William Shepherd.

Systematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) online

. (page 8 of 44)
Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 44)
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what one individual is meant ; the determines the application
of the noun to some particular individual, and hence it is
termed, the definite article. It has the same primary signifi-
cation with that ; but they vary in the mode of their employ-
ment, tlie former never being employed without a noun, the
latter having its noun frequently understood ; and farther, that
is more emphatic than the: these, however, are the refine-
ments of language, and have no foundation in the origin of
words. Home Tooke considers that as the past participle,
and the as the imperative mood, of the verb thean, to get, io
take, to assume : and the, he observes, may very well supply
the place of the corresponding Anglo-Saxon article se, which
is the imperative of seon to see ; for it answers the same pur-
pose in discourse to say, see man, or take man. We really
like the import of our forefathers* article so much better than
that of our own, that we shall cheerfully give up the for se,
unless it sliould appear, that the and that have their origin ia
some verb signifying to point at.

Of that large class of restrictives called numerals, the origin
of some may be traced ; and as we wish to give our readers
an insight into the labours of Mr. H. Tooke, we shall mention
his derivation of words in this class. It is in the highest de-
gree probable, that all numeration was originally performed
by the fingers, the actual resort of the ignorant ; for the num-
ber of the fingers is still the utmost extent of numeration.*
The hands doubled, closed, or shut in, may therefore well be
denominated ten (Uie past participle of tynan, to enclose, to
shut in), for therein you have closed all numeration ; and if
you want more, you nmst begin again, ten and one, ten and
two, &c., twain-tens, twenty, when you must begin again as
before. Score is the past participle of the verb to shear, to
separate ; and means separated parcels or talleys. Tlie ordi-
nal numbers, as they are called, are formed like the abstract

* The Kaoucbatkans, however, take in the toes; and go as fiir as twen*
ij; but this is the limit of their numeration. The Mexicans reckoned by
twanties; probably from the same cause.


iK>uns in eth ; fifth, sixth, tenth, &c. is the unit which fiv'
eth, six-eth, ten-eth, i. e. makes up the number five, six,
ten, &c.

III. Of the Pronoun. So much has already been
said respecting the force of the Pronoun, that it is unneces-
sary 'to enlarge upon it here. Home Tooke's derivation of it
must however be stated, as it shews what have been the actual
procedures of language in the formation of one of our pro-
nouns, and gives an insight into the probable origin of the
rest. It, formerly written hit and het, is the past participle
of the Gothic verb haitan, to name, and, therefore, means the
person or persons, thing or things named, or afore-said: and
accordingly was applied by all our old writers indifferently to
singular and plural nouns. We do not know whether a similar
opinion, as the origin of pronouns, had been previously laid
before the public, but the philosophical Greek professor of
Glasgow, (who, in his very interesting and important investi-
gations, has often anticipated Mr. Tooke,) *long ago delivered
it as his opinion, that some, at least, of the pronouns are
participles ; and if we mistake not, traced the origin of lyw,
and ipse, as follows. Eyw, in the more ancient dialect of
Greece, was ly^v, which is an obvious abbreviation or cor-
ruption of >.tyu> ; so that syu (whence the Latin and other
languages have their first person,) signifies the speaking per-
son. Ipse is the Latin past participle from mu; and though
this verb is not to be found in Latin writers, those who know
how much the Latin is a dialect of the Greek, will not feel
this a material difficulty : on this derivation, ipse signifies the
said person, &c. These speculations might be advanta-
geously extended, would our limits permit ; but sufficient has
been said to show, that these words are not of that unintelli-
gible nature which has been usually supposed.

Respecting the inflexion of pronouns, the same general
principles are applicable, as respecting that of nouns. His
is obviously he's ; and whatever be the origin of the possessive

G 2


terminatitfn of the noun, it has the same origin here. Mine,
thine, and /lern and theirn still retained in some of our dia-.
lects, have apparently the same origin as wooden, woollen^
&c. The objective form is merely a grammatical appropria-
tion of one of the forms of the pronouns, to a particular pur-
pose; and we still find that her, among the vulgar, is com-
monly employed as the subject of verbs, instead of she.

Of the Relatives. ^Tliough we see no reason to give the
appellation of Pronoun to those words which are called Ad-
jective Pronouns, (and accordingly we class them as restrio
tives), yet there is "one word of peculiar importance, which
seems properly a pronoun, and to wliich some attention is
necessary, viz. the Relative. We have already observed se-
veral of the contrivances of language to particularize general
terms ; another is, to restrict or explain the general term, by
means of a dependent sentence connected with it by a relative.
We will first consider what the relative performs, and then
how it performs it. Take tlie following examples : every
man, who loves truth, abhors falsehood ; and John, who loves
truth, hates falsehood. If the relative clause had been omit-
ted in the former sentence, the remaining assertion would have
been false; here then it is restrictive; in the second it is mere-
ly explanatory ; and in such cases, so far from being necessary,
may even destroy the unity and force of the sentence. To
explain the subject of discourse, and to restrict its signification,
are the two offices of the relative. If the custom of language
allowed it, precisely the same purpose might be answered by
an adjective or participle connected with tlie term, as, every
man loving truth, Sec. aud it might seem useless to introduce
a new procedure ; but the utility of the present plan is obvi-
ous, when we consider the immense number of new words
which must be introduced to supply the place of the relative,
and further, that it enables us to state a greater variety of cir-
cumstances in connexion with the autecedeut^ and occasionally
to state them more forcibly.


Tlie relative is equivalent to a personal pronoun with a con-
nective of general signification. We do not mean lo affirm
that, in the original signification, that connective will be found ;
but that such is the present force. The dependent clause may
be joined to the principal, either by simple juxtaposition, or
by means of a cojinecting particle, or lastly by a word includ-
ing the force of a connective particle. Instances of die first,
are. The ship he commanded was wrecked ; and, The man
that (i. e. that man) loves wisdom, shall find her : in both of
which, the dependent clause is connected m that natural man-
ner which is frequently adopted in our simple language, to ex-
press connexion in ideas ; and in the same manner, the early
Greek writers employ their definite article for their relative.
As an instance of the second icind, we may adduce this mode
of expression : A man if he do not love truth cannot be virtu-
ous : in which, the dependent clause is joined by a connective,
though of a 4ess general kind than what is implied in the rela-
tive. This last mode is the most general, and on the whole
the most useful, because most general and least ambiguous.
Without venturing to assert that who essentially differs in its
original signification from that, it certainly does now include
more signification ; and that additional signification we think
to be what is expressed by and: so that, Every man who
loves truth, hates falsehood, means. Every man and he loves
4ruth, hates falsehood, i e. as Mr. H. Tooke has shewn us,
Every man add (this circumstance) he loves truth, &c.


GRAMMAR, Continued.

Tbe Verb Participle Adverb Connective Directions for the Stady
of Grammar.

IV. Of the Verb. As we do not profess to consider
the theory of grammar in general, we have not much occasion
to enlarge respecting this important sort of words ; for our
language, simple in most of its procedures, is here almost at
the verge of simplicity. Some languages have a great variety
of changes in the form of the verb to denote the subject of
affirmation, and the mode and time in which the affirmation
is to be taken : we have only four, and of those, three are, to
say the least, in no way necessary. We have already said
enough respecting the nature of the verb, to render it unne-
cessary to recur again to that point, and we shall here direct
the attention of our readers to the modes of signification as-
sumed by the English verb : only repeating, that the Ferb is
a word which, when preceded by a noun or pronoun, or by
what may be represented by it, expresses affirmation. In
English, and in other languages, words appropriated to express
affirmation are often used without any such force : in such
cases it might, in some respects, be more scientific to cease
to give them the appellation of verbs ; but it would be incon-
venient in practice, and we prefer speaking of them as in the


noun-State of the verb; so in the expressions, * Eat thi/ and
' He dares not eat it/ eat is in the noun-state.

To denote that a name was appropriated to be used as a
verb, our ancestors added a distinguishing termination, Hke all
other common terminations, almost certainly significant in its
original state. Why that was dropped does not appear : but
the verb, in many instances, now ceases io have any thing
in its form to distinguish it from the noun, and in a great
variety of instances, it is used exactly as a noun. It is true, it
is generally, when in the noun-state, preceded by the particle
to ; but, in most instances, to is used in its most customary
sense ; and in the few instances in which it seems to have
merely the force of the Anglo-Saxon termination, it has a
sense equally accordant with the original force of the word.
Home Tooke has shewnthat to (as well as rfo, which is cer-
tainly the same word), is a particle of a Gothic substantive
signifying acty effect, and, we presume, object ; now^ when we
say, * I am going to walk,' to shows that walk (which is still
^he name of an action) is the object of my going : but when
we say, ' To walk is healthful,* to designates the word fol-
lowing as the name of an action, and the expression means,
the act (viz.) walk is healthful. We must, however, admit^
that the use of to before the noun-state of verbs, does not
seem to be, in every case, consistent with its meaning ; but
such cases may fairly be referred to the general tendency there
is to lose sight of the original force of words, in the stress
laid on them in particular cases, or in the mode of their em-
ployment in particular cases ; and hence, by degrees, to extend
the employment of them to similar cases, without reference to
their primary signification.

The hifinitive mood, as it is commonly called, is the verb,
jdivested of its peculiar force, viz. of affirmation, and uncom-
pounded with those words which render it expressive of per-
son, number, &c. and, in the modern languages, of time ;
but it seems erroneous to consider this as the fundamental
form of the verb, where it has any distinguishing termination :


it is then the noun-state of the word w ith a termination added
to it, to show that it is to be employed as a verb. Thus, in
the Anglo-Saxon ^ean, '60 is the fundamental form of the
verb, and an is the verbaUzing adjunct. Now, as the impcr
fativc form of the verb, js nothing more or less than the
siipple verbal name, unattended with the inference of affirma-
tion, tliis may be considered as the fundamental form ; and in
the Latin, in paiticular, the variations of flexion are traced
M'itli ^le greatest advantage from this source. But without
lenlarging on this point, with which our language in the pre-
sent state of it, has no concern, we must repeat, that the im-
perative form of the verb is merely the noun-state, or verbal
name ; and that command, entreaty, ^c. supposed to be con-
veyed by it, are rperely the inference of custom. If I say to
a servant, Bread, it is understood that I wish him to bring
jne bread, but it is not said : if I say. Bring some bread, in
Jike manner it is understood, that I wish him to bring me
bread, but all that is expressed, is the name of the action,
and the object of the action. It has, indeed, been supposed,
that an affirmation is understoo(J, as, I desire you to bring
some bread ; but this supposition is rather with a view to
show, that bring, &,c., in such situations, arp verbs, than to
show the actual procedure. The fact is, full as muph is done
by inference, as by actual expression, in every branch of lan-
guage, and even as it is, thought i? too quick for words. Ad-
initting the justness of this account of the imperative mood,
we need not be surprised at the plan adopted by the Greek
writers, of using the infinitive instead of it; nor need we
resort to an ellipsis, in order to show the ground of this use,
or to complete the grammatical construction.

"^hcn the verbal energy is referretj to past tipc, a change is
made in the form of nearly all our English verbs : the greater
proportion of them add ed to the noun state. Whether this
alteration was originally intended to refer the meaning of the
verb to past time, or that the change had a different object,
and the reference has been gradually formed, in consequence


of an appropriation similar to what we spoke of respecting the
objective form of pronouns, we have yet to learn ; but there
seems little room to doubt, but that all the common changes
which have taken place in the verbs of all languages, whether
to denote time, person, number, or mode of signification,
have been formed in consequence of the coalescence of words
of appropriate signification ; and though the gradual refine-
ments of language may have greatly varied the associations of
words from what they originally possessed, yet that these chan-
ges were originally found sufficient to answer their respective
purposes. In some cases the contrivances adopted, can be
traced even yet ; and from the new turn which has lately been
given to etymological investigation, we may expect other dis-
coveries respecting the causes or origin of particular flexions.
The future of the French verb, is nothing more than the in-
finitive of the verb, with the present tense of avoir following
it ; thus, hlamer-ai is ai blamer, and je blamerai means I
have to blame, which mode of expression is in our own lan-
guage used with a future force. The leading distuiction
between the past and future tense of the Hebrew verb is, that
in the former, the verb is placed before the fragment of the
pronoun forming the person, and in the latter after it, as one
would suppose, to indicate that the verbal denotement is in
one case past, in the other case future.

Similar observations may be made, respecting the persons of

veibs. In the Hebrew, they are formed, as one would expect,

by the coalescence of syllables, which are still acknowledged

as pronouns : the same plan has doubtless been adopted in the

. Latin and Greek verbs, and in some few cases it can be traced

with much probability. In our own language there are

additions made to the verb, in both the past and present form,

when thou is the subject of affirmation, and in the present,

when any singular word, excepting J and thou is the subject.

;.We are not aware of any advantage derived from these changes,

. (and the same remark may be applied to the French verb ;)

^or they do not supersede the necessity of expressing the sub-


ject of affirmation, as in the case of the Latin aud Greek
verbs ; but probably in their original import they contained in
them the subject of affirmation, unless indeed they were dif-
ferent dialects of the verb, which by degrees were appropriated
to particular subjects.

The variations in the Greek and Latin verbs, which denote
time and manner of signification, are supplied in English by
other verbs, which, from their employment, are called auxiliary j
or helping verbs : these are, be, do, have, shall, will, may,
and can, which admit of the variations of other verbs, and
must and let, which are unvaried. Do in its present use
is merely emphatic ; and assists in producing a discrimination
which cannot be denoted in other languages; but from its
general resemblance to the other auxiliaries we have mentioned
it among them. It is obviously the same word, both in ap-
pearance and in force, with the word do, when not employed
as an auxiliary. Shall signifies owe, and was formerly used as
a simple verb. Will, we use at present as a simple verb.
These two words are employed as the principal denotements
of future time ; and though their original signification has in
some degree yielded to that with which custom has invested
them> the former is usually to be traced. May signifies to
be able. Can signifies to kiiow, to ken, and thence to be
able. These words are all employed as auxiliaries, in their
past as well as present tenses. Must signifies to be obliged.
Let is the noun-state imperative of to let, signifying to permit.
Have, as an auxiliary, has the same force with the simple verb ;
it means to possess. How this meaning is preserved in the
implex expression / have loved, or similar cases, we shall
eee in what will be said respecting the participle.

We have an abbreviated mode of expression in English,
ivhich has given some trouble to the grammarian, but is now
pretty well understood, the subjunctive mode, or future con-*
iingent form. This arises from the omission of the future
auxiliary, shall or will, after words which render the affirma-
tion contingent : thus, instead of saying, Jf thou shalt or


shouldst love, we may say, If thou love. In all other cases in
which affirmation is made, we say the verb is in the indicative
mood. On this mood we have only to make one remark, respect-
ing the interrogative employment of it. In interrogations we
may simply state the thing, or the assertion respecting which we
require information, leaving our wishes to be inferred by the
reader from the connexion, or some word or mark of inter-
rogation, or by the hearer from a variation in our tone ; or
which is certainly preferable, we may make such a change in
the order of the words, as may leave our meaning out of doubt.
This is effected in our own language by putting the subject
after the verb ^ but this is not to be considered as making any
change on the mode of its signification, but merely as indica-
ting to the eye or ear the wish of the speaker to gain infor>
matiou respecting the affirmation.

We shall ^here subjoin a specimen of the manner in which
we would conjugate the English verb, agreeably to the fore-
going principles.

Infinitive. Call, or, to call.
Imperative. Call, or, call thou, or, call you or ye.

Present. Calling.
Perfect. Called.


Present Tense,

Siag. .1. I call. 2. Thou callest. 3. He calleth or calls.

Plur. 1. We call. 2. Ye or you call, 3. They call.

Preterite Tense,

Sing. 1. I called. 2. Thou calledst. 3. He called.
Plur. 1. We called, 2. Ye or you called, 3. They called.


Sing. 1. I call. 2. Thou call. 3. He call.

Plur. 1. We call. 2. Ye or you call. 3. They call.

Ye, is always plural ; but i/ou is continually employed, m
modern colloquial language, instead of thou. When this


is done, the verb is used in the same manner as tfiough you
were used with the plural force.

The verb to be is very irregular ; and it possesses a form
which is altogether peculiar to it, and is used exclusively after
contingent words : this may be called the Preterite Tense of
the conditional !Mood. It is as follows ;

Sing. 1. I were. 2. Thon wert. 3. He were. &c.
" We imagine there is little room to doubt, that this form is
merely a variation of the indicaUve foi nj of the preterite tense ;
gradually Hppioj)riated to its present use, but having no dis-
tinction originally from that form. Such appropriations are
often of great service in aidhig accuracy of discrimination ;
but they are to be regarded as the refinements of language, not
as making a part of its original structure.

V. Of the Participle. Participles are formed from
verbs, generally by the addition of terminations, originally
without doubt expressive, but now oeasing to have, in them-
selves considered, any force. Those participles which are formed
by the addition of ing to the noun-state of the verb, express
a continued state of the verbal denotement ; and as it is
frequently implied, that what is meant by the verb is bein^
continued at some time referred to, they are called present par-
ticiples. Those which are formed by the addition of ed or
en to the noun-state, or by some change in the characteristic
letters of the verb, usually denote the completed state of what
is meant by the verb : hence they are called perfect participles,
or sometimes, with less propriety, past or passive participles.
There does not seem to be any material difficulty attending the
employment of these words, except in the case where a perfect
participle is employed after the verb have, as, I have learned
my lesson. It has been supposed that this means, I possess the
finished act of learning my lesson : we think it more probable
that it means, / possess my lesson in that state which is called
learned; in which case it is exactly equivalent to the Latin
htUfere, followed by a participle in agrecmeat with a noua.


We readily admit that by, I have learned it, there is an in-
ference brought into view which is not by, / have it learned;
but it seems to be merely the inference of custom, not result-
ing from any essential difference in the mode of expression.

VI. Of the Adverb. We have already given a general ac-
count of the class of words called verbs. Those to which our
definition will apply, and to which alone the teem should be
appropriated, are principally adnouns with or without nouns
connected with them ; others are prepositions with nouns fol-
lowing them ; and the remainder are participles. The chief
class of adverbs are those which end in /y ,- which termination is
an abbreviation of the adiioun spelt like, which is still fre-
quently used in North Biitain as we use /y ; thus, for wisely,
they say wiselike. Of this class, a large proportion are form-
ed by adding ly to adnouns ; another set by adding the termi-
nation to nouns, as manly, early, (from aeji morning) &c. ;
and these last are also used as adnouns. Abed, aboard, ashore,
&c., and perchance, perhaps, are prepositions with nouns ; a
signifying on, in, or at, and per being the Latin preposition.
Why, how, &c. seem to be restrictives, their nouns being
understood ; tohy signifying what, cause, or reason being un-
derstood ; how signifying which, way or manner being un-
derstood. Several adverbs besides those before-mentioned
ending in ly, are used either as adnouns or adverbs ; such as well,
ill, much, worse, better, &c.; in all such cases it must be re-
membered that not the manner of signification, but merely
the manner of employment, is changed. On the origin of
most of those adverbs which are less obviously formed from
other sorts of words. Home Tooke has thrown great light ; and
some of his derivations w^e shall briefly state. The following
are past participles of Anglo-Saxon verbs : ago signifying gone
(time) ; adrift signifies driven ; asunder means separated ; fain,
rejoiced ; lief, beloved ; astray, strayed or scattered. lSeds is
need-is, used parenthetically. Belike is by lykke, by chance.
Aloft is on or in lyftf i, e, the air, clouds, &c, Much is


from mo, (a heap) and is merely the diminutive of this word,
passing through the gradual changes of mokei, mr/kel, mochilf
mtichel (still used in Scotland), moche, much. Rather is the
comparative of rath, swift. Quick/t/ is quicklike, being a
past participle sig>iifying enlivened; and it means in a lifelike
or lively manner. Very is merely the French adjective vrai,
anciently veray, from the Latin verm. Some words usually

Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 44)