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There one way in which a verbal index to a writer might be made a key to his mind. It might be noted not only that a word did occur, but also how many times it occurred; and from the relative degrees of frequency thus noted in the occurrence of words instructive inferences might be drawn. The frequency or infrequency of a word in any writer depends on a composition of causes. Some objects and notions are, in their nature, so much nearer or easier than others to the human apprehension in general that the words denoting them, or associated with them, may fairly be expected to occur in any writer with the corresponding greater degree of frequency. All men, for example, think more frequently of fire than of the Zodiac. Again, the particular bent of an individual writer, the prevalent direction of his thoughts, and the nature of his theme or purpose, occasion a more than average frequency of recourse to certain words and classes of words. For example, one would expect the words Angels and Heaven oftener in Paradise Lost than in most other poems. In the third place, the mere form of a particular work may be such as to preclude, or at least discourage, the use in it of words perfectly well known to the writer and used by him on other occasions. There are words, for example, which, from their pronunciation or structure, as well as from their intellectual associations, will not so readily be brought into verse as into prose. Lastly, a word which is common now may have been far less common at a former period in the history of the language, so that, though it is occasionally to be found in a writer of that period, it is not found so often as we should expect from the nature of its meaning.
A thorough application of these remarks to the vocabularies of Shakespeare and Milton would yield curious results.
As respects Milton, an indication or two must here suffice :- Just as, from the mere statement that Milton's poetical vocabulary consists of but about 8000 words, it is evident that thousands of words, not only in our present English Dictionary, but even in the English Dictionary of Milton's day, were never used by him even once, but, so far as his poems were concerned, were allowed to lie about ungrasped, so it may be expected that, of the words which he did use, there were very many which he used only once. What are called the áras leyoueva of any writer, indeed, -viz. the words used by him only once in the whole course of his writings,—will be found on examination greatly more numerous than might have been supposed beforehand. Mr. Marsh incidentally quotes the following as instances of drag leyoueva in Shakespeare,-abrupt, ambiguous, artless, congratulate, improbable, improper, improve, impure, inconvenient, incredible. But it would only be necessary to run the finger down the columns of the Concordance to Shakespeare to add hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of other words to the list—of which hundreds, or thousands, scores at least would be as remarkable as any of the ten cited. Milton's åtas deyoueva are probably even more numerous proportionally than Shakespeare's. Of the ten Shakespearian words mentioned, three are also das leyoueva in Milton's poetry,—to wit abrupt, congratulate (in the form congratulant) and inconvenient, four occur three or four times each,—to wit ambiguous, improve, impure, and incredible ; and three do not occur even once,—to wit artless, improbable, and improper. It may throw light upon this subject if I give a list of the principal åtag deyoueva of Milton's poems under one of the letters of the Alphabet. Under A I find, by the Concordances, without including strictly proper names, the following: -ability, abrupt, abruptly, absolutely, abstemious, absurd, accessible, accomplishment, accusation, ache, acquist, acquittance, activity, actual, adamantéan, adjourn, adjust, admonishment, adrift, advantageous, adventurer, adversities, adulterous, adultery, advocate, adust, affection, afield, afloat, afresh, afternoon, agape, agate, agent, aggravation, aggregate (v.), agitation, agreeable, aidless, alacrity, alchemist, alchemy, alimental, allegoric, allow, allusion, alms, Alpine, altern, alternate, ambrosia (the adjective ambrosial is not unfrequent), amerced, American, amice, ammiral (admiral), ammunition, anarch, anchor (n.), anciently, annex, annihilate, announce, antarctic, antipathy, antiquity, apathy, Apocalypse, apology, apostle, appellant, appertain, appetence, applaud, appointment, apprehensive, approbation, April, aqueduct, arable, arbitrary, arbitrate, arborets, arborous, arch, architrave, ardent, argent, arraign, arrowy, arsenal, articulate, artifice, artillery, ashore, ashy, aslope, aspirer, assailant, assassin, assessor, assiduous, assimilate, asthma, astronomer, atheous, athwart, atonement, atrophy, attach, attent, attrite, attune, avaunt, avarice, aver, avow, austerity, auxiliar. Here, under one letter of the alphabet, are at least 118 words that occur only once in all Milton's poems; and there are places in the vocabulary where the proportion of such words is even greater. Thus, of about 375 words beginning with the letters Un which I find in Todd's Index to Milton's Poems, I have counted no fewer than 241 as occurring only once,—the reason being that so many of those words are negative adjectives. Unadorned, unattempted, unbecoming, unbound, unbroken, unclouded, undesirable, uneven, unfasten, ungoverned, ungraceful, unhurt, unkindness, unlimited, unpaid, unreal, unsafe, unskilful, unsound, unsteady, unsuccessful, unwelcome, unwilling, and unwonted are a few of such negatives only once used in Milton's poems. Altogether I should not be surprised if between 2000 and 3000 of the 8000 words of Milton's total poetical vocabulary were found to be årag λεγομενα.
Passing from words used only once to those used twice, thrice, or seldom, we might have in this class also a list of hundreds. Hence,
again, we might rise to the class of occasionally-used words; hence again to words used pretty frequently; and hence again to those occurring very frequently. In this last class I have noted such words as these :-Adam, air, all, alone, age, angel, arms, battle, beam, beast, beauty, better, birth, black, bliss, bold, bright, bring, call, care, cause, celestial, change, cloud, come, command, create, darkness, day, death, deep, delight, divine, doubt, dread, earth, end, enemy, equal, eternal, eye, fair, faith, fall, false, far, fate, father, fear, field, fierce, find, fire, firm, first, flower, foe, force, foul, free, fruit, full, garden, gentle, give, glory, glorious, go, God, gold, good, grace, great, green, grove, ground, hand, happy, hard, head, hate, heart, Heaven, Hell, help, high, hill, holy, honour, hope, host, hour, human, ill, immortal, joy, just, King, know, knowledge, land, large, last, law, lead, life, light, long, Lord, lost, loud, love, low, make, man, might, mild, mind, moon, morn, mortal, move, mount and mountain, name, nature, new, night, old, pain, Paradise, part, past, peace, place, power, praise, pride, pure, race, reason, reign, rest, right, rise, sacred, sad, Satan, say, sea, seat, see, seem, sense, serpent, serve, shame, side, sin, sing, sit, soft, son, song, sky, sleep, solemn, sorrow, soul, sound, speak, spirit, stand, star, state, strength, sun, sure, sweet, thing, think, thought, throne, time, tree, true, truth, vain, virtue, voice, walk, war, water, way, well, wide, wild, will, wind, wing, wise, woe, woman, wonder, wood, word, work, world. Not only some of the verbs but also some of the nouns and adjectives in this list occur so very often (Earth, Heaven, God, man, high, free, good, fair, glory, happy, large, love, hard, soft, new, old, thing, eye, and death, are examples) that they may be registered as next in frequency to those mere particles and auxiliaries,—and, the, but, not, to, for, from, we, our, their, that, which, could, did, will, is, are, were, though, on, ever, etc. etc.,—which are scattered innumerably over the pages of every writer.
One question more respecting Milton's vocabulary in his poems. Is any proportion of it obsolete ? On the whole, whether from the judiciousness with which Milton chose words that had a strong force of vitality in them, or from the power of such a writer to confer future popularity on the words adopted by him, the number of words in Milton's poems that are now obsolete or even archaic is singularly small. Mr. Marsh's estimate (Lect. on Eng. Lang., pp. 264, 265) on this subject is that, while about five or six hundred of Shakespeare's words have gone out of currency or changed their meaning,
1 If the Concordances are to be relied on, the word woman does not occur in any form in Milton's poetry before Paradise Lost. Exactly so with the word female. On the other hand, the word lady, which does not occur once in Paradise Lost, is frequent enough in the earlier poems, and occurs twice in the plural in Par. Reg. and Sams. Ag. Eight times in the earlier poems we have maid or maiden ; only twice in the later poems. The words girl and lass do not occur in the poetry at all.
there are not more than a hundred of Milton's words in his poetry which are not as familiar at this day as in that of the poet himself. How far Mr. Marsh is right may appear from the following list of the words or verbal forms in Milton's poetry which I have noted as either obsolete or unusual now acquist (acquisition, S. A. 1755), adamantéan, admonishment, advantaged, adust (burnt, P. L., XII. 635), aidless, alack, alimental, altern (alternate, P. L., VII. 348), amerced, ammiral (admiral, P. L., I. 294), appaid (paid, P. L., XII. 401), arboret, arborous, arrowy, astonied, atheous (atheist, godless, P. R., I. 487), attent (attentive, attentively, P. R., I. 385), attrite (rubbed, P. L., X. 1073), ay (ah!), azurn (azure, Comus, 893), battailous (battle-full or battle-like, P. L., VI. 81), bearth (produce, P. L., IX. 624), bicker (to fight, P. L., VI. 766), blanc (white, P. L., X. 656), burdenous (burdensome, S. A. 567), cataphracts, cedarn, Chineses, circumfluous, colure (an old astronomical term), concoctive, conflagrant, conglobed, congratulant, consolatories (pieces of consolation, S. A. 657), contrarious, corny, cressets, daffadillies, debel (to war down, P. R., IV. 605), democraty, demonian, disallied, disglorified, disordinate, dispatchful, displode, duelled, enterprise (v.), etherous, exulcerate, far-fet (P. R., II. 401), feastful, feverous, fledge (adj.), frore (frozen, P. L., II. 595), frounced, fuelled, giantship, glibbed, glister, gloze, gonfalon, griding, grisamber, grunsel, gulphy, gurge (whirlpool, P. L., XII. 41), gymnic, hale (to haul, P. L., II. 596), haut (haughty, Psalm LXXX. 35), heroically, huddled, hutched, hyaline, idolism, idolist, illaudable, imbathe, immanacled, immedicable, imp (v. to mend), imparadised, impregn, inabstinence, increate, înly, innumerous, intelligential, interlunar, intervolved, jaculation, kerchieft, laver, limitary, lucent, madding (maddening), magnific, margent (margin), marish (marsh), meath (mead), meteorous, misdeem, misthought, moory, myrrhine, nard, natheless, nectarous, nocent, nulled, oary (P. L., VII. 460), obdured, omnific, oracle (v.), oraculous,
( overcloy, paranymph, petrific, plenipotent, pontifice (a bridge, P. L., X. 348), propense, ramp (v. to move or bound vehemently, P. L., IV. 343, and S. A. 139), rathe, ravin, rebeck, remediless, rined (adj. skinned, P. L., V. 342), robustious, sciential, scrannel (Lyc. 124), serenate (serenade), spet (spit, flood, Comus, 132), sphery, spume, statists, stubs, swage, surcease, swinked, tedded, terrene, tiar, tine (to kindle, P. L., X. 1075), trine, uncreate, unfumed, un-hidebound, unrazored, unvoyageable, unwithdrawing, vant-brass (S. A. 1121), villatic, volant, volúbile, yeanling. Here we have upwards of 150 words which are more or less out of common use now. A good many of them, however, have been used by recent poets; and there is no poet of the present day who would not use some of the others if they occurred to him, or who would not feel himself at liberty to invent similarly unusual words for himself. The indisputably obsolete words of the list are few; and of these some were, doubtless, inventions of Milton's ear for the moment, not intended to last.
II. SPELLING AND PRONUNCIATION.
Before we discuss this subject it will be proper to present to the reader's own eye (1) Some Specimens of the Spelling, etc., in the original printed editions of the Poems, and (2) Some specimens of the preserved Manuscript Drafts of a considerable portion of them.
The following are passages from the Poems as they were printed in the original editions. For the orthography, etc., of the passages from the First Edition of the Minor Poems (1645) Milton is directly responsible; but for all the rest he is only indirectly responsible, the care of the press having devolved, in consequence of his blindness, on the printers, or on such friends as could take his instructions.
From the First (1645) Edition of the Minor Poems.
SONNET II. (There numbered "VII.")
Stoln on his wing my three and twentith yeer!
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
That I to manhood am arriv'd so near,
That som more timely-happy spirits indu’th.
It shall be still in strictest measure eev'n,
To that same lot, however mean, or high,
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
The Lady enters.
the noise was, if mine ear be true,