counsel 1 thou wold me say, To do what / am best.
and one from the Cron. Englonde, quoted by the N. E. D.:
1483 He wyste not what he war beste to do.
I will add a few instances from Shakespeare.
Tempest. I II 366, Fetch vs in Fewell, and be quicke thoiïrt best.
Cymb. III 11 79, Madam, yoiire best consider.
Gentl. of Ver. I I 108, If the ground be ouercharg'd, you were best sticke her.
Merry ^T III 111 165, You were best meddle with
Love's Lab. Lost V II 171, You were best call it a Daughter beamed eyes.
As You Like It I I 154, thou wert best look to 't.
Taming of the Shrew V 1 106, thou werdt best saie that I am not Lucentio.
All's Well II III 267, Thou wert best set fhy lower part where thy nose stands.
Cymb. III vi 19, I were best not call.
Gentl. of Ver. I lil 24, teil me, whether were 1 best to send him?
Richard III, IV IV 337, What were I best to say?
58. The modern English phrase be the better (as, You are [all] the better for the change) does not appear to have developed from an A construction; the is an old instrumental dependent on a comparative. In Alfred's Boethius we find.
27/27, hwi cart ]tu | onne a />>/ betere for his gode.
35/16, |ii ne bid nan man for his anwealde na [ie betere.
As we see the Old Eng. construction agrees exactly with the modern one. The following two passages show that in M. E. the idiom also occurs without the preposition for:
Chaucer, Leg. of Good W. 1363, I may wel lese a word on yow, or letter, Al-be-it that I shal be never the better.
Bev. of Hamt. 996, Manch. MS., Euer more thou shalte be the better.
There is an instance in the Conf. Am., in which of is used instead of for: