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VERBS, AUXILIARY. Should after a past tense where shall would follow a present

Should was used in a subordinate sentence after a simple past tense, where shall was used in the subordinate sentence after a simple present, a complete present, or a future. Hence we may expect to find should more common in Elizabethan writers than with us, in proportion as shall was also more common. We say "I will wait till he comes," and very often, also, "I intended to wait till he came." The Elizabethans more correctly, "I will wait till he shall come;" and therefore, also, "I intended to wait till he should come." Thus, since it was possible to say "I ask that I shall slay him," Wickliffe could write "They axeden of Pilate that thei schulden sle hym" (Acts xiii. 28); "They aspiden hym that thei schulden fynde cause" (Luke vi. 7). In both cases we should now say "might."


“She replied,
It should be better he became her guest.

“Thou knew'st too well
My heart was to thy rudder tied by the strings,
And thou shouldst tow me after.” Ib. iii. 11. 58. The verb need not be expressed, as in

“A lioness lay crouching . . . with cat-like watch,
When that the sleeping man should stir.

"She has a poison which shall kill you," becomes

“She did confess she had
For you a mortal mineral, which being took
Should by the minute feed on life.

This perhaps explains

“Why, 'tis well known that whiles I was protector,
Pity was all the fault that was in me,
For I should melt at an offender's tears,
And lowly words were ransom for their fault.

"All my fault is that I shall melt (am sure to melt)," would become "all my fault was that I should melt;" "for" meaning "for that" or "because."

“And (Fol.) if an angel should have come to me,
And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes,
I would not have believed him.

Here, since the Elizabethans could say "Hubert shall," they can also say "he told me Hubert should."

So since the Elizabethans could say "To think that deceit shall steal such gentle shapes," they could also say, regarding the subordinate clause as referring to the past,

“Oh, that deceit should steal such gentle shapes!

“Good God, (to think that) these nobles should such stomachs

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