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On the Study of Words by Richard C Trench

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word.] Could the Magdalen have ever bequeathed us 'maudlin' in its
present contemptuous application, if the tears of penitential sorrow
had been held in due honour by the world? 'Tinsel,' the French
'etincelle,' meant once anything that sparkled or glistened; thus,
'cloth of _tinsel_' would be cloth inwrought with silver and gold; but
the sad experience that 'all is not gold that glitters, that much
showing fair to the eye is worthless in reality, has caused that by
'tinsel,' literal or figurative, we ever mean now that which has no
realities of sterling worth underlying the specious shows which it
makes. 'Specious' itself, let me note, meant beautiful at one time, and
not, as now, presenting a deceitful appearance of beauty. 'Tawdry,' an
epithet applied once to lace or other finery bought at the fair of St.
Awdrey or St. Etheldreda, has run through the same course: it at one
time conveyed no suggestion of _mean_ finery or _shabby_ splendour, as
now it does. 'Voluble' was an epithet which had nothing of slight in it,
but meant what 'fluent' means now; 'dapper' _was_ what in German
'tapfer' _is_; not so much neat and spruce as brave and bold;
'plausible' was worthy of applause; 'pert' is now brisk and lively, but
with a very distinct subaudition, which once it had not, of sauciness
as well; 'lewd' meant no more than unlearned, as the lay or common
people might be supposed to be. [Footnote: Having in mind what 'dirne,'
connected with 'dienen,' 'dienst,' commonly means now in German, one
almost shrinks from mentioning that it was once a name of honour which
could be and was used of the Blessed Virgin Mary (see Grimm,
_Wrterbuch_, s. v.). 'Schalk' in like manner had no evil subaudition
in it at the first; nor did it ever obtain such during the time that it
survived in English; thus in _Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight_, the
peerless Gawayne is himself on more than one a 'schalk' (424, 1776).
The word survives in the last syllable of 'seneschal,' and indeed of
'marshal' as well.] 'To carp' is in Chaucer's language no more than to
converse; 'to mouth' in _Piers Plowman_ is simply to speak; 'to garble'
was once to sift and pick out the best; it is now to select and put
forward as a fair specimen the worst.

This same deterioration through use may be traced in the verb 'to
resent.' Barrow could speak of the good man as a faithful 'resenter'
and requiter of benefits, of the duty of testifying an affectionate
'resentment' of our obligations to God. But the memory of benefits
fades from us so much more quickly than that of injuries; we remember
and revolve in our minds so much more predominantly the wrongs, real or
imaginary, men have done us, than the favours we owe them, that
'resentment' has come in our modern English to be confined exclusively
to that deep reflective displeasure which men entertain against those
that have done, or whom they fancy to have done, them a wrong. And this
explains how it comes to pass that we do not speak of the 'retaliation'
of benefits at all so often as the 'retaliation' of injuries. 'To
retaliate' signifies no more than to render again as much as we have
received; but this is so much seldomer practised in the matter of
benefits than of wrongs, that 'retaliation' though not wholly strange
in this worthier sense, has yet, when so employed, an unusual sound in
our ears. 'To retaliate' kindnesses is a language which would not now
be intelligible to all. 'Animosity' as originally employed in that
later Latin which gave it birth, was spiritedness; men would speak of
the 'animosity' or fiery courage of a horse. In our early English it
meant nothing more; a divine of the seventeenth century speaks of 'due
Christian animosity.' Activity and vigour are still implied in the
word; but now only as displayed in enmity and hate. There is a Spanish
proverb which says, 'One foe is too many; a hundred friends are too
few.' The proverb and the course which this word 'animosity' has
travelled may be made mutually to illustrate one another. [Footnote: For
quotations from our earlier authors in proof of many of the assertions
made in the few last pages, see my _Select Glossary of English Words
used formerly in senses different from their present_, 5th edit. 1879.]

How mournful a witness for the hard and unrighteous judgments we
habitually form of one another lies in the word 'prejudice.' It is
itself absolutely neutral, meaning no more than a judgment formed
beforehand; which judgment may be favourable, or may be otherwise. Yet
so predominantly do we form harsh unfavourable judgments of others
before knowledge and experience, that a 'prejudice' or judgment before
knowledge and not grounded on evidence, is almost always taken in an
ill sense; 'prejudicial' having actually acquired mischievous or
injurious for its secondary meaning.

As these words bear testimony to the _sin_ of man, so others to his
_infirmity_, to the limitation of human faculties and human knowledge,
to the truth of the proverb, that 'to err is human.' Thus 'to retract'
means properly no more than to handle again, to reconsider. And yet, so
certain are we to find in a subject which we reconsider, or handle a
second time, that which was at first rashly, imperfectly, inaccurately,
stated, which needs therefore to be amended, modified, or withdrawn,
that 'to retract' could not tarry long in its primary meaning of
reconsidering; but has come to signify to withdraw. Thus the greatest
Father of the Latin Church, wishing toward the close of his life to
amend whatever he might then perceive in his various published works
incautiously or incorrectly stated, gave to the book in which he
carried out this intention (for authors had then no such opportunities
as later editions afford us now), this very name of '_Retractations_',
being literally 'rehandlings,' but in fact, as will be plain to any one
turning to the work, withdrawings of various statements by which he was
no longer prepared to abide.

But urging, as I just now did, the degeneration of words, I should
seriously err, if I failed to remind you that a parallel process of
purifying and ennobling has also been going forward, most of all
through the influences of a Divine faith working in the world. This, as
it has turned _men_ from evil to good, or has lifted them from a lower
earthly goodness to a higher heavenly, so has it in like manner
elevated, purified, and ennobled a multitude of the words which they
employ, until these, which once expressed only an earthly good, express
now a heavenly. The Gospel of Christ, as it is the redemption of man,
so is it in a multitude of instances the redemption of his word,
freeing it from the bondage of corruption, that it should no longer be
subject to vanity, nor stand any more in the service of sin or of the
world, but in the service of God and of his truth. Thus the Greek had a
word for 'humility'; but for him this humility meant--that is, with
rare exceptions--meanness of spirit. He who brought in the Christian
grace of humility, did in so doing rescue the term which expressed it
for nobler uses and a far higher dignity than hitherto it had attained.
There were 'angels' before heaven had been opened, but these only
earthly messengers; 'martyrs' also, or witnesses, but these not unto
blood, nor yet for God's highest truth; 'apostles,' but sent of men;
'evangels,' but these good tidings of this world, and not of the
kingdom of heaven; 'advocates,' but not 'with the Father.' 'Paradise'
was a word common in slightly different forms to almost all the nations
of the East; but it was for them only some royal park or garden of
delights; till for the Jew it was exalted to signify the mysterious
abode of our first parents; while higher honours awaited it still, when
on the lips of the Lord, it signified the blissful waiting-place of
faithful departed souls (Luke xxiii. 43); yea, the heavenly blessedness
itself (Rev. ii. 7). A 'regeneration' or palingenesy, was not unknown
to the Greeks; they could speak of the earth's 'regeneration' in
spring-time, of recollection as the 'regeneration' of knowledge; the
Jewish historian could describe the return of his countrymen from the
Babylonian Captivity, and their re-establishment in their own land, as
the 'regeneration' of the Jewish State. But still the word, whether as
employed by Jew or Greek, was a long way off from that honour reserved
for it in the Christian dispensation--namely, that it should be the
vehicle of one of the most blessed mysteries of the faith. [Footnote:
See my _Synonyms of the N.T._ Section 18.] And many other words in like
manner there are, 'fetched from the very dregs of paganism,' as
Sanderson has it (he instances the Latin 'sacrament,' the Greek
'mystery'), which the Holy Spirit has not refused to employ for the
setting forth of the glorious facts of our redemption; and, reversing
the impious deed of Belshazzar, who profaned the sacred vessels of
God's house to sinful and idolatrous uses (Dan. v. 2), has consecrated
the very idol-vessels of Babylon to the service of the sanctuary.

Let us now proceed to contemplate some of the attestations to God's
truth, and then some of the playings into the hands of the devil's
falsehood, which lurk in words. And first, the attestations to God's
truth, the fallings in of our words with his unchangeable Word; for
these, as the true uses of the word, while the other are only its
abuses, have a prior claim to be considered.

Thus, some modern 'false prophets,' willing to explain away all such
phenomena of the world around us as declare man to be a sinner, and
lying under the consequences of sin, would fain have them to believe
that pain is only a subordinate kind of pleasure, or, at worst, a sort
of needful hedge and guardian of pleasure. But a deeper feeling in the
universal heart of man bears witness to quite another explanation of
the existence of pain in the present economy of the world--namely, that
it is the correlative of sin, that it is _punishment_; and to this the
word 'pain,' so closely connected with 'poena,' bears witness.
[Footnote: Our word _pain_ is actually the same word as the Latin
_poena_, coming to us through the French _peine_.] Pain _is_
punishment; for so the word, and so the conscience of every one that is
suffering it, declares. Some will not hear of great pestilences being
scourges of the sins of men; and if only they can find out the
immediate, imagine that they have found out the ultimate, causes of
these; while yet they have only to speak of a 'plague' and they
implicitly avouch the very truth which they have set themselves to
deny; for a 'plague,' what is it but a stroke; so called, because that
universal conscience of men which is never at fault, has felt and in
this way confessed it to be such? For here, as in so many other cases,
that proverb stands fast, 'Vox populi, vox Dei'; and may be admitted to
the full; that is, if only we keep in mind that this 'people' is not
the populace either in high place or in low; and this 'voice of the
people' no momentary outcry, but the consenting testimony of the good
and wise, of those neither brutalized by ignorance, nor corrupted by a
false cultivation, in many places and in various times.

To one who admits the truth of this proverb it will be nothing strange
that men should have agreed to call him a 'miser' or miserable, who
eagerly scrapes together and painfully hoards the mammon of this world.
Here too the moral instinct lying deep in all hearts has borne
testimony to the tormenting nature of this vice, to the gnawing pains
with which even in this present time it punishes its votaries, to the
enmity which there is between it and all joy; and the man who enslaves
himself to his money is proclaimed in our very language to be a
'miser,' or miserable man. [Footnote: 'Misery' does not any longer
signify avarice, nor 'miserable' avaricious; but these meanings they
once possessed (see my _Select Glossary_, s. vv.). In them men said,
and in 'miser' we still say, in one word what Seneca when he wrote,--
'Nulla avaritia sine poena est, _quamvis satis sit ipsa poenarum_'--
took a sentence to say.] Other words bear testimony to great moral
truths. St. James has, I doubt not, been often charged with
exaggeration for saying, 'Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet
offend in one point, he is guilty of all' (ii. 10). The charge is an
unjust one. The Romans with their 'integritas' said as much; we too say
the same who have adopted 'integrity' as a part of our ethical language.
For what is 'integrity' but entireness; the 'integrity' of the body
being, as Cicero explains it, the full possession and the perfect
soundness of _all_ its members; and moral 'integrity' though it cannot
be predicated so absolutely of any sinful child of Adam, is this same
entireness or completeness transferred to things higher. 'Integrity'
was exactly that which Herod had _not_ attained, when at the Baptist's
bidding he 'did many things gladly' (Mark vi. 20), but did _not_ put
away his brother's wife; whose partial obedience therefore profited
nothing; he had dropped one link in the golden chain of obedience, and
as a consequence the whole chain fell to the ground.

It is very noticeable, and many have noticed, that the Greek word
signifying wickedness (_ponaeria_) comes of another signifying labour
(_ponos_). How well does this agree with those passages in Scripture
which describe sinners as '_wearying themselves_ to commit iniquity,'
as '_labouring_ in the very fire'; 'the martyrs of the devil,' as South
calls them, being at more pains to go to hell than the martyrs of God
to go to heaven. 'St. Chrysostom's eloquence,' as Bishop Sanderson has
observed, 'enlarges itself and triumphs in this argument more
frequently than in almost any other; and he clears it often and beyond
all exception, both by Scripture and reason, that the life of a wicked
or worldly man is a very drudgery, infinitely more toilsome, vexatious,
and unpleasant than a godly life is.' [Footnote: _Sermons_, London,
1671, vol. ii. p. 244.]

How deep an insight into the failings of the human heart lies at the
root of many words; and if only we would attend to them, what valuable
warnings many contain against subtle temptations and sins! Thus, all of
us have felt the temptation of seeking to please others by an unmanly
_assenting_ to their opinion, even when our own independent convictions
did not agree with theirs. The existence of such a temptation, and the
fact that too many yield to it, are both declared in the Latin for a
flatterer--'assentator'--that is, 'an assenter'; one who has not
courage to say _No_, when a _Yes_ is expected from him; and quite
independently of the Latin, the German, in its contemptuous and
precisely equivalent use of 'Jaherr,' a 'yea-Lord,' warns us in like
manner against all such unmanly compliances. Let me note that we also
once possessed 'assentation' in the sense of unworthy flattering lip-
assent; the last example of it in our dictionaries is from Bishop Hall:
'It is a fearful presage of ruin when the prophets conspire in
assentation;' but it lived on to a far later day, being found and
exactly in the same sense in Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his son; he
there speaks of 'abject flattery and indiscriminate
assentation.' [Footnote: _August_ 10, 1749. [In the _New English
Dictionary_ a quotation for the word is given as late as 1859. I.
Taylor, in his _Logic in Theology_, p. 265, says: 'A safer anchorage
may be found than the shoal of mindless assentation']] The word is well
worthy to be revived.

Again, how well it is to have that spirit of depreciation, that
eagerness to find spots and stains in the characters of the noblest and
the best, who would otherwise oppress and rebuke us with a goodness and
a greatness so immensely superior to our own,--met and checked by a
word at once so expressive, and so little pleasant to take home to
ourselves, as the French 'dnigreur,' a 'blackener.' This also has
fallen out of use; which is a pity, seeing that the race which it
designates is so far from being extinct. Full too of instruction and
warning is our present employment of 'libertine.' A 'libertine,' in
earlier use, was a speculative free-thinker in matters of religion and
in the theory of morals. But as by a process which is seldom missed
free-_thinking_ does and will end in free-_acting_, he who has cast off
one yoke also casting off the other, so a 'libertine' came in two or
three generations to signify a profligate, especially in relation to
women, a licentious and debauched person. [Footnote: See the author's
_Select Glossary_ (s.v.)]

Look a little closely at the word 'passion,' We sometimes regard a
'passionate' man as a man of strong will, and of real, though
ungoverned, energy. But 'passion' teaches us quite another lesson; for
it, as a very solemn use of it declares, means properly 'suffering';
and a 'passionate' man is not one who is doing something, but one
suffering something to be done to him. When then a man or child is 'in
a passion,' this is no outcoming in him of a strong will, of a real
energy, but the proof rather that, for the time at least, he is
altogether wanting in these; he is _suffering_, not doing; suffering
his anger, or whatever evil temper it may be, to lord over him without
control. Let no one then think of 'passion' as a sign of strength. One
might with as much justice conclude a man strong because he was often
well beaten; this would prove that a strong man was putting forth his
strength on him, but certainly not that he was himself strong. The same
sense of 'passion' and feebleness going together, of the first as the
outcome of the second, lies, I may remark by the way, in the twofold
use of 'impotens' in the Latin, which meaning first weak, means then
violent, and then weak and violent together. For a long time 'impotent'
and 'impotence' in English embodied the same twofold meaning.

Or meditate on the use of 'humanitas,' and the use (in Scotland at
least) of the 'humanities,' to designate those studies which are
esteemed the fittest for training the true humanity in every man.
[Footnote: [Compare the use of the term _Litterae Humaniores_ in the
University of Oxford to designate the oldest and most characteristic of
her examinations or 'Schools.']] We have happily overlived in England
the time when it was still in debate among us whether education is a
good thing for every living soul or not; the only question which now
seriously divides Englishmen being, in what manner that mental and
moral training, which is society's debt to each one of its members, may
be most effectually imparted to him. Were it not so, were there any
still found to affirm that it was good for any man to be left with
powers not called out and faculties untrained, we might appeal to this
word 'humanitas,' and the use to which the Roman put it, in proof that
he at least was not of this mind. By 'humanitas' he intended the
fullest and most harmonious development of all the truly human
faculties and powers. Then, and then only, man was truly man, when he
received this; in so far as he did not receive this, his 'humanity' was
maimed and imperfect; he fell short of his ideal, of that which he was
created to be.

In our use of 'talents,' as when we say 'a man of talents,' there is a
clear recognition of the responsibilities which go along with the
possession of intellectual gifts and endowments, whatever these may be.
We owe our later use of 'talent' to the parable (Matt. xxv. 14), in
which more or fewer of these are committed to the several servants,
that they may trade with them in their master's absence, and give
account of their employment at his return. Men may choose to forget the
ends for which their 'talents' were given them; they may count them
merely something which they have gotten; [Footnote: An [Greek: hexis],
as the heathen did, not a [Greek: dorema], as the Christian does; see a
remarkable passage in Bishop Andrewes' _Sermons_, vol. iii. p. 384.]
they may turn them to selfish ends; they may glorify themselves in them,
instead of glorifying the Giver; they may practically deny that they
were given at all; yet in this word, till they can rid their vocabulary
of it, abides a continual memento that they were so given, or rather
lent, and that each man shall have to render an account of their use.

Again, in 'oblige' and 'obligation,' as when we speak of 'being
obliged,' or of having 'received an obligation,' a moral truth is
asserted--this namely, that having received a benefit or a favour at
the hands of another, we are thereby morally _bound_ to show ourselves
grateful for the same. We cannot be ungrateful without denying not
merely a moral truth, but one incorporated in the very language which
we employ. Thus South, in a sermon, _Of the odious Sin of Ingratitude_,
has well asked, 'If the conferring of a kindness did not _bind_ the
person upon whom it was conferred to the returns of gratitude, why, in
the universal dialect of the world, are kindnesses called
_obligations_?' [Footnote: _Sermons_, London, 1737, vol. i. p. 407.]

Once more--the habit of calling a woman's chastity her 'virtue' is
significant. I will not deny that it may spring in part from a tendency
which often meets us in language, to narrow the whole circle of virtues
to some one upon which peculiar stress is laid; [Footnote: Thus in
Jewish Greek [Greek: eleaemosnuae] stands often for [Greek: dikaosnuae]
(Deut. vi. 25; Ps. cii. 6, LXX), or almsgiving for righteousness.] but
still, in selecting this peculiar one as _the_ 'virtue' of woman, there
speaks out a true sense that this is indeed for her the citadel of the
whole moral being, the overthrow of which is the overthrow of all; that
it is the keystone of the arch, which being withdrawn, the whole
collapses and falls.

Or consider all which is witnessed for us in 'kind.' We speak of a
'kind' person, and we speak of man-'kind,' and perhaps, if we think
about the matter at all, fancy that we are using quite different words,
or the same words in senses quite unconnected. But they are connected,
and by closest bonds; a 'kind' person is one who acknowledges his
kinship with other men, and acts upon it; confesses that he owes to
them, as of one blood with himself, the debt of love. [Footnote: Thus
Hamlet does much more than merely play on words when he calls his
father's brother, who had married his mother, 'A little more than _kin_,
and less than _kind_.' [For the relation between _kind_ (the adj.) and
_kind_ ('nature,' the sb.) see Skeat's Dict.]] Beautiful before, how
much more beautiful do 'kind' and 'kindness' appear, when we apprehend
the root out of which they grow, and the truth which they embody; that
they are the acknowledgment in loving deeds of our kinship with our
brethren; of the relationship which exists between all the members of
the human family, and of the obligations growing out of the same.

But I observed just now that there are also words bearing on them the
slime of the serpent's trail; uses, too, of words which imply moral
perversity--not upon their parts who employ them now in their acquired
senses, but on theirs from whom little by little they received their
deflection, and were warped from their original rectitude. A 'prude' is
now a woman with an over-done affectation of a modesty which she does
not really feel, and betraying the absence of the substance by this
over-preciseness and niceness about the shadow. Goodness must have gone
strangely out of fashion, the corruption of manners must have been
profound, before matters could have come to this point. 'Prude,' a
French word, means properly virtuous or prudent. [Footnote: [Compare
French _prude_, on the etymology of which see Schelar's _French Dict._,
ed. 3 (1888)].] But where morals are greatly and generally relaxed,
virtue is treated as hypocrisy; and thus, in a dissolute age, and one
incredulous of any inward purity, by the 'prude' or virtuous woman is
intended a sort of female Tartuffe, affecting a virtue which it is
taken for granted none can really possess; and the word abides, a proof
of the world's disbelief in the realities of goodness, of its
resolution to treat them as hypocrisies and deceits.

Again, why should 'simple' be used slightingly, and 'simpleton' more
slightingly still? The 'simple' is one properly of a single fold;
[Footnote: [Latin _simplicem_; for Lat. _sim-_, _sin-_= Greek [Greek:
ha] in [Greek: ha-pax], see Brugmann, _Grundriss_, Section 238, Curtius,
_Greek Etym._ No. 599.]] a Nathanael, whom as such Christ honoured to
the highest (John i. 47); and, indeed, what honour can be higher than
to have nothing _double_ about us, to be without _duplicities_ or
folds? Even the world, which despises 'simplicity,' does not profess to
admire 'duplicity,' or double-foldedness. But inasmuch as it is felt
that a man without these folds will in a world like ours make himself a
prey, and as most men, if obliged to choose between deceiving and being
deceived, would choose the former, it has come to pass that 'simple'
which in a kingdom of righteousness would be a world of highest honour,
carries with it in this world of ours something of contempt. [Footnote:
'Schlecht,' which in modern German means bad, good for nothing, once
meant good,--good, that is, in the sense of right or straight, but has
passed through the same stages to the meaning which it now possesses,
'albern' has done the same (Max Mller, _Science of Language_, 2nd
series, p. 274).] Nor can we help noting another involuntary testimony
borne by human language to human sin. I mean this,--that an idiot, or
one otherwise deficient in intellect, is called an 'innocent' or one
who does no hurt; this use of 'innocent' assuming that to do hurt and
harm is the chief employment to which men turn their intellectual
powers, that, where they are wise, they are oftenest wise to do evil.

Nor are these isolated examples of the contemptuous use which words
expressive of goodness gradually acquire. Such meet us on every side.
Our 'silly' is the Old-English 'saelig' or blessed. We see it in a
transition state in our early poets, with whom 'silly' is an
affectionate epithet which sheep obtain for their harmlessness. One
among our earliest calls the newborn Lord of Glory Himself, 'this
harmless _silly_ babe,' But 'silly' has travelled on the same lines as
'simple,' 'innocent,' and so many other words. The same moral
phenomenon repeats itself continually. Thus 'sheepish' in the _Ormulum_
is an epithet of honour: it is used of one who has the mind of Him who
was led as a sheep to the slaughter. At the first promulgation of the
Christian faith, while the name of its Divine Founder was still strange
to the ears of the heathen, they were wont, some in ignorance, but more
of malice, slightly to mispronounce this name, turning 'Christus' into
'Chrestus'--that is, the benevolent or benign. That these last meant no
honour thereby to the Lord of Life, but the contrary, is certain; this
word, like 'silly,' 'innocent,' 'simple,' having already contracted a
slight tinge of contempt, without which there would have been no
inducement to fasten it on the Saviour. The French have their
'bonhomie' with the same undertone of contempt, the Greeks their
[Greek: eyetheia]. Lady Shiel tells us of the modern Persians, 'They
have odd names for describing the moral qualities; "Sedakat" means
sincerity, honesty, candour; but when a man is said to be possessed of
"sedakat," the meaning is that he is a credulous, contemptible
simpleton.' [Footnote: _Life and Manners in Persia_, p. 247.] It is to
the honour of the Latin tongue, and very characteristic of the best
aspects of Roman life, that 'simplex' and 'simplicitas' never acquired
this abusive signification.

Again, how prone are we all to ascribe to chance or fortune those gifts
and blessings which indeed come directly from God--to build altars to
Fortune rather than to Him who is the author of every good thing which
we have gotten. And this faith of men, that their blessings, even their
highest, come to them by a blind chance, they have incorporated in a
word; for 'happy' and 'happiness' are connected with 'hap,' which is
chance;--how unworthy, then, to express any true felicity, whose very
essence is that it excludes hap or chance, that the world neither gave
nor can take it away. [Footnote: The heathen with their [Greek:
eudaimonia], inadequate as this word must be allowed to be, put _us_
here to shame.] Against a similar misuse of 'fortunate,' 'unfortunate,'
Wordsworth very nobly protests, when, of one who, having lost
everything else, had yet kept the truth, he exclaims:

'Call not the royal Swede _unfortunate_,
Who never did to _Fortune_ bend the knee.'

There are words which reveal a wrong or insufficient estimate that men
take of their duties, or that at all events others have taken before
them; for it is possible that the mischief may have been done long ago,
and those who now use the words may only have inherited it from others,
not helped to bring it about themselves. An employer of labour
advertises that he wants so many 'hands'; but this language never could
have become current, a man could never have thus shrunk into a 'hand'
in the eyes of his fellow-man, unless this latter had in good part
forgotten that, annexed to those hands which he would purchase to toil
for him, were also heads and hearts [Footnote: A similar use of [Greek:
somata] for slaves in Greek rested originally on the same forgetfulness
of the moral worth of every man. It has found its way into the
Septuagint and Apocrypha (Gen. xxxvi. 6; 2 Macc. viii. 11; Tob. x. 10);
and occurs once in the New Testament (Rev. xviii. 13). [In Gen. xxxvi.
6 the [Greek: somata] of the Septuagint is a rendering of the Hebrew
_nafshth_, souls, so Luther translates 'Seelen.']]--a fact, by the way,
of which, if he persists in forgetting it, he may be reminded in very
unwelcome ways at the last. In Scripture there is another not
unfrequent putting of a part for the whole, as when it is said, 'The
same day there were added unto them about three thousand _souls_' (Acts
ii. 41). 'Hands' here, 'souls' there--the contrast may suggest some
profitable reflections.

There is another way in which the immorality of words mainly displays
itself, and in which they work their worst mischief; that is, when
honourable names are given to dishonourable things, when sin is made
plausible; arrayed, it may be, in the very colours of goodness, or, if
not so, yet in such as go far to conceal its own native deformity. 'The
tongue,' as St. James has said, 'is a _world_ of iniquity' (iii. 7); or,
as some would render his words, and they are then still more to our
purpose, '_the ornament_ of iniquity,' that which sets it out in fair
and attractive colours.

How much wholesomer on all accounts is it that there should be an ugly
word for an ugly thing, one involving moral condemnation and disgust,
even at the expense of a little coarseness, rather than one which plays
fast and loose with the eternal principles of morality, makes sin
plausible, and shifts the divinely reared landmarks of right and wrong,
thus bringing the user of it under the woe of them 'that call evil good,
and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness,
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter' (Isai. v. 20). On this
text, and with reference to this scheme, South has written four of his
grandest sermons, bearing this striking title, _Of the fatal Imposture
and Force of Words_. [Footnote: _Sermons_, 1737, vol. ii. pp. 313-351;
vol. vi. pp. 3-120. Thus on those who pleaded that their 'honour' was
engaged, and that therefore they could not go back from this or that
sinful act:--'Honour is indeed a noble thing, and therefore the word
which signifies it must needs be very plausible. But as a rich and
glistening garment may be cast over a rotten body, so an illustrious
commanding word may be put upon a vile and an ugly thing--for words are
but the garments, the loose garments of things, and so may easily be
put off and on according to the humour of him who bestows them. But the
body changes not, though the garments do.'] How awful, yea how fearful,
is this 'imposture and force' of theirs, leading men captive at will.
There is an atmosphere about them which they are evermore diffusing, a
savour of life or of death, which we insensibly inhale at each moral
breath we draw. [Footnote: Bacon's words have often been quoted, but
they will bear being quoted once more: Credunt enim homines rationem
suam verbis imperare. Sed fit etiam ut verba vim suam super intellectum
retorqueant et reflectant.] 'Winds of the soul,' as we have already
heard them called, they fill its sails, and are continually impelling
it upon its course, to heaven or to hell.

Thus how different the light in which we shall have learned to regard a
sin, according as we have been wont to designate it, and to hear it
designated, by a word which brings out its loathsomeness and deformity;
or by one which palliates this and conceals; men, as one said of old,
being wont for the most part to be ashamed not of base deeds but of
base names affixed to those deeds. In the murder trials at Dublin, 1883,
those destined to the assassin's knife were spoken of by approvers as
persons to be removed, and their death constantly described as their
'removal.' In Sussex it is never said of a man that he is drunk. He may
be 'tight,' or 'primed,' or 'crank,' or 'concerned in liquor,' nay, it
may even be admitted that he had taken as much liquor as was good for
him; but that he was drunk, oh never. [Footnote: 'Pransus' and 'potus,'
in like manner, as every Latin scholar knows, mean much more than they
say.] Fair words for foul things are everywhere only too frequent; thus
in 'drug-damned Italy,' when poisoning was the rifest, nobody was said
to be poisoned; it was only that the death of this one or of that had
been 'assisted' (aiutata). Worse still are words which seek to turn the
edge of the divine threatenings against some sin by a jest; as when in
France a subtle poison, by whose aid impatient heirs delivered
themselves from those who stood between them and the inheritance which
they coveted, was called 'poudre de succession.' We might suppose
beforehand that such cloaks for sin would be only found among people in
an advanced state of artificial cultivation. But it is not so. Captain
Erskine, who visited the Fiji Islands before England had taken them
into her keeping, and who gives some extraordinary details of the
extent to which cannibalism then prevailed among their inhabitants,
pork and human flesh being their two staple articles of food, relates
in his deeply interesting record of his voyage that natural pig they
called '_short_ pig,' and man dressed and prepared for food, '_long_
pig.' There was doubtless an attempt here to carry off with a jest the
revolting character of the practice in which they indulged. For that
they were themselves aware of this, that their consciences did bear
witness against it, was attested by their uniform desire to conceal, if
possible, all traces of the practice from European eyes.

But worst, perhaps, of all are names which throw a flimsy veil of
sentiment over some sin. What a source, for example, of mischief
without end in our country parishes is the one practice of calling a
child born out of wedlock a 'love-child,' instead of a bastard. It
would be hard to estimate how much it has lowered the tone and standard
of morality among us; or for how many young women it may have helped to
make the downward way more sloping still. How vigorously ought we to
oppose ourselves to all such immoralities of language. This opposition,
it is true, will never be easy or pleasant; for many who will endure to
commit a sin, will profoundly resent having that sin called by its
right name. Pirates, as Aristotle tells us, in his time called
themselves 'purveyors.' [Footnote: _Rhet_. iii. 2: [Greek: oi laestai
autous poriotas kalousi nun.]] Buccaneers, men of the same bloody
trade, were by their own account 'brethren of the coast.' Shakespeare's
thieves are only true to human nature, when they name themselves 'St.
Nicholas' clerks,' 'michers,' 'nuthooks,' 'minions of the moon,'
anything in short but thieves; when they claim for their stealing that
it shall not be so named, but only conveying ('convey the wise it
call'); the same dislike to look an ugly fact in the face reappearing
among the voters in some of our corrupter boroughs, who receive, not
bribes--they are hugely indignant if this is imputed to them--but
'head-money' for their votes. Shakespeare indeed has said that a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet; but there are some things which
are not roses, and which are counted to smell a great deal sweeter
being called by any other name than their own. Thus, to deal again with
bribes, call a bribe 'palm oil,' or a 'pot de vin,' and how much of its
ugliness disappears. Far more moral words are the English 'sharper' and
'blackleg' than the French 'chevalier d'industrie': [Footnote: For the
rise of this phrase, see Lemontey, _Louis XIV_. p. 43.] and the same
holds good of the English equivalent, coarse as it is, for the Latin
'conciliatrix.' In this last word we have a notable example of the
putting of sweet for bitter, of the attempt to present a disgraceful
occupation on an amiable, almost a sentimental side, rather than in its
own proper deformity. [Footnote: This tendency of men to throw the
mantle of an honourable word over a dishonourable thing, or, vice versa,
to degrade an honourable thing, when they do not love it, by a
dishonourable appellation, has in Greek a word to describe it, [Greek:
hypokorizesthai], itself a word with an interesting history; while the
great ethical teachers of Greece frequently occupy themselves in
detecting and denouncing this most mischievous among all the impostures
of words. Thus, when Thucydides (iii. 82) would paint the fearful moral
ruin which her great Civil War had wrought, he adduces this alteration
of the received value of words, this fitting of false names to
everything--names of honour to the base, and of baseness to the
honourable--as one of the most remarkable tokens of this, even as it
again set forward the evil, of which it had been first the result.] Use
and custom soon dim our eyes in such matters as these; else we should
be deeply struck by a familiar instance of this falsehood in names, one
which perhaps has never struck us at all--I mean the profane
appropriation of 'eau de vie' (water of life), a name borrowed from
some of the Saviour's most precious promises (John iv. 14; Rev. xxii.
17), to a drink which the untutored savage with a truer instinct has
named 'fire-water'; which, sad to say, is known in Tahiti as 'British
water'; and which has proved for thousands and tens of thousands, in
every clime, not 'water of life,' but the fruitful source of disease,
crime, and madness, bringing forth first these, and when these are
finished, bringing forth death. There is a blasphemous irony in this
appropriation of the language of heaven to that which, not indeed in
its use, but too frequent abuse, is the instrument of hell, that is
almost without a parallel. [Footnote: Milton in a profoundly
instructive letter, addressed by him to one of the friends whom he made
during his Italian tour, encourages him in those philological studies
to which he had devoted his life by such words as these: Neque enim qui
sermo, purusne an corruptus, quaeve loquendi proprietas quotidiana
populo sit, parvi interesse arbitrandum est, quae res Athenis non semel
saluti fuit; immo vero, quod Platonis sententia est, immutato vestiendi
more habituque graves in Republica motus mutationesque portendi,
equidem potius collabente in vitium atque errorem loquendi usu occasum
ejus urbis remque humilem et obscuram subsequi crediderim: verba enim
partim inscita et putida, partim mendosa et perperam prolata, quid si
ignavos et oscitantes et ad servile quidvis jam olim paratos incolarum
animos haud levi indicio declarant? Contra nullum unquam audivimus
imperium, nullam civitatem non mediocriter saltern floruisse, quamdiu
linguae sua gratia, suusque cultus constitit. Compare an interesting
Epistle (the 114th) of Seneca.] If I wanted any further evidence of
this, the moral atmosphere which words diffuse, I would ask you to
observe how the first thing men do, when engaged in controversy with
others, be it in the conflict of the tongue or the pen, or of weapons
more wounding yet, if such there be, is ever to assume some honourable
name to themselves, such as, if possible, shall beg the whole subject
in dispute, and at the same time to affix on their adversaries a name
which shall place them in a ridiculous or contemptible or odious
light. [Footnote: See p. 33.] A deep instinct, deeper perhaps than men
give any account of to themselves, tells them how far this will go;
that multitudes, utterly unable to weigh the arguments on one side or
the other, will yet be receptive of the influences which these words
are evermore, however imperceptibly, diffusing. By argument they might
hope to gain over the reason of a few, but by help of these nicknames
they enlist what at first are so much more potent, the prejudices and
passions of the many, on their side. Thus when at the breaking out of
our Civil War the Parliamentary party styled _themselves_ 'The Godly,'
while to the Royalists they gave the title of 'The Malignants,' it is
certain that, wherever they could procure entrance and allowance for
these terms, the question upon whose side the right lay was already
decided. The Royalists, it is true, made exactly the same employment of
what Bentham used to call question-begging words, of words steeped
quite as deeply in the passions which animated _them_. It was much when
at Florence the 'Bad Boys,' as they defiantly called themselves, were
able to affix on the followers of Savonarola the title of Piagnoni or
The Snivellers. So, too, the Franciscans, when they nicknamed the
Dominicans 'Maculists,' as denying, or at all events refusing to affirm
as a matter of faith, that the Blessed Virgin was conceived without
stain (sine macula), perfectly knew that this title would do much to
put their rivals in an odious light. The copperhead in America is a
peculiarly venomous snake. Something effectual was done when this name
was fastened, as it lately was, by one party in America on its
political opponents. Not otherwise, in some of our northern towns, the
workmen who refuse to join a trade union are styled 'knobsticks,'
'crawlers,' 'scabs,' 'blacklegs.' Nor can there be any question of the
potent influence which these nicknames of contempt and scorn exert.
[Footnote: [See interesting chapter on Political Nicknames in
D'Israeli's _Curiosities of Literature_.]]

Seeing, then, that language contains so faithful a record of the good
and of the evil which in time past have been working in the minds and
hearts of men, we shall not err, if we regard it as a moral barometer
indicating and permanently marking the rise or fall of a nation's life.
To study a people's language will be to study _them_, and to study them
at best advantage; there, where they present themselves to us under
fewest disguises, most nearly as they are. Too many have had a hand in
the language as it now is, and in bringing it to the shape in which we
find it, it is too entirely the collective work of a whole people, the
result of the united contributions of all, it obeys too immutable laws,
to allow any successful tampering with it, any making of it to witness
to any other than the actual facts of the case. [Footnote: Terrien
Poncel, _Du Langage_, p. 231: Les langues sont faites l'usage des
peuples qui les parlent; elles sont animes chacune d'un esprit
diffrent, et suivent un mode particulier d'action, conforme leur
principe. 'L'esprit d'une nation et le caractre de sa langue, a crit
G. de Humboldt, 'sont si intimement lis ensemble, que si l'un tait
donn, l'autre devrait pouvoir s'en dduire exactement.' La langue
n'est autre chose que la manifestation extrieure de l'esprit des
peuples; leur langue est leur esprit, et leur esprit est leur langue,
de telle sorte qu'en devloppant et perfectionnant l'un, ils
dveloppent et perfectionnent ncessairement l'autre. And a recent
German writer has well said, Die Sprache, das selbstgewebte Kleid der
Vorstellung, in welchem jeder Faden wieder eine Vorstellung ist, kann
uns, richtig betrachtet, offenbaren, welche Vorstellungen die
Grundfaden bildeten (Gerber, _Die Sprache als Kunst_).] Thus the
frivolity of an age or nation, its mockery of itself, its inability to
comprehend the true dignity and meaning of life, the feebleness of its
moral indignation against evil, all this will find an utterance in the
employment of solemn and earnest words in senses comparatively trivial
or even ridiculous. 'Gehenna,' that word of such terrible significance
on the lips of our Lord, has in French issued in 'gne,' and in this
shape expresses no more than a slight and petty annoyance. 'Ennui'
meant once something very different from what now it means. [Footnote:
_Ennui_ is derived from the Late Latin phrase _in odio esse_.] Littr
gives as its original signification, 'anguish of soul, caused by the
death of persons beloved, by their absence, by the shipwreck of hopes,
by any misfortunes whatever.' 'Honntet,' which should mean that
virtue of all virtues, honesty, and which did mean it once, standing as
it does now for external civility and for nothing more, marks a
willingness to accept the slighter observances and pleasant courtesies
of society in the room of deeper moral qualities. 'Vrit' is at this
day so worn out, has been used so often where another and very
different word would have been more appropriate, that not seldom a
Frenchman at this present who would fain convince us of the truth of
his communication finds it convenient to assure us that it is 'la vraie
vrit.' Neither is it well that words, which ought to have been
reserved for the highest mysteries of the spiritual life, should be
squandered on slight and secular objects,--'spirituel' itself is an
example in point,--or that words implying once the deepest moral guilt,
as is the case with 'perfide,' 'malice,' 'malin,' in French, should be
employed now almost in honour, applied in jest and in play.

Often a people's use of some single word will afford us a deeper
insight into their real condition, their habits of thought and feeling,
than whole volumes written expressly with the intention of imparting
this insight. Thus 'idiot,' a Greek word, is abundantly characteristic
of Greek life. The 'idiot,' or [Greek: idiotas], was originally the
_private_ man, as contradistinguished from one clothed with office, and
taking his share in the management of public affairs. In this its
primary sense it was often used in the English of the seventeenth
century; as when Jeremy Taylor says, 'Humility is a duty in great ones,
as well as in _idiots_.' It came then to signify a rude, ignorant,
unskilled, intellectually unexercised person, a boor; this derived or
secondary sense bearing witness to a conviction woven deep into the
Greek mind that contact with public life, and more or less of
participation in it, was indispensable even to the right development of
the intellect, [Footnote: Hare, _Mission of the Comforter_, p. 552.] a
conviction which would scarcely have uttered itself with greater
clearness than it does in this secondary use of 'idiot.' Our tertiary,
in which the 'idiot' is one deficient in intellect, not merely with
intellectual powers unexercised, is only this secondary pushed a little
farther. Once more, how wonderfully characteristic of the Greek mind it
is that the language should have one and the same word ([Greek: kalos]),
to express the beautiful and the good--goodness being thus contemplated
as the highest beauty; while over against this stands another word
([Greek: aischros]) used alike for the ugly to look at and for the
morally bad. Again, the innermost differences between the Greek and the
Hebrew reveal themselves in the several salutations of each, in the
'Rejoice' of the first, as contrasted with the 'Peace' of the second.
The clear, cheerful, world-enjoying temper of the Greek embodies itself
in the first; he could desire nothing better or higher for himself, nor
wish it for his friend, than to have _joy_ in his life. But the Hebrew
had a deeper longing within him, and one which finds utterance in his
'Peace.' It is not hard to perceive why this latter people should have
been chosen as the first bearers of that truth which indeed enables
truly to _rejoice_, but only through first bringing _peace_; nor why
from them the word of life should first go forth. It may be urged,
indeed, that these were only forms, and such they may have at length
become; as in our 'good-by' or 'adieu' we can hardly be said now to
commit our friend to the Divine protection; yet still they were not
forms at the beginning, nor would they have held their ground, if ever
they had become such altogether.

How much, again, will be sometimes involved in the gradual disuse of
one name, and the coming up of another in its room. Thus, little as the
fact, and the moral significance of the fact, may have been noticed at
the time, what an epoch was it in the history of the Papacy, and with
what distinctness marking a more thorough secularizing of its whole
tone and spirit, when '_Ecclesia_ Romana,' the official title by which
it was wont at an earlier day to designate itself, gave place to the
later title, '_Curia_ Romana,' the Roman _Church_ making room for the
Roman _Court_. [Footnote: See on this matter _The Pope and the Council_,
by Janus, p. 215.] The modifications of meaning which a word has
undergone as it had been transplanted from one soil to another, so that
one nation borrowing it from another, has brought into it some force
foreign to it before, has deepened, or extenuated, or otherwise
modified its meaning,--this may reveal to us, as perhaps nothing else
would, fundamental diversities of character existing between them. The
word in Greek exactly corresponding to our 'self-sufficient' is one of
honour, and was applied to men in their praise. And indeed it was the
glory of the heathen philosophy to teach man to find his resources in
his own bosom, to be thus sufficient for himself; and seeing that a
true centre without him and above him, a centre in God, had not been
revealed to him, it was no shame for him to seek it there; far better
this than to have no centre at all. But the Gospel has taught us
another lesson, to find our sufficiency in God: and thus 'self-
sufficient,' to the Greek suggesting no lack of modesty, of humility,
or of any good thing, at once suggests such to us. 'Self-sufficiency'
no man desires now to be attributed to him. The word carries for us its
own condemnation; and its different uses, for honour once, for reproach
now, do in fact ground themselves on the innermost differences between
the religious condition of the world before Christ and after.

It was not well with Italy, she might fill the world with exquisite
specimens of her skill in the arts, with pictures and statues of rarest
loveliness, but all higher national life was wanting to her during
those centuries in which she degraded 'virtuoso,' or the virtuous man,
to signify one skilled in the appreciation of painting, music, and
sculpture; for these, the ornamental fringe of a people's life, can
never, without loss of all manliness of character, be its main texture
and woof--not to say that excellence in them has been too often
dissociated from all true virtue and moral worth. The opposite
exaggeration of the Romans, for whom 'virtus' meant predominantly
warlike courage, the truest 'manliness' of men, was more tolerable than
this; for there is a sense in which a man's 'valour' is his value, is
the measure of his worth; seeing that no virtue can exist among men who
have not learned, in Milton's glorious phrase,' to hate the cowardice
of doing wrong.' [Footnote: It did not escape Plutarch, imperfect Latin
scholar as he was, that 'virtus' far more nearly corresponded to
[Greek: andreia] than to [Greek: arete] (_Coriol. I_)] It could not but
be morally ill with a people among whom 'morbidezza' was used as an
epithet of praise, expressive of a beauty which on the score of its
sickly softness demanded to be admired. There was too sure a witness
here for the decay of moral strength and health, when these could not
merely be dissevered from beauty, but implicitly put in opposition to
it. Nor less must it have fared ill with Italians, there was little joy
and little pride which they could have felt in their country, at a time
when 'pellegrino,' meaning properly the strange or the foreign, came to
be of itself a word of praise, and equivalent to beautiful. [Footnote:
Compare Florio's Ital. Diet.: 'pelegrino, excellent, noble, rare,
pregnant, singular and choice.'] Far better the pride and assumption
of that ancient people who called all things and persons beyond their
own pale barbarous and barbarians; far better our own 'outlandish,'
used with something of the same contempt. There may be a certain
intolerance in our use of these; yet this how much healthier than so
far to have fallen out of conceit with one's own country, so far to
affect things foreign, that these last, merely on the strength of being
foreign, commend themselves as beautiful in our sight. How little,
again, the Italians, until quite later years, can have lived in the
spirit of their ancient worthies, or reverenced the most illustrious
among these, we may argue from the fact that they should have endured
so far to degrade the name of one among their noblest, that every glib
and loquacious hireling who shows strangers about their picture-
galleries, palaces, and ruins, is called 'cicerone,' or a Cicero! It is
unfortunate that terms like these, having once sprung up, are not again,
or are not easily again, got rid of. They remain, testifying to an
ignoble past, and in some sort helping to maintain it, long after the
temper and tone of mind that produced them has passed away. [Footnote:
See on this matter Marsh, _On the English Language_, New York, 1860, p.

Happily it is nearly impossible for us in England to understand the
mingled scorn, hatred, fear, suspicion, contempt, which in time past
were associated with the word 'sbirri' in Italian. [Footnote: [Compare
V. Hugo's allusion to Louis Napoleon in the _Chtiments_:

'Qui pour la mettre en croix livra,
_Sbire_ cruel!
Rome rpublicaine Rome catholique!']]

These 'sbirri' were the humble, but with all this the acknowledged,
ministers of justice; while yet everything which is mean and false and
oppressive, which can make the name of justice hateful, was implied in
this title of theirs, was associated with their name. There is no surer
sign of a bad oppressive rule, than when the titles of the
administrators of law, titles which should be in themselves so
honourable, thus acquire a hateful undermeaning. What a world of
concussions, chicane and fraud, must have found place, before tax-
gatherer, or exciseman, 'publican,' as in our English Bible, could
become a word steeped in hatred and scorn, as alike for Greek and Jew
it was; while, on the other hand, however unwelcome the visits of the
one or the interference of the other may be to us, yet the sense of the
entire fairness and justice with which their exactions are made,
acquits these names for us of the slightest sense of dishonour.
'Policeman' has no evil subaudition with us; though in the last century,
when a Jonathan Wild was possible, 'catchpole,' a word in Wiclif's time
of no dishonour at all, was abundantly tinged with this scorn and
contempt. So too, if at this day any accidental profits fall or
'escheat' to the Crown, they are levied with so much fairness and more
than fairness to the subject, that, were not the thing already
accomplished, 'escheat' would never yield 'cheat,' nor 'escheator'
'cheater,' as through the extortions and injustices for which these
dues were formerly a pretext, they actually have done.

It is worse, as marking that a still holier sanctuary than that of
civil government has become profane in men's sight, when words which
express sacred functions and offices become redolent of scorn. How
thankful we may be that in England we have no equivalent to the German
'Pfaffe,' which, identical with 'papa' and 'pope,' and a name given at
first to any priest, now carries with it the insinuation of almost
every unworthiness in the forms of meanness, servility, and avarice
which can render the priest's office and person base and contemptible.

Much may be learned by noting the words which nations have been obliged
to borrow from other nations, as not having the same of home-growth--
this in most cases, if not in all, testifying that the thing itself was
not native, but an exotic, transplanted, like the word that indicated
it, from a foreign soil. Thus it is singularly characteristic of the
social and political life of England, as distinguished from that of the
other European nations, that to it alone the word 'club' belongs;
France and Germany, having been alike unable to grow a word of their
own, have borrowed ours. That England should have been the birthplace
of 'club' is nothing wonderful; for these voluntary associations of men
for the furthering of such social or political ends as are near to the
hearts of the associates could have only had their rise under such
favourable circumstances as ours. In no country where there was not
extreme personal freedom could they have sprung up; and as little in
any where men did not know how to use this freedom with moderation and
self-restraint, could they long have been endured. It was comparatively
easy to adopt the word; but the ill success of the 'club' itself
everywhere save here where it is native, has shown that it was not so
easy to transplant or, having transplanted, to acclimatize the thing.
While we have lent this and other words, political and industrial for
the most part, to the French and Germans, it would not be less
instructive, if time allowed, to trace our corresponding obligations to

And scarcely less significant and instructive than the presence of a
word in a language, will be occasionally its absence. Thus Fronto, a
Greek orator in Roman times, finds evidence of an absence of strong
family affection on the part of the Romans in the absence of any word
in the Latin language corresponding to the Greek [Greek: philostorgos]
How curious, from the same point of view, are the conclusions which
Cicero in his high Roman fashion draws from the absence of any word in
the Greek answering to the Latin 'ineptus'; not from this concluding,
as we might have anticipated, that the character designated by the word
was wanting, but rather that the fault was so common, so universal with
the Greeks, that they failed to recognize it as a fault at all.
[Footnote: _De Orat_. ii. 4: Quem enim nos _ineptum_ vocamus, is mihi
videtur ab hoc nomen habere ductum, quod non sit aptus. Idque in
sermonis nostri consuetudine perlate patet. Nam qui aut tempus quid
postulet, non videt, aut plura loquitur, aut se ostentat, aut eorum
quibuscum est vel dignitatis vel commodi rationem non habet, aut
denique in aliquo genere aut inconcinnus aut multus est, is ineptus
esse dicitur. Hoc vitio cumulata est eruditissima illa Graecorum natio.
Itaque quod vim hujus mali Graeci non vident, ne nomen quidem ei vitio
imposuerunt. Ut enim quasras omnia, quomodo Graeci ineptum appellent,
non invenies.] Very instructive you may find it to note these words,
which one people possess, but to which others have nothing to
correspond, so that they have no choice but to borrow these, or else to
go without altogether. Here are some French words for which it would
not be easy, nay, in most cases it would be impossible, to find exact
equivalents in English or in German, or probably in any language:
'aplomb,' 'badinage,' 'born,' 'chic,' 'chicane,' 'cossu,' 'coterie,'
'garement,' 'lan,' 'espiglerie,' 'etourderie,' 'friponnerie,'
'gentil,' 'ingnue,' 'liaison,' 'malice,' 'parvenu,' 'persiflage,'
'prvenant,' 'ruse,' 'tournure,' 'tracasserie,' 'verve.' It is evident
that the words just named have to do with shades of thought which are
to a great extent unfamiliar to us; for which, at any rate, we have not
found a name, have hardly felt that they needed one. But fine and
subtle as in many instances are the thoughts which these words embody,
there are deeper thoughts struggling in the bosom of a people, who have
devised for themselves such words as the following: 'gemth,'
'heimweh,' 'innigkeit,' 'sehnsucht,' 'tiefsinn,' 'sittsamkeit,'
'verhngniss,' 'weltschmerz,' 'zucht'; all these being German words
which, in a similar manner, partially or wholly fail to find their
equivalents in French.

The petty spite which unhappily so often reigns between nations
dwelling side by side with one another, as it embodies itself in many
shapes, so it finds vent in the words which they borrow from one
another, and the use to which they put them. Thus the French, borrowing
'hablr' from the Spaniards, with whom it means simply to speak, give
it in 'hbler' the sense of to brag; the Spaniards paying them off in
exactly their own coin, for of 'parler' which in like manner is but to
speak in French, they make 'parlr,' which means to prate, to chat.
[Footnote: See Darmesteter, _The Life of Words_, Eng. ed. p. 100.]

But it is time to bring this lecture to an end. These illustrations, to
which it would be easy to add more, justify all that has been asserted
of a moral element existing in words; so that they do not hold
themselves neutral in that great conflict between good and evil, light
and darkness, which is dividing the world; that they are not satisfied
to be passionless vehicles, now of the truth, and now of lies. We see,
on the contrary, that they continually take their side, are some of
them children of light, others children of this world, or even of
darkness; they beat with the pulses of our life; they stir with our
passions; we clothe them with light; we steep them in scorn; they
receive from us the impressions of our good and of our evil, which
again they are most active still further to propagate and diffuse.
[Footnote: Two or three examples of what we have been affirming, drawn
from the Latin, may fitly here find place. Thus Cicero (_Tusc_. iii. 7)
laments of 'confidens' that it should have acquired an evil
signification, and come to mean bold, over-confident in oneself, unduly
pushing (compare Virgil,_Georg_. iv. 444), a meaning which little by
little had been superinduced on the word, but etymologically was not
inherent in it at all. In the same way 'latro,' having left two earlier
meanings behind, one of these current so late as in Virgil (_Aen_. xii.
7), settles down at last in the meaning of robber. Not otherwise
'facinus' begins with being simply a fact or act, something done; but
ends with being some act of outrageous wickedness. 'Pronuba' starts
with meaning a bridesmaid it ignobly ends with suggesting a procuress.]
Must we not own then that there is a wondrous and mysterious world, of
which we may hitherto have taken too little account, around us and
about us? Is there not something very solemn and very awful in wielding
such an instrument as this of language is, with such power to wound or
to heal, to kill or to make alive? and may not a deeper meaning than
hitherto we have attached to it, lie in that saying, 'By thy words thou
shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned'?



Language, being ever in flux and flow, and, for nations to which
letters are still strange, existing only for the ear and as a sound, we
might beforehand expect would prove the least trustworthy of all
vehicles whereby the knowledge of the past has reached our present;
that one which would most certainly betray its charge. In actual fact
it has not proved so at all. It is the main, oftentimes the only,
connecting link between the two, an ark riding above the water-floods
that have swept away or submerged every other landmark and memorial of
bygone ages and vanished generations of men. Far beyond all written
records in a language, the language itself stretches back, and offers
itself for our investigation--'the pedigree of nations,' as Johnson
calls it [Footnote: This statement of his must be taken with a certain
amount of qualification. It is not always that races are true to the
end to their language; external forces are sometimes too strong. Thus
Celtic disappeared before Latin in Gaul and Spain. Slavonic became
extinct in Prussia two centuries ago, German taking its room; the
negroes of Hayti speak French, and various American tribes have
exchanged their own idioms for Spanish and Portuguese. See upon this
matter Sayce's _Principles of Comparative Philology_, pp. 175-181.]--
itself in its own independent existence a far older and at the same
time a far more instructive document than any book, inscription, or
other writing which employs it. The written records may have been
falsified by carelessness, by vanity, by fraud, by a multitude of
causes; but language never deceives, if only we know how to question it

Such investigations as these, it is true, lie plainly out of your
sphere. Not so, however, those humbler yet not less interesting
inquiries, which by the aid of any tolerable dictionary you may carry
on into the past history of your own land, as attested by the present
language of its people. You know how the geologist is able from the
different strata and deposits, primary, secondary, or tertiary,
succeeding one another, which he meets, to arrive at a knowledge of the
successive physical changes through which a region has passed; is, so
to say, in a condition to preside at those past changes, to measure the
forces that were at work to produce them, and almost to indicate their
date. Now with such a language as the English before us, bearing as it
does the marks and footprints of great revolutions profoundly impressed
upon it, we may carry on moral and historical researches precisely
analogous to his. Here too are strata and deposits, not of gravel and
chalk, sandstone and limestone, but of Celtic, Latin, Low German,
Danish, Norman words, and then once more Latin and French, with
slighter intrusions from many other quarters: and any one with skill to
analyse the language might, up to a certain point, re-create for
himself the history of the people speaking that language, might with
tolerable accuracy appreciate the diverse elements out of which that
people was made up, in what proportion these were mingled, and in what
succession they followed, one upon the other.

Would he trace, for example, the relation in which the English and
Norman occupants of this land stood to one another? An account of this,
in the main as accurate as it would be certainly instructive, might be
drawn from an intelligent study of the contributions which they have
severally made to the English language, as bequeathed to us jointly by
them both. Supposing all other records to have perished, we might still
work out and almost reconstruct the history by these aids; even as now,
when so many documents, so many institutions survive, this must still
be accounted the most important, and that of which the study will
introduce us, as no other can, into the innermost heart and life of
large periods of our history.

Nor, indeed, is it hard to see why the language must contain such
instruction as this, when we a little realize to ourselves the stages
by which it has reached us in its present shape. There was a time when
the languages which the English and the Norman severally spoke, existed
each by the side of, but un-mingled with, the other; one, that of the
small dominant class, the other that of the great body of the people.
By degrees, however, with the reconciliation and partial fusion of the
two races, the two languages effected a transaction; one indeed
prevailed over the other, but at the same time received a multitude of
the words of that other into its own bosom. At once there would exist
duplicates for many things. But as in popular speech two words will not
long exist side by side to designate the same thing, it became a
question how the relative claims of the English and Norman word should
adjust themselves, which should remain, which should be dropped; or, if
not dropped, should be transferred to some other object, or express
some other relation. It is not of course meant that this was ever
formally proposed, or as something to be settled by agreement; but
practically one was to be taken and one left. Which was it that should
maintain its ground? Evidently, where a word was often on the lips of
one race, its equivalent seldom on those of the other, where it
intimately cohered with the whole manner of life of one, was only
remotely in contact with that of the other, where it laid strong hold
on one, and only slight on the other, the issue could not be doubtful.
In several cases the matter was simpler still: it was not that one word
expelled the other, or that rival claims had to be adjusted; but that
there never had existed more than one word, the thing which that word
noted having been quite strange to the other section of the nation.

Here is the explanation of the assertion made just now--namely, that we
might almost reconstruct our history, so far as it turns upon the
Norman Conquest, by an analysis of our present language, a mustering of
its words in groups, and a close observation of the nature and
character of those which the two races have severally contributed to it.
Thus we should confidently conclude that the Norman was the ruling race,
from the noticeable fact that all the words of dignity, state, honour,
and pre-eminence, with one remarkable exception (to be adduced
presently), descend to us from them--'sovereign,' 'sceptre,' 'throne,'
'realm,' 'royalty,' 'homage,' 'prince,' 'duke,' 'count,' ('earl' indeed
is Scandinavian, though he must borrow his 'countess' from the Norman),
'chancellor,' 'treasurer,' 'palace,' 'castle,' 'dome,' and a multitude
more. At the same time the one remarkable exception of 'king' would
make us, even did we know nothing of the actual facts, suspect that the
chieftain of this ruling race came in not upon a new title, not as
overthrowing a former dynasty, but claiming to be in the rightful line
of its succession; that the true continuity of the nation had not, in
fact any more than in word, been entirely broken, but survived, in due
time to assert itself anew.

And yet, while the statelier superstructure of the language, almost all
articles of luxury, all having to do with the chase, with chivalry,
with personal adornment, are Norman throughout; with the broad basis of
the language, and therefore of the life, it is otherwise. The great
features of nature, sun, moon, and stars, earth, water, and fire; the
divisions of time; three out of the four seasons, spring, summer, and
winter; the features of natural scenery, the words used in earliest
childhood, the simpler emotions of the mind; all the prime social
relations, father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother,
sister,--these are of native growth and un-borrowed. 'Palace' and
'castle' may have reached us from the Norman, but to the Saxon we owe
far dearer names, the 'house,' the 'roof,' the 'home,' the 'hearth.'
His 'board' too, and often probably it was no more, has a more
hospitable sound than the 'table' of his lord. His sturdy arms turn the
soil; he is the 'boor,' the 'hind,' the 'churl'; or if his Norman
master has a name for him, it is one which on his lips becomes more and
more a title of opprobrium and contempt, the 'villain.' The instruments
used in cultivating the earth, the 'plough,' the 'share,' the 'rake,'
the 'scythe,' the 'harrow,' the 'wain,' the 'sickle,' the 'spade,' the
'sheaf,' the 'barn,' are expressed in his language; so too the main
products of the earth, as wheat, rye, oats, bere, grass, flax, hay,
straw, weeds; and no less the names of domestic animals. You will
remember, no doubt, how in the matter of these Wamba, the Saxon jester
in _Ivanhoe_, plays the philologer, [Footnote: Wallis, in his _Grammar_,
p. 20, had done so before.] having noted that the names of almost all
animals, so long as they are alive, are Saxon, but when dressed and
prepared for food become Norman--a fact, he would intimate, not very
wonderful; for the Saxon hind had the charge and labour of tending and
feeding them, but only that they might appear on the table of his
Norman lord. Thus 'ox,' 'steer,' 'cow,' are Saxon, but 'beef' Norman;
'calf' is Saxon, but 'veal' Norman; 'sheep' is Saxon, but 'mutton'
Norman: so it is severally with 'swine' and 'pork,' 'deer' and
'venison,' 'fowl' and 'pullet.' 'Bacon,' the only flesh which perhaps
ever came within the hind's reach, is the single exception. Putting all
this together, with much more of the same kind, which has only been
indicated here, we should certainly gather, that while there are
manifest tokens preserved in our language of the Saxon having been for
a season an inferior and even an oppressed race, the stable elements of
English life, however overlaid for a while, had still made good their
claim to be the solid groundwork of the after nation as of the after
language; and to the justice of this conclusion all other historic
records, and the present social condition of England, consent in
bearing witness.

Then again, who could doubt, even if the fact were not historically
attested, that the Arabs were the arithmeticians, the astronomers, the
chemists, the merchants of the Middle Ages, when he had once noted that
from them we have gotten these words and so many others like them-
'alchemy,' 'alcohol,' 'alembic,' 'algebra,' 'alkali,' 'almanack,'
'azimuth,' 'cypher,' 'elixir,' 'magazine,' 'nadir,' 'tariff,' 'zenith,'
'zero '?--for if one or two of these were originally Greek, they
reached us through the Arabic, and with tokens of their transit
cleaving to them. In like manner, even though history were silent on
the matter, we might conclude, and we know that we should rightly
conclude, that the origins of the monastic system are to be sought in
the Greek and not in the Latin branch of the Church, seeing that with
hardly an exception the words expressing the constituent elements of
the system, as 'anchorite,' 'archimandrite,' 'ascetic,' 'cenobite,'
'hermit,' 'monastery,' 'monk,' are Greek and not Latin.

But the study of words will throw rays of light upon a past infinitely
more remote than any which I have suggested here, will reveal to us
secrets of the past, which else must have been lost to us for ever.
Thus it must be a question of profound interest for as many as count
the study of man to be far above every other study, to ascertain what
point of culture that Indo-European race of which we come, the _stirps
generosa et historica_ of the world, as Coleridge has called it, had
attained, while it was dwelling still as one family in its common home.
No voices of history, the very faintest voices of tradition, reach us
from ages so far removed from our own. But in the silence of all other
voices there is one voice which makes itself heard, and which can tell
us much. Where Indian, and Greek, and Latin, and Teutonic designate
some object by the same word, and where it can be clearly shown that
they did not, at a later day, borrow that word one from the other, the
object, we may confidently conclude, must have been familiar to the
Indo-European race, while yet these several groups of it dwelt as one
undivided family together. Now they have such common words for the
chief domestic animals--for ox, for sheep, for horse, for dog, for
goose, and for many more. From this we have a right to gather that
before the migrations began, they had overlived and outgrown the
fishing and hunting stages of existence, and entered on the pastoral.
They have _not_ all the same words for the main products of the earth,
as for corn, wheat, barley, wine; it is tolerably evident therefore
that they had not entered on the agricultural stage. So too from the
absence of names in common for the principal metals, we have a right to
argue that they had not arrived at a knowledge of the working of these.

On the other hand, identical names for dress, for house, for door, for
garden, for numbers as far as a hundred, for the primary relations of
the family, as father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, for the
Godhead, testify that the common stock, intellectual and moral, was not
small which they severally took with them when they went their way,
each to set up for itself and work out its own destinies in its own
appointed region of the earth. [Footnote: See Brugmann, _Grundriss der
vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen_ (1886), Section
2.] This common stock may, indeed, have been much larger than these
investigations declare; for a word, once common to all these languages,
may have survived only in one; or possibly may have perished in all.
Larger it may very well, but poorer it cannot, have been. [Footnote:
Ozanam (_Les Germains avant le Christianisme_, p. 155): Dans le
vocabulaire d'une langue on a tout le spectacle d'une civilisation. On
y voit ce qu'un peuple sait des choses invisibles, si les notions de
Dieu, de l'me, du devoir, sont assez pures chez lui pour ne souffrir
que des termes exacts. On mesure la puissance de ses institutions par
le nombre et la proprit des termes qu'elles veulent pour leur
service; la liturgie a ses paroles sacramentelles, la procdure a ses
formules. Enfin, si ce peuple a tudi la nature, il faut voir quel
point il en a pntr les secrets, par quelle varit d'expressions,
par quels sons flatteurs ou nergiques, il a cherch dcrire les
divers aspects du ciel et de la terre, faire, pour ainsi dire,
l'inventaire des richesses temporelles dont il dispose.]

This is one way in which words, by their presence or their absence, may
teach us history which else we now can never know. I pass to other ways.

There are vast harvests of historic lore garnered often in single
words; important facts which they at once proclaim and preserve; these
too such as sometimes have survived nowhere else but in them. How much
history lies in the word 'church.' I see no sufficient reason to
dissent from those who derive it from the Greek [Greek: kyriakae],
'that which pertains to the Lord,' or 'the house which is the Lord's.'
It is true that a difficulty meets us at the threshold here. How
explain the presence of a Greek word in the vocabulary of our Teutonic
forefathers? for that _we_ do not derive it immediately from the Greek,
is certain. What contact, direct or indirect, between the languages
will account for this? The explanation is curious. While Angles, Saxons,
and other tribes of the Teutonic stock were almost universally
converted through contact with the Latin Church in the western
provinces of the Roman Empire, or by its missionaries, some Goths on
the Lower Danube had been brought at an earlier date to the knowledge
of Christ by Greek missionaries from Constantinople; and this [Greek:
kyriakae] or 'church,' did, with certain other words, pass over from
the Greek to the Gothic tongue; these Goths, the first converted and
the first therefore with a Christian vocabulary, lending the word in
their turn to the other German tribes, to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers
among the rest; and by this circuit it has come round from
Constantinople to us. [Footnote: The passage most illustrative of the
parentage of the word is from Walafrid Strabo (about A.D. 840): Ab
ipsis autem Graecis Kyrch Kyrios, et alia multa accepimus. Sicut
domus Dei Basilica, i.e. Regia Rege, sic etiam Kyrica, i.e. Dominica
Domino, nuncupatur. Si autem quaeritur, qu occasione ad nos vestigia
haec graecitatis advenerint, dicendum praecipu Gothis, qui et Getae,
cm eo tempore, quo ad fidem Christi perducti sunt, in Graecorum
provinciis commorantes, nostrum, i.e. theotiscum sermonem habuerint. Cf.
Rudolf von Raumer, _Einwirkung des Christenthums auf die
Althochdeutsche Sprache_, p. 288; Niedner, _Kirch. Geschichte_, p. 2.
[It may, however, be as well to remark that no trace of the Greek
[Greek: kyriakae] occurs in the literary remains of the Gothic language
which have come down to us; the Gothic Christians borrowed [Greek:
ekklaesia], as the Latin and Celtic Christians did.]]

Or again, interrogate 'pagan' and 'paganism,' and you will find
important history in them. You are aware that 'pagani,' derived from
'pagus,' a village, had at first no religious significance, but
designated the dwellers in hamlets and villages as distinguished from
the inhabitants of towns and cities. It was, indeed, often applied to
_all_ civilians as contradistinguished from the military caste; and
this fact may have had a certain influence, when the idea of the
faithful as soldiers of Christ was strongly realized in the minds of
men. But it was mainly in the following way that it grew to be a name
for those alien from the faith of Christ. The Church fixed itself first
in the seats and centres of intelligence, in the towns and cities of
the Roman Empire; in them its earliest triumphs were won; while, long
after these had accepted the truth, heathen superstitions and
idolatries lingered on in the obscure hamlets and villages; so that
'pagans' or villagers, came to be applied to _all_ the remaining
votaries of the old and decayed superstitions, although not all, but
only most of them, were such. In an edict of the Emperor Valentinian,
of date A.D. 368, 'pagan' first assumes this secondary meaning.
'Heathen' has run a course curiously similar. When the Christian faith
first found its way into Germany, it was the wild dwellers on the
_heaths_ who were the slowest to accept it, the last probably whom it
reached. One hardly expects an etymology in _Piers Plowman_; but this
is there:

'_Hethene_ is to mene after _heth_,
And untiled erthe.'
B. 15, 451, Skeat's ed. (Clarendon Press).

Here, then, are two instructive notices--one, the historic fact that
the Church of Christ planted itself first in the haunts of learning and
intelligence; another, morally more significant, that it did not shun
discussion, feared not to encounter the wit and wisdom of this world,
or to expose its claims to the searching examination of educated men;
but, on the contrary, had its claims first recognized by them, and in
the great cities of the world won first a complete triumph over all
opposing powers. [Footnote: There is a good note on 'pagan' in Gibbon's
_Decline and Fall_, c. 21, at the end; and in Grimm's _Deutsche Mythol_.
p. 1198; and the history of the changes in the word's use is well
traced in another interest by Mill, _Logic_, vol. ii. p. 271.]

I quoted in my first lecture the saying of one who, magnifying the
advantage to be derived from such studies as ours, did not fear to
affirm that oftentimes more might be learned from the history of a word
than from the history of a campaign. Thus follow some Latin word,.
'imperator' for example; as Dean Merivale has followed it in his
_History of the Romans_, [Footnote: Vol. iii. pp. 441-452.] and you will
own as much. But there is no need to look abroad. Words of our own out
of number, such as 'barbarous,' 'benefice,' 'clerk,' 'common-sense,'
'romance,' 'sacrament,' 'sophist,' [Footnote: For a history of
'sophist' see Sir Alexander Grant's _Ethics of Aristotle_, 2nd ed. vol.
i. p. 106, sqq.] would prove the truth of the assertion. Let us take
'sacrament'; its history, while it carries us far, will yet carry us by
ways full of instruction; and these not the less instructive, while we
restrict our inquiries to the external history of the word. We find
ourselves first among the forms of Roman law. The 'sacramentum' appears
there as the deposit or pledge, which in certain suits plaintiff and
defendant were alike bound to make, and whereby they engaged themselves
to one another; the loser of the suit forfeiting his pledge to sacred
temple uses, from which fact the name 'sacramentum,' or thing
consecrated, was first derived. The word, as next employed, plants us
amidst the military affairs of Rome, designating the military oath by
which the Roman soldiers mutually engaged themselves at the first
enlisting never to desert their standards, or turn their backs upon the
enemy, or abandon their general,--this employment teaching us the
sacredness which the Romans attached to their military engagements, and
going far to account for their victories. The word was then transferred
from this military oath to any solemn oath whatsoever. These three
stages 'sacramentum' had already passed through, before the Church
claimed it for her own, or indeed herself existed at all. Her early
writers, out of a sense of the sacredness and solemnity of the oath,
transferred this name to almost any act of special solemnity or
sanctity, above all to such mysteries as intended more than met eye or
ear. For them the Incarnation was a 'sacrament,' the lifting up of the
brazen serpent was a 'sacrament,' the giving of the manna, and many
things more. It is well to be acquainted with this phase of the word's
history, depriving as it does of all convincing power those passages
quoted by Roman Catholic controversialists from early church-writers in
proof of their seven sacraments. It is quite true that these may have
called marriage a 'sacrament' and confirmation a 'sacrament,' and we
may reach the Roman seven without difficulty; but then they called many
things more, which even the theologians of Rome do not include in the
'sacraments' properly so called, by the same name; and this evidence,
proving too much, in fact proves nothing at all. One other stage in the
word's history remains; its limitation, namely, to the two
'sacraments,' properly so called, of the Christian Church. A
reminiscence of the employment of 'sacrament,' an employment which
still survived, to signify the plighted troth of the Roman soldier to
his captain and commander, was that which had most to do with the
transfer of the word to Baptism; wherein we, with more than one
allusion to this oath of theirs, pledge ourselves to fight manfully
under Christ's banner, and to continue his faithful soldiers and
servants to our life's end; while the _mysterious_ character of the
Holy Eucharist was mainly that which earned for it this name.

We have already found history imbedded in the word 'frank'; but I must
bring forward the Franks again, to account for the fact with which we
are all familiar, that in the East not Frenchmen alone, but _all_
Europeans, are so called. Why, it may be asked, should this be? This
wide use of 'Frank' dates from the Crusades; Michaud, the chief French
historian of these, finding evidence here that his countrymen took a
decided lead, as their gallantry well fitted them to do, in these
romantic enterprises of the Middle Ages; impressed themselves so
strongly on the imagination of the East as _the_ crusading nation of
Europe, that their name was extended to all the warriors of Christendom.
He is not here snatching for them more than the honour which is justly
theirs. A very large proportion of the noblest Crusaders, from Godfrey
of Bouillon to St. Lewis, as of others who did most to bring these
enterprises about, as Pope Urban II., as St. Bernard, were French, and
thus gave, in a way sufficiently easy to explain, an appellation to all.
[Footnote: See Fuller, _Holy War_, b. i. c. 13.]

To the Crusades also, and to the intense hatred which they roused
throughout Christendom against the Mahomedan infidels, we owe
'miscreant,' as designating one to whom the vilest principles and
practices are ascribed. A 'miscreant,' at the first, meant simply a
misbeliever. The name would have been applied as freely, and with as
little sense of injustice, to the royal-hearted Saladin as to the
vilest wretch that fought in his armies. By degrees, however, those who
employed it tinged it more and more with their feeling and passion,
more and more lost sight of its primary use, until they used it of any
whom they regarded with feelings of abhorrence, such as those which
they entertained for an infidel; just as 'Samaritan' was employed by
the Jews simply as a term of reproach, and with no thought whether he
on whom it was fastened was in fact one of that detested race or not;
where indeed they were quite sure that he was not (John viii. 48).
'Assassin' also, an Arabic word whose story you will find no difficulty
in obtaining,--you may read it in Gibbon, [Footnote: Decline and Fall, c.
64.]--connects itself with a romantic chapter in the history of the

Various explanations of 'cardinal' have been proposed, which should
account for the appropriation of this name to the parochial clergy of
the city of Rome with the subordinate bishops of that diocese. This
appropriation is an outgrowth, and a standing testimony, of the
measureless assumptions of the Roman See. One of the favourite
comparisons by which that See was wont to set out its relation of
superiority to all other Churches of Christendom was this; it was the
hinge, or 'cardo,' on which all the rest of the Church, as the door, at
once depended and turned. It followed presently upon this that the
clergy of Rome were 'cardinales,' as nearest to, and most closely
connected with, him who was thus the hinge, or 'cardo,' of all.
[Footnote: Thus a letter professing to be of Pope Anacletus the First
in the first century, but really belonging to the ninth: Apostolica
Sedes _cardo_ et caput omnium Ecclesiarum a Domino est constituta; et
sicut _cardine_ ostium regitur, sic hujus S. Sedis auctoritate omnes
Ecclesiae reguntur. And we have 'cardinal' put in relation with this
'cardo' in a genuine letter of Pope Leo IX.: Clerici summae Sedis
_Cardinales_ dicuntur, _cardini_ utique illi quo cetera moventur,
vicinius adhaerentes.]

'Legend' is a word with an instructive history. We all have some notion
of what at this day a 'legend' means. It is a tale which is _not_ true,
which, however historic in form, is not historic in fact, claims no
serious belief for itself. It was quite otherwise once. By this name of
'legends' the annual commemorations of the faith and patience of God's
saints in persecution and death were originally called; these legends
in this title which they bore proclaiming that they were worthy to be
read, and from this worthiness deriving their name. At a later day, as
corruptions spread through the Church, these 'legends' grew, in
Hooker's words, 'to be nothing else but heaps of frivolous and
scandalous vanities,' having been 'even with disdain thrown out, the
very nests which bred them abhorring them.' How steeped in falsehood,
and to what an extent, according to Luther's indignant turn of the word,
the 'legends' (legende) must have become 'lyings' (lgende), we can
best guess, when we measure the moral forces which must have been at
work, before that which was accepted at the first as 'worthy to be
read,' should have been felt by this very name to announce itself as
most unworthy, as belonging at best to the region of fable, if not to
that of actual untruth.

An inquiry into the pedigree of 'dunce' lays open to us an important
page in the intellectual history of Europe. Certain theologians in the
Middle Ages were termed Schoolmen; having been formed and trained in
the cloister and cathedral _schools_ which Charlemagne and his
immediate successors had founded. These were men not to be lightly
spoken of, as they often are by those who never read a line of their
works, and have not a thousandth part of their wit; who moreover little
guess how many of the most familiar words which they employ, or
misemploy, have descended to them from these. 'Real,' 'virtual,'
'entity,' 'nonentity,' 'equivocation,' 'objective,' 'subjective,' with
many more unknown to classical Latin, but now almost necessities to us,
were first coined by the Schoolmen; and, passing over from them into
the speech of others more or less interested in their speculations,
have gradually filtered through the successive strata of society, till
now some of them have reached to quite the lowest. At the Revival of
Learning, however, their works fell out of favour: they were not
written in classical Latin: the forms into which their speculations
were thrown were often unattractive; it was mainly in their authority
that the Roman Church found support for her perilled dogmas. On all
these accounts it was esteemed a mark of intellectual progress to have
broken with them, and thrown off their yoke. Some, however, still clung
to these Schoolmen, and to one in particular, John _Duns_ Scotus, the
most illustrious teacher of the Franciscan Order. Thus it came to pass
that many times an adherent of the old learning would seek to
strengthen his position by an appeal to its famous doctor, familiarly
called Duns; while those of the new learning would contemptuously
rejoin, 'Oh, you are a _Dunsman_' or more briefly, 'You are a _Duns_,'
--or, 'This is a piece of _duncery_'; and inasmuch as the new learning
was ever enlisting more and more of the genius and scholarship of the
age on its side, the title became more and more a term of scorn.
'Remember ye not,' says Tyndal, 'how within this thirty years and far
less, the old barking curs, _Dunce's_ disciples, and like draff called
Scotists, the children of darkness, raged in every pulpit against Greek,
Latin, and Hebrew?' And thus from that conflict long ago extinct
between the old and the new learning, that strife between the medieval
and the modern theology, we inherit 'dunce' and 'duncery.' The lot of
Duns, it must be confessed, has been a hard one, who, whatever his
merits as a teacher of Christian truth, was assuredly one of the
keenest and most subtle-witted of men. He, the 'subtle Doctor' by pre-
eminence, for so his admirers called him, 'the wittiest of the school-
divines,' as Hooker does not scruple to style him, could scarcely have
anticipated, and did not at all deserve, that his name should be turned
into a by-word for invincible stupidity.

This is but one example of the singular fortune waiting upon words. We
have another of a parallel injustice, in the use which 'mammetry,' a
contraction of 'Mahometry,' obtained in our early English. Mahomedanism
being the most prominent form of false religion with which our
ancestors came in contact, 'mammetry' was used, up to and beyond the
Reformation, to designate first any false religion, and then the
worship of idols; idolatry being proper to, and a leading feature of,
most of the false religions of the world. Men did not pause to remember
that Mahomedanism is the great exception, being as it is a protest
against all idol-worship whatsoever; so that it was a signal injustice
to call an idol a 'mawmet' or a Mahomet, and idolatry 'mammetry.'

A misnomer such as this may remind us of the immense importance of
possessing such names for things as shall not involve or suggest an
error. We have already seen this in the province of the moral life; but
in other regions also it nearly concerns us. Resuming, as words do, the
past, shaping the future, how important it is that significant facts or
tendencies in the world's history should receive their right names. It
is a corrupting of the very springs and sources of knowledge, when we
bind up not a truth, but an error, in the very nomenclature which we
use. It is the putting of an obstacle in the way, which, however
imperceptibly, is yet ever at work, hindering any right apprehension of
the thing which has been thus erroneously noted.

Out of a sense of this, an eminent German scholar of the last century,
writing _On the Influence of Opinions on Language_, did not stop here,
nor make this the entire title of his book, but added another and
further clause--_and on the Influence of Language on Opinions_;
[Footnote: _Von dem Einfluss der Meinungen in die Sprache, und der
Sprache in die Meinungen_, von J, D. Michalis, Berlin, 1760.] the
matter which fulfils the promise of this latter clause constituting by
far the most interesting and original portion of his work: for while
the influence of opinions on words is so little called in question,
that the assertion of it sounds almost like a truism, this, on the
contrary, of words on opinions, would doubtless present itself as a
novelty to many. And yet it is an influence which has been powerfully
felt in every region of human knowledge, in science, in art, in morals,
in theology. The reactive energy of words, not merely on the passions
of men (for that of course), but on their opinions calmly and
deliberately formed, would furnish a very curious chapter in the
history of human knowledge and human ignorance.

Sometimes words with no fault of theirs, for they did not originally
involve any error, will yet draw some error in their train; and of that
error will afterwards prove the most effectual bulwark and shield. Let
me instance--the author just referred to supplies the example--the word
'crystal.' The strange notion concerning the origin of the thing,
current among the natural philosophers of antiquity, and which only two
centuries ago Sir Thomas Browne thought it worth while to place first
and foremost among the _Vulgar Errors_ that he undertook to refute, was
plainly traceable to a confusion occasioned by the name. Crystal, as
men supposed, was ice or snow which had undergone such a process of
induration as wholly and for ever to have lost its fluidity: [Footnote:
Augustine: Quid est crystallum? Nix est glacie durata per multos annos,
ita ut a sole vel igne facile dissolvi non possit. So too in Beaumont
and Fletcher's tragedy of _Valentinian_, a chaste matron is said to be
'cold as crystal _never to be thawed again_.'] and Pliny, backing up
one mistake by another, affirmed that it was only found in regions of
extreme cold. The fact is, that the Greek word for crystal originally
signified ice; but after a while was also imparted to that diaphanous
quartz which has so much the look of ice, and which alone _we_ call by
this name; and then in a little while it was taken for granted that the
two, having the same name, were in fact the same substance; and this
mistake it took ages to correct.

Natural history abounds in legends. In the word 'leopard' one of these
has been permanently bound up; the error, having first given birth to
the name, being afterwards itself maintained and propagated by it. The
leopard, as is well known, was not for the Greek and Latin zoologists a
species by itself, but a mongrel birth of the male panther or pard and
the lioness; and in 'leopard' or 'lion-pard' this fabled double descent
is expressed. [Footnote: This error lasted into modern times; thus
Fuller (_A Pisgah Sight of Palestine_, vol. i. p. 195): 'Leopards and
mules are properly no creatures.'] 'Cockatrice' embodies a somewhat
similar fable; the fable however in this case having been invented to
account for the name. [Footnote: See Wright, _The Bible Word Book_, s.
v. [The word _cockatrice_ is a corrupt form of Late Latin _cocodrillus_,
which again is a corruption of Latin _crocodilus_, Gr. [Greek:
krokodeilos], a crocodile.]]

It was Eichhorn who first suggested the calling of a certain group of
languages, which stand in a marked contradistinction to the Indo-
European or Aryan family, by the common name of 'Semitic.' A word which
should include all these was wanting, and this one was handy and has
made its fortune; at the same time implying, as 'Semitic' does, that
these are all languages spoken by races which are descended from Shem,
it is eminently calculated to mislead. There are non-Semitic races, the
Phoenicians for example, which have spoken a Semitic language; there
are Semitic races which have not spoken one. Against 'Indo-European'
the same objection may be urged; seeing that several languages are
European, that is, spoken within the limits of Europe, as the Maltese,
the Finnish, the Hungarian, the Basque, the Turkish, which lie
altogether outside of this group.

'Gothic' is plainly a misnomer, and has often proved a misleader as
well, when applied to a style of architecture which belongs not to one,
but to all the Germanic tribes; which, moreover, did not come into
existence till many centuries after any people called Goths had ceased
from the earth. Those, indeed, who first called this medieval
architecture 'Gothic,' had no intention of ascribing to the Goths the
first invention of it, however this language may seem now to bind up in
itself an assertion of the kind. 'Gothic' was at first a mere random
name of contempt. The Goths, with the Vandals, being the standing
representatives of the rude in manners and barbarous in taste, the
critics who would fain throw scorn on this architecture as compared
with that classical Italian which alone seemed worthy of their
admiration, [Footnote: The name, as the designation of a style of
architecture, came to us from Italy. Thus Fuller in his _Worthies_:
'Let the Italians deride our English and condemn them for _Gothish_
buildings.' See too a very curious expression of men's sentiments about
Gothic architecture as simply equivalent to barbarous, in Phillips's
_New World of Words_, 1706, s.v. 'Gothick.'] called it 'Gothic,'
meaning rude and barbarous thereby. We who recognize in this Gothic
architecture the most wondrous and consummate birth of genius in one
region of art, find it hard to believe that this was once a mere title
of slight and scorn, and sometimes wrongly assume a reference in the
word to the people among whom first it arose.

'Classical' and 'romantic,' names given to opposing schools of
literature and art, contain an absurd antithesis; and either say
nothing at all, or say something erroneous. 'Revival of Learning' is a
phrase only partially true when applied to that mighty intellectual
movement in Western Europe which marked the fifteenth century and the
beginning of the sixteenth. A revival there might be, and indeed there
was, of _Greek_ learning at that time; but there could not be properly
affirmed a revival of Latin, inasmuch as it had never been dead; or,
even as those who dissent from this statement must own, had revived
nearly two centuries before. 'Renaissance,' applied in France to the
new direction which art took about the age of Francis the First, is
another question-begging word. Very many would entirely deny that the
bringing back of an antique pagan spirit, and of pagan forms as the
utterance of this, into Christian art was a 'renaissance' or new birth
of it at all.

But inaccuracy in naming may draw after it more serious mischief in
regions more important. Nowhere is accuracy more vital than in words
having to do with the chief facts and objects of our faith; for such
words, as Coleridge has observed, are never inert, but constantly
exercise an immense reactive influence, whether men know it or not, on
such as use them, or often hear them used by others. The so-called
'Unitarians,' claiming by this name of theirs to be asserters of the
unity of the Godhead, claim that which belongs to us by far better
right than to them; which, indeed, belonging of fullest right to us,
does not properly belong to them at all. I should, therefore, without
any intention of offence, refuse the name to them; just as I should
decline, by calling those of the Roman Obedience 'Catholics,' to give
up the whole question at issue between them and us. So, also, were I
one of them, I should never, however convenient it might sometimes
prove, consent to call the great religious movement of Europe in the
sixteenth century the 'Reformation.' Such in _our_ esteem it was, and
in the deepest, truest sense; a shaping anew of things that were amiss
in the Church. But how any who esteem it a disastrous, and, on their
parts who brought it about, a most guilty schism, can consent to call
it by this name, has always surprised me.

Let me urge on you here the importance of seeking in every case to
acquaint yourselves with the circumstances under which any body of men
who have played an important part in history, above all in the history
of your own land, obtained the name by which they were afterwards
themselves willing to be known, or which was used for their designation
by others. This you may do as a matter of historical inquiry, and
keeping entirely aloof in spirit from the bitterness, the contempt, the
calumny, out of which very frequently these names were first imposed.
Whatever of scorn or wrong may have been at work in them who coined or
gave currency to the name, the name itself can never without serious
loss be neglected by any who would truly understand the moral
significance of the thing; for always something, oftentimes much, may
be learned from it. Learn, then, about each one of these names which
you meet in your studies, whether it was one that men gave to
themselves; or one imposed on them by others, but never recognized by
them; or one that, first imposed by others, was yet in course of time
admitted and allowed by themselves. We have examples in all these kinds.
Thus the 'Gnostics' call _themselves_ such; the name was of their own
devising, and declared that whereof they made their boast; it was the
same with the 'Cavaliers' of our Civil War. 'Quaker,' 'Puritan,'
'Roundhead,' were all, on the contrary, names devised by others, and
never accepted by those to whom they were attached. To the third class
'Whig' and 'Tory' belong. These were nicknames originally of bitterest
party hate, withdrawn from their earlier use, and fastened by two
political bodies in England each on the other, [Footnote: In North's
_Examen_. p. 321, is a very lively, though not a very impartial,
account of the rise of these names.] the 'Whig' being properly a
Scottish covenanter, [Footnote: [For a full account of the name see
Nares, and Todd's _Johnson_.]] the 'Tory' an Irish bog-trotting
freebooter; while yet these nicknames in tract of time so lost and let
go what was offensive about them, that in the end they were adopted by
the very parties themselves. Not otherwise the German 'Lutherans' were
originally so called by their antagonists. [Footnote: Dr. Eck, one of
the earliest who wrote against the Reformation, first called the
Reformed 'Lutherani.'] 'Methodist,' in like manner, was a title not
first taken by the followers of Wesley, but fastened on them by others,
while yet they have been subsequently willing, though with a certain
reserve, to accept and to be known by it. 'Momiers' or 'Mummers,' a
name in itself of far greater offence, has obtained in Switzerland
something of the same allowance. Exactly in the same way 'Capuchin' was
at first a jesting nickname, given by the gamins in the streets to that
reformed branch of the Franciscans which afterwards accepted it as
their proper designation. It was provoked by the peaked and pointed
hood ('cappuccio,' 'cappucino') which they wore. The story of the
'Gueux,' or 'Beggars,' of Holland, and how they appropriated their name,
is familiar, as I doubt not, to many. [Footnote: [See chapter on
Political Nicknames in D'Israeli's _Curiosities of Literature_.]]

A 'Premier' or 'Prime Minister,' though unknown to the law of England,
is at present one of the institutions of the country. The acknowledged
leadership of one member in the Government is a fact of only gradual
growth in our constitutional history, but one in which the nation has
entirely acquiesced,--nor is there anything invidious now in the title.
But in what spirit the Parliamentary Opposition, having coined the term,
applied it first to Sir Robert Walpole, is plain from some words of his
spoken in the House of Commons, Feb. 11, 1742: 'Having invested me with
a kind of mock dignity, and styled me a _Prime Minister_, they [the
Opposition] impute to me an unpardonable abuse of the chimerical
authority which they only created and conferred.'

Now of these titles some undoubtedly, like 'Capuchin' instanced just
now, stand in no very intimate connexion with those who bear them; and
such names, though seldom without their instruction, yet plainly are
not so instructive as others, in which the innermost heart of the thing
named so utters itself, that, having mastered the name, we have placed
ourselves at the central point, from whence best to master everything
besides. It is thus with 'Gnostic' and 'Gnosticism'; in the prominence
given to _gnsis_ or knowledge, as opposed to faith, lies the key to
the whole system. The Greek Church has loved ever to style itself the
Holy 'Orthodox' Church, the Latin, the Holy 'Catholic' Church. Follow
up the thoughts which these words suggest. What a world of teaching
they contain; above all when brought into direct comparison and
opposition one with the other. How does all which is innermost in the
Greek and Roman mind unconsciously reveal itself here; the Greek Church
regarding as its chief blazon that its speculation is right, the Latin
that its empire is universal. Nor indeed is it merely the Greek and
Latin Churches which utter themselves here, but Greece and Rome in
their deepest distinctions, as these existed from their earliest times.
The key to the whole history, Pagan as well as Christian, of each is in
these words. We can understand how the one established a dominion in
the region of the mind which shall never be overthrown, the other
founded an empire in the world whose visible effects shall never be
done away. This is an illustrious example; but I am bold to affirm that,
in their degree, all parties, religious and political, are known by
names that will repay study; by names, to understand which will bring
us far to an understanding of their strength and their weakness, their
truth and their error, the idea and intention according to which they
wrought. Thus run over in thought a few of those which have risen up in
England. 'Puritans,' 'Fifth-Monarchy men,' 'Seekers,' 'Levellers,'
'Independents,' 'Friends,' 'Rationalists,' 'Latitudnarians,'
'Freethinkers,' these titles, with many more, have each its
significance; and would you get to the heart of things, and thoroughly
understand what any of these schools and parties intended, you must
first understand what they were called. From this as from a central
point you must start; even as you must bring back to this whatever
further knowledge you may acquire; putting your later gains, if
possible, in subordination to the name; at all events in connexion and
relation with it.

You will often be able to glean information from names, such as, if not
always important, will yet rarely fail to be interesting and
instructive in its way. Thus what a record of inventions, how much of
the past history of commerce do they embody and preserve. The 'magnet'
has its name from Magnesia, a district of Thessaly; this same Magnesia,
or else another like-named district in Asia Minor, yielding the
medicinal earth so called. 'Artesian' wells are from the province of
Artois in France, where they were long in use before introduced
elsewhere. The 'baldachin' or 'baudekin' is from Baldacco, the Italian
form of the name of the city of Bagdad, from whence the costly silk of
this canopy originally came. [Footnote: [See Devic's Supplement to
Littr; the Italian _l_ is an attempt to pronounce the Arabic guttural
Ghain. In the Middle Ages _Baldacco_ was often supposed to be the same
as 'Babylon'; see Florio's _Ital. Dict._ (s.v. _baldacca_).]] The'
bayonet' suggests concerning itself, though perhaps wrongly, that it
was first made at Bayonne--the 'bilbo,' a finely tempered Spanish blade,
at Bilbao--the 'carronade' at the Carron Ironworks in Scotland--
'worsted' that it was spun at a village not far from Norwich--
'sarcenet' that it is a Saracen manufacture--'cambric' that it reached
us from Cambray--'copper' that it drew its name from Cyprus, so richly
furnished with mines of this metal--'fustian' from Fostat, a suburb of
Cairo--'frieze' from Friesland--'silk' or 'sericum' from the land of
the Seres or Chinese--'damask' from Damascus--'cassimere' or
'kersemere' from Cashmere--'arras' from a town like-named--'duffel,'
too, from a town near Antwerp so called, which Wordsworth has
immortalized--'shalloon' from Chalons--'jane' from Genoa--'gauze' from
Gaza. The fashion of the 'cravat' was borrowed from the Croats, or
Crabats, as this wild irregular soldiery of the Thirty Years' War used
to be called. The 'biggen,' a plain cap often mentioned by our early
writers, was first worn by the Beguines, communities of pietist women
in the Low Countries in the twelfth century. The 'dalmatic' was a
garment whose fashion was taken to be borrowed from Dalmatia. (_See_
Marriott.) England now sends her calicoes and muslins to India and the
East; yet these words give standing witness that we once imported them
from thence; for 'calico' is from Calicut, a town on the coast of
Malabar, and 'muslin' from Mossul, a city in Asiatic Turkey. 'Cordwain'
or 'cordovan' is from Cordova--'delf' from Delft--'indigo' (indicum)
from India--'gamboge' from Cambodia--the 'agate' from a Sicilian river,
Achates--the 'turquoise' from Turkey--the 'chalcedony' or onyx from
Chalcedon--'jet' from the river Gages in Lycia, where this black stone
is found. [Footnote: In Holland's _Pliny_, the Greek form 'gagates' is
still retained, though he oftener calls it 'jeat' or 'geat.'] 'Rhubarb'
is a corruption of Rha barbarum, the root from the savage banks of the
Rha or Volga--'jalap' is from Jalapa, a town in Mexico--'tobacco' from
the island Tobago--'malmsey' from Malvasia, for long a flourishing city
in the Morea--'sherry,' or 'sherris' as Shakespeare wrote it, is from
Xeres--'macassar' oil from a small Malay kingdom so named in the
Eastern Archipelago--'dittany' from the mountain Dicte, in Crete--
'parchment' from Pergamum--'majolica' from Majorca--'faience' from the
town named in Italian Faenza. A little town in Essex gave its name to
the 'tilbury'; another, in Bavaria, to the 'landau.' The 'bezant' is a
coin of Byzantium; the 'guinea' was originally coined (in 1663) of gold
brought from the African coast so called; the pound 'sterling' was a
certain weight of bullion according to the standard of the Easterlings,
or Eastern merchants from the Hanse Towns on the Baltic. The 'spaniel'
is from Spain; the 'barb' is a steed from Barbary; the pony called a
'galloway' from the county of Galloway in Scotland; the 'tarantula' is
a poisonous spider, common in the neighbourhood of Tarentum. The
'pheasant' reached us from the banks of the Phasis; the 'bantam' from a
Dutch settlement in Java so called; the 'canary' bird and wine, both
from the island so named; the 'peach' (persica) declares itself a
Persian fruit; 'currants' derived their name from Corinth, whence they
were mostly shipped; the 'damson' is the 'damascene' or plum of
Damascus; the 'bergamot' pear is named from Bergamo in Italy; the
'quince' has undergone so many changes in its progress through Italian
and French to us, that it hardly retains any trace of Cydon (malum
Cydonium), a town of Crete, from which it was supposed to proceed.
'Solecisms,' if I may find room for them here, are from Soloe, an
Athenian colony in Cilicia, whose members soon forgot the Attic
refinement of speech, and became notorious for the ungrammatical Greek
which they talked.

And as things thus keep record in the names which they bear of the
quarters from which they reached us, so also will they often do of the
persons who, as authors, inventors, or discoverers, or in some other
way, stood in near connexion with them. A collection in any language of
all the names of persons which have since become names of things--from
nomina _apellativa_ have become nomina _realia_--would be very curious
and interesting, I will enumerate a few. Where the matter is not
familiar to you, it will not be unprofitable to work back from the word
or thing to the person, and to learn more accurately the connexion
between them.

To begin with mythical antiquity--the Chimaera has given us
'chimerical,' Hermes 'hermetic,' Pan 'panic,' Paean, being a name of
Apollo, the 'peony,' Tantalus 'to tantalize,' Hercules 'herculean,'
Proteus 'protean,' Vulcan 'volcano' and 'volcanic,' and Daedalus
'dedal,' if this word, for which Spenser, Wordsworth, and Shelley have
all stood godfathers, may find allowance with us. The demi-god Atlas
figures with a world upon his shoulders in the title-page of some early
works on geography; and has probably in this way lent to our map-books
their name. Gordius, the Phrygian king who tied the famous 'gordian'
knot which Alexander cut, will supply a natural transition from
mythical to historical. The 'daric,' a Persian gold coin, very much of
the same value as our own rose noble, had its name from Darius.
Mausolus, a king of Caria, has left us 'mausoleum,' Academus 'academy,'
Epicurus 'epicure,' Philip of Macedon a 'philippic,' being such a
discourse as Demosthenes once launched against the enemy of Greece, and
Cicero 'cicerone.' Mithridates, who had made himself poison-proof, gave
us the now forgotten 'mithridate' (Dryden) for antidote; as from
Hippocrates we derived 'hipocras,' or 'ypocras,' often occurring in our
early poets, being a wine supposed to be mingled after the great
physician's receipt. Gentius, a king of Illyria, gave his name to the
plant 'gentian,' having been, it is said, the first to discover its
virtues. [Footnote: Pliny, _H. N._ xxv. 34.] Glaubers, who has
bequeathed his salts to us, was a Dutch chemist of the seventeenth
century. A grammar used to be called a 'donat' or 'donet' (Chaucer),
from Donatus, a Roman grammarian of the fourth century, whose Latin
grammar held its place as a school-book during a large part of the
Middle Ages. Othman, more than any other the grounder of the Turkish
dominion in Europe, reappears in our 'Ottoman'; and Tertullian,
strangely enough, in the Spanish 'tertulia.' The beggar Lazarus has
given us 'lazar' and 'lazaretto'; Veronica and the legend connected
with her name, a 'vernicle,' being a napkin with the Saviour's face
impressed upon it. Simon Magus gave us 'simony'; this, however, as we
understand it now, is not a precise reproduction of his sin as recorded
in Scripture. A common fossil shell is called an 'ammonite' from the
fanciful resemblance to the twisted horns of Jupiter Ammon which was
traced in it; Ammon again appearing in 'ammonia.' Our 'pantaloons' are
from St. Pantaleone; he was the patron saint of the Venetians, who
therefore very commonly received Pantaleon as their Christian name; it
was from them transferred to a garment which they much affected.
'Dunce,' as we have seen, is derived from Duns Scotus. To come to more
modern times, and not pausing at Ben Jonson's 'chaucerisms,' Bishop
Hall's 'scoganisms,' from Scogan, Edward the Fourth's jester, or his
'aretinisms,' from Aretin; these being probably not intended even by
their authors to endure; a Roman cobbler named Pasquin has given us the
'pasquil' or 'pasquinade.' Derrick was the common hangman in the time
of Charles II.; he bequeathed his name to the crane used for the
lifting and moving of heavy weights. [Footnote: [But _derick_ in the
sense of 'gallows' occurs as early as 1606 in Dekker's _Seven Deadly
Sins of London_, ed. Arber, p. 17; see Skeat's _Etym. Dict._, ed. 2, p.
799.]] 'Patch,' a name of contempt not unfrequent in Shakespeare, was,
it is said, the proper name of a favourite fool of Cardinal Wolsey's.
[Footnote: [The Cardinal's two fools were occasionally called _patch_,
a term for a 'domestic fool,' from the patchy, parti-coloured dress;
see Skeat (s. v.).]] Colonel Negus in Queen Anne's time is reported to
have first mixed the beverage which goes by his name. Lord Orrery was
the first for whom an 'orrery' was constructed; Lord Spencer first wore,
or first brought into fashion, a 'spencer'; and the Duke of Roquelaure
the cloak which still bears his name. Dahl, a Swede, introduced from
Mexico the cultivation of the 'dahlia'; the 'fuchsia' is named after
Fuchs, a German botanist of the sixteenth century; the 'magnolia' after
Magnol, a distinguished French botanist of the beginning of the
eighteenth; while the 'camelia' was introduced into Europe from Japan
in 1731 by Camel, a member of the Society of Jesus; the 'shaddock' by
Captain Shaddock, who first transplanted this fruit from the West
Indies. In 'quassia' we have the name of a negro sorcerer of Surinam,
who in 1730 discovered its properties, and after whom it was called. An
unsavoury jest of Vespasian has attached his name in French to an
unsavoury spot. 'Nicotine,' the poison recently drawn from tobacco,
goes back for its designation to Nicot, a physician, who first
introduced the tobacco-plant to the general notice of Europe. The
Gobelins were a family so highly esteemed in France that the
manufactory of tapestry which they had established in Paris did not
drop their name, even after it had been purchased and was conducted by
the State. A French Protestant refugee, Tabinet, first made 'tabinet'
in Dublin; another Frenchman, Goulard, a physician of Montpellier, gave
his to the soothing lotion, not unknown in our nurseries. The 'tontine'
was conceived by Tonti, an Italian; another Italian, Galvani, first
noted the phenomena of animal electricity or 'galvanism'; while a third,
Volta, lent a title to the 'voltaic' battery. Dolomieu, a French
geologist, first called attention to a peculiar formation of rocks in
Eastern Tyrol, called 'dolomites' after him. Colonel Martinet was a
French officer appointed by Louvois as an army inspector; one who did
his work excellently well, but has left a name bestowed often since on
mere military pedants. 'Macintosh,' 'doyly,' 'brougham,' 'hansom,' 'to
mesmerize,' 'to macadamize,' 'to burke,' 'to boycott,' are all names of
persons or words formed from their names, and then transferred to
things or actions, on the ground of some sort of connexion between the
one and the other. [Footnote: Several other such words we have in
common with the French. Of their own they have 'sardanapalisme,' any
piece of profuse luxury, from Sardanapalus. For 'lambiner,' to dally or
loiter over a task, they are indebted to Denis Lambin, a worthy Greek
scholar of the sixteenth century, but accused of sluggish movement and
wearisome diffuseness in style. Every reader of Pascal's _Provincial
Letters_ will remember Escobar, the famous casuist of the Jesuits,
whose convenient devices for the relaxation of the moral law have there
been made famous. To the notoriety which he thus acquired, he owes his
introduction into the French language; where 'escobarder' is used in
the sense of to equivocate, and 'escobarderie' of subterfuge or
equivocation. A pale green colour is in French called 'cladon' from a
personage of this name, of a feeble and _fade_ tenderness, who figures
in _Astre_, a popular romance of the seventeenth century. An unpopular
minister of finance, M. de Silhouette, unpopular because he sought to
cut down unnecessary expenses in the State, saw his name transferred to
the slight and thus cheap black outline portrait called a 'silhouette'
(Sismondi, _Hist, des Franais_, vol. xix, pp. 94, 95). In the
'mansarde' roof we are reminded of Mansart, the architect who
introduced it. In 'marivaudage' the name of Marivaux is bound up, who
was noted for the affected euphuism which goes by this name; very much
as the sophist Gorgias gave [Greek: gorgiazein] to the Greek. The point
of contact between the 'fiacre' and St. Fiacre is well known: hackney
carriages, when first established in Paris, waited for their hiring in
the court of an hotel which was adorned with an image of the Scottish
saint.] To these I may add 'guillotine,' though Dr. Guillotin did not
invent this instrument of death, even as it is a baseless legend that
he died by it. Some improvements in it he made, and it thus happened
that it was called after him.

Nor less shall we find history, at all events literary history, in the
noting of the popular characters in books, who have supplied words that
have passed into common speech. Thus from Homer we have 'mentor' for a
monitor; 'stentorian' for loud-voiced; and inasmuch as, with all of
Hector's nobleness, there is a certain amount of big talk about him, he
has given us 'to hector'; [Footnote: See Col. Mure, _Language and
Literature of Ancient Greece_, vol. i. p. 350.] while the medieval
romances about the siege of Troy ascribe to Pandarus that shameful
traffic out of which his name has passed into the words 'to pander' and
'pandarism.' 'Rodomontade' is from Rodomonte, a hero of Boiardo; who
yet, it must be owned, does not bluster and boast, as the word founded
on his name seems to imply; adopted by Ariosto, it was by him changed
into Rodamonte. 'Thrasonical' is from Thraso, the braggart of Roman
comedy. Cervantes has given us 'quixotic'; Swift 'lilliputian'; to
Molire the French language owes 'tartuffe' and 'tartufferie.'
'Reynard' with us is a sort of duplicate for fox, while in French
'renard' has quite excluded the old 'volpils' being originally no more
than the proper name of the fox-hero, the vulpine Ulysses, in that
famous beast-epic of the Middle Ages, _Reineke Fuchs_. The immense
popularity of this poem we gather from many evidences--from none more
clearly than from this. 'Chanticleer' is the name of the cock, and
'Bruin' of the bear in the same poem. [Footnote: See Gnin, _Des
Variations du Langage Franais_, p.12] These have not made fortune to
the same extent of actually putting out of use names which before
existed, but contest the right of existence with them.

Occasionally a name will embody and give permanence to an error; as
when in 'America' the discovery of the New World, which belonged to
Columbus, is ascribed to another eminent discoverer, but one who had no
title to this honour, even as he was entirely guiltless of any attempt
to usurp it for himself. [Footnote: Humboldt has abundantly shown this
(_Kosmos_, vol. ii. note 457). He ascribes its general reception to its
introduction into a popular work on geography, published in 1507. The
subject has also been very carefully treated by Major, _Life of Prince
Henry the Navigator_, 1868. pp. 382-388] Our 'turkeys' are not from
Turkey, as was assumed by those who so called them, but from that New
World where alone they are native. This error the French in another
shape repeat with their 'dinde' originally 'poulet _d'Inde_,' or Indian
fowl. There lies in 'gipsy' or Egyptian, the assumption that Egypt was
the original home of this strange people; as was widely believed when
they made their first appearance in Europe early in the fifteenth
century. That this, however, was a mistake, their language leaves no
doubt; proclaiming as it does that they are wanderers from a more
distant East, an outcast tribe from Hindostan. 'Bohemians' as they are
called by the French, testifies to a similar error, to the fact that at
their first apparition in Western Europe they were supposed by the
common people in France to be the expelled Hussites of Bohemia.

Where words have not embodied an error, it will yet sometimes happen
that the sound or spelling will _to us_ suggest one. Against such in
these studies it will be well to be on our guard. Thus many of us have
been tempted to put 'domus' and 'dominus' into a connexion which really
does not exist. There has been a stage in most boys' geographical
knowledge, when they have taken for granted that 'Jutland' was so
called, not because it was the land of the Jutes, but on account of its
_jutting_ out into the sea in so remarkable a manner. At a much later
period of their education, 'Aborigines,' being the proper name of an
Italian tribe, might very easily lead astray. [Footnote: See Pauly,
_Encyclop._ s. v. Latium.] Who is there that has not mentally put the
Gulf of Lyons in some connexion with the city of the same name? We may
be surprised that the Gulf should have drawn its title from a city so
remote and so far inland, but we accept the fact notwithstanding: the
river Rhone, flowing by the one, and disemboguing in the other, seems
to offer to us a certain link of connexion. There is indeed no true
connexion at all between the two. In old texts this Gulf is generally
called _Sinus Gallicus_; in the fourteenth century a few writers began
to call it _Sinus Leonis_, the Gulf of the Lion, possibly from the
fierceness of its winds and waves, but at any rate by a name having
nothing to do with Lyons on the Rhone. The oak, in Greek [Greek: drys],
plays no inconsiderable part in the Ritual of the Druids; it is not
therefore wonderful if most students at one time of their lives have
put the two in etymological relation. The Greeks, who with so
characteristic a vanity assumed that the key to the meaning of words in
all languages was to be found in their own, did this of course. So, too,
there have not been wanting those who have traced in the name 'Jove' a
heathen reminiscence of the awful name of Jehovah; while yet, however
specious this may seem, on closer scrutiny the words declare that they
have no connexion with one another, any more than 'Iapetus' and
'Japheth,' or, I may add, than 'God' and 'good,' which yet by an
honourable moral instinct men can hardly refrain from putting into an
etymological relation with each other.

Sometimes a falsely-assumed derivation of a word has reacted upon and
modified its spelling. Thus it may have been with 'hurricane.' In the
tearing up and _hurrying_ away of the _canes_ in the sugar plantations

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