« ForrigeFortsett »
God said 'Let light fee.' Either nothing was done in obedience to this command, or what was done is expressed by the word bt.
1 To talk of industry is not to be industrious. To talk of industry is not to act industriously. To be brave is to act bravely. Be diligent, be active, be moving, if you would be, or become or get rich.' In all these cases Be expresses at least the exertion of vitality, and it is no objection to say that this exertion is confined to the agent, for a hundred other verbs are said to confine their action to their agents. To Be means to exist, to live, to have a state or condition: so say our best dictionaries. Either of these defining words may take an objective case after it. To exist a miserable existence. To live a good life. To live as well as speak the praise of God. To live a fool and die a sage. To exist a man and die a beast. To be a slave to one's passions. It will not do to say that' to exist a man' or ' be a slave', means to exist like a man, or be like a slave. For to be like a slave and to be a slave are very different things. Murray says 'the verb to be through all its variations has the same case after it as that which precedes it.'—And after giving some examples, he adds 'By these examples it appears that this substantive verb has no government of case, but serves in all its forms as a conductor to tlie cases, so that the two cases which are the next before and after it, must always be alike.' As the possessive case does not follow the verb to be, as its object, and as the nominative and objective are always spelled alike, Mr. Murray mistook the objective for the nominative. Under his Xlth rule of syntax, his examples are all of pronouns, and only prove, what is the fact, that our pronouns once had no distinction of case. Had he given one instance of a noun before and after the verb, we should have taken it to illustrate our position. But let us see what he says farther on this subject.
'Perhaps this subject will be more intelligible to the learner, by (his or my?) observing that the words in the cases preceding and following the verb to be, may be said to be in apposition to each other, that is, they refer to the same thing, and are in the same case.'
Op-position would have been more correct as they are on opposite sides of their • conductor.1 What he means by calling the verb to be a conductor of cases, I cannot imagine. He should have
called it a conjunction at once; for, if the case before and after this verb mean the same thing, this similarity of meaning is caused by the verb, and they are united by it, and it is properly a conjunction. The verb to be expresses action; but this action usually affects only the individual that exerts it. Hence most, if not all the objectives of this verb refer to, or mean the same person or thing as the nominative. But this is not peculiar to the verb to be, for 'John plays the fool' is a parallel case, to 'John is a fool' and it is just as correct to say, that the word after plays is in apposition with John as that the word after is is so. But plays is an active verb, and jool the object of it, as much as game, would be.
'John is a slave to his wife' means that he submits to all the servility she imposes on him. In the sentence 'John is made a slave by his wife,' Murray would call slave an objective case, governed by the participle made, although the structure is the same as before; as the transposition of the words will show. 'John is a slave, made by his wife;' made being what he would call a participial adjective, qualifying the word slave, and not governing it.
1 lad Mr. Murray conjectured that the word in apposition was an adjective, he would have come nearer the truth, for we have found no case where an adjective may not be substituted for the latter noun. Thus, 'John is a fool' is equivalent to 'John is foolish,' 'John is a slave,' means 'John is slavish'. This, however, will not apply when an adjective precedes the latter noun, as, 'John is a foolish man;' in which case man is the object of the verb is. If any more proof of the activity of the verb to be is required, let it be sought in what Murray calls the Imperative mood of to Be; as, Be quick, be diligent, be active, be still, be furious, &c. in all which cases be means act, go, do, &c. We think there is no need of our attempting to prove that verbs which mean to suffer mean also to do, we shall therefore pass on to Murray's division of verbs into Active, passive, and neuter. He says ' A verb Active expresses an action and necessarily implies an agent, and an object acted upon, as 'I love Penelope'. We believe that every verb in our language will answer to this definition. The example he gives leads us to remark that the action is often intellectual merely, and notpkysical.
'A Verb passive expresses a passion, or a suffering, or the receiving of an action, and necessarily implies an object acted upon, and an agent by which it is acted upon; as, ' Penelope is loved by me.' If Penelope suffered in consequence of being loved by Mr. Murray, it does not follow that all who are loved suffer. Nor, if this sense of the word suffer is objected to, does it follow that, because he loved Penelope, she suffered or permitted him to do so. But letus see what he calls a neuter verb.
'A verb neuter expresses neither action nor passion, but being, or a state or condition of being, as I am, I sleep I sit.'
But our author says ' In the phrases to dream a dream, to live a life, to run a race, to walk a horse, to dance the child, the verbs certainly assume a transitive form, and may not in these cases be improperly denominated transitive (that is, completely active) verbs.' By this rule we can take his examples of neuter verbs cited above, (and he selected the best for his purpose that he could find,) and place a noun after them. I am a being, I sleep myself easy, I sit a horse well. These therefore are active verbs, and we assert that every verb in the language will as readily admit an object after it. Indeed, an ingenious philologer,* who ought to be better known in this country, has pretty clearly proved that every verb may have two objective cases after it. But let us return to the Passive Verb. 'A passive verb is conjugated by addingthe perfect participle to the verb to be.' So this neuter verb becomes passive by having a participle placed after it, and a passive verb, like an active one, ' necessarily implies an agent and an object acted upon;' this if true would be all we claim for the verb to be.
'Penelope is loved.'
Is Penelope the agent and the object too? then Penelope loves herself; but, under the definition of an active verb it was said '/ love Penelope.' What then is the difficulty? plainly this, that loved is not a verb. 'Penelope is or exists,' how does she exist? loved or hated as the case may be. Loved is an adjective and qualifies Penelope, as any other adjective would, and it is just as correct to say the phrase 'Penelope is sick or old or ugly' is a passive verb, as to call ' Penelope is loved' one. The perfect participle is a mere adjective, and the whole Passive voice is built upon a misconception of its nature and use. If any thing is wanted to complete the climax of absurdities, it may be found in the fact that, although the perfect participle, whose action is finished, may, with the verb to be, form apassive voice, the present participle whose action is going on is allowed no such privilege. 'Penelope is loved' is a passive verb, and expresses a passion, or suffering, but 'Penelope is loving' expresses no passion, no suffering, although by the custom of civilised society she is obliged to keep her passion to herself, and suffer the consequences. We * William 8 Cardcll of New-York, author of an Essay on Language, and The Elements of English Grammar, two works to which we refer our readers for much important information in regard to the structure of language.
arc very much inclined to think there is more passion and suffering in this case than in the other; and the verb to be in all its moods and tenses may be joined with the participle in ing as well as with that in ed. To Verbs, says our author, belong Number, Person, Mood and Tense. One would think that the plural of verbs was spelled differently from the singular, but this is not the case. What Murray calls the plural is always the same as his first person singular, in all his moods and tenses, and in some moods it is the same as all the persons singular. I love We love If thou love Ye love If he love They love I loved We loved If thou loved He loved He loved They loved His imperative mood allows no variation even in the second and third persons singular. His potential and subjunctive moods confine their variation to the auxiliary as he calls it, and the principal verb is unaltered. What then is meant by the number of verbs? We answer ' the number of the Pronouns." And it is just as correct to attribute number to verbs as to adjectives, and Mr. Murray, to have been consistent should have called all adjectives that qualify plural nouns, plural adjectives. In the following sentences we have yet to learn why the adjective is not as much plural as the verb, or rather why the verb is not as much singular as the adjective. If / be sick. If We be sick. It is just so with the Person of Verbs. Mr. Murray having previously determined that pronouns had three persons, was resolved to find corresponding variations in the verb. First Tense. Second Tense. I love or love I. I loved or loved I.
Tliou lovest or lovest thou. Thou lovedsl or lovedst thou. Thou love or love thou. Thou loved, or loved thou. He loves or loveth or loves \ or loveth he. > lie loved, or loved he. He love or love he. ) We love or love we. We loved, or loved we. Ye love or love ye. Ye loved, or loved ye. They love or love they. They loved, or loved they. The above are all the variations of the verb love in all its voices, moods, tenses, numbers, and persons; for the place of the pronoun, and the assistance of other words, have nothing to do with love. The first person singular and three persons plural, admit no Diob variation for person than for number. The unchanged verb is also used in the second and third persons singular of the subjunctive and imperative moods of Murray. The terminations est, eth, s, ed, and edst, once had a meaning, which was, add or join, and there is no more propriety in adding them to the second and third persons singular than to the other persons. Indeed, if the clergy when they left off worshipping in Latin, had not retained a love for such phraseology as differed from that of the vulgar, the terminations, est, eth and edst would have fallen entirely into disuse in these two persons, as they did in all the others, for the time has been when eth was the common termination of all the persons. It is the duty of grammarians to prevent or correct such anomalies; but the first English grammarians were clergymen; and so far from rejecting the absurdity we complain of, they not only admitted it as canonical, but dignified it with the appellation of the solemn style, in opposition to the regular style in general use. They should have invented a solemn style for the other persons also. That eth was once a termination common to all the persons may be seen in the following extract. 'Hevene and erthe he oversitth His eghen biih full brighte, Sunne and mone and all sterren Bielh thiestre on his lihte, He wot huet thenchcth and huet doeth All quicke wihte.' In consequence of its difficult utterance, Etii soou after changed into et, it, ed, en, es, est, &c. In Sancta Margaretta, which is supposed to have been written about the end of the 12th century, we have Old ant yonge Iprtit ou oure soleif for to lete Thenehet on God that yef ou wit oure sunnes to bete Here may tellen ou wid wordes feire ant swete The vie of one meidan was hoten Maregrete, &c. Do, did, ed,et, eth,&LC are from the same source, hence our custom of omitting the ed as a termination when did precedes the verb; thus, I fear-ed, I did fear, that is, / (join the sensation of) fear. We have ed as a common affix in our language, and the idea of time is no more connected with it than with ish, or any other termination. In such cases as crooked back, crook backed; the connective, ed may be joined to either word and the same meaning retained. We intend that these remarks shall bear upon the subject of tense .is well as person; for, if it be true that the terminations we are considering primarily meant join, and have no reference to time, number, or person, having been used indiscriminately for all tenses,