ture for his loue, rather han I shold see hym destroyed.
1544 Ascham, Toxophilus, p. 104, You rather wonldc - haue a manne go some other way to worke.
1553 Roister Doister p. 39, rather than with such a loutishe dolte to mariè... [she] woulde lyue a poore lyfe solitarie.
There are eight instances in the first folio of Shakespeare; in live of them would. and rather are separated from each other, a^ in the example from Roister Doister; in the other three this is not the case.
Meas. for Meas. V 396, I would not rather Make rash remonstrance of my hidden powre, Then let him so be lost.
Sec. Part Henry Sixth III 1 297, / rather wotdd haue lost my Life betimes, Then bring a burthen of dishonour home.
Rich. Third, III VII 161, 1 would rather hide 111e from my Greatnesse... Then in my Greatnesse couet to be hid; the quartos read lhad rather.
51. It may be advisable to briefly sum up the facts I have hitherto ascertained. By 1300 two new idioms had sprung up beside the original one me is leef, viz. / have leef, lever, and 1 will raper, so that 'I should prefer' might be expressed by
a. me were lever
b. I had lever
c. I wo\it\ld raper
These three idioms mutually influenced one another, with the exception. hovvever, of a and c, which differed too much to make any interaction likely. a and b had lever in common, and the interrelations between them gave rise to
d. I were lever and e. me had lever.
Similarly b and c had the subject in common, while moreover the adjectives accompanying the verbs, were perfectly synonymous. This led to the development of two more blendings:
/. I would lever,
and g. I had raper.