"should/ would" opinions please

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 28 16:50:20 UTC 2013

Here's an interesting "should/would" question with a dash of "might" for
those more attuned to 19th C. nuance than I am.

In an 1881 essay on the battle of Shiloh, Ambrose Bierce concludes by
waxing poetic in the following terms:

"Ah, Youth, there is no such wizard as thou! …[G]ild for but one moment the
drear and somber scenes of to-day, and I will willingly surrender an other
[sic] life than the one that I should have thrown away at Shiloh."

I can't believe (from the broader context) he means that he "should" have
thrown his life away; merely that he "might" have (by being killed).  (The
"other" life involved, in contrast to his adventurous youth, is his drab
post-bellum existence.)

Whatever Bierce may mean, I don't feel that my sprakgefool is sharp enough
to determine the nuances of "should" and "would" in this case.

How do others interpret Bierce's meaning?

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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