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there would then have unfolded themselves differences between the language spoken here and there, which in tract of time accumulating and multiplying, might in the end have justified the regarding of the languages as no longer one and the same. It could not have been otherwise than that such differences should have displayed themselves; for while there is a law of necessity in the evolution of languages, while they pursue certain courses and in certain directions, from which they can be no more turned aside by the will of men than one of the heavenly. bodies could be pushed from its orbit by any engines of ours, there is a law of liberty no less; and this liberty would not have failed to make itself in many ways felt. In the political and social condition of America, so far removed from ours, in the many natural objects which are not the same with those which surround us here, in efforts independently carried out to rid the language of imperfections, or to unfold its latent powers, even in the different effects of climate on the organs of speech, there would have been causes enough to have provoked in the course of time not immaterial divergencies of language. . .
As it is, however, the joint operation of those three causes referred to already, namely, that the separation did not take place till after the language had attained the ripeness of maturity, that England and America owned a common body of literature to which they alike looked up and appealed, as containing the authoritative standards of the language, that the intercourse between the one people and the other has been large
olike look andards people
and frequent, as probably it will be larger and more frequent still, these have been strong enough to traverse and check these tendencies, have so effectually combined in repressing such divergence, that the written language of educated men on both sides of the water remains precisely the same, their spoken manifesting a few trivial differences of idiom; while even among those classes which do not consciously recognize any ideal standard of language, there are scarcely greater differences, in some respects far smaller, than exist between inhabitants of different provinces in this one island of England; and in the future we may reasonably anticipate that these differences, so far from increasing, will have rather the tendency to diminish.
It seems often as if an almost unaccountable caprice presided over the fortunes of words, and determined which should live and which die.' Thus in a vast number of instances a word lives on as a verb, but has ceased to be employed as a noun; we say “to embarrass, but no longer an "embarrass;' to revile,' but not, with Chapman and Milton, à revile;' 'to wed,' but not a wed, unless it should be urged that this survives in wed-lock,' a locking or binding together through the giving and receiving of a 'wed' or pledge, namely the ring; we say 'to infest,' but not any longer 'infest.' Or with a reversed fortune a word lives on as a noun, but has perished as a verb—thus as a noun substantive, a 'slug,' but no longer to slug' or render slothful; a child,' but no longer to child' ('childing autumn,' Beaumont and Fletcher); or as a noun adjective, “serene, but not to serene,' a beautiful word, which we have let go, as the French have
sereiner ;'* meek,' but not to meek' (Wiclif); fond,' but not with Dryden, 'to fond.
Or, again, the affirmative remains, but the negative, is gone ; thus 'wisdom,' but not any more 'unwisdom? (Wiclif); cunning,' but not uncunning;' manhood,' · wit,'"mighty,' but not 'unmanhood," unwit,' "unmighty' (all in Chaucer); “buxom,' but not ‘unbuxom' (Dryden); to know,' but not 'to unknow' (Wiclif), which survives only. in unknowing' and 'unknown.' Or once more, with a curious variation from this, the negative survives, while the affirmative is gone; thus wieldy' (Chaucer) survives only in 'un. wieldy ;' couth' and 'couthly? (both in Spenser), only in 'uncouth' and 'uncouthly;' "ruly' (Foxe), only in
unruly ;' gainly? (H. More) in ‘ungainly;' these two last were both of them serviceable words, and have been ill lost; "exorable' (Holland) and 'evitable' only in 'inexorable' and 'inevitable.' In like manner 'semble’ (Foxe) and 'hearten' (Chapman) have disappeared; while dissemble and dishearten' continue. So also of other pairs one has been taken and one left; "height,' or highth,' as. Milton better spelt it, remains, but 'lowth' (Becon) is gone; righteousness, or "right
* How many words modern French has lost which are most vigorous and admirable, the absence of which can only now be supplied by a circumlocution or by some less excellent word— Oseur,' • affranchisseur' (Amyot), mépriseur,' murmurateur, blandisseur' (Bossuet), ' abuseur' (Rabelais), ‘désabusement,'«ranceur,' are all obsolete at the present. So • désaimer,' to cease to love ("disamare' in Italian), ' guirlander,' stériliser, blandissant, ordonnément (Montaigne), with innumerable others.
‘RATHEST,' ILL LOST.. . 107 wiseness,' as it would once and more accurately have been written, remains, but its correspondent wrongwiseness' has been taken. Again, of whole groups of words formed after some particular scheme it may be only a single specimen will survive. Thus "gainsay,' that is, again say, survives; but 'gainstrive' (Foxe), that is, resist, 'gainstand,' and other similarly formed words exist' no longer. It is the same with 'foolhardy,' which is but one, though now indeed the only one remaining, of three or four adjectives formed on the same principle; thus 'foollarge,' at least as expressive a word as prodigal,' occurs in Chaucer, and 'foolhasty,' found also in him, lived on to the time of Holland; while foolhappy' is in Spenser. “Exhort remains; but dehort,' a word whose place neither
dissuade' nor any other exactly supplies, has escaped us. We have 'twilight,' but 'twibill' (= bipennis: Chapman) is extinct.
Let me mention another real loss, where in like manner there remains in the present language something to remind us of that which is gone. The comparative
rather stands alone, having dropped on either side its positive rathe,' and superlative rathest.' 'Rathe,' having the sense of early, though a graceful word, and not fallen quite even out of popular remembrance, inasmuch as it is embalmed in the Lycidas of Milton,
“ And the rathe primrose, which forsaken dies,”
might still be suffered to share the common lot of so many words which have perished, though worthy to live; but the disuse of rathest' has created a real gap
in the language, and the more so, seeing that liefest' is gone too.' 'Rather' expresses the Latin 'potius;' but
rathest being gone, we have no word, unless soonest' may be accepted as such, to express potissimum,' that is the preference not of one way over another or over certain others, but of one over all; which we therefore effect by dint of various circumlocutions. Nor is rathest so long out of use, that it would be a playing of the antic to attempt to revive it. On the contrary, it is found so late as in Bishop Sanderson's Sermons, who in the opening of that beautiful one on the text, “When my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord taketh me up,” puts the consideration, "why these," that is, father and mother, are named the rathest, and the rest to be included in them.'*.
The causes which are at work to bring about that certain words, becoming in the course of time obsolete, drop out of the living spoken tongue, are often very hard to arrive at-how, that is, there should be a certain tacit consent on the part of a whole people not to employ them any more; for without this, they could not have died out. I must be content with little more than calling your attention to the fact, and illustrating it by a few examples. That it is not accident, that there is a law here at work, however hidden it may be from us, is plain from the fact that certain families of words, words formed on certain principles, have a tendency thus to fall into desuetude.
Thus, I think, we may trace a certain tendency in * For other passages in which rathest' occurs, see the State Papers, vol. ii. pp. 92, 170.