Dictionary of Americanisms/a Glossarial Index to the Printed English Literature of the Thirteenth Century/Outlines of the History of the English Language..
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
1. A Glossary of Words and Phrases usually regarded as peculiar to the United States. By Little, Brown, & Company. 1859. pp. xxxii., 524.. Second Edition, greatly improved and enlarged. Boston :
2. By Trübner & Company. 1859. pp. iv., 104.. London:
3. for the Use of the Junior Classes in Colleges and the Higher Classes in Schools. By Chapman & Hall. 1859. pp. xii., 148., Professor of History and of English Literature in Queen's College, Belfast. Third Edition, revised and improved. London :
4. The Vulgar Tongue. A Glossary of Slang, Cant, and Flash Phrases, used in London from 1839 to 1859 ; Flash Songs, Essays on Flash, and a Bibliography of Canting and Slang Literature. By Bernard Quaritch. 1859. pp. 80.. Second Edition, improved and much enlarged. London :
5. A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, etc., etc. By a London Antiquary. London : John Camden Holten. 1859. pp. Ixxxviii., 160.
6. On the English Language, Past and Present. By Blakeman & Mason. 1859. pp. 238., D. D. New Edition, revised and enlarged. New York :
7. A Select Glossary of English Words used formerly in Senses different from their present. By Redfield. 1859., D. D. New York :
pp. xi., 218.
8. Rambles among Words ; their Poetry, History, Wisdom. By Scribner. 1859. pp. 302.. New York.
THE first allusion we know of to an Americanism is that of Gill, in 1621,— “Sed et ab Americanis nonnulla mutuamur, ut MAIZ et KANOA.” Since then, English literature, not without many previous wry faces, has adopted or taken back many words from this side of the water. The more the matter is looked into, the more it appears that we have no peculiar dialect of our own, and that men here, as elsewhere, have modified language or invented phrases to suit their needs. When Dante wrote his “ De Vulgari Eloquio,” he reckoned nearly a thousand distinct dialects in the Italian peninsula, and, after more than five hundred Years, it is said that by far the greater part survive. In England, eighty years ago, the county of every member of Parliament was to be known by his speech ; but in “ both Englands?, ” as they used to be called, the tendency is toward uniformity.
In spite of the mingling of races and languages in the United States, the speech of the people is more uniform than that of any European nation. This would inevitably follow from our system of commonschools, and the universal reading of newspapers. This has tended to make the common language of talk more bookish, and has thus reacted unfavorably on our literature, giving it sometimes the air of being composed in a dead tongue rather than written from a living one. It gladdens us, we confess, to see how goodly a volume of Americanisms Mr. Bartlett has been enabled to gather. for it shows that our language is alive. It is only from the roots that a language can be refreshed ; a dialect that is taught grows more and more pedantic, and becomes at last as unlit a vehicle for living thought as monkish Latin. This is the danger which our literature has to guard against from the universal Schoolmaster, who wars upon home-bred phrases, and enslaves the mind and memory of his victims, as far as may be, to the best models of English composition,—that is to say, to the writers whose style is faultlessly correct, but has no blood in it. No language, after it has faded into diction, none that cannot suck up feeding juices from the mother-earth of a rich common-folk-talk, can bring forth a sound and lusty book. True vigor of expression does not pass from page to page, but from man to man, where the brain is kindled and the lips are limbered by downright living interests and by passions in the very throe. Language is the soil of thought; and our own especially is a rich leaf-mould, the slow growth of ages, the shed foliage of feeling, fancy, and imagination, which has suffered an earth-change, that the vocal forest, as Howell called it, may clothe itself anew with living green. There is death in the Dictionary ; and where language is limited by convention, the ground for expression to grow in is straitened also, and we get a potted literature, Chinese dwarfs instead of healthy trees.
We are thankful to Mr, Bartlett for the onslaught he makes in his Introduction upon the highfaluting style so common among us. But we are rather amused to find him falling so easily into that Anglo-Sax on trap which is the common pitfall of those half-learned men among whom we should be slow to rank him.1 He says, “ The unfortunate tendency to favor the Latin at the expense of the Saxon element of our language, which social and educational causes have long tended to foster in the mother country, has with us received an additional impulse from the great admixture of foreigners in our population.” (p. xxxii.) We have underscored the words of Latin origin, and find that they include all the nouns, all the adjectives but two, anil three out of five verbs,— one of these last (the auxiliary have) being the same in both Latin and Saxon. Speaking of the Bostonians, Mr. Bartlett says, “ The great extent to which the scholars of New England have carried the study of the German language and literature for some years back, added to the very general neglect of the old master-pieces of English composition, have [has] had the effect of giving to the writings of many of them an artificial, unidiomatic character, which has an inexpressibly unpleasant effect to those who are not habituated to it.” (p. xxv. We again underscore the unSaxon words.) Now if there be any short cut to the Anglo-Saxon, it is through the German ; and how far the Bostonians deserve the reproach of a neglect of old English masterpieces we do not pretend to say, but the first modern reprint of the best works of Latimer, More, Sidney, Fuller, Selden, Browne, and Feltham was made in Boston, under the care of the late Dr. Alexander Young. We have no wish to defend Boston ; we mean only to call Mr. Bartlett's attention to the folly of asking people to write in a dialect which no longer exists. No man can write offhand a page of Saxon English; no man with pains can write one and hope to be commonly understood. At least let Mr. Bartlett practise what he preaches. When a deputation of wig-makers waited on George III. to protest against the hairpowder-tax, the mob, seeing that one of them wore his own hair, ducked him forthwith in Tower-Ditch,— a very AngloSaxon comment on his inconsistency. We should not have noticed these passages in Mr. Bartlett’s Introduction, had he not, after eleven years’ time to weigh them in, let them remain as they stood in his former edition, of 1848.
In other respects the volume before us greatly betters its forerunner. That contained many words which were rather vulgarisms than provincialisms, and more properly English than American. Almost all these Mr. Bartlett has left out in revising his book. Once or twice, however, he has retained as Americanisms phrases which are proverbial, such as “ born in the woods to be scared of an owl,” “ to carry the foot in the hand,” and “ hallooing before you're out of the woods,” But it will be easier to follow the alphabetical order in our short list of adversaria and comments.
ALEWIFE. We doubt if Mr. Bartlett is right in deriving this from a supposed Indian word aloof. At least, Hakluyt speaks of a fish called “old-wives”; and in some other old book of travels we have seen the name derived from the likeness of the fish, with its good, round belly, to the mistress of an alehouse.
BANK-BILL. Is not an Americanism. It is used by Swift, Pope, and Fielding.
BOGUS Mr. Bartlett quotes a derivation of this word from the name of a certain Borghese, said to have been a notorious counterfeiter of bank-notes. But is it not more probably a corruption of bagasse, which, as applied to the pressed sugarcane, means simply something worthless ? The word originally meant a worthless woman, whence our “baggage” in the same sense.
CHAINED-LIGHTNING. More commonly chain-lightning, and certainly not a Western phrase exclusively.
CHEBACCO-BOAT. Mr. Bartlett says, “ This word is doubtless a corruption of Chedabucto, the name of a bay in Nova Scotia, from which vessels are fitted out for fishing.” This is going a great way down East for what could be found nearer. Chebacco is (or was, a century since) the name of a part of Ipswich, Massachusetts.
To FALL, a tree Mr. Bartlett considers a corruption of to fill. But, as we have commonly heard the words used, to fell means merely to cut down, while to full means to make it fall in a given direction.
To Go UNDER. “ To perish. An expression adopted from the figurative language of the Indians by the Western trappers and residents of the prairies.” Not the first time that the Indians have had undue credit for poetry. The phrase is undoubtedly a translation of the German untergehen (fig.), to perish.
HAT. “ Our Northern women have almost discarded the word bonnet, except in sun-bonnet, and use the term hat instead. A like fate has befallen the word gown, for which both they and their Southern sisters commonly use frock or dress.” We do not know where Mr. Bartlett draws his Northern line ; but in Massachusetts we never heard the word hat or frock used in this sense. They are so used in England, and hit is certainly, frock probably, nearer Anglo-Saxon than bonnet and gown.
IMPROVE. Mr. Bartlett quotes Dr. Franklin as saying in 1789, “ When I left New England in the year 1723, this word had never been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of ameliorated or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mather’s, entitled Remarkable Providences.” Dr. Increase Mather’s Providences was published in 1684. In 1679 a synod assembled at Boston, and the result of its labors was published in the same year by John Foster, under the title, Necessity of a Reformation. On the sixth page we find, “ Taverns being for the entertainment of strangers, which, if they were improved to that end only,” etc. Oddly enough, our copy of this tract has Dr. Mather’s autograph on the title-page. But Mr. Bartlett should have referred to Bichardson, who shows that the word had been in use long before with the same meaning.
To INHEAVEN. “A word invented by the Boston transcendentalists.” And Mr. Bartlett quotes from Judd’s Margaret. Mr. Judd was a good scholar, and the word is legitimately compounded, like ensphere and imparadise; but he did not invent it. Dante uses the word : —
“ Perfetta vita ed alto merto inciela
Donna piu su.”
LADIES’ TRESSES. “ The popular name, in the Southern States, for an herb,” etc. In the Northern States also. Sometimes Ladies’ Traces.
LIEFER. “ A colloquialism, also used in England.” Excellent Anglo-Saxon, and used wherever English is spoken.
LOAFER. We think there can be no doubt that this word is German. Laufen in some parts of Germany is pronounced lofen, and we once heard a German student say to his friend,_Ich lauf’ (lofe) hier bis du wiederkehrst: and he began accordingly to saunter up and down, — in short, to loaf about.
To MULL. “To soften, to dispirit,” Mr. Bartlett quotes Margaret,— “ There has been a pretty considerable mullin going on among the doctors.” But mullin here means stirring, bustling in an underhand way, and is a metaphor derived from mulling wine. Mull, in this sense, is probably a corruption of mell, from Old Fr. mesler, to mix.
To BE NOWHERE (in the sense of failure) is not an Americanism, but TurfSlang.
SALLY-LUN, a kind of cake, is English.
To SAVE, meaning to kill game so as to get it, is not confined to the Far West, but is common to hunters in all parts of the country.
SHEW, for showed. Mr. Bartlett calls this the “ shibboleth of Bostonians.” However this may be, it is simply an archaism, not a vulgarism. Show, like blow, crow, grow, seems formerly to have had what is called a strong preterite. Shew is used by Lord Cromwell and Hector Boece.
SLASHES. “Swampy or wet lands overgrown with bushes. Southern and Western.” Used also in New York.
SPAN' of horses is Dutch (High or Low).
To WALK SPANISH; to “walk” a boy out of any place by the waistband of his trousers, or by any lower part easily prehensible. N. E. This is, perhaps, as old as Philip and Mary.
To SPREAD ONE’S SELF is defined by Mr. Bartlett “ to exert one’s self.” It means rather to exert one’s self ostentatiously. It is a capital metaphor, derived, we fancy, from the turkey-cock or peacock, — like the Italian pavoneggiarsi, We find in the Tatler “spreading her graces in assemblies.” This last, however, may be a Gallicism, from etaler.
STRAW BAIL. “ Worthless bail, bail given by ‘men of straw.’” This is surely no Americanism, and we have seen its origin very differently explained, namely, that men willing for a fee to become bail walked in the neighborhood of the courts with straws stuck in their shoes, — though Mr. Bartlett’s explanation is ingenious.
SUNFISH. Mr. Bartlett thinks this a corruption; but the resemblance of the fish, as seen in the water, to the ordinary portraits of the sun in almanacs and on tavern-signs seems to us enough to account for the name.
A few phrases occur to us that have escaped Mr. Bartlett.
A CARRY : portage. Passim.
CAT-NAP: a short doze. New England.
CHOWDER-HEAD: muddle-brain. New England.
COHEES (accent on the last syllable) : term applied to the people of certain settlements in Western Pennsylvania, from their use of the archaic form, Quo’ he.
To COTTON TO.
DON’ KNOW AS I KNOW : the nearest your true Yankee ever comes to acknowledging ignorance.
GANDER-PARTY : a social gathering of men only. New England.
LAP-TEA : where the guests are too many to sit at table. Massachusetts.
LAST OF PEA-TIME : day after fair.
LOSE-LAID (loose-laid): weaver’s term, and probably English ; means weak-willed. Massachusetts.
MOONGLADE : a beautiful word for the track of moonlight on the water. Massachusetts.
OFF-OX : an unmanageable fellow. New England.
OLD DRIVER : } euphemistic for the
OLD SPLIT-FOOT : } Devil.
ONHITCH (unhitch) : to pull trigger.
ROTE : sound of the surf before a storm. Used also in England. New England.
SEEM : I can’t seem to see, for I can’t see. She couldn’t seem to be suited, for couldn't be suited.
STATE-HOUSE. This seems an Americanism. Did we invent it, or borrow it from the Sad-huys ( town-hall) of New Amsterdam ? As an instance of the tendency to uniformity in American usage, we notice that in Massachusetts what has always been the State-House is beginning to be called the Capitol. We are sorry for it.
STRIKE :} terms of the game of nineSTRING: } pins.
SWALE : a hollow. New England. English also; see Forby.
TORMENTED : euphemistic, as “not a tormented cent.” New England.
We have gone through Mr. Bartlett’s book with the attention which a work so well done deserves, and are thoroughly impressed with the amount of care and labor to which it bears witness. We have quarrelled with it wherever we could, because it cannot fail to become the standard authority in its department. Its value will increase from year to year. For instance, the Spanish words, in which it is especially rich, are doomed to undergo strange metamorphoses on Anglo-Saxon lips ; for it is the instinct of the unlearned to naturalize words as fast as possible, and to compel them to homebred shapes and sounds. There is often an unwitting humor in these perversions,2 and they are always interesting as showing that it is the nature of man to use words with understanding, However appearances might lead us to an opposite conclusion.
The least satisfactory part of Mr. Bartlett’s book is the Appendix, in which he has got together a few proverbs and similes, which, it seems to us, do no kind of justice to the humor and invention of the people. Most of them have no characteristic at all, except coarseness. We hope there is nothing peculiarly American in such examples as these :—“Evil actions, like crushed rotten eggs, stink in the nostrils of all”; and “ Vice is a skunk that smells awfully rank when stirred up by the pole of misfortune.” These have, beside, an artificial air, and are quite too long-skirted for working proverbs, in which language always “takes off its coat to it, if we may use a proverbial phrase, left out by Mr. Bartlett. We confess, we looked for something racier and of a more puckery flavor. One hears such now and then, mostly from the West,— like “Mean enough to steal acorns from a blind hog'’; “I take my tea bar-foot,” the answer of a backwoodsman, when asked if he would have cream and sugar. Some are unmistakably Eastern : as, “ All deacons are good,— but there’s odds in deacons”; “He’s a whole team and the dog under the wagon’ ; “That’s firstrate and a half”; “Handy as a pocket in a shirt” (ironical). Almost every county has some good die-sinker in language, who mints phrases that pass into the currency of a whole neighborhood. We picked up two such the other day, both of the same coinage. The countyjail (the only stone building where all the dwellings were of wood) was described as “the house whose underpinning comes up to the eaves " ; while the place unmentionable to ears polite was “ where they don’t rake up the fires at night.” A man, speaking to us once of a very rocky clearing, said, “ Stone’s got a pretty heavy mortgage on that farm ”; and another, wishing to give us a notion of the thievishness common in a certain village, capped his climax thus: — “ Dishonest! why, they have to take in their stone walls o’ nights.” Any one who has driven over a mountain-stream by one of those bridges made of slabs will feel the force of a term we once heard applied to a parson so shaky in character that no dependence could be placed on him, — “A slab-bridged kind o’ feller ! ” During some very cold weather, a few years ago, we picked a notable saying or two. “ The fire don’t seem to git no kind o’ purchase on the cold.” “They say Cap’n M’Clure’s gone through the Northwest Passage.” “Has'? Think likely, and left the door open, too ! ” Elder Knapp, the once noted itinerant preacher, had a kind of unwashed poetry in him. We heard him say once,—
“ Do you want to know when a Unitarian” (we think it was) “ will get into heaven ? When hell’s froze over, and he can skate in!” We quote merely for illustration, and do not mean to compare the Elder with Taylor or South.
The element of exaggeration has often been remarked on as typical of American humor. In Dr. Petri’s ‘‘ Compact Handbook of Foreign Words,”3 (from which Mr. Bartlett will be surprised to learn that Hoco-pocos is a nickname for the Whig party in the United States,) we are told that the word humbug “ is commonly used for the exaggerations of the North-Americans.” One would think the dream of Columbus half-fulfilled, and that Europe had found in the West the near way to Orientalism, at least of diction. But it seems to us that a great deal of what is set down as mere exaggeration is more fitly to he called intensity and picturesqueness, symptoms of the imaginative faculty in full health and strength, though producing, as yet, only the raw material.4 By-
- This, perhaps, was to be expected; for he calls Dr. Latham’s English Language “ unquestionably the most valuable work on English philology and grammar which has yet appeared,” (p. xxx., note,) and refers to the first:edition of 1841. If Mr. Bartlett must allude at all to Dr. Latham, (who is reckoned a great blunderer among English philologers,)he should at least have referred to the second edition of his work, in two volumes, 1855.↩
- We remember once hearing a man say of something, that it was written in a “ very grand delinquent [grandiloquent] style.’’—a phrase certainly not without modern application. We have heard also Angola-Saxons and Angular-Saxons,— the latter, at least, not an unhappy perversion.↩
- Gedrängtes Handbuch der Fremdwörter, etc., etc., Leipzig, 1852.↩
- † Take, for instance, the “negro so black that charcoal made a chalk-mark on him,” or the “shingle painted to look so like stone that it sank in water,” — itself overpersuaded by the skill of the painter. We overheard the following dialogue last winter. (Thermometer _12°.) “Cold, this morning.”—“That’s so. Hear what happened to Joe?”—“No, I didn’t."—“ Well, the doctors had ben givin’ him one thing another with mere’ry in’t, and he walked out down to the Post-Office and back, and when he come home he kind o’ felt somethin’ hard in his boots. Come to pull ’em off, they found a lump o’ quicksilver in both on ’em.” —“ Sho!” — “ Fact; it had shrunk clean down through him with the cold.” This rapid power of dramatizing a dry fact, of putting it into flesh and blood, and the instantaneous conception of Joe as a human thermometer, seem to us more like the poetical faculty than anything else. It is, at any rate, humor, and not mere quickness of wit,—the deeper, and not the shallower quality. Humor tends always to overplus of expression ; wit is mathematically precise. Captain Basil Hall denied that our people had humor; but did he possess it himself? for, if not, he would never find it. Did he always feel the point of what was said to himself? We doubt, because we happen to know a and-by, perhaps, the world will see it worked up into poem and picture, aud Europe, which will be hard-pushed for originality ere long, may thank us for a new sensation. The French continue to find Shakspeare exaggerated, because he treated English just as our folk do when they speak of “ a steep price,” or say that they “freeze to” a thing. The first postulate of an original literature is, that a people use their language as if they owned it. Even Burns contrived to write very poor English. Vulgarisms are often only poetry in the egg. The late Horace Mann, in one of his Addresses, commented at some length on the beauty of the French phrase s’orienter, and called on his young hearers to practise it in life. There was not a Yankee in his audience whose problem had not always been to find out what was “about east ” and shape his course accordingly. The Germans have a striking proverb : Was die Gans gedacht, das der Schwan vollbracht: What the goose but thought, that the swan fullbrought; or, to de-Saxonize it a little, pace Mr. Bartlett, What the goose Conceived, that the swan achieved;—and we cannot help thinking, that the life, invention, and vigor shown in our popular speech, and the freedom with which it is shaped to the need of those who wield it, are of the best omen for our having a swan at last.↩
- Even persons not otherwise interested in the study of provincialisms will find Mr. Bartlett's book an entertaining one. The passages he quotes in illustration are sometimes strangely comic. Here is one : “To SAVE. To make sure, i. e., to kill game, or an enemy, whether man or beast. To get conveys the same meaning.... The notorious Judge Wof Texas ..... once said in a speech at a barbecue, (after his political opponent had been apologizing for taking a man’s life in a. duel,)— chance he once had given him in vain. The Captain was walking up and down the piazza of a country tavern while the coach changed horses. A thunderstorm was going on, and, with that pleasant European air of indirect self-compliment in condescending to American merit, which is so conciliating, he said to a countryman lounging near, “ Pretty heavy thunder, you have here.” The other, who had taken his measure at a glance, drawled gravely, “ Waal, we du, considerin' the number of inhabitants.”↩
- “ ‘ The gentleman need hot make such a fuss about getting such a rascal; everybody knows that I have shot three, and two of them I saved.' ”↩
- We have but one fault to find with Mr. Bartlett’s Dictionary, and that it shares with all other provincial glossaries. No accents are given. No stranger could tell, for example, whether hacmatack should be pronounced hackmatack, hacma'tack, or hacmatack. The value of Mr. Wright’s otherwise excellent dictionary is very much impaired by this neglect. Ignorance of the pronunciation enhances tenfold the difficulty of tracing analogies or detecting corruptions.↩
- The title of Mr. Coleridge’s volume (the second on our list) is enough to give scholars a notion of its worth. It is the first instalment of the proposed comprehensive English Dictionary of the Philological Society, a work which, when finished, will be beyond measure precious to all students of their mother-tongue. At the end of the volume will be found the Plan of the Society, with minute directions for all those who wish to give their help. Cooperation on this side the water will be gladly welcomed.↩
- Of Dean Trench’s two volumes, one is new, and the other a revised edition. No one has done more than he to popularize the study of words, which is only another name for the study of thought. His new book has the same agreeable qualities which marked its forerunners, maintaining an easy conversational level of scholarly gossip and reflection, the middle ground between learning and information for the million. Without great philological attainments, and without any pretence of such, he gives the results of much good reading.↩
- Mr. Craik’s book is a compact and handy manual.↩
- The SLANG Dictionaries are both as illdone as possible, and the author of the smaller one deserves to be put under the pump for taking the name of the illustrious Ducange, one of those megatheria of erudition and industry that we should look on as an extinct species, but for such men as the brothers Grimm. The larger book has the merit of including a bibliography of the subject, for which the author deserves our thanks, though in other respects showing no least qualification for the task he has undertaken. We trust there are not many “London Antiquaries ” so ignorant as he. One curious fact we glean from his volume, namely, the currency among the London populace of certain Italian words, chiefly for the smaller pieces of money. What a strident invasion of organ-grinders does this seem to indicate ! The author gives them thus: “ Oney saltee, a penny ; Dooe sal tee, twopence ; Tray saltee, threepence,” etc., and adds, “ These numerals, as will be seen, are of mongrel origin, — the French, perhaps, predominating.” ! He must be the gentleman who, during the Exhibition of 1851, wrote on his door, “No French spoken here,” Dooe, saltee and tray saltee differ little but in spelling from their Italian originals, due soldi and tre soldi. On another page we find molto cattivo transmogrified into “ inultee kertever, very bad.” Very bad, indeed! For one more good thing beside the Bibliography, we are indebted to the “ London Antiquary.” In his Introduction he has reprinted the earliest list of cant words in the language, that made by Thomas Harman in Elizabeth’s time. We wish we could only feel sure of the accuracy of the reprint. In this list we find already the adjective rum meaning good, fine,— a word that has crept into general use among the lower classes in London, without ever gaining promotion. The fate of new words in this respect is curious. Often, if they are convenient, or have knack of lodging easily in the memory, they work slowly upward. The Scotch word flunky is a case in point. Our first knowledge of it in print is from Fergusson’s Poems. Burns advertised it more widely, and Carlyle seems fairly to have transplanted it into the English of the day. As we believe its origin is still obscure, we venture on a guess at it. French allies brought some words into Scotland that have rooted themselves, like the Edinburgh gardyloo. Flunky is defined in Fergusson’s glossary as “ a better kind of servant.” This is an exact definition of the Scotch hench-man, the most probable original of which is haunch-man or bodyguard. Turn haunch-man into French and you get flanquier; corrupt it back into Scotch and you have flunky. Whatever liberties we take with French words, the Gauls have their revenge when they take possession of an English one. We once saw an Avis of the police in Paris, regulating les chiens et les boule dogues, dogs and bull-dogs.↩
- Vocabularies of vulgarisms are of interest for the archaisms both of language and pronunciation winch we find in them. The dictionaries say coverlet, as if the word were a diminutive ; the rustic persists in the termination lid, which points to the French lit, bed. On the other hand, he still says hankc-rcher, having been taught so by his betters, though they have taken up the final /'again. Sewel, in the Introduction to his Dutch Dictionary, l691, gives henketsjer, and Voltaire, forty years later, hankercher, as the received pronunciation. Sewed tells us also that the significant I was still sounded in would and should, as it still is by the peasantry in many parts of England.↩
- Mr. Swinton’s book, the last on our list, is an entertaining one, and gives proof of thought, though sometimes smothered in fine writing. It is written altogether too loosely for a work on philology, one of the exactest of sciences. But we have a graver fault to find with Mr. Swinton, and that is for his neglect to give credit where he is indebted. He seems even desirous to conceal his obligations. The general acknowledgment of his Preface is by no means enough, where the debt is so large. The great merit of Dr. Richardson’s Dictionary being the number of illustrative passages he has brought together, it is hardly fair in Mr. Swinton so often to make a show of learning with what he has got at second hand from the lexicographer. Dr. Trench could also make large reclamations, and several others. There is beside an unpleasant assumption of superiority in the book. An author who says that paganus means village, who makes ocula the plural of oculus, and who supposes that in petto means in little, is not qualified to settle Dr. Webster’s claims as a philologer, much less to treat him with contempt. The first two blunders we have cited may be slips of the pen or the press, but this cannot be true of the many wrong etymologies into which Mr. Swinton has fallen. We hope that in another edition he will correct these faults, for he shows a power to appreciate ideas which is worth more than mere scholarship, vastly more than the reputation of it among the unscholarly.↩