Slike strani

exhibit the auxiliaries may, will, can with the to. he also produces from Spenser (F. Q., iv. 7. 32),"Whom when on ground she grovelling saw to roll;"

and from Shakespeare (Othello, iv. 2)—

"I durst, my Lord, to wager she is honest."


Other verbs that are found in Shakespeare sometimes construed in the same manner are endure, forbid, intend, vouchsafe; as,

"The treason that my haste forbids me show."

Rich. II., v. 3.

"How long within this wood intend you stay?"

Mid. N. Dr., ii. 1.

"Your betters have endured me say my mind."

Tam. of Shrew, iv. 3.

“Most mighty Duke, vouchsafe me speak a word.”

Com. of Er. v. 1.

The verb to owe, it may further be observed, is etymologically the same with own. Shakespeare repeatedly has owe where own would be now employed; as in Iago's diabolical self-gratulation (in Othello, iii. 3):

"Not poppy, nor mandragora,

Nor all the drowsy syrops of the world,

Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owed' st yesterday."

The original English word is ágan,—the ag, or radical part, of which is evidently the same with the ex of the Greek EXE, signifying to hold, to possess, to have for one's property, or what we call one's own. If we suppose the a to have been pronounced broad, as in our modern all, and the g to have come to be softened as g final usually is in modern German, ag and owe, unlike as they are to the eye, will be only different ways of spelling, or representing by letters, almost the same vocal utterance. The sound which the vowel originally had is more nearly preserved in the Scotch form of the word, awe. Then which we have in the form own is either merely the common an



nexation which the vowel sound is apt to seek as a support or rest for itself, or, probably, in this case it may the en of the ancient past participle (ágen) or the an of the infinitive (ágan). So we have both to awake and to awaken, to ope and to open. In so short a word as the one under consideration, and one in such active service, these affixes would be the more liable to get confounded with the root. It may sound odd to speak of a man as owning what he owes; yet, if we will think of it, there are few things that can rightly be said to be more a man's own than his debts; they are emphatically proper to him, or his property, clinging to him, as they do, like a part of himself. Again, that which a man owns in this sense, or owes, is that which it is proper for him, or which he has, to perform or to discharge (as the case may be); hence the secondary meaning of ought as applied to that which is one's duty, or which is fitting. For another explanation of these forms, however, the reader is referred to the Second Edition of Dr Latham's Handbook of the English Language (1855), pp. 304 and 309. Dr Latham distinguishes the own in such expressions as "He owned his fault" by the name of the Own concedentis (of concession or acknowledgment). But may not this sense be explained as equivalent to I make my own, I take as my own ?

1. Upon a labouring day.-Labouring is here a substantive, not a participle. It is as when we say that we love labouring, or that labouring is conducive to health of mind as well as of body. It is not meant that the day labours; as when we speak of a labouring man, or a labouring ship, or a labouring line

("When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,

The line too labours, and the words move slow").

A labouring day is an expression of the same kind with a walking stick, or a riding coat; in which it is not asserted that the stick walks, or that the coat rides; but,

two substantives being conjoined, the one characterizes or qualifies the other,-performs, in fact, the part of an adjective, just as happens in the expressions a gold ring, a silver tankard, a leather apron, a morning draught, the evening bells.

An expression used by Cowper (in his verses composed in the name of Alexander Selkirk), "the sound of the church-going bell," has been passionately reprobated by Wordsworth. "The epithet church-going applied to a bell," observes the critic (in an Appendix upon the subject of Poetic Diction, first attached, I believe, in 1820 to the Preface originally published with the Second Edition of the Lyrical Ballads, 1800), “and that by so chaste a writer as Cowper, is an instance of the strange abuses which poets have introduced into their language, till they and their readers take them as matters of course, if they do not single them out expressly as matters of admiration." A church-going bell is merely a bell for church-going; and the expression is constructed on the same principle with a thousand others that are and always have been in familiar use ;-such as a marauding or a sight-seeing expedition, a banking or a house-building speculation, a fox-hunting country, a lending library, a writing desk, a looking glass, a dining room, a dancing school, a dwelling house, a lying-in hospital, etc., etc. What would Wordsworth have said to such a daring and extreme employment of the same form as we have in Shakespeare, where he makes Cleopatra (in Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 11) say, speaking of the victorious Cæsar,"From his all-obeying breath I hear The doom of Egypt?"

But these audacities of language are of the very soul of poetry.

The peculiar class of substantives under consideration cannot, properly speaking, be regarded as even present participles in disguise. Their true history has been given

F 2


for the first time by Mr Richard Taylor in his Additional Notes to Tooke's Diversions of Purley, 1829 and 1840; vid. edition of 1840, pp. xxxix.-liv. The old termination of the present participle in English was and or end; and when that part of the verb was used substantively it denoted the agent, or performer of the verbal act. Thus, Haelend signified the Healer, or Saviour; Scyppend, the Shaper, or Creator. Ing or ung, on the other hand, was the regular termination of that description of verbal substantive which denoted the act. Thus Brennung was what in Latin would be called Combustio, and what in our modern English is still called the Burning. In other tongues of the same Gothic stock to which our own in part belongs both forms are still preserved. In German, for instance, we have, as anciently in English, end for the termination universally of the present participle, and ung for that of a numerous class of verbal substantives all signifying the act or thing done. It never could have been supposed that in that language these verbal substantives in ung were present participles.

But in English the fact is, as Mr Taylor has observed, that it is not the verbal substantive denoting the act which has assumed the form of the present participle, but the latter which has thrown away its own proper termination and adopted that of the former. This change appears to have commenced as early as the twelfth century, and to have been completely established by the fourteenth. Even after the middle of the sixteenth century, however, we have the old distinction between the two terminations (the end or and for the present participle, or the agent, and the ing for the verbal act) still adhered to by the Scottish writers.

The consequence of the two forms having thus become confounded is, as Dr Latham has remarked (English Language, 3rd edit. pp. 349, 350), that we now construct our verbal substantives in ing upon a false analogy. It

has long been understood, or assumed, at least, that the present participle of any English verb may be used substantively to express the verbal act or state.


1. What trade art thou?-The rationale of this mode of expression may be seen from the answer to the question: 66 Why, Sir, a carpenter." The trade and the person practising it are used indifferently the one for the other: "What trade art thou ?" is equivalent to "What tradesman art thou ?" So in 6 we have-" A trade . . which is, indeed, a mender of bad soles." The thou, as here and in 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, was still common in the English of Shakespeare's age; it was the ordinary form in addressing an inferior; only when he was treated, or affected to be treated, as a gentleman, the mechanic received the more honourable compellation of you;-as in 3, "You, Sir, what trade are you?" Thou, Sir, would have been incongruous in the circumstances.

6. Soles. Quasi souls; an immemorial quibble, doubtless. It is found also (as Malone notes) in Fletcher's Woman Pleased. Yet we might seem to have a distinction of pronunciation between soul and sole indicated in The Merchant of Venice, iv. 1, "Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew."

7. This speech in the old copies is given to Flavius ; and it is restored to him by Mr Knight, who observes that the modern editors " assume that only one [of the tribunes] should take the lead; whereas it is clear that the dialogue is more natural, certainly more dramatic, according to the original arrangement, where Flavius and Marullus alternately rate the people, like two smiths smiting on the same anvil." But this will not explain or account for the "mend me" of Marullus in 9. That proves beyond controversy that the preceding speech (8) was addressed to Marullus; and it is equally clear that the you of speech 8 is the person to whom speech 7 belongs. The rating, besides, is as much alternate, or in

« PrejšnjaNaprej »