« ZurückWeiter »
· Hadst thou been kill'd when first thou didst presume,
• If he
An it had not been his ministry'. (Scott.) 'If thou hadst said him nay, it had been sin’. * Had better, rather, best, as lief, as well, &c.', is a form that is explained under this heading. * Had' stands for 'would have'. The exploded notion that ‘had' is a corrupted 'would' must be guarded against.
'I had as lief not be'. That is—'I would as lief have not (to) be' 'I would as willingly (or as soon) have nonexistence.
'Had you rather Cæsar were living ?' • Would you rather have (would you prefer that) Cæsar were living ?'
'He had better reconsider the matter' is 'he would better have (to) reconsider the matter'.
I had rather be a kitten and cry mew
I had rather hear a brazen canstick turned'. Let us compare this form with another that appears side by side with it in early writers. (Cp. Lat. 'habeo' and mihi est'.)
The construction of 'had' is thus illustrated in Chaucer, as in-Nonne Prestes Tale, 300 :
• By God, I hadde levere than my scherte,
ye hadde rad his legend, as I have.' Compare now:
* Ah me were levere with lawe loose my lyf
Then so to fote hem falle.” (Wright, Polit. S.) Here'were' is unquestionably for 'would be'; and the whole expression might be given by 'had', thus : ‘Ah I
* In principal clauses the inflection of the second person is always retained : 'thou hadst'. 'thou wouldst, shouldst', &c. example, the subordinate clause, although subjunctive, shows ‘hadst'. And this usage is exceedingly
*(to) loose' and '(to) falle', changing from subjects of were' to objects of 'hadde'.
So, in the Chaucer example above, if we substitute 'be' for ‘have', we shall get the same meaning, thus: ‘By God, me were levere -'. The interchange helps us to see more clearly that 'hadde’ is to be explained as subjunctive for would have'.
Present Tense (Indefinite). It cannot be too strongly borne in mind that this is the Universal Tense, or the means of expressing universal truth, or permanent arrangements. It signifies present, past, and future all together.
The chief occasion of mistake on this point is when a universal truth is stated as maintained or denied by some one in the past. “He denied that Electricity and Magnetism are (not were) the same agent'. "Such a man would not admit that two and two is four'. • A Latin poet once sang that freedom never flourishes more brightly than it does under a righteous king'. (Freeman.)
Water seeks the lowest level'. * Time and tide wait for no man'. • Still waters run deep'. • Blunt wedges rive hard knots'.
· The evil that men do, lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones'.
But great men tremble when the lion roars '. To limit an action to the present time, so as to exclude past and future, we either use an adverb, or trust to the knowledge of the circumstances. There is a ceremonial present, in performing some official act; as, ' I give, declare, admit, pronounce, sentence', which we know from the nature of the case to be a present act. Even then, it is not unusual to couple the adverb 'now'.
In calling meetings, there is a superfluity, and therefore an inelegance, in saying—The Committee will meet on
Thursday next '. Say rather—' The Committee meets on Thursday'. I once overheard the Duke of Wellington, in the House of Lords, ask—Does the House meet to-morrow ?'
In other languages, the usage is the same: poeta nascitur, orator fit.
The present tense, indefinite, is the pure verb, without any expression for time at all. It is nearest the verbal root; the past and the future are formed by grafting syllables upon it, or by conjoining auxiliary words. When we are designating the action, as such, without reference to time; when we are stating one action, to the exclusion of others, we use the bare, naked verb, although said to be in the present tense. • Do you admit that ?' 'No, I deny it'.
SOURCES OF THE VOCABULARY.
The practical end of reviewing the sources of our vocabulary is to compare the respective merits in composition of the Saxon and the Classical parts of the vocabulary. With the Saxon, in this comparison, we take in also the Celtic, which, though philologically very different, furnishes a similar class of names- s—the names of the more common and familiar things.
Classical terms are introduced not simply to supply names for things not otherwise named; they are still more extensively employed for meanings already expressed by words of home growth; so that, in many instances, we have a choice of terms-Saxon and Classical. We can say-happiness or felicity, luck or fortune, knowledge or cognition, mistake or
The two classes of words have their special advantages, and should be employed, not indiscriminately, but with reference to the purpose of the speaker.
First, as regards the Saxon or native words :-1. These are more easily and readily understood by the
* Objections are taken to the use of the word 'Saxon', as implying an untenable theory respecting the origin of the English language. There is not, however, any other name but would be equally misleading in different ways. The term 'English' would not be generally received in any other meaning than to signify the language as it is now made up of a wide diversity of ingredients; while ‘Old English 'points more particularly to an earlier stage in the Grammar of the language. In the phraseology of literary criticism, 'Saxon 'has long been used as a general name for the native or Teutonic part
our present speech : and it may be sufficiently guar to serve that purpose still without involving any hypothesis as to the special Teutonic dialect that gave origin to the English tongue.
mass of the people, and especially the uneducated. A ‘mis. take' is more intelligible than error, fallacy, or sophism; clever' or 'skilful' is better understood than 'sagacious', 'ingenious', “dexterous'; 'food' is more familiar than 'aliment', 'nutriment', 'victuals', 'viands'. Compare ‘lie' with 'falsehood', 'fiction', 'fabrication'; 'mad' with «infatuated', insane'; roar' with clamour', exclamation'.
2. Saxon words are especially connected with the feelings of the great mass of the people. The home affections are more strongly roused by the Saxon names— father, child, wife', than by such words as 'parental, filial, and marital relationships'. So the vituperative language of native growth is best calculated to rouse the shame or the indignation of the common people : ‘rogue', 'rascal', 'blackguard' are more strongly felt by them than ‘malefactor', 'miscreant', or even 'villain'.
Next, as regards the Classical words :
1. They are necessary to scientific and technical precision. What our Saxon words state vaguely, the classical derivatives express precisely. Knowledge' is wide and vague, 'science' is distinct and well-defined. 'Bad' has a wide latitude of meaning, 'criminal' has a more limited and determined meaning. 'Speech' and `words' are not so precise as ‘vocables' and 'vocabulary'. 'Readable' has a wide signification; ‘legible’ is narrow and precise. Compare, in like manner, ‘wander' with 'travel'; 'old' with 'ancient', 'antiquated', archaic', 'longevity’; think' with cogitate'; 'bent' with 'inclination', 'proclivity’; · feeling' with consciousness '; 'mistake' with 'error', 'fallacy', 'sophism', 'paralogism'; 'only' with 'unique'; skilled' with 'expert'; (wrath' with retribution',
nemesis'; 'friendly' (or big-minded) with liberal', 'catholic', 'cosmopolitan'; 'town' with 'capital', 'metropolis '.
The mere multiplication of ideas to be expressed throws us upon the classical part of our language. From the one fact indicated by the word 'make', there spreads out a variety of situations needing to be named; and instead of