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beginning;" "a good understanding,” excellent writing ;' “ The chancellor's being attached to the king secured his crown :” “ The general's having failed in this enterprise occasioned his disgrace ;' John's having been writing a long time had wearied him.”
That the words in italics of the three latter examples, perform the office of substantives, and may be considered as such, will be evident, if we reflect, that the first of them has exactly the same meaning and construction as, “The chancellor's, attachment to the king secured his crown;" and that the other examples will bear a similar construction. The words, being attached, govern the word chancellor's in the possessive case, in the one instance, as clearly as attachment governs it in that case, in the other: and it is only substantives, or words and phrases which operate as substantives, that govern the genitive or possessive case.
The following sentence is not precisely the same as the above, either in sense or construction, though, except the genitive case, the words are the same; " The chancellor, being attached to the king, secured his crown." In the former, the words, being attached, form the nominative case to the verb, and are stated as the cause of the effect; in the latter, they are not the nominative case, and make only a circumstance to chancellor, which is the proper nominative. It may not be improper to add another form of this sentence, by which the learner may better understand the peculiar nature and form of each of these modes of expression: “ The chancellor being attached to the king, his crown was secured.” This constitutes what is properly called, the Case Absolute.
Section 4. Remarks on the Potential Mood, That the Potential Mood should be separated from the subjunctive, is evident, from the intricacy and confusion which are produced by their being blended together, and from the distinct nature of the two moods ; the former of which may be expressed without any condition, supposition, &c. as will appear from the following instances : “They might have done better;" " Wc may always act rightly;" “ He was generous, and would not take re
venge ;" "We should resist the allurements of vice;" "I could formerly indulge myself in things, of which I cannot now think but with pain."
Some grammarians have supposed that the Potential Mood, as distinguished above from the Subjunctive, coin. cides with the Indicative. But as the latter “simply in. dicates or declares a thing,” it is manifest that the former, which modifies the declaration, and introduces an idea materially distinct from it, must be considerably different. “I can walk,” ve I should walk," appear to be so essentially distinct from the simplicity of," I walk," "I walked,” as to warrant a correspondent distinction of moods. The Imperative and Infinitive Moods, which are allowed to retain their rank, do not appear to contain such strong marks of discrimination from the Indicative, as are found in the Potential Mood.
There are other writers on this subject, who exclude the Potential Mood. from their division, because it is formed, not by varying the principal verb, but by means of the auxiliary verbs may, can, might, could, would, &c.: but if we recollect, that moods are used " to signify various intentions of the mind, and various modifications and circumstances of action,” we shall perceive that those auxiliaties, far from interfering with this design, do, in the clearest manner, support and exemplify it. On the reason alleged by these writers, the greater part of the Indicative Mood must also be excluded; as but a small part of it is conjugated without auxiliaries. The Subjunctive too will fare no better; since it so nearly resembles the Indicative, and is formed by means of conjunctions, expressed or understood, which do not more effectually show the varied intentions of the mind, than the auxiliaries do which are used to form the Potential Mood.
Some writers have given our moods a much greater extent than we have assigned to them. They assert that the English language may be said, without any great impropriety, to have as many moods as it has auxiliary verbs ; and they allége, in support of their opinion, that the compound expression which they help to form, point out those Tarious dispositions and actions, which, in other languages, are expressed by moods. This would be to multiply the moods without advantage. It is, however, certain, that the
conjugation or variation of verbs, in the English language, is effected, almost entirely, by the means of auxiliaries. We must, therefore, accommodate ourselves to this circumstance; and do that by their assistance, which has been done in the learned languages, (a few instances to the contrary excepted,) in another manner, namely, by vary. ing the form of the verb itself. At the same time, it is necessary to set proper bounds to this business, so as not to occasion obscurity and perplexity, when we mean to be simple and perspicuous. Instead, therefore, of making a separate mood for every auxiliary verb, and introducing moods Interrogative, Optative, Promissive, Hortative, Precative, &c. we have exhibited such only as are obviously distinct; and which, whilst they are calculated to unfold and display the subject intelligibly to the learner, seem to be sufficient, and not more than sufficient, to answer all the purposes for which moods were introduced.
From Grammarians who form their ideas, and make their decisions, respecting this part of English Grammar, on the principles and construction of languages which, in these points, do not suit the peculiar nature of vur own, but differ considerably from it, we may naturally expect grammatical schemes that are not very perspicuous nor perfectly consistent, and which will tend more to perplex than inform the learner. See pages 76—78. 94-96. 99--102. 183-184
Section 5. - Of the Tenses. TENSE, being the distinction of time, might seem to admit only of the present, past, and future; but to mark it more accurately, it is made to consist of six variations, viz. the PRESENT, the IMPERFECT, the PERFECT, the PLUPERFECT, and the FIRST and SECOND FUTURE TENSES.
The Present Tense represents an action or event, as passing at the time in which it is mentioned : 'as, "I rule ; I am ruled ; I think; I fear."
The present tense likewise expresses a character, quality, &c. at present existing : as, “He is an able man;" - She is an amiable woman.
.” It is also used in speaking of actions continued, with occasional intermissions, to the present time : as, "He frequently rides ;"" "He walks out every morning;" “ He goes into the country every summer."
We sometimes apply this tense even to persons long since dead: as, “ Seneca reasons and moralizes well;" * Job speaks feelingly of his afflictions.”
The present tense, preceded by the words, when, before, after, as soon as, &c. is sometimes used to point out the relative time of a future action : as, “ When he arrives he will hear the news;" “ He will hear the news before he arrives, or as soon as he arrives, or, at farthest, soon after he arrivęs ;” “ The more she improves, the more amiable she will be."
In animated historical narrations, this tense is sometimes substituted for the imperfect tense : as,
“ He enters the territory of the peaceable inhabitants ; he fights and conquers, takes an immense booty, which he divides amongst his soldiers, and returns home to enjoy an empty triumph.”
The Imperfect Tense represents the action or event, either as past and finished, or as remaining unfinished at a certain time past: as,
“ I loved her for her modesty and virtue ;" * They were travelling post when he met them.”
The Perfect Tense not only refers to what is past. but also conveys an allusion to the present time: as, "I have finished my letter;" " I have seen the person that was recommended to me.”
In the former example, it is signified that the finishing of the letter, though past, was at a period immediately, or very nearly, preceding the present time. In the latter instance, it is uncertain whether the person mentioned was seen by the speaker a long or short time before The meaning is, “ I have seen him some time in the course of a period which includes, or comes to, the present time.” When the particular time of any occurrence is specified, as prior to the present time, this tense is not used: for it would be improper to say,
óc I have seen him yesterday;" or, “ I have finished my work last week.” In these cases the imperfect is necessary: as,
66 I saw him yesterday;" " I finished my work last week.” But when we speak indefinitely of any thing past, as happen
ing or not happening in the day, year, or age, in which we mention it, the perfect must be employed: as, “I have been there this morning ;' “ I have travelled much this year:” “We have escaped many dangers through life.” In referring, however, to such a division of the day as is past before the time of our speaking, we use the imperfect: as, They came home early this morning;"
;" is He was with them at three o'clock this afternoon." The perfect tense, and the imperfect tense, both denote a thing that is past; but the former denotes it in such a manner, that there is still actually remaining some part of the time to slide away, wherein we declare the thing has been done; whereas the imperfect denotes the thing or action past, in such a manner, that nothing remains of that time in which it was done. If we speak of the present century, we say, “ Philosophers have made great discoveries in the present century:" but if we speak of the last century, we say, “Philosophers made great discoveries in the last century.”
“He has been much afflicted this year;"“ I have this week read the king's procla
mation;"> " I have heard great news this morning.” ini ; these instances, “ He has been," “I have read," and
"heard,” denote things that are past; but they occurred in this year, in this week, and to-day; and still there reinains a part of this year, week, and day, whereof I speak.
In general, the perfect tense may be applied wherever the action is connected with the present time, by the actual existence, either of the authors or of the work, though it may have been performed many centuries ago ; but if neither the author nor their work,ņow remains, it cannot be used. We may say,
6 Cicero has written orations;" but we cannot say,
ci Cicero has written poems;" because the orations are in being, but the poems are lost. Speaking of priests in general, we may say, “ They have in all ages claimed great powers;” because the general order of the priesthood still exists: but if we speak of the Druids, as any particular order of priests, wbich does not now exist, we cannot use this tense. We can
“ The Druid priests have claimed great powers;": but must say, "The Druid priests claimed great powers;"