« PreviousContinue »
To love. Participle present, Loving.
Participle past, Loved.
I loved We
Thou lovedst Ye > loved.
He loved They)
The auxiliaries necessary to the formation of the English verb are many of them defective, having precisely those tenses only remaining, which are entirely wanting in the regular verb: or, for it is difficult to decide which is the real origin of the circumstance, perhaps having in themselves the sense required; as in German werden, to become, which has in itself a future signification, performs the part of a future tense. In the Anglo-Saxon j-ceal shall, from the verb j-ceolban to owe, performs this office, and we may see from our own use of / ought, that to owe has in itself a kind of future tense. But the manner of compounding the English verb with its auxiliaries, is so anomalous that it forms the greatest difficulty of the language, and seems almost to defy explanation.
The defective auxiliaries consist of, Shall, May, Can, Must: the regularly formed ones are, To Have, To Be, To Do, To Let: and these latter, with the exception of Do, form the compound tenses, as in other languages, by the aid of the participle: but the former class are compounded with the infinitive, omitting the to.
Of the defective auxiliaries, all sufficiently puzzling in their use to a foreigner, Shall offers by far the greatest difficulties, and is seldom used properly except by a native of England in its most restricted sense. It is required to form the future tense, and by some odd chance has become so amalgamated with the verb Will, that some parts of each tense are taken from the one verb and some from the other. The simple future is thus formed.
I shall ~} We shall ")
Thou wilt Move. Ye or you will > love.
But there is a yet farther peculiarity in the use of this auxiliary, for, besides the simple future, it has a second or imperative future, in which the two verbs change places, and / will, thou shalt, have the force in the first person, of a vehement determination; in the second, of a stern command.
The second form, therefore, stands thus.
I will ~\ We will "}
Thou shalt > love. Ye or you shall Move
It is only in modern phraseology that this distinction is so strongly marked. In the AngloSaxon j-ceolban furnishes the simple future to all the persons, and no longer ago than the age of the translation of the Bible,* it was the custom of the English, as may be seen Matt. vii. 5. " First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt (wilt) thou see clearly to cast out the mote that is in thy brother's eye;" and a little farther on, " How much more shall (will) your Father which is in heaven give good things," &c. v. 16, "Ye shall (will) know them by their fruits." viii. 11. Many shall (will) come from the east and from the west," &c. Hundreds more of such instances might be given; nay, it may be assumed as a rule in reading the translation of the scripture, that will is never used but as an expression of absolute volition, as, "Lord if thou wilt thou canst make me clean."—" I will, be thou clean!" It is important to be aware of this in reading our older writers, for much misconception of the meaning would otherwise arise, and indeed in many instances has arisen among those who use only the translation of the Bible.
The distinction however was well established when Shakespeare wrote, as may be seen in the following:
* Our present,authorized translation was a revision of Coverdale's version, first published A. D. 1537.
"My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord Will never more break faith advisedly. Portia.—Then you shall be his surety." ...
"Thy company which erst was irksome to me,
"Silvias.—So holy and so perfect is my love ....
Pit write to him a very taunting letter,
Yet in a letter from the lord treasurer Burleigh to Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Harrington, dated A. D. 1578, the following passage shows a considerable confusion in the use of shall according to the above rules. "For at a good lecture you maie lerne in an houre that (which) a good Teacher perhapps hath been studyinge for a daie, and yourself by readinge shall not fynd oute in a moneth. Againe you shall reache more discerninge of trothe in an houres reasoninge with others, than a weeks wrytinge by yourself." It seems therefore that the greater precision in the use of shall and will was one of the changes in the language effected by the great writers of the age of Elizabeth, those who did not much affect fine writing clinging still to