I'm reading the stories about Robin Hood and I've come across the usage of 'had better' that I find not very clear.
Robin brought a fellow, who didn't let him pass across the bridge, to the camp in the Sherwood Forest and asked his friends what they should do with him.
- 'Duck him!' they cried.
- 'No!' answered Robin. 'He has proved himself a fighter with a staff. He had far better join for us'.
It is clear from the context that the fellow wouldn't have caused any problem, if they had not allowed him to join their band. But... as I wrote before, referring to Murphy's book, with had better there is always a danger or a problem if you don't follow the advice. However, I can't see either of them in this example. Can you?
Yours sincerely, Alex.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) You have asked an excellent question. Before the language
professionals answer, may I just make a few comments?
(2) Maybe (a big "maybe"!!!) the problem lies with the difference
between "had better" and "far better."
(3) "had better":
You had better shut up, or I will hit you in your ugly face, dude!!!
(4) "far better" = much better:
"I had far better stay at home." = (I think) It would be much better
if I stay home.
"He had far better things to do with his time. = He had much better
Here is maybe the most famous "far better" quotation of all time.
You have probably read some of Charles Dickens's books, right?
(I have not. I do not like fiction.) Well, in one of his novels, a
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done ."
My source for this quotation explains that the character in the book
has "chosen to die in place of another man"!!! (Source: culture.your dictionary.com.) So I guess the character is saying that his decision to die for another man is much better than any other thing that he has ever done in his life.
(5) So maybe (maybe!!!) Mr. Hood (I like to use titles in order to
show respect) was saying something like:
It would be much better to have him join us. (That is, better than