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VERBS, MOODS OF:-- Infinitive used indefinitely

Infinitive, indefinitely used. To was originally used not with the infinitive but with the gerund in -e, and, like the Latin "ad" with the gerund, denoted a purpose. Thus "to love" was originally "to lovene," i.e. "to (or toward) loving" (ad amandum). Gradually, as to superseded the proper infinitival inflection, to was used in other and more indefinite senses, "for," "about," "in," "as regards," and, in a word, for any form of the gerund as well as for the infinitive.

“To fright you thus methinks I am too savage.

Not "too savage to fright you," but "in or for frighting you."

“I was too strict to make mine own away.

i.e. "I was too severe to myself in sacrificing my son."

“Too proud to be (of being) so valiant.

“I will not shame myself to give you (by giving you) this.

“Make moan to be abridged.” Ib. i. 1. 126. Not, "in order to be," but, "about being abridged."

“Who then shall blame
His pester'd senses to recoil and start.

i.e. "for recoiling." Comp. T. of Sh. iii. 2. 27; A. Y. L. v. 2. 110.

“O, who shall hinder me to wail and weep?

i.e. "as regards, or from, wailing."

“But I shall grieve you to report (by reporting) the rest.

“You might have saved me my pains to have taken away the ring.

i.e. "by having taken away."

“I the truer, so to be (for being) false with you.

“Lest the State shut itself out to take any penalty for the
same.” B. E. 158. i.e. "as regards taking any penalty." We still say, "I fear to do it," where "to" has no meaning of purpose; but Bacon wrote-- “Young men care not to innovate.” B. E. 161. "are not cautious about innovating." So Tr. and Cr. v. 1. 71.

This gerundive use of the infinitive is common after the verb "to mean:"

“What mean these masterless and gory swords
To lie discolour'd by this place of peace?

“What mean you, sir,
To give them this discomfort?

So Tr. and Cr. v. 1. 30.

“To weep to have that which it fears to lose.

i.e. "to weep because of having, because it has."

We say, "I took eleven hours to write it," or "I spent eleven hours in writing," not

“Eleven hours I spent to write it over.

; M. of V. i. 1. 154.

“But thou strik'st me
Sorely, to say (in saying) I did.

“You scarce can right me throughly then to say
You did mistake.” Ib. ii. 1. 99. i.e. "by saying." “I know not what I shall incur to pass it.” Ib. ii. 2. 57. i.e. "I know not what penalty I shall incur as the consequence of, or for, letting it pass."

“You're well to live.

i.e. "You are well off as regards living," resembles our modern, "You are well to do." The infinitive thus used is seldom preceded by an object:

“So that, conclusions to be as kisses, if your (221) four negatives
Make your two affirmatives, why then, &c.

“What! I, that kill'd her husband and his father,
To take her in her heart's extremest hate!

From 216 it will be seen that the English pronoun, when it represents the Latin accusative before the infinitive, is often found in the nominative. The following is a curious instance of the ambiguity attending this idiom:--

“I do beseech your grace
To have some conference with your grace alone.

i.e. "about having some conference," and here, as the context shows, "that I may have some conference."

Equally ambiguous, with a precisely opposite interpretation, is

“Sir, the queen
Desires your visitation, and to be
Acquainted with this stranger.

i.e. "and that you will become acquainted."

“Of him I gather'd honour
Which he to seek (seeking) of me again perforce
Behoves me keep at utterance.

Probably we must thus explain: “Thou'lt torture me to leave unspoken that
Which, to be spoke, would torture thee.” Ib. v. 5. 139. i.e. "You wish to torture me for leaving unspoken that which, by being spoken, would torture you."

“Foul is most foul being foul to be a scoffer,

seems to mean "foulness is most foul when its foulness consists in being scornful."

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