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ENGLISH OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY




 

"And when we see a Man of Milton's Wit Chime in with such a Herd, and Help on the Cry against Hirelings! We find How Easie it is for Folly and Knavery to Meet, and that they are Near of Kin, tho they bear Different Aspects. Therefor since Milton has put himself upon a Level with the Quakers in this, I will let them go together. And take as little Notice of his Buffoonry, as of their Dulness against Tythes. Ther is nothing worth Quoting in his Lampoon against the Hirelings. But what ther is of Argument in it, is fully Consider'd in what follows."--CHARLES LESLIE: Divine Right of Tithes, Pref., p. xi.

Reign of James II, 1689 back to 1685.--Example written in 1685.

"His conversation, wit, and parts, His knowledge in the noblest useful arts, Were such, dead authors could not give; But habitudes of those who live; Who, lighting him, did greater lights receive: He drain'd from all, and all they knew; His apprehension quick, his judgment true: That the most learn'd with shame confess His knowledge more, his reading only less." JOHN DRYDEN: Ode to the Memory of Charles II; Poems, p. 84.

Reign of Charles II, 1685 to 1660.--Example from a Letter to the Earl of Sunderland, dated,

"Philadelphia, 28th 5th mo. July, 1683."

"And I will venture to say, that by the help of God, and such noble Friends, I will show a Province in seven years, equal to her neighbours of forty years planting. I have lay'd out the Province into Countys. Six are begun to be seated; they lye on the great river, and are planted about six miles back. The town platt is a mile long, and two deep,--has a navigable river on each side, the least as broad as the Thames at Woolwych, from three to eight fathom water. There is built about eighty houses, and I have settled at least three hundred farmes contiguous to it."--WILLIAM PENN. The Friend, Vol. vii, p. 179.

From an Address or Dedication to Charles II.--Written in 1675.

"There is no [other] king in the world, who can so experimentally testify of God's providence and goodness; neither is there any [other], who rules so many free people, so many true Christians: which thing renders thy government more honourable, thyself more considerable, than the accession of many nations filled with slavish and superstitious souls."--ROBERT BARCLAY: Apology, p. viii.

The following example, from the commencement of Paradise Lost, first published in 1667, has been cited by several authors, to show how large a proportion of our language is of Saxon origin. The thirteen words in Italics are the only ones in this passage, which seem to have been derived from any other source.

"Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world, and all our woe, With loss of Eden; till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, Sing, heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed, In the beginning, how the Heav'ns and Earth Rose out of Chaos."--MILTON: Paradise Lost,

Book I.

Examples written during Cromwell's Protectorate, 1660 to 1650.

"The Queene was pleased to shew me the letter, the seale beinge a Roman eagle, havinge characters about it almost like the Greeke. This day, in the afternoone, the vice-chauncellor came to me and stayed about four hours with me; in which tyme we conversed upon the longe debates."--WHITELOCKE. Bucke's Class. Gram., p. 149.

"I am yet heere, and have the States of Holland ingaged in a more than ordnary maner, to procure me audience of the States Generall. Whatever happen, the effects must needes be good."--STRICKLAND: Bucke's Classical Gram., p. 149.

Reign of Charles I, 1648 to 1625.--Example from Ben Jonson's Grammar, written about 1634; but the orthography is more modern.

"The second and third person singular of the present are made of the first, by adding est and eth; which last is sometimes shortened into s. It seemeth to have been poetical licence which first introduced this abbreviation of the third person into use; but our best grammarians have condemned it upon some occasions, though perhaps not to be absolutely banished the common and familiar style."

"The persons plural keep the termination of the first person singular. In former times, till about the reign of Henry the eighth, they were wont to be formed by adding en; thus, loven, sayen, complainen. But now (whatever is the cause) it hath quite grown out of use, and that other so generally prevailed, that I dare not presume to set this afoot again: albeit (to tell you my opinion) I am persuaded that the lack hereof well considered, will be found a great blemish to our tongue. For seeing time and person be, as it were, the right and left hand of a verb, what can the maiming bring else, but a lameness to the whole body?"--Book i, Chap. xvi.

Reign of James I, 1625 to 1603.--From an Advertisement, dated 1608.

"I svppose it altogether needlesse (Christian Reader) by commending M. William Perkins, the Author of this booke, to wooe your holy affection, which either himselfe in his life time by his Christian conversation hath woon in you, or sithence his death, the neuer-dying memorie of his excellent knowledge, his great humilitie, his sound religion, his feruent zeale, his painefull labours, in the Church of God, doe most iustly challenge at your hands: onely in one word, I dare be bold to say of him as in times past Nazianzen spake of Athanasius. His life was a good definition of a true minister and preacher of the Gospell."--The Printer to the Reader.

Examples written about the end of Elizabeth's reign--1603.

"Some say, That euer 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour's Birth is celebrated, The Bird of Dawning singeth all night long; And then, say they, no Spirit dares walk abroad: The nights are wholsom, then no Planets strike, No Fairy takes, nor Witch hath pow'r to charm; So hallow'd and so gracious is the time." SHAKSPEARE: Hamlet.

"The sea, with such a storme as his bare head In hell-blacke night indur'd, would haue buoy'd up And quench'd the stelled fires. Yet, poore old heart, he holpe the heuens to raine. If wolues had at thy gate howl'd that sterne time, Thou shouldst haue said, Good porter, turne the key." SHAKSPEARE: Lear.

 





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