery, 
Blow the bellows to his swelling vanity.' 

Faerie Queen, Bk. II. iii. 4 and 9. 

We would be tempted, in like manner, to bring 
the Bohemian blazen, a fool, (Dut.) blasoen, a 
braggart, into connection with the Anglo-Saxon 
and German blcesan, and Dutch blcesen, to blow, 
our < blast ; ' 0. Ger. bids, blowing, blatara, a 
bladder, bloz, proud ; Ger. blase, a bladder, and bla- 
sen, to blow. 

Similarly, the Old Norse gdli, a fool, Dan. 
gal, mad, Norse galen, angry, mad, according to 
Wedgwood, may be traced in the provincial Danish 
galm, our 6 gale,' a raging wind. 

Compare ' vain,' Lat. vanus, from the root va, 
to blow, its congeners being the Gaelic faoin, 
0. Eng. fon, c fond ' originally meaning foolish, 
Gaelic faoincheann, empty-head. 

Bishop Hall, in his ' Characterismes of Vices,' 
speaking of the vain-glorious, portrays him as 

1 A bladder full of wind, a skin full of words, a fooles won- 
der, and a wisemans foole.' Works, p. 176 (ed. 1634.) 

For this, indeed, is one sure trait of the bladder- 
headed fool — he is puffed up and boastful. And 
so the word ' boast ' itself, it is instructive to 
find, is near akin to the Old German bdsi, foolish, 
originally empty, inflated, and bosan, a bag or 
pouch; Irish and Cym., bosd, boasting; 0. 
Eng., boistoas, bostwys, now ' boisterous,' an 


epithet of the wind — all connected with the Ger- 
man bausen, to puff, inflate the cheeks ; Gk. 
pkusdo (<j)vcrd(o), to blow. 1 

Compare also the Gaelic borrackas, boasting, 
bravado, which is identical with borracha, a blad- 
der ; Sp. borracka, a wine-skin. ' To bag,' in 
Chaucer, is to swell with pride, arrogance, and 
self-conceit (Richardson, Diet.) ; and finally, 
* buffoon,' Fr. bouffon, the professional fool, who 
has had an inflated bladder (Prov. bouffigd) appro- 
priately assigned to him as his badge of office 
from time immemorial, derives his name from the 
French bouffer. It. buffare, to puff or blow. 

Something of the etymological force of 'fool/ 
as empty, and therefore worthless, appears to sur- 
vive in such phrases as avoinefolle, wild or barren 
oats, avena fatua,) and c fool-parsley,' 2 where the 
word is applied to things which are inefficient 
after their kind, and destitute of that virtue or 
quality which their appearance would lead us to 
suppose they possessed ; and so probably feufo llet, 
ignis, fatuus, denotes what Shakspere calls an 
6 ineffectual fire ' — one that seems to burn, but does 
not. A.-Sax. fon-fyre, Dut. dwaal-lickt. 

Similar is the use of the word dol (foolish, 
'dull') in Dutch — e.g.) dolle-bezien, berries whose 

1 Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 143. Cf. Dut. blaas- 
TcaTcerig, boasting, rodomontade ; winderig, windy, boasting, brag- 

g in g- 

2 Wedgwood. Cf. W. ffiol, fool, ffwlach, light corn. 


poisonous quality belies their fair appearance, dolle- 
kervel, hemlock. Eng. ' dwale,' Dan. dvale-bcvr, 
deadly nightshade ; akin to Goth, drcals, foolish, 
A. -Sax. dol. 

Compare the word ' deaf,' when applied to nuts, 
corn, &c, meaning empty, worthless, tasteless, 
having lost its virtue; in Dutch doove-netel, a 
nettle which does not sting, doove kool, a dead or 
burnt-out coal ;* and so our word ' coke,' as it 
were the empty cinder, has been identified with 
the Gaelic caoch, blind, empty, hollow ; caochag, a 
deaf nut, without a kernel, the ' coke ' of a nut 
(cf. ccecus), and so we speak of a * blind' nut or 
nettle, A.-Sax. blind-netele. 

The sentence which in the authorised version of 
the Bible we translate, ' If the salt have lost his 
savour' (Matt. v. 13 ; Luke xiv. 34), is literally 
in the original, i If the salt have become foolish,' 2 
i.e. insipid, it being the very same word that 
occurs in Romans i. 22, ' Professing themselves to 
be wise, they became fools.'' The Gothic version is 
salt baud wair])ip, i.e., salt becomes deaf, Goth. 
bautks, deaf {cf. 6 bothered '). A literal rendering 
is also found in ' The Apology for the Lollards,' 
ascribed to WiclifTe — ' Fonnid salt is not wor}), but 

1 Cf. Cleveland, deaf, barren, empty, tasteless, stingless, a deaf- 
nettle, A.-Sax. deafcorn, barren corn, Sw. dofvidr, unproductive 
tree, dauf-jord, barren soil (Atkingon). Ger. taub is applied to an 
exhausted mine. So toad-flax is from the Ger. todt, dead — i. e., 
useless flax ; toad-stone, a rock yielding no ore. 

3 ^Iwpavdxi. 


J>at it "be cast for]}, and soilid of suynne.' 'Fond 
salt,' i.e., foolish, here tasteless, is the Old English 
fort, Gael, faoin, Lat. vanus. Dr Todd, in his edi- 
tion of this work for the Camden Society, printed 
the word sonnid, which of course is nonsense. The 
Latin of St Jerome, which WiclifTe is here trans- 
lating — Infatuatum sal ad nikilum prodest — renders 
the mistake the more inexcusable. 

In like manner, the French fade, insipid, is the 
Latin fatuus, foolish ; 2 ' insipid ' itself, as well as 
1 unsavoury,' contains the same root as i sapient,' 
' sage,' i savant/ all being from the Latin sapere, 
to have taste ; and insulsus, meaning foolish in 
Latin, was originally in-salsus, without salt, taste- 

A parallel idiom occurs in the Hebrew of Job 
v. 6, ' Is there any taste in the white of an egg ? ' 
This, according to Gesenius, would be more cor- 
rectly rendered, ' Is there any taste in herb broth 
(kohl-brahe) ? lit. the slime of purslain,' which the 
Arabians call ' the foolish plant,' i.e., insipid. 
' More foolish than purslain ' is one of their pro- 
verbial comparisons. The corresponding Hebrew 
word in the passage cited is halldmuth, denoting 
(1) fatuity, (2) insipidity. 

The Latin word fatuus, foolish, which I had but 

1 ' Thou art a fori of thy love to boste ' (Spenser, Shepheards 
Calender, Februarie). 

2 Fatuus is applied to the beet by Martial, in the sense of tasteless. 


just now occasion to refer to, and which still lives 
for us in our ' fatuous ' and < infatuated,' is one 
that hitherto, so far as I am aware, has eluded 
analysis. Perhaps I am too sanguine in thinking 
it has yielded to my efforts. At all events, if we 
take note of the similar names which have been 
given to the fool in other languages, we will see 
reason to believe it probable beforehand that the 
Latin might fairly have signified c open-mouthed.' 
The hanging of the lower jaw imparts such an 
idiotic expression to the countenance, and an air 
of vacant wonderment, that gaping has been uni- 
versally regarded as a mark of imbecility and 
stupidity ; a closed mouth and compressed lips, on 
the other hand, are the natural expression of firm- 
ness and self-control. For instance, in French, 
badaud, badault, i a fool, dolt, sot, fop, asse, gap- 
ing hoy don ' (Cotgrave), Prov. badau, is from the 
Provencal and Italian badare, to gape. 1 

6 Naque ??iouc7ie, a Flycatcher, a gaping hoydon, 
an idle gull ' (Cotgrave). Cf. gobe-mouches. 

Bdgueule^ a fool, originally ' gaping with an 
open mouth ' (Cotgrave). 

In English, ' gaby ' is one that gapes with a 
vacant stare ; 0. Norse gapa, to gape, gap, a 
simpleton (Wedgwood), prov. Eng. gaups, a sim- 
pleton, from gaup, to gape. Compare gawk-a- 

1 Hence also Ft. badin, a jester, badiner, ' badinage ; ' 0. Fr. baer, 
bayer, ' to bay. ' 


mouth, a gaping fool (Devonshire). Thus ' Poor 
Robin' (1735), speaks of fools who * stand with 
their eyes and their mouths open, to take in a 
cargo of gape-seed^ while some a little too nimble 
for them pick their pockets.' 

6 Booby,' It. babbeo, is generally understood to 
be a gaping imbecile, from the sound ba naturally 
made in opening the mouth. 1 

Gawney, a provincial term for a fool or simple- 
ton, which in Lincolnshire appears a,sya?vney, comes 
from the Anglo-Saxon ganian, to yawn or gape, 
and with the most curious exactness corresponds 
to the Greek ckaunos, gaping, also silly, foolish, 
whence chaunopolites, an open-mouthed, gaping 
cit, a cockney. Compare, kecMnaioi, gapers, Aris- 
tophanes' burlesque name for the Athenians, also 
the Greek chdskax (a gaper, gaby), from ckasko, to 
gape or yawn ; chin, Dor. chan, the gaping ' gan- 

The same root has been traced by some in the 
Latin fat-isco, to yawn, gape, or open in chinks. 
It is with this word, whatever may be the root, 
that I would place in close connection fatuus, the 
open-mouthed, gaping fool. Thus fat-uus would 
stand in the same relation to fat-isco that gaby 
does to gape and gap (Sans. jabk). Fat-eor 

1 Farrar, Chapters on Language, p. 159; Wedgwood, s.v. Com- 
pare, however, the 0. Fr. baube, a babbler, ebaubi, astounded, Sp. 
bobo, simpleton, which Diez connects with It. balbo, Lat. balbus, 
a stammerer. 


(whence conjitcor, confessus), to confess, may not 
improbably contain the same root, with the sig- 
nification of opening or disclosing a matter, in 
opposition to keeping it close and hidden. 1 Com- 
pare our English expression ' to split ' ( = to 
inform), and the Latin rhnosus (full of chinks or 
splits, leaky), applied to one who cannot keep a 

The stem of fat-igo may perhaps be identified 
with that of j)at-eo (to be open), and traced to the 
Sanskrit root pat, to split or open. As the day 
has now gone by when an etymologist could not 
timidly suggest a relationship between an Aryan 
root and a Sheniitic without fear of being branded 
with that most damaging of epithets, i pre-scien- 
tific,' I may venture to point out the resemblance 
of the Hebrew pdthdh and pdthach, to open. This 
may, or may not, be only a coincidence, still the 
corresponding uses of the word are sufficiently re- 
markable to deserve being noted. From pdthdh, 
to be open {—fat-igo), comes the participial form 
potkeh, c one who opens ' (his lips, Prov. xx. 19), 
also ' a foolish or silly person' (=fatuus, Job v. 
2), and the derivative pethi is the common word for 
a simple or silly person in the book of Proverbs 
e.g., vii. 7). 

1 The dictionaries deduce the word from fdtus, the past participle 
of fari, to speak ; but in that case we would expect fateor, with a 
long vowel. 


From fatuus comes the verb fatuor, 1 to talk 
foolishly, which afterwards acquired the very dif- 
ferent meaning of being inspired, or filled with 
the divine influence. Such a transition is com- 
mon in other languages, and can easily be ex- 
plained as follows : — 

No one, unaccustomed to such trying scenes, can 
listen to the ceaseless raving of a patient oppressed 
with fever, or the unconnected rhapsodies poured 
forth by the insane, without experiencing some- 
what of an almost superstitious fear, which invests 
even commonplace and unmeaning expressions 
with a strange significance. The words given vent 
to in such cases are known to come from the lips 
quite apart from the consciousness of the speaker. 
They seem, therefore, like the utterances of some 
unknown power, which has taken possession of the 
patient, and uses him for its mouthpiece. This 
feeling, which perhaps in some degree may help us 
to understand why it is that the wayward and 
fragmentary interlocutions of the fool add a new 
element of grandeur and sublimity to the wondrous 
scenes of Lear, that the snatches of song and 
proverb introduced by the poor distraught Ophelia 
are so inexpressively pathetic, that the soliloquies 
delivered by Lady Macbeth when walking in her 

1 Dr Smith does not seem to have any authority for making two 
distinct words out of this, and marking the initial syllable short 
in the one case and long in the other (Lat. Diet.) 


troubled sleep are so potent in inspiring awe and a 
sense of terrible mystery — the same feeling has led 
men in all ages to regard the idiot and the lunatic 
with reverence, as beings endued with a portion of 
the divine afflatus. Thus in Latin there is the one 
V70x<\. furor for madness and inspiration. In Greek, 
mantis , a prophet, is near akin to mania, madness : 
and in old English writers c fury ' is used of 
spiritual influences, however gentle, as in this 
invocation to the Deity — 

' Breathe thou a heavenly fury in my breast, 
I sing the sabbath of eternal! rest.' 

William, Earl of Stirling (d. 1640). 

Amongst many savage races madmen are vene- 
rated as being the special abode of some deity, 1 and 
idiots are treated with kindness and forbearance, 
from a belief that they possess superhuman inspir- 
ation. The Eskimo, for instance, regard an insane 

1 Compare the Greek enihousiastikds, entheos, dwelt in by a god, 
inspired. Vide Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 117; Lubbock, 
Origin of Civilisation, p. 132. 

Mania is used both for madness and the prophetic spirit, so that 
Plato says, ' The greatest blessings we have spring from madness 
when granted by the divine bounty.' Fide The Prophetic Spirit in 
its Relation to Wisdom and Madness, by Rev. A. Clissold. 

' The fool alone, in " All's Well that Ends Well " has somewhat of 
the " prophetic " vein in him, which he ascribes to himself, ac- 
cording to the general notion of the age, that fools, in virtue of 
their capacity for speaking " the truth the next way," possessed 
something of a divine and foretelling character ' (Gervinus, Shaks- 
pere Commentaries, p. 402). On the superstition that the insane 
were possessed or inspired by a deity, see Maury, La Magie et 
l'Astrologie, pp. 261-263, 269, 272, 285. The old Countess of 
Strathmore is reported to have consulted an idiot when she desired 
an oracular pronouncement as to the prolongation of her husband's 
life (Southey, C.-P. Book, vol. iv. p. 514). 


person, whom they call a pivdlerortok, as possessed 
of the highest perfection in divining, and capable 
of seeing things when absent or still future. The 
6 natural ' or fool, pivdlingayak, as being a clair- 
voyant, is esteemed by them a useful person to 
be maintained in every hamlet. 1 It must have 
been a somewhat similar notion that gave rise to 
the French word benet or benest, i a simple, plaine, 
doltish fellow, a noddy-peake, ... a silly com- 
panion ' (Cotgrave), which is only another form of 
benist, benoist, benedict, blessed, holy, happy. We 
might be reminded here of the English slang 
phrase i an anointed scamp,' meaning an arch 
villain, Yorkshire, c a nointed youth ; ' but this 
without doubt is a corruption of the French 
andanti, brought to nothing, worthless, good for 
nought — anoienter being actually found as another 
form of aneantir. 2 A truer comparison would be 
' silly,' originally innocent, blessed, happy, A.-Sax. 
scelig, Ger. selig. So the German albern, foolish, 
simple, Mid. Ger. alewaere, Swiss alb, A.-Sax. 
ylfige, and perhaps our alf, 6 oaf,' represents the 
Middle German alwdr, 0. H. Ger. alawdr, all-true, 
alawdri, kind. 3 Compare the expressions ' an in- 
nocent,' i a natural,' i simple,' ' buon huomo^ 6 bon 

1 Dr H. Rink, Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, p. 57. 
5 Roquefort, Glossaire de la Langue Romane. 
3 The Icelandic dlfr, an elf, denotes also a silly, vacant, person, one 
bewitched by the elves (Cleasby). Vide also Diefenbach, Orig. Europ. 


enfant] Gk. eucthes, < daffte ' (= humble in the 
Ormultm). 1 Cretin, the name given to the deformed 
idiots of Switzerland, is said by some to be the 
same as chrUien, the Christian par excellence, the 
most chastened, because the most loved. 2 

While on the subject of fools, I ma}' note that 
the A. -Irish omadhaun is the Irish amadan, an idiot 
or simpleton, also amad, which corresponds exactly 
to the Sanskrit a-mati, folly, stupidity {a negative, 
and mati, mind, Lat. a-mens y out of one's mind). 
The idiot, as it were, is contrasted with the rational 
' man,' Sans. ?nanu, ' the thinker,' from the root 
man, to think. 3 Goddis ajns is an old Scotch 
expression of similar import for ' dull, blockish 
animals, that have no more of men, the chief of 
God's creatures, but the shape, as apes have.' 

1 Zour sory joyis "bene bot janglyng and japis, 
And zour trew^seruandis silly goddis apis.' 

Gaivin Douglas, Prologue to Bk. IV. 1. 27. 

' Thus we say in Scotland, " a good God's body," 
or " God's goss," for a silly, but good-natured 
man ; ' 4 in Ireland ' one of God's innocents.' 

1 See also De Quincey, vol. iii. p. 306 ; Lane, Egyptians, vol. ii. 
pp. 43, 44. 

3 Cf. Gattel, s.v.; Genin, Recreations Philologiques, vol. ii. p. 164. 
Somewhat similar to those mentioned above is the transition of 
meaning of Ger. schlecht, (1) right, good, (2) simple, (3) foolish, 
worthless. An ' upryght man ' is one of the ' rainging rabblement 
of rascals,' in Harman's Caveat for Cursetors, p. 13 (Repr. 1814). 

3 Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 543; Stokes, Irish Glosses, 
p. 66. 

4 Glossary to G. Douglas, 1710. 

( 223 ) 


* hearse ' — ' hoe ' — ' furro w ' — names of ma- 
chines derived from animals — ' pulley ' 
etc. — ' ha tchment ' — ' lozenge ' — ' blazon ' 
— ' timbre' — 'halo' — ' aureole! 

In tracing the word ' hearse ' through its manifold 
windings up to its distant source, the transitions of 
meaning presented to us are not a little curious. 
Applied at the present day to the large ornamen- 
tal carriage for the conveyance of the dead, which 
forms so conspicuous a feature in the long-drawn 
6 pomp of woe ' that characterises a i respectable 
funeral/ c hearse/ once on a time, denoted not 
this, but a temporary canopy, or light frame of 
woodwork supporting a pall, erected in the 
church, under which frame the body used to 
be placed while the service for the dead was 
being performed. 1 Sometimes it was a ceno- 
taph, or monument of a more permanent 
character, set up as a memorial of the deceased 

1 See a good note in Peacocke's 'Church Furniture,' p. 127, 
where he gives a representation of a hearse, but quite mistakes its 
etymology. Vide also p. 26. 

224 HEARSE. 

— e.g., c cenotaphium, a herse, a sepulchre of 
honour.' 1 

' A cenotaph ' (says Weever in his ' Funeral Monuments,' 
1631) ' is an emptie Funerall Monument or Tombe erected for 
the honour of the dead, wherein neither the corps nor reliques 
of any defunct are deposited, in imitation of which our Hearses 
here in England are set vp in Churches, during the continuance 
of a Yeare, or for the space of certaine moneths ' (p. 32, fol.) 

' The solemnitie of Polydores obit at his emptie hearse is 
described in the said booke [iEn. 3] much what after the same 

" Anon therefore to Polydore an Hearse we gan prepare." ' 

Ibid., p. 35. 

Compare also the following from the poems of 

Bishop Henry King (1657) : — 

' The beating of thy pulse (when thou art well) 
Is just the tolling of thy Passing Bell : 
Night is thy Hearse, whose sable Canopie 
Covers alike deceased day and thee. 

And all those weeping dewes which nightly fall, 
Are but the tears shed for thy funerall/ 

Ed. Hannah, p. 19. 

And these from Spenser — 

' Leave these relicks of his living might 
To decke his herce, and trap his tomb-blacke steed.' 

Faerie Queene, II. viii. 16. 

' Beene they all dead, and laid in dolefull herse, 
Or doen they onely sleepe, and shall againe reverse '? ' 

Ibid., III. iv. 1 

At the funeral of Sir John Dudley i at Westmyns- 
ter, the xxj of Septemher/ 1553, 

1 Old Glossary, quoted by Way, in • Promptorium Parvulorum.' 

HEARSE. 225 

' In the qwer was a hersse mad of tymbur and covered with 
blake, and armes upon the blake.' 

Diary of Henry Machyn, 1550-1563 (Camden Soc.) p. 44. 

Bailey defines the word t Hearse, a Monument 
liung with the Atchievements of an honourable 
Person deceased ; also a covered or close Waggon 
to carry a dead Corpse in ' (Diet, s.v.) 

Though these meanings of a decorated bier, a 
pall, or canopy, are ancient, we must go back 
further still. In wills and other documents of the 
twelfth and three following centuries we find fre- 
quent mention made of the hersia, /iercia, or her- 
cium, as a well-known article of church furniture, 
employed at the most solemn services, and especially 
at funerals, when the corpse was lying in state. 1 
The i Promptorium Parvulorum ' (c. 1440) explains 
the ' Heerce on a dede corce ' to be a c pirama ' or 
1 piramis. ' It was, in fact, a sort of pyramidal candle- 
stick, or iron frame of triangular form, designed 
to hold the multitude of wax tapers usually lighted 
on such occasions, tier above tier. 

Another name, or rather another form of the 
name, of this structure in medieval Latin was 
kerpica, and this points us to its true origin. 2 The 
hersia or hercia was so called on account of its re- 

1 I draw this information from Mr Way's excellent note in the 
'Promptorium Parvulorum.' Vide also Diary of Henry Machyn 
(Camden Soc), p. xxix. ; Skeat in Notes and Queries. 4th Ser. vol. 
iv. p. 51. 

2 The identification of ' hearse ' with the Lat. (ac-)cerso, Sans. 
harsh, to draw, by some philologists, shows how dangerous it is to 
theorise about a word without tracing its historical relationship. 



semblance in shape to the French /terse, 0. Fr. herce, 
It. crpicc, a harrow, and those words themselves 
come from the Lat. hirpex (kirjiic-is), also irpex, 
a large iron-toothed rake, a harrow. So the sar- 
rasi?w, a kind of portcullice, Bailey mentions 
(Dictionary, s.v,), was otherwise called a hearse, 
evidently from its harrow-like shape. From the 
Low Latin Jierciare l arose the French /terser, c to 
harrow,' ' also to vexe, turmoile, disquiet, hurry, 
torment' (Cotgrave), just as we speak of c harrow- 
ing one's feelings,' or 'a harrowing tale.' From 
/terser, through the form harser, came apparently 
harasser with the same meaning, our ' harass.' 

We now can see the point of connection also 
between * hearse ' and the verb to f re-hearse.' The 
latter means literally 6 to harrow over again,' to go 
over the same ground and turn it up anew : figu- 
ratively, to repeat what has been already said. A 
similar expression is ' to rip up ' an old grievance, 
&c. Compare the following — 

'What direful greeting will there then be . . . remem- 
bering and ripping up all their lewdness, to the aggravation 
of their torment.' Baxter, Saints' Best, Pt. iii. eh. 3. 

1 Being as a cursed goat separated to stand beneath on earth, 
as on the Left-hand of the Judge, Christ shall rip up all the 
benefits He bestow'd on thee.' 

The Practice of Piety, L. Bailey, p. 56 (1743). 

In Gaelic rdc signifies to repeat as well as to rake. 
So far, I trust, all is plain. Our i hearse ' is 

1 Spelman, Gloss, s.v. Arabant. 

hoe. 227 

traceable to the Latin Ziirpex, a harrow. If we 
inquire, however, what is the origin of the word 
hirpex itself, the answer is by no means equally 
easy. It has been imagined by some to have been 
borrowed from the Greek hdrpax (apiraf?) ; but, to 
say nothing of the difficulty that the two words agree 
neither in form nor in meaning, it is highly im- 
probable that the Latin husbandman should have 
been indebted to foreigners for the name of so 
common an implement. 

Before suggesting a derivation of my own, I 
would premise that in many languages instruments 
which are used in cleaving or grubbing up the 
earth have been likened to animals which rend 
and tear their victims — the teeth of the hoe, the 
harrow, and the plough, as they wounded and 
scarified the ground, not unnaturally suggested 
the fangs of a beast of prey, the tusks of the boar, 
the sharp incisors of the ravening wolf — and those 
tools received names accordingly. For instance, 
our ' hoe ' is the Goth, koka, a plough (< the tearer '), 
and exactly represents in a modern shape the Sans. 
koka, a wolf (' the tearer '), Kuhn. So the San- 
skrit word vrika designates alike the wolf and the 
plough, and in Icel. vargr hqfs, ' the sea- wolf,' is 
a poetical name for a ship, no doubt from its cleav- 
ing and ploughing up the waves. The Sanskrit 
krntatra, Kourde kotan, Lat. culter, i coulter ' (the 
instrument that cleaves the earth), the plough, are 

228 porcus. 

near akin to the Russ. krotu, Pol. hret (the animal 
that cleaves the earth), the mole, Lith. kertus (the 
shrew-mouse), all coming from the same root krt, 
to cut or cleave. 1 

Similarly the German scker, sckermaus, 0. Ger. 
scero, the mole, with which Pictet 2 compares our 
shrew-mouse, A. -Sax. screawa, owns kinship with 
scaro, the plough-share, both coming from seer an, 
to cleave or tear. 

In Greek 6 the digger ' (skalops) is a name for 
the mole. 3 The Sans, potra signifies at once a 
pig's snout and a ploughshare, from the idea of 
grubbing up the earth being common to both ; 
and so Pictet explains the Greek hunnis (vvvis), a 
ploughshare, to have originally been i swine's- 
snout,' from Ms (£?), a pig. 

The Latin porcus, a pig, seems to have meant 
originally the beast that roots up and scatters the 
earth, and to have come from the Sanskrit root 
pre, to scatter. 4 Porca, on the other hand, was 

1 Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ. vol. i. p. 452. 

The Sanskrit kira, a boar, and the Persian Iciraz, a harrow, are 
traced to the root Jcf, har, to scatter, from their both scattering 
about the earth (Ibid., vol. ii. p. 9Q). 

2 Ibid., vol. i. p. 41. 

3 It may be doubted whether ' mole ' is for mold-warp (mould- 
caster), as all the dictionaries give it. It is rather the German 
maul-xverf, i.e., mouth-caster, from its habit of burrowing with its 
snout. Our 'coney,' Wei. owning, Irish coinin, Lat. cuniculus (1, a 
rabbit ; 2, a burrow, mine), is cognate with Lat. cuneus (what cleaves, 
a wedge), and comes from the Sanskrit root khan, to dig. Hence 
also Sans, Jchanaka, ' the miner,' a name for the rat. 

4 Compare Egyptian ferk,forlc, to tear, Heb. prk, Arab, phrq, to 

FURROW. 229 

the name given to the ridge of earth thrown up by 
the iron snout of the ploughshare, and is the same 
word as appears in German asfurcke, A.Sax. fur/i, 
our i furrow,' 0. Eng. furg} i Farrow,' to bring 
forth a litter of pigs, being a derivative from 
A.-Sax. fearh, 0. H. Ger.farA, Dut. varken, a pig, 
words which are immediately akin to porcus, we can 
see that ' furrow ' and ' farrow ' are not connected 
together by a mere superficial resemblance, but by 
a radical and fundamental identity. 

The north of England soc, Fr. soc, L. Lat. soccus, 
the ploughshare, is the Irish soc, Cymric swch, 
which mean a snout and a ploughshare. 2 On the 
other hand, the projecting bone of the nose, by a 
play of fancy, has been termed the vomer by anato- 
mists, on account of its resemblance to the share. 

Now, as the transition of meaning from a rend- 
ing or grubbing animal to a rending or grubbing 
instrument of tillage is not unusual, I do not think 
I will be risking too fanciful a suggestion if I 
venture to bring hirpex, irpex, the harrow, with 
its grim array of iron teeth, into connection with 
the old Sabine word hirpus, 2 or irpus, a wolf, just 

divide. Birch, Bunsen's Egypt, vol. v. Similar is the radical 
meaning of Sans, hira, ddraha, bhuddra, as names for the pig, 
viz., the tearer or grubber (Pictet, vol. i. p. 371). 

1 0. E. Miscell., p. 13. Compare Fr. veau, a calf, also used to 
denote ' a baulk untilled between two lands or furrows ' (Cotgrave). 

2 Surely we may compare the A.-Sax. eorp, Icel. erpr, Scand. 
irpa, a wolf, though Pictet denies this. 

Hirpus (i.e., virpus, vripus), represents the Sans, vrihas, Lith. 
vilkas, Gk. (v)lukos, Lat. {v)lupus (vulpus), Goth, vulfs, 'wolf.' 


as the synonymous word lupus was applied to 
sundry things furnished with many sharp points 
and indentations, e.g., a handsaw, and a jagged 
bit for hard-mouthed horses. 

< Wolf,' according to Wright's Provincial Dic- 
tionary, has the latter meaning in English; and 
xirgull in Icelandic, a halter, is akin to vargr, a 
wolf, and German wiirgen, to throttle, ' worry.' 

It may be remarked in general, that engines and 
machines which served for carrying, supporting, 
and lifting, or for purposes of attack in war, were 
often designated by the names of animals which 
seemed to have similar powers and functions, and 
were called ' ram,' ' horse,' ' ass,' ' sow,' ' cat,' &c, 
according as some fanciful analogy might occur to 
the parties using them. For example, when the 
rebels besieged Corfe Castle, Mercurius Rusticus 1 
states that ' to make their approaches to the wall 
with more safety, they make two engines, one 
they call the sow, and the other the boar.' 

1 K. Edward the first with an engine named the warwolfe, 
pierced with one stone . . . two vauntmures. As the ancient 

Yrika is a plough. Hirpus : vrikas : : hirpex : vrika. All come 
from the Sans, root vrask', to tear. This root also may be traced in 
the name of another agricultural implement for tearing the earth, if 
Mommsen (vol. i. p. 21) and Pictet be correct (vol. ii. p. 90) in iden- 
tifying ligo, a hoe, Gk. lach-aino (XaxeuVw), to dig, with our 'rake,' 
A..-Sax. racian, Ger. rechen, Gael. rac. For these words can scarcely 
be separated from lac-er, Gk. lak-os, rak-os, 'rag,' which contain the 
root vrask'. Hence also ulcus, Gk. helkos (?Xkos), a wound, holkos 
(oXkos), sulcus, a furrow. Cf. Ferrar, Comparative Grammar, p. 

1 Southey, C. -P. Book, vol. i. p. 527. 


Komans had their Crates, Vinece, Plutei ... so had the Eng- 
lish in this age their Cathouse and Sow for the same purpose. 
The Cathouse, answerable to the Cattus, mentioned by Vegetius. 
. . . The sow is yet usual in Ireland.' 

Camden, Remaines (1637), p. 201. 

' This Mouse or Mantelet was defended by our men out of 
the brick tower' (Lat. musculus). 
Edmonds, Casar's Commentaries of the Civ. Wars, p. 54(1655). 

I subjoin a list of animals whose names I have 
met thus employed: — 

It. asinone, a great ass. Also ' an engine to 
mount a piece of ordinance ' (Florio). 

It. caualetto, 6 any little nagge or horse. Also 
any tressel, 1 or saddlers or Armorers woodden 
horse ' (Florio). Fr. ckevalet, Eng. ' horse,' a 
stand for towels, clothes, &c. 

6 Easel,' a painter's tressel, Ger. esel, Lat. 
asellus y a little ass. Gk. killibas (iaX\lj3a<;) , of the 
same meaning, is from killos (/aXXo?), an ass. Gk. 
onos (ovo<s), an ass, also a windlass. 

Sp. and Port, muleta, a crutch, from mulus, a 
mule. It. bordone, Fr. bourdon, a pilgrim's staff, 
from burdo, a mule. 

Sp. potro, a wooden stand, Fr. poutre, a 
cross-beam, same as Sp. potro, It. poledro, L. 
Lat. poledrus, pulletrus, a colt, Gk. polos. 
Hence also Ger.folter, a rack (Diez). 

Of the same origin is 'pulley,' 0. Eng. 
< poleyn,' Fr. poulie, Sp. polea y polin, identical 

1 With ' tressel, ' Prov. Eng. dressel, may perhaps be compared 
Icel. drosuU, a horse. 


with Fr. poulain, a colt or foal, also a pulley- 
rope (Cot grave), Prov. poll. 

'Gauntree,' a frame to set casks upon, Fr. 
chantier, is the Latin cantherius, a pack-horse, also 
a prop, a rafter. 

Lat. equuleus, a young horse, also a wooden rack. 

Fr. bourriquet, a handbarrow, is from bourrique, 
Sp. and Port, burro, an ass, L. Lat. buricus, a nag. 

0. Eng. somer, 1 a bedstead, is the French somier, 
sommier, a sumpter-horse, also a piece of timber 
called a summer ; Prov. sauma, a she-ass, from the 
Lat. sagmarius, a pack-horse. The Persian bahrak 
denotes a cow, and also a clothes-horse ; bakarah, 
a pulley. 

Ger. bock, a buck or he-goat, also a trestle or 
support ; the c box ' of a coach. So Pol. koziel, a 
buck, kozly, a trestle (Wedgwood). 

Sp. cabra, Fr. chevre, (1) a goat (Lat. capra), 
(2) a machine for raising weights, &c, a ' crab.' 

' Chevron] Fr. chevron, Sp. cabrio, a rafter, from 
chevre, &c, a goat. ' Calibre,' 0. Eng. caliver, Fr. 
calabre, a machine for casting stones, 0. Sp. cabra, 
all from cabre, a goat (Wedgwood). Compare 
aries, a battering-raw. 

* Capstan ' is the Spanish cabrestante, a wind- 
lass ; literally a standing goat. 

1 Vide the poem of 'Body and Soul,' Appendix to Mapes' Poems 
(Camden Soc), p. 334, 1. 18 j < K. Alys,' 1. 827. 


c Cat,' on board ship, is a ( tackle for drawing 
up the anchor.' 1 

It. gatto, l a hee-cat, Also an engine of warre to 
batter walles ' (Florio). Gattus, i machina belli ' 
(Spelman Glossary), c a werrely holde that men 
call a barbed catte ' (Caxton's Vegecius). 2 

In Irish jid/ichat, l wooden-cat,' is the ingenuously 
constructed term for a mouse-trap, a quaintness 
exactly reproduced in the Icelandic trd-kottr, of the 
same meaning : and in French, a copying-machine, 
from its imitative powers, is styled an c ape,'ww singe. 

Lat. sucula, a little sow, figuratively a winch 
or windlass. 

Sp. ciguena, a crane for raising water, &c, is 
from the Latin ciconia, a stork.. 

Fr. crone j is the machine which we call a 
c crane,' Gk. geranos, &c. 

Gk. korax { K 6pa^) — {\) a raven, (2) a grappling 
iron. Compare our 6 crow.' 

By a similar sort of personification many uten- 
sils and mechanical contrivances are familiarly 
called by the same appellations as those human 

1 Falconer, Marine Dictionary. 

2 Quoted in Wright's Prov. Diet., s.v. Similar is the use of 
* camels' (hydraulic machines), fire -dogs, Lat. testudo, Gk. chelone 
(tortoise), Fr. levrault (Cotgrave), &c. 

Camden remarks that most fire-arms have their names ' from ser- 
pents or ravenous birds.' Instances of the former are the ancient 
basilici, dracones, drakes, culverins ; while among those named after 
birds are the falcones, luscinice, musquets, sakers, esmerillons, ter- 
zeruolos, 0. Fr. cranequin, moineau, &c. (Remaines Concerning 
Britaine, p. 203, 1637 ; Spelman, Glossary, s.v. Bombarda). 


agents whose labours they economise, or whose 
functions they discharge. Thus a small movable 
rack or bracket affixed to the bars of a grate, for 
the purpose of holding toast, a tea-pot, or any- 
thing of that nature, is styled a c footman.' An 
old-fashioned piece of furniture, once much in 
vogue in the dining-room, which kept plates, &c, 
in readiness for the different courses, was termed 
a i dumb waiter.' A weight which, suspended be- 
hind a door, serves to shut it after one, and a hold- 
fast or cramp, are alike in French called un valet. 
An arrangement of tapes for holding up a lady's 
dress when walking, in the language of milliners is 
a c page ; ' while a pocket-book that always has a 
needle and thread in readiness is a ' huzzif ' or 
' housewife.' A bureau adapted to keep one's 
papers and accounts in orderly arrangement is 
known as a ' secretary ' {tin secretaire). 

1 Mr Boffin always believed a Secretary to be a piece of fur- 
niture, mostly of mahogany, lined with green baize or leather, 
with a lot of little drawers in it.' 

Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, vol. i. p. 135. 

A contrivance for turning the spit before the 
fire, and so relieving the cook of that part of her 
duties, is a ' jack ;' while an implement that 
helps one off with his boots is a ' boot-jack.' The 
Germans call it a c boot-boy' (stiefel-knecht). 

In the dialect of the peasantry, a washing- 
beetle or churn-dash is a ' Dolly ; ' an instrument 
affixed to a tub in washing, in order to let the 


clothes drain through, is a ' Betty ' (Northamp- 
ton) ; a species of mop, used to sweep a baker's 
oven, is 'a maukin,' i.e., Mollikin, or little Molly. 
Perhaps the housebreaker's ' Jemmy,' and the busy 
* spinning- Jenny,' should have a place here too. 

With a satirical allusion, and indeed bigoted 
innuendo, a vessel of hot water employed as a bed- 
warmer was sometimes called a ' nun,' sometimes 
a c damsel,' 1 being supposed to discharge the same 
good office that the fair Shunammite did for the 
aged King of Israel, when ' they covered him with 
clothes, but he gat no heat,' and she consented to 
cherish him (1 King i. 1-4). Southey, by a play- 
ful turn of the phrase, suggested that the same 
comfortable adjunct of the bedchamber, when em- 
ployed by a lady-friend, should be nominated the 
1 friar.' With these we may compare the grim and 
ghastly humour of such expressions for instru- 
ments of torture or execution which receive their 
guests into a deadly embrace, as the ' maiden,' 
the c scavenger's daughter,' the 'widow' (la veuve). 

Among other ceremonious marks of respect to 
the dead, formerly much more freely paid than now, 
which were sometimes combined with the hearse 
in its primitive form of a catafalc or cenotaph, 
was the ' hatchment.' This was an escutcheon 
erected, over the door generally, when a person of 
distinction had died. Its name is a corruption of 

1 Southey, C.-P. Book, vol. iv. p. 434. 


' achievement,' or, as it used to be spelt, c atchieve- 
ment,' which was an heraldic term, Bailey informs 
us, for i the coat of arms of any gentleman, set out 
fully with all that belongs to it ; ' and the hearse, 
according to the same authority, used once to be 
hung with these i atchievements.' It may be sup- 
posed that the coat-of-arms was originally so called 
from its commemorating some remarkable exploit 
or achievement 1 performed by the person to whom 
it was first assigned — crescents, for instance, re- 
calling the part he had borne in the crusades 
against the Saracens, or cockleshells his pilgrim- 
age over sea to the shrine of St Jago of Compos- 
tella. At all events, ' hatchments ' are nothing 
else but ' achievements ' slightly in disguise. 

Very similar is the history of another word. The 
Spanish losa, Prov. lauza, Port, lousa, 0. Fr. lauze, 
originally signifying praise (Lat. laus), was applied 
afterwards in a specific sense to an epitaph on the 
dead, owing to the proverbially laudatory style of 
such inscriptions ; then, by a natural transition of 
meaning, it came to denote, not merely the epitaph, 
but the tombstone itself; and finally, losing all 
remembrance of its origin, any square flag-stone. 
Compare the Spanish lauda, a tomb-stone." 

Remarkably parallel, too, is the course which 

1 'Achievement,' from Fr. achever (q.d., a-chef-ment) is something 
brought to a head, or consummated, a success, the opposite of Fr. 
mechef, meschef, Eng. ' mischief,' a headless and unfinished under- 
taking, or one that comes to an unhappy end, a misfortune. 

8 M. Scheler, Diez. 


has been run by another word, nearly related to 
this last. The Old French losenge, lozenge, It. 
lusinga, Pro v. lauzenga (from lauzar, to praise, 
Lat. laudare), denoted first of all flattery, com- 
mendation; then the praises, devices, or arms of 
a family depicted and emblazoned on a shield; 
then the shape of a shield abstracted from all 
consideration of its contents, a quadrilateral or 
diamond-shaped figure <^>. ' Lozange or spancle 
(spangyl) lorale' (Prompt. Parvulorum). 'Lozenge, 
a little square cake of preserved herbs, flowers, &c. ; 
also a quarrel of a glasse window ; anything of 
that form.' How little conscious we are, as we 
suck the neat, little, sugary tablet of the confec- 
tioner — the only meaning that ' lozenge ' has now 
for most men — that its name was once a word of 
dignity that called up images of heraldic splendour 
and sepulchral pomp. 1 

We may compare with this the word 6 blazon,' 
the shield on which a coat-of-arms is displayed 

1 The confusion we here see arising, and transition of meaning 
from the honour due to the dead to the mere figure or outward 
material form which that honour at times has assumed, may per- 
haps help us to explain Spenser's use of ' herse ' in the sense of 
ceremonial generally in those verses of the Faerie Queene where, 
during the solemn service of the church — 

' The faire Damzel from the holy herse, 
Her loyesicke hart to other thoughts did steale' (III. ii. 48) ; 

unless, indeed, the poet in his own mind connected that word with 
another, which he also employs, 'hersall,' for rehearsal, or with the 
verb hery, to honour or worship. ' heavie herse,' in the Shep- 
heards Calender (November, 1. 61), is explained in the contemporary 
annotations of his friend Edward Kirke, to be ' the solemne obsequie 
in f uneralles.' 

238 TIMBRE. 

(Fr. blason, Prov. blezo). It formerly meant the 
armorial bearings themselves, as the means by 
which the honour and rank of the family are 
blazed or blazoned forth, their praise or commen- 
dation, with an oblique allusion, perhaps, to the 
warm and glowing tints in which the arms were 
limned or illuminated. Cotgrave defines blasonner 
1 to blaze Armes ; also, to praise, extoll, commend ; 
or, to publish the praises, divulge the perfections, 
proclaime the vertues of.' 

And not unlike is the history of the French word 
timbre, a postage label. It formerly denoted a 
shield impressed with a device or coat-of-arms ; 
earlier still, it signified a coat-of-arms, and espe- 
cially a helmet, Sp. timbre ; and the helmet itself 
was so termed from its resemblance to a brass 
bell or kettledrum, utensils which would serve 
that turn at a pinch, as well as Mambrino's famous 
helmet. Timbre, in the sense of a bell, is akin to 
timbon, l a kind of brasen drum ; ' tympan, a ' tim- 
brel ' or ' tabour ' (see Cotgrave, s.vv.); Lat. tym- 
panum, Gk. tumpanon, a drum. 

' Halo.' — This name for the misty circle which 
sometimes forms around the moon and the sun has 
come to us, as is well known, from the Greek. In 
that language holds (a\a>s), or aloe (aXcorj), was used 
to denote any enclosed plot of ground, especially one 
enclosed for a thrashing-floor. This holds, or floor, 
from the constant revolving motion of the oxen 

HALO. 239 

employed in thrashing out the grain, naturally as- 
sumed a circular shape ; so the word, from the as- 
sociated idea of rotundity, came to be transferred 
to the discs of the sun and moon, and finally, in a 
specific sense, to the bright encircling ring which 
we still call a ' halo.' I mention this now in 
order to direct attention to the curiously similar 
way in which synonymous terms have arisen in 
other languages. In German, hof, which is the 
ordinary word for an enclosure, plot, or courtyard, 
is used also for a halo, and for a dark circle round 
the eyes. A common north-country word for a 
halo is burr, which is also found under the forms 
brugh, brough, bruff} Proverbial sayings are — ' Far 
burr near rain ; ' 

' About the moon there is a brugh, 
The weather will be cauld and rough.' 2 

This, however, is only a derived sense of the 
word brugh, which is applied to circular forts or bar- 
rows. It is the Anglo-Saxon burh, beorh, or burgh, 3 
a court, fortress, or castle. Brother Geoffry the 
Grammarian, in his ancient i English-Latin Dic- 
tionary ' (about 1440), gives ' burwhe, sercle (bur- 

1 Fide'Ferguson, Dialect of Cumberland,p. 16; Jamieson, Forby, &c. 

2 Swainson, Weather Folk-Lore, p. 186. 

3 The change of pronunciation from brugh, burgh, to bruff, is not 
uncommon — e. g., ' bethoft ' is an old spelling of bethought, 
'thof' of though, 'faff of fought. 'Furlough' is the Dutch 
verlof. Ancient forms are trow = trough, cowe — cough, rowe 
= rough. In provincial dialects buff = bough, plufF = plough, 
bawft = bought, thoft = thought. In old writers we find taught 
rhyming with aloft, and daughter with after. 


rowe), orbiculus,' 1 as well as ' burrche, towne 
(burwth, burwe, burrowe), burgus.' In Arabic, 
ddrat, meaning a bouse, dwelling, circular place, 
or round beap of sand, is used also for a balo 
round tbe moon. This brigbt pbenomenon was 
called by tbe Romans area — a word wbicb runs 
exactly parallel witb tbe Greek holds, meaning, 
(1) a plot of ground, (2) a thrashing-floor, 
(3) a balo round one of tbe beavenly bodies. A 
similar luminous appearance encompassing tbe 
bead of a saint in Cbristian art is termed an 
i aureole,' mediasval Lat. aureola. Tins is gene- 
rally imagined to represent tbe classical Latin 
aureola (sc. corona), a diminutive of aurea, and to 
mean ' a golden circlet,' as indeed it is generally 
depicted. It is bigbly probable, bowever, tbat, 
not aureola, but areola (a little balo), 2 a diminutive 
of area, is tbe true and original form, and tbat tbe 
usual orthography is due to a mistaken connec- 
tion with aurum, gold, just as for the same reason 
urina became, in Italian, auri?ia; 3 It. arancio be- 
came Fr. orange, L. Lat. 2 ooma cairantia ; Gk. 
oreichalcos became Lat. aurichalcum. This is cer- 
tainly more likely than that it is a diminutive of 

1 Promptorium Parvulorum. The burr of a lanc\ a projecting ring 
to protect the hand, is no doubt the same word (vide Way's note s.v.) 
The 0. Eug. term was ' trendel.' ' Wunderlic trendel weaiS ate- 
owed abutanpare sunnan.' A.-Sax. trendel, a circle, Dorset trendel, 
a round tub. 

2 Areola [in anatomy] is the circle of the Pap or Teat ' (Bailey). 

3 ' From its yellow colour ' (Florio), q.d. aurea aqua. 


aura, a luminous breath or exhalation, which is 
the view put forward by Didron in his ' Christian 
Iconography' (p. 107). He quotes a passage from 
an apocryphal treatise, ' De Transitu B. Marias 
Virginis,' which states that ' a brilliant cloud ap- 
peared in the air, and placed itself before the 
Virgin, forming on her brow a transparent crown, 
resembling the aureole or halo which surrounds 
the rising moon ' (p. 137). Here, obviously, areola 
would have been the more correct word to have 
employed, and it is the one which recommended 
itself to De Quincey. He writes — 

1 In some legends of saints we find that they were born with 
a lambent circle or golden areola about their heads.' 

Works, vol. xv. p. 39. 

So correct a writer would not have applied the 
superfluous epithet of ' golden ' to this i superna- 
tural halo,' as he subsequently terms it, if the 
word were to him only another form of aureola. 

The aureole and nimbus must not be considered 
peculiar to Christian symbolism, as they existed, 
not only amongst the Greeks and Romans, 1 but even 
amongst the Hindus and Egyptians. 2 Mr Paley, in 
his commentary on iEschylus (Suppl. 637), sug- 
gests a curious origin for the nimbus which 
surrounds the heads of the saints. He maintains 
that it is identical with the metallic plate called 

1 Didron, Christian Iconography, p. 132. 

2 Ibid., p. 146 seq. 


meniscus, which was placed over Grecian statues, 

originally for the purpose of protecting them from 

the defilements of birds, 1 afterwards as a mere 

customary adornment. Clement of Alexandria, 

when arguing with the heathens, taunts them with 

this fact, that the swallows were in the habit of 

perching most unceremoniously on the statues of 

their gods, paying no respect either to Olympian 

Zeus, or Epidaurian Asclepius, or even to Athene 

Polias, or the Egyptian Serapis, and he marvels 

that this had not taught them the senselessness of 

images. 2 In the apocryphal Epistle of Jeremy 

the same argument is directed against the idols of 

Babylon — 

' Upon their bodies and heads sit bats, swallows, and birds, 
and the cats also. By this ye may know that they are no 
gods : therefore fear them not.' 3 

1 Mt)vI<tkos (Aristoph., Aves, 1114). 

From his use of the word in 'Queen Mary' (act v. sc. 2), it 
might be supposed that Tennyson connected ' aureole ' with 
aurum — 

'Our Clarence there 
Sees ever such an aureole round the Queen, 
It gilds the greatest wronger of her peace, 
Who stands the nearest to her.' 

2 Exhortation to Heathen, ch. iv. 

3 Baruch vi. 22, 23. 

( 243 ) 



There are few words in the language more puz- 
zling than the word e clever,' when we attempt to 
trace it to its origin. Three derivations present 
themselves. Each, if it stood alone, and could be 
considered apart from the others, has much to 
recommend it ; but their conflicting claims give rise 
to no little perplexity in the mind of a candid in- 
quirer, and render a judicial decision between 
them a matter of considerable difficulty. 

First of all, there is the Anglo-Saxon gleav, 1 
skilful, wise, and gleav-ferhdh, wise-minded, saga- 
cious. The meaning seems to suit admirably. 
But unfortunately, it is just this close approxima- 
tion to the present signification of ' clever ' that 
invalidates its claim. In the earlier stages of its 
use, that word was applicable, not to the mind, but 
to the body — not to mental, but manual dexterity 
— not to intellectual, but always bodily activity. 

1 Goth, glaggvus, 0. Norse gloggr, N. H. Ger. Mug, have been 
compared (Diefenbach), and Irish glica, 0. Irish gliccu (W. Stokes, 
Irish Glosses, p. 130). W. glew, North Eng. glegg, quick, smart. 

244 CLEVER. 

The reader will no doubt be surprised to learn 
that a word so useful, and so commonly employed 
in daily conversation, is comparatively of recent 
introduction, and only crept in (to the written lan- 
guage, at least) about two centuries ago. It is 
dangerous, I know, to speak dogmatically as to 
the first appearance of any word ; but I believe it 
will be found that i clever ' has not been traced in 
our literature further back than to the time of 
the Kestoration, or thereabouts. It may be met, 
indeed, in the works of Swift, of Burnet, of South, 
and of Samuel Butler ; but it does not once occur 
in Milton's poems, nor in our English Bible. It 
will be looked for in vain in the poems of Pope, 
though it does occur in one of Swift's ' Imitations 
of Horace,' which is usually printed amongst 
Pope's works, on account of some additional 
verses he appended to it. It does not appear in 
Shakspere — nor in any of his contemporaries, so 
far as I am aware. The adjective that seems 
generally to have done duty in its stead is the 
term ' ingenious/ So late as 1684 Sir Thomas 
Browne, in his tract on the Saxon tongue, includes 
' clever' among the c words of no general reception 
in England, but of common use in Norfolk, or 
peculiar to the East Angle counties.' Hickes, in 
his ' Anglo-Saxon Grammar,' referring to these 
words of Browne, is content to leave ' clever, 
cultus, eleganSj with a few others, unelucidated, 

CLEVER. 245 

as being altogether beyond his ken. 1 Some 
twenty years earlier, Skinner has c clever, cleverly,' 
in his ' Etymologicon ' (1667), and defines them 
'Dextrd, Agiliter' It is not to be found, however, 
in Sherwood's ' English-French Dictionary' (1660), 
nor in Minsheu's l Guide into the Tongues ' (1627). 2 
Mr Oliphant 3 supposes that he has discovered 
the word in use at a date very much earlier 
indeed — no later, in fact, than about the middle 
of the thirteenth century. Undoubtedly, a word 
' cliuer ' does appear in a poem of that period, 
printed by Dr Morris for the Early English Text 
Society, in his ' Old English Miscellany ' (p. 3), 
but the question is, whether there is anything 
more than its resemblance in form to connect it 
with the one we are considering? The writer 
is impressing on his reader the necessity of divest- 
ing himself of his sins by shrift and amendment 
of life, because then the devil will flee from him, 
as the adder (neddre) always does from a naked 
man. But, he adds — 

1 On the clothede the neddre is cof (bold), 
And the deuel cliuer on sinnes' — LI. 220, 221. 

i.e., the adder does not fear to attack the clothed, 
and so upon sins the devil is ' ready-to-take-hold,' 4 

1 'Utpote nos prorsus latentia.' 

2 Minsheu only gives clever or diver, an herb, or a chopping-knif e. 

3 Standard English, p. 126. 

4 So Stratmann, ' cliver, from cliven (?), clever, tenax(?). — Diet, 
of 0. Eng. Language. 

246 CLEVER. 

or, if we might forge a term for the occasion, is 
' clutchy.' Accordingly, < clever ' would mean 
primarily 'apt to lay hold on with the cleyes, 
claws, clivers, or clutches,' < quick in grasping,' 
and would be near akin to the Anglo-Saxon clavu, 
clea, a claw (which is from clifan, to adhere or 
cleave to), just as the Scotch clench (agile, clever) 
is from cleuck (a claw or clutch), and gleg (clever) 
from glac (to seize). 

This, the second derivation referred to above, is 
the theory propounded by Mr Wedgwood, and the 
one now generally approved of. There is yet 
another origin, which, though set aside by him in 
favour of the foregoing, admits of a great deal 
being said in its favour. I propose to examine it 
now at some length. It is that ' clever ' is 
merely a modern corruption of the very common 
Old English adjective ' deliver,' which meant 
active and nimble. 1 The primary signification of 
' clever ' was quite the same ; for it should be 
remembered throughout that the notion of mental 
quickness and capacity, or keenness and versatility 
of the intellectual powers, which we now attach 
to the word, is but a secondary one, and that it 
formerly imported personal agility, nimbleness, or 
dexterity — the very sense which ' deliver ' always 
bears in old authors. It will be convenient to 

So Professor Craik, English of Shakspere. 

CLEVEK. 247 

consider — (1) the word c deliver/ (2) the possible 
transmutation of ' deliver ' into c clever/ (3) the 
word ' clever.' 

1. * Delyvere (or quycke in beynesse) ' is de- 
fined to be vivax in the ' Promptorium Parvu- 
lorum,' an English-Latin dictionary compiled 
about 1440. In a note on this, the editor, Mr 
Way, quotes from Palsgrave, ' delyver of ones 
lymmes, as they that prove mastryes, souple, agile,' 
and from Thomas, ' snello, quicke, deliver.' 

' Delivre de sa personne,' says Cotgrave (1660), 
is 6 an active, nimble wight, whose joynts are not 
tied with points ; one that can weild his limbs at 

Skinner (1667) mentions < deliver' as not yet 
quite obsolete in his time, and defines it as 6 agile,' 
free and ready for action, almost exactly the same 
definition as he gives elsewhere for ' clever, 
cleverly ' (viz., Dextrd, Agiliter). 

It is from the verb delivrer, Lat. deliberare, 

to free or loose ; and so a deliver man was one 

unfettered in his motions and actions, or nimble, 

like Chaucer's squire, who in stature 

' Was of even lengthe 
And wonderly deliver and grete of strengthe.' 

Prologue, Canterbury Tales. 

The same writer says — 

4 Certes, the goodes of the body ben hele of body, strengthe, 
deliverjiess, beautee, gentrie, franchise.' Persones Tale. 

' Quicke and deliver ' is the explanatory gloss 

248 CLEVER. 

that Kirke appended to these words of his friend 

Spenser — 

' He Vaa so wimble and so wight 
From bough to bough he lepped light.' 

Shepheards Calender (March). 

I add some other instances, to show how the 
word was used — 

' Wyte, or delyvyr, or swyfte (wyghte), Agilis.' 

Promptorium Parvulorum (1440). 

Compare with this — 

' Wicht, stout, valiant, clever, active, or swift.' 
' Deliverly, claverly, nimbly.' 

Glossary to Gawin Douglas (1710). 

' Cried was, that thei shulde come 
Unto the game all and some 
Of hem that ben deliver and wight, 
To do such maistrie as thei might.' 

Gower, Conf. Am., Bk. VIII. 

'Papyonns . . . taken more scharpely the Bestes and 
more delyverly than don houndes.' 

Mandeville (ed. Halliwell), p. 29. 
' Thre small shyppes escaped by theyr delyver saylynge.' 

Fabyan (sub. an. 1338). 

1 Swim with your bodies 
And carry it sweetly and deliverly.' 

Two Noble Kinsmen, iii. 5. 
' Hereto he is one the lightest, delyuerest, best-spoken, fairest 
archer.' Paston Letters, XLVI. vol. ii. p. 93. 

' Deliuerly on fute gat he, 
And drew his suerd owt, and thaim mete.' 

Barbour, The Bruce, Bk. V. 1. 506. 
1 Bot the gud steid, that wald nocht stand 
Lansyt furth deliuerly.' Ibid., Bk. VI. 1. 84 

The shorter form liver (Fr. livre, Lat. liber) was 
also in use in the sense of quick, active, e.g. — 

CLEVER. 249 

1 But Eobin he lope & Eobin he threw, 
he lope over stocke and stone ; 
hut those that saw Eobin Hood run 
said he was a liver old man/ 

Percy Folio MS., vol. i. p. 17. 

2. The process of change. If c deliver ' be 
spoken quickly, and the first syllable slurred in 
the pronunciation, the resultant form ' d'liver,' or 
6 d'lever,' would inevitably tend to become ' clever,' 
the combination dl being to most ears hardly dis- 
tinguishable from gl or cL Nor is the extrusion 
of a short vowel from the beginning of a word at 
all uncommon. Thus our ' plush ' is the French 
peluche ; i platoon ' is the French and Spanish pelo- 
ton; 1 i clock/ a black-beetle, is for 6 gellock ' (Bav. 
kieleck, 0. Ger. ckuleich) ; ' sloop ' is another form 
of ' shallop,' Fr. chaloupe ; i sprite ' is otherwise 
' spirite,' or f spirit ; ' the Italian bricco, an ass, is 
the Portuguese burrico, Sp. borrico, Lat. buricus ; 
Holsteinjp/?Y,sc/$ (clever) is for politisch, and klur for 
couleur. So ' remnant' is for ' remanent,' ' fortnight' 
for ' fortenight,' ' surplice' for £ sur-pellice,' and such 
pronunciations as b'lieve, med'cine, may often be ob- 
served. Compare Fr. vrai beside verus, ' very,' 0. 
Fr. verai; vrille beside the Italian verrina, verricello. 
In his directions for pronunciation prefixed to his 

1 Compare glades for gelacies ; Fr. Jlon, in Cotgrave an old 
form of felon; lourd, a jest, in 0. Fr. hehourd, bohnrd. So ' crown ' 
is for corone ; ' crowner ' (Shaks.) for coroner ; ' clown ' for colone ; 
1 jilt ' for jillet. In Dutch, krent = Ger. Tcorinthc, a currant ; Tcronie 
(jcaronie) = Fr. charogne, It. carogna; pruih (Helig. priig) = Ger. 
perriicke, a periwig. 

250 CLEVER. 

Dictionary, Webster lays down a principle which, 
however questionable, is very apposite to the point 
in hand — 

1 The letters cl answering to hi are pronounced as if written 
tl; clear, clean, are pronounced ^ear, tlean. Gl is pronounced 
dl, glory is pronounced dlory.' Rule XXIII. 

In Irish, Mr Joyce informs us, the letters d and g 
when aspirated (dh and gh) are sounded exactly 
alike, so that it is impossible to distinguish them in 
speaking. Consequently, in names of places gh is 
now very generally substituted for the older dh* 
Thus Gargrim should be Gardrim, being the Irish 
Gearrdhruim (short ridge), and Fargrim should be 
Fardrim, Irish Fardhruim (outer ridge). 1 

In illustration of this principle, by which tl, tr, 
become cl, cr, or hi, kr, and dl, dr, become gl, gr, 
I append the following instances : — 

In Cotgrave (s.v. Niquet) tlick stands for what 
we now write ( click.' Trane is the Danish for 
our l crane,' just as I have heard a child say trown, 
when it meant 4 crown.' K Eng. twill for ' quill.' 

Ankelers (for anklers) is an archaic way of 
writing ' antlers.' 2 

Ascla, a splinter, in Provencal, is for astla, 
from L. Lat. astula (Diez). 

Buskle is found as a collateral form of 'bustle.' 

1 Irish Names of Places, p. 54. 

2 Vide quotation in Soane's New Curiosities of Literature, vol. 
ii. p. 138. 

(JLEVER. 251 

-do, -cro, -cla, &c., a Latin suffix, is said to be 
for -tlo, -tro, -tla, &c l 

Craindre, 0. Fr. crembre (to fear), is from the 
Latin tremere (Diez). 

6 Huckleberry,' also ' hurtle-berry.' 

* Scrub,' Dan. skrub, is the Dutch strobbe. 

Schioppo (It.), a blow, is from the Latin stlop- 
pus, through a form scloppus (Diez). 

Snickle (prov. Eng.), a noose or snare, is some- 
times spelt i snitle.' 

Ruckle is another form of ' ruttle.' 2 

Skinkle (Scot.), a spark, is the Latin scintilla. 

Sparkelen (Dut.) also presents the form spar- 
telen. 3 Cleveland tattling = tackling, twilt = quilt. 

' Trickle ; corresponds to the Old Norse tritill. 

Tranckle is also found as trantel} 

Turckle is an old way of writing ' turtle.' 5 
Vecckio, veglio (It.), is from the L. Lat. veclus, 
i.e. vetlus for vetulus, old (Diez). 

Similarly, Suckling the poet figures as ' Sir 

John Sutlin ' in ' Strafford's Letters ' (vol. ii. p. 

150) ; Ballinclay, a townland in Wexford, is 

otherwise Ballintlea ; and Twit'nam was Pope's 

favourite spelling of Twickenham — 

' All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain 
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain,' 

Ep. to Arbuthnot, 1. 21. 

1 Vide the Academy, No. 30, p. 408. 

2 Philological Soc. Trans., 1857, p. 127. 

3 Ibid., p. 108. 

4 Percy Folio MS., vol. i. p. 62. 

6 Chester Mysteries (Shakspere Soc), vol. i. p. 193. 

252 CLEVER. 

Instances of the d and g sounds interchanging 
are the following : — 

'Brangle' (for brandle), (Fr.) brandiller, to 

Glukus{(ak. y\vKvs) compared with Lat. (dlucis) 
dulcis. 1 

Gragea (Port.) = Sp. dragea, Fr. dragte (sweet- 

' Grisly,' A. -Sax. grislic, also dryslic. 

Gnopkos (Gk. yvofos), also (W$o?) dnophos. 

* Grains, brewer's/ — a corruption of ' brewer's 
drains ' (Wedgwood). 

6 Mangle ' is the German mandel 

i Shingle' is the German sckindel, Lat. scindula. 

6 Tingle,' 0. Eng. dindle, Dut. tintelen. 

Ruscum (Lat.), sometimes spelt rustum. 

Just, then, as ' brickie ' is another form of 
< brittle,' 2 as e tickle ' (for tittle) answers to the 

1 Philological Soc. Trans., 1860, p. 152. 

2 'Brickie,' that may be easily broken, from A. -Sax. brecan, to 
break, is a secondary form of • brittle.' 

'Brickie, fragilis ' (Levin's Manipulus, 1570). 
'Freyl, and brokulle, or brytylle ... or brekyll' (Prompt. 

' Th' Altare on the which this image staid, 
Was, great pitie ! built of brickie clay.' 

Spenser, Raines of Time, 1. 49S. 

In the early copies of the Authorised Version the expression 
'brickie vessels' occurs (Wisdom of Solomon xv. 13), but the 
more recent editions have changed it to ' brittle.' 

Vide also Camden's Britaunia (fol.), p. 515 ; Percy Household 
Book, p. xiv. ; Spoon and Sparrow, p. 147. 
' Lett the warld pas 
It is ever in drede and brekylle as glas. 

Towneley Mysteries, Pastures. 

CLEVER. 253 

Latin titillare, and the Latin verb anclare comes 
from the Greek antlein (avrXeiv), so, by analogy, 
i clever ' would naturally arise from ' d'lever ' 
(deliver), though it must be admitted we would 
have expected the form gliver. A doubtful word 
in one of the 6 Paston Letters,' which the original 
editor, Sir John Fenn, confessed himself unable 
to explain, seems to have preserved for us the 
transitional form. 1 

1 If it be soo y* all tliynge go olyver currant vf t mor to 
remembre that ther is owt of that Contre .... that woll 
and schall do my lorde s r uyse.' 

Letter of John Paston, Knt, I 5 Nov. 1470. 

' Olyver current,' — ' This appears to be the word 
in the original,' says Fenn. I would confidently 
suggest that the o in i olyver ' is an incorrect 
transcription of a d, either imperfectly formed or 
partially obliterated, and so the passage would 
give an easy reading. ' If it be so that all things 
go dlyver current ' — that is, go freely, unimpededly 
current, run smooth. ' Clever-through ' in the sense 
of straight- through, clean- or slick-through is still 

As examples of the t and k sounds interchanging, compare the 
following : — Bat, 0. Eng. bak (Prompt. Parv.) ; nut =Lat. nuc-s 
(nux) ; Gk. tis (tis) =Lat. quis; moitie, metier, pronounced moikie, 
mekier in French Canada ; flicker = flitter ; damasco in Italian, 
also damasto ; smackering = smattering (Ward, Sermons); Ger. 
kartoffel, prov. G-r. tartoffel = It. tartvfola ; cider = Lat. siccra, 
Gk. sikera (aiKepa), Heb. shicdr ; Chietins, an Old French form of 
Theatins (Cotgrave) ; Tearlach, the Gaelic form of Charles ; Sp. 
totovia = Port, cotovia, Fr. cochevis, the tufted lark. Vide also Philo- 
logical Soc. Trans., 1856, p. 230; Spoon and Sparrow, p. 142; 
Joyce, Irish Names of Places, p. 55. 
1 CIX. vol. iv. p. 451. 

254 CLEVER. 

in provincial use, and such phrases as ' He escaped 
clean and clever ' may be adduced for comparison. 
3. It remains that we should consider the 
modern term c clever.' As being a vulgar or 
slipshod pronunciation, it appears at first to have 
been used only in familiar discourse or less digni- 
fied prose, like other contracted forms, as i don't,' 
' can't,' &c. Even in Johnson's time it was, at 
least in part of its usage, ' a low term, scarcely 
ever used but in burlesque or conversation.' He 
defines it as meaning (1) well-shaped, handsome 
— e.g., i a tight clever wench' (Arbuthnot) ; (2) 
fit, proper ; (3) dexterous. In the provincial 
English of the eastern shires, ' clever ' still signifies 
6 good-looking,' according to Halliwell, and also 
' nimble, neat, dextrous, lusty,' according to Ken- 
net. The latter is the meaning in the following 
passage from Allan Eamsay : — 

1 Auld Steen led out Maggie Forsyth — 

He was her am guid-brither ; 
And ilka ane was unco blythe, 
To see auld fouk sae clever.' 

Christ's Kirk on the Green, canto ii. 

Mr Wilkin, in a note on Sir Thomas Browne's 
mention of ' clever,' states that ' claver, as it is 
commonly pronounced, is used by the peasantry of 
Norfolk in speaking of any one who is kind and 
liberal — e.g., He always behave very claver to 
the poor.' Swift uses the word in this significa- 
tion — 

CLEVER. 255 

' But here a Grievance seems to lie, 
All this is mine but till I die ; 
I can't but think 'twould sound more clever, 
To me and to my Heirs for ever.' 

Imit. of Horace, Bk. II. satire 6. 

This meaning, it will be observed, flows very 
naturally from ' deliver/ free-handed, liberal ; but 
it is not easy to see how it could arise from an 
original significant of clutching and seizing. 
Moore mentions that it is a term applied to any- 
thing handsome or good-looking, as l a clever horse' 
— indeed, ' a clever roadster,' and i a clever 
hunter ' are still current phrases in the language 
of the horse-mart. 

In the following it is used of dogs : — 

' But if my puppies ance were ready, 
Which I gat on a bonny lady : 
They'll be baith diver, keen, and beddy.' 

The Last Dying Words of Bonny Heck. 

In some parts of America the word takes a 

wider range of meaning, and expresses courtesy 

and affability, while in New England it connotes 

honesty and respectabilitv. An English lady in 

New York, Mr Bartlett informs us, was once 

recommended to take a girl into her service as 

being i clever, but not smart.' On trial, she 

found her, in accordance with this character, to 

be merely dull and inoffensive. 1 

1 In America ' clever ' is generally used in the sense of amiable. 
' He is clever certainly, but I should say he was decidedly silly.' 
Some purists maintain the ordinary English meaning of the word, 

256 CLEVER. 

To assist us in appreciating the force and ac- 
ceptation of i clever' in standard English, I select 
the following passages from writers who speak 
with authority : — 

'Cleverness is a certain knack or aptitude at doing certain 
things which depend more on a particular adroitness and off- 
hand readiness than on force or perseverance, such as making 
puns, making epigrams, making extempore verses, mimicking 
the company, mimicking a style, &c. 

' Cleverness is either liveliness and smartness, or something 
answering to sleight of hand.' 

Hazlitt, Table- Talk, On the Indian Jugglers. 

Very similar, both in thought and diction, are the 
remarks which De Quincey makes in endeavour- 
ing to depreciate the popular reputation of the ad- 
mirable Crichton. Though not defining, or even 
introducing the word in question, they serve to 
illustrate and finally lead up to it. 

' To have a quickness in copying or mimicking other men, 
and in learning to do dexterously what they did clumsily, os- 
tentatiously to keep glittering before men's eyes a thauma- 
turgic versatility, such as that of a rope-dancer, or of an Indian 
juggler, in petty accomplishments, was a mode of the very 
vulgarest ambition.' 

This hero, in fact, he holds, was l admirable ' 

rather for his 2westige in the primary sense of that 

word (Lat. prcestigice) than for any originality or 

true productive power. An observation altogether 

suitable for our purpose is added a few lines later — 

which often leads to ambiguity, so that it is not uncommon to hear 
the question asked, ' You say he is clever ; do you mean English 
clever or American clever ?' (C. A. Bristed, Cambridge Essays 
1855, p. 65). 

CLEVER. 257 

1 The pretentions actually put forward on his behalf simply 
instal him. as a cleverish or dexterous ape.' 

Works, vol. xiv. p. 423. 

' By cleverness,' says Coleridge, ' which I dare not with Dr 
Johnson call a low word, while there is a sense to be expressed 
which it alone expresses, I mean a comparative readiness in the 
invention and use of means for the realising of objects and 
ideas — often of such ideas which the man of genius only 
could have originated, and which the clever man perhaps 
neither fully comprehends nor adequately appreciates, even at 
the moment that he is prompting or executing the machinery 
of their accomplishment. In short, cleverness is a sort of 
genius for instrumentality. It is the brain in the hand. In 
literature cleverness is more frequently accompanied by wit, 
genius and sense by humour.' 

He assigns cleverness as a characteristic quality to 
the French, genius to the Germans and English 
(The Friend, vol. ii. pp. 133, 134, ed. Moxon). 

To sum up in a few words. ' Clever/ in all its 
original significations, as (1) nimble, active, dex- 
terous ; (2) handsome ; (3) generous, closely cor- 
responds to the ancient 6 deliver,' and in the 
latter two to the kindred Latin liberalise while 
the change of form is by means incapable of ex- 
planation. A well-established word in our early 
literature, i deliver ' seems to have grown obsolete 
in the Elizabethan age, though, like many another 
good old term, it still lived on in the northern and 
other provincial dialects. Scott, for instance, puts 
the word into the mouth of Evan Dhu, when he 
describes young Waverley as ' clean-made and de- 
liver.' The two forms of the word appear never to 

258 CLEVER. 

have overlapped one another, or to have co-existed 
in the written language. During the period of 
transformation both seem to have dropped out of 
use. ' Deliver ' for a while is lost to sight, and 
next turns up in the shape of ( clever,' clipped and 
defaced during its currency among the populace, 
but still of sterling metal, and having the ring of 
the ancient coin. From being so long relegated to 
the commonalty, this old friend in disguise was 
regarded with suspicion at first when it began to 
appear in respectable society ; it met but a tardy 
recognition, and with difficulty, by slow degrees, 
gained an admittance as a denizen in the republic 
of letters. 

It is only quite recently that 6 cleverness ' has 
been permitted to recover the position which ' de- 
liverness' once occupied. 

( 259 ) 



The words for ' night ' are identical, I believe, in 
every language belonging to the Indo- Germanic 
family. (Eng.) night, (Icel., Dan., and Swed.) 
natty (Ger. and Dut.) nacht, (Goth.) nahts, (Welsh 
and Bret.) nos, (Slav.) noc, (Russ.) nocyi, (Irish) 
nochd, (Fr.) nuit, (It.) notte, (Sp.) noche, (Wal- 
lach.) nogte, (Lett.) nakts, (Lith.) naktis, (Lat.) 
noct-s (nox), (Gk.) nukt-s (vug), (Sans.) nakta, 
nakti, from the root nag (or nak), to perish, accord- 
ing to Pictet, because the night in some sort is 
regarded as being the death of the day. 1 i As 
the name of " day," from the root div (bright- 
ness), is associated with the ideas of heaven and 
God, so the name of " night " is with those of 

1 Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 587. 

Benfey conjectures that the primary meaning of the root naq 
was to hasten, then to hasten away, vanish, 'perire.' Some have 
traced a connection with the Shemitic, comparing (Arab.) nalcay, 
kill, injure, (Heb.) nakah ( n ^), to slay (Davies in Philolog. Soc. 
Trans., 1854, p. 261). We may doubtless compare the Anglo-Saxon 
hnaeccan, to kill, (Dut.) nekken, (L. Dut.) nikker, the hangman, (0. 
Norse) nikr, (Swed.) neck, (Norweg.) nok, a bloodthirsty water- 
sprite {cf. j Old Nick '), knacker, and perhaps knock (Thorpe, 
Northern Mythology, vol. ii. p. 22), Icel. ndr i Goth, naus, corpse. 


destruction and misfortune.' It has the same root 
which appears in the Greek nik-ros (ve/cpos, dead), 
nSk-us (ve/cvs, a corpse), Lat noc-ere (to hurt), 
nec-are (to kill), nec-s (nex, death), per-nic-ies 
(destruction), and perhaps ve-ne(c)-num (poison). 
Thus the season of darkness carries involved in its 
name the associated ideas of hurtfulness and un- 
wholesomeness, as it were noct-s quod nocet ; nuit 
parcequ *elle nuit ; i night ' because it noieth (to use 
an Old English verb), or, as Spenser words it, is 
the ' mother of anoyance.' * Nearly related to it, 
therefore, in English are the words nox-ious, 
noisome, per-me-ious, and venomous ; so that Mr 
Coventry Patmore is etymologic ally correct in 
speaking of i the midnight's noxious mystery,' 
' night's evil sanctity.' We may compare the Sans- 
krit vasati, vdsura (night, lit. c the dead season '), 
from the root vas or vast (to kill), whence also come 
vasra (death), vasu (barren, 'waste'). — Pictet. 

Now it certainly seems an impressive and 
solemn discovery, in more respects than one, that 
' night,' when traced to its ultimate origin, im- 
ports ' the season of death.' 2 One reason, no 
doubt, and the simplest, why it was called so, is 

1 Thus it seems that nox a noccndo is one of the few etymologies 
advanced by the old Latin philologers which has a substratum of 
truth (Servius, Isidore, Papias, &c.) Catullus, according to Varro, 
had made the statement, ' Quod omnia nisi interveniat sol prima 
obriguerint, quod nocet nox ' (Vossius, Etymologicon, s.v.) 

2 Horace sometimes uses nox in the sense of death, e.g., ' Omnes 
una manet nox' (Odes, I. xxviii. 15). 

NIGHT. 261 

"because it is the time when * daylight dies ' 1 — 
when the setting sun, like a giant returned from 
his course, but vanquished, sinks down amid blood 
and fire upon his funeral pile in the west, till he 
altogether perishes from view. The chill and 
gloom and stillness which rapidly succeed, con- 
trasted with the cheerful bustle and warmth and 
splendours of the day, were felt by the saddened 
spirit to be a very death of nature. 

The approach of darkness presented itself to the 
imagination of the ancient Greeks as of an implac- 
able enemy following the footsteps of the sun in 
swift pursuit, as of a warrior pressing on inces- 
santly and irresistibly, and seizing immediately 
upon everything as the sun abandoned it. 2 To 
the modern Greeks basileuei, 'he is kingly,' ex- 
presses the pomp and state of the sinking luminary. 
What is with us a sunset, was to men in the 
myth-making ages the sun growing old, decaying, 
or dying. When he touched the horizon, he was 
conceived to cross the threshold of death, and to 
end his solitary life, struck by the powers of dark- 

1 The Basque ilhun, * twilight,' is from hill, dead, and egun, day 
(Morris, English Accidence, p. 2). 

Compare these words of Bishop Pearson's — ' The day dies into 
night, and is buried in silence and in darkness ; in the next morn- 
ing it appeareth again and reviveth, opening the grave of darkness, 
rising from the dead of night : this is a diurnal resurrection.' — 
' God has appointed the continual returns of night in order that He 
may so recall, and admonish us, every night, of the solitude and still- 
ness and darkness of the grave' (Williams, On the Passion, p. 437). 

2 Buttmann, Lexilogus, s.v. 6oos. 


ness ; l and it is this tragedy ' (remarks Max 
Muller), ' the tragedy of nature, which is the life- 
spring of all the tragedies of the ancient world.' 1 
So Shakspere speaks of night — 

1 Whose black contagious breath 
Already smokes around the burning crest 
Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun.' 2 

This, then, is one ohvious reason why * night ' 
was called the ' dead ' or c deadly season,' because 
it was the destroyer of the brilliant sun-god, and 
seemed to send forth a chilling breath over the 
whole realm of nature, which stilled all life and 
quenched all joy. 8 The prophet Amos very sub- 
limely describes c night ' as being ' the shadow of 
death,' and our own poets in their night-pieces 
have not failed to dwell upon this aspect of it. 

' All things are hush'd, as nature's self lay dead.' 4 

' Now o'er the one half world 
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse 
The curtain'd sleep.' 5 

1 M. Muller, Oxford Essays, 1856, pp. 40, 65, QQ. Vide also 
Lectures on Science of Language, 2d Series. 

2 King John, v. 4. 

3 Tertullian, in his treatise ' On the Resurrection/ has an eloquent 
passage on the interchange of darkness and light, of which the 
following is a part : — Dies moritur in noctem, et tenebris usque- 
quaque sepelitur. Funestatur mundi honor ; omnis substantia 
denigratur. Sordent, silent, stupent cuncta ; ubique justititium 
est, quies rerum. Ita lux amissa lugetur : et tamen rursus . . . 
reviviscit ; interficiens mortem suam, noctem ; rescindens sepul- 
turam suam, tenebras' (De Eesur. Carnis, cap. xii.) Cf. Thomson, 
Seasons (Autumn), 11. 1136-1145. 

4 Dryden, Conquest of Mexico. 

5 Macbeth, ii. 1. 

NIGHT. 263 

1 Darkness does the face of earth entomb 
When living light should kiss it.' x 

' Night, sable goddess, from her ebon throne, 
In ray less majesty now stretches forth 
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world. 
Silence how dead ! and darkness how profound ! 
Nor eye nor listening ear an object finds ; 
Creation sleeps : — 'tis as the general pulse 
Of life stood still, and nature made a pause, 
An awful pause ! prophetic of her end.' 2 

It is interesting to observe that the epithet of 
c dead ' is frequently also applied to ' night ' itself 
when its primitive meaning had been long forgot- 
ten. Thus Beaumont and Fletcher sing of 

' The dead night from underground, 
At whose rising mists unsound, 
Damps and vapours fly apace, 
Hovering o'er the wanton face 
Of these pastures, where they come 
Striking dead both bud and bloom.' 3 

Compare also the following : — 

' 'Tis yet dead night : yet all the earth is cloutcht 
In the dull, leaden hand of snoring sleep. 
No breath disturbs the quiet of the air, 
No spirit moves upon the breast of earth, 
Save howling dogs, night-crows, and screeching owls ; 
Save meagre ghosts, Piero, and black thoughts.' 

Marston, Antonio's Revenge, i. 1. 

1 Macbeth, ii. 4. 

2 Young, Night Thoughts. The same thought is found in Victor 
Hugo's Toilers of the Deep — ' It was that solemn and peaceful 
moment when the slumber of external things mingles with the 
sleep of living creatures, and night seems to listen to the beating 
of Nature's heart.' 

3 Faithful Shepherdess, ii. 1. 


' 'Tis night, dead night, and weary nature lies 
So fast, as if she never were to rise ; 
No breath of wind now whispers thro' the trees, 
No noise at land, nor murmur in the seas : 
Lean wolves forget to howl at night's pale noon, 
No wakeful dogs bark at the silent moon, 
Nor bay the ghosts that glide with horror by, 
To view the caverns where their bodies lie.' 

Zee, Theodosius. 

* Those damp, black, dead 
Nights in the Tower ; dead — with the fear of death — 
Too dead ev'n for a death-watch ! ' 

Tennyson, Queen Mary, iii. 5. 

Shakspere speaks of i the dead vast and middle 
of the night, ' elsewhere styling it ' the tragic 
melancholy night.' 1 But not only is the season 
of darkness death-like, it is really deadly, and 
tends towards death. Accordingly Night (JSTux) 
is personified by the Greek poet Hesiod to be the 
mother of a direful brood, of Fate (Moros), of 
dark Destruction (Ker), Woe (Oizus), and Death 
(Tkanatos) ; and Spenser credits her with an off- 
spring not less horrible. 

Everywhere we can trace a widespread feeling 
that night is an unfriendly and hostile power to 
man. * The night is no man's friend,' says an 
ancient German proverb. 2 The poetical name for 
it in Icelandic is Grima, apparently ' the grim ' 

1 2d Pt. Henry VI., iv. 1. 

2 Die Nacht ist keines Menschen Freund (Archbishop Trench, 
Proverbs and their Lessons, p. 54, 6th ed.). In Sanskrit druh, mis- 
chief, is used as a name of darkness, or the night (M. Muller, vol. 
ii. p. 454). 

NIGHT. 265 

and terrible one. 1 Its constant epithets in Homer 
are ' the evil/ 'the destructive,' 'the fearful;' 2 
and the greatest of our own poets has not hesi- 
tated to style it — 

' Horrid night, the child of Hell.' 3 

It is an unwholesome time, that seems to hold 
antipathy with all the powers of life and health. 
Then ' planets strike and fairy takes ' — then blast- 
ing, blight, and mildew do their mysterious and 
deadly work. 4 Under the depressing effect of its 

1 Unless, indeed, the word Grlma may be connected, not immedi- 
ately with grimmr, 'grim,' but with grom, 'grime,' Dan. grim, 
soot, in which case the name would signify 'the grimy one,' like 
Shakspere's ' collied night ' (Midsummer Night's Dream, i. 1), i.e., 
the sooty, coal-black night. 

2 NiJ£ Kauri, 6\oi], 6ot], diejdhe Nacht (Buttmann). A common 
euphemistic phrase in the Greek poets is ' the kindly or cheerful 
season ' (evcppovn). 

3 Shakespere, Henry V. Cf. — 

'Darkness, which ever was 
The dam of Horror, who does stand accursed 
Of many mortal millions.' Two Noble Kinsmen, v. 5. 

Spenser, in his fine description of 'griesly Night with visage 
deadly sad,' depicts her as ' in a foule blacke pitchy mantle clad,' 
and drawn by ' cole blacke steedes yborne of hellish brood ' (Faerie 
Queene, Bk. I. c. v. 20). 

In the curious old comedy of ' Lingua, or the Combate of the 
Tongue and the Five Sences for Superiorities (my copy is the quarto 
of 1632), there is a very pretty and poetical passage descriptive of 
the morning light, which 

1 At his first appearance puts to flight 
The ut-most Reliques of the hel-bome night.' Sig. F, recto. 

4 It is well known that microscopic forms of fungoid vegetation 
are intimately connected with the ravages of decay and death. Not 
only the destruction of timber by dry-rot, and of plants by blight 
and mould, but even many forms of cutaneous eruptions and zymo- 
tic diseases in the human subject, are attributable to the same 
morbid growth. Now ' light, indispensable to the well-being of all 
other plants, is hostile to the growth of fungi. Wherever the sun 
shines brightly, mould will not appear, or, at all events, flourish. 
It is essentially one of the unfruitful works of darkness ' (Macmillan, 
Ministry cf Nature, p. 63), 


vast overhanging pall the sick man tosses on 
his feverish bed, and longs for the dawning of 
the day. Many diseases first make themselves 
felt in the ' dead of night ; ' * pains and aches grow 
worse at the midnight hour ; and dying men, who 
have maintained the unequal struggle for breath 
during the cheerful hours of light, now sink and 
pass (Job xxvii. 20 ; xxxvi. 20). 2 We feel our- 
selves in a measure paralysed, our powers fettered, 
and our joys diminished, as the darkness gathers 
round us. We dread 

' Night's sepulchre, the universal home, 
"Where weakness, strength, vice, virtue, sunk supine, 
Alike in naked helplessness recline.' Byron. 

Jewish traditions tell with what intense dismay 
our first parents beheld the sun withdraw itself, 
and the shades of evening steal over the fallen 
earth. In Paradise, it was believed, they had 
never known the gloom of night. It was only on 
the day that they were driven forth into exile that 
they for the first time experienced the loss of 
the light and the curse of darkness. The guilty 
pair, utterly disconsolate, lay on the ground all 

1 The Greek word for 'disease,' nostis (pocros), comes from the 
same root as ' night,' viz., nag . The Zend daosha = night, and evil, 
mischievous (Pictet, vol. i. p. 468). 

8 Sir Thomas Browne, in a letter on the death of a friend, 1690, 
remarks : — ' He died in the dead and deep part of the night, when 
Nox might be most apprehensibly said to be the daughter of Chaos, 
the mother of sleep and death, according to old genealogy ; and so 
went out of this world about that hour when our blessed Saviour 
entered it, and about what time many conceive he will return again 
into it' (Works, vol. iii. p. 68, ed. Wilkin). 

NIGHT. 267 

night long in an agony of grief and fear, till the 
beams of returning day began to quiver in the 
east, and in a measure reassured them (Avoda 
Sara, ed. Edzardus, 1705, p. 56). 

For my own part, I know of nothing in nature 
more ineffably sad than the calmness of a summer 
sunset, partly from what it recalls, still more, per- 
haps, from what it portends; 1 and every one, I think, 
realises in a greater or lesser degree that l horror 
of great darkness ' 2 which fell upon the patriarch, 
' when the sun was going down ' (Gen. xv. 12). 
Accordingly there is felt a dislike to the uncon- 
genial gloom of night — a natural shrinking from 
it as from a chilling and repulsive presence. 

1 It seems to add new pathos to a scene almost too pathetic 
already, that the wise and excellent Socrates, when he had spent 
the last day of his life in prison in holding that wondrous discourse 
with his friends upon the immortality of the soul, and had bidden his 
children farewell, is recorded to have taken the fatal cup, and 
calmly drunk it off just at the moment 'when the sun was on the 
mountains, and on the point of setting ' (Phsedo, ch. lxv.) He 
averred that all time to come appeared to him no longer than a 
single night — that death could be at worst but a profound and 
dreamless sleep, and, if so, a wondrous gain (Apology, xxxii.) 
Thus, in perfect harmony with his philosophical views, the gentle 
Socrates closed his eyes in darkness as the sun went down. 

' As the light grew more aerial on the mountain-tops, and the shadows fell 
longer over the valley, some faint tone of sadness may have breathed through 
the heart ; and in whispers, more or less audible, reminded every one that as 
this bright day was drawing towards its close, so likewise must the Day of Man's 
Existence decline into dust and darkness ; and with all its sick toilings, and 
joyful and mournful noises, sink in the still Eternity.' 

Carlyle, Sartor Eesartus, Bk. II. ch. v. 
' It is near the closing of the day, 
Near the night. Life and light 

Eor ever, ever fled away.' Wm. Allingham. 

Compare also the beautiful Scotch proverb, ' The e'ening brings 
2 Cf.— 

• Sotto il silentio de' secreti horrori.' Tasso. 

Simul ipsa silentia terrent.' , Virgil, 


There is something indefinably mysterious — 
almost oppressive, I might say — in its brooding 
stillness. Its weight lies heavy on the soul, like 
a thing of awe and dread. ' An abysmal depth, 
an enigma at once showing and concealing its 
face, the Infinite in its mask of darkness — these 
are the synonyms of night. In the presence of 
night man feels his own incompleteness. He 
perceives the dark void, and is sensible of infirmity. 
It is like the vacancy of blindness. Almost 
always he shrinks from that vague presence of the 
Infinite Unknown.' 1 This, moreover, is the 
season that the superstitions of mankind, with 
one consent, have peopled with the fantastic 
creations of their own fears and their own con- 
sciences, with monstrous shapes of spectres, 
ghosts, and apparitions, 

1 Gorgons and hydras and chimseras dire ; ' 2 

1 Victor Hugo. 
2 Cf.— 

' 'Tis now the very witching time of night 
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out 
Contagion to this world.' Hamlet, iii. 2. 

1 Now it is the time of night 

That the graves, all gaping wide, 
Every one lets forth his sprite, 
In the church-way paths to glide.' 

Midsummer Night's Bream, v. 1. 

Lilith, the nocturnal hobgoblin, with which the Jews used to scare 
their children, like the Mormo and Einpusa which served the same 
purpose among the Greeks, and the Lamia and Strix among 
the Romans, seems to have been a personification of the horrors 
of the night, the terror which darkness almost always excites in 
the mind of infancy, being derived from the Hebrew word layil, 
night (™V'. from '.-). Lilith is the word translated screech-owl ' 
in the authorised version of Isa. xxxiv. 14, marg. 'night-monster.' 
The hideous three-headed Cerberus is, according to M. Miiller 

NIGHT. 269 

and even the inspired Psalmist speaks of < the 
terror by night,' 1 as well as of l the pestilence that 
walketh in darkness ' 2 (Ps. xci. 5, 6). Then it is 
that the creatures most loathsome, as well as most 
terrible to man, come forth boldly from their secret 
places — ravening wolves, bats and owls, beetles 
and foul creeping things, the whole slimy and rep- 
tile brood, and all that nature shelters of hideous 
and unclean (Ps. civ. 20). 3 

And then it is, in like manner, that every form 
of vice lifts its head, and comes forth from its 
dens and lurking-places : then red-handed Murder 
stalks abroad unchallenged, and i they that are 
drunken are drunken in the night.' And so it is 
(as Job remarked) with the thief, the house- 
breaker, and the adulterer, who 'waiteth for the 
twilight, saying, no man shall see me,' ' they know 
not the light. For the morning is to them even 
as the shadow of death.' 4 Indeed, throughout the 

(vol ii. p. 478), the darkness of night. Similarly, the French lutin 
(cf. Belg. nuiton), 0. Fr. luiton, seems properly to be a goblin of 
night (nuit). 

1 For a striking description of the terrors of darkness, see the 
Book of Wisdom, ch. xvii. 

2 It is noticeable that two of the most destructive pestilences 
recorded in Scripture, the death of the first-born in Egypt, and of 
the Assyrians before Jerusalem (Isa. xxxvii. 36), occurred at night. 

3 Cf. — ' Now the hungry lion roars 

And the wolf behowls the moon ; 

Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, 
Puts the wretch that lies in woe 
In remembrance of a shrowd.' M. Night's Dream, v. 2. 
Thomson, Seasons (Winter), 191-194. 

4 Ch. xxiv. 14-17. Cf. ' KXeirrQu yap y\ w5£, rr\(jZ a\-r]deias to (pus ' 
(Eurip. Iphig. in Taur., 1226). ' Pernicious Night' was the mother 

270 NIGHT. 

Scriptures darkness is employed as the common 
emblem of evil — of impurity, suffering, and misery 
— just as light is synonymous with holiness and 
happiness and health. And this connection be- 
tween sin and darkness is not a merely notional 
one, it is real and essential. Wicked doers instinc- 
tively shun the accusing light of day. It is true, 
literally, as well as spiritually, that such ' men 
love darkness rather than light, because their 
deeds are evil. For every one that doeth evil 
hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest 
his deeds should be reproved.' 1 i They are of those 
that rebel against the light ; they know not the 
ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.' 2 

Bearing in mind this mystical use of the word, 
there appears to be something unspeakably solemn 
and awful in those few little words which the 
evangelist has introduced parenthetically in his ac- 
count of the Last Supper, that when Judas left the 
upper chamber and went forth on his terrible 
mission, to consummate the darkest crime ever 
committed upon earth, c it was nightS ' This is 
your hour, and the power of darkness,'' exclaimed 

of Fraud according to Theognis, and of Falsehood according to 
Spenser (Faerie Queene, Bk. I. v. 27). 

' thievish night, 
Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end, 
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars.' 

Milton, Comus, 11. 195-197. 

' Guilt concealing night.' 

TJiomson, Au'.umn, 1. 1172. 

1 John iii. 19, 20. 2 Job xxiv. 13. 

NIGHT. 271 

the Son of Man when He saw that He was betrayed 
into the hands of sinners (Lnke xxii. 52). And so 
it is recorded of Judas, ' He then, having received 
the sop, went immediately out — and it was 
night ' (John xiii. 30). With that impressive sen- 
tence, so fearful in all that it implies, the wretched 
traitor is dismissed from the presence of Christ 
and the cheerful lights of the Paschal feast, 
out into the chill gloom of night, out also 
into the deeper and more dreadful night of de- 
spair, into ' the blackness of darkness for ever,' 
1 that he might go to his own place.' ' He went 
out — and it was night ' / 

Two other passages of Scripture there are which 
seem to have something of the same subtle power 
not easily analysed: the sublime dreadfulness of the 
still dead time being conveyed in the most touch- 
ing of the parables, that of the Ten Virgins — 
1 They all slumbered and slept, and at midnight 
there was a cry made ' (Matt. xxv. 6), even as the 
indescribable pathos and tenderness of eventide is 
suggested by the scene at Ernmaus, where the 
disciples entreat the unknown wayfaring Man to be 
their guest — ' Abide with us ; for it is toward even- 
ing, and the day is far spent ' (Luke xxiv. 29). 
When we bethink ourselves of all these things, as 

< Awful Night, 
Ancestral mystery of mysteries, comes down 
Past all the generations of the stars/ 

we feel the power of its name, we recognise the 

272 NIGHT. 

sufficiency of the reasons why it was given. For 
inasmuch as night is the time when day lies 
dead, when all creation is hushed in deatk-Mke 
repose, when Sleep, t the brother of Death,' reigns 
supreme, and Death himself is busiest at his cease- 
less task, when deadly deeds are being enacted, 
and dead men walk (or are fabled to walk) amid 
their earthly haunts — our earliest progenitors 
summed up all these conceptions (not all of them, 
perhaps, consciously, but some of them certainly) 
when they called the darkness ' night,' meaning, 
as it does, the nox-ious, the per-mc-ious, or the 
deadly season, recognising therein a presage of 
that one great undiscovered mystery into which all 
men must one day be initiated, the type or fore- 
shadowing of a silence yet more awful, and an 
outer darkness yet more fearful. 

The following fine apostrophe^ full of tragic 
power, is from Lord Lytton's i Clytemnestra — 

1 Come, venerable, ancient Night ! 
From sources of the western stars, 
In darkest shade that fits this woe, 
Consoler of a thousand griefs, 
And likest death, unalterably calm. 

Our days thou leadest home 
To the great Whither which has no Again ! 
Impartially to pleasure and to pain 
Thou sett'st the bourne. To thee shall all things 

Few persons, I imagine, can have listened to 
the Third Collect for evening prayer in our churches, 

NIGHT. 273 

so touching and comprehensive in its simplicity, 
without feeling conscious how eerie and solemn a 
thing the night is. Its words are, ' Lighten our 
darkness, we beseech thee, Lord, and by thy 
great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers 
of this night,' and many will recollect how power- 
fully De Quincey was affected by it. He says — 
' The decaying light of the dying day suggests a 
mood of pensive and sympathetic sadness,' and 

' There was something that oftentimes had profoundly impressed 
me in this evening liturgy, and itsspecialprayer against the perils 
of darkness, . . . that darkness, which our English liturgy calls 
into such symbolic grandeur, as hiding beneath its shadowy 
mantle all perils that besiege our human infirmity. ... In 
this prayer were the darkness and the great shadows of night 
made symbolically significant : these great powers, Night and 
Darkness, that belong to aboriginal Chaos, were made repre- 
sentative of the perils that continually menace poor afflicted 
human nature. With deepest sympathy I accompanied the 
prayer against the perils of darkness — perils that I seemed to 
see, in the ambush of midnight solitude, brooding around the 
beds of sleeping nations ; perils from even worse forms of 
darkness shrouded within the recesses of blind human hearts; 
perils from temptations weaving unseen snares for our footing; 
perils from the limitations of our own misleading knowledge.' * 

Although therefore, we cannot go so far as to 
affirm 2 that darkness is one of the consequences 

1 De Quincey, Works, vol. i. pp. 83-87. 

2 As Dr Maitland does, Eruvin, pp. 120-123, and, to some ex- 
tent, Milton — 

' Thus Adam to himself lamented loud, 
Through the still night ; not now, as ere man fell, 
Wholesome, and cool, and mild, but with black air 
Accompanied ; with damps and dreadful gloom ; 
Which to his evil conscience represented 
All things with double terrour.' 

Paradise Lost, Bk. x. 11. 845-350. 


2d NIGHT. 

of the fall, and a part of the curse ; yet when we 
* reflect on the dangers and evils that arise from 
it, and on the facilities which it affords for crimes, 
emphatically called " works of darkness," ' it ap- 
pears a great and positive evil, and we gladly and 
thankfully hail the assurance of St John the 
divine respecting the New Jerusalem, prepared 
for and promised to the faithful, that l there shall 
be no night there.' x 

In the third book of Spenser's Faerie Queene, 
canto iv., there is a fine apostrophe to Night, in 
which he breaks into a fervid invective against 
her dreaded and detested power, and minutely 
catalogues most of the evils and mischiefs attendant 
in her train : — 


' Night ! thou foule mother of annoyaunce sad, 
Sister of heavie death, and nourse of woe, 
Which wast begot in heaven, but for thy bad 
And brutish shape thrust downe to hell below, 
Where, by the grim floud of Cocytus slow, 
Thy dwelling is in Herebus' black hous, 
(Black Herebus, thy husband, is the foe 
Of all the gods), where thou ungratious 
Halfe of thy dayes doest lead in horrour hideous. 


What had th' eternall Maker need of thee 
The world in his continuall course to keepe, 
That doest all things deface, ne lettest see 
The beautie of his worke 1 Indeed, in sleepe 
The slouthfull body that doth love to steepe 

1 Revelation xxii. 5. 

NIGHT. 275 

His lustlesse limbes, and drowne his baser mind, 
Doth praise thee oft, and oft from Stygian deepe 
Calles thee his goddesse, in his errour blind, 
And great Dame Natures handmaide chearing every kind. 


But well I wote, that to an heavy hart 
Thou art the roote and nourse of bitter cares, 
Breeder of new, renewer of old smarts : 
Instead of rest thou lendest rayling teares ; 
Instead of sleepe thou sendest troublous feares 
And dreadfull visions, in the which alive 
The dreary image of sad death appeares : 
So from the wearie spirit thou doest drive 
Desired rest, and men of happinesse deprive. 


Under thy mantle black there hidden lye 

Light-shonning thefte, and traiterous intent, 

Abhorred bloodshed, and vile felony, 

Shamefull deceipt, and daunger imminent, 

Fowle horror, and eke hellish dreriment : 

All these, I wote, in thy protection bee, 

And light doe shonne for feare of being shent ; 

For light ylike is loth'd of them and thee : 

And all that lewdnesse love doe hate the light to see. 


For day discovers all dishonest wayes, 
And sheweth each thing as it is in deed : 
The prayses of high God he faire displayes, 
And his large bountie rightly doth areed : 
Dayes dearest children be the blessed seed 
Which darknesse shall subdue and heaven win ; 
Truth is her daughter ; he her first did breed 
Most sacred virgin without spot of sinne. 
Our life is day, but death with darknesse doth begin.' l 

1 Compare George Chapman — 

' Type and nurse of death, 
Who, breathless, feeds on nothing but our breath.' 

Uymnus in Nod em, 1. 5. 

( 276 ) 


devil's QUARTER. 

The west, as being the quarter of the heavens 
where daylight dies, was constantly associated 
with night, the deathlike, and received a name of 
similar meaning. 

'West,' (A.-Sax.) west, (Ger.) westen, (Mid. H. 
Ger.) wester, (0. H. Ger.) westar, (Scand.) vestr, 
has been traced to the Sanskrit root vas or vast, 
to kill. The same root is found in the Sanskrit 
vasra (death), vasu (barren), vasati (night — i.e., 
6 the dead season'), (Lat.) vastus, our i waste.' 
Thus i west ' is connected with the (A.-Sax.) weste 
(desert), westan (to lay waste), westnes (desola- 
tion), 1 and denotes the waste or barren quarter, 

1 Connected also is (0. H. G.) wosti, (Scand.) vast, ivoest (the sea, 
lit., 'the waste' of waters). Cf. (Lat.) mare (lit. the dead and 
barren, Sans, mtra), tt6i>tos drpvyeros (Homer), vastitm mare. (Pictet, 
Orig. Indo-Europ. vol. i. p. 110 seq). With 'west' compare (Heb.) 
ereb evening, (Assyr. ) ereb, the west, darkness, akin to ardbdh (the 
desert), ardb, Arabia. It may be noted in passing that the second 

west. 277 

the point at which the god of light and life sinks 

below the verge, at which the reign of desolation 

and darkness begins — the region of death. 1 

Compare these lines of Lord Lytton's — 

1 But oft in the low west, the day- 
Smouldering, sent up a sullen flame 
Along the dreary waste of gray.' 

The EarVs Return. 

So the Sanskrit asta means (1) the end, death; 
(2) the western mountain, sunset (M. Williams). 
Comparative mythologists have placed it beyond 
doubt that in the infancy of our race our Aryan 
forefathers watched with intense interest the 
splendid drama that is being daily enacted in the 
skies. The varying fortunes of the sun, the sun- 
set and the dawn, ' the morning's war, when 
dying clouds contend with growing light ' (Shaks- 
pere), that glorious pageantry of the shifting 

or ' raven's twilight ' of the Jewish Rabbins, mentioned by De 
Quincey, vol. i. p. 87, seems to be a play upon the resemblance of 
the words ereb and oreb (the dark and ravening bird). The words 
for evening and west are identical in most languages — e.g., (Ger.) 
abend, ' even-ing,' also the west ; (Irish) siar, (1) evening, (2) west ; 
(Lat.) vesper, evening and west ; zep7iyrtts, £e'0u/>os (west wind), 
from £6(pos, (1) darkness, (2) west; occidens (1) sunset, (2) west. 
Cf. the use of oriens, ortus, Ger. morgen, Levant, Anatolia, &c. 

1 Pictet, while deducing the word as above, gives a different 
account of it — ' Si Ton souvient que les Ario-Germains ont du 
occuper precisement les portions occidentales de lAriane primitive, 
un peu au nord des Celtes, et qu'ils touchaient, par consequent, au 
grand desert, on comprendra comment ce mot de west, qui se rattache 
a la fois aux sens divers de desert, de nuit, de mer, et d'occident, 
a pu rester plus specialement dans leur langues comme un souvenir 
incompris des circonstances qui lui ont donne naissance' (Orig. 
Indo-Europ. vol. i. p. 113). Ed. Miiller connects ' west ' with vespera, 
euirepa (Etym. Worterbuch), and so Garnett, Philolog. Soc. Proceed- 
ings, vol. ii. p. 235. 


clouds, which Mr Ruskin alone of the moderns 
seems duly to have appreciated, was to them a 
never-failing source of wonder and speculation. 
Nay, it was the original inspiration (as Max 
Miiller has pointed out) of all ancient poetry and 
religious feeling. 

1 If sunrise inspired the first prayers, called forth the first 
sacrificial flames, sunset was the other time when again the 
whole frame of man would tremble. The shadows of night 
approach, the irresistible power of sleep grasps man in the 
midst of his pleasures, his friends depart, and in his loneliness 
his thoughts turn again to higher powers. "When the day 
departs, the poet bewails the untimely death of his bright 
friend — nay, he sees in his short career the likeness of his own 
life. Perhaps, when he has fallen asleep, his sun may never 
rise again, and thus the place to -which the setting sun with- 
draws in the far west rises before his mind as the abode where 
he himself would go after death, where " his fathers went 
before him." ' x 

1 And when, at the end of a dreary day, the Sun seemed to 
die away in the far West, still looking for his Eastern bride, 
and suddenly the heavens opened, and the image of the Dawn 
rose again [i.e., in the evening twilight], her beauty deepened 
by a gloaming sadness — would not the poet gaze till the last 
ray had vanished, and would not the last vanishing ray linger 
in his heart, and kindle there a hope of another life, where he 
would find asrain what he had loved and lost ] ' 2 

The Irish bard Moore felt something of these 
primeval aspirations appropriate to eventide when 
he composed these lines — 

1 M. Miiller, Oxford Essays, 1856, p. 60. The Assyrians 
named the region where the sun took his farewell, and sank to his 
peaceful rest, shalamu, a word near akin to the Hebrew shdldm, 

2 Ibid., p. 65. Cf. Christian Year, 16th S. after Trinity, v. 10. 


* How dear to me the hour when daylight dies, 
And sunbeams melt along the silent sea, 
For then sweet dreams of other days arise, 
And memory breathes her vesper sigh to thee. 

And as I watch the line of light that plays 

Along the smooth wave tow'rd the burning west, 

I long to tread that golden path of rays, 
And think 'twould lead to some bright isle of rest ! ' 

One of Faber's beautiful hymns has consecrated 
the same idea to Christian uses — 

1 The Land beyond the Sea ! 
How close it often seems, 

When flushed with evening's peaceful gleams ; 

And the wistful heart looks o'er the strait and dreams ! 
It longs to fly to thee, 
Calm Land beyond the Sea ! . . . 

The Land beyond the Sea ! 

Sometimes across the strait, 
Like a drawbridge to a castle gate, 
The slanting sunbeams lie, and seem to wait 

For us to pass to thee, 

Calm Land beyond the Sea ! . . . 

The Land beyond the Sea ! 

When will our toil be done 1 
Slow-footed years ! more swiftly run 
Into the gold of that unsetting sun ! 

Home-sick we are for thee, 

Calm Land beyond the Sea ! 

The Land beyond the Sea ! 

Why fadest thou in light 1 
Why art thou better seen towards night ? 
Dear Land ! look always plain, look always bright, 

That we may gaze on thee, 

Calm Land beyond the Sea ! ' 


But that rich glow of warmth and beauty bathes 
the earth and sea with only a transitory glory. 
The sunny smile vanishes away, all too soon, and 
sobers into the cold bleakness of the dusky twi- 
light. ' The bridal of the earth and sky ' is past. 
The landscape seems desolate. The greyness of 
old age and the sables of mourning widowhood 
succeed to the rosy bloom of the day's maiden 
prime. Its ( tender grace ' will come back no 
more for ever. 1 The region of waning brightness 
has become a westnes, a waste, a desolation — the 
whole creation is veiled in a muffled stillness, and 
' night's black blank mystery ' 2 reigns supreme. 

We can thus easily understand how thoughts of 
pensive sadness came to be associated with the 
west. All its splendours, glorious as they may 
be for a while, inevitably tend towards the gloom 
and darkness of death. It came to be regarded, 
therefore, as the natural contrast to the joyous 
east, where the light shineth ever ' more and more 
into the perfect day ' — the east, ' the bright and 
warm' (0. Norse austur, Sans, vastar)? from 

1 Compare a stanza in Tennyson's Dream of Fair Women, where 
the form of expression is not altogether free from obscurity — 
• The dim red morn had died, her journey done, 

And with dead lips smiled at the twilight plain, 
Half-fall'n across the threshold of the sun, 
Never to rise again.' Poems (7th ed.), p. 150. 

G. Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy, p. 312. 
* From the root ush (vas), to burn, ' uro.' Cf. (Lat.) duster, the 
warm Bouth wind. Austria, (Ger.) Ocsterreich, is said to have 
been so called from its being the eastern part of Charlemagne's 
dominions. Cf. Australia (the southern regions). 

AURORA. 281 

whose golden portals the beauteous Aurora comes 
dancing forth — Aurora, the 6 golden-throned,' < saf- 
fron-robed,' 6 fair-haired,' i white-winged,' ' rosy- 
fingered ' 1 goddess, beloved of all, who brings to 
mortals light, activity, and joy. 

Her name, 2 which is connected with the Latin 
aurum, gold, suggests the brightness of her ad- 
vent, the golden lustre that fringes the clouds 
when she rises over the eastern hills, just as in 
Irish oir, the east, is also the word for golden ; 
and so Shakspere, who lets no phase of Nature's 
beauty pass unnoticed, speaks in one place of 
c the golden window of the east' (Romeo and 
Juliet, i. 1), and in another says — 

' See how the morning opes her golden gates, 
And takes her farewell of the glorious sun.' 

3d PL Henry VI., ii. 1. 

An ancient Yedic hymn in honour of the Dawn 
has these words 3 — 

1 These are the epithets given to her in the Greek poets, espe- 
cially Homer — XP V(T ^P 0V0S ) KpoKoireirXos, evTrXoKa/xos, XevKdirrepos, 

2 Aurora, originally Ausosa, the bright and golden one, (Lith.) 
Auszra, (Sans.) Usrd, from the root aur = ur = ush, to burn, whence 
(Lat.) uro, burn, aura, the bright morning air, aurum, (Gk.) atpa, 
atipiov, Tjws, fjpi, ' ear-ly.' The Dawn was also called in Sanskrit 
Arj-una, ' the silvern one,' connected with 6.pyevvbs, dpyvpos, apyos, 
argentum, silver. Hence also 'Apyvwis, a name of the sea-born 
Aphrodite, i.e., the Dawn. So Aevitodea, ' the white goddess,' cor- 
responds to the Tuscan Mater matuta, ' mother of the morning,' 
designating the pale silvery light of the early dawn (Donaldson). 
Cf. the Sanskrit sveta, silver, and svett, the dawn. 

" 3 Quoted by Miiller, Chips, vol. i. p. 36. 


' She rose up, .spreading far and wide, and moving every- 
where. She grew in brightness, wearing her brilliant gar- 
ment. . . . The leader of the days, she shone gold-coloured, 
lovely to behold. She, the fortunate, who brings the eye of 
the gods, who leads the white and lovely steed (of the sun) — 
the Dawn was seen revealed by her rays, with brilliant trea- 
sures following everyone/ 

This rosy goddess, Aurora, was lost to view during 
the day, but was supposed to return when the sun 
1 Towards heaven's descent had sloped his westering wheel,' l 

and men recognised her again in the peaceful 
splendours of the evening sky. When they ob- 
served the whole heavens i from the zenith 
to the horizon become one molten mantling sea of 
colour and fire, every black bar turn into massy 
gold, every ripple and wave into unsullied shadow- 
less crimson and purple and scarlet, and colours 
for which there are no words in language,' 2 they 
recognised a counterpart of that spectacle which 
they had witnessed in the early morning, and they 
grieved as they saw those countless treasures of 
topaz and ruby, of amethyst and glittering gold, 
which had been scattered so lavishly over the path 
of the sinking sun, 3 gradually drawn down after 

1 Milton, Lycidas. 

2 Ruskin, Modern Painters, vol. i. Pt. II., sec. 2, ch. ii. 

3 This, as Mr Cox points out, is the dazzling vision of golden cups 
and gleaming coffers and many-coloured gems upon which Beowulf 
feasts his eyes before they are closed in death. ' It may seem but 
a barbaric vision, yet/ the splendour which soothes the eye of the 
dying hero is but the brilliance of the golden doors and brazen 
stringcourses, the youths of gold holding up everlasting torches, 


him, one by one, till the last faint trace of their 
fading beauty died out in the north-west. The re- 
splendent treasures thus robbed from their gaze they 
conceived to be buried beneath the dark horizon. 
And when, after hours of weary watching, they 
descried a flush of glowing red arising in the 
north-east, and saw first one bar of gold and then 
another cast up from the under-world, they 
thought that the entire wealth of the previous 
evening, which had been hidden for the night in 
the caverns of the gloomy north, was being re- 
stored, and they hailed the ' golden goddess ' who 
brought it back to them. Accordingly, in the 
Rigveda 1 Aurora is represented as the Saviour of 
mortals, awaking to life and activity all sleepers, 
with her pure and purifying light discomfiting 
her enemies the shades of night, opening the gates 
of the cavernous gloom, and exposing to view the 
treasures hidden by the darkness. Compare these 
lines of Milton — 

1 Now morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime 
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl/ 

Paradise Zost } Bk. v. I. 1. 

' So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed, 
And yet anon repairs his drooping head, 

which shed their dazzling lustre on the palace of Alkinoos. So far 
as the conception differs, the contrast is but the result of impres- 
sions made by the phenomena of sunset on the mind of the Teuton 
beneath his harsher sky, and of the Greek in his more genial home ' 
(Popular Romauces of the Middle Ages, p. 79). 
1 De Gubernatis, Mythical Zoology, vol. i. p. 35. 


And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore 
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky.' 1 


We find another interesting illustration in the book 
of Job (ch. xxxvii. 22), where it is said, 'Gold 2 
cometh out of the north,' a figurative expression 
for that golden light which is seen in the west, is 
hidden in the north, and emerges thence, as a 
herald of the dawn, in the east. It is observable, 
also, that tzepkunim, the Hebrew word for riches, 
treasures, is near akin to tzdpkon 9 the north (literally 
' the hidden or obscure quarter '), both being from 
tz&pkan (to hide, conceal, store up). The father 
of history, who is a great retailer of myths, tells us 
that a very great quantity of gold lay in the north, 

1 It is curious to observe how exactly the conception of Milton 
coincides with that of the Sanskrit Rdmdyanam. * With a mountain 
metal of a colour similar to that of the young sun, the sun Hamas im- 
prints a dazzling mark on the forehead of the dawn Sita, as if to be 
able to recognise her — that is to say, he places himself upon the 
forehead of the Aurora or Dawn ' (Quoted by De Gubernatis, Myth- 
ical Zoology, vol. i. p. 55). 

2 LXX. v€(pT] xP vcrav y°^" Ta (clouds gold-gleaming), Authorised 
Version ' fair weather.' Compare — 

' Yonder comes the powerful king of day- 
Rejoicing in the east. The lessening cloud, 
The kindling azure, and the mountain's brow, 
Illumined with fluid gold his near approach 
Betoken glad.' Thomson, Seasons. 

So Ossian's Address to the Sun, ' Thy yellow-golden locks are 
spread on the face of the clouds in the east;' which recalls 
Peacham's pretty couplet — 

' Clouds were fled that overcast the ayre, 
And Phoebus threw about his golden hayre ; ' 

and Sylvester's 

' Pure goldy-locks, Sol, States-friend, ITonour giuer, 
Light-bringer, Laureat, Leach-man, all Reyiuer.' 

Divine Weekes, p. 80. 

pluto. 285 

guarded by the Griffins, from whom a one-eyed 
race of people named the Arimaspians used to steal 
it (Herodotus, vol. iii. p. 115), all which put into 
plain prose seems to mean, that the sun steals the 
golden light from the churlish powers of darkness, 
and brings it out of the north. iEschylus (Prom. 
Vinct. 11. 805, 806), informs us that these Griffins 
and Arimaspians were to be found in the far west 
(which mythologically is the same thing as the 
north, both being unexplored regions of darkness), 
and that they dwelt beside a stream that flowed 
with gold, at Pluto's ford, i.e., where was the pas- 
sage to the infernal world. 

We are now in a position to understand why it 
is that Sanskrit kuvera, the god of riches, was con- 
sidered to preside over the north, as Agni, the 
fire-god, does over the east ; why, in Greek, Pluto 
(IIXovtcov), the god of the dark nether-world, was 
identified with Plutus, the god of riches (IIXovtos) ; 
and why the same deity in Latin had the name of 
Dis, which is only another form of Dives, rich. 1 
The infernal regions being fabled to lie in the 
gloomy quarter of the west, where the sun goes 

1 ' The poets feign Pluto to be the god of hell and the god of 
riches, as if riches and hell had both one master ' (Adams' Sermons, 
The Temple). In the Scandinavian mythology the god Njord, a 
name which is probably connected with nor¥»\ north, is so wealthy 
that he can give possessions and treasures to those who call on him 
for them (Prose Edda). The Sanskrit vas-u, wealth, vas-ara, day, 
vi-vas-vat, the sun, are kindred words, and contain the same root, 
vas, to be bright. 


down, or of the north, where he never shines, the 
ruler of it was naturally conceived to be the lord 
of its sunken treasure. 1 

The ancient Egyptians considered that Amenti, the 
world beyond the grave, lay in the west (ement), and 
were in the habit, therefore, of interring their dead 
on the western bank of the Nile, where the evening 
sun seemed to descend into the iDfernal night. 
The west was to them the symbol of futurity, and 
the abode of Osiris. 2 Erebus C'Epe/3o?), near akin 
to the Hebrew ereb (evening), is in Homer the 
place of nether darkness which must be passed in 
£oin£ to Hades, and is situated in the west. 3 
Zophos (&o$os) is in Greek the west, the realm of 

1 Cf. Spenser, Faerie Queeue,Bk. II. 7, xxi, xxi. The ancient Irish 
believed there was a sunken land lying to the north or north-west of 
Ireland which contained a city called Tir-Hudi, or city of Hud, that 
once possessed all the riches of the world. The Assyrian Anu, corre- 
sponding to Hades or Pluto, bears such titles as ' king of the lower 
world,' ' lord of darkness ' or ' death,' ' ruler of the far-off city,' and 
is also c the layer up of treasures,' ' the lord of the earth ' or 
'mountains,' from whence the precious metals are extracted (Raw- 
linson, Herodotus, vol. i. p. 591). It is significant to find that the 
god Anu, apparently known to the Greeks as Erebus (i.e., Assyrian 
ereb, 'setting,' ' the west,' 'darkness'), was considered the father 
of Martu, ' the west,' gave his name to one of the principal metals, 
had the western gate of the city Dur-sargina dedicated to him, was 
also known by the name Dis, and especially presided over Urea or 
Orech, which w r as emphatically 'the city of the dead,' the great 
necropolis of Babylonia. The resemblance of the Latin urcus is 
curious (Rawlinson, Herodotus, vol. i. pp. 592 scq.) 

2 The series of Egyptian kiugs at Abydos is depicted as present- 
ing offerings to Osiris, in the character of Lord of the West and 
Pluto of their Hades (Bunsen, Egypt, vol. i. p. 46). Atum, who 
held the office of judge in the lower world, was the god of the set- 
ting sun, the west (Ibid., p. 398). 

3 Odyssey, xii. 81. 


darkness, and also the netlier-world ; and in 
Sophocles 1 Hesperos Thdos (^Earepos @eo?) is the 
western god, the god of darkness, and designates 
Hades or Pluto. 

' By the simplest poetic adaptation of the sun's daily life ' 
(says Mr Tylor in his most interesting work on ' Primitive 
Culture ' 2 ) ' typifing man's life in dawning beauty, in midday 
glory, in evening death, mythic fancy even fixed the belief in 
the religions of the world, that the land of Departed Souls lies 
in the Far "West, or the World below.' 

* Man is a summer day, whose youth and fire 
Cool to a glorious evening, and expire.' 3 

To the same learned anthropologist I am in- 
debted for the following illustrations of this world- 
wide superstition. Most savage peoples 4 place the 
world of departed souls in the west, whither the 
sun descends at evening to his daily death. 

1 The Chilians say that the soul goes westward over the sea 
to Gulclieman, the dwelling-place of the dead beyond the 
mountains. The Haitians describe the paradise of the dead as 
lying in the lovely western valleys of their island. The 
Australians think that the spirit of the dead hovers awhile on 
earth, and goes at last towards the setting sun, or westward 
over the sea to the island of souls, the home of his fathers. 
The classic paradise lay in the Fortunate Islands of the far 
western ocean.' 5 

1 CEdip. Tyran., 1. 178. 

2 Vol. ii. p. 44. Harpocrates, the Egyptian Aurora, or god of the 
sunrise, not only represented the beginning of day, but was the 
emblem of childhood. He was portrayed as an infant, rising out 
of the lotus, the flower of Hades (Rawlinsoo, Herodotus, vol. ii. 
p. 149). 

3 Vaughan, Siiex Scintillans, Pt. I. p. 57 (ed. 1655). 

4 E.g., the Brazilians, Samoan Islanders, Indians, &c. (Tylor, 
Primitive Culture, vol. ii. pp. 60-62, 70, 85, 309). 

5 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 55 seq. 


Reigna, the New Zealander's world of departed 
souls, lies in the west. 1 Hine-nui-te-po, '-Great- 
woman-night,' who dwells on the horizon, is their 
Hades, the goddess both of night and death. They 
hold that the sun descends at night into his cavern, 
bathes in the rcai ora tane, i the water of life/ and 
returns at dawn from the under-world ; hence 
they think that if man could likewise descend into 
Hades, and return, his race would be immortal. 2 

In the North American mythology, Ning-gah-be- 
ar-nong Manito, the spirit of the west, is god of 
the country of the dead, in the region of the set- 
ting sun. 3 

Far away in that same quarter are the delight- 
ful hunting-grounds, whither the Choctaws believe 
the spirit travels after death by a rugged path full 
of difficulties and dangers. 4 In the doctrine of 
Buddhism, the paradise of Fo, where the saints 
enjoy eternal felicity, is also called the paradise of 
the west. 

It is at the western Land's End that Maori 
souls are conceived by the New Zealander to 
descend into the subterranean region of the dead, 
because there the sun is seen to descend to the 
western Hades, the under-world of night and death, 
which is incidentally identified with the region of 
subterranean fire and earthquake. Among the 

1 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 2S1. 

2 Ibid., vol. L p. 302 seq. 3 Ibid., vol. i. p. 304. 
4 Tylor, Early History of Mankind; Catliu, vol. ii. p. 127. 


Tongans, also, the land of the dead, which they 
call Bulotu, is situated in the west. 1 

* At the extreme western cape of Vanua Levu, the souls 
of the Fijian dead embark for the judgment-seat of JVdengei, 
and thither the living come in pilgrimage, thinking to see 
there ghosts and gods.' 2 

But this superstition conies nearer home to our- 
selves. Great Britain itself, for the same reason, 
apparently, as lying to the extreme west of Europe, 3 
towards the setting sun, was anciently regarded 
by the Galli and Germans 4 as ' the island of the 
dead/ because souls were ferried over thither in 
the depth of night from the opposite coast of 
Gaul ; and it is said to be still a popular belief 
in Armorica and Bretagne that the shades of the 
departed are escorted over to England, because it 
is the nether-world, or land of the dead. 5 The 
very point of this weird ferry is pointed out near 
Eaz, in Bretagne, where the promontory stretches 
westward into the ocean, and the bay is called 
Bod ann anavo, c the bay of souls.' 6 The English, 

1 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. i. pp. 310, 311. 

2 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 41. 

3 Europa, as a geographical name, appears to denote ' the western 
or dark land,' * and must have been given by Asiatic Greeks, just 
as the Chinese call the great island to the east of them Je-pun, 
i.e., * the source of day,' properly Nipon, now Japan. Asia itself 
signifies 'rising,' or 'the east' (Rawlinson, Herodotus, vol. i. p. 594). 

4 Procopius, Goth. Bell., vol. iv. p. 20. 

5 Kuhn. Vide Kelly's Indo-European Tradition, p. 121 ; Sir G. 
C. Lewis, Astronomy of Ancients, pp. 494 seg. 

6 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 59. 

* 'Evpojirrj, x^P a T ^ s dvcrew, rj (TKOTeivq (Heysch.) : — Kenrick, 
Phoenicia, p. 85. 


in their turn, not accepting the equivocal compli- 
ment, and looking away from themselves to their 
more western neighbour, located the descent to the 
Land of Shades in the sacred isle of Erin; and 
this Irish Avernus — St Patrick's Purgatory, as it 
was called — was visited by many a wandering pil- 
grim. The Irish, again, did not fail to remove this 
region still further west. They supposed that the 
spirits of the departed went to join the company of 
the heroes in the island called Tir-na-nog, or land of 
perpetual youth, which lay far out in the Atlantic, 
and traditions of this lovely region, 'the bright 
confines of another world,' are yet current, I be- 
lieve, along the west coast of Ireland. 1 

According to the Keltic myth of Macpherson, 
departed heroes were transported to Flath-Innis, 
the noble island, a verdant paradise that lies un- 
vexed by storms amid the great western main. 2 

According to the Greek idea, also, the Isles of 
the Blessed, where the heroes rest at ease, were 
conceived to lie in the ocean towards the extreme 
west. The Phaiakian land of the Odyssey, says a 
recent writer, is l that ideal land far away in the 
west, over which is spread the soft beauty of an 
everlasting twilight, . . . where the radiant pro- 

1 Old Folk-Lore of Ireland, p. 290 seq. See also an article on the 
Sacred Isles of the West, Notes and Queries, 2d Ser. No. cxxvi. p. 429. 
Representations have been found on antique gems of departed souls 
being conveyed to the abodes of bliss, imagined as some happy 
island in the far west (King's Gnostics and their Remains, p. 158). 

2 Tyior, loc. cit. 


cessions which gladden the eyes of mortal men 
only when the heavens are clear, are ever passing 
through the streets and along the flower-clad hills.' 
It is, in fact, cloudland ; and there is situated the 
palace and gardens of Alkinoos, with their price- 
less treasures and unfading glory ' (vide Cox ; Aryan 
Mythology, vol. ii. p. 275). So also — 

' The Elysian Plain is far away in the west, where the sun 
goes down beyond the bounds of the earth. . . . The abodes 
of the blessed are golden islands sailing in a sea of blue, the 
burnished clouds floating in the pure ether. Grief and sorrow 
cannot approach them; plague and sickness cannot touch them. 
The barks of the Phaiakians dread no disaster ; and thus the 
blissful company gathered together in that far western land 
inherits a tearless eternity.' l Ibid., p. 321. 

The sun in his daily course was conceived to 

1 ' The idea of a sacred island, rising amidst the waves, removed 
from all contentions and wars, the abode of quiet and purity, the 
secure refuge of men buffeted by the storms of the world, seems 
naturally to suggest itself to the human mind. By an easy transi- 
tion, this residence of a pious and holy race becomes an Elysian 
Field ; it is endowed with perpetual spring ; the ground produces 
its fruits without labour ; there are no serpents or wild beasts 
within its hallowed precinct ; its inhabitants are no longer a sacred 
colony of living men, but the souls of the departed trauslated to a 
region of bliss. The notion of holy islands first occurs in Hesiod. 
He describes the race of heroes who form the fourth age of man- 
kind as residing after death apart from the world, in the Islands 
of the Blest, near the ocean, free from care, and enjoying three 
harvests in the year. Pindar, in like manner, conceives the Islands 
of the Blest as the abodes of the just and virtuous after death.' 
'As the horizon of their geographical knowledge extended, the 
province of fable receded, and the marvels of fancy were banished 
into the more distant regions of the earth.' And so the seat of 
happiness was shifted from the islands of the Mediterranean to the 
Canary Islands of the Atlantic, to Hibernia, the sacred isle of the 
far west, or even to the Hyperboreans of the extreme north (Sir G. 
C. Lewis, Astronomy of the Ancients, pp. 489 seq. ) 

Homer describes the land of the Cimmerians, where Ulysses evoked 
the souls of the dead, as being on the furthest extremity of the 


tread the path of life from east to west. When 
he rose, he entered into the land of the living ; 
when he set, he sank into the land of the dead, 
and thus he was the first who discovered the way 
to the other world. To that world men too must 
surely go, and by the same way, when their course 
is run. Our life-powers wane, and inevitably de- 
cline into the west. When our 

1 Youthful morn 
Hath travell'd on to age's steepy night.' l 


i The bright day is done, 
And we are for the dark.' 2 

It is due, therefore, to a natural conception that 
the Mexican says, i The sun goes at evening to 
lighten the dead,' or that the New Zealander ex- 
claims, i See ! the sun has returned to Hades,' 
meaning it has set. And this is why the sun 
looks so red as it approaches the horizon, accord- 
ing to the belief of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, 
because then ' she looketh upon hell.' 3 

ocean. When the localities of fiction receded, this scene was fixed 
by Claudian at the extremity of Gaul. While, later still, Procopius 
found the soul-land removed to Great Britain. 

1 Shakspere, Sonnet LXIII. 

2 Antony and Cleopatra, v. 2. Cf. — 

' At night when I betake to rest, 
Next morn I rise neer'er my West 
Of life, almost by eight houres saile 
Then when sleep breath'd his drowsie gale.' 

Bp. Henry King, Poems, p. 37 (1657,'ed. Hannah). 

« And though You travel down into the West, 
May Your life's Sun stand fixed in the East, 
Far from the weeping set.' Ibid., p. 50. 

3 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. pp. 60 seq. The Karens, an 


1 C. Wherefore is the son rede at even \ M. For he gothe 
toward hell.' 
The Master of Oxford's Catechism, (Reliq. Antiq., i. p. 232). 

Similarly, the classical myths of Orpheus, of 
Odysseus, and other heroes, visiting the infernal 
regions, or dark under-world below, are only poeti- 
cal representations of the sun-god descending 
beneath the verge, passing along deep down below 
the northern horizon, and bringing up with him 
' the wide-shining Eurydike,' the golden treasures 
of the dawn. 1 The researches of Max Miiller, Cox, 
and De Gubernatis have placed this beyond ques- 
tion, and the most widely-dispersed savage legends, 
Mr Tylor assures us, from Polynesia and America, 
give new'confirmation to the theory. 2 

The Icelandic myth of the Prose Edda should 
also be compared. When Baldr, the bright day- 
god, is slain, Hermodr is sent to seek and ransom 
him. 3 He repairs towards the north, for there, he 
is told, lies the way to the abodes of death, and 
after a long and dangerous ride, passes over the 
bridge of glittering gold, and finds him at length 
in the realm of Hel (the goddess of death), which 

Asiatic tribe, hold the same belief, that when the sun sets on earth 
it rises in Hades, and when it sets in Hades it rises in this world 
(Joe. cit.) As the earth thus becomes the land of shades during 
the hours of darkness, we can understand the reason of ghosts walk- 
ing here only by night, but returning below at daybreak. 

1 Vide De Gubernatis, Mythical Zoology, vol. i. pp. 25, 149. 

2 Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 313. 

3 Cf. Carlyle on Heroes, Lect. I. Oxford Essays, 1858, p. 196. 


is also called Nijllieimr, the shadowy land, or home 
of mists. 1 De Gubernatis, in his work on Mythi- 
cal Zoology, sums up much of what has been said 
in these words : — 

1 The city of Bhogavatt (i.e., furnished "with riches) is full 
of treasures, like the hell of Western tradition. This infernal 
world went definitively underground when the gods, having 
fallen, took humbler forms upon the earth. . . . The riches of 
heaven, concealed by the cloudy or gloomy monster of night 
or winter, passed into the earth ; the observation of heavenly 
phenomena helped this conception. The true mythical trea- 
sures are the sun and the moon in their splendour ; when they 
go down, they seem to hide themselves underground ; the solar 
hero goes underground, he goes to hell, after having lost all 
his treasures and all his riches ; he undertakes in poverty his 
infernal journey. When the sun rises from the mountain, it 
seems to come out from underground : the solar hero returns 
from his journey through hell, he returns resplendent and 
wealthy ; the infernal demon gives back to him part of the 
treasures which he possesses, having carried them off from 
him, or else the young hero recovers them by his valour.' 2 

In ancient Egyptian fable it was taught that 
the souls of dead persons, whose bodies had been 

1 In Phoenicia, Adonis, whose name signifies Lord, i.e., the sun 
as supreme god, the king of heaven, was fabled to have been slain 
bv the boar, the emblem of the rude, ungenial winter. Being the 
source of life to the physical world, his departure from the upper 
hemisphere in winter was mourned as a temporary death with a 
display of the most frantic grief ; his return to it, being a new 
birth, was the occasion of commensurate rejoicing ( Kenrick, 
Phoenicia, p. 309 ; Milton, Paradise Lost, vol. i. p. 455 ; B. -Gould, 
Curious Myths, p. 2S5). It w r as at the northern gate of the Temple 
that the Jewish women used to sit when weeping for Tarnrouz, who 
is identical with Adonis, i.e., bewailing the descent of the sun 
among the wintry signs (Ezek. viii. 14). Rawlinson asserts that 
the name Tammuz means the ' hidden ' or c concealed ' one, which 
would be a suitable designation for ' Sol Inferus,' the Atrnoo of 
Egypt (Herodotus, vol. ii. p. 104). 

2 De Gubernatis, Mythical Zoology, vol. ii. p. 403. 


properly embalmed, descended into the invisible 
world in the boat of the setting sun ; and that 
after some long period, during which they had 
many trials to undergo, they would rise again 
perfectly pure, to reunite with the body, in the 
boat of the rising sun. 1 On the mummy being 
committed to the tomb, the soul is directed "in the 
' Book of the Dead ' to pay acts of adoration to Ra, 
or Phra, the rising sun, and to Athom, the setting 
sun, this last being implored to open 6 the gates in 
the solar mountains that close the cave of the 
west.' We learn from the same source that the 
disembodied spirit had a journey to make when it 
arrived in Hades, that the path it had to follow 
was the nocturnal course of the sun, that it had 
many ablutions to perform and changes to undergo 
preparatory to its purification, and that over these 
presided Osiris, ' the lord of the cave of the west.' 2 
What makes this superstition of the west being 
the land of shades and of the infernal powers the 
more interesting, is the fact that it has lived on 
into Christian times, 3 and has actually been recog- 
nised in the most important of Christian ceremonies. 
At baptism, according to the rite of the Greek 

1 Osburn, Monumental History of Egypt, vol. i. p. 332 ; Bunsen, 
Egypt, vol. v. pass. 

2 Osburn, Monumental History of Egypt, vol. i. pp. 423, 429. 

3 E.g., when the Botathen ghost was duly exorcised (under Epis- 
copal license) by the Parson of Launceston in 1665, ' she peacefully 
withdrew, gliding towards the west ' (Hawker, Footprints of Former 
Men in Far Cornwall, p. 122). 


Church, the sponsors, when renouncing the devil, 
turn with the child towards the setting sun, and 
answer, ' I have renounced him.' They then spit, to 
show their utter rejection and abhorrence of him. 1 
After the confession of faith candles are lighted, 
and a taper put into each sponsor's hand, in token 
of the child being'spiritually illuminated, and made 
one of the ' children of light.' This custom of 
turning to the west at the renunciation of Satan 
in baptism, is a symbolical rite of very great anti- 
quity. So far back as the fourth century Cyril of 
Jerusalem, speaking to those who had been re- 
cently baptized, said — ' Standing towards the west, 
you have been commanded to stretch forth your 
hand and renounce Satan as if he were pre- 
sent/ 2 

Just as Nirriti, the western land, to which Yama 
had first crossed the rapid waters, became first the 
land of death, and afterwards a personification of 
evil, 3 so to the primitive Christians c the west is 
the place of darkness, and Satan is darkness, and 
his strength is in darkness.' For this reason, we 

1 Dixon, Free Russia, vol. ii. p. 219. 

2 Palmer, Antiquities of the English Ritual, vol. ii. p. 177. 

3 Cox, Mythology of the Aryan Nations, vol. i. p. 344. Nirriti, 
i.e., the exodus, the land of the deceased who are here no more 
seen. Chaeremon states that in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, as a 
serpent creeping out of a hole represents the east, so a serpent 
entering a hole signifies the west, probably, i.e., the urseus serpent 
appropriate to Ra the sun-god plunging into darkness. In the ideo- 
graphic symbols, however, as deciphered, the west is ' the land of 
truths' (BunseD, Egypt, vol. i. pp. 497, 517). 


are told, they symbolically looked towards the 
west in renouncing him. 1 This ceremony, together 
with that of insufflations, and other external signs 
of enmity to the devil, are still very generally re- 
tained in the Eastern Church. "When the sponsors 
had renounced the * works of darkness ' and the 
' Prince of darkness,' turned towards that region 
of darkness where he was supposed to dwell, they 
then wheeled completely round to the opposite 
point of the compass, the region of brightness, 
where ' the day-spring from on high hath visited 
us' 2 (Luke i. 78), and professed their faith in 
Christ the 6 true Light, which lighteth every man 
that cometh into the world ' (John i. 9). 

1 In our mysteries ' (saith Jerome) l we first renounce him 
that is in the west, who dies to us with our sin ; and then 
turning about to the east, we make a covenant with the sun 
of righteousness, and promise to be his servants.' 3 

Turning towards the east being thus a symbol 

of aversion from Satan and conversion to Christ, 

1 Bingham, Christian Antiquities, vol. i. p. 517 (ed. Bohn). 

2 The word for ' day-spring ' in this passage {hvarokr}) had come 
to be used as a name of the Messiah. ' Behold the man, his name 
is the East ' (or ' the Sunrise,' avaroKri) is the Septuagint rendering 
of the words ' Behold the man whose name is the Branch ' in our 
version (Zech. vi. 12). Referring to that prophecy, Philo Judseus 
ga y S — < I have also heard of one of the companions of Moses having 
uttered such a speech as this, "Behold, a man whose name is the 
East." A very novel appellation indeed, if you consider it as spoken 
of a man who is compounded of body and soul ; but if you look 
upon it as applied to that incorporeal being who in no respect differs 
from the divine image, you will then agree that the name 'of the 
East has been given to him with great felicity ' (Trans. Yonge, vol. 
ii. p. 14. Cf. Bishop Reynold's Works, vol. v. p. 258). 

3 Bingham, loc. cit. 

298 the east Christ's region. 

from darkness to light, from serving idols to serve 
Him who is the Fountain of Light, 1 the profession 
of allegiance to Christ was always made with faces 
turned eastwards. Such confession of faith was 
made by the sponsors either repeating the Creed 
after the priest, as in the Eastern churches, or 
giving their assent thereto, as in the "Western, and 
this is the origin of the custom still retained in 
cathedrals and many churches of the congregation 
and choir turning towards the east while the Creed 
is being recited. 2 

It is for a similar reason, no doubt, that from 
time immemorial the dead have always been in- 
terred with their feet towards the east, so that 
when they rise from their sleep in the dust they 
may stand with their backs turned on the kingdom 
of darkness and Satan, ready to greet the dawn of 
a better day, and to meet their Judge when He 
cometh out of the east. 

' In Wales the east wind is called " the wind of the dead 
men's feet," because the dead are buried with their feet 
towards the east, to meet their Lord at His second coming.' 
Swainson, Weather Folk-Lore, p. 226. 

1 Bingham, loc. cit. ; Palmer's Antiquities of English Ritual, 
vol. ii. p. 179. Jones of Nayland, Figurative Language of Scripture, 
Lect. II. 

2 Compare the following from Lactantius — ' The east was more 
peculiarly ascribed to God because He was the fountain of ligbt 
and illuminator of all things, and because He makes us rise to 
eternal life. But the west was ascribed to that wicked and depraved 
spirit the devil, because he hides the light, and induces darkness 
always upon men, and makes them fall and perish in their sins ' 
(Bingham, vol. i. p. 654). 


Indeed, there is an ancient tradition in Bede and 
Gregory 1 that the Lord Himself was thus buried 
with His face and feet towards the east. Shaks- 
pere has an allusion to the observance in 6 Cymbe- 
line ' (iv. 2), when Guiderius says — 

' Nay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to the east ; 
My father hath a reason forV 

And assuredly it is a strange thought, a thought 
of overpowering majesty and solemnity, that the 
mighty army of the dead, the countless millions 
who have received Christian burial for many suc- 
ceeding ages, are now all lying in parallel order, 
stretched in their narrow beds in the one direction, 
— in even files, ready at the trumpet-call to start 
each to his feet, and find himself in the ranks of 
a marshalled host stretching away to the world's 
ends, but all fronting eastwards, and all face to 
face with the Son of Man as He returns out of the 
resplendent orient. 2 

1 Vide Brand, Pop. Antiquities, vol. ii.'p. 318. The sepulchral effigy 
of Dr Donne in St Paul's Cathedral was purposely turned towards 
the east, Walton tells us, ' from whence he expected the second 
coming of his and our Saviour Jesus,' according to the beautiful 
words with which his epitaph is concluded — ' Hie Licet In Occiduo 
Cinere, Aspicit Eum Cujus Nomen Est Oriens.' 

2 The Saviour, according to the Patristic interpretation of Psalm 
lxvii. 5, was conceived as having gone down into the west when He 
submitted Himself to the power of darkness ' by His cross and 
passion, by His death and burial,' and descended into the lower 
parts of the earth. The Vulgate rendering of the passage is — 
'Cantate Deo, psalmum dicite nomini ejus; iter facite ei qui 
ascendit super occasum.' In the Douay version, ' Sing ye to God, 
sing a psalm to His name ; make a way for Him who ascendeth 
upon the west.' Being loosed from the pains of death at His 
'glorious resurrection and ascension,' He arose above the west, like 
a supernatural sunrise, and triumphed over the region and the 
Prince of darkness. 


This custom of uniformity in sepulture, however, 
is not peculiar to Christians. Even amongst rude 
and barbarous tribes the region of the rising sun 
is commonly regarded as the eastern home of 
deity and the renewal of life. Therefore the 
custom of burying the dead with face to the east 
is observed by the Australians, Yumanas, Gua- 
rayos, Ainos, and others. 1 

The Samoans and Fijians, on the other hand, 
from the consideration that the land of the 
departed lies in the far west, bury the corpse 
lying with head east and feet west, in order that 
the body may have but to rise and walk straight 
onward to follow its soul home. So the Winne- 
bagos of North America, Peruvians, Athenians, 
&c. But in either case the rule of burying in the 
line of east and west is widely observed. 

What has been said above of the superstitions 
connected with the west, the region of incipient 
darkness, holds true of the north, the region of 
total gloom. 2 It also has acquired an evil charac- 
ter in many lands. It is either the appointed 
dwelling of the dead, or the chosen home of 
malicious spirits. 3 According to the Iranian 

1 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. pp. 382, 383. 

2 So the Irish niardha (the west) seems cognate with 0. Norse 
nordr, ' north,' which Ed. Miiller connects with 0. H. Ger. neran 
(wet), Gk. vdpos, vrjpos, Sans, ndra nira (water), as if * the rainy- 

3 Vide De l'Hayne de Sathan et Malins Esprits contre l'Homme, 
et de l'Homme contre Eux, par F. P. Crespet (Paris, 1590), p. 32. 


tradition the happy abodes which the good spirit 
Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda) created for his people 
were after a time smitten with calamity by the 
wicked Ahriman (Aiihro Mainyu). The first abode 
created was called Airyana Vaega, the original 
home of the Aryans, or primitive paradise ; but 
Ahriman brought in death and the great serpent, 
and produced winter, which was before unknown, 
by means of his Daevas or demons. This region 
lay towards the north. When the Persians at a 
later time abandoned this cold and inhospitable 
country for the happier climes of the south, they 
looked back with horror on their earlier home as a 
dreary land, where the demon Zemaka, the lord of 
winter, had his dwelling, the cruel, murderous 
winter, which was created by the Spirit of Evil, 
and is 'full of snow and evil thoughts.' Eventu- 
ally they came to consider the north as the habi- 
tation of demons and devils. 1 

Universally, indeed, and from the earliest times, 
there appears to have been a legendary belief that 
the enemies of religion and civilisation lived in 

1 Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ. vol. i. pp. 36, 37; Renan, Origine du 
Langage, 225. The horrible vampire-demon Drukhs Nacus,Vho was 
believed by the ancient Iranians to prey upon the dead, when 
driven away from the corpse by ablutions of pure water, was seen 
to fly away to the region of the north under the form of a fly (Pictet, 
vol. ii. p. 516). A mysterious old hag, who took up her abode in 
the charnel-house of Kilcrea Abbey, Co. Cork, towards the end of 
the last century, and used to amuse her leisure hours in building 
walls of human bones, was generally believed by the country-people 
to have come from the weird north, and to have returned thither 
when she disappeared (Notes and Queries, 4th Ser. No. lxii. p. 211). 


that quarter. Thus Gog and Magog, which, in 
one place (Rev. xx. 8), are identified with the 
powers of Antichrist, are localised in the north by 
the Koran, and Ezekiel expressly states that they 
would come upon Israel ' from the sides of the 
nortli ' (ch. xxxix. 2). 

The priests in primeval times, when offering 
prayers or taking auguries, naturally turned them- 
selves towards the rising sun, the source of light. 1 
In this position the north lay to their left hand, 
the south to the right, and the west behind them. 
Accordingly in most languages 2 the word for north 
is identical with that for left hand, south with 
right hand ; east means the region in front, and 
west that behind. In taking the auspices, every 

1 The Brahmans perform their chief religious rite of consecrating 
the fire and the sacrificial implements turning towards the east. 
The Jews, when they kill any creature, turn his face to the east, 
saying, 'Be it sanctified in the great name of God' (Howell, 
Letters, I. vi. 14). 

The Thugs, worshippers of Kali, the death-goddess, used to per- 
form the consecration of their implements of murder turned to- 
wards the west, the home of death (Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. 
385). In digging up that magical root, the mandrake, one of the 
ceremonies necessary to be observed in order to avert the fatal effects 
of its groans was to turn the face toward the west (Pliny xxv. I'd). 

2 E.g., Hebrew shmol = left hand and north ; yamin, right and 
south; kcdem, before and east (cf. Job xxiii. 8, 9). Sans, savya 
= left and north; dahshina, right and south; pura, before and east; 
apara, behind and west. Irish tuaidh, tuath = left and north ; 
deas, right and south ; iar, behind and west — whence Erin, ' the ivest- 
em isle ; ' airthir, the front and east. Scy thic martu, behind and 
west. So completely do these meanings merge into one another in 
Irish, that a Kerry man may be heard speaking of the wesht side of 
his jaw, meaning the back part, or the easht of his head, meaning 
the front (airthir a chinn). — Stokes, Irish Glosses, p. 63. A similar 
mode of speaking prevailed in Scotland (vide Dean Ramsay's lie- 
miniscences, p. 93, 10th ed.) 


sign which was observed towards the infernal north 
was looked upon as disastrous, 1 all towards the 
south as favourable ; and hence it comes that the 
word for left hand commonly means also unlucky, 
of evil augury {e.g., sinister, dpio-repos), and that 
for the right hand, lucky, prosperous {e.g., dexter, 
Sefjo?). 2 The Scandinavians, who originally prayed 
and sacrificed towards the north, when converted to 
Christianity, placed the devil there as in his ap- 
propriate quarter, just as the ancient Iranians had 
done their demons. 3 

But the same notion has crept into Christian 
traditions from another source, from an old, but 
mistaken, interpretation of a very sublime passage 
in the prophecy of Isaiah (ch. xiv. 12, 13) — c How 
art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the 
morning; ... for thou hast said in thine heart, I 
will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne 
above the stars of God : I will sit also upon the 
mount of the congregation, in the sides of the 
north.'' The personage really referred to here is the 
King of Babylon, who, after having advanced the 
most extravagant pretensions, is represented as 

1 In Sweden, if the cuckoo's voice on its first arrival is heard 
from the north, the unlucky side, it portends a year of sorrow to 
the hearer; heard from the east or west it betokens luck, and from 
the south it gives promise of a good butter year (Grimm). So 
Arabia Felix, i.e., Arabia the Happy, is probably a translation of 
its Arabic name Yemen, which, though meaning primarily the right 
hand, or sowhem land, may also mean ' happy, prosperous.' 

2 Pictet, vol. i. p. 114, vol. ii. p. 491 ; Philolog. See. Proceedings, 
vol. ii. p. 279. 3 Pictet, vol. ii. p. 497. 


being brought down from his high estate, and 
quenched in darkness like a falling star. He is 
accused of arrogating to himself divine honours, 
and boasting that he would take his seat in the 
assembly of the gods, which, according to the wide- 
spread heathen notion in which he had been 
brought up, were supposed to reside upon a very 
high mountain in the extreme north. 1 

At an early period this passage was brought 
into connection with that other in St Luke (ch. x. 
18), which speaks of Satan being seen like light- 
ning to fall from heaven ; and from this identifica- 
tion has arisen the popular perversion of the 
beautiful name Lucifer (' the morning star,' a 
name which is given to the Son of God Himself, 
Kev. xxii. 16) to signify the devil, and the com- 
mon belief that his dwelling is in the north. 
This latter idea was favoured by such expressions 
as these, which occur frequently in the Book of 
Jeremiah — ' Out of the north an evil shall break 
forth ' (ch. i. 14) ; 6 Evil appeareth out of the north, 

1 In the Hindu mythology the abode of the gods was placed on 
the mountain Meru, at the North Pole (Renan, Origine du Langage, 
p. 224). By the Babylonians and Medo-Persians it was called 
Albordj, a mountain also 'in the sides of the north,' and the oldest 
Greek traditions point to the same quarter as the birth-place of gods 
and men. The Romans also, according to Varro, regarded the north 
as the dwelling of their gods. 

To the mountain of demons Arezura, or Demavend, where the 
sun goes down,' and where is the gate of hell, is opposed in Persian 
tradition the glorious mountain out of which are born the heroes 
and the kings, i.e., the sun and moon rise there (De Gubernatis, 
Mythical Zoology, vol. i. p. 96). 


and great destruction' (ch. vi. I). 1 'There hath 
beene an old saying, that all evils rise out of the 
north,' saith that good knight Sir E. Barckley, in 
his ' Felicitie of Man' (1631), p. 339, and Gaffarel 
gives us the reason why — 

' I conceive it would stand with sound philosophy to an- 
swer, by reason of the darkness and gloominess of the air 
of those parts, caused by the great distance of the sun, 
and also by reason of the evil spirits which inhabit dark 
places. 2 

In the ' Cursor Mundi,' an old English poem of 
the fourteenth century, the 'caytif Lucifer gives 
utterance -to his rebellious pride in these terms — 

' Sett mi sete i sail 
Gaynis him J>at es best of all, 
In pe north side sal it be sett, 
Seruise of me sal he non gett. 
Qui suld i him seruise 3eilde ? ' 

LI. 457-461 (E.E.T.S. ed.) 

The ' Story of Genesis and Exodus,' an early 
English song written about 1250,- assigns a reason 
for the fiend, here termed Ligber, i.e., Light- 

1 Compare also chs. iv. 6 ; xlvi. 20 ; xlvii. 2 ; li. 48. The evil and 
destruction alluded to in these passages is generally understood to 
be the Chaldean and Assyrian invasions. Keil (Minor Prophets, vol. 
ii. p. 294), commenting on the words ' north country ' (Zech. vi. 8), 
observes that it is representative of the heathen-world power, the in- 
veterate foes of God's people, especially the Assyrio- Babylonian 
Empire. Appropriately enough it is the black horses of God'3 
judgments that are sent thither (Zech. vi. 6). 

2 Southey's Doctor, p. 215. ' He would not be laid east and 
west (for he ever went against the haire), but north and soutli ; 
I think because " Ab aquilone omne malum." ' (Martin's Month's 
Mind, 1589 ; quoted in Brand, Pop. Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 292). 



"bearer (= Lucifer), making choice of that posi-i 

tion — 

1 Min fligt,' he seide, ' ic wile up- taken, 
Min sete north on heuene maken, 
And thor ic wile sitten and sen 
Al the thinges the in werlde ben, 
Twen heuone hil and helle dik, 
And ben -min louerd geuelic' 

LI. 277-282 (ed. Morris, E.E.T.S.) 

Milton, it will be remembered, has countenanced 

the idea in the fifth book of his great epic, where 

Satan is introduced saying — 

' I am to haste, 
And all who under me their banners wave, 
Homeward, with flying march, where we possess 
The quarters of the north;'' 1 Paradise Lost, v. 686-689. 

1 Newton, in his comment on these lines, epiotes a confirmatory 
passage, locating the devil and his angels in the north, out of a 
Latin poem by Ordoricus Valmerana, 1627, and Jortin, one out of 
Saunazarius, ' De Partu Virginis,' vol. iii. p. 40. 

I may add as an illustration Olympiodorus's exposition of the 
verse, ' if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the 
place where the tree falleth, there it shall be ' (Eccles. xi. 3). 'In 
whatsoever place, therefore, whether of light or of darkness, -whether 
in the work of wickedness or of virtue, a man is taken at his death, 
in that degree and rank doth he remain ; either in light with the 
just, and Christ the King of all, or in darkness, with the wicked and 
the prince of this world ' (Quoted in Usher's Answer to a Jesuit, 
1624, Cambridge ed., p. 161). 

' Pero che lui [Sathan] volse melior stato Che Dio non li haveva 
datto, pero volea ponere la sua sedia ad aquilone ch'e contro al meza 
di, a esser pari a altissimo, e voleva comandare alii altri per tyran- 
neria ' (Libro del Maestro e del Discepolo, intitulato Lucidario, 
cap. 5. Vineggia, 1534). 

' Many of the ancients have concluded hell to be in the north, 
which is signified by the left hand ; unto which side our Saviour 
tells us that the goats shall be divided. . . . And in this sense also 
do some expound that of Zechariah (xiv. 4), where it is said that 
the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst : half of it shall re- 
move towards the north, and half tow r ards the south.' By which it 


and it is there he is represented as having Lis 

royal seat and palace. So Shakspere introduces 

the sorceress La Pucelle, exclaiming — 

' You speedy helpers, that are substitutes 
Under the lordly monarch of the north, 
Appear, and aid me in this enterprise/ 

1st Pt. Henry VI., v. 3. 1 

Compare also the following — 

' Proud Asmenoth, ruler of the north, 
And Demogorgon, master of the fates, 
Grudge that a mortal man should work so much.' 

Greene, Friar Bacon (1594, ed. Dyce, p. 173). 
* He is busie with Mammon and the Prince of the North, 
howe to build up his kingdome, or sending his sprites abroad 
to undermine the maligners of his government.' 

Nash, Pierce Pennilesse (1592, Shaks. Soc. ed.), p. 11. 

' Thieves, bandits, leavings of confusion, whom 
The wholesome realm is purged of otherwhere, 
Make their last head, like Satan, in the North.' 

Tennyson, Last Tournament. 
' Lord, why wolde he tho * thulke wrechede Lucifer 
Lepen on a lofte ■ in the northe syde ? ' 
Zangland, Vision of Piers Plowman (1362, "Whitaker's ed.), 
p. 18. 

Death, also, was considered to have its dwelling 

is intimated that amongst those Gentiles who shall take upon them 
the profession of Christ there are two sorts : some that go to the 
north, that is to hell ; and others to the south, that is to heaven ' 
(Bp. Wilkins, Discourse Concerning a New Planet, 1640, pp. 

1 Douce, quoting an eminent authority in these matters (Weir, 
De prsestigiis Daemonurn), informs us that this ' monarch of the 
north ' was named Zimimar, and was one of the four principal devils 
invoked by witches (Illustrations of Shakspere, p. 315). Baal 
Zephon, mentioned in Scripture, is, according to Bunsen, equiva- 
lent to Bal Typhon, the lord of the north ' (Egypt, vol. iii. p. 201). 


in the north. In the very curious old poem of 

' Death & LifTe,' printed lately for the first time 

in the ' Percy Folio/ we read (vol. iii. p. 62) — 

' Once again into the north • mine eye then I cast. 
I there saw a sight ' was sorrowfull to behold. 
One of the vglyest ghosts ■ that on the earth gone. 
There was no man of this sight ■ but hee was affrayd, 
Soe grislye & great * & grim to behold. 5 LI. 150-154. 

This ' ugly ghost ' is Death, followed by her suite, 

Envy, Wrath, Mischief, Sorrow, and Sickness. 

So in the ' Edda,' the place where men are 

punished after death is depicted as 

' A hall standing 
far from the Sun 
on the Dead-land's shore, 
its doors are northwards turned." 

In e Hakluyts Voiages' ( 1 598), x speaking of the 

Tatars, he says — 

' Then goeth a servant out of the house with a cuppe full 
of drinke sprinckling it thrise towards the South, and bowing 
his knee at every time ; and this is done for the honour of 
the fire. Then perfourmeth he the like superstitious idolatrie 
towards the East, for the honour of the ayre ; and then to the 
West for the honour of the water : and lastly to the North in 
the behalf e of the dead.' 

With the Chinese, likewise, aud for a sufficient 
reason, the north was held in had repute. As 
northerly winds blow in China throughout the 
entire winter, the natives not unnatural!}' associate 

1 Vol. i. p. 93. ' Journal of frier William de Rubruquis a 
French man of the order of the Minorite friers, vnto the East parts 
of the worlde. An. Doin. 1253.' 


with them the death of Nature, and look upon that 
quarter of the compass as the one from which all 
evil influences emanate. To ward off those adverse 
influences they have a peculiar art of divination 
called fung skw/, 1 the professors of which are 
called in whenever a house is to be built, and 
above all, when a site is to be chosen for a grave. 
'-A thoroughly good situation,' it is said, i must be 
one open to the south, with nothing abruptly to 
check the flow of the southerly blessing ; and to 
the north there must be some hill or rising ground, 
some tree or other object, to check the tide of evil 
from that withering region. If the position be 
bad, the dead, irritated and annoyed by the un- 
pleasant influence from the north, make known 
their resentment by causing sickness and other 
calamities to assail the family ; and finally, if the 
mischief is not repaired, they make it wither away. 
Each village has its Jung shuy, its luck; and the 
hand of the man who would cut down a lucky tree, 
thus letting in a stream of curses from the north, 
is said to be paralysed and withered on the spot.' 
A similar superstition about interments, as we 
shall see presently, prevailed in our own country 
till comparatively recently. 

It was remarked above that in consequence of 
the universal belief that the devil had his dwelling 

1 Davis, The Chinese, p. 241. See also Dr Ernest Eitel's pam- 
phlet 'Feng-Shui' (Triibner), 1873. 


in the darkening direction of the west, it was 
customary at baptism to turn thitherward, and 
withstand him to the face in his own very quarter. 
But the sunless north, with still stronger reason, 
was deemed an infernal region. Accordingly, a 
door is still to be seen in the northern side of the 
old church at Wellcombe, in Cornwall, 1 called the 
' Devil's Door,' which used formerly to be set 
open whenever a child was being baptized, in 
order that the fiend, when exorcised and renounced, 
might take his departure, and have a free passage 
to his own region by the shortest possible route. 
On the same grounds it was long customary in 
many places to leave the north side of the church- 
yard totally unoccupied, even though other parts 
of it were crowded. 2 There are no graves to be 
found, Mr Hawker tells us, to the north of Mor- 
wenstow Church, and it is only within the last 
few years that any interments have been made on 
the north side of the old churchyard of Powers - 
court, in the County Wicklow. The following notice 
of the custom occurs in Archbishop Hamiltoune's 
Catechisme (1551) : 3 — ' Siclyke supersticion is 
amang theme, that they will nocht berisch or erde 
the bodis of thar friendis on the north part of the 

1 Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall, by Rev. R. S. 
Hawker, p. 24. 

2 Hunt, Drolls of the West of England, 2d Ser. p. 164 ; Brand's 
Pop. Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 292 ; White, Antiquities of Seiborne, 
Let. IV. 

3 Quoted in Jamieson, Scot. Diet. s.v. Bcry. 


kirk-yard, trowand that tliair is mair halynes or 
verteu on the south syde than on the north.' So 
one Mr Benjamin Rhodes, in 1657, ' requested to 
be interred in the open churchyard, on the north 
side (to crosse the received superstition, as he 
thought, of the constant choice of the south side), 
near the new chappel ' 1 (of Maiden, Bedfordshire). 
The cause of this prejudice is said to have been 
the idea that the northern part, or ' the wrong 
side of the church,' as it was called, was that 
appropriated for the burial of unbaptized infants, 
suicides, excommunicated persons, and those that 
had been executed. 2 But the fact is, it was 
appropriated to these precisely for the reason that 
it was Satan's quarter by prescriptive right. A 
similar remark applies to Mr Erredge's account, 
in his * History of Brighthelmston ' — 

' In primitive times, the south side of every churchyard 
contained a column placed on a pedestal, having on its sum- 
mit a cross ; and the nearer to this a corpse was interred, so 
much the sooner, it was believed, would the soul be released 
from purgatory. Hence the reason why the south side of a 
churchyard most frequently contains the greater number of 
interments, individuals having a solemn dread of being 
buried in the north where there was no cross ' (p. 116). 

And why no cross there, but for the reason that it 
was Satan's region of old ? Finally, it appears to 

1 The Wise and Faithful Steward, by P. Samwaies (1657), p. 27 ; 
in Brand, vol. ii. p. 293. 

2 Burns, Parish Registers, p. 107; Old Folk-Lore of Ireland, 
p. 87. 


have been the same old traditional belief which 
has caused the northern side of the cathedrals at 
Cologne, at Freiburg, at Amiens, and doubtless 
at other places, to be left quite plain and un- 
adorned, while the southern side is richly decorated 
with all the exuberance of architectural detail. 

In conclusion, we can scarcely fail in the course 
of our inquiry to have been struck by the strange 
unanimity with which mankind have conspired to 
regard night upon the one hand, the west and the 
north upon the other, the season of darkness, and 
the regions of darkness, as having been submitted 
to the more immediate and deadly influence of the 
Prince of the power of the air ; and without in- 
dulging in any flights of transcendental mysticism, 
we may fairly hold it probable that an element of 
truth must lie at the bottom of a belief which is 
almost universal. 

( 313 ) 


n. refers to the Notes. 

Achievement, 236, n. 
Adaw, 71 
Adonis, 294, n. 
Adulation, 67 
Alcove, 20, n., 132 
Alp, 117, n. 
Ambassador, 41 
Amen, 91 
Anglois, 172 
Anointed, 221 
Area, 240 
Areola, 240 
Argentum, 2S1, n. 
Asia, 289, n. 
Aspen, 83 
Assassin, 173 
Assuage, 69 
Atlas-bone, 200 
Auph, 117 
Aureole, 240 
Aurora, 281 
Aurum, 281, n. 
Av.ster, 280, n. 
Austria, 280, n. 

'Baby of the eye,' 

Backbite, 154 
Bad, 108 
Badinage, 216, n. 
Bedling, 140 
' Bee in bonnet,' 147 
Begueule, 216 
Bejaune, 119 
Bellarmine, a, 168 
Belly, 187 

Benct, 221 
Betty, a, 235 
Billevesee, 211 
Bimus, 161 
Bladder, 212 
Blandus, 65 
Blast, 212 
Blather, 65 
Blazon, 237 
Blether, 65 
Boast, 212 
Body, 3 
Bohemian, 170 
Boisterous, 212 
Bolster, 139 
Bone, 188 
Booby, 117, 217 
Booth, 5 
Bothy, 5^ 
Bo-tree, 79 
Bough, 190 
Bougre, 170 
Bow, 99, n. 
Branch, 190 
Breast, 4 
Bribe, 72 
Brickie, 252 
Brusque, 157 
Bubble, to, 123 
Bubble (= fool), 210 
Buck {- breast), 187 
Buffoon, 213 
Bug, 143 
Bulk, 187 
Bumpkin, 208 
Bunny, 135 

Burr {- halo), 239 
Busk, 4 

Cab, 161 
Cabin, 25 
Cabriolet, 161 
Cajole, 124 
Calibre, 232 
Calvor, 63, n. 
Canaanite, 172 
Cancer, 150 
Canvass, to, 59 
Cap, 26 
Cape, 26 
Caper, 159 
Caprice, 159 
Capriole, 161 
Capstan, 232 
Carcanet, 13, n. 
Carcass, 13 
Career, 13 
Casa, 26 
Cassock, 26 
Cervix, 200 
Chagrin, 153 
Chastise, 53 
Chasuble, 26 
Chats, 194 
Chatouiller, 64 
Chemise, 23, n. 
Chest, 4 
Chevron, 232 
Chignon, 198 
Chimera, 161, n. 
Chit, 194 
Cider, 253, n. 



Clan, 194 

Claw, to, 63 
Claw-back, G3 
Clever, 243 
Clock ( = beetle). 249 
Coast, 42 
Coat, 24 
Coco, 204 
Coco-nut, 205 
Coke, 214 
Colt, to, 162 
Concha, 203 
Coney, 228, n. 
Con tern no, 45 
Contrition, 153 
Coolie, 170 
Coot, 135, n. 
Corinthian, a, 1G9 
Corpse, 187 
Corsey, 152 
Corsive, 152 
Costereauls, 42 
Cot, 24 
Cote, to, 42 
Coulter, 227 
Coward, 131 
Cow-heart, 133 
Craindre, 251 
Cretin, 222 
Cullion, 7, n. 
Cuneus, 228 
Curry favour, G3 
Cutty, 135, n. 
Cyprian, a, 169 

Daffodil, 121, n. 
Daft, 222 
Dan, 130 
Dappled, 121, n. 
Date (fruit), 190 
Dead, 196 
Deaf, 214 
Deliver (adj.), 246 
Depravity, 102 
Ms, 285 
Discern, 56 
Discretion, 56 
Discuss, 58 
Distinguisb, 59 
Dod, 45 
Doddered, 196 
Doddipoll, 45, 196 
Dodo, 118 
Dolce, 71 

Dolly, a, 234 
Doni, 130 
Dotard, 196 
Dotterel, 118, 127 
Douceur, 71 
Dragon-tree, 79 
Dunce, 128 
Dupe, 121 
Dwale, 214 

Early, 281, n. 
Easel, 231 
East, 280 
Elbow, 190 
Ephesian, an, 170 
Erebus, 286 
Eschew, 99, n. 
Escolimoso, 157 
Europe, 289, n. 

Fade, 215 
Farrow, 229 
Fateor, 217 
Fatisco, 217 
Fatuor, 219 
Fat uus, 215 
Feek, 36 
Fickle, 36 
Fire, 53 
Flat, 60 
Flatch, 60, n. 
Flatter, 60 
Fleech, 60, n. 
Flicker, 35, n. 
Flirt, 32 
Flunkey, 40 
Flurt-silk, 39 
Fly (= knowing), 119, 

Foal, 174, n. 
FolUs, 209 
Fond, 212, 215 
Fool, 209 
Fourmiller, 149 
Fox, 135, n. 
Fret, 150 
Fro ward, 104 
Fugio, 99, n. 
Fur, 7 
Furor, 220 
Furrow, 229 
Fury, 220 

Gabardine, 25 

Gaby, 216 
Gaiting, 161 
Gale, 212 
Gallant, a, 193 
Gape, 216 
Garble, 56. ». 
Garcon, 193 
Gauntree. 232 
Gawk, 117 
Gawney, 217 
Gldber, 03 
Glaver, 63 
Glegg, 243, n. 
Glib, 63 

' God's apes,' 222 
Goff, 117 
Gofish, 117 
Gold, 119 
Gorgeous, 115 
Gossoon, 193 
Grozcari, 166 
Grain ( — branch), 189 
Grec, 169 
Greybeard, a, 1G8 
Grig, 164 
Grillo, 146, 158 
Grim, 265, n. 
Grime, 265, /?. 
Gringoriane, 165 
Gris {- drunk), 167 
Groin, 189 
Grygynge, 165. n. 
Guipure, 99 
Gull, 119 
Gypsy, 170 

Halo, 238 
Hamp, 23, n. 
Harass, 155, 226 
Hare, 138 
Harrow, 226 
Haste, 138 
Hatcbmeut, 205 
Hearse, 223 
Hehrku, 167 
Heifer, 159, n. 
Hencb, to, 41 
Henchman. 41 
Hirpex, 226 
Hirpus, 229 
Hoe, 227 
Honey, to, 71 
Hood, 26 
Hoopoe, 121 



Hose, 26 
Housing, 26 
Hummel, to, 43, n. 
Huppe, 123 
Hut, 26 

Imp, 193 
Indulge, 71 
Intelligence, 57 
Iris (of the eye), 176 

Jack, a, 234 
Japan, 289, n. 
Jattne, 119 
Jeroboam, a, 168, n. 
Joram, a, 168, n. 

Kalbern, 162 
Kara, 105 
Kedge-belly, 3 
Kedgy, 3 
Keg, 3 
Knacker, 259, n. 

Lackey, 194 

Lad, 194 

Laik, 164 

Lancea, 188, 195 

Lark, to, 162 

Larvatus, 143 

Lath, 194 

Lauda, 236 

Leg, 1S8 

Lepus, 138 

Licam, 23 

Lich, 5, n. 

Lie (= mentiri), 105 

Lie (= vecumhtrc). 

105, n. 
Li'tare, 105 
Lilith, 268, n. 
Limb, 190 
Lisciare, 64 
Locusta, 164 
Lombard, 171 
Loon, 118, n. 
Loudier, 140 
Lozenge, 237 
Lumber, 171 
Lumme, 118, n. 
Luxury, 102 

Maggot, 144 
Malebranche, 190 

Man, 222 

Mandrake, names for, 

192, n. 
Mange, 150, n. 
Mania, 144, n., 220 
Maol, 45 
Martel, 147, n. 
Maukin, 235 
Mawk, 145, n. 
Mawky, 145, a. 
Mazer, 202 
Mazzard, 201 
Mel, 71 

' Merry Greek,' 166 
' Merry grig,' 164 
Mild, 71 
Milk, 65 
Mischief, 236, n. 
Mistle-toe, 181 
Mole, 228, n. 
Mulcere, 65 
Malgere, 65 

Nag, to, 156 
Nagging, 156 
Nape, 202 
Nasty, 111, n. 
Near( = stingy ),1 56, n. 
Necare, 260 
Niais, 120 
Nick, Old, 259, it. 
Niggard, 156 
Night, 259 
Nocere, 260 
Noddle, 199 
North, 300, n. 
Nox, 259 
Noxious, 260 
Noy, to, 260 
Nygun, 156 

Oaf, 117 
Obliquus, 105 
Omadhaun, 222 

Paillard, 140 
Pain, 53 
Pallet, 140 
Palm, 190 
Palper, 64 
Palus, 182 
Pan (= skull), 201 
Pate, 201 
Pellex, 195 

Penal, 53 
Periwinkle, 10S 
Pernicious, 260 
Persuade, 68 
Pervinkle, 108 
Pigeon, 120 
Pique, 155 
P/acare, 60, n. 
Plank, 60, a. 
Ptanta, 182, 194 
Planus, 60, n. 
Platoon, 249 
Plush, 249 
Pluto, 285 
Poll, 201 
Poltroon, 138 
Porous, 228 
Pulley, 231 
Punish, 53 
Pumpkin, 208 
Pupil, 174 
Pupus, 174, //. 
Pure, 53 
Purgatory, 53 
Putare, 59 

Queer, 104 
Quinter, 161, n. 

Rabbit, 135 
Rake, 230, ,i. 
Rampike, 195 
Pecamcr, 28 
Rehearse, 226 
Remark, 60 
Remorse, 154 
Reprobate, 51 
Reveelie, 104 
Rip up, 226 
Putrobo, 104 
Robur, 75 
Runt, 195 

Sap-head, 207 
Sarcasm, 155 
Sawder, soft, 69 
Hcelus, 106 
Schlecht, 222, n. 
Science, 57 
Scorn, 42 
Scowl. 106 
Scroby, 156 
Scrofula, 150 
Scut (= tail), 135, n. 



Scut (term of abuse), 

7, n. 
Searce, 55 
Search, 55 
Shagreen, 153 
Share, 228 
Shingle, 252 
Shrew-mouse, 228 
Sidesmen, 41 
Silly, 221 
Sin, 111 

Sir John, a, 129 
Skeel, 106, n. 
Skeg, 117 
Skell, 10G, n. 
Skill, 57 
Skull, 203 
Slant, 104 
Slave, 171 
Sleek, G4 
Slent, 104 
Slem, 107, n. 
Slim, 65 
Sloop, 249 _ 
Smicker, 65 
Smuckle, 05 
Soc, 229 
Somer, 232 
Sooth ( — sweetness), 

Sooth (= truth), 8S, 

Soothe, 68 
Soother, 68 
Souple-Jack, 100 
Springald, 195 
Squirrel, 135, n. 
Stake, 59, n. 
Statute, 88, n. 
Stigma, 59, n. 
Stimulate, 59, n. 
Sting, 59, n. 
Stroke, 61 
Suadcrc, 68 
Suavis, 69 
Sulcus, 230, rt. 
Sumph, 206 
Surplice, 249 
Swag, 109, n. 
Swamp, 207 

Sweet, 68 
Sweeten, 68 
Sweg, 109, ii. 
Swick, 109, n. 
Switzer, 170 
Swyke, 109, n. 
Sybarite, 169 

TammOz, 294, n. 
Tartufe, 207 
Tayon, 195 
Tear, 151, n. 
Tease, 157 
Tcdcsco, 166 
Test, 50 
Tester, 202 
Testy, 202 
Tete, 202 
Thwart, 104. n. 
Tickle, 252 ' 
Timbre, 238 
Toad-flax, 214, n. 
Toad-stone, 214, n. 
Toe, 181 
Tort, 103 
Toupee, 199, n. 
Tree, 84 
Tressel, 231, n. 
Trim, 87, n. 
Trow, 93 
True, 84 
Try, a, 49 
Try, to, 47 
Twist (= groin), 189 
Twisty, 104 

Ulcus, 230, n. 
Uro, 281, n. 

Vac Mar e, 109, n. 
Vain, 212 
Valet, 193 
Vanus, 212 
Varlet, 193 
Vassal, 193 
Vastus, 276 
Venenum, 200 
Verve, 161 
Very, 249 
Vetch, 108 

Vice, 101 

Vice (= screw), 113 
Vicia, 103 
Vicis, 108 
Vico, 99 
Vimen, 99 
Vinca, 108 
Vinccre, 108 
Vincire, 103 
Virtue, 112, n. 
V it arc, 99, n. 
Vilellus, 97, v. 
Vitis, 97 
Vitium, 97 
Vitulari, 162 

Waste, 260, 270 
Wattled, 98 
Wayward, 104 
Weak, 109, 111 
Weave, 99 
Weeds, 99 
Week, 109, n. 
Welcher, 170 
Wench, 106, n. 
West, 276 
Wholly, 64 
Whane, 64 
Whanter, 64 
Wheedle, 67, n. 
Whirlbone, 199, n. 
Wick, 109 

Wicked, 109, 111, 113 
Wicker, 108 
Wince, 106, n. 
Winkle, 106, n., 10S 
Wit, 58 
Withe, 98, 107 
Woh, 105 
Wolf, 150, 229, n. 
Wood-cock, 120 
Worry, 230 
Worse, 103 
Wrench, 106 
Wrong, 103 

Yawn, 217 
Yawney, 217 
Yellow, 119 
Yellow-hammer, 23, n. 







Thi, book is due od the last date stamped below, or 


1 PAN deft: 

BEC.CIR.WW 22 78 

OCT 2 1 W 8t 


LD 2lA-60m-10,'65 

General Library , 
University of California 




t v tex « mt