4

From Literary English Reading:

I would not that we should not trespass against the Divine Law for justice.

What is this construction? Is this "should" the same as "would"? Not like "It is important that you do it."?

  • 1
    Related: Starting a sentence with “would that…”. – Damkerng T. Sep 11 '15 at 15:45
  • 2
    Eh? That second not is surely an error, unless the writer is expressing the very heterodox opinion that trespassing against Divine Law is desirable. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 11 '15 at 16:20
  • 1
    I don't know what "From Literary English Reading" means, but quite apart from the appallingly clumsiness of the double negation, such use of would is hopelessly poetic / archaic. Technically speaking your example is "grammatical", but I don't think it would be in the interests of most learners to familiarise themselves with such usages (or, God forbid, repeat them! :) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 11 '15 at 18:05
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers If you are reading or required to read older texts, it's still useful to understand. – Aaron Brown Sep 11 '15 at 19:37
4

I think it's a dated (often marked as "literary" in dictionaries) use of the verb "would" in the meaning of "desire", "wish".

And yet I would it were to give again. (Romeo and Juliet)

I would it might prove the end of his losses. (The Merchant of Venice)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy