« السابقةمتابعة »
replies to the remonstrance of George, who is just dragged to prison for challenging Thornhill: "And my son you shall find them. From this moment I break from my heart all the ties which held it down to earth, and will prepare to fit us both for eternity. Yes, my son, I will point out the way, and my soul shall guide yours in the ascent, for we will take our flight together. I now see, and am convinced, you can expect no pardon here, and I can only exhort you to seek it at that greatest tribunal, where we both shall shortly answer." The second is from Milton's "Reformation in England,” in which is seen the first germ and pledge of his "Paradise Lost." There is, towards the close, a majesty in his frequent shall: "Then amidst the hymns and halleluiahs of saints, some one may perhaps be heard offering at high strains in new and lofty measures,......................... whereby this great and warlike nation may press on hard to that high and happy emulation to be found the soberest, wisest, and most Christian people at that day, when Thou the Eternal and shortly-expected King, shalt open the clouds to judge the several kingdoms of the world, shalt put an end to all earthly tyrannies, proclaiming thy universal and mild monarchy through heaven and earth, where the pious great shall unquestionably receive above the inferior orders of the blessed, the regal addition of principalities, legions, and thrones unto their glorious titles, and in supereminence of beatific vision, progressing the dateless and irrevoluble circle of eternity, shall clasp inseparable hands with joy and bliss, in overmeasures for ever." Shakspeare furnishes many specimens of this care in his selections. Macbeth thus reasons with himself after his interview with the sibyl-crones :
"Besides, this Duncan
The deep damnation of his taking off;
And Pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or Heaven's cherubin, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
So again he resolves :
"From this moment,
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand.
The castle of Macduff I will surprise.
No boasting like a fool,
It may be noticed that a difference occurs in these terms with the person in which they are found. The person makes no difference with shall,-I shall, thou shalt, he shall, are equally potential-so is, "I will," as determinate: but the second and third persons do not govern with the same force. The reason is plain. None can will for another. "Thou wilt, and he will," can then be only matters of expectation, notes of the future. For when we wish a friend to do us a favour, we neither say, you shall, nor you will,-save that confidently we may add, I know you will, or coaxingly, now you will! Who can ever forget the tone of the Maiden in her boat to Thalaba, repeated as it is,-"Thou wilt go on with me!"
I can lay down no rule or paradigm for this discrimination. An English education imparts the tact which hardly any study can supply. The best method is to ask ourselves, meditating future action or passiveness,-what depends upon us, and what does not depend upon us, what is inevitable and what is fortuitous? Shall, as transitive, is the mark of behest, or otherwise it stands for must. He shall obey, he shall be made to obey,— he shall die, he must die. I shall go to-morrow, understands engagement,—I will go, simple good pleasure.-Will is only determinate in the first person,-in the others it only indicates what our American brethren call eventuation. Good authors, and polished society, are the best teachers and exemplars we can study.
The doctrine of this potestas is this,-that in the English Future Tense we possess an elegant perspicuity which, it is supposed, is peculiar to our language. Taking that of other languages, living or dead, we have to thread out from the context, what meaning is to be understood. It may be of resolve,
or of mere submission. It may be something of choice, or of unresisting endurance. If our language were ever to pass into survival of actual use, the distant scholar in it would see at a glance what was in the writer's mind, and in what manner he must make his version. The biformed characteristic is his waymark, and he who runs may read.
No one speaks our Tongue, or composés in our language, who cannot take this distinction, and admire this precision. It is a very grace of style. It is so natural, so easy, that its correct and apposite employment scarcely touches the ear: but most grating to that ear is every violation of it. The Scotch Highlander who has learnt English, not as his mother-tongue, but as an acquisition and an accomplishment, introduces shall and will as appropriately as ourselves. The Low-land language does not contain it, and the unfortunate prejudice of them who pass the border is, that they already know English: and therefore they never learn. We, however, must not surrender, to any invasion, our country or our language; and it would be, at least, polite to allow that such a distinction exists, even if it cannot be imitated. To assert that it is gratuitous, to maintain that it is unreasonable, is a poor excuse for the failure of overcoming it. We cannot surrender it among the "inopes rerum, nugæque canoræ.” We must venture to remind them that this is an olden form, a noble philology, a just boast, of that speech which Chaucer accented, Milton enriched, Bacon strengthened, Shakspeare attuned, and Sidney sublimated.
To conclude: let our language be examined for its most opposite powers, and it will be found unrivalled. What of high sentiment and philosophy may not be expressed by it? What of elegant turn does it not admit, and what of mighty store has it not amassed? It is elastic for compression and expansion. It is equally capable of the curt and terse: of the copious and overflowing. Reasoning cannot find such a mine of thought, nor eloquence such a fulmen of impression. The German is quoted as more profound. It is a young language, full of compounds, bearing the marks of a strong national intellect recently bursting into utterance. But its compounds stand out; ours,
scarcely less numerous, are softened down and melted into a smaller mass. Its power is in coarse, vivid, strength. It is susceptible of higher destinies. Klopstock has shown how the sacred epic can march in it; while Goëthe has proved how the drama can speak and the lyric enchant. All is infancy about it yet; but it is an infancy precocious, a giant-birth.—The Italian is alleged to be more liquidly musical. Doubtless it is a better vehicle for song. But until any passage of Dante has been read along with a few lines of our Shakspeare, and his harmony of inflection shall be preferred, we will not confess our tongue to yield even to his in its modulations.-The French has its admirers. It is the most agreeable set of counters for conversation. By its polished insignificance it is the very style for compliment and diplomacy. Its best idioms, indeed, are borrowed from the Saxon. What has it enshrined but that which is far more noble when put into any other dialect? We need not envy an exotic: if it can live, let it live distinct from all that is indigenous,-in the conservatory it may have its place. But give it no root in your soil. You have gardens,— forests, of your own. Your language is adequate for conception of every form, and for expression of every emphasis. Jurisprudence cannot find loftier sentences, Theology cannot desire clearer types, Poetry cannot sing in sweeter numbers!
“Τα Παθη την τε του αλλου λόγου και αυτού του Ύψους μοιραν επεχοντων, ως ημίν δοκεί.
(And justly) Reason deem divine, I see,
Which speaks their high descent and glorious end;
"Oh! 't is the Heart that magnifies the life,