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and is written as a substantive : as, “ Providence rewards the
, 6 good, and punishes the bad.”
Various nouns placed before other nouns assume the nature of adjectives : as, sea fish, wine vessel, corn field, meadow ground, &c.
Numeral adjectives are either cardinal, or ordinal : cardinal, as one, two, three, &c.; ordinal, as first, second, third, &c.
Remarks on the subject of Comparison.
If we consider the subject of comparison attentively, we shall perceive that the degrees of it are infinite in number, or at least indefinite. The following instances will illustrate this position.-A mountain is larger than a mite;--by how many degrees? How much bigger is the earth than a grain of sand ? By how many degrees was Socrates wiser than Alcibiades; or by how many is snow whiter than this paper? It is plain, that to these, and many other questions of a similar nature, no definite answers can be returned.
In quantities, however, that may be exactly measured, the degrees of excess may be exactly ascertained. A foot is just twelve times as long as an inch; and an hour is sixty times the length of a minute. But in regard to qualities, and to those quantities which cannot be measured exactly, it is im. possible to say how many degrees may be comprehended in the comparative excess.
But though these degrees are infinite or indefinite in fact, they cannot be so in language : it is not possible to accommodate our speech to such numberless gradations; nor would it
; be convenient, if language were to express many of them. In regard to unmeasured quantities and qualities, the degrees of more and less, (besides those marked above,) may be expressed intelligibly, at least, if not accurately, by certain adverbs, or words of like iinport: as, “virtue is greatly preferable to riches ;" “ Socrates was much wiser than Alcibiades ;"3" Snow is a great deal whiter than this paper;" “ The tide is considerably higher to-day than it was yesterday;"> “ Epaminondas was by far the most accomplished of the Thebans ;' “ The evening star is a very splendid object, but the sun is incomparably more splendid ;"“ The Deity is infinitely greater than the greatest of his creatures." The inaccuracy of these, and the like expressions, is not a material inconvenience; and, if it were, it is unavoidable: for human
speech can only express human thought; and where thought is necessarily inaccurate, language must be so too.
When the word very, exceedingly, or any other of similar import, is put before the positive, it is called by some writers the superlative of eminence, to distinguish it from the other superlative, which has been already mentioned, and is called the superlative of comparison. Thus very eloquent, is termed the superlative of eminence; most eloquent, the superlative of comparison. In the superlative of eminence, something of comparison is, however, remotely, or indirectly intimated; for we cannot reasonably call a man very eloquent, without comparing his eloquence with the eloquence of other men.
The comparative may be so employed, as to express the same pre-eminence or inferiority as the superlative. Thus, the sentence, “ Of all acquirements, virtue is the most valuable,” conveys the same sentiment as the following:
66 Virtue is more valuable than every other acquirement."
When we properly use the comparative degree, the objects compared are set in direct opposition, and the one is not considered as a part of the other, or as comprehended under it. If I
say, “ Cicero was more eloquent than the Romans," I speak absurdly; because it is well known, that of the class of men expressed by the word Romans, Cicero was one. But when I assert that “Cicero was more eloquent than all the other Romans, or than any other Roman ;" I do not speak absurdly; for though the persons spoken of were all of the same class or city, yet Cicero is here set in contradistinction to the rest of his countrymen, and is not considered as one of the persons with whom he is compared.-Moreover, if the Psalmist had said, “I am the wisest of my teachers,” the phrase would have been improper, because it would imply that he was one of his teachers. But when he says, “I am wiser than my teachers,” he does not consider himself as one of them, but places himself in contradistinction to them. So also, in the expression, “ Eve was the fairest of her daughters," the same species of impropriety is manifest; since the phrase supposes, that Eve was one of her own daughters.-Again, in the sentence, “ Solomon was the wisest of men,” Solomon is compared with a kind of beings, of whom he himself was one, and therefore the superlative is used. But the expression, “ Solomon was of all men the wiser,” is not sense : because the use of the comparative would imply, that Solomon was set in opposition to mankind; which is so far from being the case, that he is expressly considered as one of the species.
As there are some qualities which admit of comparison, so there are others which admit of none. Such, for example, Vol. I.
are those which denote that quality of bodies arising from their figure : as when we say, “A circular table; a quadrangular court; a conical piece of metal,” &c. The reason is, that a million of things participating the same figure, participate it equally, if they do it at all. To say, therefore, that while A and B are both quadrangular, A is more or less quadrangular than B, is absurd. The same holds true in all attributives denoting definite quantities, of whatever nature. Thus the two-foot rule C cannot be more a two-foot rule, than any other of the same length. For as there can be no comparison without intension or remission, and as there can be no intension or remission in things always definite, these attributives can admit of no comparison. By the same method of reasoning, we discover the cause why no substantive is susceptible of these degrees of comparison. A mountain cannot be said more to be, or to exist, than a molehill; but the more or less must be sought for in their qualities.
A PRONOUN is a word used instead of a noun, to avoid the too frequent repetition of the same word: as,
“ The man is happy; he is benevolent; he is useful."*
There are three kinds of pronouns, viz. the perSONAL, the RELATIVE, and the ADJECTIVE PRONOUNS.
Of the Personal Pronouns. There are five Personal Pronouns, viz, I, thou, he, she, it ; with their plurals, we, ye, or you, they.
* The pronoun is also used to represent an adjective, a sentence, a part of a sen. . tence, and sometimes even a series of propositions; as, They supposed him to be
innocent, which he certainly was not." " His friend bore the abuse very patiently achich served to increase his mdeness ; it produced, at length, contempt and inso. lence."
Personal Pronouns admit of person, number, gender and case.
The persons of pronouns are three in each number, viz.
This account of persons will be very intelligible, when we reflect, that there are three persons who may be the subject of any discourse: first, the person who speaks, may speak of himself; secondly, he may speak of the person to whom he addresses himself; thirdly, he may speak of some other person: and as the speakers, the persons spoken to, and the other persons spoken of, may be many, so each of these persons must have the plural number.
The numbers of pronouns, like those of substantives, are two, the singular and the plural: as, I, thou, he ; we, ye or you, they.
Gender has respect only to the third person singular of the pronouns, he, she, it. He is masculine ; she is feminine; it is neuter.
The persons speaking and spoken to, being at the same time the subjects of the discourse, are supposed to be present; from which, and other circumstances, their sex is commonly known, and needs not to be marked by a distinction of gender in the pronouns: but the third person or thing spoken of, being absent, and in many respects unknown, it is necessary that it should be marked by a distinction of gender ; at least, when some particular person or thing is spoken of, that ought to be more distinctly marked: accordingly, the pronoun singular of the third person has the three genders, he, she, it.
Pronouns have three cases, the nominative, the possessive, and the objective.
The objective case of a pronoun has, in general, a form different from that of the nominative, or the possessive case.
The personal pronouns are thus declined:
The propriety of admitting his, hers, ours, yours, &c. as possessive cases of the personal pronouns, has been disputed, though the nature and meaning of these words, and the concurrent practice of our first grammarians, have assigned them this rank and denomination. It has been alleged, that these supposed possessives are actually used in the nominative and objective cases ; and that therefore our classification must be erroneous. The instances offered in support of this allegation, are such as the following : “My pleasures are past; hers and yours are to come:” “ They applauded his conduct, but condemned hers and yours.” A little reflection will, however, show that these propouns, in the examples produced, are not in the nominative and objective cases, but in the possessive case. The following appears to be the true construction of these sentences : “My pleasures are past; the pleasures of her and of you are to come;" “ They applauded his conduct, but condemned the conduct of her and of you." That this is the right construction will more clearly appear, if we substitute nouns for the pronouns: “My pleasures are past; Mary's and Ann's are to come:" “ They applauded his conduct, but condemned Mary's and Ann's:" that is, “ Mary's and Ann's pleasures; Mary's and Ann's conduct."
The objection too, that the phrase, “ An acquaintance of yours," supposes the same word to admit of two different signs of the case, seems to be of no validity. Instances of a a double genitive, as it is called, are not uncommon in our language, and they are far from implying any absurdity. We