The Eighteenth Century Lexicon
The meaning of words seems to have changed quite subtly over the last three hundred years. For instance in the eighteenth century a man might 'receive an intelligence' which in today's parlance, means that he has simply been 'told' something that interests him. The word 'intelligence' now has spying and intellectual connotations, which it didn't seem to necessarily have back then.
Then there are words that have fallen out of use altogether: such as 'wherein' (meaning 'in which') and 'beeves' (the plural of beef) and 'bigness' (size).
Another interesting thing I have discovered is that when reporting direct speech the words between the speech marks are not direct quotes from the person speaking (as in 'I would like you to come with me,' said the king.) but remains reported, as in: the king said, 'he would like me to come with him.' I keep wondering if I have that right, but I think I have.
I am also coming across words that must have been in vogue during Swift's time. This morning I came across the term 'Hapsburg Lip' which I discovered was a genetic mutation caused by inbreeding. At the time Jonathan Swift was writing his book Charles II was on the throne in Spain. He was the end of the Hapsburg line, and according to this Wikipedia article his Hapsburg Lip was only part of his problems. ....
It is a singular story, and I confess that I have been mindful of it over the entirety of this day.