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44


NOTES AND QUERIES. [9* s. XL JA*. 17, iocs.


Shrub. ' Concise ' derives this word from an unrecorded O.E. scrob, which is not phonetically satisfactory. "Shrub" can be quite regularly equated with O.E. scn/bb, See Stevenson's scholarly paper on ' Old Eng- lish Words,' read before the Philological Society, April, 1898. For the modern English sound cp. blush, cluster, bundle, much, such, cudgel, rush, crutch, runnel, dull, stub. See Prof. Napier's letter in the Academy, 1892, i. 447.

Baste (1), to beat ; Baste (2), to pour fat over meat. 'Concise' on p. 662 explains both these words as directly borrowed from Scandinavian dialects. Their pronunciation, however, shows that they come to us directly from the French. Compare, for example, baste (the tailor's term), haste, paste, taste, waste, all French words. The word baste as a cookery term does not mean to broil, fry, grill, bake, as the Dan. baste does, but simply to pour gravy over meat that is roasting. It is doubtless O.F. bastir (modern bdtir\ which in Romanic had the general sense of prepare, hence the special senses put together, con- struct, build, sew together, in French, and the cooking sense in England. Baste (to beat) is probably a figurative use of the cooking term (cp. the dialect word anoint in the sense of thrash, for which see 'E.D.D.')-

Reek (vapour). 'Concise' identifies this word with O.E. rec (smoke). But rec belong- ing to the i- declension would be pronounced with palatalized c, and would therefore be represented by reech in modern English (cp. the word ' * reechy " in ' Concise '). Would it not be safer to start from O.E. reocan (to send forth smoke), which is a strong verb, and would be pronounced now reek ? In this case the pronunciation of the substantive would have been assimilated to that of the verb.

Rick. 'Concise' says "from hrycce, as in corn-hrycce." But O.E. hrycce, belonging to the -jan declension, was pronounced with palatizatipn of the geminated c, so that if it had survived in modern English it would have appeared in the form rutch, just as O.E. crycc has become crutch. Our rick is identical with O.E. hreac (a rick), M.E. reek, with shortening of the M.E. vowel before the palatal, as in mc^-name, sick, wick of a lamp. Compare also Puck, which is the O.E. puca (a goblin) ; see Prof. Napier's ' O. E Glosses,' 23, 2.

Blotch (a pustule, tumour). 'Concise' on p. 662 mixes up words that should be kept apart. Our "blotch" may be equated with the Picard bloche =Central French blosse, a tumour (Roquefort). There is another French


bloche (a clod of earth), the Picard form of which is blocque ; see Ducange (s.v. blesta). These latter forms are connected with French bloc, English block. Any connexion of either of these groups with a Romanic type pilottea, is quite out of the question.

COMESTOR OXONIENSIS.


THE PAUCITY OF BOOKS IN ELIZA- BETHAN TIMES : SHAKESPEARE ABROAD.

READERS of 'N. & Q.' may well be sick of the Baconian-Shakespeare controversy, but I cannot help raising one question not as to the authorship of the plays which is sug- gested to my mind by Mr. G. G. Greenwood's article on ' The Mystery of William Shake- speare ' in the Westminster -Review for Decem- ber, 1902.

Biographers of Shakespeare, like Mr. Halli- well-Phillipps, seem to take it for granted that in Elizabeth's time, apart from religious and educational works, there were not more than two or three dozen books at most in a market town like Stratford-on-Avon, also that in those days "country gentlemen [according to Macaulay] spoke the dialect of clowns." I should much like to know the evidence on which these assumptions are founded.

We know that some public must have been found to purchase all the countless pamphlets and newsbooks which, to use Greene's expression, were " yarked up " in a few hours for the London booksellers, and we know, too, that plays which were performed by the travelling companies in every part of England teemed with Latin, French, and Italian quotations, which, like those in 'Love's Labour Lost,' were not translated to the audience even when the dialogue hinged upon them as, for instance, in the character of Holofernes. Would as many untranslated expressions be stood by a modern audience from a similar character?

As regards the question of dialect, it recurred forcibly to my mind when, the other day, I had occasion to examine at the Record Office and British Museum a quantity of semi private correspondence, dating from the years 1555 to 1561. The writers varied in position from a Privy Councillor to Queen Mary to an Escheator for Somersetshire, who was, I believe, a man who had risen from the smaller bourgeoisie by a fortunate marriage. I was extremely struck by the modern turn of the language and phraseology, which were far more like those of our own day than any of the contemporary printed prose. The writers came from Northumberland, Somer- setshire, Glamorganshire, and Essex, yet