VERBS, MOODS OF:-- SUBJUNCTIVE: simple formSubjunctive, simple form. See also Be, Were, An, But, If, &c. The subjunctive (a consequence of the old inflectional form) was frequently used, not as now with would, should, &c., but in a form identical with the indicative, where nothing but the context (in the case of past tenses) shows that it is the subjunctive, as:
“But, if my father had not scanted me,
Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair.
If it be asked what is the difference between "stood" here and "would have stood," I should say that the simple form of the subjunctive, coinciding in sound with the indicative, implied to an Elizabethan more of inevitability (subject, of course, to a condition which is not fulfilled). "Stood" means "would certainly have stood." The possibility is regarded as an unfulfilled fact, to speak paradoxically. Compare the Greek idiom of ἵνα with the indicative.
“Preferment goes by letter and affection,
And not by old gradation where each second
Stood heir to the first.
“If he did not care whether he had their love or no, he waived
indifferently 'twixt doing them neither good nor harm; but he seeks
their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him.
Should say, 'Be good to Rome,' they charged him even
As those should do, &c.
"Till" is used varyingly with the indicative present, future, and the subjunctive. The subjunctive is found after "so" in the sense of "so (that)," i.e. "(if it be) so (that)."
“(If I rebuked you) then I check'd my friends.
Sometimes the presence of the subjunctive, used conditionally (where, as in the case of did, the subjunctive and indicative are identical in inflections), is indicated by placing the verb before the subject:
“I will . . . endow a child of thine,
So in the Lethe of thy angry soul
Thou drown the sad remembrance of these wrongs.
“Did I tell this . . . who would believe me?
He calls me to a restitution.
“Live a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so fit to die.
Where we should say, "Should I tell, live," &c. The indicative is sometimes found where the subjunctive might be expected:
“Live thou, I live.
where the first clause might be taken interrogatively, "Is it your pleasure to walk with me? In that case I will," &c. So 2 Hen. IV. iv. 1. 225. Perhaps we may thus explain the so-called imperative in the first person plural:
“Pleaseth you walk with me down to his house,
I will discharge my bond,
i.e. "suppose we sit down?" "what if we sit down?" Compare Ib. 168. So
“Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.
So "willy-nilly" and
“Alcib. I'll take the gold thou giv'st me, not all thy counsel.
Timon. Dost thou, or dost thou not, Heaven's curse upon
"Please" is, however, often found in the subjunctive, even interrogatively.
“He left this ring behind him, would I or not.
It then represents our modern "may it please?" and expresses a modest doubt. The subjunctive is also found, more frequently than now, with if, though, &c. The subjunctive "he dare" is more common than "he dares" in the historical plays, but far less common in the others. The only difference between the two is a difference of thought, the same as between "he can jump six feet" and "he could jump six feet," i.e. if he liked. Compare
“Please it you that I call?
i.e. "would not dare on any consideration:" stronger than "dares." The indiscriminate use of "dare" and "dares" (regulated, perhaps, by some regard to euphony) is illustrated by “Here boldly spread thy hands, no venom'd weed
“For I know thou darest,
But this thing dare not.
Dares blister them, no slimy snail dare creep.” B. and F. F. Sh. iii. 1.