Language And History - The Dark And The Middle Ages
( Originally Published 1912 )
WE have, in the previous chapter, traced the evidence, embedded in the English language, of the culture of our ancestors, and their progress in civilization up to the time when they left the Continent to settle in their English homes. From the Roman civilization of Britain, which they destroyed, and from its Celtic inhabitants, whom they massacred or enslaved, they received, if we are to believe what language tells us, practically nothing. The Latin word castra, which survives in the name of Chester, and the ending of many other names, such as Doncaster, Winchester, etc., is almost the only word they can be proved to have taken from the Romanized Britons; while from the Celtic speech, as we have already seen, their borrowings were equally scanty.
The next great stratum in our language, the next great deposit of civilization, is that left by the conversion of the Angles and Saxons to Christianity in the Vlth and VIIth Centuries. By their conversion they were transformed into members of the community of Europe; and at this point the two streams of Teutonic race and classical civilization at last met and mingled. n the Vlth Century, however, Europe was plunged in the night of the Dark Ages; it was not the culture of Athens and free Rome, the literature and philosophic thought of the great classical tradition, that the Christian missionaries brought to England, but the rites and the doctrines of the Church as they were preached and understood in the obscure period of the late Roman Empire. The effect on English life and thought was nevertheless immense, and we must test it, not only by the foreign words which were brought by Christianity into our language, but also by the change of meaning in our native words due to Christian influence. The early missionaries, in order to make their simpler and more fundamental doctrines clear to the understandings of their hearers, chose native words nearest the meanings they wished to express; and thus much of our religious vocabulary is formed out of old words filled with new significance, words such as God, heaven, hell, love, and sin. The Anglo-Saxons, indeed, like the modern Germans, preferred to translate, rather than to borrow foreign terms, and some Christian words were rendered by native equivalents which have since become obsolete, as rod or rood, the native word for the Latin cross.
Many Christian words were, nevertheless, borrowed from Greek and Latin, and. still remain in the language as witnesses of that great transformation. Among them may be mentioned altar, alb, candle, cowl, creed, disciple, font, nun, mass, shrine, and temple, from Latin. Acolyte, archbishop, anthem, apostle, canon, clerk, deacon, epistle, hymn, martyr, pentecost, pope, psalm, psalter, and stole are words borrowed at the same time, which are of Greek origin, but which were adopted in Latin, and came from Latin into English.
If we examine the vocabulary of Continental tal Christianity, so large a part of which has been imported at various times into English, we shall see that most of the terms belong to the classical languages of Greece and Rome, but that they have been curiously transformed, and have acquired new and strange significations, by being made the medium of Christian thought and feeling. The Greek language did not possess terms to describe the deeper experiences of religious life; still less were such words to be found in the speech of the practical and warlike Romans. The task, therefore, set before the early Christians was to forge from these materials a new language capable of expressing a whole new world of thought the beautiful or dark conceptions of Oriental mysticism and introspection, the dizzy heights of Oriental poetry, and the joys and terrors of the soul. This task they accomplished with amazing success. Partly by changing the meaning of old words, partly by the formation of new derivatives, partly by violent translations of Hebrew idioms, and to a certain extent by borrowing Hebrew words, they found means to express such conceptions as charity, salvation, purgatory, sacrament, and miracle, and many others. Sabbath was borrowed from the Hebrew, abbot from the Syriac; the Greek word for "overseer," episcopos, became our bishop; the daimon, the god or divine power of the Greeks, was changed into the medieval demon; eidolon, a word for "image" or "phantom," became our idol; and the aggelos, or messenger, the diabolos, or slanderer, were transformed into the great figures of Angel and Devil.
There remain two other Christian words which deserve more than a passing mention. One of these is Easter, in which is preserved the name of a pagan goddess of the dawn or spring, and of a pagan spring festival, which Christianity adopted to its purposes. The other word is cross, which embodies in its form an important aspect of English history. The word crux, which denoted an instrument of execution in classical Latin, and which was given by Christianity so tender and miraculous a meaning, was translated into Anglo-Saxon, as we have said, by the native word rod. Cross is a form borrowed by the Irish from the Latin crux, and spread by them, in their great missionary efforts among the Danish populations whom they converted in the north of England. It appears first of all in northern place-names like Crosby, Crosthwaite, etc., and finally makes its way from the northern dialects into literary English. The word cross, therefore, which we employ in so many and often such trivial uses, is a memorial for us of the golden age of Irish civilization, when Ireland was the great seminary of Europe, whence missionaries travelled to convert and civilize, not only the pagan north of England, but a large part of the Continent as well.
The conversion of England meant, however, not only the introduction of a new religion. The flood of Christianity flowed from sources deep in the past of Greece and Asia, and brought with it much of the secular thought and knowledge which it had gathered on its way; and the union of England, moreover, to the universal Church opened for our ancestors the door into the common civilization of Europe. Of the effect of these influences on Anglo-Saxon culture, the growth of literature and learning, before the Conquest, it is hardly within our province to speak; the Anglo-Saxon language, with its multitude of terms formed from native elements, was partially destroyed, as we have seen, at the Norman Conquest, and almost all its learned words perished-we are only concerned with the deposit left in our living English speech by this first great flood of European culture. With the Bible came words redolent of the East, like camel, lion, palm, cedar, and terms of drugs and spices, like cassia and hyssop, and myrrh, which was one of the offerings of the Magi to the infant Christ. Gem, too, is a Bible word, and crystal, which our ancestors used not only for the mineral, but for ice as well, as they believed rock-crystal to be a form of petrified ice. The more secular part of the early deposit of borrowed words from other sources resolves itself very largely, like the earlier Continental borrowings, into the names of useful instruments, animals, plants, and products. Cup, kiln, mortar, mat, post, pitch, fan (for winnowing), plaster (in its medical use), are among the early English borrowings, and with them the names of capon, lobster, trout, mussel, and turtle (for turtle-dove), and of useful plants, like cole (cabbage), parsley, pease, asparagus, beet, fennel, radish, with trees like pine and box.
The lily and the rose are also Anglo-Saxon borrowings, but seem to have been used first in literary allusions. The names India and Saracen reached England before the Norman Conquest; and there are two far-wandered words like the earlier pepper, and the later orange, which travelled to Anglo-Saxon England from remote sources in the East. One of them, our familiar word ginger, is derived from the Sanskrit, and believed to belong ultimately to one of the non-Aryan languages of India. Ginger was imported into Greece and Italy from India, by the way of the Red Sea; ancient merchants brought its name with them, whence it came to us through Greek and Latin. Silk is believed to have come all the way from China, and to have reached us from Greece and Rome through some Slavonic language, and by means of early traders in the Baltic provinces. Phoenix, the name of an imaginary bird, and adamant, used in literature to describe a half-fabulous rock or crystal, combining the qualities of the diamond and the loadstone, were, with the earlier drake, the first of the names of the legendary animals and jewels to reach us from the East. Purple, being the name of the royal cloth worn by kings, was, like the earlier Cesar, a reminiscence of the Roman faint gleams, penetrating in the dark ages of this remote island, from the light of Athenian civilization. The words circle and horoscope borrowed late in the Old English period, are traces of the interest which the Anglo-Saxons took in mathematics and astrology. But among the words of learned borrowing that seem to have survived the Norman Conquest, not a few were really forgotten with their companions, and were adopted again from the French. Thus the antique and noble word philosopher, which King Alfred had taken from the Latin in the form of philosophe, appeared again in the XIVth Century in the French form of filosofe; circle and horoscope also perished, and were re-borrowed in the same century; and our word scholar probably comes to us not from Early English, but from the later French.
While the terms, therefore, for the common and unchanging experience of life, for the most vivid of human conceptions, sun and summer, moon, stars and night, heat and cold, sea and land, hand and heart, and for the commonest human ties and strongest human feelings, remain in English substantially unchanged from the terms that the Angles and Saxons inherited from a prehistoric past, practically all our terms of learning and higher civilization have been borrowed from the Continent, and especially from France. The conquered island of England was for centuries a pale moon, illuminated by the sun of French civilization; and it must now be our task to trace the penetration of that light into the English language and the common consciousness of the English people. For the influence of France before the Conquest language gives little evidence. We find two or three French names for drugs or herbs in learned works, and at the time that ginger was borrowed from the Latin, galingale came through France after even a longer journey, having travelled through Arabia and Persia all the way (it is believed) from China, where it was, in its original form, Ko-liang-kiang, "mild ginger from Ko," a place in the province of Canton.
Two other French words borrowed before the Conquest are of considerable interest. These are pride, which appears about A.D. 1000, and proud, which came in about fifty years later. They are both derived from the French prud (preux in modern French), which descends from the first element in the Latin verb prodesse, "to be of value." These words, which in French had the meaning of "valiant, brave, gallant," soon acquired in English the sense of "arrogant, haughty, overweening." This change of meaning was due, perhaps, to the bearing of the "proud" Normans who came over to England before the Conquest in the train of Edward the Confessor, and the aspect in which these haughty nobles and ecclesiastics presented themselves to the Englishmen they scorned. Another word introduced at this time, and no doubt by Edward
the Confessor, is Chancellor-a word full of old history, which, for all its present dignity, is derived ultimately from cancer, the Latin word for crab. How the cancellarius, a petty officer of the Eastern Empire, stationed at the bars or crab-like lattices (cancelli) of the law courts, rose from an usher to be notary or secretary, and came to be invested with judicial functions, and to play a more and more important part in the Western Empire, belongs, however, to European, and not to English history; but the word is of interest to us as being one of the three or four French terms that found their way into English in Anglo-Saxon times.
Before we dismiss the subject of Anglo-Saxon borrowings, there are a few words of Danish derivation that should be mentioned. The greater part of the Scandinavian words in English have not much historical significance, save in so far as they are a record of the Danish invasions, and the large Danish element in the English population. The great word law, however, and such terms as moot, hustings, and the names for the divisions of counties, wapentake and riding, all of which appear in English in the late Anglo-Saxon period, are memorials of the fact that England was once partly settled and ruled by Danes.
We now come to the Norman Conquest, which was destined to change and transform our language in so radical a manner. Of its effect on English grammar we have already spoken; its influence on the English vocabulary was still greater, but did not make itself felt for a considerable period of time. For nearly one hundred and fifty years the two languages, Anglo-Saxon and Norman-French, ran side by side without mingling; French being the language of the government and the aristocracy, while English was reduced almost to the condition of a peasant's dialect. Some relics, however, of written English during the first hundred years after the Conquest have been preserved, and after the year 1150 these grew somewhat more numerous; although, as we have seen, it was not till the XIVth Century that a standard English was established, and authors ceased to employ in writing their own local dialects.
The largest class of words adopted into English between the Conquest and the year 1200 are of an ecclesiastical character, and show the influence of the Norman devotion to the Church. These words in approximately chronological order are prior, chaplain, procession, nativity, cell, miracle, charity, arch-angel, evangelist, grace, mercy, passion, paradise, sacrament, saint—words that we may associate with the solemn abbeys and cathedral churches of Norman architecture, which were then being built in so many parts of England. The remaining words are almost all connected with government and war and agriculture. Court and crown, empress, legate, council, prison, robber and justice, rent in the sense of property, are the terms of government; while for military words we find tower and castle, standard, peace, and treason. War, another early borrowing, is a word adopted into French from old German; it came to us in its Norman form, but has become (with the common change of w to gu) guerre in modern French.
In the XIIIth Century the process of borrowing went on with great rapidity, and hundreds of French words were adopted into English, which now began to assume the composite character which it has ever since retained. An analysis of these words will give some notion of the character of this period, beginning with the turbulent reign of King John, and continued during those of his son Henry III, and his grandson Edward I. In the first place we find a great accession, especially in the first half of the century, to the vocabulary of religion. The earlier of these represent Catholicism more in its formal and outward aspect; but shortly after the coming of the preaching friars to England, when the effects of the great religious revival of the Continent were brought home to the villagers and poor townsfolk, we find other words representing the inward and personal aspect of religious faith, devotion, pity, patience, comfort, anguish, conscience, purity, salvation. These words we may call, not perhaps too fantastically, "early Gothic" words, as their introduction coincides in date with the great churches, such as Salisbury Cathedral, and the great monastic houses, which were then being erected in what is called the "Early English" period of Gothic architecture.
Another religious movement of about this period, that of the Crusades, has left its mark on the English language. By the Crusades the gulf between Europe and the Orient was again bridged, and Eastern products and Eastern ideas began to spread over Europe. The East was from of old the home of jewels, rich dyes, and splendid stuffs, and among the Arabian or Persian words that came to us from this new intercourse with the Orient, are terms like azure and saffron, of scarlet, which was at first the name of a rich cloth, and damask, from the name of the town Damascus. To this period we owe also the Arabian names, and our modern knowledge, of two of the great staples of modern trade, cotton and sugar; and the word orange, which (like sugar) came from Sanskrit through the medium of Persian and Arabic, found its way to the West in the train of the Crusaders. Others of the Crusaders' words are assassin, Bedouin, hazard, lute, caravan, and mattress, from Arabian sources; miscreant, and perhaps capstan of French or Provençal formation. Assassin is, like Bedouin, a plural noun, meaning "hashish-eaters." It was used by the Crusaders for the murderers who were sent forth by the Old Man of the Mountains to kill the Christian leaders, and who were wont to intoxicate themselves with hashish or hemp before undertaking these attempts. Hazard (originally a game played with dice) has been traced to the name of a castle, Hasart, or Asart, in Pales-tine, during the siege of which the game is said to have been invented. Miscreant (misbeliever) is a term of abuse for the Mohammedans, invented by the French Crusaders; Capstan is a nautical term from Provence, and as it appears earlier in English than in French, it was perhaps borrowed at this time by English seamen at Marseilles or Barcelona.
These Crusaders' words, however, drifted into English at various times, for the most part long after the XIIIth Century; of words actually adopted at this time, the most important , after the religious terms already mentioned, are terms of law, government, and war. It was in the XIIIth Century that English law and English legal institutions began to take the form that they were destined to keep for the future, and we find now in English (for the most part borrowed from the Anglo-French language of law), such words as judge and judgment, inquest, assize, accuse and acquit, fine, imprison, felon, hue and cry, plea, pleader and to plead, with a number of other terms relating to property or feudal usages, such as manor, heir, feoff, homage. It is in this century, too, that the English Parliament assumed substantially its present form, and the great word Parliament makes its first appearance. The campaigns of Edward I against the Welsh and the Scotch seem to have familiarized his subjects with many military terms in the latter part of the XIIIth Century, and it is now that battle, armour, assault, conquer, and pursue are first found in the vocabulary of English.
If in the XIllth Century the degraded and poverty-stricken English language had begun to enlarge and enrich its vocabulary with terms of religion, law, government, and war, in the following century it became a fit vehicle at last for thought, learning, and speculation, and absorbed into its texture practically all the vocabulary of medieval culture. We find first of all those names of exotic animals that figured so fantastically in the medieval imagination. The ostrich, the leopard, the panther, already made their appearance in the XIIIth Century; these in the next hundred years were followed by the crocodile, the hippopotamus, the elephant, the dromedary, the rhinoceros, the camelopard, the hyena, the tiger, and the pard. But with the names of these real beasts came a host of fabulous and fantastic creatures, equally real, however, to the medieval mind, the monoceros or unicorn, the syren, who was half woman and half fish, the onocentaur, with the head of a man and the body of an ass, the griffin, with an eagle's wings and a lion's body, the salamander, which lived in flame, the fire-breathing chimera, the basilisk or cockatrice, which was hatched by a serpent from a cock's egg, and whose glance was fatal, the dipsas, whose bite produced a raging thirst, and the amphisbaena, a serpent with a head at either end. And even of the authentic and actually existing animals their beliefs were almost equally fabulous; to them the camelion was a combination of the camel and the lion, the camelopard had the body of a pard and a lion's head; the elephant was supposed to hide its offspring in deep water to protect it from dragons; and our phrase, "crocodiles' tears" is due to the belief that crocodiles wept while they sated themselves on human flesh.
With the knowledge of these exotic beasts and serpents, came also the names of many jewels and precious stones, with their supposed magical qualities. The carbuncle, which shone in the dark, the amethyst, which pre-served its possessor from intoxication, the jacinth which warded off sadness, and which, with the chrysophrase, was found in the heads of Ethiopian dragons, the sapphire, which gave its possessor the power of prophecy, appear in the English of the XIIIth Century; while in the XIVth are found the beryl, which preserves domestic peace, the diamond, which discovers poison, jasper, useful against fevers, and coral against enchantments, chalcedony against ghosts and drowning, and the names of other precious materials such as amber, ebony, alabaster, jet, and pearl. When, how-ever, we examine the vocabulary of medicine, we find ourselves in a less fabulous world. The medical lore of the Middle Ages was somewhat more directly founded on experience, and already in the XIIIth Century we find such words as medicine, ointment, poison, powder, diet, physic, physician; dropsy, gout, malady, with approximately their modern and scientific meanings. This medical vocabulary is increased in the XIVth Century by apothecary, artery, pore, vein; the names of drugs like opium, and of diseases such as asthma, quinsy, palsy, and dysentery.
But if we examine the theory of medicine on which the practice of these medieval physicians is based, we find ourselves far removed indeed from modern science. This theory is in the main the Greek theory of "humours" which reached Europe in the Xlth and XIIth Centuries from the great schools of Arabian medicine. According to this theory the body of man contains four "humours," or liquids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile (or choler) and black bile (or melancholy), the last of which is a purely imaginary substance. The excess of one of these humours might cause disease, or make a man odd or fantastic; and hence we have the humours of the Elizabethan drama, our phrases good-humoured or bad humoured, and our modern use of humorous and humour. That the Latin word for a liquid or fluid has come to mean a mood, or a quality exciting amusement, and that we can even speak of "dry humour," is due, therefore, to this old physiology, which has left many other marks on the English language. An examination of some of our commonest expressions will show how many of them bear the impress of medieval thought, and how great is the deposit left in the English language by the science and culture of the Middle Ages. Thus our names for different temperaments, sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholy, are derived from the supposed predominance in each one of the four humours. The word temperament itself, which has become so popular of late, is derived from the Latin temperamentum, meaning "due mixture," and was used at first for the mixture of these humours; and the familiar word complexion (derived from the Latin complex-ionem, formed from the verb plectere, to weave or twine) had originally the same meaning as temperament, although now it is mainly used for the appearance of the skin. As the temperament or complexion, sanguine, bilious, phlegmatic, or melancholy, could be best observed in the face, this step from a man's physical condition to its appearance in his face, was a natural one, although it requires some knowledge of medieval notions to trace the relation of the modern adjective complex and such a phrase as "a fair complexion."
Closely connected with the four humours were the four elementary "qualities": dryness and moisture, heat and cold. There were also qualities of the "humours," and by their mixture produced various complexions and temperaments : temper itself was originally a due mixture or proportion of these qualities, and this use has survived in such words as distemper, and "good" or "bad" tempered. As temper was most frequently used in combination with words like "ill," "bad," or "violent," it has acquired in the XIXth Century (in such a phrase, for instance, as "an out-burst of temper"), the very opposite of its original meaning. For an outburst of temper would have meant "an outburst of composure"; and while we keep the old meaning in the phrase "to keep one's temper," our other phrase, "to have a temper" exactly contradicts it. Spirited, animal spirits, and good spirits are other phrases due to the physiologists of the Middle Ages, who regarded the arteries as air-ducts, containing ethereal fluids distinct from the blood of the veins. Of these "spirits," there were supposed to be three, the animal, the vital, and the natural. The "animal," being named after the soul or anima, was the highest, and controlled the brain and nerves. When animal in the XVIIth Century became restricted in meaning to living creatures lower than man, animal spirits changed with it, and came to mean the joy of life we share with animals. Phrases such as cold-blooded, in cold or hot blood, or my blood boils, are due also to the old view, derived from the sensations of the face, that the blood is heated by excitement; while an immense number of words and phrases, hearty, heartless, to take to heart, to learn by heart, and cordial (from the Latin word for heart) are due to the old belief that the heart was the seat of the intellect, the soul, and feelings. So, too, hypochondriacal, and its modern abbreviation hipped, come to us from the medieval belief that the region of the hypochondria, containing the liver, spleen, etc., was the seat of the "melancholy" humour. Another medical error is embodied in the old word rheumatic, as rheumatism was believed to be a defluxion of rheum to the affected part; and there is a reminiscence of medieval psychology to be found in common sense-the common sense being a supposed "internal" sense, acting as a common bond or centre for the five "external" senses.
The XIIIth Century word lunatic is evidence of the early belief that mental health was affected by the changes of the moon; while the adjectives jovial, saturnine, mercurial, are due of course to the astrological belief that men owed their temperaments to the planets under which they were born. Indeed, the large deposit left by medieval astrology in the English language is a sufficient proof of the great part that celestial phenomena, and the supposed influence of the stars on the affairs of men, played in the imaginative life of the Middle Ages. Influence itself (derived from the Latin influere, to flow in), was at first a term of astrology, and meant the emanation from the stars to men of an ethereal fluid, which affected their characters and fates; and our modern word influenza em-bodies the old belief that epidemics were caused by astral influence. Disaster and ill-starred need no explanation; ascendant, pre-dominant, conjunction, and opposition are other words of astrology; aspect meant originally the way the planets look down on the earth; and men derived their dispositions from the "dispositions" or situations of their native planets. Even our current word motor has descended to earth from the heavens, for it was first used to describe the primus motor or primum mobile, the imaginary tenth sphere, added by the Arabian philosopher Avicenna, to the nine spheres of the Greeks.
Amalgam, alembic, alkali, arsenic, tartar, are alchemists' words which made their first English appearance in the XIVth Century; quintessence, which appears a little later, was another alchemists' term, describing the imaginary fifth essence added by Aristotle to the four, Earth, Air, Fire, Water, of the early Greek philosophers. The XIVth Century word test, and the later alcohol, are also terms of alchemy. Alcohol meant originally a fine powder; and test is derived (through testum) from the Latin word testa, an earthen vessel or pot, which, through ancient slang, has become tête, the French word for "head." It was used by the alchemists to describe the metal vessel in which they made their alloys. From such a phrase as Shakespeare's tested gold has arisen the verb to test, which is now commonly used in England, although it was regarded as an Americanism not many years ago.
The names of the seven liberal sciences of medieval teaching, the "arts" of the universities, Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astronomy, were early adopted into English from the Latin in which they were taught, and with them came in the XIIIth and XIVth Centuries a number of terms of learning and culture, such as melody, rhyme, comedy, tragedy, theatre, philosophy, and history. These words belonging as they do to the culminating period of the Middle Ages, may be associated with the rich and decorated forms into which Gothic architecture flowered at about the same period.
The learning and science of the Middle Ages, or at least that part of it which was assimilated during the XIIIth and XIVth Centuries into English thought, can be, perhaps, as fairly estimated by the lists of these learned borrowings as by any other method. Some of them were no doubt mere ink-horn terms, and had no current use at that time outside the books in which they are found; the greater part appear, however, in the works of popular writers like Chaucer and Gower, and so must have become familiar to the educated contemporaries of the poets.
An etymological analysis, moreover, of this vocabulary of medieval culture will show, with surprising accuracy, the sources from which that culture was derived, and the channels through which it passed on its way to England. We find in the first place that practically all these words were borrowed from the French; that the French borrowed them from Latin, and that, with the exception of some Arabian words, the ultimate source of almost all of them was Greek. They represent, indeed, the wrecks and fragments of Greek learning which had been absorbed into Roman civilization, and which, after the destruction of the classical world, were handed on through the Dark Ages from compilation to compilation, growing dimmer and more obscure, more overlaid with errors and fantastic notions, in this process of stale reproduction. Such as it was, however, this body of learning, derived for the most part from abridgments of Aristotle, was not questioned; medieval science was based, not on the observation of Nature, but on the study of the ancients; and a writer of natural history in this period felt it necessary to quote the authority of Aristotle in support of so elementary a statement as that eggs are hardened by heat, or hatched by the brooding of their female parents.
In the XIIlth Century, however, this body of learning had been much increased by a great accession from Arabian sources. We have already mentioned the effect of the first contact, during the Crusades, between the East and West; by means of the peaceful intercourse which followed, Europe drew immense profit from the high culture of the civilized Arabs, who, in the East or in Spain, kept the torch of learning alight, while Europe was still enveloped in comparative darkness. The Arabs had preserved through Syriac versions the works of Aristotle, and much of the astronomical and medical learning of ancient Greece; in the XIIIth Century this body of learning reached Europe by means of translations from Arabic into Latin. This accession of knowledge from Eastern sources accounts for the greater part of the Arabic words adopted into English. Zero, almanac, algebra, cipher, azimuth, nadir, zenith, alembic, alkali, camphor, alcohol, amber, are Arabian words. Alchemy, alembic, and perhaps amalgam, are Greek words given an Arabic shape by passing through that language. The rest of this early vocabulary comes in the main, as has been said, from Greek sources. The secular universities, visited or took up their residence in English villages, and through their sermons familiarized their hearers with at least some of the great abstractions and distinctions of Aristotelian thought. By this means, and by means of the lawyers, and of Wyclif's popular writings, a great part of the scholastic terminology was absorbed into the English language. Indeed, our present vocabulary of philosophic terms is very largely a production of Scholasticism, and owes its admirable clearness and definiteness to the hard-thinking of these old logicians, and already in the XlIlth and XIVth Centuries we find in English writings such words as accident, absolute, apprehension, attribute, cause, essence, existence, matter and form, quality and quantity, general and special, object and subject, particular and universal, substance, intelligence, and intellect.
Mediaeval philosophy, like the rest of mediaeval learning, can make no great claims to originality; its basis was the Aristotelian logic, and its vocabulary, although almost entirely Latin, was formed for the most part by the literal translation into Latin of Aristotelian terms. It cannot, however, be said that Scholasticism made no contributions to human thought; the distinction, for instance, between Free Will and Determinism was not clearly defined in Greek philosophy, but was fully developed by the medieval philosophers and theologians. Predestination is a word first found in St. Augustine, and Free Will an English translation of the Latin phrase of a Church Father. By means, moreover, of the disputations and the subtle distinctions of the scholastic logicians, much that was latent or obscure in Greek philosophy was brought into greater clearness; and a large number of words were formed in Low Latin to express these conceptions and distinctions. Entity and identity, majority and minority, duration, existence, ideal, individual, real and reality, intuition, object, motive, tendency, predicate, are among the words that English owes to late, and not to classical Latin. Our word premise or premises is a term of logic, which came into use originally as the translation into Latin of an Arabic word meaning "put before." From the premises of a syllogism, it acquired a legal meaning, and used for "the aforesaid" in legal documents, it soon was applied to "the aforesaid houses, lands or tenements" mentioned in the "premises" of the deed, and so acquired its present use of a house with its grounds or other appurtenances.
Whenever, indeed, a large number of new words, however learned and abstract their character, make their appearance in a language, the genius of popular speech is sure to appropriate some of them, in its own illogical and often absurd way, to its" own practical uses. We are all familiar with the "horn" of a dilemma, though few of us trace it to the argumentum cornutum of scholastic argument. Quiddity is a scholastic word, and perhaps, quandary also; and even the modern locomotive is formed from the medieval translation of a phrase of Aristotle. Species, one of the great words of scholastic logic, was soon appropriated in the early form of spice by the medieval druggists to describe the four kinds of ingredients in which they traded-saffron, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmegs. But the main agents in the distribution of these words were the lawyers of the Middle Ages. Scholastic words and scholastic distinctions found their way into Anglo-French, and then into English., "While as yet there was little science and no popular science," Prof. Maitland writes, "the lawyer mediated between the abstract Latin Iogic of the schoolmen and the concrete needs and homely talk of gross, unschooled mankind. Law was the point where life and logic met."
If, therefore, we were to study the history of almost any of the great terms of ancient or medieval philosophy, and trace all the varied and often remote uses to which it has been applied, we should be able to observe the effect of the drifting down, into the popular consciousness, of the definitions of high and abstract thought. We should find that many of our commonest notions and most obvious distinctions were by no means as simple and as self-evident as we think them now, but were the result of severe intellectual struggles carried on through hundreds of years; and that some of the words we put to the most trivial uses are tools fashioned long ago by old philosophers, theologians, and lawyers, and sharpened on the whetstone of each other's brains.