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ning, to can, I canned, I have canned, I shall, must, or ought to can ; through all the moods and ten
256. “ Shall. Defective. It has no tenses, but shall, future, and should, imperfect. See been.”
If shall is future, and should, imperfect, then should is necessarily the imperfect of the future, which is a tense not explained in any one of Dr. Beattie's thirty-six.
"Should This is a kind of auxiliary verb, used in the conjunctive mood, of which the signification is not easily fixed."
This is the abortive attempt of the eminent Dr. Johnson, to explain one of the most familiar words in the language, a word correctly used by the American people, as a nation, which it could not be, if the signification" was not "fixed,” in their minds. The giant of English literature was entangled in his own grammatical net. It was the absurd doctrine of helping verbs, which led the man, who “ did as much as forty French academicians had done in forty years,"_to suppose
that a word used every day by every Englishman, had no meaning of its own.
257. It is needless to give the numerous synonyms and etymons of shall, as they extend through various northern tongues, ancient and modern. The following is a good example of what was the language, in the national church of England twelve hundred years ago. It is taken from the homilies or form of worship.
To him anum pe sceolan us gebiddan. he ana ir sophlafono y rop Lod. pe biddaþ þingunga æt halgum mannum Þ hi sceolan ur þingian co heora drihtne jro urum orihtne. Ne gebidde pe na deah hpæþere us to him spa spa pe to Lode dop --Bede's Life of St. Cuthbert,
For the convenience of those unacquainted with the Saxon alphabet, the same is copied in Roman print.
To him anum we sceolan us gebiddan. he ana is soth hlaford and soth God. we biddath thingunga aet halgum mannum that hi sceolan us thingian to heora drihtne and to urum drihtne. Ne gebidde we na theah hwaethere us to him swa. swa we to Gode dotb.
To him only we shall us to devote ourselves. He alone is truth Lord and truth God. We proffer worship to holy men, that they shall us to think [address pious thoughts or exercises) to their Ruler and our Ruler. But, nevertheless, we do not pray to them as we do to God.
Shall and must both signify to bind, constrain, or obligate ; but with this difference. Must signifies compliance with the obligations of strong necessity, or mere physical binding force; and shall includes the idea of debt, just obligation, or duty. The same idiom is contained in the ordinary form of a penal bond : I A. B. am held and firmly bound, and hereby obligate and bind myself, heirs and executors, unto C. D. The air in a cask is musty, or mustied, because it is bound or confined.
In the two first Saxon sentences above quoted, it will be seen that shall is twice used as a transitive verb, with the pronoun us as its governed object, immediately following it.
A great number of most absurd, complicated,
and contradictory directions are given to enable us to make a grammatical distinction between shall and will. All the information wanted respecting them is the plain meaning of the words. Will signifies will, or volition, in all beings capable of exercising it; and when this meaning is extended, it is to what is analagous to will, that is, inherent nature, qualities, or tendency. Shall, according to the explanation already given, always alludes to external necessity, to unavoidable obligation. Set a stick on end, and it will fall ; because its own nature will incline it to fall. • The sun shall be darkened ;” not darkened by its own natural tendency, but by an extraneous, over-ruling power, or inevitable constraint, to which it must yield.
258. But without dwelling longer on the less difficult "auxiliaries,” there is, perhaps, a possibility of drawing aside, at once, the great curtain of
The following is the information obtained from Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, respecting the verb to be, under its different forms.
“AM. The first person of the verb To Be. (See To Be.] Exo
dus. ARE. The third person plural of the present tense of the
verb To Be. TO BE. v. n. To have some certain state. Shakspeare.
The auxiliary verb by which the verb passive is formed. Shakspeare. To exist: to have existence. Dryden. To have something by appointment or rule. Locke. Let BE.
Do not meddle with. Dryden. BEING. particip. [beond, Sax.] Existing. Att. BEEN. [beon, Sax.] The participle preterite of To Be.
Pope. The present tense plural of To Be. Spencer. IS. [is, Sax.) The third person singular of To Be: I am,
thou art, he is. St. John, vii. WAS. The preterite of To Be. Gen. v. WAST. The second person of was, from To Be.
WERE. Of the verb To Be. The plural in all persons of
indicative imperfect, and all the persons of the subjunctive imperfect, except the second, which is wert. Gen. xxxiv."
Among all these words, the only attempt at definition is on the infinitive to be, and the participle being. The rest furnishes, probably, the best remaining specimen of Dr. Johnson's grammatical parsing
259. This strangely disguised and intricate " auxiliary” appears to lie at the bottom of all the rest; and is the last one for a grammarian to suspect of being an active, transitive verb.
Be, being, been.
thou art, he is, we are, you are, they are.
The idea conveyed by the verb to be, is the most important and essential in the structure of every language on earth. Many circumstances unite to make it so.
A passage from Exodus iii. among others, shows that there is something in this insignificant word extremely different from all which has hitherto been said, respecting auxiliary, intransitive, and neuter verbs.
5 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I shall come unto them, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say, what is his Name, what shall I say unto them?
“ And God said unto Moses, I AM that I AM; and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: I AM hath sent me unto you.”.
260. This is the place in which, more than any other, the fifty-four translators of the Bible, under King James, could not find English expression adequately to convey the idea..
It is the general character of this verb, in various tongues, and for reasons before given, to be extremely irregular. Its prevailing form in English is are, which is both a noun and a verb: for air and are present only a convenient modification of the same word. Thou art, is a contraction of thou arest, by dropping e and s, as the sounds of many other words are shortened, for the facility of pronunciation. Of the six persons of the indicative mood, present tense, then, the verb are belongs to four.
261. The Hebrew language contains several words remarkably significant, as the representatives of being, and the names of its great Author.
78 aor, aur, air, or light. English,
derer, v. Portuguese,
ang Aurora : the air, the light, the morning dawn, deified in the pagan mythology.