GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS, Limited
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.
In editing the present volume I have thought it well to follow the same rule which I laid down for myself in
editing The Study of Words, and have made no alteration in the text of Dr. Trench\u00e2\u2014\ue018s work (the fifth edition).
Any corrections or additions that seemed to be demanded owing to the progress of lexicographical knowledge
have been reserved for the foot-notes, and these can always be distinguished from those in the original by the
square brackets [thus] within which they are placed.
On the whole more corrections have been required in English Past and Present than in The Study of Words
owing to the sweeping statements which involve universal negatives\u2014statements, e.g. that certain words
either first came into use, or ceased to be employed, at a specific date. Nothing short of the combined
researches of an army of co-operative workers, such as the New English Dictionary commanded, could
warrant the correctness of assertions of this kind, which imply an exhaustive acquaintance with a subject so
Even the mistakes of a learned man are instructive to those who essay to follow in his steps, and it is not
without use to point them out instead of ignoring or expunging them. Thus, when the Archbishop falls into the
error (venial when he wrote) of assuming an etymological connexion between certain words which have a
specious air of kinship\ue000such as \u00e2\u2014\ue017care\u00e2\u2014\ue018 and \u00e2\u2014\ue017cura,\u00e2\u2014\ue018 \u00e2\u2014\ue017bloom\u00e2\u2014\ue018 and \u00e2\u2014\ue017blossom,\u00e2\u2014\ue018
\u00e2\u2014\ue017ghastly\u00e2\u2014\ue018 and \u00e2\u2014\ue017ghostly,\u00e2\u2014\ue018
[vi]\u00e2\u2014\ue017brat\u00e2\u2014\ue018 and \u00e2\u2014\ue017brood,\u00e2\u2014\ue018 \u00e2\u2014\ue017slow\u00e2\u2014\ue018 and \u00e2\u2014\ue017slough\u00e2\u2014
makes just the mistakes which we would be tempted to make ourselves had not Professor Skeat and Dr.
Murray and the great German School of philologists taught us to know better. Our plan, therefore, has been to
leave such errors in the text and point out the better way in the notes. In other words, we have treated the
Archbishop\u00e2\u2014\ue018s work as a classic, and the occasional emendations in the notes serve to mark the progress of
half a century of etymological investigation. It is hardly necessary to point out that the chronological
landmarks occurring here and there need an obvious equation of time to make them correct for the present
year of grace, e.g. \u00e2\u2014\ue017lately,\u00e2\u2014\ue018 when it occurs, must be understood to mean at least fifty years ago, and a
similar addition must be made to other time-points when they present themselves.
A series of four lectures which I delivered last spring to the pupils of the King\u00e2\u2014\ue018s College School, London,
supplied the foundation to this present volume. These lectures, which I was obliged to prepare in haste, on a
brief invitation, and under the pressure of other engagements, being subsequently enlarged and recast, were
delivered in the autumn somewhat more nearly in their present shape to the pupils of the Training School,
Winchester; with only those alterations, omissions and additions, which the difference in my hearers
suggested as necessary or desirable. I have found it convenient to keep the lectures, as regards the persons
presumed to be addressed, in that earlier form which I had sketched out at the first; and, inasmuch as it helps
much to keep lectures vivid and real that one should have some well defined audience, if not actually before
one, yet before the mind\u00e2\u2014\ue018s eye, to suppose myself throughout addressing my first hearers. I have supposed
myself, that is, addressing a body of young Englishmen, all with a fair amount of classical knowledge (in my
explanations I have sometimes had others with less than theirs in my eye), not wholly unacquainted with
modern languages; but not yet with any special designation as to their future work; having only as yet marked
out to them the duty in general of living lives worthy of those who have England[viii] for their native country,
and English for their native tongue. To lead such through a more intimate knowledge of this into a greater
love of that, has been a principal aim which I have set before myself throughout.
former work and now of this any right to complain that I am compelling them to travel a second time by the same paths. At least it has been my endeavour, whenever I have found myself at points where the two books come necessarily into contact, that what was treated with any fulness before, should be here touched on more lightly; and only what there was slightly handled, should here be entered on at large.
Diminutions of the English Language
Changes in the Meaning of English Words 176
Changes in the Spelling of English Words 212
\u00e2\u2014\ue01bA very slight acquaintance with the history of our own language will teach us that the speech of
Chaucer\u00e2\u2014\ue018s age is not the speech of Skelton\u00e2\u2014\ue018s, that there is a great difference between the language under
Elizabeth and that under Charles the First, between that under Charles the First and Charles the Second,
between that under Charles the Second and Queen Anne; that considerable changes had taken place between
the beginning and the middle of the last century, and that Johnson and Fielding did not write altogether as we
do now. For in the course of a nation\u00e2\u2014\ue018s progress new ideas are evermore mounting above the horizon, while
others are lost sight of and sink below it: others again change their form and aspect: others which seemed
united, split into parts. And as it is with ideas, so it is with their symbols, words. New ones are perpetually
coined to meet the demand of an advanced understanding, of new feelings that have sprung out of the
decay of old ones, of ideas that have shot forth from the summit of the tree of our knowledge; old words
meanwhile fall into disuse and become obsolete; others have their meaning narrowed and defined; synonyms
diverge from each other and their property is parted between them; nay, whole classes of words will now and
then be thrown overboard, as new feelings or perceptions of analogy gain ground. A history of the language in
which all these vicissitudes should be pointed out, in which the introduction of every new word should be
noted, so far as it is possible\ue002and much may be done in this way by laborious and diligent and judicious
research\ue003in which such words as have become obsolete should be followed down to their final extinction, in
which all the most remarkable words should be traced through their successive phases of meaning, and in
which moreover the causes and occasions of these changes should be explained, such a work would not only
abound in entertainment, but would throw more light on the development of the human mind than all the
brainspun systems of metaphysics that ever were written\u00e2\u2014\ue01c.
These words, which thus far are not my own, but the words of a greatly honoured friend and teacher, who,
though we behold him now no more, still teaches, and will teach, by the wisdom of his writings, and the
nobleness of his life (they are words of Archdeacon Hare), I have put in the forefront of my lectures; seeing
that they anticipate in the way of masterly sketch all which I shall attempt to accomplish, and indeed draw
out the lines of much more, to which I shall not venture so much as to put my hand. They are the more
welcome to me, because they encourage me to believe that if, in choosing the English language, its past and
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