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LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART
ESTABLISHED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, 1832 CONDUCTED BY R. CHAMBERS (SECUNDUS)
POPULAR APPLICATIONS OF PROPER
In this age of universal research, it is hardly necessary to enlarge upon the benefits to be derived from the study of philology. The fact that this pursuit opens to us boundless stores of historic truth is now universally recognised, and voluminous works of verbal criticism point out the derivations and meanings of the words, which are the stones, so to speak, in the mighty fabric of language. We would, however, briefly venture to call the attention of our readers to a class of words in our own language which is particularly interesting, as containing memorials of nations, and more especially of individuals. Many names have become incorporated in the English language in remembrance of some characteristics of their original bearers; but in spite of the efforts of their contemporaries and immediate successors to immortalise their fame, these etymological heroes have in many cases sunk into oblivion; while others live only in the dry tributes accorded to their memories in dictionaries and encyclopædias. There are, of course, notable exceptions; but the time may come when even the words which to us are associated with the individuality of the persons whom they commemorate, will have lost their present significance, while already, to a large majority of the uneducated public, they are mere empty sounds.
We would first recall a few of those words which lead us back to national or tribal characteristics. In myrmidons we have the name of a race of Thessalians who followed Achilles to the famous siege of Troy, and by their savage brutality and rapacity perpetuated their fame as unscrupulous followers of a daring leader. In laconic we have a standing memorial of the preference of the Laconians or Spartans for brief and pithy speaking. A striking example of this occurred when Philip of Macedon in his career of conquest warned the Spartan rulers that if he entered Laconia, he would raze Lacedæmon to the ground;' and received by way of answer or
comment the single monosyllable 'If.' It may be remarked that this reply would have come better from the Spartans at an earlier stage of their history, for already luxury had reduced the state to a shadow of its former greatness, and not long after it yielded to the conqueror. Frank and its derivatives remind us of the independent spirit and love of truth which distinguished the German tribe who at the breaking-up of the Roman empire possessed themselves of Gaul, to which they gave their name. A sadder cry comes from the word slave, which gained its present degraded significance from the fact that vast multitudes of the Slavs-a name in Slavonic signifying 'noble'— were carried captive from their homes on the banks of the Danube by their Roman masters. Before passing from the broader basis of history to the biography of individuals, we may mention another national designation incorporated in our language, namely, gasconade, a term of contemptuous ridicule applied to the habit of vain-glorious boasting ascribed to the natives of Gascony.
In turning to names of individuals, it is singular to notice how many words in daily use commemorate persons whose names are otherwise unrecognised and forgotten. The word pamphlet, for instance, is perhaps derived from the name of a Grecian lady Pamphila, who flourished in the first century of the Christian era, and who wrote numerous epitomes of history. Again, it was the Earl of Sandwich, in the time of George III., who brought into common use the article of food which bears his name; although the gambling propensities which rendered a midnight refreshment of that kind indispensable to him scarcely entitle him to respect. Some people also acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Colonel Negus, a member of a Norfolk family in the reign of Queen Anne, as the inventor of the beverage which bears his name; while others rejoice in the example of abstemiousness held up by the London undertaker William Banting, who published in 1863 a pamphlet on the treatment of corpulence. The names of two artisans of the eighteenth century have been preserved to us by their work or its
imitation. These are the French Buhl or Boule, a cabinet-maker to whom Louis XIV. granted apartments in the Louvre in recompense of specimens of beautiful inlaid brass-work; and his English contemporary Pinchbeck, whose ingenuity in imitating precious metal is hardly recompensed by the somewhat contemptuous meaning now attached to his name.
Several terms of a similar derivation connected with crime or its punishment occur to us. The first of these, the verb to burke, recalls with horror the manner in which a notorious murderer pursued his monstrous trade. Another, the American word lynch, perpetuates the name of a Virginian farmer of the seventeenth century, noted for sound judgment and impartiality, who was selected by the inhabitants of his district -far removed from any regular court of justice -to pass sentence on offenders whose crimes demanded speedy retribution. The terrible instrument of death which we meet with again and again in the bloody annals of the French Revolution derives its name from an eminent physician, Joseph Ignace Guillotin, who in the Constituent Assembly of 1789, with the humane view of avoiding unnecessary suffering to persons sentenced to capital punishment, moved the adoption of this mode of decapitation. The proposal was for a time dropped; but three years later, this method of execution was adopted. The dread instrument was at first, in memory of another surgeon, Antoine Louis, who determined its form, known as la petite louison. But the mind of the nation reverted to him who first suggested its use, and it is Guillotin's hard fate to be thereby remembered. It has often been stated that Dr Guillotin fell a victim to his bloody namesake, as the Scottish Regent Morton to the Maiden' which he had invented. But although Guillotin was at one time in some danger, it is satisfactorily proved that he survived the Revolution and died a natural death. Before passing to a pleasanter phase of our subject, we may recall the Bowie knife, worn in the Southern and Western States of America, and named from its inventor, Colonel Bowie.
Science in its onward progress has assimilated many names of inventors and discoverers, which, as merely technical terms, are beyond our present scope. We may, however, point out the name given to the comparatively recent discovery of galvanism from Dr Galvani of Bologna, who first observed its extraordinary effect upon animals; while mesmerism perpetuates the name of the German physician, Mesmer, who first practised it about 1766. Two methods of portraiture, revealing the infancy of the art of photography, will also occur to our readers. These are the daguerreotype, or first form of photograph on a copper plate, invented by the French scene-painter Daguerre in 1835; and the talbotype, a process of obtaining a negative from which prints can be thrown off, which was the invention of Mr Fox Talbot, an eminent member of the Royal
Society. The older method of executing a cheap and meagre portrait, known as the silhouette, by tracing the outline of a shadow thrown on to a sheet of paper, was named in derision after Etienne de la Silhouette, a French minister of finance in 1759, who introduced some reforms which were considered unduly parsimonious. The names of two Scotchmen who passed away in the first half of the present century present themselves as belonging to this class of words. Charles Mackintosh, a native of Glasgow, added in 1822 to his other services in the science of chemistry his discovery of the process of procuring a waterproof varnish by dissolving india-rubber in naphtha, which has spread his fame to every portion of the civilised world; while John Macadam conferred a national benefit by his invention, about the beginning of the century, of the system of road-making which bears his name. Space prevents an enumeration of the other inventions which have in their designations perpetuated the names, if not in all cases the pass over memories of their authors, and we also articles bearing the names of men of widely different fame who have popularised them by their use, such as Wellington and Blücher boots, Garibaldi bodices, and Broughams.
Turning now to individuals who by their circumstances, characteristics, or achievements have left their impress upon our language, several classical examples first present themselves. The adjective stentorian commemorates the loud and far-reaching voice of the Greek herald Stentor, verb tantalise recalls the terrible sentence of the whose fame is preserved by Homer. So also the gods on the ancient king, Tantalus, who was condemned to linger in intolerable thirst, while refreshing fruits and fresh water were ever in his sight, only to retreat when he attempted to reach them. The name of another royal personage, Mausolus of Caria, is preserved to us in a somewhat melancholy manner by the word mausoleum, first applied to the monument erected to his experimenter in the walks of chemistry, the memory by his sorrowing queen. From an early Chaldean philosopher Hermes Trismegistus, mentioned by Milton in his Il Penseroso, we have the expression hermetically sealed, which, from its original application to closing up the necks of bottles, has gradually gained a more general significance. Another despised term, scaramouch, the Londoners for the feats of agility exhibited commemorates the somewhat envious contempt of in that city in 1673 by an Italian mountebank named Scaramoche.
Some names which fall within the range of our subject have been twisted and perverted until their application and meaning are hardly reconcilable with the facts to which they originally referred. One of these strange perversions unOld Testament history; for the use of the word worthily commemorates a woman belonging to abigail for maid-servant sprung originally from the account of the interview between David and Nabal's wife, in which she repeatedly calls herself his 'handmaid.' Possibly the circumstance of the Christian name of Queen Anne's favourite waitingwoman, Mrs Masham, being Abigail further popularised this sense of the word. We may mention another word derived from a Biblical name which points more sadly to the fact that virtues are too
often in the eyes of the world regarded as weaknesses or vices, and is a striking example of the manner in which words of high moral significance are debased to unworthy uses. It has been well said that if penitential tears had been held in due honour in the world, the weeping Magdalen of Christian art could never have given us the word maudlin. A curious sequence of ideas derives tawdry from St Audrey or Ethelreda, the sainted Saron princess whose memorial is the glorious cathedral of Ely. A fair used to be held annually in the isle of Ely on St Audrey's day, October 17th, at which worthless but showy wares freely changed hands, and to these mementos of the day the name of the saint gradually came to be applied.
But a harder and totally undeserved fate is the derivation of the term of contempt dunce from the name of the great schoolman of the fourteenth century, Duns Scotus. It is indeed a strange lot that the name of this great teacher of Christian truth, one of the keenest and most subtle-witted of men, should have been turned into a byword expressive of stupidity and obstinate dullness. But the transition has been explained in the following manner. Duns Scotus flourished at a time when controversy was rife, and he headed the school of thought of which the adherents are generally known as Scotists, against the followers of his rival philosopher, Thomas Aquinas. We can easily imagine that the disciples of Duns Scotus were sometimes called by their opponents Dunsers or Dunses, which was gradually developed from a name of party strife into a general term of scorn. The opprobrious epithet is alleged by others to have been applied indiscriminately, after the revival of letters, to the adherents of the scholastic philosophy, in opposition to classical literature, of whom Duns Scotus was taken as the representative.
will serve to remind us of the ever-increasing nature of language, and of its value as a storehouse, in which we may find a key to many obscure pages of the history of the past.
A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF.
THE walk with Constance, though he had set out upon it reluctantly, had done Waring great good. He was comparatively rehabilitated in his own eyes. Between her and him there was no embarrassment, no uneasy consciousness. She had paid him the highest compliment by taking refuge with him, flying to his protection from the tyranny of her mother, and giving him thus a victory as sweet as unexpected over that nearest yet furthest of all connections, that inalienable antagonist in life. He had been painfully put out of son assiette, as the French say. Instead of the easy superiority which he had held not only in his own house but in the limited society about, he had been made to stand at the bar, first by his own child, afterwards by the old clergyman, for whom he entertained a kindly contempt. Both of these simple wits had called upon him to account for his conduct. the most extraordinary turning of the tables that ever had occurred to a man like himself. And though he had spoken the truth when in that moment of melting he had taken his little girl into his arms and bidden her stay with him, he was yet glad now to get away from Frances, to feel himself occupying his proper place with her sister, and to return thus to a more natural state of affairs. The intercourse between him and his child-companion had been closer than ever could, he believed, exist between him and any other human being whatsoever; but it had been rent in twain by all the concealments which he was conscious of, by all the discoveries which circumstances had forced upon her. He could no longer be at his ease with her, or she regard him as of old. The attachment was too deep, the interruption too hard, to be reconcilable with that calm which is necessary to ordinary existence. The French army supplies a more honourable Constance' had restored him to herself by her hero, an officer in the time of Louis XIV., whose pleasant indifference, her easy talk, her unconname Martinet is preserved in our language as a sciousness of everything that was not usual and term for a strict disciplinarian, while his own natural. He began to think that if Frances were countrymen have given it the more practical sig- but away-since she wished to go-a new life nification of the instrument of corporal punishment popularly known as the 'cat-o'-nine-tails!' might begin-a life in which there would be A vast number of words of varied significance, nothing below the surface, no mystery, which is derived from the names of races and individuals a mistake in ordinary life. It would be difficult, who have long since passed away, will no doubt no doubt, for a brilliant creature like Constance present themselves to the minds of our readers to content herself with the humdrum life which in addition to those which we have briefly suited Frances; and whether she would conenumerated; but we will close our category with descend to look after his comforts, he did not a word of very recent adoption which bids fair to know. But so long as Mariuccia was there, he vindicate its claims to perpetuity. We refer to
Only a little less humiliating to the memory of an ancient worthy is the fact that every 'glib and loquacious hireling' who shows strangers through palaces, picture-galleries, and churches, is termed by the Italians a cicerone, after the greatest orator of their nation. The present application of the name of Hector, the hero of the siege of Troy, is also singularly inappropriate, for it is not the modest and noble-minded patriot of classical history, but his unworthy imitator in medieval pageants, who is represented in modern times by the boaster and the bully.
the application of the name of Captain Boycott could not suffer much materially; and she was to the iniquitous system of terrorism prevalent a very amusing companion, far more so than her in Ireland, of which he was one of the first sister. As he came back to the Palazzo, he was victims. This late addition to our vocabulary reconciled to himself.
which she had not possessed before. He could
handed from one to another. He could not free
'I think I know,' cried Constance. 'I have a creature without identity, not a thing to be been expecting him every day-Markham.' 'He says he has come to fetch me, papa.' 'Markham!' cried Waring. His face clouded over in a moment. It is not easy to get rid of the past. He had accomplished it for a dozen years; and after a very bad moment, he thought he was about to shuffle it off again; but it was evident that in this he was premature. 'I will not allow you to go with Markham,' he said. 'Don't say anything more. Your mother ought to have known better. He is not an escort I choose for my daughter.'
'Poor old Markham! he is a very nice escort,' said Constance, in her easy way. There is no harm in him, papa. But never mind till after dinner, and then we can talk it over. You are ready, Fan ?-Oh, then I must fly. We have had a delightful walk. I never knew anything about fathers before; they are the most charming companions,' she said, kissing her hand to him as she went away. But this did not mollify the angry man. There rose up before him the recollection of a hundred contests in which
Markham's mocking voice had come in to make everything worse, or of which Markham's escapades had been the cause.
'I will not see him,' he said; I will not sanction his presence here. You must give up the idea of going altogether, till he is out of the way.'
"I think, papa, you must see him.'
'Must-there is no must. I have not been in
the habit of acknowledging compulsion, and be assured that I shall not begin now. You seem to expect that your small affairs are to upset my whole life!'
'I suppose,' said Frances, 'my affairs are small; but then they are my life too.'
She ought to have been subdued into silence by his first objection; but, on the contrary, she met his angry eyes with a look which was deprecating, but not abject, holding her little own. It was a long time since Waring had encountered anything which he could not subdue and put aside out of his path. But, he said to himselfall that long restrained and silent temper which had once reigned and raged within him, springing up again unsubdued-he might have known! The moment long deferred, yet inevitable, which brought him in contact once more with his wife, could bring nothing with it but pain. Strife breathed from her wherever she appeared. He had never been a match for her and her boy, even at his best; and now that he had forgotten the ways of battle-now that his strength was broken with long quiet, and the sword had fallen from his hand she had a pull over him now
Frances took the opportunity to steal away while her father gloomily pursued these thoughts. What a change from the tranquillity which nothing disturbed! now one day after another, there was some new thing that stirred up once more mother's letters at one moment, the brother's the original pain. There was no end to it. The arrival at another, and no more quiet whatever could be done, no more peace.
Nevertheless, dinner and the compulsory decorum which surrounds that great daily event, had its usual tranquillising effect. Waring could not shut out from his mind the consciousness that to refuse to see his wife's son, the brother of his own children, was against all the decencies acknowledge social compulsion, but it is not It is easy to say that you will not so easy to carry out that determination. By the time that dinner was over, he had begun to perceive that it was impossible. He took no part, indeed, in the conversation, lightly maintained by Constance, about her brother, made short replies even when he was directly addressed, and kept up more or less the lowering aspect with which he had meant to crush Frances. But Frances was not crushed, and Constance was excited and gay. 'Let us send for him after dinner,' she said. 'He is always amusing. There is nothing Markham does not know. I have seen nobody for a fortnight, and no doubt a hundred things have happened.-Do send for Markham, Frances.-Oh, you must not look at papa. I know papa is not fond of him. Dear! if you think one can be fond of everybody one meets
especially one's connections. Everybody knows that you hate half of them. That makes it piquant. There is nobody you can say such spiteful things to as people whom you belong to, whom you call by their Christian names.'
'That is a charming Christian sentimententirely suited to the surroundings you have been used to, Con; but not to your sister's.' 'Oh, my sister! She has heard plenty of hard things said of that good little Tasie, who is her chief friend. Frances would not say them herself. She doesn't know how. But her surroundings are not so ignorant. You are not called upon to assume so much virtue, papa.' 'I think you forget a little to whom you are speaking,' said Waring with quick anger.
'Papa!' cried Constance with an astonished look, I think it is you who forget. We are not in the middle ages. Mamma failed to
remember that. I hope you have not forgotten too, or I should be sorry I came here.'
He looked at her with a sudden gleam of rage in his eyes. That temper which had fallen into disuse, was no more overcome than when all this trouble began; but he remained silent, putting force upon himself, though he could not quite conceal the struggle. At last he burst into an angry laugh: You will train me, perhaps, in time to the subjection which is required from the nineteenth-century parent,' he said.
'You are charming,' said his daughter with a bow and smile across the table. There is only this lingering trace of medievalism in respect to Markham. But you know, papa, really, a feud can't exist in these days. Now, answer me your self; can it? It would subject us all to ridicule. My experience is that people as a rule are not fond of each other; but to show it is quite a different thing. O no, papa; no one can do
She was so certain of what she said, so calm in the enunciation of her dogmas, that he only looked at her and made no other reply. And when Constance appealed to Frances whether Domenico should not be sent to the hotel to call Markham, he avoided the inquiring look which Frances cast at him. 'If papa has no objection,' she said with hesitation and alarm. Oh, papa can have no objection,' Constance cried; and the message was sent; and Markham came. Frances, frightened, made many attempts to excuse herself; but her father would neither see nor hear the efforts she made. He retired to the bookroom while the girls entertained their visitor on the loggia; or rather, while he entertained them. Waring heard the voices mingled with laughter, as we all hear the happier intercourse of others when we are ourselves in gloomy opposition, nursing our wrath. He thought they were all the more lively, all the more gay, because he was displeased. Even Frances. He forgot that he had made up his mind that Frances had better go (as she wished to go), and felt that she was a little monster to take so cordially to the stranger whom she knew he disliked and disapproved. Nevertheless, in spite of this irritation and misery, the little lecture of Constance on what was conventionally necessary had so much effect upon him, that he appeared on the loggia before Markham went away, and conquered himself sufficiently to receive, if not to make much response to the salutations which his wife's son offered. Markham jumped up from his seat with the greatest cordiality, when this tall shadow appeared in the soft darkness. 'I can't tell you how glad I am to see you, sir, after all these years. I hope I am not such a nuisance as I was when you knew me before-at the age when all males should be kept out of sight of their seniors, as the sage says.'
What sage was that?-Ah! his experience was all at second-hand.'
'Like yours, sir,' said Markham. And then there was a slight pause, and Constance struck in.
'Markham is a great institution to people who don't get the Morning Post. He has told me a heap of things. In a fortnight, when one is not on the spot, it is astonishing what quan
tities of things happen. In town, one gets used to having one's gossip hot and hot every day.'
"The advantage of abstinence is that you get up such an appetite for your next meal. I had only a few items of news.-My mother gave me many messages for you, sir. She hopes you will not object to trust little Frances to my care.'
I object to trust my child to any one's care,' said Waring quickly.
'I beg your pardon. You intend, then, to take my sister to England yourself,' the stranger said.
It was dark, and their faces were invisible to each other; but the girls looking on saw a momentary swaying of the tall figure towards the smaller one, which suggested something like a blow. Frances had nearly sprung from her seat; but Constance put out her hand and restrained her. She judged rightly. Passion was strong in Waring's mind. He could, had inclination prevailed, have seized the little man by the coat and pitched him out into the road below. But bonds were upon him more potent than if they had been made of iron.
'I have no such intention,' he said. 'I should not have sent her at all. But it seems she wishes to go. I will not interfere with her arrangements. But she must have some time to prepare.'
'As long as she likes, sir,' said Markham cheerfully. A few days more out of the east wind will be delightful to me.'
And no more passed between them. Waring strolled about the loggia with his cigarette. Though Frances had made haste to provide a new chair as easy as the other, he had felt himself dislodged, and had not yet settled into a new place; and when he joined them in the evening, he walked about or sat upon the wall, instead of lounging in indolent comfort, as in the old quiet days. On this evening he stood at the corner, looking down upon the lights of the Marina in the distance, and the gray twinkle of the olives in the clear air of the night. The poor neighbours of the little town were still on the Punto, enjoying the coolness of the evening hours; and the murmur of their talk rose on one side, a little softened by distance; while the group on the loggia renewed its conversation close at hand. Waring stood and listened with a contempt of it which he partially knew to be unjust. But he was sore and bitter, and the ease and gaiety seemed a kind of insult to him, one of many insults which he was of opinion he had received from his wife's son. "Confounded little fool,' he said to himself.
But Constance was right in her worldly wisdom. It would make them all ridiculous if he made objections to Markham, if he showed openly his distaste to him. The world was but a small world at Bordighera; but yet it was not without its power. The interrupted conversation went on with great vigour. He remarked with certain satisfaction that Frances talked very little; but Constance and her brother-as he called himself, the puppy!-never paused. There is no such position for seeing the worst of ordinary conversation. Waring stood looking out blankly upon the bewildering lines of the hills towards