Sivut kuvina

notion of a God, was expressed by a word equivalent to a thunderer. The termination er is formed from an elementary word for man, and probably one of the first words ever used by man. It is traced, in numerous variations, through many ancient tongues, er, or, wer, ar, var, ver, vir, and others; and thunderer* means the thunder man, or the Being who governs the thunder. This, like other primitive words, was both a noun and a verb.

240. With these views, the reader will be prepared to examine the unmeaning terms employed, for the sake of convenience, to conjugate principal verbs. As a particular exposition of the whole number, would extend beyond the bounds prescribed to this essay, it will suffice to explain the leading principle, which applies to all, and exemplify it, by a few words which appear to have been least understood.

1st. The nature and use of "auxiliaries” may be best explained in a practical way.

“And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God, on their seats, fell upon their faces, saying, We thank thee, O Lord God Almighty, who art, and wast, and art to come ; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned." Rev. xi. 16, 17.

241. Wast, and art, and drt to come. This is the simple and proper expression of all conceivable time, past, present and future. It is the idea of duration, as fixed in the eternal nature of the Most High, and the laws of the universe as an interminable whole. It excludes every extraneous admixture of temporary volition ; of accidental change ; of superior permission ; of external force.

* This word will be more fully explained under the verb to be.

This is the philosophic, logical, and grammatical exposition of the tenses, as they now exist, through the English language, and as they are found in the early forms of others. Every different manner of expression, relating time, is only an incidental or conditional modification of this original form.

The future, in this, as in other expressions of it, employs an infinitive verb, depending a preceding or correlative proposition; and it is a self-evident truth, that two consecutive actions can not both be present, precisely within the same time.

124. Language, however, is chiefly constructed, with immediate reference to beings who are not, like him who was, and is, and is to come, subject to no higher power, and liable to "no shadow of turn . ing." The actions of men depend on occasional necessity, will, or superior authority; and numerous vicissitudes to which our species are every where subjected. The ideas so blended with the condition of human life, are denoted by words which are of frequent occurrence.

Such terms, by constant repetition, become exceedingly familiar, and assume the most contracted form. Of this kind are must,* from muessen, Teutonic; mussen, Saxon, to bind, confine, constrain, or ob-ligate; and generally, among nations, the most significant word to express bondage, constraint, and obliga. tion, must be very often used.

243. The words which the English grammarians usually select, as helping verbs, are now all

* It is needless to spend time on this word. It is of extensive use in various tongues, through all the moods and tenses, The air in a cask grows musty by being confined.

reduced to one syllable, subject to very little variation, and to give still greater brevity to their employment, they commonly drop the following word to, used with other verbs, as the sign of the infinitive mood. They denote actions, depending on the contingencies of human affairs; thus, I may, can, , will, must, dare go, next week, all refer to some relative condition in which the actor is placed. When, on the contrary, we speak of the actions of men, unconnected with extraneous circumstances, we adopt the same form of expression, as is used in reference to the Being who is above all change. They are to go, tomorrow;" that is, the thing is understood and determined; and, independent of any expected intervention, or alteration of purpose, is so to be.

244. If words of constant occurrence in language were long and regular, their repetition would be irksomely monotonous. By their familiarity they are easily understood, in all their modified forms; while words seldom used, have need of being confined to the prevailing rules of speech. In some instances, parts of two or more words are taken, to make out the moods and tenses, of what comes at last to be considered as the variations of a single verb.

Of this kind are go, went, gone. The verb to wend, so common in the old books, is seldom seen in modern literature; while its past tense, went, familiarly retained, has long been represented as a part of the verb to go. This latter term, too, should seem from grammar books, never to have had any other past tense.

These remarks apply to the verb meaning to go, in nearly every known language. It is necessary, however, to understand, that the verb go has ac

quired a more definite application, in modern practice, than in its original acceptation ; for it primarily included the meaning of the Latin ago, and, instead of implying only progressive motion, denoted almost every kind of activity.

245. In languages designating the relations of actions and things, by various inflexions, in single words, the modified beginnings or endings for this purpose are distinct original terms, generally in a contracted form. The prefixes and postfixes, in Hebrew, Chaldean, Arabian, Samaritan, and other eastern tongues, are too evidently of this kind, to need any time in explanation.

These observations have no reference to affixing a pronoun to a verb, and which has relation to persons, and not to tenses : neither do they apply to the appended terminations of nouns, serving the purpose of specifying adjectives, or articles, as in Persian, Greek, Latin, and other tongues.

246. The changes wrought on what is considered as a single word, to express different relations of time, are made by adding one verb to an other; and, in most languages, some form of the verbs do, have, be, or go. The same or almost any other verb may be, occasionally and separately, employed for this "auxiliary” purpose.

There is no particular set of words, distinctively and properly called "auxiliaries,” in any language; because it is not consistent with the intellectual and physical condition of man, that any ever should be so formed.

Reader, go tell at Sparta, that we died here in obedience to her laws."--Monumental Inscription at Thermopyla, as given by Dr. Goldsmith.

It happens, in practice, however, that a limited

number of verbs, by the fitness of their specific meaning, are more generally employed in this


[ocr errors]

In Latin, and perhaps other languages generally, the first form of the imperative mood appears to be the real radical verb, and not the infinitive, nor the indicative of the first person. .

247. Any good Latin scholar may soon prepare for himself, a table of verbal formations, much more simple, rational, and correct, than any hitherto proposed. He may take for this purpose the helping verbs ago; eo, ire; and sum.fui, esse ; amabam, ama-ibam; ama-vi, ama-ivi; ama-ibo, and so of others. Sum is compounded with itself, as well as with other verbs. Fui-eram, fu-issem, fu-ero. Fueram, literally translated, is I was been, which, though contrary to modern practice in English, is exactly the philosophic principle, in the general use of verbs. It is extensively illustrated in the practice of many languages; as, in German, Ich bin

gewesen, I am been, Ich war gewesen, I was been; 1. I am to be, I am to be been, I am to shall, I am to

can, to will, to must; and so through the other forms. These remarks apply to all the conjugations of the Latin tongue, both in the “ activeand "passivevoices.

A praxis of Latin verbs, according to these principles of analysis, would greatly facilitate the whole progress, in learning that very useful language; and would enable students to think for themselves, and observe their own progress, as they advanced.

248. The following is the long standing explanation, upon the endings of verbs, if it can be called

« EdellinenJatka »