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« Furth of his thrott, ane wounderous thing to tell,
And thare, as maist haboundit smokkis dirk,
Douglas, booke 8, pag. 250.
As REEKE a th' rotten fennes : whose loues I prize
Coriolanus, act 3, pag. 19. “ A RECK, with us (says Mr. Ray, in his
pre“ face to North Country Words, page viii.) signifies, « not a smoak, but a steam, arising from any
liquor or moist thing heated,”
Rack means merely..... That which is reeked. And, whether written RAK, WRAICH, RECK, REIK, ROIK O REEKE, is the same word differently pronounced and spelled. It is merely the past tense and therefore past participle, reac, or rec, of the Anglo-Saxon verb recan, exhalare, to reek. And is surely the most appropriate term that could be employed by Shakespear in this passage of the Tempest : to represent to us, that the dissolution and annihilation of the globe, and all which it inherit, should be so total and compleat ;.....they
should so “ melt into ayre, into thin ayre;"....as not to leave behind them even a vapour, a steam, or an exhalation, to give the slightest notice that such things had ever been.
Since you seem to be in no haste to reply upon me, I conclude that the explanation is satisfactory. And on this subject of subaudition I will, at present, exercise your patience no farther; for my own begins to flag. You have now instances of my doctrine in, I suppose, about a thousand words. Their number may be easily increased. But, I trust, these are sufficient to discard that imagined operation of the mind, which has been termed abstraction: and to prove, that what we call by that name, is merely one of the contrivances of language, for the purpose of more speedy communication.
F. You have at least amused me, and furnished me with matter for reflection : Conviction and satisfaction are plants of slower growth. But to convince you that you have not tired me, I beg leave to remind you, that you some time since asserted that the winds, as well as colours, must have their denomination from some circumstances attending them; and that there must be a meaning in each of their denominations. L'Orient and L'Occident, for instance, are intelligible enough; but how is it with the other names which all our northern languages give to these same winds?
The EAST, the west, the NORTH, the south.
The German Ost, West, Nord, Sud.
The Spanish language, besides Oriente, Levante, Poniente, Occidente, Aquilon, Septentrion, and Medio dia, has likewise Este, Oeste, Nord, Sur.
What do these mean? For when the English etymologist merely refers me to the Anglo-Saxon Eart, Pert, Norð, Suð, he only changes the written characters, and calls the same language by a different name; but he gives me no information whatever concerning their meaning: and, for any rational purpose, might as well have left me with the same words in the modern English character.
H. Certainly : It is a trifling etymology that barely refers us to some word in another language, either the same or similar : unless the meaning of the word and cause of its imposition can be discovered by such reference. And permit me to add, that, having once obtained clearly that satisfaction, all etymological pursuit beyond it, is as trifling. It is a childish curiosity, in which the understanding takes no part, and from which it can derive no advantage.
Our winds are named by their distinguishing qualities. And, for that purpose, our ancestors (who, unlike their learned descendants, knew the meaning of the words they employed in discourse) applied to them the past participles of four of their common words in their own language: viz. Yrrian, Veran, Nýnpan, and Seodan. Irasci, Macerare, Coarctare, Coquere.
EAST The past participle of yrsian or
South J articulate) it becomes yst; and so it is much uscd in the Anglo-Saxon. They who cannot pronounce R, usually supply its place by A: hence, I suppose, EAST, which means angry, enraged.
“ The wynd Tiffonyk, that is cleped North Eest, " or wynd of tempest.” Dedis, chap. 27.
in the modern version,
Acts, chap. xxvii. v. 14. Macbeth says,
“Though you untye the windes, and let them fight
“ Euen till destruction sicken." Act 4, pag. 144. “ Yesty waves (says S. Johnson) that is foaming or frothy."
A little matter always makes the waves frothy. But Johnson knew what the YEAST of beer was; (which comes indeed from the same verb) and the epithet Yesty conveyed to him no stronger idea than that of fermentation. But YESTY here is the Anglo-Saxon yrtig, Iertig, procellosus, stormy, enraged : which much better accords with Shake
is the past
pear's high-charged description than the wretched allusion to fermenting beer.
Pered, Perb, Pest, or west, participle of Pesan, macerare, to wet.
North, i. e. Nymped, Nymp8, the third person singular of Nýnpan : coarctare, constringere. NORD and NORR (as it is in the other European languages) is the same participle of the same verb.
“ Frosts that constrain the ground, and birth deny
Dryden, Astræa redux. In the Anglo-Saxon Nipp or Nýnpd is also a name for a prison, or any place which narroweth or closely confines a person.
South is the past tense and past participle of Seodan, coquere, to seethe.
“ Peter fyshed for his foode, and hyes fellowe Andrewe,
Vision of Pierce Ploughman, passus 16, fol. 81, pag. 2. “ Nero gouerned all the peoples that the violent wyne Nothus skorcyth and baketh the brennyng " sandes by hys dry heate, that is to say, al the " peoples in the Southe.”
Boecius, fol. 230, pag. 1, col. 1. Dryden, whose practical knowledge of English was (beyond all others) exquisite and wonderful, says, in his Don Sebastian,
“ Here the warm planet ripens and sublimes
Act 2, sce. 2.