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VERBS, AUXILIARY. Shall, original meaning

Shall. Shall for will. Shall meaning "to owe" is connected with "ought," "must,"1 "it is destined."


“If then we shall shake off our slavish yoke,
Imp out our drooping country's broken wing,
Away with me.

i.e. "if we are to, ought to."

“Fair Jessica shall be my torch-bearer.

i.e. "is to be."

Hence shall was used by the Elizabethan authors with all three persons to denote inevitable futurity without reference to "will" (desire).

“If much you note him,
You shall offend him and extend his passion.

i.e. "you are sure to offend him."

So probably,

“Nay, it will please him well, Kate, it shall (is sure to) please him.

“My country
Shall have more vices than it had before.

“And, if I die, no man shall pity me.

i.e. "it is certain that no man will pity me."

There is no notion of compulsion on the part of the person speaking in

“They shall (are sure to) be apprehended by and by.

“If they do this (conquer),
As, if please God, they shall (are destined to do).

The notion of necessity, must, seems to be conveyed in

“He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence like foxes.


“He shall wear his crown,

shall means "is to." So in

“Your grace shall understand.

“What is he that shall (is to) buy?

“Men shall deal unadvisedly sometimes.

i.e. "men cannot help making mistakes."

“He that escapes me without some broken limb shall (must, will
have to), acquit him well.

K. Desire them all to my pavilion.
Glost. We shall, my lord.

In the last passage, "I shall" has a trace of its old meaning, "I ought:" or perhaps there is a mixture of "I am bound to" and "I am sure to." Hence it is often used in the replies of inferiors to superiors.

King Henry. Collect them all together at my tent:
I'll be before thee.
Erpingham. I shall do't, my lord.

“Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so.

So A. W. v. 3. 27; A. and C. iii. 12. 36, iv. 6. 3, v. 1. 3; Hen. V. iv. 3. 126; M. for M. iv. 4. 21; A. and C. v. 1. 68.

"You shall see, find," &c., was especially common in the meaning "you may," "you will," applied to that which is of common occurrence, or so evident that it cannot but be seen.

“You shall mark
Many a duteous and knee-crooking slave,
That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
Wears out his time. Whip me such honest knaves.

Shall is sometimes colloquially or provincially abbreviated into se, s:

“Thou's hear our counsel.

“I'se try.

1 "Thou shalt not," &c.

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