Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 5.djvu/319

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9* s.v. APRIL 2i,


NOTES AND QUERIES.


311


being also used in Holland, France, and Russia, could not be looked on as happily and distinctively British. Worse and worse ! Since St. Patrick's Day I see patriots adorned with red, white, and blue, plus green for Ireland. But red, white, blue, and green are the famous " four colours " of the Transvaal, which has the Dutch flag, plus a cross band of green. D.

"SHOT." In previous wars we have used the past participle of shoot for persons sub- jected to military execution. In the present war we find it used for "killed": thus, " Officer shot." We should formerly have said, "Officer shot in the head," not "shot" by itself; never, except in the sense of shot by a firing party. D.

SHAKESPEARE'S PKOSE. The comparison which Mr. Young makes between the prose of Ben Jonson and that of Shakespeare, to the disparagement of the latter, leads me to suggest that Shakespeare has left us no prose from which it would be fair to make de- ductions as to his style. When the divine afflatus was on him he soared into the region of the highest poetry, and most of his prose scenes are given up to madmen and half-wits, buffoons, drunken knaves, servitors, bawds, executioners, and the like, as a set-off to the higher flights of his imagination. Take the one wholly prose play of ' The Merry Wives of Windsor,' which is typical of the bulk of prose scenes elsewhere, and it will be found impossible to cull a single sentence indicative of the dramatist's style. Then there is a second class of prose dialogue exemplified in

  • Much Ado about Nothing,' which is com-

Eosed of bubbling wit and sparkling epigram ; ut this, again, cannot be credited to the writer's natural style. Thirdly, there is another large section of prose dialogue, which may be classified as explanatory. It repre- sents the conversation of individuals whose office for the moment it is to explain the action of the play in language terse and unimaginative. Then, again, we occasionally come across some very slipshod prose dialogue, as in ' Cymbeline,' I. v., in which it is a clear case of the dramatist's nodding. And, lastly, we catch a fugitive glint of what his style might be in, for instance, the two dramatic little speeches of Beatrice, or in Hamlet's address to the two egregious, time - serving courtiers, where Shakespeare shows himself as far superior to Jonson in prose as he undoubtedly is in verse.

But all estimates of Shakespeare's prose style are vitiated by three conditions under which his prose was produced. The first is


that in his greater work he found no occasion for the use of prose, for when he gave us of his best, he gave it to us in verse ; secondly, because his prose is put into the mouths of strongly individualized characters in a style not necessarily his own ; and, thirdly, because it is strictly limited to dialogue for the pur- pose of performance. Therefore we have literally no means of testing the great master's prose style ; and when one critic pronounces it good, and another bad or inferior to some other writer's, he is criticizing that which is given to us subject to such limitations as put the criticism out of court. Let the critic by all means conjecture from the snatches of light revealed to us what that style might have been; but to take the mass of prose matter scattered throughout the plays and deduce therefrom his style is neither just to the dramatist nor creditable to the critic.

HOLCOMBE INGLEBY. Heacham Hall, Norfolk.

ROUMANIAN PLACE-NAMES. In his useful compilation * Names and their Histories ; Canon Taylor says that Bucharest means " the pleasant or beautiful city, from bucurie, pleasure, joy." This is incorrect, Bucharest is a plural. No Roumanian would say, " Bucharest is the capital of Roumania." He says, " Bucharest are the capital." The prin- ciple upon which this and other Roumanian place-names are constructed is unique, and merits explanation. Look at any map of Roumania, and it will be seen that there are two predominant terminations, -eni (-ani) and -esti. Both are patronymic in sense, and both are plural ; the corresponding singular end- ings would be -eanu and -escu. An article by Lambrior, in the ninth volume of the periodical Romania, gives as examples of the former Oniceni, Piticeni, lecusani, Laslaoani, Oprisani, Piscani. He shows that in the fifteenth century there was a man called Pitic. Each of his heirs was called in- dividually a Piticeanu, collectively they were the Piticeni, hence the name which is still retained by the village they owned. As to Laslaoani, I will quote his own words :

" Le village de Laslaoani tire son nom du premier proprietaire, Laslau, qui possedait cette terre au temps d'Etienne le Grand, Prince de Moldavie ; apres lui, ses descendants partagerent la terre, comme d'habitude ; mais, depuis lors, le riom du lieu prit la forme du pluriel, Laslaoani."

Similarly, the names of the villages Oniceni, lecusani, Oprisani, Piscani, mean, respectively, " sons of Onica, lacus, Opris, Piscu."

We are now in a position to appreciate the true etymology of Bucharest, which the natives call Bucuresti. It means "descend-