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There is not a man living, who is capable of learning the directions laid down in the English grammars, respecting

passive verbs, and applying them to practice. The truth is, that the use of verbs is so acquired by habit, in conversation and reading, that such directions, intricate, mistaken, and inconsistent as they are, can not change these essential principles of speech. The whole theory of passive verbs is an accumulated mass of absurdity, handed down by prescription from the dark ages, and ought to be exploded at once, by all nations who have ceased to discourage learning, burn heretics, and hang witches. The time and expense employed in such a study are worse than lost.

295. In this labyrinth of grammatical uncertainty, what is to be done to lighten the scholar's burdensome load, and supply a guiding torch? What glory would redound to the man whose labors could supply a single rule, capable of being learned in an hour, easily remembered during life, and every where applied, without exception. How fortunate would it be for whole nations to be freed from the labor of years, in learning volumes of perplexing, inconsistent, and impracticable expositions, which, after the toil of life, are never understood, and lead to no certain result. It is still more fortunate that no such benefaction is required. The rule is before us, and capable of being as clearly understood as the forty-seventh problem of Euclid.


296. “There are three participles, the present or active, the perfect or passive, and the compound perfect; loving, loved, having loved.”-Murray's Grammar.

These participles are all adjectives under all circumstances. Neither is ever used, but in reference to some person or thing which is loving or loved ; and always as descriptive of that thing or person; as, a loving parent, the parent was loving or affectionate. A trotting horse; the horse is trotting. What news have you received ? That which was very unexpected and afflicting:

Participles denote the resulting effect of verbal action, which resolves itself into quality, or state, or condition of the thing.

The house is finished.
Mr. Cooper has finished his house.

Mr. Smith has his new house finished. Each of these participles describes the house, as being in that state, condition, circumstance, or situation, in which the action denoted by the verb finish has placed it.

“ Every glytteryng thing is not golde, and under colour of fayre speche many vices may be hyd and conseyled.--Chuu

Test of Love.


297. All participles are adjectives. They are never used in a sentence without a reference to a noun which, in some way, they serve to describe;

generally by condition, circumstance, relation, or employment.

Most adjectives are of participial formation, as derived from other tongues, though they may not obviously be so, in the language in which they are at present employed; as, Latin dependens, French dependant, English dependent, depending. Here the word dependent is in reality the same as depending ; but, coming to us as a derivative from Latin, is slightly disguised.

“She was then sad, dejected, and sorrowful ; but now contented and happy."

The words in italic are all adjectives, referring to the pronoun she. They are at the same time all participles, whether they directly appear so or not. Sad is sadded or made gloomy: sorrowful is sorrow-filled ; and happy is happied, or made joyous.

298. Participles in ing, describe things as being engaged in some present action. If put before the noun, they denote the more general, permanent, or essential qualities of the thing, and when placed after it, allude to particular time, or, which is the same, to some accompanying state of things. This principle, however, admits great variety in practice, without any change of its nature.

In what condition, circumstance, or situation, is the brig? It was lying in port last week, but is now cruising at sea, where it will be detained for some time, unless it should become damaged or e aky.

“ Now gliding, remote, on the verge of the sky,
The moon, half extinguished, her crescent displays;
But lately I marked when majestic on high,
She shone, and the planets were lost in her blaze."

299. This brings us to the great stumbling block of the grammarians, in trying to get round which, they appear to have bewildered themselves in the intricacy of their own principles.

Thus the most philosophic and judicious grammarian,“ beyond all comparison," reasons on this subject.

“ The participle is distinguished from the adjective, by the former's expressing the idea of time, and the latter's denoting only a quality. The phrases, “ loving to give as well as to receive," “ moving in haste," "heated with liquor,” contain participles giving the idea of time; but the epithets contained in the expressions, a loving child,” “a moving spectacle," " a heated imagination,” mark simply the qualities referred to, without any regard to time; and may properly be called participial adjectives.

Participles not only convey the notion of time, but they also signify actions, and govern the cases of nouns and pronouns, in the same manner as verbs do; and therefore should be comprehended in the general name of verbs. That they are mere modes of the verb, is manifest, if our definition of a verb be admitted: for they signify being, doing, or suffering, with the designation of time superadded. But if the essence of the verb be made to consistin affirmation or assertion, not only the participle will be excluded from its place in the verb, but the infinitive itself also; which certain ancient grammarians of great authority held to be alone the genuine verb, simple and unconnected with persons and circumstan


The following phrases, even when considered in themselves, show that participles include the idea of time: “The letter being written, or having been written ;" “ Charles being writing, having written, or having been writing. But when arranged in an entire sentence, which they must be to make a complete sense, they show it still more evidently: as, “ Charles having written the letter, sealed and despatched it.”—The participle does indeed associate with different tenses of the verb: as “ I am writing,” “I was writing,” “I shall be writing;" but this forms no just objection to its denoting time. If the time of it is often relative time, this circumstance, far from disproving, supports our position.”

The mistake has uniformly been in attaching the participle to the verb, because it has relation to time: for, unfortunately for the cause of learning, it is the long standing error, to consider time or tense as belonging exclusively to verbs. In the changing condition of all earthly things, what description of sublunary quality, relation, or circumstance, would for ever stand good? The man who was living, and prosperous, and well, and obsequiously obeyed, day before yesterday, is dead and buried today; and will be soon forgotten on earth. He who was heated with liquor" is melancholy in prison, where he is confined, for his crimes: the « loving child” has become a misanthropic, decrepid, old man: the "moving spectacle” is no longer seen; and the “heated imagination” is sobered by experience.

The broad error that participles are to be classed with verbs, because they are associated with the ideas of time, deserves serious attention. On this subject, we may profit by our standing counsellor, Lord Bacon, to whom allusion was early made; “In setting down the definitions of our words, and terms, that others may know how we accept and understand them, and whether they concur with us, or no.

Tense means time. What does time itself mean? Doct. Johnson says it is the measure of duration." One thing still remains; which is, to define the definition.

The measure of duration is the computation of periodical changes in material bodies. What would the year be, if the earth performed no annual circuit; and where day and night, without the rotation by which they are produced ? And if no day, then, certainly, not weeks nor hours, which are made of

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