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VERBS, AUXILIARY. Will, "I will" not used by Shakespeare for "I shall"

Will. "I will." Some passages which are quoted to prove that Shakespeare used will with the first person without implying wish, desire, &c., do not warrant such an inference.

In Hamlet, v. 2. 183, "I will win for him, if I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits," the will is probably used by attraction with a jesting reference to the previous "will:" "My purpose is to win if I can, or, if not, to gain shame and the odd hits."

“There is no hope that ever I will stay
If the first hour I shrink and run away.

i.e. "There is no hope of my ever being willing to stay."

“I'll do well yet.

i.e. "I intend to do well yet."

“I will not reason what is meant hereby,
Because I will (desire to) be guiltless of the meaning.


“I will sooner have a beard grow in the palm of my hand
than he shall get one on his cheek,

there is a slight meaning of purpose, as though it were, "I will sooner make a beard grow," derived from the similarity in sound of the common phrase "I will sooner die, starve, than, &c."


“Good argument, I hope, we will not fly,

the meaning appears to be "good argument, I hope, that we have no intention of flying."

There is a difficulty in the expression "perchance I will;" but, from its constant recurrence, it would seem to be a regular idiom. Compare the following passages:--

“Perchance, Iago, I will ne'er go home.

“Perchance I will be there as soon as you.

“Perhaps I will return immediately.

In all these passages "perchance" precedes, and the meaning seems to be in the last example, for instance: "My purpose may, perhaps, be fulfilled," and "my purpose is to return immediately," or, in other words, "If possible, I intend to return immediately." In all these cases, the "perhaps" stands by itself. It does not qualify "will," but the whole of the following sentence.


“I will live to be thankful to thee for't,

the will refers, not to live, but to "live-to-be-thankful," and the sentence means "I purpose in my future life to prove my thankfulness."

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