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305. If the preceding facts and reasons, respecting verbs, are correct, the following brief inferences may be deduced, as important truths, to guide us, in a farther course.
1. Every verb, in every language, is necessarily active and transitive.
2. There are three moods of English verbs; and no other can be distinguished, on principles capable of being explained or understood.
3. These moods are logically and clearly divided from each other by personal relation; and there is no other consistent separating line between them.
4. The indicative proposition may be assertive, negative, suppositive, or interrogative : but whether one or the other, the single and direct personal relation of the action to the actor, under all circumstances, remains unbroken.
5. The directing power always implied by the imperative verb, can only be uttered by the first person. It is always addressed to the agency of a second person : and no man in his right mind expects his command to be obeyed, at any other time, than subsequent to the expression of his will. Consequently the verb or action of the imperative mood can be nothing else but future.
6. The infinitive mood has no personal relation; but denotes action, consequent on some supposed, or pre-existing state of things, and is, therefore, always consecutive, or future.
7. No simple proposition can contain more than one indicative verb, and this verb of the indicative inood can never be subordinate to an other verb.
306. 8. An indicative verb can only be in the present, or the simple past tense. Imperative verbs are always absolutely future, and infinitives either absolutely or relatively so.
A The words erroneously called helping verbs,
in English, come before those called principals.These " auxiliaries” are therefore first in order. They express the actions which are the efficient causes of those denoted by the following verbs: consequently they are philosophically first in importance.
The words will, may, hear, see, feel, can, be, shall, must, and others of this kind, which govern the infinitive, without the word to, are very expressive by their own absolute meaning. They are distinct, and frequently opposite in their signification, from the verbs which follow them : so that they can not be considered as united, to form one compound action; and it is not the nature of verbal expression to blend two or three actions in one.
“We will stop at Philippi." In this sentence, the action denoted by stop, is the resulting effect of that expressed by will. It is consequent on it; subsidiary to it; in the infinitive mood governed by it: and, till that intellectual power which is the glory of man becomes entirely subordinate to the feet, the word will, in the above sentence, must be the principal, and stop must be the secondary verb.
307. One seeming paradox, respecting verbs, still requires explanation.
Several verbs, formerly used through all the moods and tenses, have lost, in a great degree, their original forms, while they retain their meaning. The consistency of language has been greatly misrepresented, and scholars needlessly and unprofitably perplexed, by an attempt to refer these words to other parts of speech. They are commonly misnamed conjunctions; as, if, though, unless, and others.
As a general rule, language is, in its structure, very simple and direct. There is nothing like the
legal fictions which are resorted to, as is said for convenience, in the duplicate locality set forth in a declaration, " At London, in the kingdom of Great Britain; to wit, at Lexington, in the state of Kentucky;" or like the conduct of the ficticious and benevolent“Mr. Jackson” in ejectment suits. There is a very common practice in language, however, which, if not well examined, is liable to lead to mistake. This is the suppositive use of the verb; in which, generally, three propositions are combined, in such a degree of contraction, as almost entirely to disguise the true principle.
If is a verb in the imperative mood from gifan, to give or grant.
If all others forsake thee, I will not. This expression contains three sentences, though in appearance
Tho', though, is an imperative verb, from thofian, to allow or admit.
“ Though he is out of danger, he is still afraid."
Allow this fact; He is out of danger: He is still afraid. Attempts have uniformly been made to explain this part of speech under a mistaken idea of a subjunctive mood; a mood resorted to in English, merely for want of knowing the meaning of words.
“ If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
Pope's Universal Prayer.
Mr. Murray's scheme would alter these phrases to, “If I be right:" but Pope was, “ beyond all comparison,” a better grammarian than Murray, the opinion of the British critics to the contrary notwithstanding.
If you and Tullia are well,
Cicero pays as little regard to Mr. Murray's subjunctive rules, as Pope, Addison, Tillotson, Steele, Temple, Dean Swift, and other ungrammatical scholars of their class.
308. If the four classes of words already alluded to, are properly understood, there remains nothing else to explain ; for the other parts of speech are merely nominal, or made up of words unexplained, because not understood. They have been called particles, and thrown into one class, by several respectable writers. Others have exercised much unprofitable labor and ingenuity in a vain attempt to form them into many different classes.
It is not possible for any human skill to draw a philosophic separating line between them, as between adjectives and pronouns; because no such division line exists, in practice or in fact,
309. When, therefore, we speak of adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions, it ought to be well understood, as a mere convenient resort, to get rid of explaining and reducing to practice, what writers, themselves, do not possess sufficient knowledge to develope. The writer of this treatise has an
“Si tu et Tullia valetis, ego et Cicero valemus."-Cicero. Epistles.
other reason, in addition to that incompetency which he is ready to admit. It is not the plan of his work to enter so much into the special details of language, as would be necessary in explaining English particles, word by word. It will be found, in practice, however, that these parts of speech are much abridged, under the system here proposed.
310. This part of speech” has with propriety been represented as the general lumber heap, where all words are to be thrown, when, in parsing, neither scholar nor teacher knows what else to call them. This practice, from its obvious convenience, has been extensively adopted in schools.
The adverb takes its name from the leading idea attached to its use, as secondary to the verb. In this character, adverbs express the manner of action; as, she moves gracefully. This is much the most numerous subdivision, in the motley group of words called adverbs; and these are generally formed by adding ly to an adjective. This syllable, ly, is a contraction of lyche or like. When added to a noun it forms an adjective, and added to an adjective it is still secondary, or an adverb. There is also a number of words differently formed, which are generally connected with adjectives, and used to express the degree of quality; as, a very good, or truly good man. The real explanation of this practice is, that it employs one, and sometimes two adjectives to qualify an other.