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English citations of would

1611 1623 1660 1843 1861
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  1. Would – Used to indicate a wish or desire:
  2. (Might wish; often used in the sense of “if only”)
    • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 3
      • ch. II, Gospel of Mammonism
        Consider, for example, that great Hat seven-feet high, which now perambulates London Streets; which my Friend Sauerteig regarded justly as one of our English notabilities; “the topmost point as yet,” said he, “would it were your culminating and returning point, to which English Puffery has been observed to reach!”
      • ch. VII, Over-Production
        To the idler, again, never so gracefully going idle, coming forward with never so many parchments, you will not hasten out; you will sit still, and be disinclined to rise. You will say to him: “Not welcome, O complex Anomaly; would thou hadst staid out of doors: for who of mortals knows what to do with thee? […] ”
  3. (call to a deity or other higher power, followed by to)
    • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present
      Would to Heaven, for the sake of Conservatism itself, the noble alone were left, and the ignoble, by some kind severe hand, were ruthlessly lopped away ; book 1, ch. 2, "The Sphinx"
      Would to Heaven that we had a sieve; that we could so much as fancy any kind of sieve, wind-fanners, or ne-plus-ultra of machinery, devisable by man, that would do it! ; book 1, ch. 5, "Aristocracy of Talent"
    • 1861, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Early Italian Poets, Albertuccio della Viola, Canzone. Of his Lady dancing.
      Oh! would to God that I had never seen
      Her face, nor had beheld her dancing so!