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is no more than eight thousand, and that of Homer, including the _Hymns_
as well as both _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, is about nine thousand. In the
English Bible the different words are reckoned by Mr. G.P. Marsh in his
lectures on the English language at rather fewer than six thousand.
Those in the Greek Testament I have learned by actual count to be not
far from five thousand five hundred.

Some German writers on Greek grammar maintain that they could teach
Plato and Demosthenes useful lessons concerning Greek moods and tenses,
even as the ancient Athenians, according to the fable of Phædrus,
contended that they understood squealing better than a pig. However this
may be, any one of us to-day, thanks to the Concordance of Mrs. Clarke
and the Lexicon of Alexander Schmidt, may know much in regard to
Shakespeare's use of language which Shakespeare himself cannot have
known. One particular as to which he must have been ignorant, while we
may have knowledge, is concerning his employment of terms denominated
_apa? ?e??µe?a_.

The phrase _apa? ?e??µe?a_ - literally, _once spoken_ - may be traced
back, I think, to the Alexandrian grammarians, centuries before our era,
who invented it to describe those words which they observed to occur
once, and _only once_, in any author or literature. It is so convenient
an expression for statistical commentators on the Bible, and on the
classics as well, that they will not willingly let it die.

The list of _apa? ?e??µe?a_ - that is, words used once and _only
once_ - in Shakespeare is surprisingly long. It embraces a greater
multitude than any man can easily number. Nevertheless, I have counted
those beginning with two letters. The result is that the apa? ?e??µe?a
with initial _a_ are 364, and those with initial _m_ are 310. There is
no reason, that I know of, to suppose the census with these initials to
be proportionally larger than that with other letters. If it is not,
then the words occurring only once in all Shakespeare cannot be less
than five thousand, and they are probably a still greater legion.

The number I have culled from one hundred and forty-six pages of Schmidt
is 674. At this rate the total on the fourteen hundred and nine pages of
the entire Lexicon would foot up 6504. It is possible, then, that
Shakespeare discarded, after once trying them, more different words than
fill and enrich the whole English Bible. The old grammarians tell us
that a certain part of speech was called _supine_, because it was very
seldom needed, and therefore almost always lying _on its back_ - i.e.
in Latin, _supinus_. The supines of Shakespeare outnumber the employés
of most authors.

The array of Shakespearian _apa? ?e??µe?a_ appears still vaster if we
compare it with expressions of the same nature in the Scriptures and in
Homer. In the English Bible words with the initials _a_ and _m_ used
once only are 132 to 674 with the same initials in Shakespeare. The
scriptural _once-onlys_ would be more than twice as many as we find them
were they as frequent in proportion to their total vocabulary as his

The Homeric _apa? ?e??µe?a_ with initial _m_ are 78, but were they as
numerous in proportion to Homer's whole world of words as Shakespeare's
are, they would run up to 186; that is, to more than twice as many as
their actual number.

In the Greek New Testament I have enumerated 63 _apa? ?e??µe?a_
beginning with the letter _m_ - a larger number than you would expect,
for it is as large as that in both English Testaments beginning with
that same letter, which is also exactly 63. It indicates a wider range
of expression in the authors of the Greek original than in their English

The 310 Shakespearian words with initial _m_ used _once only_ I have
also compared with the whole verbal inventory of our language so far as
it begins with that letter. They make up one-fifth almost of that
entire stock, which musters in Webster only 1641 words. You will at once
inquire, "What is the _nature_ of these rejected Shakespearian vocables,
which he seems to have viewed as milk that would bear no more than one

The percentage of _classical_ words among them is great - greater indeed
than in the body of Shakespeare's writings. According to the analysis of
Weisse, in an average hundred of Shakespearian words one-third are
classical and two-thirds Saxon. But then all the classical elements have
inherent meaning, while half of the Saxon have none. We may hence infer
that of the significant words in Shakespeare one-half are of classical
derivation. Now, of the apa? ?e??µe?a with initial _a_, I call 262 words
out of 364 classical, and with initial _m_, 152 out of 310; that is, 414
out of 674, or about four-sevenths of the whole Shakespearian host
beginning with those two letters. In doubtful cases I have considered
those words only as classical the first etymology of which in Webster is
from a classical or Romance root. In the biblical words used once only
the classical portion is enormous - namely, not less than sixty-nine per
cent. - while the classical percentage in Shakespearian words of the same
class is no more than sixty-one.

Among the 674 _a_ and _m_ Shakespearian words occurring once only the
proportion of words now _obsolete_ is unexpectedly small. Of 310 such
words with initial _m_, only one-sixth, or 51 at the utmost, are now
disused, either in sense or even in form. Of this half-hundred a few are
used in Shakespeare, but not at present, as verbs; thus, to _maculate_,
to _miracle_, to _mud_, to _mist_, to _mischief_, to _moral_ - also
_merchandized_ and _musicked_. Another class now wellnigh unknown are
_misproud, misdread, mappery, mansionry, marybuds, masterdom,
mistership, mistressship._

Then there are slight variants from our modern orthography or meanings,
as _mained_ for maimed, _markman_ for marksman, _make_ for mate,
_makeless_ for mateless, _mirable, mervaillous, mess_ for mass,
_manakin, minikin, meyny_ for many, _momentarry_ for momentary,
_moraler, mountainer, misgraffing, misanthropos, mott_ for motto, to
_mutine, mi'nutely_ for every minute.

None seem wholly dead words except the following eighteen: To _mammock_,
tear; _mell_, meddle; _mose_, mourn; _micher_, truant; _mome_, fool;
_mallecho_, mischief; _maund_, basket; _marcantant_, merchant; _mun_,
sound of wind; _mure_, wall; _meacock_, henpecked; _mop_, grin;
_militarist_, soldier; _murrion_, affected with murrain; _mammering_,
hesitating; _mountant_, raised up; _mered_, only; _man-entered_, grown

About one-tenth of the remaining _apa? ?e??µe?a_ with initial _m_ are
descriptive compounds. Among them are the following adjectives:
_Maiden-tongued, maiden-widowed, man-entered_ (before noted as
obsolete), _many-headed, marble-breasted, marble-constant,
marble-hearted, marrow-eating, mean-apparelled, merchant-marring,
mercy-lacking, mirth-moving, moving-delicate, mock-water, more-having,
mortal-breathing, mortal-living, mortal-staring, motley-minded,
mouse-eaten, moss-grown, mouth-filling, mouth-made, muddy-mettled,
momentary-swift, maid-pale_. From this list, which is nearly complete,
it is evident that such compounds as may be multiplied at will form but
a small fraction of the words that are used _once only_ by Shakespeare.

The words used _once only_ by Shakespeare are often so beautiful and
poetical that we wonder how they could fail to be his favorites again
and again. They are jewels that might hang twenty years before our eyes,
yet never lose their lustre. Why were they never shown but once? They
remind me of the exquisite crystal bowl from which I saw a Jewess and
her bridegroom drink in Prague, and which was then dashed in pieces on
the floor of the synagogue, or of the Chigi porcelain painted by
Raphael, which as soon as it had been once removed from the Farnesina
table was thrown into the Tiber. To what purpose was this waste? Why
should they be used up with once using? Specimens of this sort, which
all poets but Shakespeare would have paraded as pets many a time, are
multifarious. Among a hundred others never used but once, we have
_magical, mirthful, mightful, mirth-moving, moonbeams, moss-grown,
mundane, motto, matin, mural, multipotent, mourningly, majestically,
marbled, martyred, mellifluous, mountainous, meander, magnificence,
magnanimity, mockable, merriness, masterdom, masterpiece, monarchize,
menaces, marrowless_.

Again, a majority of Shakespearian _apa? ?e??µe?a_ being familiar to us
as household words, it seems impossible that he who had tried them once
should have need of them no more. Instances - all with initial _m_ - are
as follows: _mechanics, machine, maxim, mission, mode, monastic, marsh,
magnify, malcontent, majority, manly, malleable, malignancy, maritime,
manna, manslaughter, masterly, market-day-folks, maid-price, mealy,
meekly, mercifully, merchant-like, memorial, mercenary, mention,
memorandums, mercurial, metropolis, miserably, mindful, meridian, medal,
metaphysics, ministration, mimic, misapply, misgovernment, misquote,
misconstruction, monstrously, monster-like, monstrosity, mutable,
moneyed, monopoly, mortise, mortised, muniments_, to _moderate_, and
_mother-wit_ These words, and five thousand more equally excellent,
which have remained part of the language of the English-speaking world
for three centuries since Shakespeare, and will no doubt continue to
belong to it for ever, we are apt to declare he should have worn in
their newest gloss, not cast aside so soon. Why was he as shy of
repeating any one of them even once as Hudibras was of showing his
wit? -

Who bore it about,
As if afraid to wear it out
Except on holidays or so,
As men their best apparel do.

This question, why a full third of Shakespeare's verbal riches was never
brought to light more than once, is probably one which nobody can at
present answer even to his own satisfaction. Yet the phenomenon is so
remarkable that every one will try after his own fashion to account for
it. My own attempt at a provisional explanation I will present in the
latter part of this paper.

Let us first, however, notice another question concerning the _apa?
?e??µe?a_ - namely, that which respects their _origin_. Where did they
come from? how far did Shakespeare make them? and how far were they
ready to his hand? No approach to answering this inquiry can be made for
some years. Yet as to this matter let us rejoice that the unique
dictionary of the British Philological Society is now near publication.
This work, slowly elaborated by thousands of co-workers in many devious
walks of study on both sides of the Atlantic, aims to exhibit the first
appearance in a book of every English word. In regard to the great bulk
of Shakespeare's diction it will enable us ten years hence to determine
how much of it was known to literature before him, and how much of it he
himself gathered or gleaned in highways and byways, or caused to ramify
and effloresce from Saxon or classical roots and trunks, thus "endowing
his purposes with words to make them known." Meantime, we are left to
conjectures. As of his own coinage I should set down such vocables as
_motley-minded, mirth-moving, mockable, marbled, martyred, merriness,
marrowless, mightful, multipotent, masterdom, monarchize_, etc. etc.

But, however much of his linguistic treasury Shakespeare shall be proved
to have inherited ready-made - whatever scraps he may have stolen at the
feast of languages - it is clear that he was an imperial creator of
language, and lived while his mother-tongue was still plastic. Having a
mint of phrases in his own brain, well might he speak with the contempt
he does of those "fools who for a tricksy word defy the matter;" that
is, slight or disregard it. He never needed to do that. Words were
"correspondent to his command, and, Ariel-like, did his spiriting

In a thousand cases, however, Shakespeare cannot have rejected words
through fear lest he should repeat them. It has taken three centuries
for the world to ferret out his _apa? ?e??µe?a_: can we believe that he
knew them all himself? Unless he were the Providence which numbers all
hairs of the head, he had not got the start of the majestic world so far
as that, however myriad-minded we may consider him. An instinct which
would have rendered him aware of each and every individual of five
thousand that he had employed once only would be as inconceivable as
that of Falstaff, which made him discern the heir-apparent in Prince Hal
when disguised as a highwayman. In short, Shakespeare could not be
conscious of all the words he had once used, more than Brigham Young
could recognize all the wives he had once wedded.

In the absence of other theories concerning the reasons for
Shakespeare's _apa? ?e??µe?a_ being so abundant, I throw out a
suggestion of my own till a better one shall supplant it.

Shakespeare's forte lay in characterization, and that endlessly
diversified. But when he sketched each several character it seems that
he was never content till he had either found or fabricated the aptest
words possible for representing its form and pressure most true to life.
No two characters being identical in any particular more than two faces
are, no two descriptions, as drawn by his genius, could repeat many of
the selfsame characterizing words. Each of his vocables thus became like
each of the seven thousand constituents of a locomotive, which fits the
one niche it was ordained to fill, but everywhere else is out of place,
and even _dislocated_. The more numerous his ethical differentiations,
the more his language was differentiated.

His personages were as multifarious as have been portrayed by the whole
band of Italian painters; but, as a wizard in words, he resembled the
magician in mosaic, who can delineate in stone every feature of those
portraits because he can discriminate and imitate shades of color more
numberless than even Shakespeare's words.

It is hard to believe that the Shakespearian characters were born, like
Athene from the brain of Zeus, in panoplied perfection. They grew. The
play of _Troilus_ was a dozen years in growth. According to the best
commentators, "Shakespeare, after having sketched out a play on the
fashion of his youthful taste and skill, returned in after years to
enlarge it, remodel it, and enrich it with the matured fruits of years
of observation and reflection. _Love's Labor Lost_ first appeared in
print with the annunciation that it was 'newly corrected and augmented,'
and _Cymbeline_ was an entire _rifacimento_ of an early dramatic
attempt, showing not only matured fulness of thought, but laboring
intensity of compressed expression." So speaks Verplanck, and his
utterance is endorsed by Richard Grant White.

Such being the facts, it is clear that Shakespeare treated his dramas as
Guido did the _Cleopatra_, which he would not let leave his studio till
ten years after the non-artistic world deemed that portrait fully
finished. Meantime, the painter in moments of inspiration was pencilling
his canvas with curious touches, each approximating nearer his ideal. So
the poet sought to find out acceptable words, or what he terms "an army
of good words." He poured his new wine into new bottles, and never was
at rest till he had arrayed his ideas in that fitness of phrase which
comes only by fits.

Had he survived fifty years longer, I suppose he would to the last have
been perfecting his phrases, as we read in Dionysius of Halicarnassus
that Plato up to the age of eighty-one was "combing and curling, and
weaving and unweaving, his writings after a variety of fashions."
Possibly, the great dramatist would at last have corrected one of his
couplets as a modern commentator has done for him, so that it would

Find _leaves_ on trees, _stones_ in the running brooks,
Sermons in _books_, and _all_ in everything.

To speak seriously with a writer in the _Encyclopædia Britannica:_ "His
manner in diction was progressive, and this progress has been deemed so
clearly traceable in his plays that it can enable us to determine their
chronological sequence." The result is, that while other authors satiate
and soon tire us, Shakespeare's speech for ever "breathes an
indescribable freshness."

Age cannot wither
Nor custom stale his infinite variety.

In the last line I have quoted there is a apa? ?e??µe?a but it is a word
which I think you would hardly guess. It is the last word - _variety_.

On every average page of Shakespeare you are greeted and gladdened by at
least five words that you never saw before in his writings, and that you
never will see again, speaking once and then for ever holding their
peace - each not only rare, but a nonsuch - five gems just shown, then
snatched away. Each page is studded with five stars, each as unique as
the century-flower, and, like the night-blooming cereus, "the perfume
and suppliance of a minute" - _ipsa varietate variora_. The mind of
Shakespeare was bodied forth as Montezuma was apparelled, whose costume,
however gorgeous, was never twice the same. Hence the Shakespearian
style is fresh as morning dew and changeful as evening clouds, so that
we remain for ever doubtful in relation to his manner and his matter,
which of them owes the greater debt to the other. The Shakespearian
plots are analogous to the grouping of Raphael, the characters to the
drawing of Michael Angelo, but the word-painting superadds the coloring
of Titian. Accordingly, in studying Shakespeare's diction I should long
ago have said, if I could, what I read in Arthur Helps, where he treats
of a perfect style - that "there is a sense of felicity about it,
declaring it to be the product of a happy moment, so that you feel it
will not happen again to that man who writes the sentence, nor to any
other of the sons of men, to say the like thing so choicely, tersely,
mellifluously and completely."

In the central court of the Neapolitan Museum I saw grape-clusters,
mouldings, volutes, fingers and antique fragments of all sorts wrought
in rarest marble, lying scattered on the pavement, exposed to sun and
rain, cast down the wrong side up, and as it were thrown away, as when
the stones of the Jewish sanctuary were poured out in every street.
Nothing reveals the sculptural opulence of Italy like this apparent
wastefulness. It seems to proclaim that Italy can afford to make
nothing of what would elsewhere be judged worthy of shrines. We say to
ourselves, "If such be the things she throws away, what must be her
jewels?" A similar feeling rises in me while exploring Shakespeare's
prodigality in apa? ?e??µe?a. His exchequer appears more exhaustless
than the Bank of England.

James D. Butler.


Don Quijote's readers are aware of the enormous popularity of the
romances of chivalry, but they are apt to imagine that these represent a
purely ideal state of things. This is undoubtedly the case as far as
knight-errantry is concerned, but certain distinctive habits and customs
of chivalry prevailed in Spain and elsewhere long after the feudal
system and the earlier and original form of chivalry had passed away.
One of the most curious instances of this survival of chivalry occurred
in Spain in the first half of the fifteenth century, and after
commanding the admiration of Europe furnished Don Quijote with an
admirable argument for the existence of Amadis of Gaul and his long line
of successors. The worthy knight had been temporarily released from his
confinement in the Enchanted Cage, and had begun his celebrated reply to
the canon's statement that there had never been such persons as Amadis
and the other knights-errant, nor the absurd adventures with which the
romances of chivalry abound. Don Quijote's answer is a marvellous
mixture of sense and nonsense: the creations of the romancer's brain are
placed side by side with the Cid, Juan de Merlo and Gutierre Ouijada,
whose names were household words in Spain: "Let them deny also that Don
Fernando de Guerara went to seek adventures in Germany, where he did
combat with Messer George, knight of the household of the duke of
Austria. Let them say that the jousts of Sucro de Quiñones, him of the
Pass, were a jest."

It is to these jousts, as one of the most characteristic episodes of the
reign of John II. and of the times, that we wish to call attention.[4]

On the evening of Friday, the 1st of January, 1434, while the king and
his court were at Medina del Campo and engaged in the rejoicings
customary on the first day of the New Year, Suero de Quiñones and nine
knights clad in white entered the saloon, and, coming before the throne,
kissed the hands and feet of the king, and presented him through their
herald with a petition of which the following is the substance:

"It is just and reasonable for those who are in confinement or deprived
of their freedom to desire liberty; and since I, your vassal and
subject, have long been in durance to a certain lady - in witness whereof
I bear this chain about my neck every Thursday - now, therefore, mighty
sovereign, I have agreed upon my ransom, which is three hundred lances
broken by myself and these knights, as shall more clearly hereafter
appear - three with every knight or gentleman (counting as broken the
lance which draws blood) who shall come to a certain place this year; to
wit, fifteen days before and fifteen days after the festival of the
apostle St. James, unless my ransom shall be completed before the day
last mentioned. The place shall be on the highway to Santiago, and I
hereby testify to all strange knights and gentlemen that they will
there be provided with armor, horses and weapons. And be it known to
every honorable lady who may pass the aforesaid way that if she do not
provide a knight or gentleman to do combat for her, she shall lose her
right-hand glove. All the above saving two things - that neither Your
Majesty nor the constable Don Alvaro de Luna is to enter the lists."

After the reading of this petition the king took counsel with his court
and granted it, for which Quiñones humbly thanked him, and then he and
his companions retired to disarm themselves, returning shortly after in
dresses more befitting a festal occasion.

After the dancing the regulations for the jousts, consisting of
twenty-two chapters, were publicly read. In addition to the declarations
in the petition, it is provided that in case two or more knights should
come to ransom the glove of any lady, the first knight only will be
received, and no one can ransom more than one glove. In the seventh
chapter Quiñones offers a diamond to the first knight who appears to do
combat for one of three ladies to be named by him, among whom shall not
be the one whose captive he is. No knight coming to the Pass of Honor
shall select the defender with whom to joust, nor shall he know the name
of his adversary until the combat is finished; but any one after
breaking three lances may challenge by name any one of the defenders,
who, if time permits, will break another lance with him. If any knight
desires to joust without some portion of his armor named by Quiñones,
his request shall be granted if reason and time permit. No knight will
be admitted to the lists until he declare his name and country. If any
one is injured, "as is wont to happen in jousts," he shall be treated as
though he were Quiñones himself, and no one in the future shall ever be
held responsible for any advantage or victory he may have gained over
any of the defenders of the Pass. No one going as a pilgrim to Santiago
by the direct road shall be hindered by Quiñones unless he approach the
aforesaid bridge of Orbigo (which was somewhat distant from the
highway). In case, however, any knight, having left the main road,
shall come to the Pass, he shall not be permitted to depart until he has
entered the lists or left in pledge a piece of his armor or right spur,
with the promise never to wear that piece or spur until he shall have
been in some deed of arms as dangerous as the Pass of Honor. Quiñones
further pledges himself to pay all expenses incurred by those who shall
come to the Pass.

Any knight who, after having broken one or two lances, shall refuse to
continue, shall lose his armor or right spur as though he had declined
to enter the lists. No defender shall be obliged to joust a second time
with any one who had been disabled for a day in any previous encounter.

The twenty-first chapter provides for the appointment of two knights,
"_caballeros anliguos è probados en annas è dignas de fè_," and two
heralds, all of whom shall swear solemnly to do justice to all who come

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Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 → online text (page 15 of 20)