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horizontally flattened tail of the ornithorhynchus,
and the vertically flattened tail of the musk-rat,
has some use in its owner's subaqueous excursions,
either in the way of propeller or rudder.

Of all traditional tails, none has occupied so
much attention as the Tail of the Author of
Mischief. Painters have always represented him
with a dorsal appendage, more or less barbed.
In one of the prints to a Dutch translation of
Bunyan's Holy War, the manner in which his
tailor is represented as accommodating it is
ingenious. He is never supposed to be proud of
it, except in Porson's Devil's Walk:

And over the hill and over the dale
   He walked, and over the plain:
And backwards and forwards he switched his long tail
   As a gentleman switches his cane.

But though poets and painters agree as to
the devil's peculiar ornament, and though many
sinners and still more saints have seen it
(we now quote the celebrated Portuguese
preacher Vieyra), it is not so generally known
how he came by his tail: it grew at his fall, as
an outward and visible token that he had lost
the rank of an angel, and was fallen to the level
of a brute.


CHANGEABLE and uncertain creatures are
words; always roaming about from country to
country, disguised under all sorts of masks; hiding
their origin with as much jealous care as if they
were ashamed of their parentage, and making a
world of confusion in every literature where they
have smuggled themselves, like contraband goods
conveyed across the frontier. In those very last
two lines see what a tangle of tongues and
original meanings! Confusiona melting together;
literaturethe substantive form of letters;
smugglefrom the Danes or Swedes, used
anciently also for secret flatteries and caresses;
contrabandagainst the ban or edict; conveyto
go or journey with; voyagealso from the same
root; and frontierfrom the Latin, through the
French, the brow or foremost line. Analyse,
that is dissolve or resolve, each word back to its
original form, and instead of the sharp, compact,
concrete result which now embodies a complex
idea in a single word, we should have long pages
of loose-lying particles, among which the mind
would slip and stumble, as the feet among the
shingle. Compact concrete: are not these
preferable to join together and grown together, their
actual meanings? If, then, instead of this
cohesion we were to go back to the unknit
particles and express ourselves in many words
instead of one, we should come to strange
explanationssome very graphic, others very
bewildering. We should call an adjective a word
cast to another; an interjection a word cast in
among the rest; a verb would be the word; and
an adverb something tacked on to the word: if we
extracted anything, we should touch or handle
it again; if we spoke of our religion, it would of
the being bound or tied again; of our absolution,
as being loosed from: we should not lament our
tribulations, but would speak of being like corn
thrashed from the husks, from tribulation, the
original of this picture word; instead of being
desultory, we should jump from one thing to the
other, de salto, by leaps; and our caprices would
be only goat-likenesses in their sudden bounding
from point to point; simplicity would be without
fold, duplicity with two folds; a carbuncle
would be a little live coal; Florida would be the
flowery land; the Morea, the mulberry-leaf shaped;
Port Natal, port discovered on Christmas-day;
Madeira, the wooded; and Sicily, in its ancient
form of Trinacria, the three-cornered. The
rugged form of Mont de Pilate would lose its
awful legend and come down to be merely Mons
pileatus, the hatted hill, because of the eternal
cloud upon its summit. Stipulation would go
back to the old emblem of two people, when
entering on an agreement, breaking a straw
between them; a fortune and a ruin would not be
dilapidated but unstoned; and allegiance would
be only the act of being tied to anything.
Language would not gain much by this dissolving or
analysing process, though some of the lost or
forgotten meanings are better than the present
compound forms; as, that obedience means
literally the lowering or abasing of oneself; astonished,
thunder struck; that passion means suffering, as
indeed it is; mankind, men kinned or related;
transport, the being carried out of ourselves; and
rapture the being snatched away. That sierra is
literally a saw; a miser, a wretch; that labour
and wickedness have the same Greek roothow
wicked some of us must be! that a libertine is
simply a freethinker, or free man, and a lewd
person was only one of the laity. Going on, we
find that idiot meant originally a private or
unofficial man; a roué one broken on the wheel
coming first to represent a libertine in the times
of the Orleans Regency, when the Duc d'Orleans
gathered round him such a set of profligates and
scamps, that he was used to say they all deserved
to be broken alive on the wheel; to debauch is to
déboucher, the mouthof uncertain application;
to dapple, is to spot like an apple or pippin; the
alligator is el lagerta, the lizard; dischevilled,
déchevelé, dehaired; to encroach is to hook a
thing on to another, from croc, a crookwhence
crooked, and the old words crokes for hooks, and
acroke, crooked; also croquettes, the charming
little saucy girls called now accroche-coeurs, or
hook-hearts. Why should we say adjourn, and
not to the next day? bruited abroad, and not
noised abroad? parasol, and not sun warder?
umbrella, which, by-the-by, is ombrelle, a little
shadeand not (paraphine) rain warder? How
did quelque chose ever become converted into
kickshaws; and étiquette, or the ticket, be made
to mean the proprieties of life? That the Franks
would have stamped their nature on an adjective
meaning, specially what is most ingenuous and
candid, is as much an ethnological and historical
fact as it is a matter of etymology (what
terribly hard words we get into when we tread on
the heels of any science!). But, turning to
religious matters, few people remember that