Source: The DHCP Handbook, 2nd Edition by Ralph Droms and Ted Lemon (2003)


Thanks to Kim Kinnear for all his hard work on the failover protocol and for putting up with all my suggestions, some of which may have been useful. Thanks to Edward Lemon, Sr., and Robert Dickerson, my grandfathers, for never believing something couldn’t be done and letting a little of that attitude rub off on me (would that it had been more). Thanks to my grandmother, Leone Lemon, for trying to teach me to be considerate.

I'm trying to understand that thing in bold, but I just seem completely unable to. Could you please help me pick it apart piece by piece so that it is clear what exactly is going on there in terms of grammar? The would that part is especially confusing to me.

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    As a native English speaker this confuses me. I think maybe it's something that got missed in proofreading. I think a better way of putting it would be something like although it should have been more, potentially the author is looking back on those times with fondness and wishes they had more time with those people to learn more from them. Alternatively it could mean that the author thinks that those people worked harder to teach them than the author did to learn from their mentors. Ultimately I can only speculate as to what it actually means, but that's my best interpretation of it. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 9:23
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    It's similar to saying "wish that it had been more". He wishes more of his grandfather's attitude had rubbed off on him.
    – user42526
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


would that it had been more

This is an archaic way of expressing a wish. In modern English, we would ordinarily say, quite simply, "I wish that it had been more." In the passage, the speaker is thanking all of those people he lists for teaching him the spirit of never giving up. He is saying he wishes he had done an even better job of learning that idea from them. (When something 'rubs off on you,' it means that you have acquired a habit from following someone else's example.)

Would that uses a form of the subjunctive mood, or, according to some authorities, the optative mood. (Others insist that English does not have a distinct optative mood.)



A person would use it today to lend an extra flair of poetry or melodrama to something being said. It tends to recall the language used by great poets and playwrights of past centuries.

Pity me, however, I have finished (reading) Ramona. Would that like Shakespeare, it were just published!

^ Emily Dickinson in a letter to a fellow writer, 1884.

It may be that this strange night existence is telling on me, but would that that were all!

^ A character's journal entry in Bram Stoker's Dracula. (circa 1897)

Would that Christmas lasted the whole year through (as it ought), and that the prejudices and passions which deform our better nature, were never called into action among those to whom they should ever be strangers!

^ Charles Dickens, 1835

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