English Past and Present
by Richard Chenevix Trench
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


All square brackets [] are from the original text. Braces {} ("curly brackets") are supplied by the transcriber. Characters that could not be displayed directly in ASCII are transcribed as follows:

{=e} e with macron (horizontal line) above {)e} e with breve above {+} obelus (dagger) symbol e/ e with acute accent (only used where the accent is necessary to understanding the author's meaning)

In addition, a short passage on page 222 uses unusual phonetic symbols, which are transcribed with letters in {braces}. The html version contains images of the original book's symbols.

In the original book, the odd-numbered pages have unique headers, marked here as sidenotes.

Obvious printing errors involving punctuation (such as missing single quotes), as well as alphabetization errors in the index, have been corrected without notes. Other corrections of printing errors, as well as notes regarding spelling variations, are listed at the end of this file.}

* * * * *




Edited with Emendations



Author of 'The Folk and their Word-lore,' 'Folk-Etymology,' 'Babylonian Influence on the Bible,' etc.

{Illustration: Printer's Mark}






In editing the present volume I have thought it well to follow the same rule which I laid down for myself in editing The Study of Words, and have made no alteration in the text of Dr. Trench's work (the fifth edition). Any corrections or additions that seemed to be demanded owing to the progress of lexicographical knowledge have been reserved for the foot-notes, and these can always be distinguished from those in the original by the square brackets [thus] within which they are placed.

On the whole more corrections have been required in English Past and Present than in The Study of Words owing to the sweeping statements which involve universal negatives—statements, e.g. that certain words either first came into use, or ceased to be employed, at a specific date. Nothing short of the combined researches of an army of co-operative workers, such as the New English Dictionary commanded, could warrant the correctness of assertions of this kind, which imply an exhaustive acquaintance with a subject so immense as the entire range of English literature.

Even the mistakes of a learned man are instructive to those who essay to follow in his steps, and it is not without use to point them out instead of ignoring or expunging them. Thus, when the Archbishop falls into the error (venial when he wrote) of assuming an etymological connexion between certain words which have a specious air of kinship—such as 'care' and 'cura,' 'bloom' and 'blossom,' 'ghastly' and 'ghostly,' 'brat' and 'brood,' 'slow' and 'slough'—he makes just the mistakes which we would be tempted to make ourselves had not Professor Skeat and Dr. Murray and the great German School of philologists taught us to know better. Our plan, therefore, has been to leave such errors in the text and point out the better way in the notes. In other words, we have treated the Archbishop's work as a classic, and the occasional emendations in the notes serve to mark the progress of half a century of etymological investigation. It is hardly necessary to point out that the chronological landmarks occurring here and there need an obvious equation of time to make them correct for the present year of grace, e.g. 'lately,' when it occurs, must be understood to mean at least fifty years ago, and a similar addition must be made to other time-points when they present themselves.



A series of four lectures which I delivered last spring to the pupils of the King's College School, London, supplied the foundation to this present volume. These lectures, which I was obliged to prepare in haste, on a brief invitation, and under the pressure of other engagements, being subsequently enlarged and recast, were delivered in the autumn somewhat more nearly in their present shape to the pupils of the Training School, Winchester; with only those alterations, omissions and additions, which the difference in my hearers suggested as necessary or desirable. I have found it convenient to keep the lectures, as regards the persons presumed to be addressed, in that earlier form which I had sketched out at the first; and, inasmuch as it helps much to keep lectures vivid and real that one should have some well defined audience, if not actually before one, yet before the mind's eye, to suppose myself throughout addressing my first hearers. I have supposed myself, that is, addressing a body of young Englishmen, all with a fair amount of classical knowledge (in my explanations I have sometimes had others with less than theirs in my eye), not wholly unacquainted with modern languages; but not yet with any special designation as to their future work; having only as yet marked out to them the duty in general of living lives worthy of those who have England for their native country, and English for their native tongue. To lead such through a more intimate knowledge of this into a greater love of that, has been a principal aim which I have set before myself throughout.

In a few places I have been obliged again to go over ground which I had before gone over in a little book, On the Study of Words; but I believe that I have never merely repeated myself, nor given to the readers of my former work and now of this any right to complain that I am compelling them to travel a second time by the same paths. At least it has been my endeavour, whenever I have found myself at points where the two books come necessarily into contact, that what was treated with any fulness before, should be here touched on more lightly; and only what there was slightly handled, should here be entered on at large.











"A very slight acquaintance with the history of our own language will teach us that the speech of Chaucer's age is not the speech of Skelton's, that there is a great difference between the language under Elizabeth and that under Charles the First, between that under Charles the First and Charles the Second, between that under Charles the Second and Queen Anne; that considerable changes had taken place between the beginning and the middle of the last century, and that Johnson and Fielding did not write altogether as we do now. For in the course of a nation's progress new ideas are evermore mounting above the horizon, while others are lost sight of and sink below it: others again change their form and aspect: others which seemed united, split into parts. And as it is with ideas, so it is with their symbols, words. New ones are perpetually coined to meet the demand of an advanced understanding, of new feelings that have sprung out of the decay of old ones, of ideas that have shot forth from the summit of the tree of our knowledge; old words meanwhile fall into disuse and become obsolete; others have their meaning narrowed and defined; synonyms diverge from each other and their property is parted between them; nay, whole classes of words will now and then be thrown overboard, as new feelings or perceptions of analogy gain ground. A history of the language in which all these vicissitudes should be pointed out, in which the introduction of every new word should be noted, so far as it is possible—and much may be done in this way by laborious and diligent and judicious research—in which such words as have become obsolete should be followed down to their final extinction, in which all the most remarkable words should be traced through their successive phases of meaning, and in which moreover the causes and occasions of these changes should be explained, such a work would not only abound in entertainment, but would throw more light on the development of the human mind than all the brainspun systems of metaphysics that ever were written".

* * * * *

These words, which thus far are not my own, but the words of a greatly honoured friend and teacher, who, though we behold him now no more, still teaches, and will teach, by the wisdom of his writings, and the nobleness of his life (they are words of Archdeacon Hare), I have put in the forefront of my lectures; seeing that they anticipate in the way of masterly sketch all which I shall attempt to accomplish, and indeed draw out the lines of much more, to which I shall not venture so much as to put my hand. They are the more welcome to me, because they encourage me to believe that if, in choosing the English language, its past and its present, as the subject of that brief course of lectures which I am to deliver in this place, I have chosen a subject which in many ways transcends my powers, and lies beyond the range of my knowledge, it is yet one in itself of deepest interest, and of fully recognized value. Nor can I refrain from hoping that even with my imperfect handling, it is an argument which will find an answer and an echo in the hearts of all who hear me; which would have found this at any time; which will do so especially at the present. For these are times which naturally rouse into liveliest activity all our latent affections for the land of our birth. It is one of the compensations, indeed the greatest of all, for the wastefulness, the woe, the cruel losses of war{1}, that it causes and indeed compels a people to know itself a people; leading each one to esteem and prize most that which he has in common with his fellow countrymen, and not now any longer those things which separate and divide him from them.

{Sidenote: Love of our own Tongue}

And the love of our own language, what is it in fact, but the love of our country expressing itself in one particular direction? If the great acts of that nation to which we belong are precious to us, if we feel ourselves made greater by their greatness, summoned to a nobler life by the nobleness of Englishmen who have already lived and died, and have bequeathed to us a name which must not by us be made less, what exploits of theirs can well be nobler, what can more clearly point out their native land and ours as having fulfilled a glorious past, as being destined for a glorious future, than that they should have acquired for themselves and for those who come after them a clear, a strong, an harmonious, a noble language? For all this bears witness to corresponding merits in those that speak it, to clearness of mental vision, to strength, to harmony, to nobleness in them that have gradually formed and shaped it to be the utterance of their inmost life and being.

To know of this language, the stages which it has gone through, the sources from which its riches have been derived, the gains which it is now making, the perils which have threatened or are threatening it, the losses which it has sustained, the capacities which may be yet latent in it, waiting to be evoked, the points in which it transcends other tongues, in which it comes short of them, all this may well be the object of worthy ambition to every one of us. So may we hope to be ourselves guardians of its purity, and not corrupters of it; to introduce, it may be, others into an intelligent knowledge of that, with which we shall have ourselves more than a merely superficial acquaintance; to bequeath it to those who come after us not worse than we received it ourselves. "Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna",—this should be our motto in respect at once of our country, and of our country's tongue.

{Sidenote: Duty to our own Tongue}

Nor shall we, I trust, any of us feel this subject to be alien or remote from the purposes which have brought us to study within these walls. It is true that we are mainly occupied here in studying other tongues than our own. The time we bestow upon it is small as compared with that bestowed on those others. And yet one of our main purposes in learning them is that we may better understand this. Nor ought any other to dispute with it the first and foremost place in our reverence, our gratitude, and our love. It has been well and worthily said by an illustrious German scholar: "The care of the national language I consider as at all times a sacred trust and a most important privilege of the higher orders of society. Every man of education should make it the object of his unceasing concern, to preserve his language pure and entire, to speak it, so far as is in his power, in all its beauty and perfection.... A nation whose language becomes rude and barbarous, must be on the brink of barbarism in regard to everything else. A nation which allows her language to go to ruin, is parting with the last half of her intellectual independence, and testifies her willingness to cease to exist"{2}.

But this knowledge, like all other knowledge which is worth attaining, is only to be attained at the price of labour and pains. The language which at this day we speak is the result of processes which have been going forward for hundreds and for thousands of years. Nay more, it is not too much to affirm that processes modifying the English which at the present day we write and speak have been at work from the first day that man, being gifted with discourse of reason, projected his thought from out himself, and embodied and contemplated it in his word. Which things being so, if we would understand this language as it now is, we must know something of it as it has been; we must be able to measure, however roughly, the forces, which have been at work upon it, moulding and shaping it into the forms which it now wears.

At the same time various prudential considerations must determine for us how far up we will endeavour to trace the course of its history. There are those who may seek to trace our language to the forests of Germany and Scandinavia, to investigate its relation to all the kindred tongues that were there spoken; again, to follow it up, till it and they are seen descending from an elder stock; nor once to pause, till they have assigned to it its place not merely in respect of that small group of languages which are immediately round it, but in respect of all the tongues and languages of the earth. I can imagine few studies of a more surpassing interest than this. Others, however, must be content with seeking such insight into their native language as may be within the reach of all who, unable to make this the subject of especial research, possessing neither that vast compass of knowledge, nor that immense apparatus of books, not being at liberty to dedicate to it that devotion almost of a life which, followed out to the full, it would require, have yet an intelligent interest in their mother tongue, and desire to learn as much of its growth and history and construction as may be reasonably deemed within their reach. To such as these I shall suppose myself to be speaking. It would be a piece of great presumption in me to undertake to speak to any other, or to assume any other ground than this for myself.

{Sidenote: The Past explains the Present}

I know there are some, who, when they are invited to enter at all upon the past history of the language, are inclined to make answer—"To what end such studies to us? Why cannot we leave them to a few antiquaries and grammarians? Sufficient to us to know the laws of our present English, to obtain an accurate acquaintance with the language as we now find it, without concerning ourselves with the phases through which it has previously past". This may sound plausible enough; and I can quite understand a real lover of his native tongue, who has not bestowed much thought upon the subject, arguing in this manner. And yet indeed such argument proceeds altogether on a mistake. One sufficient reason why we should occupy ourselves with the past of our language is, because the present is only intelligible in the light of the past, often of a very remote past indeed. There are anomalies out of number now existing in our language, which the pure logic of grammar is quite incapable of explaining; which nothing but a knowledge of its historic evolutions, and of the disturbing forces which have made themselves felt therein, will ever enable us to understand. Even as, again, unless we possess some knowledge of the past, it is impossible that we can ourselves advance a single step in the unfolding of the latent capabilities of the language, without the danger of committing some barbarous violation of its very primary laws.

* * * * *

The plan which I have laid down for myself, and to which I shall adhere, in this lecture and in those which will succeed it, is as follows. In this my first lecture I will ask you to consider the language as now it is, to decompose with me some specimens of it, to prove by these means, of what elements it is compact, and what functions in it these elements or component parts severally fulfil; nor shall I leave this subject without asking you to admire the happy marriage in our tongue of the languages of the north and south, an advantage which it alone among all the languages of Europe enjoys. Having thus presented to ourselves the body which we wish to submit to scrutiny, and having become acquainted, however slightly, with its composition, I shall invite you to go back with me, and trace some of the leading changes to which in time past it has been submitted, and through which it has arrived at what it now is; and these changes I shall contemplate under four aspects, dedicating a lecture to each;—changes which have resulted from the birth of new, or the reception of foreign, words;—changes consequent on the rejection or extinction of words or powers once possessed by the language;—changes through the altered meaning of words;—and lastly, as not unworthy of our attention, but often growing out of very deep roots, changes in the orthography of words.

{Sidenote: Alterations unobserved}

I shall everywhere seek to bring the subject down to our present time, and not merely call your attention to the changes which have been, but to those also which are now being, effected. I shall not account the fact that some are going on, so to speak, before our own eyes, a sufficient ground to excuse me from noticing them, but rather an additional reason for doing this. For indeed changes which are actually proceeding in our own time, and which we are ourselves helping to bring about, are the very ones which we are most likely to fail in observing. There is so much to hide the nature of them, and indeed their very existence, that, except it may be by a very few, they will often pass wholly unobserved. Loud and sudden revolutions attract and compel notice; but silent and gradual, although with issues far vaster in store, run their course, and it is only when their cycle is completed or nearly so, that men perceive what mighty transforming forces have been at work unnoticed in the very midst of themselves.

Thus, to apply what I have just affirmed to this matter of language—how few aged persons, let them retain the fullest possession of their faculties, are conscious of any difference between the spoken language of their early youth, and that of their old age; that words and ways of using words are obsolete now, which were usual then; that many words are current now, which had no existence at that time. And yet it is certain that so it must be. A man may fairly be supposed to remember clearly and well for sixty years back; and it needs less than five of these sixties to bring us to the period of Spenser, and not more than eight to set us in the time of Chaucer and Wiclif. How great a change, what vast modifications in our language, within eight memories. No one, contemplating this whole term, will deny the immensity of the change. For all this, we may be tolerably sure that, had it been possible to interrogate a series of eight persons, such as together had filled up this time, intelligent men, but men whose attention had not been especially roused to this subject, each in his turn would have denied that there had been any change worth speaking of, perhaps any change at all, during his lifetime. And yet, having regard to the multitude of words which have fallen into disuse during these four or five hundred years, we are sure that there must have been some lives in this chain which saw those words in use at their commencement, and out of use before their close. And so too, of the multitude of words which have sprung up in this period, some, nay, a vast number, must have come into being within the limits of each of these lives. It cannot then be superfluous to direct attention to that which is actually going forward in our language. It is indeed that, which of all is most likely to be unobserved by us.

* * * * *

With these preliminary remarks I proceed at once to the special subject of my lecture of to-day. And first, starting from the recognized fact that the English is not a simple but a composite language, made up of several elements, as are the people who speak it, I would suggest to you the profit and instruction which we might derive from seeking to resolve it into its component parts—from taking, that is, any passage of an English author, distributing the words of which it is made up according to the languages from which they are drawn; estimating the relative numbers and proportions, which these languages have severally lent us; as well as the character of the words which they have thrown into the common stock of our tongue.

{Sidenote: Proportions in English}

Thus, suppose the English language to be divided into a hundred parts; of these, to make a rough distribution, sixty would be Saxon; thirty would be Latin (including of course the Latin which has come to us through the French); five would be Greek. We should thus have assigned ninety-five parts, leaving the other five, perhaps too large a residue, to be divided among all the other languages from which we have adopted isolated words{3}. And yet these are not few; from our wide extended colonial empire we come in contact with half the world; we have picked up words in every quarter, and, the English language possessing a singular power of incorporating foreign elements into itself, have not scrupled to make many of these our own{4}.

{Sidenote: Oriental Words}

Thus we have a certain number of Hebrew words, mostly, if not entirely, belonging to religious matters, as 'amen', 'cabala', 'cherub', 'ephod', 'gehenna', 'hallelujah', 'hosanna', 'jubilee', 'leviathan', 'manna', 'Messiah', 'sabbath', 'Satan', 'seraph', 'shibboleth', 'talmud'. The Arabic words in our language are more numerous; we have several arithmetical and astronomical terms, as 'algebra', 'almanack', 'azimuth', 'cypher'{5}, 'nadir', 'talisman', 'zenith', 'zero'; and chemical, for the Arabs were the chemists, no less than the astronomers and arithmeticians of the middle ages; as 'alcohol', 'alembic', 'alkali', 'elixir'. Add to these the names of animals, plants, fruits, or articles of merchandize first introduced by them to the notice of Western Europe; as 'amber', 'artichoke', 'barragan', 'camphor', 'coffee', 'cotton', 'crimson', 'gazelle', 'giraffe', 'jar', 'jasmin', 'lake' (lacca), 'lemon', 'lime', 'lute', 'mattress', 'mummy', 'saffron', 'sherbet', 'shrub', 'sofa', 'sugar', 'syrup', 'tamarind'; and some further terms, 'admiral', 'amulet', 'arsenal', 'assassin', 'barbican', 'caliph', 'caffre', 'carat', 'divan', 'dragoman'{6}, 'emir', 'fakir', 'firman', 'harem', 'hazard', 'houri', 'magazine', 'mamaluke', 'minaret', 'monsoon', 'mosque', 'nabob', 'razzia', 'sahara', 'simoom', 'sirocco', 'sultan', 'tarif', 'vizier'; and I believe we shall have nearly completed the list. We have moreover a few Persian words, as 'azure', 'bazaar', 'bezoar', 'caravan', 'caravanserai', 'chess', 'dervish', 'lilac', 'orange', 'saraband', 'taffeta', 'tambour', 'turban'; this last appearing in strange forms at its first introduction into the language, thus 'tolibant' (Puttenham), 'tulipant' (Herbert's Travels), 'turribant' (Spenser), 'turbat', 'turbant', and at length 'turban'. We have also a few Turkish, such as 'chouse', 'janisary', 'odalisque', 'sash', 'tulip'{7}. Of 'civet'{8} and 'scimitar'{9} I believe it can only be asserted that they are Eastern. The following are Hindostanee, 'avatar', 'bungalow', 'calico', 'chintz', 'cowrie', 'lac', 'muslin', 'punch', 'rupee', 'toddy'. 'Tea', or 'tcha', as it was spelt at first, of course is Chinese, so too are 'junk' and 'satin'{10}.

The New World has given us a certain number of words, Indian and other—'cacique' ('cassique', in Ralegh's Guiana), 'canoo', 'chocolate', 'cocoa'{11}, 'condor', 'hamoc' ('hamaca' in Ralegh), 'jalap', 'lama', 'maize' (Haytian), 'pampas', 'pemmican', 'potato' ('batata' in our earlier voyagers), 'raccoon', 'sachem', 'squaw', 'tobacco', 'tomahawk', 'tomata' (Mexican), 'wigwam'. If 'hurricane' is a word which Europe originally obtained from the Caribbean islanders{12}, it should of course be included in this list{13}. A certain number of words also we have received, one by one, from various languages, which sometimes have not bestowed on us more than this single one. Thus 'hussar' is Hungarian; 'caloyer', Romaic; 'mammoth', of some Siberian language;{14} 'tattoo', Polynesian; 'steppe', Tartarian; 'sago', 'bamboo', 'rattan', 'ourang outang', are all, I believe, Malay words; 'assegai'{15} 'zebra', 'chimpanzee', 'fetisch', belong to different African dialects; the last, however, having reached Europe through the channel of the Portuguese{16}.

{Sidenote: Italian Words}

{Sidenote: Spanish, Dutch and Celtic Words}

To come nearer home—we have a certain number of Italian words, as 'balcony', 'baldachin', 'balustrade', 'bandit', 'bravo', 'bust' (it was 'busto' as first used in English, and therefore from the Italian, not from the French), 'cameo', 'canto', 'caricature', 'carnival', 'cartoon', 'charlatan', 'concert', 'conversazione', 'cupola', 'ditto', 'doge', 'domino'{17}, 'felucca', 'fresco', 'gazette', 'generalissimo', 'gondola', 'gonfalon', 'grotto', ('grotta' is the earliest form in which we have it in English), 'gusto', 'harlequin'{18}, 'imbroglio', 'inamorato', 'influenza', 'lava', 'malaria', 'manifesto', 'masquerade' ('mascarata' in Hacket), 'motto', 'nuncio', 'opera', 'oratorio', 'pantaloon', 'parapet', 'pedantry', 'pianoforte', 'piazza', 'portico', 'proviso', 'regatta', 'ruffian', 'scaramouch', 'sequin', 'seraglio', 'sirocco', 'sonnet', 'stanza', 'stiletto', 'stucco', 'studio', 'terra-cotta', 'umbrella', 'virtuoso', 'vista', 'volcano', 'zany'. 'Becco', and 'cornuto', 'fantastico', 'magnifico', 'impress' (the armorial device upon shields, and appearing constantly in its Italian form 'impresa'), 'saltimbanco' (=mountebank), all once common enough, are now obsolete. Sylvester uses often 'farfalla' for butterfly, but, as far as I know, this use is peculiar to him. If these are at all the whole number of our Italian words, and I cannot call to mind any other, the Spanish in the language are nearly as numerous; nor indeed would it be wonderful if they were more so; our points of contact with Spain, friendly and hostile, have been much more real than with Italy. Thus we have from the Spanish 'albino', 'alligator' (el lagarto), 'alcove'{19}, 'armada', 'armadillo', 'barricade', 'bastinado', 'bravado', 'caiman', 'cambist', 'camisado', 'carbonado', 'cargo', 'cigar', 'cochineal', 'Creole', 'desperado', 'don', 'duenna', 'eldorado', 'embargo', 'flotilla', 'gala', 'grandee', 'grenade', 'guerilla', 'hooker'{20}, 'infanta', 'jennet', 'junto', 'merino', 'mosquito', 'mulatto', 'negro', 'olio', 'ombre', 'palaver', 'parade', 'parasol', 'parroquet', 'peccadillo', 'picaroon', 'platina', 'poncho', 'punctilio', (for a long time spelt 'puntillo', in English books), 'quinine', 'reformado', 'savannah', 'serenade', 'sherry', 'stampede', 'stoccado', 'strappado', 'tornado', 'vanilla', 'verandah'. 'Buffalo' also is Spanish; 'buff' or 'buffle' being the proper English word; 'caprice' too we probably obtained rather from Spain than Italy, as we find it written 'capricho' by those who used it first. Other Spanish words, once familiar, are now extinct. 'Punctilio' lives on, but not 'punto', which occurs in Bacon. 'Privado', signifying a prince's favourite, one admitted to his privacy (no uncommon word in Jeremy Taylor and Fuller), has quite disappeared; so too has 'quirpo' (cuerpo), the name given to a jacket fitting close to the body; 'quellio' (cuello), a ruff or neck-collar; and 'matachin', the title of a sword-dance; these are all frequent in our early dramatists; and 'flota' was the constant name of the treasure-fleet from the Indies. 'Intermess' is employed by Evelyn, and is the Spanish 'entremes', though not recognized as such in our dictionaries. 'Mandarin' and 'marmalade' are our only Portuguese words I can call to mind. A good many of our sea-terms are Dutch, as 'sloop', 'schooner', 'yacht', 'boom', 'skipper', 'tafferel', 'to smuggle'; 'to wear', in the sense of veer, as when we say 'to wear a ship'; 'skates', too, and 'stiver', are Dutch. Celtic things are for the most part designated among us by Celtic words; such as 'bard', 'kilt', 'clan', 'pibroch', 'plaid', 'reel'. Nor only such as these, which are all of them comparatively of modern introduction, but a considerable number, how large a number is yet a very unsettled question, of words which at a much earlier date found admission into our tongue, are derived from this quarter.

Now, of course, I have no right to presume that any among us are equipped with that knowledge of other tongues, which shall enable us to detect of ourselves and at once the nationality of all or most of the words which we may meet—some of them greatly disguised, and having undergone manifold transformations in the process of their adoption among us; but only that we have such helps at command in the shape of dictionaries and the like, and so much diligence in their use, as will enable us to discover the quarter from which the words we may encounter have reached us; and I will confidently say that few studies of the kind will be more fruitful, will suggest more various matter of reflection, will more lead you into the secrets of the English tongue, than an analysis of a certain number of passages drawn from different authors, such as I have just now proposed. For this analysis you will take some passage of English verse or prose—say the first ten lines of Paradise Lost—or the Lord's Prayer—or the 23rd Psalm; you will distribute the whole body of words contained in that passage, of course not omitting the smallest, according to their nationalities—writing, it may be, A over every Anglo-Saxon word, L over every Latin, and so on with the others, if any other should occur in the portion which you have submitted to this examination. When this is done, you will count up the number of those which each language contributes; again, you will note the character of the words derived from each quarter.

{Sidenote: Two Shapes of Words}

Yet here, before I pass further, I would observe in respect of those which come from the Latin, that it will be desirable further to mark whether they are directly from it, and such might be marked L1, or only mediately from it, and to us directly from the French, which would be L2, or L at second hand—our English word being only in the second generation descended from the Latin, not the child, but the child's child. There is a rule that holds pretty constantly good, by which you may determine this point. It is this,—that if a word be directly from the Latin, it will not have undergone any alteration or modification in its form and shape, save only in the termination—'innocentia' will have become 'innocency', 'natio' will have become 'nation', 'firmamentum' 'firmament', but nothing more. On the other hand, if it comes through the French, it will generally be considerably altered in its passage. It will have undergone a process of lubrication; its sharply defined Latin outline will in good part have departed from it; thus 'crown' is from 'corona', but though 'couronne', and itself a dissyllable, 'coroune', in our earlier English; 'treasure' is from 'thesaurus', but through 'tresor'; 'emperor' is the Latin 'imperator', but it was first 'empereur'. It will often happen that the substantive has past through this process, having reached us through the intervention of the French; while we have only felt at a later period our want of the adjective also, which we have proceeded to borrow direct from the Latin. Thus, 'people' is indeed 'populus', but it was 'peuple' first, while 'popular' is a direct transfer of a Latin vocable into our English glossary. So too 'enemy' is 'inimicus', but it was first softened in the French, and had its Latin physiognomy to a great degree obliterated, while 'inimical' is Latin throughout; 'parish' is 'paroisse', but 'parochial' is 'parochialis'; 'chapter' is 'chapitre', but 'capitular' is 'capitularis'.

{Sidenote: Doublets}

Sometimes you will find in English what I may call the double adoption of a Latin word; which now makes part of our vocabulary in two shapes; 'doppelgaengers' the Germans would call such words{21}. There is first the elder word, which the French has given us; but which, before it gave, it had fashioned and moulded, cutting it short, it may be, by a syllable or more, for the French devours letters and syllables; and there is the later word which we borrowed immediately from the Latin. I will mention a few examples; 'secure' and 'sure', both from 'securus', but one directly, the other through the French; 'fidelity' and 'fealty', both from 'fidelitas', but one directly, the other at second-hand; 'species' and 'spice', both from 'species', spices being properly only kinds of aromatic drugs; 'blaspheme' and 'blame', both from 'blasphemare'{22}, but 'blame' immediately from 'blamer'. Add to these 'granary' and 'garner'; 'captain' (capitaneus) and 'chieftain'; 'tradition' and 'treason'; 'abyss' and 'abysm'; 'regal' and 'royal'; 'legal' and 'loyal'; 'cadence' and 'chance'; 'balsam' and 'balm'; 'hospital' and 'hotel'; 'digit' and 'doit'{23}; 'pagan' and 'paynim'; 'captive' and 'caitiff'; 'persecute' and 'pursue'; 'superficies' and 'surface'; 'faction' and 'fashion'; 'particle' and 'parcel'; 'redemption' and 'ransom'; 'probe' and 'prove'; 'abbreviate' and 'abridge'; 'dormitory' and 'dortoir' or 'dorter' (this last now obsolete, but not uncommon in Jeremy Taylor); 'desiderate' and 'desire'; 'fact' and 'feat'; 'major' and 'mayor'; 'radius' and 'ray'; 'pauper' and 'poor'; 'potion' and 'poison'; 'ration' and 'reason'; 'oration' and 'orison'{24}. I have, in the instancing of these named always the Latin form before the French; but the reverse I suppose in every instance is the order in which the words were adopted by us; we had 'pursue' before 'persecute', 'spice' before 'species', 'royalty' before 'regality', and so with the others{25}.

The explanation of this greater change which the earlier form of the word has undergone, is not far to seek. Words which have been introduced into a language at an early period, when as yet writing is rare, and books are few or none, when therefore orthography is unfixed, or being purely phonetic, cannot properly be said to exist at all, such words for a long while live orally on the lips of men, before they are set down in writing; and out of this fact it is that we shall for the most part find them reshaped and remoulded by the people who have adopted them, entirely assimilated to their language in form and termination, so as in a little while to be almost or quite indistinguishable from natives. On the other hand a most effectual check to this process, a process sometimes barbarizing and defacing, however it may be the only one which will make the newly brought in entirely homogeneous with the old and already existing, is imposed by the existence of a much written language and a full formed literature. The foreign word, being once adopted into these, can no longer undergo a thorough transformation. For the most part the utmost which use and familiarity can do with it now, is to cause the gradual dropping of the foreign termination. Yet this too is not unimportant; it often goes far to making a home for a word, and hindering it from wearing the appearance of a foreigner and stranger{26}.

{Sidenote: Analysis of English}

But to return from this digression—I said just now that you would learn very much from observing and calculating the proportions in which the words of one descent and those of another occur in any passage which you analyse. Thus examine the Lord's Prayer. It consists of exactly seventy words. You will find that only the following six claim the rights of Latin citizenship—'trespasses', 'trespass', 'temptation', 'deliver', 'power', 'glory'. Nor would it be very difficult to substitute for any one of these a Saxon word. Thus for 'trespasses' might be substituted 'sins'; for 'deliver' 'free'; for 'power' 'might'; for 'glory' 'brightness'; which would only leave 'temptation', about which there could be the slightest difficulty, and 'trials', though we now ascribe to the word a somewhat different sense, would in fact exactly correspond to it. This is but a small percentage, six words in seventy, or less than ten in the hundred; and we often light upon a still smaller proportion. Thus take the first three verses of the 23rd Psalm:—"The Lord is my Shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing; He shall feed me in a green pasture, and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort; He shall convert my soul, and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness for his Name's sake". Here are forty-five words, and only the three in italics are Latin; and for every one of these too it would be easy to substitute a word of Saxon origin; little more, that is, than the proportion of seven in the hundred; while, still stronger than this, in five verses out of Genesis, containing one hundred and thirty words, there are only five not Saxon, less, that is, than four in the hundred.

Shall we therefore conclude that these are the proportions in which the Anglo-Saxon and Latin elements of the language stand to one another? If they are so, then my former proposal to express their relations by sixty and thirty was greatly at fault; and seventy and twenty, or even eighty and ten, would fall short of adequately representing the real predominance of the Saxon over the Latin element of the language. But it is not so; the Anglo-Saxon words by no means outnumber the Latin in the degree which the analysis of those passages would seem to imply. It is not that there are so many more Anglo-Saxon words, but that the words which there are, being words of more primary necessity, do therefore so much more frequently recur. The proportions which the analysis of the dictionary that is, of the language at rest, would furnish, are very different from these which I have just instanced, and which the analysis of sentences, or of the language in motion, gives. Thus if we examine the total vocabulary of the English Bible, not more than sixty per cent. of the words are native; such are the results which the Concordance gives; but in the actual translation the native words are from ninety in some passages to ninety-six in others per cent{27}.

{Sidenote: Anglo-Saxon the Base of English}

The notice of this fact will lead us to some very important conclusions as to the character of the words which the Saxon and the Latin severally furnish; and principally to this:—that while the English language is thus compact in the main of these two elements, we must not for all this regard these two as making, one and the other, exactly the same kind of contributions to it. On the contrary their contributions are of very different character. The Anglo-Saxon is not so much, as I have just called it, one element of the English language, as the foundation of it, the basis. All its joints, its whole articulation, its sinews and its ligaments, the great body of articles, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, numerals, auxiliary verbs, all smaller words which serve to knit together and bind the larger into sentences, these, not to speak of the grammatical structure of the language, are exclusively Saxon. The Latin may contribute its tale of bricks, yea, of goodly and polished hewn stones, to the spiritual building; but the mortar, with all that holds and binds the different parts of it together, and constitutes them into a house, is Saxon throughout. I remember Selden in his Table Talk using another comparison; but to the same effect: "If you look upon the language spoken in the Saxon time, and the language spoken now, you will find the difference to be just as if a man had a cloak which he wore plain in Queen Elizabeth's days, and since, here has put in a piece of red, and there a piece of blue, and here a piece of green, and there a piece of orange-tawny. We borrow words from the French, Italian, Latin, as every pedantic man pleases".

{Sidenote: Composite Languages}

I believe this to be the law which holds good in respect of all composite languages. However composite they may be, yet they are only so in regard of their words. There may be a medley in respect of these, some coming from one quarter, some from another; but there is never a mixture of grammatical forms and inflections. One or other language entirely predominates here, and everything has to conform and subordinate itself to the laws of this ruling and ascendant language. The Anglo-Saxon is the ruling language in our present English. Thus while it has thought good to drop its genders, even so the French substantives which come among us, must also leave theirs behind them; as in like manner the French verbs must renounce their own conjugations, and adapt themselves to ours{28}. I believe that a remarkable parallel to this might be found in the language of Persia, since the conquest of that country by the Arabs. The ancient Persian religion fell with the government, but the language remained totally unaffected by the revolution, in its grammatical structure and character. Arabic vocables, the only exotic words in Persian, are found in numbers varying with the object and quality, style and taste of the writers, but pages of pure idiomatic Persian may be written without employing a single word from the Arabic.

At the same time the secondary or superinduced language, even while it is quite unable to force any of its forms on the language which receives its words, may yet compel that to renounce a portion of its own forms, by the impossibility which is practically found to exist of making them fit the new comers; and thus it may exert although not a positive, yet a negative, influence on the grammar of the other tongue. It has been so, as is generally admitted, in the instance of our own. "When the English language was inundated by a vast influx of French words, few, if any, French forms were received into its grammar; but the Saxon forms soon dropped away, because they did not suit the new roots; and the genius of the language, from having to deal with the newly imported words in a rude state, was induced to neglect the inflections of the native ones. This for instance led to the introduction of the s as the universal termination of all plural nouns, which agreed with the usage of the French language, and was not alien from that of the Saxon, but was merely an extension of the termination of the ancient masculine to other classes of nouns"{29}.

{Sidenote: The Anglo-Saxon Element}

If you wish to convince yourselves by actual experience, of the fact which I just now asserted, namely, that the radical constitution of the language is Saxon, I would say, Try to compose a sentence, let it be only of ten or a dozen words, and the subject entirely of your choice, employing therein only words which are of a Latin derivation. I venture to say you will find it impossible, or next to impossible to do it; whichever way you turn, some obstacle will meet you in the face. And while it is thus with the Latin, whole pages might be written, I do not say in philosophy or theology or upon any abstruser subject, but on familiar matters of common everyday life, in which every word should be of Saxon extraction, not one of Latin; and these, pages in which, with the exercise of a little patience and ingenuity, all appearance of awkwardness and constraint should be avoided, so that it should never occur to the reader, unless otherwise informed, that the writer had submitted himself to this restraint and limitation in the words which he employed, and was only drawing them from one section of the English language. Sir Thomas Browne has given several long paragraphs so constructed. Take for instance the following, which is only a little fragment of one of them: "The first and foremost step to all good works is the dread and fear of the Lord of heaven and earth, which through the Holy Ghost enlighteneth the blindness of our sinful hearts to tread the ways of wisdom, and lead our feet into the land of blessing"{30}. This is not stiffer than the ordinary English of his time. I would suggest to you at your leisure to make these two experiments; you will find it, I think, exactly as I have here affirmed.

While thus I bring before you the fact that it would be quite possible to write English, forgoing altogether the use of the Latin portion of the language, I would not have you therefore to conclude that this portion of the language is of little value, or that we could draw from the resources of our Teutonic tongue efficient substitutes for all the words which it has contributed to our glossary. I am persuaded that we could not; and, if we could, that it would not be desirable. I mention this, because there is sometimes a regret expressed that we have not kept our language more free from the admixture of Latin, a suggestion made that we should even now endeavour to keep under the Latin element of it, and as little as possible avail ourselves of it. I remember Lord Brougham urging upon the students at Glasgow as a help to writing good English, that they should do their best to rid their diction of long-tailed words in 'osity' and 'ation'{31}. He plainly intended to indicate by this phrase all learned Latin words, or words derived from the Latin. This exhortation is by no means superfluous; for doubtless there were writers of a former age, Samuel Johnson in the last century, Henry More and Sir Thomas Browne in the century preceding, who gave undue preponderance to the learned, or Latin, portion in our language; and very much of its charm, of its homely strength and beauty, of its most popular and truest idioms, would have perished from it, had they succeeded in persuading others to write as they had written.

{Sidenote: Anglo-Saxon Aboriginal}

But for all this we could almost as ill spare this side of the language as the other. It represents and supplies needs not less real than the other does. Philosophy and science and the arts of a high civilization find their utterance in the Latin words of our language, or, if not in the Latin, in the Greek, which for present purposes may be grouped with them. How they should have found utterance in the speech of rude tribes, which, never having cultivated the things, must needs have been without the words which should express those things. Granting too that, coeteris paribus, when a Latin and a Saxon word offer themselves to our choice, we shall generally do best to employ the Saxon, to speak of 'happiness' rather than 'felicity', 'almighty' rather than 'omnipotent', a 'forerunner' rather than a 'precursor', still these latter must be regarded as much denizens in the language as the former, no alien interlopers, but possessing the rights of citizenship as fully as the most Saxon word of them all. One part of the language is not to be favoured at the expense of the other; the Saxon at the cost of the Latin, as little as the Latin at the cost of the Saxon. "Both are indispensable; and speaking generally without stopping to distinguish as to subject, both are equally indispensable. Pathos, in situations which are homely, or at all connected with domestic affections, naturally moves by Saxon words. Lyrical emotion of every kind, which (to merit the name of lyrical) must be in the state of flux and reflux, or, generally, of agitation, also requires the Saxon element of our language. And why? Because the Saxon is the aboriginal element; the basis and not the superstructure: consequently it comprehends all the ideas which are natural to the heart of man and to the elementary situations of life. And although the Latin often furnishes us with duplicates of these ideas, yet the Saxon, or monosyllabic part, has the advantage of precedency in our use and knowledge; for it is the language of the nursery whether for rich or poor, in which great philological academy no toleration is given to words in 'osity' or 'ation'. There is therefore a great advantage, as regards the consecration to our feelings, settled by usage and custom upon the Saxon strands in the mixed yarn of our native tongue. And universally, this may be remarked—that wherever the passion of a poem is of that sort which uses, presumes, or postulates the ideas, without seeking to extend them, Saxon will be the 'cocoon' (to speak by the language applied to silk-worms), which the poem spins for itself. But on the other hand, where the motion of the feeling is by and through the ideas, where (as in religious or meditative poetry—Young's, for instance, or Cowper's), the pathos creeps and kindles underneath the very tissues of the thinking, there the Latin will predominate; and so much so that, whilst the flesh, the blood, and the muscle, will be often almost exclusively Latin, the articulations only, or hinges of connection, will be the Anglo-Saxon".

These words which I have just quoted are De Quincey's—whom I must needs esteem the greatest living master of our English tongue. And on the same matter Sir Francis Palgrave has expressed himself thus: "Upon the languages of Teutonic origin the Latin has exercised great influence, but most energetically on our own. The very early admixture of the Langue d'Oil, the never interrupted employment of the French as the language of education, and the nomenclature created by the scientific and literary cultivation of advancing and civilized society, have Romanized our speech; the warp may be Anglo-Saxon, but the woof is Roman as well as the embroidery, and these foreign materials have so entered into the texture, that were they plucked out, the web would be torn to rags, unravelled and destroyed"{32}.

{Sidenote: The English Bible}

I do not know where we could find a happier example of the preservation of the golden mean in this matter than in our Authorized Version of the Bible. One of the chief among the minor and secondary blessings which that Version has conferred on the nation or nations drawing spiritual life from it,—a blessing not small in itself, but only small by comparison with the infinitely higher blessings whereof it is the vehicle to them,—is the happy wisdom, the instinctive tact, with which its authors have steered between any futile mischievous attempt to ignore the full rights of the Latin part of the language on the one side, and on the other any burdening of their Version with such a multitude of learned Latin terms as should cause it to forfeit its homely character, and shut up large portions of it from the understanding of plain and unlearned men. There is a remarkable confession to this effect, to the wisdom, in fact, which guided them from above, to the providence that overruled their work, an honourable acknowledgement of the immense superiority in this respect of our English Version over the Romish, made by one now, unhappily, familiar with the latter, as once he was with our own. Among those who have recently abandoned the communion of the English Church one has exprest himself in deeply touching tones of lamentation over all, which in renouncing our translation, he feels himself to have forgone and lost. These are his words: "Who will not say that the uncommon beauty and marvellous English of the Protestant Bible is not one of the great strongholds of heresy in this country? It lives on the ear, like a music that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells, which the convert hardly knows how he can forgo. Its felicities often seem to be almost things rather than mere words. It is part of the national mind, and the anchor of national seriousness.... The memory of the dead passes into it. The potent traditions of childhood are stereotyped in its verses. The power of all the griefs and trials of a man is hidden beneath its words. It is the representative of his best moments, and all that there has been about him of soft and gentle and pure and penitent and good speaks to him for ever out of his English Bible.... It is his sacred thing, which doubt has never dimmed, and controversy never soiled. In the length and breadth of the land there is not a Protestant with one spark of religiousness about him, whose spiritual biography is not in his Saxon Bible"{33}.

{Sidenote: The Rhemish Bible}

Such are his touching words; and certainly one has only to compare this version of ours with the Rhemish, and the transcendent excellence of our own reveals itself at once. I am not extolling now its superior scholarship; its greater freedom from by-ends; as little would I urge the fact that one translation is from the original Greek, the other from the Latin Vulgate, and thus the translation of a translation, often reproducing the mistakes of that translation; but, putting aside all considerations such as these, I speak only here of the superiority of the diction in which the meaning, be it correct or incorrect, is conveyed to English readers. Thus I open the Rhemish version at Galatians v. 19, where the long list of the "works of the flesh", and of the "fruit of the Spirit", is given. But what could a mere English reader make of words such as these—'impudicity', 'ebrieties', 'comessations', 'longanimity', all which occur in that passage? while our Version for 'ebrieties' has 'drunkenness', for 'comessations' has 'revellings', and so also for 'longanimity' 'longsuffering'. Or set over against one another such phrases as these,—in the Rhemish, "the exemplars of the celestials" (Heb. ix. 23), but in ours, "the patterns of things in the heavens". Or suppose if, instead of the words we read at Heb. xiii. 16, namely "To do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased", we read as follows, which are the words of the Rhemish, "Beneficence and communication do not forget; for with such hosts God is promerited"!—Who does not feel that if our Version had been composed in such Latin-English as this, had abounded in words like 'odible', 'suasible', 'exinanite', 'contristate', 'postulations', 'coinquinations', 'agnition', 'zealatour', all, with many more of the same mint, in the Rhemish Version, our loss would have been great and enduring, one which would have searched into the whole religious life of our people, and been felt in the very depths of the national mind{34}?

There was indeed something still deeper than love of sound and genuine English at work in our Translators, whether they were conscious of it or not, which hindered them from presenting the Scriptures to their fellow-countrymen dressed out in such a semi-Latin garb as this. The Reformation, which they were in this translation so mightily strengthening and confirming, was just a throwing off, on the part of the Teutonic nations, of that everlasting pupilage in which Rome would have held them; an assertion at length that they were come to full age, and that not through her, but directly through Christ, they would address themselves unto God. The use of the Latin language as the language of worship, as the language in which the Scriptures might alone be read, had been the great badge of servitude, even as the Latin habits of thought and feeling which it promoted had been the great helps to the continuance of this servitude, through long ages. It lay deep then in the very nature of their cause that the Reformers should develop the Saxon, or essentially national, element in the language; while it was just as natural that the Roman Catholic translators, if they must translate the Scriptures into English at all, should yet translate them into such English as should bear the nearest possible resemblance to the Latin Vulgate, which Rome with a very deep wisdom of this world would gladly have seen as the only one in the hands of the faithful.

{Sidenote: Future of the English Language}

Let me again, however, recur to the fact that what our Reformers did in this matter, they did without exaggeration; even as they had shown the same wise moderation in still higher matters. They gave to the Latin side of the language its rights, though they would not suffer it to encroach upon and usurp those of the Teutonic part of the language. It would be difficult not to believe, even if many outward signs said not the same, that great things are in store for the one language of Europe which thus serves as connecting link between the North and the South, between the languages spoken by the Teutonic nations of the North and by the Romance nations of the South; which holds on to and partakes of both; which is as a middle term between them{35}. There are who venture to hope that the English Church, being in like manner double-fronted, looking on the one side toward Rome, being herself truly Catholic, looking on the other towards the Protestant communions, being herself also protesting and reforming, may yet in the providence of God have an important part to play for the reconciling of a divided Christendom. And if this ever should be so, if, notwithstanding our sins and unworthiness, so blessed a task should be in store for her, it will not be a small help and assistance thereunto, that the language in which her mediation will be effected is one wherein both parties may claim their own, in which neither will feel that it is receiving the adjudication of a stranger, of one who must be an alien from its deeper thoughts and habits, because an alien from its words, but a language in which both must recognize very much of that which is deepest and most precious of their own.

{Sidenote: Jacob Grimm on English}

Nor is this prerogative which I have just claimed for our English the mere dream and fancy of patriotic vanity. The scholar who in our days is most profoundly acquainted with the great group of the Gothic languages in Europe, and a devoted lover, if ever there was such, of his native German, I mean Jacob Grimm, has expressed himself very nearly to the same effect, and given the palm over all to our English in words which you will not grudge to hear quoted, and with which I shall bring this lecture to a close. After ascribing to our language "a veritable power of expression, such as perhaps never stood at the command of any other language of men", he goes on to say, "Its highly spiritual genius, and wonderfully happy development and condition, have been the result of a surprisingly intimate union of the two noblest languages in modern Europe, the Teutonic and the Romance—It is well known in what relation these two stand to one another in the English tongue; the former supplying in far larger proportion the material groundwork, the latter the spiritual conceptions. In truth the English language, which by no mere accident has produced and upborne the greatest and most predominant poet of modern times, as distinguished from the ancient classical poetry (I can, of course, only mean Shakespeare), may with all right be called a world-language; and like the English people, appears destined hereafter to prevail with a sway more extensive even than its present over all the portions of the globe{36}. For in wealth, good sense, and closeness of structure no other of the languages at this day spoken deserves to be compared with it—not even our German, which is torn, even as we are torn, and must first rid itself of many defects, before it can enter boldly into the lists, as a competitor with the English"{37}.


{1} These lectures were first delivered during the Russian War. [See De Quincey to the same effect, Works, 1862, vol. iv. pp. vii, 286.]

{2} F. Schlegel, History of Literature, Lecture 10.

{3} [If dictionary words be counted as apart from the spoken language, the proportion of the component elements of English is very different. M. Mueller quotes a calculation which makes the classical element about 68 per cent, the Teutonic about 30, and miscellaneous about 2 (Science of Language, 8th ed. i, 89). See Skeat, Principles of Eng. Etymology, ii, 15 seq., and infra p. 25.]

{4} [What here follows should be compared with the fuller and more accurate lists of words borrowed from foreign sources given by Prof. Skeat in his larger Etymolog. Dictionary, 759 seq.; and more completely in his Principles of Eng. Etymology, 2nd ser. 294-440.]

{5} Yet see J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, p. 985.

{6} The word hardly deserves to be called English, yet in Pope's time it had made some progress toward naturalization. Of a real or pretended polyglottist, who might thus have served as an universal interpreter, he says:

"Pity you was not druggerman at Babel".

'Truckman', or more commonly 'truchman', familiar to all readers of our early literature, is only another form of this, one which probably has come to us through 'turcimanno', the Italian form of the word. [See my Folk and their Word-Lore, p. 19].

{7} ['Tulip', at first spelt tulipan, is really the same word as turban (tulipant just above), which the flower was thought to resemble (Persian dulband).]

{8} [Ultimately from the Arabic zab{-a}d (N.E.D.).]

{9} [Apparently to be traced to the Persian shim-shir or sham-shir ("lion's-nail"), a crooked sword (Skeat).]

{10} [Rather through the French from low Latin satinus or setinus, a fabric made of seta, silk. But Yule holds that it may be from Zayton or Zaitun (in Fokien, China), an important emporium of Western trade in the Middle Ages (Hobson-Jobson, 602).]

{11} [Probably intended for cacao, which is Mexican. Cocoa, the nut, is from Portuguese coco.]

{12} See Washington Irving, Life and Voyages of Columbus, b. 8, c. 9.

{13} [It is from the Haytian Hurakan, the storm-god (The Folk and their Word-Lore, 90).]

{14} [From old Russian mammot, whence modern Russian mamant.]

{15} ['Assagai' is from the Arabic az- (al-) zagh{-a}yah, 'the zag{-a}yah', a Berber name for a lance (N.E.D.).]

{16} [This puts the cart before the horse. 'Fetish' is really the Portuguese word feitico, artificial, made-up, factitious (Latin factitius), applied to African amulets or idols.]

{17} ['Domino' is Spanish rather than Italian (Skeat, Principles, ii, 312).]

{18} ['Harlequin' appears to be an older word in French than in Italian (ibid.).]

{19} On the question whether this ought to have been included among the Arabic, see Diez, Woerterbuch d. Roman. Sprachen, p. 10.

{20} Not in our dictionaries; but a kind of coasting vessel well known to seafaring men, the Spanish 'urca'; thus in Oldys' Life of Raleigh: "Their galleons, galleasses, gallies, urcas, and zabras were miserably shattered".

{21} [A valuable list of such doublets is given by Prof. Skeat in his large Etymological Dictionary, p. 772 seq.]

{22} This particular instance of double adoption, of 'dimorphism' as Latham calls it, 'dittology' as Heyse, recurs in Italian, 'bestemmiare' and 'biasimare'; and in Spanish, 'blasfemar' and 'lastimar'.

{23} ['Doit', a small coin (Dutch duit) has no relation to, 'digit'. Was the author thinking of old French doit, a finger, from Latin digitus?]

{24} Somewhat different from this, yet itself also curious, is the passing of an Anglo-Saxon word in two different forms into English, and continuing in both; thus 'desk' and 'dish', both the Anglo-Saxon 'disc' [a loan-word from Latin discus, Greek diskos] the German 'tisch'; 'beech' and 'book', both the Anglo-Saxon 'boc', our first books being beechen tablets (see Grimm, Woerterbuch, s. vv. 'Buch', 'Buche'); 'girdle' and 'kirtle'; both of them corresponding to the German 'guertel'; already in Anglo-Saxon a double spelling, 'gyrdel', 'cyrtel', had prepared for the double words; so too 'haunch' and 'hinge'; 'lady' and 'lofty' [these last three instances are not doublets at all, being quite unrelated; see Skeat, s. vv.]; 'shirt', and 'skirt'; 'black' and 'bleak'; 'pond' and 'pound'; 'deck' and 'thatch'; 'deal' and 'dole'; 'weald' and 'wood'{+}; 'dew' and 'thaw'{+}; 'wayward' and 'awkward'{+}; 'dune' and 'down'; 'hood' and 'hat'{+}; 'ghost' and 'gust'{+}; 'evil' and 'ill'{+}; 'mouth' and 'moth'{+}; 'hedge' and 'hay'.

[All these suggested doublets which I have obelized must be dismissed as untenable.]

{25} We have in the same way double adoptions from the Greek, one direct, at least as regards the forms; one modified by its passage through some other language; thus, 'adamant' and 'diamond'; 'monastery' and 'minster'; 'scandal' and 'slander'; 'theriac' and 'treacle'; 'asphodel' and 'daffodil'; 'presbyter' and 'priest'.

{26} The French itself has also a double adoption, or as perhaps we should more accurately call it there, a double formation, from the Latin, and such as quite bears out what has been said above: one going far back in the history of the language, the other belonging to a later and more literary period; on which subject there are some admirable remarks by Genin, Recreations Philologiques, vol. i. pp. 162-66; and see Fuchs, Die Roman. Sprachen, p. 125. Thus from 'separare' is derived 'sevrer', to separate the child from its mother's breast, to wean, but also 'separer', without this special sense; from 'pastor', 'patre', a shepherd in the literal, and 'pasteur' the same in a tropical, sense; from 'catena', 'chaine' and 'cadene'; from 'fragilis', 'frele' and 'fragile'; from 'pensare', 'peser' and 'penser'; from 'gehenna', 'gene' and 'gehenne'; from 'captivus', 'chetif' and 'captif'; from 'nativus', 'naif' and 'natif'; from 'designare', 'dessiner' and 'designer'; from 'decimare', 'dimer' and 'decimer'; from 'consumere', 'consommer' and 'consumer'; from 'simulare', 'sembler' and 'simuler'; from the low Latin, 'disjejunare', 'diner' and 'dejeuner'; from 'acceptare', 'acheter' and 'accepter'; from 'homo', 'on' and 'homme'; from 'paganus', 'payen' and 'paysan' [the latter from 'pagensis']; from 'obedientia', 'obeissance' and 'obedience'; from 'strictus', 'etroit' and 'strict'; from 'sacramentum', 'serment' and 'sacrement'; from 'ministerium', 'metier' and 'ministere'; from 'parabola', 'parole' and 'parabole'; from 'peregrinus', 'pelerin' and 'peregrin'; from 'factio', 'facon' and 'faction', and it has now adopted 'factio' in a third shape, that is, in our English 'fashion'; from 'pietas', 'pitie' and 'piete'; from 'capitulum', 'chapitre' and 'capitule', a botanical term. So, too, in Italian, 'manco', maimed, and 'monco', maimed of a hand; 'rifutare', to refute, and 'rifiutare', to refuse; 'dama' and 'donna', both forms of 'domina'.

{27} See Marsh, Manual of the English Language, Engl. Ed. p. 88 seq.

{28} W. Schlegel (Indische Bibliothek, vol. i. p. 284): Coeunt quidem paullatim in novum corpus peregrina vocabula, sed grammatica linguarum, unde petitae sunt, ratio perit.

{29} J. Grimm, quoted in The Philological Museum vol. i. p. 667.

{30} Works, vol. iv. p. 202.

{31} [These words are taken from the 'Whistlecraft' of John Hookham Frere:—

"Don't confound the language of the nation With long-tail'd words in osity and ation".

(Works, 1872, vol. 1, p. 206).]

{32} History of Normandy and England, vol. i, p. 78.

{33} [F. W. Faber,] Dublin Review, June, 1853.

{34} There is more on this matter in my book On the Authorized Version of the New Testament, pp. 33-35.

{35} See a paper On the Probable Future Position of the English Language, by T. Watts, Esq., in the Proceedings of the Philological Society, vol. iv, p. 207.

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

"And who, in time, knows whither we may vent The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores This gain of our best glory shall be sent, To enrich unknowing nations with our stores? What worlds in the yet unformed Occident May come refined with the accents that are ours? Or who can tell for what great work in hand The greatness of our style is now ordained? What powers it shall bring in, what spirits command, What thoughts let out, what humours keep restrained, What mischief it may powerfully withstand, And what fair ends may thereby be attained"?

{37} Ueber den Ursprung der Sprache, Berlin, 1832, p. 5.



It is not for nothing that we speak of some languages as living, of others as dead. All spoken languages may be ranged in the first class; for as men will never consent to use a language without more or less modifying it in their use, will never so far forgo their own activity as to leave it exactly where they found it, it will therefore, so long as it is thus the utterance of human thought and feeling, inevitably show itself alive by many infallible proofs, by motion, growth, acquisition, loss, progress, and decay. A living language therefore is one which abundantly deserves this name; for it is one in which, spoken as it is by living men, a vital formative energy is still at work. It is one which is in course of actual evolution, which, if the life that animates it be a healthy one, is appropriating and assimilating to itself what it anywhere finds congenial to its own life, multiplying its resources, increasing its wealth; while at the same time it is casting off useless and cumbersome forms, dismissing from its vocabulary words of which it finds no use, rejecting from itself by a re-active energy the foreign and heterogeneous, which may for a while have been forced upon it. I would not assert that in the process of all this it does not make mistakes; in the desire to simplify it may let go distinctions which were not useless, and which it would have been better to retain; the acquisitions which it makes are very far from being all gains; it sometimes rejects words as worthless, or suffers words to die out, which were most worthy to have lived. So far as it does this its life is not perfectly healthy; there are here signs, however remote, of disorganization, decay, and ultimate death; but still it lives, and even these misgrowths and malformations, the rejection of this good, the taking up into itself of that ill, all these errors are themselves the utterances and evidences of life. A dead language is the contrary of all this. It is dead, because books, and not now any generation of living men, are the guardians of it, and what they guard, they guard without change. Its course has been completely run, and it is now equally incapable of gaining and of losing. We may come to know it better; but in itself it is not, and never can be, other than it was when it ceased from the lips of men.

{Sidenote: English a Living Language}

Our own is, of course, a living language still. It is therefore gaining and losing. It is a tree in which the vital sap is circulating yet, ascending from the roots into the branches; and as this works, new leaves are continually being put forth by it, old are dying and dropping away. I propose for the subject of my present lecture to consider some of the evidences of this life at work in it still. As I took for the subject of my first lecture the actual proportions in which the several elements of our composite English are now found in it, and the service which they were severally called on to perform, so I shall consider in this the sources from which the English language has enriched its vocabulary, the periods at which it has made the chief additions to this, the character of the additions which at different periods it has made, and the motives which induced it to seek them.

I had occasion to mention in that lecture and indeed I dwelt with some emphasis on the fact, that the core, the radical constitution of our language, is Anglo-Saxon; so that, composite or mingled as it must be freely allowed to be, it is only such in respect to words, not in respect of construction, inflexions, or generally its grammatical forms. These are all of one piece; and whatever of new has come in has been compelled to conform itself to these. The framework is English; only a part of the filling in is otherwise; and of this filling in, of these its comparatively more recent accessions, I now propose to speak.

{Sidenote: The Norman Conquest}

The first great augmentation by foreign words of our Saxon vocabulary, setting aside those which the Danes brought us, was a consequence, although not an immediate one, of the battle of Hastings, and of the Norman domination which Duke William's victory established in our land. And here let me say in respect of that victory, in contradiction to the sentimental regrets of Thierry and others, and with the fullest acknowledgement of the immediate miseries which it entailed on the Saxon race, that it was really the making of England; a judgment, it is true, but a judgment and mercy in one. God never showed more plainly that He had great things in store for the people which should occupy this English soil, than when He brought hither that aspiring Norman race. At the same time the actual interpenetration of our Anglo-Saxon with any large amount of French words did not find place till very considerably later than this event, however it was a consequence of it. Some French words we find very soon after; but in the main the two streams of language continued for a long while separate and apart, even as the two nations remained aloof, a conquering and a conquered, and neither forgetting the fact.

Time however softened the mutual antipathies. The Norman, after a while shut out from France, began more and more to feel that England was his home and sphere. The Saxon, recovering little by little from the extreme depression which had ensued on his defeat, became every day a more important element of the new English nation which was gradually forming from the coalition of the two races. His language partook of his elevation. It was no longer the badge of inferiority. French was no longer the only language in which a gentleman could speak, or a poet sing. At the same time the Saxon, now passing into the English language, required a vast addition to its vocabulary, if it were to serve all the needs of those who were willing to employ it now. How much was there of high culture, how many of the arts of life, of its refined pleasures, which had been strange to Saxon men, and had therefore found no utterance in Saxon words. All this it was sought to supply from the French.

We shall not err, I think, if we assume the great period of the incoming of French words into the English language to have been when the Norman nobility were exchanging their own language for the English; and I should be disposed with Tyrwhitt to believe that there is much exaggeration in attributing the large influx of these into English to one man's influence, namely to Chaucer's{38}. Doubtless he did much; he fell in with and furthered a tendency which already prevailed. But to suppose that the majority of French vocables which he employed in his poems had never been employed before, had been hitherto unfamiliar to English ears, is to suppose that his poems must have presented to his contemporaries an absurd patchwork of two languages, and leaves it impossible to explain how he should at once have become the popular poet of our nation.

{Sidenote: Influence of Chaucer}

That Chaucer largely developed the language in this direction is indeed plain. We have only to compare his English with that of another great master of the tongue, his contemporary Wiclif, to perceive how much more his diction is saturated with French words than is that of the Reformer. We may note too that many which he and others employed, and as it were proposed for admission, were not finally allowed and received; so that no doubt they went beyond the needs of the language, and were here in excess{39}. At the same time this can be regarded as no condemnation of their attempt. It was only by actual experience that it could be proved whether the language wanted those words or not, whether it could absorb them into itself, and assimilate them with all that it already was and had; or did not require, and would therefore in due time reject and put them away. And what happened then will happen in every attempt to transplant on a large scale the words of one language into another. Some will take root; others will not, but after a longer or briefer period will wither and die. Thus I observe in Chaucer such French words as these, 'misericorde', 'malure' (malheur), 'penible', 'ayel' (aieul), 'tas', 'gipon', 'pierrie' (precious stones); none of which, and Wiclif's 'creansur' (2 Kings iv. 1) as little, have permanently won a place in our tongue. For a long time 'mel', used often by Sylvester, struggled hard for a place in the language side by side with honey; 'roy' side by side with king; this last quite obtained one in Scotch. It is curious to mark some of these French adoptions keeping their ground to a comparatively late day, and yet finally extruded: seeming to have taken firm root, they have yet withered away in the end. Thus it has been, for example, with 'egal' (Puttenham); with 'ouvert', 'mot', 'ecurie', 'baston', 'gite' (Holland); with 'rivage', 'jouissance', 'noblesse', 'tort' (=wrong), 'accoil' (accuellir), 'sell' (=saddle), all occurring in Spenser; with 'to serr' (serrer), 'vive', 'reglement', used all by Bacon; and so with 'esperance', 'orgillous' (orgueilleux), 'rondeur', 'scrimer' (=fencer), all in Shakespeare; with 'amort' (this also in Shakespeare){40}, and 'avie' (Holland). 'Maugre', 'congie', 'devoir', 'dimes', 'sans', and 'bruit', used often in our Bible, were English once{41}; when we employ them now, it is with the sense that we are using foreign words. The same is true of 'dulce', 'aigredoulce' (=soursweet), of 'mur' for wall, of 'baine' for bath, of the verb 'to cass' (all in Holland), of 'volupty' (Sir Thomas Elyot), 'volunty' (Evelyn), 'medisance' (Montagu), 'petit' (South), 'aveugle', 'colline' (both in State Papers), and 'eloign' (Hacket){42}.

We have seen when the great influx of French words took place—that is, from the time of the Conquest, although scantily and feebly at the first, to that of Chaucer. But with him our literature and language had made a burst, which they were not able to maintain. He has by Warton been well compared to some warm bright day in the very early spring, which seems to say that the winter is over and gone; but its promise is deceitful; the full bursting and blossoming of the springtime are yet far off. That struggle with France which began so gloriously, but ended so disastrously, even with the loss of our whole ill-won dominion there, the savagery of our wars of the Roses, wars which were a legacy bequeathed to us by that unrighteous conquest, leave a huge gap in our literary history, nearly a century during which very little was done for the cultivation of our native tongue, during which it could have made few important accessions to its wealth.

{Sidenote: Latin Importation}

The period however is notable as being that during which for the first time we received a large accession of Latin words. There was indeed already a small settlement of these, for the most part ecclesiastical, which had long since found their home in the bosom of the Anglo-Saxon itself, and had been entirely incorporated into it. The fact that we had received our Christianity from Rome, and that Latin was the constant language of the Church, sufficiently explains the incoming of these. Such were 'monk', 'bishop' (I put them in their present shapes, and do not concern myself whether they were originally Greek or no; they reached us as Latin); 'provost', 'minster', 'cloister', 'candle', 'psalter', 'mass', and the names of certain foreign animals, as 'camel', or plants or other productions, as 'pepper', 'fig'; which are all, with slightly different orthography, Anglo-Saxon words. These, however, were entirely exceptional, and stood to the main body of the language not as the Romance element of it does now to the Gothic, one power over against another, but as the Spanish or Italian or Arabic words in it now stand to the whole present body of the language—and could not be affirmed to affect it more.

So soon however as French words were imported largely, as I have just observed, into the language, and were found to coalesce kindly with the native growths, this very speedily suggested, as indeed it alone rendered possible, the going straight to the Latin, and drawing directly from it; and thus in the hundred years which followed Chaucer a large amount of Latin found its way, if not into our speech, yet at all events into our books—words which were not brought through the French, for they are not, and have not at any time been, French, but yet words which would never have been introduced into English, if their way had not been prepared, if the French already domesticated among us had not bridged over, as it were, the gulf, that would have otherwise been too wide between them and the Saxon vocables of our tongue.

In this period, a period of great depression of the national spirit, we may trace the attempt at a pedantic latinization of English quite as clearly at work as at later periods, subsequent to the revival of learning. It was now that a crop of such words as 'facundious', 'tenebrous', 'solacious', 'pulcritude', 'consuetude' (all these occur in Hawes), with many more, long since rejected by the language, sprung up; while other words, good in themselves, and which have been since allowed, were yet employed in numbers quite out of proportion with the Saxon vocables with which they were mingled, and which they altogether overtopped and shadowed. Chaucer's hearty English feeling, his thorough sympathy with the people, the fact that, scholar as he was, he was yet the poet not of books but of life, and drew his best inspiration from life, all this had kept him, in the main, clear of this fault. But in others it is very manifest. Thus I must esteem the diction of Lydgate, Hawes, and the other versifiers who filled up the period between Chaucer and Surrey, immensely inferior to Chaucer's; being all stuck over with long and often ill-selected Latin words. The worst offenders in this line, as Campbell himself admits, were the Scotch poets of the fifteenth century. "The prevailing fault", he says, "of English diction, in the fifteenth century, is redundant ornament, and an affectation of anglicising Latin words. In this pedantry and use of "aureate terms" the Scottish versifiers went even beyond their brethren of the south.... When they meant to be eloquent, they tore up words from the Latin, which never took root in the language, like children making a mock garden with flowers and branches stuck in the ground, which speedily wither"{43}.

To few indeed is the wisdom and discretion given, certainly it was given to none of those, to bear themselves in this hazardous enterprise according to the rules laid down by Dryden; who in the following admirable passage declares the motives that induced him to seek for foreign words, and the considerations that guided him in their selection: "If sounding words are not of our growth and manufacture, who shall hinder me to import them from a foreign country? I carry not out the treasure of the nation which is never to return, but what I bring from Italy I spend in England. Here it remains and here it circulates, for, if the coin be good, it will pass from one hand to another. I trade both with the living and the dead, for the enrichment of our native language. We have enough in England to supply our necessity, but if we will have things of magnificence and splendour, we must get them by commerce. Poetry requires adornment, and that is not to be had from our old Teuton monosyllables; therefore if I find any elegant word in a classic author, I propose it to be naturalized by using it myself; and if the public approves of it, the bill passes. But every man cannot distinguish betwixt pedantry and poetry: every man therefore is not fit to innovate. Upon the whole matter a poet must first be certain that the word he would introduce is beautiful in the Latin; and is to consider in the next place whether it will agree with the English idiom: after this, he ought to take the opinion of judicious friends, such as are learned in both languages; and lastly, since no man is infallible, let him use this licence very sparingly; for if too many foreign words are poured in upon us, it looks as if they were designed not to assist the natives, but to conquer them"{44}.

{Sidenote: Influence of the Reformation}

But this tendency to latinize our speech was likely to receive, and actually did receive, a new impulse from the revival of learning, and the familiar re-acquaintance with the great masterpieces of ancient literature which went along with this revival. Happily another movement accompanied, or at least followed hard on this; a movement in England essentially national; and which stirred our people at far deeper depths of their moral and spiritual life than any mere revival of learning could have ever done; I refer, of course, to the Reformation. It was only among the Germanic nations of Europe, as has often been remarked, that the Reformation struck lasting roots; it found its strength therefore in the Teutonic element of the national character, which also it in its turn further strengthened, purified, and called out. And thus, though Latin came in upon us now faster than ever, and in a certain measure also Greek, yet this was not without its redress and counterpoise, in the cotemporaneous unfolding of the more fundamentally popular side of the language. Popular preaching and discussion, the necessity of dealing with truths the most transcendent in a way to be understood not by scholars only, but by 'idiots' as well, all this served to evoke the native resources of our tongue; and thus the relative proportion between the one part of the language and the other was not dangerously disturbed, the balance was not destroyed; as it might well have been, if only the Humanists{45} had been at work, and not the Reformers as well.

The revival of learning, which made itself first felt in Italy, extended to England, and was operative here, during the reigns of Henry the Eighth and his immediate successors. Having thus slightly anticipated in time, it afterwards ran exactly parallel with, the period during which our Reformation was working itself out. The epoch was in all respects one of immense mental and moral activity, and such never leave the language of a nation where they found it. Much is changed in it; much probably added; for the old garment of speech, which once served all needs, has grown too narrow, and serves them now no more. "Change in language is not, as in many natural products, continuous; it is not equable, but eminently by fits and starts"; and when the foundations of the national mind are heaving under the power of some new truth, greater and more important changes will find place in fifty years than in two centuries of calmer or more stagnant existence. Thus the activities and energies which the Reformation awakened among us here—and I need not tell you that these reached far beyond the domain of our directly religious life—caused mighty alterations in the English tongue{46}.

{Sidenote: Rise of New Words}

For example, the Reformation had its scholarly, we might say, its scholastic, as well as its popular, aspect. Add this fact to the fact of the revived interest in classical learning, and you will not wonder that a stream of Latin, now larger than ever, began to flow into our language. Thus Puttenham, writing in Queen Elizabeth's reign{47}, gives a long list of words which, as he declares, had been quite recently introduced into the language. Some of them are Greek, a few French and Italian, but very far the most are Latin. I will not give you his whole catalogue, but some specimens from it; it is difficult to understand concerning some of these, how the language should have managed to do without them so long; 'method', 'methodical', 'function', 'numerous', 'penetrate', 'penetrable', 'indignity', 'savage', 'scientific', 'delineation', 'dimension'—all which he notes to have recently come up; so too 'idiom', 'significative', 'compendious', 'prolix', 'figurative', 'impression', 'inveigle', 'metrical'. All these he adduces with praise; others upon which he bestows equal commendation, have not held their ground, as 'placation', 'numerosity', 'harmonical'. Of those neologies which he disallowed, he only anticipated in some cases, as in 'facundity', 'implete', 'attemptat' ('attentat'), the decision of a later day; other words which he condemned no less, as 'audacious', 'compatible', 'egregious', have maintained their ground. These too have done the same; 'despicable', 'destruction', 'homicide', 'obsequious', 'ponderous', 'portentous', 'prodigious', all of them by another writer a little earlier condemned as "inkhorn terms, smelling too much of the Latin".

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse