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CONTRACTIONS Th and v dropped between two vowels

Whether and ever are trequently written or pronounced whe'r or where and e'er. The th is also softened in either, hither, other, father, &c., and the v in having, evil, &c.

It is impossible to tell in many of these cases what degree of "softening" takes place. In "other," for instance, the th is so completely dropped that it has become our ordinary "or," which we use without thought of contraction. So "whether" is often written "wh'er" in Shakespeare. Some, but it is impossible to say what, degree of "softening," though not expressed in writing, seems to have affected th in the following words:--

Brother. “But fór | our trúst | y bróther | -in-láw, | the ábbot.” Rich. II. v. 3. 137.

Either.Either léd | or drív | en ás | we poínt | the wáy.” J. C. iv. 1. 23; Rich. III. i. 2. 64, iv. 4. 82. “Are híred | to béar | their stáves; | either thóu, | Macbéth.” Macbeth, v. 7. 18; M. N. D. ii. 1. 32.

Further. “As if | thou never (né'er) | walk'dst fúrther | than Fins | bury.” 1 Hen. IV. iii. 1. 257.

Hither. “'Tis hé | that sént us ('s) | hither nów | to slaúght | er thée.” Rich. III. i. 4. 250.

So the Quartos. The Folio, which I have usually followed in other plays, differs greatly from the Quartos in Rich. III. Its alterations generally tend to the removal of seeming difficulties.

Neither.Neither háve | I món | ey nór | commód | itý.” M. of V. i. 1. 178.

Rather.Ráther than | have máde | that sáv | age dúke | thine héir.” 3 Hen. VI. i. 1. 224. So Othello, iii. 4. 25; Rich. II. iv. 1. 16.

Thither.Thither gó | these néws | as fást | as hórse | can cárry 'em.” 2 Hen. VI. i. 4. 78.

Whether. “Good sír, | say whéther | you'll áns | wer mé | or nó.” C. of E. iv. 1. 60.

Perhaps “Which hé | desérves | to lóse. | Whether he wás
(h' was: 461) | combíned.” Macbeth, i. 3. 111. “But sée, | whether Brút | us bé | alíve | or déad.” J. C. v. 4. 30; Rich. III. iv. 2. 120. “A héart | y wélcome. | Whether thóu | beest hé | or nó.” Tempest, v. 1. 111.

Whither. “What meáns | he nów? | Go ásk | him whíther | he góes.” 1 Hen. VI. ii. 3. 28.Glouc. The king | is ín | high ráge. |
Corn. Whíther is | he góing?” Lear, ii. 4. 299. So scan “Hów now, | spírit ! whither | wánder | yoú?” M. N. D. ii. 1. 1.

This perhaps explains: “To fínd | the (462) other fórth, | and bý | advént | uring
bóth.” M. of V. i. 1. 143. But see 501.

Having. “Hów could | he sée | to dó | them? Háving | made óne.” M. of V. iii. 2. 124.Having lóst | the faír | discóv | ery óf | her wáy.” V. and A. 828. “Our grán | dam éarth | having thís | distémp | eratúre.” 1 Hen. IV. iii. 1. 34.

So Rich. III. i. 2. 235; T. of A. v. 1. 61; A. W. v. 3. 123; Cymb. v. 3. 45.

In all of these verses it may seem difficult for modern readers to understand how the v could be dropped. But it presents no more difficulty than the v in "ever," "over."

Evil.

It is also dropped in "evil" and "devil" (Scotch "de'il"). “The évils | she hátch'd | were nót | efféct | ed, só.” Cymb. v. 5. 60. “Of hórr | id héll | can cóme | a dévil | more dámn'd.” Macbeth, iv. 3. 56. “Evil-éyed | untó | you; y' áre (461) | my príson | er, bút.” Cymb. i. 1. 72.

So Rich. III. i. 2. 76. Of course, therefore, the following is not an Alexandrine: “Repróach | and díss | olú | tion háng | eth óver him.” Rich. II. ii. 1. 258.

Similarly the d is dropped in "madam," which is often pronounced "ma'am," a monosyllable.

The v is of course still dropped in hast for havest, has for haveth or haves. In the Folio, has is often written ha's, and an omission in other verbs is similarly expressed, as "sit's" for "sitteth" (K. J. ii. 1. 289).

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