« PreviousContinue »
formation of the Future, and to employ other verbs, of which we have ample choice, to express volition or compulsion. But though the tendency of the language seems to be in that direction, this has not been done yet, and we have consequently to put up with a certain degree of indistinctness in the English Future.
In the first person, in affirmative sentences (principal or secondary), there is no doubt wbatever, that shall means Futurity alone. It has stripped off all idea of obligation and necessity. If we wish to express this (the German ich soll) we say, “I am to sail, we have to work, I must, ought, am obliged,” &c.; but never "I or we shall.” In interrogative sentences, bowever, there is uncertainty. “Shall I die, doctor?" asks the desponding patient. He means simple Futurity. “Shall I die for you?" exclaims the despairing lover on his knees. “Shall I bring up the pudding ?” says the servant. Here simple Futurity is out of the question; it is order and compulsion that are implied. The Scotch, evidently, here have the advantage over the English. They use will to express the future, and shall to express obligation «Will I die, doctor; will I have any more pain ?" and on the other hand, "Sball I knock his head off?"
In the second person the simple Future is expressed in affirmative principal sentences by will, and in interrogative sentences by shall, as, you will sail; shall you sail? If we say, you shall sail, we express an order, and if we say, will you sail? we mean to ask if there is an intention, at least, if we are very accurate and precise in our expression. But I have observed that a great many writers and speakers are in the habit of using will you, where shall you is more correct, viz., where no volition is implied.
To express volition in affirmative sentences, we either use some other terb, such as intend, wish, or we lay a stress on will, as, “In spite of Faming, you will continue your evil practices.” This stress is a sufficient distinction. If it is not apparent in writing or printing it is the fault of oar imperfect orthography. If we wish to express obligation interrogatively (the German sollst du), we never say, shall you? but we take the same verbs as in the first person, are you to sail ? have you to work? must, ought you, are you obliged ? &c.
In secondary sentences, as we have remarked above, there is some Begree of indefiniteness in the use of shall and will. Sir E. Head says (shall and will, p. 2) – «The practise with the second person in oblique sentences does not seem quite clear.” The tendency now is, I believe, to say will, in all cases, or to use the Present Tense. The Prayer Book has "We believe that thou shalt come.” The more current expression now would be – We believe that thou wilt come.” “We hope you will recover,” is said by everybody. Nobody thinks of saying — «We hope you shall recover.” Sir E. Head considers the following two sentences equally correct "You
you shall do it,” and “you think you will do it.” Granted that they are equally correct, I believe nine persons out of ten say will; and certainly sball will not do, unless the subject of the principal sentence is you. We Archiv I. 2. Sprachen. XXXV.
I think you
I, or we think you shall do it. It must be will do it. The use of shall in such secondary sentences, which have the same subject as the principal sentence, is a notable peculiarity, and will be adverted to again, when we speak of the third person. It is a remnant of antiquity, and seems destined to be swept away soon.
"If you shall insist, I will obey,” is certainly correct; but again, I believe that most people would prefer saying - "If you insist, I will obey," because as I remarked before, in a secondary sentence the simple present is preferred. The use of should and would in secondary sentences is by no means very clearly established, and often depends upon an indescribable and indefinable feeling of their relative appropriateness. "You said you should be in town on Saturday,” is quite correct, but so is, «You said you would be in town on Saturday;" and it is imperative to use would, if the subject of the principal sentence is altered. Again, "you thought you would die,” and “you said you should die.” What is the difference? I believe that in all these cases will and would are striving for mastery with shall and should, and that the tendency of the language is to favor the former. We come
now to speak of the third person in the three different kinds of sentences, affirmative, interrogative, and secondary. Here we find will and would established throughout, except in certain kinds of dependent clauses. We say, he will sail, will he sail? the ship that will sail to-morrow.
As in the second person, we can, by laying a stress on will, convert the auxiliary into a verb implying volition. “He will blunder, though I caution him ever so much.” “Will you be attentive to your work ?” “A man that will make a fool of himself deserves no pity.” The emphasis is enough to mark the difference in the meaning of will, and if it were felt to be desirable, this difference could casily be indicated in writing.
In some secondary clauses shall is substituted for will, viz., when the subject of the secondary clause is the same as that of the principal, e. g., “the captain thinks he shall sail to-morrow.” Here he, the subject of the second sentence, is identical with captain, the subject of the first. If we substitute some other subject in the first clause, the shall of the second becomes will, e. g., “My brother thinks the captain will sail to-morrow." Moreover, in some adverbial sentences shall and should are necessary. “Whenever (or if, provided) it shall happen that, &c. If it should be found out." This seems to be owing to the hypothetical nature of these sentences. We should use will and would in other adverbial clauses, as, “Because he will be found out; because he would fail. I can tell you when he will arrive. We did not know when he would arrive. He labours so diligently that he will be sure to succeed.”
Upon the whole, then, as we have seen, there is no great practical difficulty in distinguishing between the cases where shall and those where will is required. The difficulty is confined to those instances where either one or the other may be used, and where only grammatical over-refinement can establish a fundamental difference, or where the Present Tense is
commonly used for the Future.*) It is curious that many Latin grammars retained till lately, or still retain, the practice of rendering the Latin Future in all persons by shall and will. For instance, the Eton Latin Grammar (edition, 1838) has
Audiam, I shall or will hear.
Audiet, he shall or will hear. The edition of 1861 has, I shall hear, thou wilt, he will hear. When the alteration was made I cannot now ascertain. How is it, then, that only in England the proper use of shall and will is thoroughly understood and practised without error? The Scotch, the Irish, and to a great extent, also, the Americans, constantly use will in the first person, where we use shall, as – "I will be obliged to you, if you lend me L5.” “Will I die, doctor ?"' Will I have any more pain?” &c.
Everybody knows the jocular taunt thrown at our northern and western neighbours. It is stated that they would say — "I will be drowned and nobody shall save me.” I am assured by my Scottish friends that the second part of this phrase is not good Scotch, and that they would use will and not shall. They invariably use will to express Futurity, and shall to express obligation, and for this they are ridiculed by all patriotic Englisbmen, and they are pronounced to be actually backward in civilisation and good breeding. Archdeacon Hare says (Phil. Mus. ii, 218) "Our Future or at least what answers to it, is I shall, thou wilt, he will. When speaking in the first person, we speak submissively; when speaking to or of another, we speak courteously. In our older writers, for instance in our translation of the Bible, shall is applied to all three persons; we had not then reached that stage of politeness which shrinks from the appearance even of speaking compulsorily of another. On the other hand, the Scotch use will in the first person; that is, as a nation, they have not acquired that particular shade of good breeding which shrinks from thrusting itself forward."
Now, this is rather a serious charge. The bulk of the Scotch, in the middle of the nineteenth century, and even some of their most eminent writers are here supposed not to be so far advanced in general good breeding and politeness as the English were more than 300 years ago, and that in spite of the good example that has been set them for such a long time. They have not only been unable to find out for themselves how they ought to speak politely, “without thrusting themselves forward,” but, when they
* In the town of Liverpool, the correct use of shall and will is, however, by no means universal even in the case of persons born and bred here. This is probably caused by the considerable number of Scotch and Irish residents. 'I have particularly observed that mistakes are
common and difficult to eradicate in the children of Scotch and Irish families. But even professional men, though of English descent and education, have occasionally their feeling of grammatical accuracy blunted by the intercourse with persons who speak incorrectly.
have been told, they have not the sense to see it, and they will persist to be rude.
I confess I can hardly treat such an argument seriously. I fail to perceive the politeness of a man who says, “I shall be obliged, if you
lend me L5," or the rudeness of another who says, “I will be obliged." The shall and will have nothing whatever to do with politeness or the want of politeness. It is not in these words, but in what accompanies them that we can show our good breeding. Grammatical forms are quite independent of such considerations.
The fact is, the Scotch went one way in forming the modern Future, the English went another. If Scotland had been the seat of government; of the court; of the capital of Great Britain, we should have adopted the northern. practice, as now we follow the southern. In itself the one is as good as the other; but, as England has acquired the lion's share in grammatical as well as political legislation, the Scotch must simply bow to the majority, and add another to the long list of grievances under which they suffer. The English Future, in Wiclif's time, was formed exclusively by shall
. It is quite possible to show a few faint traces of the introduction of will in Chaucer, and, perhaps, some other writers of the time. But in Wiclif's Bible I can discover only shall. Now, this was found to be, in some instances, very inconvenient, as shall retained its meaning of obligation, besides serving to form the future. I believe that the inconvenience began to be felt when popular preaching in the vernacular became more common. The preachers had necessarily to deal largely in religious and moral injunctions. “Thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not commit adultery.” As long as such commandments could be interpreted as Future tenses, the preachers would fail to produce the desired effect. They bad, therefore, either to substitute another word to convey the idea of obligation, or the future had to be expressed by some other auxiliary. If the old Saxon word weorthan had been preserved, and used like the German werden, to express the future, the problem would have been solved in a most satisfactory way, as it was in German.
But, unfortunately, will was employed, and now the Scotch went to work in a more systematic way, and used will throughout. The English, faithful to their national character, did not care about regularity and symmetry. As in everything else, they made a compromise between the old and the new. They preserved the shall in the first person, because the notion of commanding one's self could not be entertained, just as the imperative mood has no first person. In the second and third person they substituted will. In questions the shall was even serviceable in the second person, because if a question is asked, it cannot be mistaken for a command. In secondary sentences the shall was not so much restricted by the will, because the comparatively rare use of the Future in secondary sentences did not work out a decided general feeling and unanimity. On the whole,
the words shall and will, should and would, retained more of their primitive meaning in these secondary sentences; but now, in the time of grammarians, who lay down positive rules, it is not unlikely that we shall see the secondary sentences more and more brought under the same law as the principal sentences.
It is interesting to watch the gradual introduction of the modern future. It can be most satisfactorily traced in the successive translations of the Bible. Wiclif, as I have already stated, invariably uses shall, but none of the succeeding translators follow his example. Whenever the Greek Future can be conceived to contain the idea of volition, they more or less use will, even in the first person;*) but they are by no means agreed among themselves, and often the same translator seems to waver in the use of the two auxiliaries. It will be interesting to adduce a few examples.
The Prayer Book translation of Psalm xviii., v. 25, runs thus :
25. With the holy thou shalt be holy: and with a perfect man thou shalt be perfect. 26. With the clean thou shalt be clean: and with the froward thou shalt learn frowardness. 27. For thou shalt save the people that are in adversity: and shalt bring down the high looks of the proud. 28. Thou also shalt light my candle: the Lord my God shall make my darkness to be light.”
The authorized version has,
*25. With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful: with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright. 26. With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure: and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward. 27. For thou wilt save the afflicted people: but wilt bring down high looks. 28. For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord, my God, will enlighten my darkness."
Here is a complete change in less than half a century, (from 1568 to 1611.) But it appears the translator of the Prayer Book lagged rather behind his time, as will be seen from a comparison of Tyndale's (1535), Cranmer's (1539), the Geneva Bible (1557), and the Rheims Bible (1582). I quote from the authorized version, Matthew iï., 11:
) For instance, Matt. iv. 9, Wiclif translates, “All these I shall give (dwom) to thee.” All the other translators have "I will give,” which is more an interpretation than a translation of the original. Matt
. vi. 21. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be (fotol) also.”. No translator bere bas shall. Wiclif uses the present tense is. Possibly he intentionally avoided shall, as it might have conveyed the notion of command. So also the Rheims version. The other translators have will, by wbich, very appropriately, the idea was imparted to the text, that the heart inclines to be with its treasure. No such reasoning, however, prevented the use of shall in the following verse, (22.) “The light of the body is the eye: if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Here all translator have shall.
On the other hand, the Greek Future was rendered sometimes by shall on purpose to convey the idea of obligation, as ueqtuvňoer, (Luther, wird sorgen.) in Matt. vi. 34. "The morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”. Tyndale goes even further, and says, “Let the morrow care for itself;" which is going beyond the province of a translator.