Page images

mote out of thine own eye.' Exod. iii. 5, 'Put off thy shoes from off thy feet.'

The conjunction because’ is used in a remarkable manner, now quite obsolete, in Matt. xx. 31, 'The multitude rebuked them because they should hold their peace,' where the original means in order that.' There is an instance of the same quoted by Bp. Lowth from Bacon's 25th Essay; but I have not discovered any parallel to it in Shakspeare.

10. I conclude this chapter by producing a few forms of speech which either from their peculiarity, or because they have now ceased to be used in the same manner, appear to deserve remark.

The letter 'a' prefixed to nouns, to adjectives, and to participles, as in the phrases to 'run a-foot,' to 'flee a-pace;' to be a-hungered,' 'a-thirst,' 'apreparing,' to 'go a-fishing,' to 'lie a-dying,' all which are to be found in our English Bible, has given rise to much discussion and difference of opinion among our grammarians. Some of the same, and others like to these, we meet with also in Shakspeare, as 'approach a-pace;' they were an-hungry;' 'looked a-squint. Bp. Lowth thinks that the 'a' in all such cases is the preposition ‘on' a little disguised by familiar use and quick pronunciation. This is confirmed by the phrase in Acts xiii. 36, 'fell on sleep,' which comes down to us from Cranmer's translation, 1539, and instead of which in Acts vii. 60, that translation, as well as


our Authorized Version, reads 'fell asleep.' Conversely, Shakspeare has in the Tempest, 'all a-fire, for all on fire, as we should now more commonly say. Forms like 'a-hungered,' may be considered as derived from verbs, after the same manner as to set at one' gave rise to the verb to 'atone.' Thus, to set on hunger would become to hunger, and thence in the passive participle to be on hungered, an hungered, a hungered, and thence by corruption, a hungry.

‘At unawares’ is a remarkable phrase which both Shakspeare and our translators of the Bible have used more than once. See Numbers xxxv. II,

which killeth any person at unawares,' but in verse 15 of the same chapter we read that killeth any person unawares,' without the ‘at.' See also Ps. xxxv. 8, 'Let destruction come upon him at unawares,' and in the Apocrypha, 2 Macc. viii. 6. The examples in Shakspeare are three; two in King Henry VI. 3rd Part :

So we, well covered with the night's black mantle,
At unawares may beat down Edward's guard.

Act iv. Sc. 2.
Either betrayed by falsehood of his guard,
Or by his foc surprised at unawares.

Ibid. Sc. 4. And one in Troilus and Cressida, Act iii. Sc. 2.

The phrase and if;' in which and is redundant,

“The slayer

See below, ch. ii. p. 30. Compare • fall at strife,' Acts xv, title.

occurs in i Cor. vii. 13, 'And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.' And again in verse 21 of the same chapter, ‘But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned.' So also Matt. xxiv. 48, ‘But and if that evil servant shall

say in his heart,' &c. In Shakspeare wherever the same phrase occurs the and is softened into an. Thus in Othello :

It is not lost, but what an if it were?

Act iii. Sc. 4.

In Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act i. Sc. I:

Indeed a sheep doth very


stray, An if the shepherd be awhile away.

The phrase "by and by, as in S. Matt. xiii. 21, When tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended, and again in S. Luke xxi. 9, 'The end is not by and by,' has gone through a considerable change since the beginning of the seventeenth century. In both those passages

and in two others of the New Testament where it occurs, viz. S. Mark vi. 25, and S. Luke xvii. 7, it is used to represent a Greek word which signifies immediately.' And in Shakspeare it has sometimes the same meaning. Thus in Romeo and Juliet, Act iii. Sc. 4:

It is so very late, that we
May call it early by and by :-Good night.

And again in the same play, Act v. Sc. 3 :

Anon comes one with light to ope the tomb;

And by and by my master drew on him. But occasionally our poet employs it more in accordance with the sense which it now bears; as in Hamlet, Act v. Sc. 2:

I dare not drink yet, madam; by and by. The classical reader may compare the different meanings of the Latin adverb 'mature.'


Of Noticeable Words found in the English Bible and in


Y noticeable words’ I mean such as are

now rarely or never used in the same

sense, or which have become altogether obsolete.

The most convenient form into which the materials intended for this chapter can be cast will be that of a comparative glossary.

What follows forms but a portion of the author's own collection ; and it is offered merely as a sample of what every reader of Shakspeare and the Bible may do for himself. ABJECTS : once in Bible, and once in Shakspeare. Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me.

Ps. XXXV. 15. We are the Queen's abjects, and must obey.

King Rich. III. Act i. Sc. 1. i. e. treated by her as abjects, or vile than as subjects ought to be treated.

persons, rather

« PreviousContinue »