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there is no neutrality. The stupendous machine of the universe, and every portion of matter of which it is composed, are constantly in action, according to the oppositely harmonious laws of grayitation, propulsion, affinity, cohesion, electricity, and other influences, some yet unknown to human thought. Through all parts of this measureless whole, is a succession of continuous actions, from each microscopic atom, of unnumbered intervolving worlds, to the Eternal, Unseen, Guiding Hand.
224. As in the great system of nature, so in the transmission of thought, every thing is regarded as possessing an acting power, and as capable of exercising some kind and degree of option. There is a philosophic reason why the statue sustains itself, still in its place, instead of conveying itself away, like its living antetype; and on the most rigid scrutiny of the intellectual powers, it will be found that the Author of Mind, by a batrier which never can be passed, has compelled us to ascribe in speech, to marble and bronze, that species of choice which belongs to the aptitude of their nature.
In many minor particulars, it is well that verbal expression has received its main cast, not in the schools of half-way learning, but among plain men, applying its principles, in the only way in which finite wisdom could properly apply them, to the operations in nature, as they are seen, heard, and felt.
225. The whole system of explanation upon verbs, and consequently the whole theory of speech, as taught among the European nations, appears to be remarkably unphilosophic and contrary to the appearance of truth. Dr. Johnson, and all the principal British expounders of language, agree
in giving " revolve," to roll round in a circle, as a neuter verb. According to this grammatical astronomy, then, the earth performs its revolution round the sun, without the least possible effect, change, or resulting influence, wrought upon itself, or any other object. Such a system of instruction, when followed into its consequences, is derogatory to the Divine Wisdom, as well as directly at varience with the dictates of common sense. These errors are not peculiar to England. The same inconsistent theory prevails through all the universities and royal academies of Europe. Let the learned teachers of language turn practical philosophers; make with fire any experiment they please, and satisfy themselves if they can, that burn is ever a neuter verb. If persons allow themselves to think, it certainly requires but little logic or knowledge to perceive that in the action of rolling, some substance must be rolled ; and some thing, in every sinking, must be sunk. Whatever that thing is, is the object of the verb; and to say that a verb has no object, is as contrary to science, as to assert that two straight lines can meet in a point, without forming an angle.
226. Eat and drink, among others, are set down as neuter verbs. To those who think them such, but who, contrary to their own creed, use them several times a day, as active and transitive, it is recommended that they try to reconcile their practice with their doctrine, and employ these two verbs without objects, as long as they believe them neuter.
Mental actions follow the analogy of corporeal things, and will be most properly explained under the head of figurative language. The reader, in attending to this investigation, will be led to consider the great point of union between physical and
intellectual philosophy; literature, and the active concerns of life.
227. English verbs receive four kinds of modifieation, denoted by the technical words, mood, tense, person, and number.
Mood is the distinctive manner in which actions are represented. There are are three moods, distinguished by personal relation. These are named the indicative, or declaring; the imperative, or commanding; and the infinitive, or unrestricted. These take their respective names from the leading idea; but are subject to many secondary modifications.
Some writers attempt to explain one or more moods, in addition to these; but as such additional moods have no existence in fact, it is unphilosophic and unprofitable to invent artificial systems to create them.
228. The indicative is used to assert, deny, or interrogate, and has reference to the simple fact of the action's being done, or not done. It has one personal relation; that is, of direct agreement with the actor; as “ Brutus saw a vision." “Bonaparte issued the Berlin decree."
The distinctive trait of the imperative mood is, that it implies the volition of a first person, addressed to the agency of a second, to do or not to do an action. Whether the imperative mood is to be considered under the idea of authoritative command, of supplication, or of request, depends on the countless relative conditions in which men may stand, with reference to each other. As no dividing line can
be drawn, between these minor circumstances, they can not be made the basis of any consistent classification.
“Pull out this javelin, and let me bleed."-Epaminondas to his attendants.
Who can say whether this expression is the dying man's request to his friends, to relieve him from excruciating pain, or the last command of the military chieftain to his subalterns ?
“ Bear witness for me to my countrymen, that I die like a brave man.”—Col. Hale.
229. As the imperative mood is always addressed to a second person, thou, you, or an equivalent noun, is necessarily understood: but the verb itself is never varied in English, for number, person, nor tense ; though it is always future by construction. There needs no argument to prove the absurdity of commanding a person to do an action, yesterday, or at any
other time than after the command is expressed. Nearly all which is said in European grammars respecting the tenses of this verb, is perfectly childish. No sophistry can make it any thing else but future. If a man sees instant danger threaten his friend, and says, “take care," all he can mean is, that his friend may take care, in consequence of his warning
The infinitive mood expresses action, without any direct connexion with the actor. It is seldom goyerned by a single word, as has been supposed; but generally depends on an indicative proposition.
He tries to learn. I am now ready to be offered. It sometimes follows an imperative verb. Try to shun evil, learn to do well.
An affirmation must of course contain a verb, and on this verb the infinitive is commonly considered
as more immediately depending. This partial modification, however, is no way contrary to the general rule above advanced.
The infinitive verb some times makes part of the affirmation, as, “To see is pleasant.” In this kind of sentence the infinitive may be the subject or object of an indicative verb.
As the radical verb may almost always be used as a noun, in English, without change of the word, it is made a convenient practice, to prefix, to the infinitive mood, the word to, by way of distinction.
The ideas of mood and tense are very intimately combined. Farther explanations will therefore be made upon them in connexion.
230. Writers on language have very generally adopted the technical word tense, to denote different verbal references to the order of time.
According to philosophic understanding, there are three tenses, or relative periods, which include the whole extent of duration. The present instant, taken as a point, or crossing line, in the progress of time, is without measure of continuance, the everadvancing now, dividing the past from the untried future.
Though each word appears to have had one only original form, yet, in the progress of several languages, the verb has assumed different changes, to express these periods of time; and, in some, has more numerous variations to mark the relative ora der of events.
231. An English verb has, in form, two tenses mainonly; the present and the past. The organization