Page images
PDF
EPUB

the tense of the verb governed, marks solely its relative time with respect to the other.

To assert, as some writers do, that verbs in the infinitive mood have no tenses, no relative distinctions of present, past, and future, is inconsistent with just grammatical views of the subject. That these verbs associate with verbs in all the tenses, is no proof of their having no peculiar time of their own.

Whatever period the governing verb assumes, whether present, past, or future, the governed verb in the infinitive always respects that period, and its time is caleulated from it. Thus, the time of the infinitive may be before, after, or the same as, the time of the governing verb, according as the thing signified by the infinitive is supposed to be before, after, or present with, the thing denoted by the governing verb. It is, therefore, with great propriety, that tenses are assigned to verbs of the infinitive mood. The point of time from which they are computed is of no consequence; since présent, past, and future, are completely applicable to them.

We shall conclude our observations under this rule, by remarking, that though it is often proper to use the perfect of the infinitive after the governing verb, yet there are particular cases, in which it would be better to give the expression a different form. Thus, instead of saying, “ I wish to have written to him sooner,” “I then wished to have written to him sooner," "'He will one day wish to have written sooner;" it would be more perspicuous and forcible, as well as more agreeable to the practice of good writers, to say; “ I wish that I had written to him sooner," “ I then wished that I had written to him sooner," will one day wish that he had written sooner.” Should the justness of these strictures be admitted, there would still be numerous occasions for the use of the past infinitive; as we may perceive by a few examples.

" It would ever afterwards have been a source of pleasure, to have found him wise and virtuous." “ To have deferred his repentance

r

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

longer, would have disqualified him for repenting at all."

They will then see, that to have faithfully performed their duty, would have been their greatest consolation.” I

RULE XIV. Participles have the same government as the verbs have from which they are derived ; as, “I am weary with hearing him ;" “ She is instructing us ;" “ The tutor is admonishing Charles.

1. Participles are sometimes governed by the article; for the present participle, with the definite article the before it, becomes a substantive, and must have the preposition of after it: as, “ These are the rules of grammar, by the observing of which, you may avoid mistakes.” It would not he proper to say, “by the observing which ;": nor, " by observing of which ;" but the phrase, without either article or preposition, would be right: as," by observing which." The article a or an, has the same effect : as, “ This was a betraying of the trust reposed in him.”

This rule arises from the nature and idiom of our language, and from as plain a principle as any on which it is founded; namely, that a word which has the article before it, and the possessive preposition of after it, must be a noun: and, if a noun, it ought to follow the construction of a noun, and not to have the regimen of a verb. It is the participial termination of this sort of words that is apt to deceive us, and make us treat them as if they were of an amphibious species, partly nouns and partly verbs.

The following are a few examples of the violation of this rule.

" He was sent to prepare the way by preaching of repentance ;" it ought to be, “ by the preaching of repentance;" or,“ by preaching repentance.” “By the continual mortifying our corrupt affections;" it should be,“ by the continual mortifying of; or, “ by continually mortifying our corrupt affections.” “ They laid out themselves towards the

See Key to the English Exercises, Eleventh Edit Rule xiii. The Note

[ocr errors]

an overva

advancing and promoting the good of it;" “ towards advancing and promoting the good.” “ It is an overvaluing ourselves, to reduce every thing to the narrow measure of our capacities ; " it is overvaluing ourselves," or, luing of ourselves.” “ Keeping of one day in seven,” &c. it ought to be,' the keeping of one day;'or, keeping one day.'

A phrase in which the article precedes the present participle and the possessive preposition follows it, will not, in every instance, convey the same meaning, as would be conveyed by the participle without the article and preposition. “ He expressed the pleasure he had in the hearing of the philosopher," is capable of a different sense from, “ He expressed the pleasure he had in hearing the philosopher.". When, therefore, we wish, for the sake of har mony or variety, to substitute one of these phraseologies for the other, we should previously consider whether they are perfectly similar in the sentiments they convey.

2. The same observations, which have been made respecting the effect of the article and participle, appear to be applicable to the pronoun and participle, when they are similarly associated : as," Much depends on their observing of the rule, and error will be the consequence of their neglecting of it," instead of their observing the rule, and their neglecting it.” We shall perceive this more clearly, if we substitute a noun for the pronoun : as,

“ Much depends upon Tyro's observing of the rule," &c. But, as this construction sounds rather harshly, it would, in general, be better to express the sentiment in the following, or some other form:“ Much depends on the le's being observed ; and error will be the consequence I its being neglected :'' or" on observing the 'rule ; ar.'-of neglecting it." This remark may be applied to sa crał other modes of expression to be found in this work ; which, though they are contended for as strictly correct, are not always the most eligible, on account of their unpleasant sound. See pages $6, 77, 171–175.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

We sometimes meet with expressions like the following: " In forming of his sentences, he was very exact:" “ From calling of names, he proceeded to blows." But this is incorrect language ; for prepositions do not, like articles and pronouns, convert the participle itself into the nature of a substantive; as we have shown above in the phrase, Ву observing which." And yet the participle with its adjuncts, may be considered as a substantive phrase in the objective case, governed by the preposition or verb, expressed or understood : as, “ By promising much, and performing but little, we become despicable.” “ He studied to avoid expressing himself too severely."

3. As the perfect participle and the imperfect tense are sometimes different in their form, care must be taken that they be not indiscriminately used. It is frequently said,

He begun,” for “ he began;" “ he run," for“ he ran;" " He drunk," for "he drank;" the participle being here used instead of the imperfect tense : and much more frequently the imperfect tense instead of the participle: as," ] had wrote,” for “ I hari written:" " I was chose," for, “ I was chosen ;" “ I have eat," for," I have eaten." words were interwove with sighs ;" were interwoven." • He would have spoke ;' • spoken." He hath bore witness to his faithful servants;" "borne.” “ By this means he overrun his guide ;" “ over-ran.“ The sun has rose;" “risen." « His constitution has been greatly shook, but his mind is too strong to be shook by such causes; shaken, in both places.“ They were verses wrote on glass;" written.” Philosophers have often mistook the source of true happiness :" it ought to be " mistaken."

The participle ending in ed is often improperly contracted by changing ed into l; as, “In good behaviour, he is not surpast by any pupil of the school.” “. She was much distrest." They ought to be surpassed," " distressed."

RULE XV. Adverbs, though they have no government of case,

i His

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tense, &c. require an appropriate situation in the sentenee, viz. for the most part, before adjectives, after verbs active or neuter, and frequently between the auxiliary and the verb: as, “ He made a very sensible discourse ; he spoke unaffectedly and forcibly, and was attentively heard by the whole assembly."

[ocr errors]

we find

A few instances of erroneous positions of adverbs may serve to illustrate the rule. “ He must not expect to find study agreeable always;" “ always agreeable.” “We always find them ready when we want them;" them always ready," &c. “ Dissertations on the prophesies which have remarkably been fulfilled;" “ which have been remarkably.“ Instead of looking contemptuously down on the crooked in mind or in body, we should look up thankfully to God, who hath made us better;" " instead. of looking down contemptuously, &c. we should thankfully look up," &c. 66 If thou art blessed naturally with a good memory, continually exercise it ;" “ naturally blessed,&c. 6 exercise it continually."

Sometimes the adverb is placed with propriety before the verb, or at some distance after it; sometimes between the two auxiliaries; and sometimes after them both ; as in: the following examples. “ Vice always creeps by degrees, and insensibly twines around us those concealed fetters, by which we are at last completely bound.”. “ He encouraged the English Barons to carry their opposition farther."They compelled him to declare that he would abjure the realm for ever," instead of, " to carry farther their opposition;" and " to abjure for ever the realm.” “ He has generally been reckoned an honest man.” “ The book may always be had at such a place ;" in preference to .“ has been generally ;” and “

may be always." 6 These rules will be clearly understood, after they have been diligently studied," are preferable to, “ These rules will clearly be understood, after they have diligently been studied.”

« PreviousContinue »