Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

“not to be made the adjunct in the construction; “and the participle, if it remain such, ought “ rather to relate to its noun, as being the " adjunct, than to govern it in the possessive "case, as being the principal term.”

Page 643.—"The daily instances of men's

dying around us.' Say rather, ‘of men dying 66 around us'.”

Page 644.-"If such relations between the participle and the objective be disapproved, the substitution of the possessive case is liable to still stronger objections."

There is nothing concerning which Mr. Gould manifests more ignorance, than concerning the rules which govern the possessive case of nouns ; and, as might have been expected, there is nothing concerning which he speaks more dogmatically. It does not seem to have occurred to him, that upon puzzling questions, which scholars have been unable satisfactorily to settle, it behoves us to speak with diffidence.

Concerning “that difficult and apparently un“resolvable problem, whether participles as "such, by virtue of their mixed gerundive “ character, can, or cannot, govern the possessive case", Goold Brown, we see, says;

[ocr errors]

it is " a question, about which, the more a man examines it, the more he may doubt.” As this is the opinion of one who is well qualified to judge of the matter, we can have no hesitation in determining why it is that Mr. Gould has not any doubts respecting it.

In replying to an inquiry put by H. S. D., I said ; "We might as well speak of the breadth of a man's sympathies’ being as great as the “ breadth of the Mississippi ; or of the depth of a “woman's affections' being as great as the depth of the Atlantic; as speak of a difference of

opinions' being comparable to the difference “between certain points of the compass." I believe that, in the manuscript which I sent from London, the three words, sympathies, affections, and opinions, in the foregoing sentence, were each in the possessive case; but, by an error of the printer in New York, the sign of the possessive case was omitted from the last of them ; and as I have no chance of even superficially reading the proof sheets of my criticisms in The Round Table', I am naturally exposed to censure for what is really not my fault: and several weeks must unavoidably elapse before I have an opportunity of freeing myself, as in this

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

case, from a charge of inconsistency. However, I must say that I am not in very great fear that my character for accuracy and consistency will suffer much from that cause; for, as respects my own criticisms generally, I can testify that they

I are printed in The Round Table' with extraordinary fidelity to the original.

Had I to rewrite the sentence which is at present under consideration, I should slightly alter the wording of it; (it is altered in this edition ;) for I agree with the author of The * Grammar of English Grammars ', that it is generally better to avoid using possessives before present participles. Still, I am glad that I did not avoid that construction in the instance to which I refer, as it has been the means of drawing forth Mr. Gould's opinion upon a subject which is deserving of notice. He says, in speaking of his own criticisms on

, the possessive case ;

[ocr errors]

“But while Mr. Moon tacitly admits the propriety of

“my criticism, and evinces a disposition to follow " it, he shows that after all, he does not under“stand it. He, indeed, uses the possessive “[sign] in sentences which require it; [why make three consecutive clauses end with the

66

66

same little pronoun it?] but he applies it to the

. wrong nouns." Mr. Gould goes on to say;—"The "reader, by referring to Mr. Moon's fourth

essay, will see that Mr. Moon speaks of the use "and abuse of comparisons; and that, to illus“trate his point, he selects the words breadth, " depth, and difference. Those words are his "terms of comparison, and therefore those words, " and not sympathies, affections, and opinions, “should be in the possessive case. Mr. Moon “ will no doubt deny that; but, observe, in the “sentence above quoted, Mr. Moon does not bring' sympathies’ and ‘Mississippi' nor affecstions' and 'Atlantic' into comparative opposition; his words are the breadth of a man's sympathies' being as great as the breadth of the Mississippi ; or the depth of a woman's affections' being as great as the depth of the 566 Atlantic',

etc."

666

[ocr errors]

6

Let us examine this statement. Mr. Gould says that, in the sentence which he has quoted, I have applied the possessive to the wrong nouns. He means that I have applied the sign of the possessive case to the wrong nouns. He says that breadth, depth, and difference” are my terms of comparison, "and therefore those words, and not sympathies', 'affections', and opinions', should be in the possessive case. This reasoning is plausible, but its fallacy will

[ocr errors]

be evident when I point out that my terms of comparison are not “breadth”, “depth", and “ difference. These are abstract terms; and my terms are not abstract, but specific. I do not speak of comparing “breadth", in the abstract, with “the breadth of the Jississippi; but the

breadth of a man's sympathies”, with “ the :breadth of the Mississippi”. Nor do I speak of comparing depth, in the abstract, with the depth of the Atlantic”; but “the depth of a woman's affections", with “the depth of the Atlantic"; and if Mr. Gould does not know, he ought to know before presuming to write upon the subject, that—"the possessive sign is “ sometimes annexed to that part of a compound

name, which is, of itself, in the objective case ; “as 'The Lord Jayor of London's authority':' If we were to apply Vr. Gould's reasoning to this expression, we should have to say that, as it is not London's authority, but the Lord Mayor's authority that is meant, London ought not to be in the possessive case! But, of a similar sentence, * The Grammar of English Grammars' says, on page 511, that the two nouns “cannot be ex“plained separately as forming two cases, but “must be parsed together as one name governed

6

« PreviousContinue »