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brother, smo'r of smother, mo'r of mother, and so on. Indeed, it is this that explams the word rare (which has Dryden's support), and which we say of meat where an Englishman would use underdine, I do not believe, with the dicuonaries, that it had ever anything to do with the Icelandic hrár (raw), as it plainly has not in rareripe, which means earlier ripe. And I do not believe it, for this reason, that the earlier form of the word with us was, and the commoner now in the inland parts still is, so far as I can discover, raredone. I find rather as a monosyliable in Donne, and still better, as giving the sound, rhyming with fair in Warner. The contraction more 'n I find in the old play " Fuimus Troes,” in a verse where the measure is so strongly accented as to leave it beyond doubt,
• A golden crown whose heirs
It may be, however, that the contraction is in th' orld." Is our gin for given more violent than mar'l for marvel, which was once common, and which I find as late as Herrick? Nay, Herrick has gin (spelling it g'en), too, as do the Scotch, who agree with us likewise in preferring chimly to chimney.
I will now leave pronunciation and turn to words or phrases which have been supposed peculiar to us, only pausing to pick up a single dropped stitch, in the pronunciation of the word supreme, which I had thought native till I found it in the well-languaged Daniel. I will begin with a word of which I have never met with any example in print. We express the first stage of withering in a green plant suddenly cut down by the verb to wilt. It is, of course, own cousin of the German welken, but I have never come upon it in print, and my own books of reference give me faint help. Graff gives welhèn, marcescere, and refers to weih (weak), and conjecturally to A. S hrelan. The A. S. weaiwvian (to wither) is nearer, but not so near as two words in the Icelandic, which perhaps put us on the track of
its ancestry, - velgi (tepefacere) and veiki, with the derivative meaning contaminare. Wilt, at any rate, is a good word, niining, as it does, a sensible gap between drooping and withering, and the imaginative phrase "he wiited right down,
"like * he caved right in,” is a true Americanism. Wilt occurs in English provincial glossaries, but is explamed by wither, which with us it does not mean. We have a few words such as cache, cohag, carry (portage), shoot (chute), timber forest, bushwhack' (to pull a boat along by the bushes on the edge of a stream), buckeye (a picturesque word for the horsechestnut); but how many can we be said to have tairly brought into the language, as Alexander Gill, who first mentions Americanisms, meant it when he said, “ Sed et ab Americanis nonnulla mutuamur ut MAIZ et CANOA"? Very few, I suspect, and those mostly by borrowing from the French, German, Spanish, or Indian. per” for the
Great Bear” strikes me as having a native air. Bogus, in the sense of worthless, is undoubtedly ours, but is, I more than suspect, a corruption of the French bagasse (from low Latin bagasen), which travelled up the Mississippi from New Orleans, where it was used for the refuse of the sugarcane.
It is true we have modified the meaning of some words. We use freshet in the sense of flood, for which I have not chanced upon any authority. Our New England cross between Ancient Pistol and Dugald Dalgetty, Cantain Underhill, uses the word (1638) to mean a current, and I do not recollect it elsewhere in that sense. I therefore leave it with a ? for future explorers. Crick for creek I find in Captain John Smith and in the dedication of Fuller's “Holy Warre," and run, meaning a small stream, in Waymouth's “ Voyage" (1605). Humans for men, which Mr. Bartlett includes in his “ Dictionary of Americanisms," is Chapman's habitual phrase in his translation of Homer I find it also in the old play of “The Hog hath lost his Pearl.” Dogs for andirons is still cur
rent in New England, and in Walter de Biblesworth I find chiens glossed in the margin by andirins. Gunning for shooting is in Drayton. We once got credit for the poetical word fall jor autumn, but Mr. Bartlett and the last edition of Webster's Dictionary refer us to Dryden. It is even older, for I fud it in Drayton, and Bishop Hall has autumn fall. Middleton plays upon the word : May'st thou have a reasonable good spring, for thou art like to have many dangerous foul falls." Lord Herbert of Cherbury (more properly perhaps than even Sidney, the last preux chevalier) has “the Emperor's iolks” just as a Yankee would say it. Loan for lend, with which we have hitherto been blackened, I must resort upon the mother island, for it ap: ers so long ago as in “ Albion's England.” Fleshy, in the sense of stout, may claim Ben Jonson's warrant. Chore is also Jonson's word, and I am inclined to prefer it to chare and char, because I think that I see a more natural origin for it in the French jour— whence it might come to mean a day's work, and thence a job - than anywhere else. At onst for at once I thought a corruption of our own, till I found it in the Chester Plays. I am now inclined to suspect it no corruption at all, but only an erratic and obsolete superlative at onest. To progress' was flung in our teeth till Mr. Pickering retorted with Shakespeare's “doth pro'gress down thy cheeks." I confess that I was never satisfied with this answer, because the accent was different, and because the word might here be reckoned a substantive quite as well as a verb. Mr. Bartlett (in his Dictionary above cited) adds a surrebutter in a verse from Ford's “Broken Heart." Here the word is clearly a verb, but with the accent unhappily still on the first syllable. Mr. Bartlett says that he “cannot say whether the word was used in Bacon's time or not." It certainly was, and with the accent we give to it. Ben Jonson, in the “ Alchemist,” has this verse,
Progress' so from extreme vnto extreme."
Surely we may now sleep in peace, and our English cousins will forgive us, since we have cleared ourselves from any suspicion of originality in the matter! Poor for lan, thirds for dower, and dry for thirsty I find in Middleton's plays. Dry is also in Skelton and in the “ World ” (1754). In a note on Middleton, Mr. Dyce thinks it needful to explain the phiase I can't tell (universal in America) by the gloss I could not say:
Middleton also uses snecked, which I had believed an Americanism till I saw it there. It is, of course, only another form of snatch, analogous to theek and thatch (cf. the proper names Dekker and Thacher), break (brack) and breach, make (stiil common with us) and match. Long on for occasioned by (“who is this 'long on?") occurs likewise in Middleton.
'Cause why is in Chaucer. Raising (an Eng. lish version of the French leaven) for yeast is employed by Gayton in his “ Festivous Notes on Don Quixote." I have never seen an instance of our New England word emptins in the same sense, nor can divine its original. Gayton has limekill; also shuts for shutters, and the latter is used by Mrs. Hutchinson in her “Life of Colonel Hutchinson." Bishop Hall, and Pur. chas in his “ Pilgrims,” have chist for chest, and it is certainly nearer cista, as well as to its form in the Teutonic languages, whence probably we got it. We retain the old sound in cist, Lut chest is as old as Chaucer. Lovelace says wropt for wrapt.
" Musicianer I had always associated with the militamusters of my boyhood, and too hastily concluded it an abomination of our own, but Mr. Wright calls it a Norfoik word, and I find it to be as old as 1642 by an extract in Collier.
“Not worth the time of day" had passed with me for native till i saw it in Shakespeare's “ Pericles.” For slick (which is only a shorter sound of sleek, like crick and the now universal britches for breeches) I will only call Chapman and Jonson. “That's a sure card !” ard “That 's a stinger !” both sound like modern slang, but you will find the one
in the old interlude of " Thersytes " (1537), and the other in Middleton. "Right here" a favorite phrase with our orators and with a certain class of our editors, turns up passion in the Chester ard Coventry plays. Mr. Dickens found something very ludicrous in what he considered our neologism right away.
But I find a phrase very like it, and which I half suspect to be a misprint for it, in “Gammer Gurton
Lyght it and bring it tite away.” After all, what is it but another form of straightway? Cussedness, meaning wickedness, malignity, and cuss, a sneaking, ill-natured fellow, in such phrases as
“He done it out o' pure cussedness,” and “He is a nateral cuss, have been commonly thought Yankeeisms. To vent certain contemptuously indignant moods they are admirable in their rough-and-ready way. But neither is our own. Cursydnesse, in the same sense of malignant wickedness, occurs in the Coventry Plays, and cuss may perhaps claim to have come in with the Conqueror. At least the term is also French. Saint Simon uses it and confesses its usefulness. Speaking of the Abbé Dubois he says, “Qui étoit en plein ce qu'un mauvais françois appelle un sacre, mais qui ne se peut guère exprimer autrement." “Not worth a cuss,” though supported by “not worth a damn,
may be a mere corruption, since not worth a cress is in “Piers Ploughman.” “I don't see it was the popular slang a year or two ago, and seemed to spring from the soil; but no, it is in Cibber's “Careless Husband.” “Green sauce for vegetables I meet in Beaumont and Fletcher, Gayton, and elsewhere. Our rustic pronunciation sahce (for either the diphthong au was anciently pronounced ah, or else we have followed abundant analogy in changing it to the latter sound, as we have in chance, dance, and so many more) may be the older one, and at least gives some hint at its ancestor salsa. Warn, in the sense of notify, is, I believe, now pe
culiar to us, but Pecock so employs it. To cotton to is, I rather think, an Americanism. The nearest approach to it I have found is cotton together, in Congreve's “Love for Love.
To cotton or cotten, in another sense, is old and common.
Our word means to cling, and its origin, possibly, is to be sought in another direction, perhaps in A. S. cvead, which means mud, clay (both proverbially clinging), or better yet, in the Icelandic qvoda (otherwise kód), meaning resin and glue, which are κατ' εξοχήν sticky substances. To spit cotton is, I think, American, and also, perhaps, to flax for to beat. To the halves still survives among us, though apparently obsolete in England. It means either to let or to hire a piece of land, receiving half the profit in money or in kind ( partibus locare). I mention it because in a note by some English editor, to which I have lost my reference, I have seen it wrongly explained. The editors of Nares cite Burton. To put, in the sense of to go, as Put! for Begone! would seem our own, and yet it is strictly analogous to the French se mettre à la voie, and the Italian mettersi in via. Indeed, Dante has a verse, “Io sarei (for mi sarei) già messo per lo
sentiero," which, but for the indignity, might be translated, “I should, ere this, have put along the way."
I deprecate in advance any share in General Banks's notions of international law, but we may all take a just pride in his exuberant eloquence as something distinctively American. When he spoke a few years ago of “letting the Union slide,” even those who, for political purposes, reproached him with the sentiment, admired the indigenous virtue of his phrase. Yet I find "let the world slide" in Heywood's “Edward IV.”; and in Beaumont and Fletcher's “Wit without Money” Valentine says,
“Will you go drink, And let the world slider
In the one case it is put into the mouth of a clown, in the other, of a gentleman, and was evidently proverbial. It has even higher sanction, for Chaucer writes,
“Well nigh all other curës let he slide." Mr. Bartlett gives “above one's bend” as an Americanism; but compare Hamlet's “to the top of my bent.” In his tracks for immediately has acquired an American accent, and passes where he can for a native, but is an importation nevertheless ; for what is he but the Latin e vestigio, or at best the Norman French eneslespas, both which have the same meaning? Hotfoot (provincial also in England), I find in the old romance of Tristan,"
"Si s'en parli CHAUT PAS." Like for as is never used in New Eng. land, but is universal in the South and West.
It has on its side the authority of two kings (ego sum rex Romanorum et supra grammaticam), Henry VIII. and Charles I. This were ample, without throwing into the scale the scholar and poet Daniel. Them was used as a nominative by the majesty of Edward VI., by Sir P. Hoby, and by Lord Paget (in Froude's “History”). I have never seen any passage adduced where guess was used as the Yankee uses it. The word was familiar in the mouths of our ancestors, but with a different shade of meaning from that we have given it, which is something like rather think, though the Yankee im
for granted.” Another peculiarity al. most as prominent is the beginning sentences, especially in answer to ques. tions, with “well.” Put before such a phrase as “How d'e do?” it is com. monly short, and has the sound of wul, but in reply it is deliberative, and the various shades of meaning which can be conveyed by difference of intonation, and by prolonging or abbreviating, I should vainly attempt to describe. I have heard ova ahl, wahl, ahl, wăl, and something nearly approaching the sound of the le in able. Sometimes before “[" it dwindles to a mere l, as “'ll dunno." A friend of mine (why should I not please myself, though displease him, by brightening my page with the initials of the most exquisite of humorists, J H.?) told me that he once heard five “wells,” like pioneers, precede the answer to an inquiry about the price of land. The first was the ordinary wul, in deference to custom ; the second, the long, perpending coahl, with a falling inflection of the voice ; the third, the same, but with the voice rising, as if in despair of a conclusion, into a plaintively nasal whine: the fourth, wulh, ending in the aspirate of a sigh; and then, fifth, came a short, sharp wal, showing that a conclusion had been reached. I have used this latter form in the “Biglow Papers,” because, if enough nasality be added, it represents most nearly the average sound of what I may call the interjection.
A locution prevails in the Southern and Middle States which is so curious that, though never heard in New Eng. land, I will give a few lines to its dis. cussion, the more readily because it is extinct elsewhere. I mean the use of allow in the sense of affirm, as "I allow that 's a good horse" I find the word so used in 1558 by Anthony Jenkinson in Hakluyt : Corne they sowe not, neither doe eate any bread, mocking the Christians for the same, and disabling our strengthe, saying we live by eating the toppe of a weede, and drinke a drinke made of the same, allowing tbeyr great devouring of flesh
plies was confident certainy, by it when
says, guess I du two examples in Otway, one of which (“So in the struggle, I guess the note was lost”) perhaps might serve our purpose, and Coleridge's
“I guess 't was fearful there to see" certainly comes very near. But I have a higher authority than either in Selden, who, in one of his notes to the “Polyolbion," writes, “The first inventor of them (I guess you dislike not the addition) was one Berthold Swartz." Here he must mean by it, “I take it
and drinking of milke to be the increase of theyr strength.” That is, they undervalued our strength, and affirmed their own to be the result of a certain diet.
In another passage of the same narrative the word has its more common meaning of approving or praising : “The said king, much ailowing this declaration, said.
Ducange quotes Bracton sub voce ADLOCARE for the meaning “to admit as proved," and the transition from this to “affirm” is by no means violent. At the same time, when we consider some of the meanings of allow in old English, and of allouer in old French, and also remember that the verbs prize and praise are from one root, I think we must admit allaudare to a share in the paternity of allow. The sentence from Hakluyt would read equally well, “contemning our strengthe, . praising (or valuing) their great eating of flesh as the cause of their increase in strength.” After all, if we confine ourselves to allocare, it may turn out that the word was somewhere and somewhen used for to bet, analogously to put up, put down, post (cf. Spanish apostar), and the like. I hear boys in the street continually saying, “I bet that's a good horse," or what not, meaning by no means to risk anything beyond their opinion in the maiter.
The word improve, in the sense of "to occupy, make use of, employ,” as Dr. Pickering defines it, he long ago proved to be no neologism. He would have done better, I think, had he substituted profit by for employ. He cites Dr. Franklin as saying that the word had never, so far as he knew, been used in New England before he left it in 1723, except in Dr. Mather's “Remarkable Providences, which he oddly calls a “very old book.” Franklin, as Dr. Pickering goes on to show, was mistaken. Mr. Bartlett in his “Dictionary” merely abridges Pickering. Both of them should have confined the application of the word to material things, its extension to which is all that is peculiar in the supposed American use of it. For surely “Com
plete Letter-Writers” have been “improving this opportunity” time out of mind. I will illustrate the word a little further, because Pickering cites no English authorities. Skelton has a passage in his “Phyllyp Sparowe, which I quote the rather as it contains also the word allowed, and as it distinguishes improve from employ:“ His (Chaucer's] Englysh well alowed, So as it is en prowed, For as it is enployd,
There is no English voyd.” Here the meaning is to profit by. In Fuller's “Holy Warre” (1647), we have “The Egyptians standing on the firm ground, were thereby enabled to improve and enforce their darts to the utmost. Here the word might certainly mean to make use of. Mrs. Hutchinson (Life of Colonel H ) uses the word in the same way: “And therefore did not emproove his interest to engage the country in the quarrell.” I find it also in “Strength out of Weakness (1652), and Plutarch's “Morals” (1714), but I know of only one example of its use in the purely American sense, and that is, “a very good improvement for a mill” in the State Trials”' (Speech of the Attorney-General in the Lady Ivy's case, 1684). Swift in one of his letters says: "There is not an acre of land in Ireland turned to half its advantage; yet it is better improved than the people."'* In the sense of employ, I could cite a dozen old English authorities.
In running over the fly-leaves of those delightful folios for this reference, I find a note which reminds me of another word, for our abuse of which we have been deservedly ridiculed. I mean lady. It is true I might cite the example of the Italian donnat (ilomina), which has been treated in the same way by a whole nation, and not, as lady among us, by the uncultivated only. It perhaps grew into use in the half-democratic' republics of Italy in the same way and for the same reasons * Swift, letter to Brandorth, O. R. I., 154.
+ Dame, in English, is a decayed gentlewoman of the same family.