work. But the other editions are on paper and in a style of typography highly creditable to the American press, especially to the mechanism of the power press, where it is executed. We have seen no edition of the scriptures, published in this country, which will not suffer by a comparison with this duodecimo edition. We sincerely hope this work will have a widely extended and lasting circulation. Strictures on Murray's Grammar.

(Continued from p. 309.) The object we have in view, in these essays, is merely to point out the more glaring inconsistencies of Murray's grammar. We are therefore obliged to confine our remarks to the leading points in his second division of grammar, Etymology. Murray says ' there are in English nine sorts of words, or, as they are commonly called, parts of speech.' We shall not dispute about terms; although it would be a fair question to ask, if there are not as many parts of speech as there are words used in speaking; or, indeed, if a letter is not a part of speech, so that, properly speaking, we have twenty-six parts of speech. We do not wish to cavil unnecessarily, nor shall we, with Hornc Tooke and others, resolve all the classes of words, into one. We are willing to allow several, and shall, in our remarks upon them, endeavor to follow the order our author has adopted. The At title.

'An article is a word prefixed to substantives to point them mil, ami to show how far their signification extends. Again 'There are hut two articles, A and the. A becomes an before a rowel or a silent A.'

It was not difficult to find words in English resembling the nouns, verbs, adjectives, &.c. of the ancient languages; but this was not enough for the first English grammarians, they must find in English as many sorts of words as were said to exist elsewhere. Something called an article was found in Greek, and suspected to exist in Latin. O, the Greek article is equivalent to hie in Latin, and hie, in Latin, is this, (in some dialects thic,) in English. But this Murray calls a pronoun. The, his article, is a contraction of this, once spelled that and afterwards the. The has been pressed into the service and made an article; while this has been denied the (or this or that) honor; for two words that are entitled to form a separate class are certainly highly distinguished. Vol. i. 54

[ocr errors]

Now we venture to say that in every important case this, that, these and those may be substituted for the without altering the sense. Mr. Murray says that the in the sentence 'Nathan said unto David, thou art the man,' is peculiarly emphatical. But thou art this or that man is equally so. An article, (our author says,) is a word prefixed to substantives, this and that, these and those, one, two, three, and every other numeral and ordinal adjective, are prefixed to nouns, in the same way, 'to point them out,' and even ' to show how far their signification extends, for they effectually limit the signification of the noun. The man, this man, that man, forty men, seventh man. The words in Italic are all articles, if Murray's definition be correct. Thus we have disposed of one article. Not satisfied with one (that is an) article, our grammarian must have two. An is a contraction of one. An is generally contracted into a before words beginning with a consonant, and a does not become an, as Mr. Murray asserts; for, at no very remote period of our literature, an was used before all words. One is sometimes spelled ane, hence an. A book is one book. The article un winch the French grammarians have impressed into the class of articles, is also their numeral adjective. How a numeral adjective can lie called indefinite is hard to conceive. Is one or ten an indefinite number? The fact is a, an, and the, are as good adjectives as any in our language; and had there not been an article in the Greek Grammar, these words would have been left among the adjectives in ours. The Substantive.

'A substantive or noun is the name of any thing that exists, or of which we have any notion.''

Why the term substantive should be preferred to noun, or, what is better, name, we know not. Substantive carries with it the notion of substance; but many nouns are unsubstantial. Noun or name has no such objection. We think the definition would be less mystical if it merely said, a noun is the name of any thing, or, to save tautology, ' The first class of words are names.' It is as well to say nothing about existence, for some nouns imply nonexistence. Then comes the following distinction.

'Substantives are either proper or common.'

'Proper nouns are names appropriated to individuals.' 'All nouns in the singular must be individual names, hence our author adds, 'common nouns may also be used to signify individualsby the addition of articles or pronouns!' That is, proper nouns are common nouns and common nouns are proper nouns. But this is not the best of it. He says 'Common nouns stand for kinds, containing many sorts, or for sorts containing many individuals' and then very truly •litis, ' when proper names have an article (that is, mi mljt Hive) annexed to them, they are used as common names.' We venture to assert that there is no distinction of proper and common nouns, and we bring the above extracts to prove our assertion. We say that every noun in the singular is the name of an individual, and George is no more appropriated to an (that is one) individual, than any other singular noun; for there are or may be a thousand Georges. It is true that 'when proper nouns have an article before them they are used as common names,' but it is also true that they are used as common names, without what Mr. Murray calls the article. The Cesars were emperors; Twelve Cesars were emperors. It is also true that proper names become common without either an article or adjective before them. 'Cesars were once emperors, now they are dogs.' Why then this unmeaning distinction, contradicted in the very first page that asserts it?

'All nouns are of the tliird person when spoken of, and of the second when spoken to.' We see no reason for this distinction. There is no need of it on Mr. Murray's plan, for he does not let any noun of the second person change its own termination or that of its verb. There is an appearance of reason in attributing three persons to pronouns, but it is not so with nouns. Grant, however, that nouns have persons, why have they only two? Do not some persons represent the person speaking, as well as the person spoken to? 'I, Mr. Murray puzzle children', is as good an instance of the first person, as ' Be grateful, children of men' is of the second. Even Mr. Murray seems to have had some rational views, for in his remarks upon passive verbs he has these remarkable words. 'The English tongue is in many respects materially different from the learned languages. It is, therefore, very possible to be mistaken ouselves, and to mislead and perplex others, by an undistinguishing attachment to the principles, and arrangement of Greek and Latin grammarians. Much of the confusion and perplexity, which we meet with in the writings of some English Grammarians, on the subject of verbs, moods and conjugations, (he might have said cases also,) has arisen from the misapplication of names. We are apt to think that the old names must always be attached to the identical forms and things to which they were anciently attached. But if we rectify this mistake, and properly adjust the names to the peculiar forms and nature of the things in our own language, we shall be clear and consistent in our ideas;' (and, we add, not till then.) It is to be lamented that in the very chapter which contains the above remarks, Mr. Murray undertakes to defend his system of moods, tenses, voices, Sec. on the score of their utility, convenience, resemblance to the Latin, beautiful symmetry, &c. for, he con

[ocr errors]

eludes, although the learned languages, with respect to voices, moods and tenses, are, in general, differently constructed from the English tongue, ' Yet in some respects, they are so similar to it, as to warrant the principle which I', (Mr. Murray,) 'have adopted.'

We are willing to admit that there is a convenience in allowing to nouns three situations in the sentence, which situations, Mr. Murray, who seems to be one of those whom he describes as ' apt to think that old names must continue to be attached to what they were anciently attached to' calls cases, a term possibly applicable to Latin, but not at all to English nouns. Let us examine his definitions. The Nominative Case simply expresses the name of a thing, or the subject of the verb. At ' The girls learn.' If this definition has any meaning separate from the definition of nouns in general, we cannot discover it. The objective case also, ' simply expresses the name of a thing' and is the subject on which a verb acts. 'The girls learn' (what subject?) 'grammar.' The ' surgeons dissect' (what subjects?) 'bodies.' Are the girls and surgeons the subjects of the verbs learn and dissect? The fact is, the nominative and objective cases, as he calls them, are the same word, the same ' name of a thing:' sometimes acting, when they are placed before the verb; and sometimes the subject or object of action, when in the sense they follow the verb. The term nominative from the Latin monino to name, has led Mr. Murray to give a definition which implies that the objective case is not the name of a thing. Had he said a word of the doubts which have been raised in regard to the possessive case being the name of a thing, we should have been less inclined to censure him. There has been a spirited contest on this subject, some grammarians asserting that all adjectives are nouns, and others that all nouns are adjectives. It may be well to remark that, whichever existed first, the noun or adjective, it is clear that what we now call nouns may be used as adjectives and verbs also, as 'eye,' 'to eye,' 'eye ball;' and if some words sound oddly when used in either of these three ways, it is not because the genius of our language forbids such use.of them, but because such use is uncommon or unnecessary. The terminations of the numerous cases in Latin and Greek, and of the possessive in English were undoubtedly significant of something. It is generally supposed that the is, or es of our possessive was equivalent to add or join, and therefore 'my father's house' is the same as 'my father add house.' The omission of the c or i before s, and the substitution of the apostrophe, are the work of more modern times, and were no doubt intended to distinguish the possessive from the plural of nouns, which were before spelled alike. But this termination was by no means indispensable nor was it generally affixed to nouns. There can be no doubt that in such expressions as 'bell rope,' 'shoe string,' 'night cap,' and a thousand others, 'bell,' 'shoe,' and 'night,' are substitutes for the possessive case. But we hesitate not to call these words adjectives. Some connect the two words with a hyphen, and call the united words a compound noun, but we conceive this to be as unnecessary as it would be to connect any other adjective with the noun it qualifies.* Thus rope is the common name of a thing, long rope restricts the meaning of the noun, as do large, old, new, cart or bell rope. Bell and cart cease to be properly names, and serve to express the quality of things. Again, Charlotte when alone may be a noun, but when prefixed to the sirname, is merely a distinctive term. The office of an adjective, is merely to enable us to distinguish nouns, that is names, from each other. Mr. Wilson has three daughters. Wilson is the family name of each, but they must be distinguished. The father calls one the good daughter, another the fair daughter, and the third the Utile daughter, but he has another way of distinguishing them and calls the first Charlotte, the second Harriet, and the third Caroline. Charlotte, Harriet, and Caroline, therefore, are true adjectives when used in this manner, and we shall endeavor to show that every possessive case in our language is no other than an adjective. If a noun is the name of a thing, we think no one will deny that the English possessive is not a noun. 'Father's house.'' Father's in this sentence is not a name. Father to be sure is so, but father's implies more than the relation which exists between a parent and his child. In fact its original meaning is secondary, and subordinate to its new office, which is, to distinguish one house from another. We can see no difference between the office performed by the first words in the following sentences, and therefore are compelled to call them all adjectives. 'Noisy carriages;' 'Boston streets,' 'Boston's streets;' 'vernacular tongue,' 'mother tongue,' 'mother's tongue.' As we have hinted before, if the termination 's, have any meaning, father and father's differ in meaning; and iffailier can be used alone, while father's, like any adjective, cannot make sense without a substantive, the use of the two words is different.

• Our contributor is here at variance with the practice of the more correct presses, both of this country and of England. In the following, and similar cases, a hyphen is thought indispensable: a glass-home, I a house for the manufacture of glass,)—the only possible means of distinction from a glass house, (a house wnade of glass.)—Examples 'A man who lives in a glass house, should not throw stones at his aeigbbor's windows.'—' I fonnd James at the glass-hotue.'Ed.

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »