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sprightly colloquial expression,-and the more, that with the expression came the thing itself. But to object to our language because of these accessions is to forget its modest pretensions It has arisen out of the dialects of our conquerors. The Roman, the Saxon, the Dane, the Norman, have successively invaded us, changing our institutions and varying our accents. If our language found happier terms than its own, it greatly adopted them, and left what was more cumbrous and inapt, though native, to desuetude; if it wanted variety, it seized it; it levied general contributions to perfect its copiousness; and, like an instrument of music, it has undergone different improvements until the orator can strike it to all the countless combinations of power which agitate or soothe, which alarm or melt, the heart. The French language, and even the Italian, may be considered as more servilely indebted than ours,—and without that powerful and healthy root which, left as it were in the ground, still spreads its suckers and bears its buds. The sturdy speech of our ancestors, though not old as our rivers and hills, partially survives; no foreign polish nor courtly parlance will ever be able to subdue it. Its outline is so large that whatever it draws into itself cannot distort it and its frame-work is so massive that nothing can overbalance it. Technical and artificial words it refuses not a place, though they are borne to it from the ends of the earth,-but it barters not its own staple in return. The gold-mine is within itself, though the more fanciful settings are given by others to the precious ore. Of such a speech we cannot be ashamed. In all the properties of language it is great. It is sonorous, arousing, pathetic, sweet; it is comprehensive, definite, precise, majestic. It has transfused through its tones the deepest and most dulcet harmonies: the metaphors interwoven with it, and forming its very substance, reflect all the hues and splendours of In this, men have been accustomed to think with vigour and freedom, until the language has grown rich and masculine too. It is a tongue which the world, when blessed with liberty, and sanctified by religion, shall gratefully adopt and universally speak.
The Saxon, which is the foundation of our language, often presented a great discrimination, and this is proved in the names which it gave to places. Combe, is a valley, or rather gorge, between two hills, and where there is a wood. Clough, is a wooded valley, or rather hollow, by a road side. Slack, is a valley stretching beneath a precipitous range. Firth, is a very retired, Shaw is a well-wooded, glen. Den, is a valley that is very deep. Here, with the appearances of synonyms, are real distinctions Once more: Hope, is a small stream; Thwaite, a rivulet; Fleet, an estuary; Gool, a canal; Wath, a ford; Burn, a runnel; Hithe, a landing-place; Sike, a waterfall; Holm, contiguity to water. Much circumlocution would be required to express these shades of meaning in any other tongue. A third series may be arranged. Holt, a hill; Fell, a wild upland; Wold, an undulating country; Knoll, a small but sudden rise; Ness, a head-land overhanging the sea, or a mountain near it.
But instead of translating the words of other languages into our own, and preserving the purest correlates, some of those words have lapsed into it untranslated, and make a corrupt appearance among us. Quandary, is Qu'en dirai? Jerusalem Artichoke, is Girasol Artichoke. Helter Skelter, is Hilariter et Celeriter. Applepie, as applied to order, is A Pol au Pied. Enough has, however, been advanced to prove the great powers of our language; but one more illustration will elicit a singularity. This is the double force of its future tense. It is exclusively an English grace. The Scotch and the Irish do not understand it. Foreigners can seldom enter into its nicety. I have enquired of many from distant parts of the world, whether there was an analogy to this in their speech. They have declared that there was none. And this might have been inferred, for had it been a business of simple translation they would have easily mastered it: the difficulty was that nothing corresponded to it in their own native idioms. It was a peculiarity which they had all to learn. Je Viendrai only conveys the certain futurition of my coming: it denotes no shade of different causes impelling me to come. To express
this distinctness, there must be periphrasis. Il faut que je venir,-Jái dessein de venir. The verb devoir is also combined to give the futuritial must. The German Werden, which is made use of as an auxiliary even to itself, merely certifies what the party is in due time to become, or to perform. The Hebrew future is most indefinite, because it has to serve the purpose of a potential and subjunctive mood: and it may require the signs to be understood of may, can, might, would, should, could. Whatever may be the degrees of futurity intended by the Greek tenses,—the first implying an earlier, the second a later, action, to say nothing of the Paulo-post* future in the passive voice, which seems to point out the very next moment as its time, still all three are silent, whether it is inducement of determination or necessity. Every school-boy in his Latin exercise has to utter the same alternative,-a perplexing licence when he commences translating,—I shall or will. The happy convenience, which is now adduced, is this: we can announce our future with an intelligible exposition of the certainty on which that future is founded: we can declare why, and how, it is to take place.
It will be best, at the outset, to examine these powers, Shall, and will. Shall has its primitive in Sceal (Sceal), a Saxon word, signifying to owe, any thing that is owed or ought: that is, what is due, or whatever we are bound to undertake. Will is the decision of our inclinations, the freedom of the affections with their bent. Though Pillan (Willan) is found in our Saxon lexicons and writings, it is rather a Latin word, velle; which it is curious to trace back to the Greek, Bourouar, Bourn, turning the 3 into v. This prefix, of course, most generally denotes resolve. Literally, then, if we shall do a thing, we are compelled: if we will, we are determined. These auxiliaries, it is obvious, give rise to the conditionals of should and would. We must certainly allow that whatever conduces to the accuracy of any vehicle of thought,—which gives to the thought, so to speak, the most colourless medium and
This tense only once occurs in the New Testament. Οι λίθοι κεκράξονται.
Luke xix. 40.
clearest transparence, is a desirable thing. Shall does not serve the end of will, nor can will reflect the force of shall. By almost an intuition we so shift and alternate them, that sound and judgment alike assign their place, and dictate their difference.
Yet what is their rule? Shall is certainly something more than an index of the future. It is often peremptory-it is the sanction of command: You shall! Thus Coriolanus is represented by Shakspeare exclaiming, to the stern employment of this term by Sicinius Velutus, the Tribune:
"Shall remain ?
Hear you this Triton of the minnows? Mark you
In such a connection, we discover compulsion to be the idea, but then it is only the compulsory enforcement of right or duty. Will is the exponent of energetic vow. "I will do it at once. I will do it. I will secure it." But both are most properly made signs of the future. For, however immediately "shall" commands, and "will" decides, from that present there is an interval. It remains to be done.
It would be very difficult to set this matter right with our Caledonian fellow-countryman. He almost invariably offends against the rule, if rule there be. You ask him to dine with you. You receive his refusal, and observe his strange excuse, "As I will be out of town." Where is the error? Is it not a determination, a volition? But it is not courteous so to put it. It seems to intimate a willingness to escape. Alter that part," As I shall be out of town." It breathes regret. This shall is must,-an inevitable occasion for declining the engagement. You request him to do you a favour. You obtain his consent. "I shall just do it." The very kindness of the favour evaporates with that dull formal shall, and the will was the only source and agent by which it could be graciously bestowed. He apprehends danger, "he will be drowned;" he deplores the want of succour, "no one shall help me." This old-established jest is scarcely stronger and
more stringent than what I have often heard. An unfortunate has said to me, "I will be ruined." A dying man, little reconciled to his approaching change, has told me, "I will die this time." Where it was meant that the person spoken of should be most voluntary in his movements, it has been imperiously asserted, "He shall go."
Sometimes it is difficult to discriminate between these auxiliaries, and especially when used interrogatively. "Shall you go? Will you go?" Neither form is improper, but they are not exactly equipollent. They might be thus varied. Do you feel obliged to go? Are you inclined to go? So in soliloquy: "What shall I do?" is a reasonable question. What course should I take? But when a man runs about in fright, crying, "What will I do?" it is a silly appeal, for he may be so complete a fool that no one could speculate upon his possible extravagance of absurdity.
I can scarcely venture to affirm that never can shall and will be spoken and written indifferently: that never may they be harmlessly interchanged: that never are they simple interpreters of futurition. "Will" is the more accommodating and pliant of the two. But then it is the feebler also. Where the emphasis is not direct upon it, it sometimes slides into this mere intimation. Shall, however, is rarely thus convertible. How well-strung is its pitch to the key of ardent aspiration and lofty prophecy! Then shall come to pass! Then shall the end be! Then will come to pass. Then will the end be. How tame! The contrast but leaves the word little more than a bare idea that such results would happen! Assurance falters into doubt, and exultation droops over a table of reckonings and summed-up issues.
To make these quantities, if we may speak of verbal quantities, more apparent, I will select a quotation or two from our popular writers. It will be seen how injurious would be their mutual substitution. I open, by chance, on the passage in the Vicar of Wakefield, where the Father, already incarcerated,
Goldsmith's English shows what an Irishman may do in learning our language: his is a very different mother-tongue.