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days. If there was no visible mooning, moneth, or month, that lunar or calendar reckoning could never have entered the mind of man. Without the guiding chronometers, made by the Almighty Hand, dials, clocks, and all the time keepers contrived by human skill, would soon cease : for what would twelve o'clock be, without a natural midnight or meridian sun? And what is eternity but unmeasured time? How can grammar with its subtleties, furnish ideas of that progressive duration, of which the mind of man could take no note ?"
301. All actions, conditions, and qualities; the earth and all the things of earth, stand in some relative order of temporal succession, with reference to other things.
The murders committed, seventy years ago, by savages of the wilderness on the frontier at Albany, were when the earth was backward in its course, by seventy periods, from where it is now. She who was then a child, is now in second infancy, leaning on the arm of her grandson. While this same globe has been rolling its last fifty rounds, a Corsican boy has become dictator of Rome; republican successor of Louis XIV; chieftain of an empire, and distributor of crowns to trembling kings; lonesome sovereign of Elba; second emperor of the French; sailor on a British deck ; a prisoner and a corpse, on a distant island of the southern hemisphere. Such is time or tense, in relation to sublunary conditions, qualities, and objects. The pronouns, lately in the first and second persons, are now third; for those whom they represented no longer speak or are spo-
Could not these lessons teach the schools that the idea of time was blended with any thing in the concerns of man, except verbal action ?
302. These relative transitions, of things and of the dependent lords of earth, are the foundation of all which can really exist in language, concerning time; the clew to guide us through the subtleties of Greek and the labyrinthian contradictions of English. A single rule which nature and common reason have furnished; simple in its principle, as broad and useful in its application; and seemingly overlooked by the ornaments of our race, because that in the rich stores of their learning, it appeared too trifling to be noticed, or fit only for the gleaners who might follow them.
“ On Linden, when the sun was low,
But Linden saw an other sight!
Bloodless, before the slaughtered victims of ambition made it bloody.
Untrodden, at sun-set, when it had recently fallen and before the hostile armies had entered the field
Dark, by contrast with the snow, and darker by association of circumstances, on the evening preceding the battle.
Was, during the same portentous eve.
The next verse explains its own tenses.
“But words are things; and a small drop of ink,
Are, at all times, according to their general nature.
Falling, at any time, whenever it may happen. Produces, within a reasonable time after falling.
Makes, sooner or later, in a greater or less degree, according to its power of making.
Think, in consequence of the making or causing to think.
303. The ideas of time as existing in the structure of speech being not absolute, but relative; and all conceptions which the mind can form, concerning duration, only marked out by the successive actions and conditions of things, these principles apply to most objects which can come within the contemplation of language itself; and particularly to participles and other adjectives, which describe things by their temporary qualities, positions and relations.
This principle any good scholar may soon find himself prepared, able, and willing to prove,
The perfect participle prepared, the adjective able, and the present participle willing, are alike adjectives, describing the condition in which the scholar may soon place himself.
The active participle, in ing, while it always describes, as an adjective, at the same time, and in every possible case, retains its character as a transitive verb, and governs an object, expressed or inevitably inferred. When it ceases to do both these, it ceases to be a participle, and becomes a noun or other part of speech.
Mr. Murray's example to show that the active participle is "sometimes passive,” is founded in total misconception of the principle.
“ The Indian prisoner is burning.”
This sentence asserts what is untrue ; and to make the statement, if possible, still worse, asserts it iu bad English, unless we are to understand that the prisoner has volunteered to burn himself.
304. In the following extract from Dr. Johnson's Life of Dryden, the describing adjectives are printed in italic.
“His prefaces have not the formality of a settled style, in which the first half of the sentence betrays the other. The clauses are never balanced, nor the periods modeled; every word seems to drop by chance, though it falls into its proper place. Nothing is coid or languid, the whole is airy, animated, and vigorous; what is little, is gay; what is great, is splendid. Though all is easy, nothing is feeble ; though all seems careless, there is nothing harsh ; and though, since his earlier works, more than a century has past, they have nothing yet uncouth or obsolete."
“ Dear, fatal name rest ever unrevealed,
Pope. “Eloise to Abelard”
If any part of Mr. Murray's system of passive verbs could be considered more specially absurd than the rest, it might be the formal table of the imperative mood, commanding the person who neither wills nor acts, to suffer the effect of an action which he can neither controll nor obviate.
But the whole theory of passive verbs, is so radically and mischievously wrong, that it is difficult to make much distinction between the parts. The word passive, itself, comes from the Latin, patior, 10 suffer. Suffer is from sub and fero; and means
per-fero tolero, sustineo, permitto. It is somewhat singular, that the thought should not have occurred, that no language ever known, had furnished words to define a passive verb, according to what we are required to believe respecting it.
" A verb passive expresses a passion, or a suffering, or the receiving of an action.”
The man who receives money is considered as much an actor as he who pays it; and it is for readers to judge whether he does not commonly act as much from volition. The word patience comes from the same etymon as passive, and depends on exactly the same principle for its meaning; yet we are told, by the moral writers, ancient and modern, that patience is one of the cardinal virtues. Where, but in grammar books, have we ever been taught, that one of the chief excellencies of human nature consists in the mere negation of every active quality of body and mind? When the British critics praised the moral and religious tendency of Mr. Murray's writings, were they aware that, by his doctrine of passive verbs, there could be no merit imputed to any instance of passion or suffering: because there is in this passion no exercise, or voluntary concurrence, of any corporeal or mental faculty? The inconsistency is uniform through the whole theory. The passive verbs are all conjugated with the “auxiliary,” which signifies to exist. The word exist is from ex and sisto. Sisto is from sto, stare facio : yet we are told that exist and stand are both neuter verbs, expressing “neither action nor passion, but being, or a state of being; as, I am, I sleep, I sit, Cesar stood.” If to stand requires no action, nor exertion of strength or skill, then the child of three months old can, of course, stand alone, as well as "Cesar, " or any other person.